Tag: goals (Page 1 of 5)

Tracking Your Finances and Celebrating Wins!

Tracking Your Finances and Celebrating Wins!

If you’ve been around Northern Expenditure awhile, you’re probably aware that I like to celebrate. (If you follow me on Twitter, you’re aware I celebrate with dancing gifs!) If you don’t track, you can’t celebrate!

Tracking Your Finances:

It’s a new year (yay for new!) and it’s time to start tracking your finances FOR REAL this year. Here’s what you need:

  • Basic Budget Spreadsheet – You need to know what you spend. My budget is very elaborate and all spending fits into categories (which allows me to track my spending and turn it into awesome pie charts!). Yours can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. But you absolutely need to keep track of where your money is going. Every single dollar of it!
  • Debt Spreadsheet – (obviously you only need this if you have debt) Since our only debt is our mortgage, I have a simple amortization spreadsheet that keeps track of my interest paid each month, my extra payments, and how much I save over the life of the loan on my extra payments. For other debts, a spreadsheet that includes how much interest you’re paying and allows you to play with how much you save and how much you cut your loan length by paying extra is good. Again, this spreadsheet is going to be different based on your needs (and you can probably find a free Excel sheet that works for you by Googling it).
  • Your Money or Your Life Chart – I’ve talked extensively about this already, but this chart helps you visualize your progress. I also keep track of my monthly savings amount on this chart.
  • Personal Capital* – This is the only automated tool I use that’s not a spreadsheet and it tracks everything: my net worth, my debts, my credit card charges, my investments, my investment fees. It also puts everything together in one dashboard so I can see everything with one login! The service is free.

What can you Track?

If you follow our monthly plan update posts, you’ll notice that I have a million metrics that I follow and one of them is always worth celebrating. In the past year, we’ve celebrated:

  • Our investment balance surpassing our mortgage balance (March 2016)
  • Over 50% savings rate (April 2016) – For my calculations, I use the total we saved/invested that month (I add retirement savings + extra mortgage payments) and then divide that by the total (pre-tax) much we made that month. You can decide, based on your savings priorities, what to include in your own calculation.
  • Hitting $100,000 in investments (June 2016) – while on vacation!
  • Our mortgage balance going under $70,000 (July 2016)
  • Monthly interest on the mortgage dropped below $200 (September 2016) – This is a metric I like tracking – each month and each extra payment made knocks down the monthly fee I owe the bank!
  • Mortgage balance dropping below $60,000 (October 2016)
  • My 4% monthly investment income breaking $400 (November 2016 – didn’t mention it in the update) – This is a metric from the YMOYL chart – it helps you track how much money you could safely withdraw monthly if you quit today.

We’ve also celebrated hitting financial goals we’ve set for ourselves, but the little celebrations keep us motivated along the way. You’ll notice that we had something to celebrate nearly every month this year. The more you track, the more milestones you can celebrate along the way that keep you moving forward!

Time to start tracking!

What metrics do you track that I didn’t mention?


Personal Capital links on the blog are affiliate links. At NO COST to you, we get a “thank you” commission if you sign up through our links. If you don’t feel good about that, open a new window and go directly to their landing page. 

2017 Financial Goals

2017 Financial Goals

As I’ve thought about how to direct our money in 2017, I’ve gotten so overwhelmed. I’m really horrible at multitasking when it comes to goals. I want to just get rid of my mortgage so that I can direct all money toward investments. But I also know if I just throw all money toward the mortgage, I’ll regret not adding more to investments along the way. The stock market seems really inflated to me right now, so I will continue to throw money at my mortgage for now, but if the market tanks later in the year, I will redirect more towards “on sale” investments.

I’m also terrible at hiding my own money before I see it. It was easy to up Mr. T’s 401k contributions, because they take that money out automatically. My paycheck is a physical check I get in the mail and it varies greatly. Last year, I ranged from $0 (vacation pay periods, I make no money… the plight of an hourly employee) to $1608 (if there is more work to do, I get more money… the awesomeness of being an hourly employee). So, it’s hard to plan monthly savings goals around my income. I haven’t figured out the best way to handle this yet. (Thoughts?)

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January 2017 Plan Update

December 2016 Plan Update

Welcome back, friends!

PLEASE – If you haven’t taken my SUPER IMPORTANT AND AWESOME SURVEY, please do it now. Share it with your family. Make your friends take it at your house. Post it on social media. Okay… you get it. Thanks. Seriously and honestly: Thank you.

Welcome to 2017 – the year where people stop dying and the world becomes a wonderful, hopeful, kind place. Too much hope? I love a new year. A clean slate. And while I can’t entirely control the world, I can move myself forward. So, the next few posts will be introducing the 2017 Stock household goals (yay goals!).

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November 2016 Plan Update

November 2016 Plan Update

What a roller coaster of a month! I’m happy to report that things are going great inside the Stock house. The kids are at great stages right now and our house feels very merry and bright! Outside our little house and in the big, big world, I can’t say I feel quite as safe and happy. The hate is coming out of the closets and seemingly taking over the world. It’s important to be kind and as Mr. Rogers said:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

(Mister Rogers has always been my favorite!)

This Christmas season, we’re making an increased effort to be those helpers!

This month is BIG for the blog. Coming soon: we have a very exciting Christmas post that’s definitely out of the ordinary. (Mr. T and I spent hours putting it together and you’ll LOVE IT. I promise!) In two weeks, I’m introducing something BIG and I’m super excited about it… details coming Monday, December 19th! YAY YAY YAY YAY! Ahem. Okay… what you came here for…

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Grateful Money Amounts

Grateful Money Amounts

I enjoyed the Halloween tweet-storm so much, I decided to do a Thanksgiving version. I asked people to give me one amount of money they are grateful for in 2016:

I thought about this a lot myself before tweeting it out and have an answer that fits in a variety of categories. For each category, I add my own answer and the Twitter responses I got that fit in that category as well.

Experiences

My $276 amount to see the second ever showing of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would fit in this category. It was an amazing, historic experience.

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A Grateful Year in Review

A Grateful Year-in-Review

In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, we’re going to do a practical gratitude exercise. This is Thanksgiving week. (YAY!) Think about where you were last year at this time: how old were your kids? who was with you Thanksgiving week? where were you? what were you working on? what things were you wishing you were doing better?

Do not focus on the negative. Life happens. Maybe this year had a lot of bad things happen. Now is not the time to talk about those.

Focus on the growth. Pick (at least) 2 things that are better this year than last year.

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Perfect Gets in the Way of Good: Finances Edition

Perfect Gets in the Way of Good: Finances Edition

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “Perfect is the Enemy of Good.” I’m experiencing that in my financial situation here at the end of the year. Last week, I calculated our projected taxes for 2016 (PRO-TIP: Do this earlier than November!) and realized we’re set to owe nearly $7,500! Yikes! (It doesn’t help that I am self-employed and our PFD and Energy Program Rebate are both taxable.)

*Rewind* *Rewind*

(blatant Hamilton reference, yes)

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It's Time to Face Your Financial Reality

It’s Time to Face Your Financial Reality

Last week, in celebration of Halloween, I shared a tweetstorm of the scariest things you could say to a Personal Finance Geek. Maybe you read that and felt bad about yourself because you have done some of those things (or still do). DON’T. I shared the original tweets. What I did not share were all of the conversations that followed. SEVERAL of these tweets inspired responses from other personal finance bloggers that said things like “Me 2 years ago,” “…said my husband,” “been there!” or “still paying off that debt!”

We are not better than you. And you are not worse.

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Practicing Escapism

Practicing Escapism

What day of the week would you guess searches for jokes are at their peak?

I would guess Monday. How else would you get through a “bad case of the Mondays”? Turns out, I’m wrong! Searches for jokes are at their LOWEST on Mondays! And highest on Fridays-Sundays (when I commonly search for lunchbox jokes for the kids for the week).

So what search terms are highest on Mondays?

Depression. Anxiety. Doctor. 

This is devastating. Joke searches also dive after traumatic news events like bombings. This information suggests two things:

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Paying off my mortgage

Roth IRA Challenge: Mustard Seed Money Mortgage

Today we have a FABULOUS guest post about paying off your mortgage. If you haven’t noticed, I am SO SICK of my mortgage. On my September plan update post, I expressed my disdain of my mortgage balance and Mustard Seed Money wrote the greatest comment about paying off his mortgage. I basically begged him to write this post. By way of introduction, Mustard Seed Money works for the federal government as an accountant and is on the way to financial independence in just a few years! When he’s not inspiring my comment section, he shares amazing wisdom over at Mustard Seed Money. And now, his thoughts:

Paying off my mortgage was the best thing that I ever did in my financial life.  In the beginning, I thought of my mortgage as a necessary evil.  I was pretty grateful to get a 15-year mortgage with an incredibly low 3.5% interest rate, when I purchased my home in 2004.

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