Tag: goals (Page 1 of 6)

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. We’re on the Moving Sidewalk – I’m (Rockstar Finance) famous for saying the path to Financial Independence is like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk. When I originally penned that post, I assumed I was still a few years away from enjoying that moving sidewalk. In reality, we’ve done our version of sprinting for the past 2 years since starting this blog. We’ve hustled, cut costs, set up savings, and attacked our mortgage. We got tired. In reality, because we’ve done all that, we’re already enjoying that moving sidewalk when we take a break from actively caring. Our mortgage keeps going down and our investments keep going up. It’s brilliant!
  2. We’re Incredibly Lucky – Our situation is already fantastic. We really have a great set-up. I get to be home with the kids all day every day. I don’t have to force myself to sit up at a desk job when my chronic health issues kick in (a full post on this coming later). Mr. T has incredible flexibility and lots of vacation time. We are incredibly privileged.
  3. We’ve Already Learned So Much – We still love the idea of being self-employed and having total autonomy over our own schedules and we haven’t made much significant headway there, but we have learned a whole lot already. We’ve learned all sorts of random skills along the way and learned what we enjoy and what we don’t enjoy. I feel like this whole thing has been like going to college in entrepreneurship and we’re getting closer and closer to graduation.
  4. I Need to Spend More Money Now – We’re not that close to financial independence, but we’re on that moving sidewalk. My kids, however, get older every single day. I have so much I still want to do with them. Now is the time. If you’re on the email list, you already know we’re venturing to Europe with the kids next summer. We’re going to take them on a 3-week trip through the UK, Norway, and Iceland. I’m SO EXCITED. We spent this summer letting the kids pick castles in Wales they want to explore, museums they want to check out in Oslo, and reading histories and guidebooks together. Most people have to wait until financial independence to do this kind of thing, but we can do it now. Mr. T has the flexibility and vacation time. I’m a freelancer so can choose to take a month off whenever I choose. These are the kinds of experiences I plan to focus on in the next 9 years before Penny graduates.
  5. Maybe We Have Happiness All Wrong – We always think our lives would be so much better elsewhere or doing something else. We get frustrated and immediately declare something drastic: “We’re retiring early.” Now, if you’re as far away from that possibility as we are, long-term planning for it isn’t a bad idea (at this rate, we’ll retire long before 65 just plugging along as we currently are), but focusing all efforts towards it misses the point. Maybe changing just one thing in your life can make all the difference. What would being 20% happier do for you?
  6. I’m Not Going Away – For now, I have enough passion and stuff to say that I am resuming my previous Monday/Wednesday posting (with an occasional Friday image by Mr. T or guest post). I love this space. I love all of you. I truly, truly do. I have a plan for another website based on my survey, but I decided I don’t want to do that one alone, so it may not get up and running for awhile. So, I’ll start sharing some info from that awesome survey here as well.
  7. I’m Always Prepared to Mix Things Up – When I get in a funk, I reserve the right to mix up everything. A step away this summer was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we need to get out of the water to see how truly beautiful the lake is.

Have you learned lessons in living more in the present lately? I’d love to hear yours!

July 2017 Alaska Plan Update

July 2017 Plan Update

Another July has come and gone. Isn’t summer glorious?

We caught 21 salmon despite there being very few fish in the water and we got rained on (inside our tent!). Full dipnetting adventure story coming in the fall. (I know, you can’t wait!).

Guess where we are right now! DisneyLand! I know. Living the magic. Seriously.

Also this month, my parents received a mission call to Leeds, England. They’ll be leaving in November for a year and a half, so we’re taking the kids to Europe next summer! I can’t explain how excited about this I am. Dream come true. For reals. I’ll be talking lots about our preparations come fall/winter.

The weekly email updates keep coming all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!


The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is currently at $41,800. I’d love to see this below $40,000 next month. I’m more chill about the mortgage this month… the benefit of taking a step back for a bit (also the benefit of being able to go to EUROPE next year with all 5 of us… that’ll take some dough).

Investments are back on the upswing. To be clear, we just haven’t prioritized the Roth IRAs this year. I’m not making excuses. I’d rather kill the mortgage and I can’t do it all. So… that’s gone by the wayside. This is why personal finance is personal. I realize contributing would be really awesome of us. But I just don’t feel it right now. And that’s the best answer I’ve got. Despite that, our total investments sit at $163,400 right now. It feels pretty good to see these climb by default (automatic savings from Mr. T’s paycheck).

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for July – 38%. For not really paying much attention to saving and buying some plane tickets, I think this is pretty decent.

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($17,902/$25,000) –  This was a pretty big month for me. I did quite a bit of freelancing and got the paycheck for my work trip in June for my regular job, so I’m looking pretty lucrative these days. 🙂
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $41,800 – $11,800 to go!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $37k-ish by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $28 – Cash price for award tickets from New York to London. I’ll piece together the other legs of next year’s trip later.
  • $204.30 – Travel backpacks for the girls. They’re going to be in charge of their own stuff. It’s going to be awesome.
  • $254.12 – All dipnetting costs (again, breakdown coming in September!)
  • $11.99 – A slingshot Mr. T purchased for a slingshot paintball game with some friends but we’ve all had a great time with in our own yard!
  • $21.99 – Melatonin – We usually go through about 2 bottles a summer. With the sun up all night, the kids need a little help shutting the brains off. #AlaskaLife
  • $49.98 – We bought a Kindle and a kid proof case for Lui on Prime Day in preparation of next year’s really really long flights. The girls already have their own.
  • $149 – A new phone. Because I broke mine a few months ago. Then I shattered the screen on my mother-in-law’s old phone I was using. Mr. T put packaging tape on it so the little shards wouldn’t get in my ear when I’m talking on the phone. I can’t have nice things.
  • $778.45 – Airplane tickets for FINCON! Everyone excited?! I’m so pumped!

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “My brother keeps saying, ‘ just start a blog and people will click on your links and you’ll make plenty of money,’ but he is thinking like an already-wealthy doctor. We need health insurance.”
  • “The problem with entrepreneurs is they don’t share all the little steps it took to get to where they made it. Sometimes they probably don’t even know which steps those were.”
  • “They have secretary day and office manager day. But they never have computer programmer day! And we always have to chip in for those parties or birthday parties and they don’t throw a party for everyone and then it causes all sorts of drama.”
June 2017 Plan Update

June 2017 Plan Update

June was awesome and a great leap into summer. It kicked off with our first vacation. We headed to Portland for a few days and dropped the kids off with my parents while Tom and I headed to Utah for a business trip. Though we both spent most of the trip working, we were able to see some sites and enjoy ourselves. As soon as we returned, I helped run a 4-day camp-out for 16 teenage girls from church. We camped by the bay, saw whales, fished all night, hiked to old World War II sites, cooked delicious food in dutch ovens, ate a million S’mores, found some awesome shells, avoided bears, and had absolutely perfect weather. Overall successful.

The second half of the month, we just enjoyed summer. I delivered lunch to the kiddos outside nearly every day it wasn’t raining. Mr. T finished planting a few more things in the garden (zucchini and pumpkins) and started replacing the countertop and backsplash in the master bathroom. Lui is working on figuring out his new balance bike (a free hand-me-down from a friend). It’s been a tremendous month.

The blog break has been good and while I’m super excited to return twice a week, I’m forcing myself to continue the break as promised through August, but will be back full-force in September. I’m using the time to catch up on some other projects including my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE! – and thanks to those of you that shared it on your personal Facebook pages!).

You may miss me weekly here on the blog, but my Saturday e-mails are heating up. I still send those out weekly and LOVE to interact off-blog.



(Something is wonky here. Just click “subscribe” and fill out the info there.)

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Read More

May 2017 plan update

May 2017 Plan Update

Man, 2017 isn’t even half over and it’s been a crazy year. There’s been so much happening. With this in mind, I’ve decided that I will only be doing monthly plan updates on the blog until the beginning of September and then I’ll be back full force. I will, however, be sharing exclusive content in my weekly email newsletter all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!



I’m also working on some stuff related to my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE!).

May was a great month for our family. School got out. We started our annual family bike rides (bike-to-work day and bike-to-school day are both very important holidays in our house!). Summer is glorious in Alaska and we’re definitely experiencing days where we are pretty sure we live in the greatest place in the world!

As for the numbers… it was pretty good. Not bad. See what you think:

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Every few months, I get so frustrated with our mortgage, I just want it to DIE. I realize we’re doing really well. We have made incredible progress. Right now, it sits at $45,450. Being so close to $45,000 is amazing, but it also seems like we’re SO CLOSE! In our current plan, we pay it off at the end of 2018, so we’re on track for that… but if we could kill it sooner, I would be very happy about that!

Our investments continue in an uphill climb. I keep expecting a giant tumble (which is why I ran some calculations this month based on our current savings rates and looking at a smaller savings rate to see how market returns impact totals), but I won’t complain as things go up! We had a minor dip mid-month, but we’re ending on a high again. Our investments currently sit at $154,000 which also means we’ve surpassed $500/month in investment income assuming a 4% withdrawal.

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for May – 50%. Anytime we break 50%, I’m thrilled! Yay us!

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($11,329/$25,000) – I picked up a one-time freelance research project that helped this month. I’m really enjoying the variety of work I’ve been doing this year (thanks, in part, to the pep talk I got from Revanche)!
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $45,450! $14,450 to go! On track… and ready for this mortgage to be DEAD!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $50k by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • FREE – Penny had two teeth extracted this month, so I took her for frosties as Wendys after the procedure. They made us wait at the counter for five minutes, so they just gave them to us for free.
  • $135.25 – The dental cost of the extractions.
  • $74 – A new bra at Nordstrom. Ladies, if you haven’t gone in to Nordstrom to be bra fitted, DO IT. I’ve never done this and I can tell you I’ve been wearing the total wrong size my entire life. $74 is a crazy expensive price for a bra, but the entire experience took TEN MINUTES. Worth it. Now I know my size and can shop much faster for other bras in the future.
  • $11.77 – Frozen Yogurt for myself and one of the teenage girls at Church that just broke up with her boyfriend.
  • $164 – CLOTHES! That’s right, after a HARROWING month of searching far and wide for some new clothes I like, I actually found some!
  • $42.21 – Edible Arrangement for Mr.T’s mom who just retired!
  • $48.99 – Date Night! We tried out Hard Rock Cafe downtown, saw a play (tickets purchased previously), and the finished splitting the Reese’s extreme blizzard at DQ (life-changing. That thing is amazing!).
  • $21.93 – Sharpies for an art project Mr. T is working on. (I can be talked into office supplies because that’s my Gazingus Pin. I love Sharpies.)

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “I took tomorrow off work so I could go up and start building my cabin. I rented a backhoe so I’ll be playing in the mud all weekend. The next four hours of work cannot go fast enough.”
  • From someone about to move to California: “Every time we sell something, I put the money in our Family DisneyLand tickets fund. Sold the couch. That’s one annual pass right there!”
You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

At the beginning of the year, I was about to attempt a new freelance opportunity that I hadn’t done before. I was struggling with selling myself and setting prices that I would be happy with later (especially because the project was unlike any I had yet done). Do you know who gave me the greatest pep talk of all time? Revanche over at A Gai Shan Life.

The Original Pep Talk:

If you were negotiating on my behalf like my agent, what would you be proud of telling me that you’d gotten as a rate? Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together. They’re not doing you a favor, you’re providing an excellent service they want and they need to compensate you fairly or it’s not a relationship worth your time. Puff up that chest with a huge breath, let it out and calmly imagine them being THRILLED to be working with you. That’s the feeling you want to have going in and coming out, and quote them from that mindspace.

So good, right?

You Are Your Own Agent

Read More

A Financial Plan is Like a Sneeze While Driving

A Financial Plan is Like a Sneeze While Driving

Have you ever had to sneeze while driving? It’s terrifying! You’ll have to close your eyes and convulse your body* all while maintaining safety on the road. Having a financial plan is very similar to preparing for this unexpected, horrifying sneeze.

Preparing to Sneeze While Driving

Read More

A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

Earth Day was this weekend. To celebrate, Florin’s school passed out garbage bags to kick off next week’s city-wide clean up (my favorite time of year… all the trash that was hiding in all that snow gets picked up!). Each year, I perform a personal Earth Day Checkup. We could all be doing better protecting the environment, but every year, I like to celebrate the things I am doing, note my own improvements, and come up with something I can improve upon.

Earth Day Checkup: The Good

Read More

A Simple, Month-Ahead Elimination Budget

A Simple, Month-Ahead Elimination Budget

Mr. T and I were married in the midst of college. We were happiness-rich, but cash poor. We were both lucky to not be in debt because we were both given some assistance from our parents for college. After we were married, we combined our meager bank accounts and started an elimination budget.

We both worked hourly as custodians for our college football team cleaning the locker rooms and the coaches’ offices between 9:30PM and 1AM. Perks: football games were way more engaging because we knew the players intimately though we never met them (“the player that’s got that cute letter from a 6-year-old fan on his locker board has the ball!”). We also got random things out of the trash, like a barely-worn pair of shoes and a dozen tickets to the nearby waterpark. Also, we got to work together and we got a slight pay increase for working nights. Downsides: It was very late and we were tired. We got weekly wheatgrass shots at Jamba Juice to get us through.

The Simple Elimination Budget

Read More

Daily Spending and Saving in 2016

Daily Spending and Saving in 2016

Several people have suggested putting a certain amount of money in savings every single day, aim to spend less than a certain amount of money on any given day, etc. On a day to day basis, I don’t do well with that. I save in monthly spurts. But I liked the idea of tracking how much I spent and saved on a daily basis. Here are our 2016 expenses broken down into daily spending amounts in each category:

Daily Spending and Savings 2016

Read More

Comparison is the Thief of Joy and Productivity

Comparison is the Thief of Joy and Productivity

Teddy Roosevelt is famous for saying: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” I took the liberty of adding “… and productivity.” When we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of what we’re busy accomplishing.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Better Than You

Last week, a Facebook friend of mine posted:

Lin-Manuel Miranda and my alumni magazine make me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life.

I totally agreed. A few days later, I happened across this article (headline is NOT changed): Lin-Manuel Miranda even sings karaoke better than you do.* Of course he does!

Read More

Page 1 of 6

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén