December was another lovely month and so very eventful. I finished up my semester-long ice skating class at the local university with my awesome skating performance (spoiler: I fell in the first two seconds). We finished up our largest project of the year: The Alaska State Energy Rebate Program and are looking forward to our $7700+ rebate check arriving sometime in February. I can honestly say that the thing I’m most excited about 2016 is that we are done with all the DIY home projects with a deadline! Mr. T and I attempted to sell some art at a holiday bazaar and hated it (upcoming post). But we weren’t too down because then we all got to get on a plane to Hawaii to celebrate my dad’s retirement in Hawaii for Christmas!
Hawaii was awesome and warm and perfect. We had a simple Christmas where my girls got hula skirts from Santa as their only presents (Lui got a ball and a banana… he was thrilled) and we just spent quality time with each other. We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, we ate a million pineapples and other fruits sold on the side of the road, we swam in the ocean with sea turtles. Mr. T and I even got to get away for a night for our tenth anniversary. It was the perfect trip. We returned home last Saturday to find an unseasonably warm Alaska with no snow! So disappointing!
We started using Personal Capital to get a snapshot of our monthly finances. It really is a geeked-out dream for someone like me that loves to see graphs and make spreadsheets. If you don’t like doing that, it’s also really user-friendly and does all the work for you. Best part? It’s free! Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence!
The most exciting news is that we got our mortgage balance below $80,000 before the end of the year! The balance currently sits at $79,950. With the market fluctuations, we didn’t make the goal of our investments exceeding our mortgage balance. Those currently sit at $74,780 (a decrease since last month). Maybe next month we’ll successfully cross that milestone. With the new year here, I’ve set out our specific financial goals for the year ahead. (Next Monday I’ll be talking a bit about our non-financial goals for the year and this Friday, I’ll be issuing a challenge, so stay tuned!)
2016 Financial Goals:
- $125,000 in investments (need some market help on this one, so I’m not going to focus on it)
- Max out my Roth IRA for 2015 by April ($0/$5500)
- Max out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500)
- Max out my Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500)
- Mortgage balance below $55,000 by the end of December ($79,950 – need $24,950)
Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:
- $161.99 – Our vacuum we purchased just after we got married finally died a few weeks shy of ten years. It was duct taped and bungee corded, but it worked. And then it didn’t. So we purchased the exact same one – the current model at Sears which now feels like a Jetsons vacuum compared to the old one.
- $29.99 – Penny grew out of her old ice skates, so we had to get her a new (used) pair of skates and get them sharpened since she gets to ice skate at school.
- $343.28 – Mr. T and I escaped from the extended family for a night in Hawaii to celebrate our tenth anniversary. (All accommodations are super expensive the week of Christmas, even booking a year in advance!) Our big trip will be to the UK and Paris this summer, but when people offer to babysit for us to get away, we take it (since this was only the third time we’ve done so since having Penny nearly 8 years ago)!
- $423.19 – Good ole’ rental car in Oahu, Hawaii for the holidays.
- $22.17 – I forgot my sunglasses and hat in Hawaii, so I had to purchase a hat and we forgot our toothbrushes! (We always seem to forget something!)
- $49.54 – Santa candy and hula skirts for my daughters and nieces and a t-shirt for my nephew for stockings. This was the extent of gifts for our children. It was fabulous.
These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:
“We’re sort of close to retirement, but our kids are still in college and we want to help them with that, so we’ll be working for several more years. And our oldest wants to start dental school, so that means we’ll be working for awhile.”
“When we moved to Alaska, I really didn’t want to be house poor, so we bought a house where we felt really comfortable with the payment instead of buying one that fit our family better.”
“My boss pays us $10,000 less than the other team that does the same thing. When I found that out, I lost respect for him and got out as soon as I could. Now that I’m no longer under him and he constantly has to train new people, I want to ask him: ‘Are the cost savings worth it?'”
“I always thought my husband would be the one that took the trash out and paid the bills because that’s what my dad did. Then I realized I liked doing those things and now I do both of them.”