Denali Northern Expenditure

Q4 2019 Plan Update

About a year ago, I had a dream that I had to write a post on this blog that said: “This blog was about our journey to early retirement. Unfortunately, I have to shut the blog down because I became a successful stand-up comedian and Netflix has given us a large advance for my comedy specials that we’ve reached our goals.” Unfortunately (for both Netflix and myself), that dream didn’t come true. However, our situation is changing dramatically, and thus, so is our journey.

When we first started our journey, I was a stay-at-home mom working less than ten hours a week. We were entrepreneurial wannabes but had no actual success. We made significantly less than $100k combined. This was an interesting place to be in and ultimately, why we started the blog. I read about a lot of people waiting to have kids until they were early retired or being able to retire early when the kids were still young. We already had two kids when we discovered the FIRE movement so too late on that front. AND, there was no way we would be able to retire anytime soon with our numbers. I chose to stay home with the kids to frontload my time with them. We knew the financial risks of doing so and ultimately, I still decided that’s what I wanted. We wanted that voice in the community, too.

Our original goal was $500k by 2022 because it seemed impossible. Everytime I would try to calculate real numbers, they wouldn’t work. I still argue that early in the journey, the numbers don’t matter. Do what you can and pick-ax up that financial cliff. Every step forward matters.

Why We Got Lucky

Having a stay-at-home parent stunts a career projection. We knew that. However, I lucked out having a part-time job I could work hourly around my schedule for the past nine years. This fall, Lui started school and my full-time momming years were at an end. I expressed interest in going full time and (after three months of absolute drama with the HR department), I’m happy to report they gave me an offer. AND it was higher than what Mr. T was currently making. (When I asked him if his masculinity was questioned as apparently happens when the wife makes more than 40% of the household income, his answer was: “More money for the household? Isn’t that a good thing? Also, I have no idea how much I make…”. Ironically, he got a promotion the next week which put his salary back over mine. The Patriarchy!!!) Anyway, this is not the norm for most stay-at-home-parents. So I am incredibly lucky. Now we haven’t gotten any of our new paychecks, so we don’t know exactly how much we’re dealing with here, but combined, we’re now around the $150k range pre-tax (and pre-benefits) with our two salaries combined.

This, I realize, makes us and our journey no longer relateable to many of you. This is often a point of contention in the Personal Finance community. When people focus on increasing income, their stories change and they are no longer relateable to so many. I, however, have been assured that until we reach $198k, we’re on the border. 😉

The Side Hustle

The reason we have the opportunity to get into that unrelateable category is because our entrepreneurial efforts have actually started paying off. I gave an update in Q3 on those efforts and am happy to report that this month, we surpassed $10k in sales in one month! This is HUGE for us (since our previous record was $3200 in October 2017 and we haven’t been able to get close to $3k again since then). The full-time designer we had left this month so we’ll have less outgoing money and we’ve pivoted the business toward things Mr. T and I enjoy doing ourselves. We’re working on building these things up in 2020 and we’re excited about the potential.

The Numbers:

Full disclosure: I stopped using Personal Capital (affiliate link) because they stopped working for Mr. T’s retirement funds. But I really did enjoy them before they stopped working entirely for me. (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Mortgage is still at $ZERO! Again, we’re cash hoarding for a potential home purchase this year. Again, only if the market drops a bit and we find a house we like.

As of this random Monday in December (ha ha, can’t be bothered to wait until New Year’s to update the numbers) our investments and savings are at $324,000. The bonkers double digit markets have been good to us.

2019 Financial Goals (REWORKED):

  • Max Out My 2018 Roth IRA ($5,500/$5,500) – Thanks to the totaling of the car, WE DID IT!
  • Max Out My 2019 Roth IRA (0/$6,000) – Still cash hoarding. We’ll see come the end of March if we want to do it this year.
  • Max Out Mr.T’s 2019 Roth IRA (0/$6,000) – Ditto here.
  • Replenish Emergency Fund ($1,200/$1,200) – Because our emergency fund is in a Capital360 account so we can use it for free ATMs while traveling (but the account only earns 1%), we lowered our emergency account goal from $5000 to $1200. Then we changed this goal:
  • Extra Investments ($22,700/$45,000) – We still have a couple paychecks coming at the end of this month, so we’ll end the year with just under $25k here and another $7k in our business account (we don’t get paid for December’s sales until February). Not bad. Not great considering our goals, but not bad.

In 2019, we really focused on increasing income. We spent a lot of money a long the way and didn’t really keep track well (we trusted ourselves on autopilot). In 2020, now that we’ve set up some pretty good incomes, we’re going to focus on saving more of that money and grow our businesses. We’re also building a new plan that we’ll let you in on the details of in early 2020.

Meanwhile, as always, we’re grateful to have you along for the ride. And to celebrate the holidays, we’ll remind you that Mr. T and I put together a few holiday classics (the song-owners added the ads, not us, FYI):

Happy Holidays! Love, the Banks Family


Dipnetting 2019: I got a Triple!


We Bought a House! (And a New Plan)


  1. Your husband sounds so much like mine with that salary comment haha

  2. Even if y’all do reach $200k/year income, I hope you still keep the blog going. I love it when you get into the ‘life in Alaska’ side of things.

  3. David

    Congrats on increasing income. The side hustle income in particular is very impressive. You have to attack both ends of the income/saving equation so you’re doing a commendable job.

  4. I know we have great husbands because the looks on their faces when we suggest they’d somehow have a PROBLEM with more money coming in is great.

    I was really worried that you were going to end this post with a “so I’m done writing this blog” and I’m so glad you didn’t. 😀

    I don’t know why people have such trouble relating to folks who worked their way up to higher incomes – don’t you want to see what they did and learn from it? I sure do. One of my mentors made more in a year than I did in 7 back in my low income days, another mentor makes 50% more in a year than we do together. So? That means I can learn from them! And that you’re making it happen with three kids is an endless source of admiration for me.

    Plus y’all are funny as all get out 😀

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