We’re considering an “Ask Penny” segment on the blog. And may even include Florin if she can keep her answers somewhat on track. If this is something that would be interesting, submit your questions in the comment section. The series will be entirely reader-submitted questions. So, if we get enough interest/questions, we’ll do a post.
November is so great because it ends with Thanksgiving and introduces the Christmas season. I LOVE both of those holidays! We’ve been working hard on some artsy things to attempt to sell at a Christmas bazaar in December as well as finishing up our Energy Rebate to-do list. An update on the final numbers there will happen when we finish next month.
This month has been one of introductions with the blog. We participated in two blog interviews: one with Alyssa over at Generation Y Retirement Account (she called me “financially audacious”! I’m so flattered!) and the other one with Brian at Debt Discipline (complete with a picture of us at the Iditarod!). Penny (who wants you to know that she just lost her two front teeth and now gets to sing, appropriately, “All I want for Christmas…”) introduced herself here on the blog as well (and even sang the song in our soundbite on Monday). And we shared our story of how we survived our ten months of unemployment. And now you know way more about the Banks than you did last month!
Thanksgiving was lovely. I stayed in my jammies and watched the parade. I was really mad that the NBC Alaska affiliate decided to show the hour of the Today show about making a turkey and then skipped all the Broadway performances before the Thanksgiving Day parade (Another tidbit: I’m a total musical theater nerd). Get with the program! That’s my favorite part! (Living in Alaska can mean weird TV scheduling for live events.) During the actual parade, I stayed on the couch in my jammies while Mr. T made the turkey and two pies (see why it’s one of my favorite days of the year?!). I did contribute rolls to the party and we had three other families come over and eat. I love how warm and yummy Thanksgiving is. Then, on
Black Friday “Enough” Day, we listened to Christmas music, and made our house all full of Christmas cheer! We got nearly eight inches of snow earlier in the month, but then we got some early Chinook winds that melted everything. And now we’re in need of more snow!
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!
My 33% raise went through this month! (Yay!) But my hours were lower than usual, so I ended up making about the same amount as usual. That will probably pick up come January. But it was nice to work less and still make the same amount of money! We contributed our usual $800 to the mortgage (which we plan to increase in January). Our mortgage currently has $81,130 left to pay and our investments currently sit at $75,096. In next month’s update, I would love to see our investments surpass our mortgage debt, but that won’t be happening unless the market decides to help us out a bit. I do think we’ll be able to swing getting our mortgage under $80,000. That would be very exciting!
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:
$106.64 – Tickets to the Warner Brother (Harry Potter!) studios in London for next summer. For claiming not to be super Harry Potter geeks, we’re sure spending a lot of money on him lately! (Also, are you sick of hearing about our trip that is not even close? I’m sorry, but there’s a whole lot more coming!)
$57.57 – The cost of two amazing photo books we put together of us, our siblings, and all of our children. We did a “then and now” thing where we found a bunch of pictures of us when we were little and had our kids doing similar things. We didn’t go too crazy with specifically recreating, but we did different series like “in the high chair” and “Halloween costumes.” They turned out great and since we did it with our siblings, we should get some money back from them to split the costs.
$68 – Penny is just $12 away from earning her waterproof camera, so we ordered it and hid it so we could give it to her as soon as she had the money. She’s been working toward this for about four months and really wanted to earn it before we head to Hawaii for Christmas. She’s been doing a really good job.
$2 – The tooth fairy came twice this month. She gives out gold president and Sacajawea dollars which are just as magical as the glitter-sprayed dollar bills I keep seeing on Pinterest and way more practical. Mr. T had to go to the bank and ask for them specifically so we could have a stash.
$134.10 – Our semi-annual grain order. This round we bought 50 lbs of oat groats and 50 lbs of 7-grain berries. We hand grind half oats and half 7-grains for our breakfast every morning.
These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:
“My husband makes a decent salary, but it’s never enough. We use our PFD to pay rent.” Same person: “Ulta is having a really good sale this week. You guys should go there.”
“We’ve lived a lot of places and I always think: ‘I’ll get to save all this money here because groceries are cheap!’ but we always end up spending the same amount of money no matter where we live. If it’s a cheaper place, we just buy more.”
“When we were young, people always said ‘six-figure income’ and that was doing really well. Now, that’s not really the case anymore. We make that much and it doesn’t go very far.”
“Student loans really take their toll on our paycheck. We would have a lot more freedom if we didn’t have those.”
“Money is crazy. It goes a long way when you have it and stops everything when you don’t.”
“I moved to Alaska for a semester [from Australia] without any money at all. I came here to ski, but I can’t buy a lift ticket!”
“It’s time to cut myself off from shopping this weekend. I saved millions all you Black Friday haters!”
What stories did your expenses tell this month?