January 2016

January has been a rough month for me. I’ve spent a good chunk of it dealing with near-crippling muscle spasms, depression, anxiety – and many days a combination of all three. It’s gradually unfucking itself and after a couple weeks of treatment I’m close to what I’d consider an acceptable baseline again.

With that, I’ve tried to keep life here as simple as possible. We’ve definitely done homeschooling, and made some nice progress, but I give myself permission to only get done what I can. Some days that’s not much, some days it’s a lot. Quite a few days I’ve spent half the afternoon laying in bed, either asleep, or in that half-conscious place where you don’t want to be “up” but you’re not tired enough to fall asleep. Podcasts have been really good for those times.

A win has been enjoying my stationary bike habit. I used some of my Christmas money to buy a cycle trainer that attaches onto the back of my regular bike so I can use it indoors. It’s a Nashbar Fluid trainer, and I’m pretty happy with it so far, though I don’t have any experience with other models to say whether it’s a good choice for the price (though reviews certainly indicated that).

In February I get to finalize my seed orders for 2016’s garden. In March and April I’ll be starting seeds and building/re-designing beds. In April and beyond I’ll be gardening again. All of that activity will be helpful in helping myself get better. We have trips planned in May and June. I’d like to still start chicks this year but we’ll be doing it in the decidedly non-traditional month of July. Once we finalize the dates for our second trip I’ll try to have the coop and brooder set up before we leave in June, then receive the chicks as close to our return date as possible.

January 2016 spending

  • House bills: Only thing worth noting is that I needed to buy a few things to gain entry to our garage when squirrels cut power to the garage opener. That was fun.
  • Future selves: We set up custodial accounts for all three goblins with Schwab. Their Schwab One accounts only have a $100 minimum open, so all 3 used various amounts of leftover Christmas money.
  • Debt: Just regular payments
  • Food Related: As I noted above, I’m happy with this low number.
  • General Spending: Mainly spending in our personal accounts. Also the fee for tax processing.
  • Cars: Nothing worth noting.
  • Health and Wellness: Nothing worth noting.

Net Worth – End 2015

Assets

  • Home (Estimated Market Value): $70,000 (lowered from 80K, because this is a more honest net value)
  • 401(k): $55,090
  • tIRA: $17,070
  • Non-Earmarked Cash: $1,000
  • HSA: we do have some HSA savings, but at this point I’m counting it as “spent” money already. Once the balance gets sufficiently large (who knows when?) I’ll factor this in with NW.
  • Total: $143,160
  • Assets towards FI: $73,160
    • Approximate passive income this would generate annually: $2,900

Liabilities

  • Home Mortgage: $102,440 @6.5% –> PMI makes it effectively ~7.1%
  • Student Loan (Chief): $1,928 @2%
  • Student Loan (Alchemist A): $1,593 @0.1%
  • Student Loan (Alchemist B): $23,144 @3.9%
  • Medical Debt @0%: $341
  • Total: $133,297

Net Worth: $9,863

Net Worth Last Quarter*: $5,371

Net Worth 1 Year Ago*: -$13,776

Net Worth At the Start (End 2013)*: -$33,948

*retroactively adjusted for lower house value.


2016 Goals

Health/Fitness

  • Body fat to ~15%. 
  • Continue weightlifting 3 day/week.
  • Vigorous cardio at least 5 day/week for minimum 30 minutes.
  • Hike 50 miles of the IAT.
  • Go to dentist once.

Personal development/lifestyle

  • Work on my fiction every day, but forgive myself if I miss a day here or there.
  • Play video games at least once a week.
  • Sketch once a week.

Homesteading/Stewardship/Parenting

  • Stick to my “1 room every day” cleaning schedule.
  • Keep the garden maintained and productive without neglecting other household and parenting duties.
  • Add chickens into the food production mix
  • Continue to buy local/sustainable food where possible without compromising our financial goals
  • Throw a “harvest fest”
  • Make dry-ice root beer “witches brew” for Halloween and/or for the harvest fest.

Just a quick note

Not sure how frequently I’ll be updating the blog for the foreseeable future beyond the monthly updates. Things are pretty stable and I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired to do blog-appropriate (e.g. longer form) posts. For those who found me through the blog and not through the Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) forums, I’m still quite active there and have maintained a journal there for nearly two years.

I recently started a fresh journal there. If anyone is interested in reading it, you do have to register to view that section of the forum, but you can keep up with where I’m at here.

Thanks to the many readers who’ve commented here, and hope all are doing well during the winter holidays and the transition to a new year. The Alchemist’s favorite holiday is New Year’s because she loves transitions, new beginnings, and the feeling of a clean slate. My favorite is still Thanksgiving, but New Year’s would have to be second after all the years she’s influenced.

Shortly after New Year’s is our 10th wedding anniversary. Gonna be a good year, I think :)


Goblin Hoard Report – November 2015

The main financial news in November 2015 is that I suck at mental math. For some reason I added the Alchemist’s paychecks together incorrectly and figured our income higher than it would be, leading me to be quite aggressive in sending money to debt repayment. So we end the month with little more than $300 unallocated cash in the bank. File “saved too much money because of mental math” in the “Mustachian people’s problems” category…

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and the family function went well. I wasn’t as inspired to write words about it as I was last year but I definitely reflect on what I’m thankful for. Being happy with what you have but more importantly who you are, your weakness, strengths, needs, and wants is a key to lifelong happiness.

The Alchemist was able to take off from the day before Thanksgiving through the following Monday. We didn’t do much, just stayed in and relaxed/rested. She treated me to Witcher 3 when it went on sale, and I’ve gotten sucked in deeply to this wonderful (so far) game. While a little more adult than we normally let the kids watch, the whole family has actually been enjoying Geralt’s adventures so far. There were two nights in a row I got sucked in and played until nearly midnight. I almost never stay up that late anymore!

Food expenses are lower this time of year since we’re eating down what we’ve stored. Potatoes have disappointed me in sprouting already. They’re still perfectly usable but not a great sign for longer-term storage. My guess is that the spot in the basement I have for them is just not cold enough despite being unheated. I’ve been perfecting a number of potato cooking techniques (Alchemist asked for home fries many days in a row while off for the holiday), and have also really enjoyed the winter squash as they’re just now coming into prime eating quality. So, so sweet and flavorful!

November 2015 Spending

  • House Bills ($1,267): Pretty normal spending here. Includes our Costco renewal. Principal payment was $192.50. Escrow minus PMI is $265.
  • Future Selves ($984): Brings the remaining high-interest SL debt down to just a touch over $1,000.
  • Food Related ($446): Includes a last purchase of apples and some smaller stock ups but mostly normal groceries.
  • Health and Wellness ($419): A little higher than normal even with the Alchemist’s gym and training fees.
  • General Spending ($339): A lot of this is spending in our personal accounts. Also we had to buy a new Christmas tree and started to buy some gifts.
  • Debt ($326): Lower than months in the past since all of the advance payments have pushed due dates into the future. Principal reduction was $247.
  • Cars ($158): Nothing to note.
  • Kids ($151): New winter boots and some clothes shopping.
  • Bikes ($14): Needed to buy a new tube (and a spare that I should have owned already) for our bike trailer when the tube blew out explosively and ripped a multi-inch tear I couldn’t patch. Luckily we were a block away from my parent’s house when it happened so we could get an easy ride even though we had tons of veggies from the farmer’s market in tow.
  • “Other Categories” ($10): Parking structure fee when we took the kids to the public museum’s free admission day.

Spending Adjusted For Savings: $2,693.40

FI “burn rate”: $1,802

  • Trailing average (since 3/2015 or 8 months of data): $2,647
  • Purely theoretical FI number (average*300)= $794,100

Budget Locavore – Week 10

Notes at the start of the week: This week is Thanksgiving, perhaps my favorite holiday! Despite its connection with Black Friday, the holiday itself is arguably the least commercialized of American holidays, which is saying something when Capital is our god and Mr. Market is his prophet. Anyways – food. I should have everything we need for the rest of the month already.

We’re supplying pumpkin pies, the apple-pumpkin galette I tried last week, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes to the family Thanksgiving meal. All of the ingredients are in our possession and the produce is 100% local.

Notes at the end of the week: I broke down on Sunday and replenished our egg supply but otherwise we made it through the last week of the month without any additional purchases.

Monday

  • Breakfast: I had bacon, eggs, and toast. The kids had the tiny bit of leftover pumpkin bread, leftover crepes, and fruit.
  • Lunch: I was busy roasting squash to make pumpkin puree for the Thanksgiving pies, as well as a batch of curried butternut soup, so I mainly just snacked during the day. I made grilled cheese for the kids, which sounded good enough that I made a small one for myself.
  • Dinner: I made parsnip-potato latke waffles. Despite initially liking parsnips last fall, I think I’m increasingly deciding that I do not like them.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Ended up eating a rather large breakfast. Reheated a leftover latke from frozen in the toaster – turned out pretty good! Beta then requested crepes. While cooking through the batch, I had a couple myself. I also made a batch of pumpkin bread and (of course) had to “quality control” test it before serving it to the kids ;)
  • Lunch: I had butternut soup with some toast and then some carrots. Alpha had leftover mashed potatoes, then she and Beta both had grilled cheese. Gamma wanted an apple.
  • Dinner: Made pasta with meat sauce

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: I had some bread and butter and an apple. Kids had pumpkin bread, crepes, and fruit.
  • Lunch: Had some mashed potatoes, butternut soup, and toast.
  • Dinner: Made pierogies (potato and onion filling) for the first time. I thought they were pretty good but everyone else was kind of ‘meh’. Some experimentation will be in order in the future.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Was craving bacon but we’re low on eggs, so after I cooked the bacon I warmed up some of the leftover pierogies in the bacon grease. The Alchemist had some of the last eggs in an omelette. The kids had pumpkin bread and fruit.
  • Lunch: The Alchemist, me, and Alpha all had leftover pasta. Beta and Gamma stuck to snacky stuff.
  • Dinner: Our family Thanksgiving meal is pretty traditional. My parents bought an enormous turkey (30 pounds) from a hobby farmer friend of theirs. We had mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, etc. Everything tasted great!

Friday

  • Breakfast: I was a bit hungover from Thanksgiving dinner the night before so didn’t eat much. The kids had the small bit of leftover pumpkin bread and then fruit.
  • Lunch: The Alchemist wanted a late breakfast of home fries, which I shared with her. I then had some leftover butternut soup and pumpkin pie. The kids had grilled cheese.
  • Dinner: We had Thanksgiving leftovers depending on personal preference. Everyone had turkey and mashed potatoes, and the Alchemist and I also had stuffing.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: I had a piece of pie, then some reheated pierogi, and finally a small piece of toast with butter and honey. Alpha had an apple, Beta insisted on holding out for the pumpkin bread I was baking, and Gamma had grahams.
  • Lunch:
  • Dinner: I attempted homemade sloppy joes, which came out pretty good. The recipe needs a little tweaking but everyone liked them. Served with my attempt at hamburger buns, which came out closer to dinner roll size.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Everyone had pumpkin bread. I also had an apple.
  • Lunch: I was hungry after taking a bike ride, so I had the last pierogis, the Alchemist and I both killed off the sloppy joe leftovers, and then I had a piece of pumpkin pie. The kids mainly had grilled cheese.
  • Dinner: For dinner I made homemade breakfast sausage with scrambled eggs and waffles.

Budget Locavorism Week 9

Notes at the start of the week: The meal plan this week demands very few purchases from the store. In fact, if we decided to skip the weekly pizza, I could stay away from the store altogether, but I don’t mind going, as small trips make it easy to motivate myself to either walk or bike. Some of the ingredients will involve a trip to the winter farmer’s market, so that’s another easy bike ride motivator :)

Notes at the end of the week: Not much to add at the end of the week.

Monday

  • Breakfast: I had the last slice of crustless pumpkin pie before weightlifting. Afterwards I had bacon, eggs, and toast. The kids had the last of the pumpkin bread and then fruit.
  • Lunch: I cleaned out some sausage and cheese that we’d had leftover from a party a couple weeks back. I then had leftover grassfed sirloin, some (tiny) carrots harvested from a forgotten section of the garden, and an apple. Alpha had Ida Red applesauce with granola. Beta and Gamma both had sausage and cheese with ranch sandwiches.
  • Dinner: Made skillet baked ziti, or “cheesy pasta” as we call it here.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: I had bacon, eggs, and toast. Alpha had yoghurt with strawberry jam, granola, and honey. Beta requested crepes. Gamma had an apple, followed by various snacky things.
  • Lunch: Only had enough bread for one sandwich. Gamma doesn’t care for crepes, so I made him grilled cheese, followed by warming up crepes for the rest of us to have as lunch.
  • Snack: Made popcorn
  • Dinner: Made quesadillas and lentil-rice burritos with filling I found in the chest freezer from several months ago.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: I had eggs and toast. Alpha and Gamma both had apples. Beta had a leftover crepe.
  • Lunch: I had leftover burritos, then snacked (too much) on some granola. Kids all had grilled cheese followed by some snacky things.
  • Snack: Don’t remember
  • Dinner: Made salmon turnovers. Served with snap peas we froze back in summer.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: I had eggs and toast. Alpha had yoghurt. Beta had a leftover crepe. Gamma had an apple.
  • Lunch: I had a mix of things: leftover burrito, mashed winter squash, and applesauce. Alpha had applesauce with granola, Beta had a sausage and cheese sandwich. Gamma had snacky things.
  • Dinner: Made grilled cheese for the kids and then sent them downstairs so we could have an at-home “date night”. Grilled pork steaks, made blue mashed potatoes (not impressed by the blue potatoes). Made an apple-pumpkin galette for dessert, which was quite good.

Friday

  • Breakfast: I had bacon, eggs, and toast. Alpha had applesauce with granola. Beta requested crepes again, so I had to make a fresh batch. Gamma had graham crackers.
  • Lunch: I had leftover pork steak with mashed squash and then a piece of the galette. Alpha had pork with mashed potatoes, Beta and Gamma had grilled cheese. All 3 followed lunch with grahams, ritz, and goldfish.
  • Dinner: Pizza night!

Saturday

  • Breakfast: I knew I was biking to the farmer’s market in a snowstorm and would expend a LOT of energy between that and shoveling afterwards, so I added a piece of pumpkin bread to my usual bacon, eggs, and toast breakfast. Kids had pumpkin bread so that Alchemist could sleep in while I was out.
  • Lunch: I had an apple, then two leftover crepes, then some leftover pizza. Kids had fruit and leftover pizza.
  • Dinner: Made calzone for a change of pace from pizza. One was pepperoni and cheese, the other was pepperoni, mushrooms, and cheese. The pepperoni is from our local butcher and the mushrooms were one of the things I went to the farmer’s market in a snowstorm for. Turned out really good!

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Kids had pumpkin bread. I had some too, but then made a leek and mushroom omelette to share with the Alchemist. Really good! Leeks are growing on me. Alongside a new appreciation for frying/bell peppers, they’re one of the few new pieces of produce the CSA did win me over on.
  • Lunch: Served some quick bites to eat after the rest of the family got back from church so that the kids and I could head right back out and enjoy some rare November sledding before the Packers game at 3:30.
  • Dinner: Leftover calzone

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