Denali Northern Expenditure

Q1 2020 Plan Update: COVID edition

The world is weird now, right? All of a sudden it’s the middle of May but March was like ten years long. Let me first say that we’re incredibly lucky at this time in so many ways and we know that everyone is struggling, so please understand that what you’re feeling right now is okay to feel. If you need help, reach out for help. Mr. T and I both still have jobs. His is more secure than mine, but mine has turned into full-time COVID-19 research, so I will probably keep it for the near future anyway. We’re also trying to balance working on the new house, moving over there before our renters move into our condo on June 1, school schedules for our 3 kids, etc etc. It’s a lot.

March 2020

March was a strange month. We started the month in California for Spring Break. We went to Legoland and Universal Studios and everything seemed fairly normal. We then went to LA one day in the pouring down rain and got stuck in horrible traffic on the way back and during the HOURS we were stuck in the rain on the freeway in a standstill, the world changed. As we listened to the radio on the way home, Disneyland closed, sports were canceled, everything started happening at once. We had 3 days until we were supposed to return to Alaska. We got news the kids wouldn’t be going back to school upon return as school had been canceled. Quarantines hadn’t been initiated for all state returnees yet, but the trip home was scary and I kept worrying the 6-year old would cough or something and we’d get kicked off the plane. We made it home without incident and self-isolated for 2 weeks (and then much much longer because we’re still basically in isolation). Mr. T started working from home, my job got really intense with COVID-related stuff, and we started a big family calendar full of work meetings and school Zoom meetings so none of us would get in each other’s way.

The Money Stuff

It feels weird that I’m still talking about this stuff with all that’s going on. And the market not reflecting the real crisis of so many losing work is frustrating. It seems such an example to me of how this is impacting lower-income families so much more. It’s unfair and devastating.

At the end of March, we had scored ourselves a brand new mortgage so we found ourselves with a new mortgage balance of $336,000, but at 3% interest on a 15-year mortgage, we’re not planning to pay it off faster than 10 years (and I am trying to pledge to put no significant amount towards principal unless we’ve maxed out all the retirement things possible for that year). Our investments were at $276,600. Boy we went backwards didn’t we?

So we returned from an expensive vacation into a worldwide pandemic with a brand new mortgage. Of course I freaked out a little! I ran so many numbers and now have a WORST CASE SCENARIO PLAN. Right now, we have renters under contract for a year starting June 1. Because the condo is paid off, that money can pay half the mortgage of the new house. If Mr. T and I lose our jobs in the next year, we’ll live off of the cash we’ve been hoarding to build the addition we had planned to add onto the house next summer (and obviously forgo said addition). After the year is up on the condo renters, if they choose to move, we can sell that and live off that money for a bit. I digress…

Right now, we’re doing well. We both still have jobs. Our online sales are down 90%, so our side income is unremarkable (and may continue for some time since people aren’t feeling very confident shopping for stuff they don’t need right now). But, it feels better to know that even if we both lose our jobs, we’ll be okay.

The House

We spent March and April doing so much work on the house late at night, on weekends, etc. We removed the popcorn ceilings, patched the drywall, textured, and painted. We had the carpet replaced (we hired that one out). We installed hardwood flooring in the living room so the whole main floor has hardwood. We sanded down the existing hardwood and then stained and finished the whole thing so they matched. We drywalled a storage area into a little playroom for the kids. We exposed a structural beam that was hidden under drywall and finished it. We’ve painted. We’ve patched. The most frustrating part of all of it is that we have all been on top of each other during this whole thing when we have another big house just down the road that we could have been using but still needed so much work. Now the main stuff is done and we can finally move in starting this week! Remember how I said we enjoyed house projects? No one warned me about popcorn ceilings. Do. Not. Like. And I’m glad we’re done with some big projects, because it’s been pretty exhausting.

2020 Goals

With Mr. T and I both working, I had said that my goal was to max out all the retirement accounts for the first time ever. It seems weird making financial goals right now, but since that was the goal I made in January, we’ll go with it and give ourselves grace if we don’t succeed (like basically every year. ha ha). I’m channeling the person on Amazon that bought one of my 2020 planners this week. (Like, you’re actually doing PLANNING for 2020?! Who IS this person!?) Here goes:

  • Max Out My 401k ($2,880/$19,500) – Fun fact: I found out THIS WEEK that the maximum was $19,500 for 2020 and not $19,000 like last year. I’m totally nailing this PF blogger thing. Seriously. I’m the greatest. Also fun fact: my company uses percentage of pay instead of actual dollar amounts, so I’m gonna have to play with that to get close.
  • Max Out Mr. T’s 401k ($5,100/$19,500) – Another fun fact: Mr. T’s work uses an arbitrary slider for contributions. So, he can contribute something $784 or $832, but no number in between… so, we’ll have to play with that to get close this year as well.
  • Max Out my Roth IRA for 2019 ($0/$6000) – with the extended July 15th deadline for this, we’ll maybe be able to do it!
  • Max Out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2019 ($0/$6000)
  • Max Out my Roth IRA for 2020 ($0/$6000)
  • Max Out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2020 ($0/$6000)
  • Figure out and Contribute to a SEP-IRA – Because our online sales for December were over $10k that month (then crashed pretty shortly thereafter), but we get paid in January on that money, our 2020 sales money is already over $10k. I need to figure out what “max out” means for how much we end up making in 2020 and do that.

Take Care of Yourselves

As I said at the beginning, this is a weird time for everyone and we’re all realizing stuff about ourselves that we didn’t know and we’re all feeling all the things. Please take care of yourselves. Check in with friends. This thing isn’t over yet and it could get worse before it gets better, so everything is up in the air for 2020. I’ll still do quarterly updates (though maybe continue the trend of being 6-weeks late on them) just to keep up momentum, but they seem silly since so much is uncertain. Hang in there, friends. I send you a virtual, social-distanced hug.


We Bought a House! (And a New Plan)


Q2 2020 Plan Update


  1. That must have been really strange to be in LA in the midst of things closing down. Hope you guys are staying safe. Looks like you and the Mr. have been keeping busy working on the house.

    A strange time we live in right now. Stay safe!

    • MaggieBanks

      Definitely something we’ll always remember… it was VERY real being in CA and trying to get home when it all went mad.

  2. I’m so glad you made it back home in time – what a weird time it must have been to be traveling and trying to get home when staying longer wasn’t an option.

    Well done on the house, that was SO MUCH work you put in over a short period of time, and during the opening stages of the pandemic no less.

    Even though we’re generally ok right now I’m still doing self soothing by way of figuring out worst case scenarios and planning them out. I don’t have a lot of other options for stress relief!

    • MaggieBanks

      I do this too! And Mr. T has to talk me down sometimes. ha ha. But I’ve got some good back up plans!

  3. Hello and happy to read that you and the family are doing well.

    We are doing relatively well. It’s been a crazy year for us and I’m definitely feeling all of the things. I’ve been trying to get back to blogging, at least to document these strange times. First though, I wanted to check in with some of my internet friends.

    Here’s a virtual, social-distanced hug to you too!!

    • MaggieBanks

      SOOO good to hear from you! It’s been awhile. Glad to hear you’re back. Hugs to you too!

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