I love the beginning of the month. It’s the time to sit down, figure out where we stand on the plan, and track the numbers! Overall, this was a great month at the Banks’ house. The most exciting news? Our post about putting your kids to work was featured on Rockstar Finance! Dreams do come true! February was spent touching everything in our house and getting rid of tons of stuff. We started with organizing our clothes, moved on to purging books, tackled the bathroom and kitchen organization (and found a million bag clips and hairbands!), and then worked our way through the rest of the house.
The Fill-the-Bucket List is still going strong! Several more bloggers participated this month including: Amber Tree Leaves, It’s a Kate Life, Debt Discipline, Notorious D.E.B.T., The Personal Economist, Our Next Life, Slowly Sipping Coffee, and Financially Alert. These posts are super fun to read and I hope they keep coming! In case you missed the ones written last month, those can all be found in our January update.
In other blog news, we hit 100 posts this month and celebrated with a blog clip show. We also started a new guest series we hope to continue called the Roth IRA Challenge. Claudia and Garrett from Two Cup House were the first people to take the challenge. We would love to have you take the challenge as well! If you want to participate, let me know and we’ll feature you!
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 markets are making it difficult to achieve the goal of having our investments exceed our mortgage balance. It didn’t happen again this month, but that’s alright. Slow and steady, right? Our investments currently sit at $70,878. We were able to throw an extra $1800 toward the mortgage this month (to partially make up for not achieving our goal last month) so that brought the mortgage balance down to $76,200.
Thanks to Leap Day, I actually managed to hit my goal work hours this month. We are awaiting a $900 tax return and we still haven’t received our $7800 energy rebate, so hopefully March will mean we get to throw some money into our Roth-IRAs and exceed our mortgage balance in investments! Fingers crossed! Also, streamlining the monthly finances will fully go into effect in March, which means bill paying and financial tracking will get a lot easier for me! Yay!
I’m also starting to track a new metric this month… savings percentage! I know, I know. I’m not a big fan of the percentage metric since it favors people that make a lot more money than we do, but as I continue down this journey, I find that we’re capable of doing hard things. I also wasn’t sure how I wanted to track this, so I decided we would track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage would be included in the amount saved. So, after all that… the grand total for February: 44.8%! Can you believe it? It turns out when you don’t make a whole bunch of money, months where you can throw an extra $1800 at the mortgage make your savings rate really high! We’ll see what this ends up leveling off at in the next few months. I have a few financial/savings experiments planned to push ourselves a bit harder.
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:
$30 – Tickets for the girls and I to see the local high school’s version of Cinderella. The girls were in absolute heaven and even asked to stay after and get pictures with Cinderella. It was adorable.
$88.48 – Cell phone plan. We don’t have anything great like Republic Wireless or Google’s version up here in Alaska yet.
$99.80 – Internet. That’s right. Almost $100. Welcome to Alaska. The other company has lower rates, but charges for bandwidth! Is that even still legal?!
$3.74 – Shipping charges to send a present to my brand new nephew!
$47.84 – SellBackYourBooks.com (use Book Scouter to see which service gives the most money back)
$53.25 – Textbooks.com (use Book Scouter to see which service gives the most money back)
$8 – selling some old toys to a local consignment shop
$47.50 – For a guest post. Can we now say I’m a “professional blogger”? 🙂
These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:
- “When you’re happy, you don’t need anything else, right?”
- “When they first starting building giant houses, they gave reasons. She was always saying ‘my parents may end up living with us.’ Now they just do it.”
- “I started working as a noon duty at the kids’ school and I was talking to the lunch lady–Ha! The lunch lady and the noon duty–that’s got to be some great joke somewhere. Anyway, she had just passed her inspection and was celebrating: ‘I got 100%.’ Then the guy asked why she wasn’t trying to become the manager at the high school. And she was like ‘I’m happy here.’ She’s good at what she does, but she loves the school, she loves the kids, and she’s happy. Why would she want to move up for the sake of moving up?”