Denali Northern Expenditure

Month: February 2016 Page 1 of 2

Lessons from Decluttering Everything

We did it! We have successfully touched every single thing in our house. I have taken 6 loads to the thrift store. Everything left in our home has a place to go. We spent this weekend double checking all the rooms, dusting, vacuuming, changing sheets, and mopping. I can tell you that my house is really and truly cleaned and organized for the first time ever and it feels amazing. I’ve written updates on organizing clothes, books, and the bathrooms and kitchen. Tackling decluttering for real was life-changing. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

Gratitude: An Antidote for Temporal Discounting?


Everybody is impatient to some degree. When it comes to money, we want money now. We want to spend money now. This economic impatience is called temporal discounting. In short, temporal discounting means that we value $50 today over $50 tomorrow and it’s one of the main reasons most people don’t have enough money to retire. The ability to overcome temporal discounting would be considered an economic super power! You would be the world’s greatest saver! Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to overcome temporal discounting entirely, but there are ways to lessen its impacts.

The Financial Independence Anthem

We’re big fans of They Might Be Giants. They make catchy, intelligent children’s music. My kids were listening to one of their favorite CDs by They Might be Giants, Here Come the 1,2,3sThe Seven Days of the Week song came on and we all started singing loudly. I realized this is it. This is the Financial Independence Anthem. It’s about never going to work and living a dream. Maybe your dream is to play the trumpet. When you reach Financial Independence, you can practice all day every day so Sunday you play best! “Oh no, no I never go to work…”

Fight Back by Changing the Rules

“Think back to your days on the playground. There was always a big bully and countless victims, but there was also that one small kid who fought like hell, thrashing and swinging for the fences. He or she might not have won, but after one or two exhausting exchanges, the bully chose not to bother him or her. It was easier to find someone else. Be that kid.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

I love this sentiment. Being a fighter is a great way to survive, but so is getting out of the situation entirely. I changed the rules. 

Roth IRA Challenge: How We (Could Have) Fully Funded an Account

We’re starting a new guest series. I’ve wanted a way to highlight awesome people and awesome bloggers. So, I issue a challenge: The Roth IRA challenge is about documenting how you found or earned an extra $5500 and what you did with the money. It’s called the Roth IRA challenge because that is enough to max out one Roth IRA in a year though I realize most people will have other specific goals for that money. Today, our friends over at Two Cup House kick off the challenge. Enjoy! Over to you, Claudia:

Roth IRA Two Cup House

When we kicked off our personal finance journey exactly one year ago this month, we started by addressing the most obvious area: spending.  After cutting our spending significantly and setting a realistic budget we could live with, I imagine that we could have met the prerequisite of this Roth IRA challenge within a few months.  But we had other plans for our cash.

Kitchen and Bathroom Organization

In our effort to touch every single item in our house (see our success with our clothing and our books!), we tackled the bathrooms and kitchen this past week. We anticipated these projects being quite simple since we open up all the cabinets in both the kitchen and bathrooms daily. But these projects were beasts! Every hidden corner had hairbands and bag clips! It would have been so easy to just open all the cabinets, say “yup, we’re good” and close them up again. I’m not backing down on my goal to touch every single thing, so I pulled everything out of every cabinet and wiped everything down! (It feels great to know my clean silverware is no longer sitting in a layer of year-old crumbs.) Mr. T and I actually touched and discussed every dish.

I Found the Hairbands and Saved Money!

Sarah over at The Yachtless wrote a poignant piece that was featured on Rockstar Finance called Small Things about losing hairbands and tracking your spending. This is a response to that awesome blog post.

Hey Sarah, Maggie here.

I’m just writing to tell you I found them! Yes, ALL the hairbands.

This was a pretty big week for me. Mr. T and I cleared out our bathrooms and our kitchen cabinets. Both of these things we figured would take a couple of hours total, but they ended up being a much bigger deal than we anticipated. I was in that bathroom for hours. And, just as you supposed, every dark corner hid at least a couple of hairbands.

Northern Expenditure’s 100th Post!

We’ve made it. 100 episodes. That’s over four seasons if we were a standard American sitcom! And that means… it’s time for a clip show! That’s right. Here’s where we would put together a moving and hilarious series of vignettes of us laughing together and crying together. Unfortunately, in blog form, this is the best I can do to capture our collective experience:

The Steps to Take to Purge and Organize Your Books

The second category we tackled was Books. We are book lovers and the books filled all our bookshelves, some storage cubes, and all the shelves in our nightstands. It was overwhelming. And it was too many to pile all together at one time. So, we broke up the process of decluttering the books in the following ways:

Step 1) Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Money Books!

I pulled up on my phone and started a scavenger hunt for books worth money. BookScouter checks all the textbook buyback websites and tells you which one would give you the most money for your book after you enter the ISBN number. This was a fun and motivating way to get started on a category so overwhelming. I entered hundreds of ISBN numbers. In general, I learned that fiction is worth nothing, but I was often surprised that textbooks over ten years old were still worth a couple dollars. I stacked them into piles for,, and Amazon based on which one BookScouter said would give me the most money. Be sure to check out the book condition requirements of each company. One of my books was worth about $25 but because it had a rip in the cover, no one would accept it. Each company lets you print off a free shipping label and just drop the box off at a shipper and then they reimburse you (remember that if you choose PayPal, you’ll get your money faster, but you’ll also have to pay fees). I tried to get up to $50 from each service, but failed. Here’s how it ended up breaking down:

Pay Your Kids and Put them to Work!

Let me preface this post by saying I don’t have this parenting thing figured out. I yell at my kids sometimes and I can’t get them to clean their rooms. But I do know one thing: Kids want to earn money.

Think about it. When you were a kid, do you remember how much that random check was from your aunt and uncle for Christmas? I don’t. (Checks were weird!) Do you remember that hard-earned $10. Absolutely.

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