December 2014: Random Updates

Random Update #1: I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my friends paid up! I was so relieved (but tried not to show it). So grateful! They also paid in cash, so we’ve used it to cover extra expenses (like parking since we’ve been driving into Little City to take L to her Nutcracker practices/performances and have to park in a parking garage). I still learned that I will not immediately jump to the aid of someone who doesn’t actually need it unless I’m prepared to not be repaid (and I can imagine that there will be times like that ahead), but I am so happy to be paid back!

Random Update #2: On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have been hit with the news that L needs dental work. Like, $1100 worth of it. And that’s after the insurance has been applied! Why is this happening? It’s horribly embarrassing and it was kind of traumatic for us – she is 5 years old with three cavities. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of guilt and awfulness going about but I’m dealing with it. In my defense, I was infinitely more upset about how bad a parent I am and how awful it would be for her to go through the filling process than I was about the money (at least, at first). She’s undergone one filling (and got to watch Frozen, in the process, apparently) and came through fine (and apparently un-traumatized), so now I’m focusing on the future. The future, of course, involves much more parent-involved teeth-brushing and flossing … but it also involves re-evaluating our financial plans for the first two months of 2015.

Random Update #3: We will be doing our long car-drive on Sunday, and I’m hoping I at least can slap together some PBJs for the trip as well as some snacks. We’re taking the van, which is not fuel-efficient, but does have more room for a cooler, bag of snacks, and presents. (We have to take the van because my parents are officially selling it to us and it needs to be inspected in their state first.) We’ll be back on January 2nd, I hope. I have included an extra $100 for gas in our budget this month for this trip, as well as a trip up to see some college friends (they live about 2 hours north of my parents). We are going to be fortunate, though, if we end up under (or even right-at budget) for the month.

Random Update #4: I sent off to renew my passport – it was about $115 by the time I paid the passport fee and included the cost of the new passport photos (though I did order them through Walmart.com and used Ebates, so I did get a tiny kickback from that, at least). This is for our upcoming trip in July (to France) for H’s conference!

Random Update #5: I got paid $100 for a side hustle that I did in November – and instead of putting it towards our Travel Fund, we’re putting it towards the credit card bill (where H charged the dental bill – a total of about $400 so far…. the other two fillings will be done in January & February, I think).

The current financial plan (because we’re flexible like that) is that all “extra” money will go towards the dental bills instead of the Travel Fund. I’m so disappointed (and angry with myself for this completely avoidable mistake) that we are in this self-made position… and I’m worried how it will affect our newly-created 2015 Debt Eradication Goals. I think I’ve decided not to alter the goals, though, because they should require a bit of a stretch, right? We will pay off the credit card bill with our emergency funds so that we don’t incur any fees, but we will be having to replenish it as soon as possible; then we will use the money we would have set aside for travel for the dental bills as the next appointments happen. This will set our goals back by about one or two months, depending on whether we get any money for Christmas from any relatives.

We should also be getting back a sizable tax return, but I already had plans for that (though they may have to change out of necessity).

In the end, we’re in a better situation to handle this kind of financial problem than we were 12 months ago….

I’m so looking forward to going home for Christmas!

I don’t know whether I’ll get another post in before the year’s end, so I’ll go ahead and wish you safe travels and happy holidays!

 

Net Income Changes

While I don’t make a big deal out of tracking our net income on Mintly, I do use it often. Net worth is important, but when I’m looking for ways in which we are improving our financial fitness, I look at our net income!

Check out our lifetime net income (on Mint.com, that is…. and we only started to accurately track it in the summer of 2011, it looks like):

Net Income (All Time)

You can see that we were living mostly in the red for quite a long time. Part of that was buying our house in 2011 and the costs we incurred with that, but it was looking at this chart that made me realize how big a change we needed to make in the way we approach our finances.

Here’s last year’s net income:

Net Income: 2013

 

Not great, but an improvement on all months being in the red! One take-away I get from this is that although we got money back fro our taxes in February/March, it really didn’t balance out our spending.

And this year’s net income (though take December with a grain of salt, because although I have every confidence that we’ll end the month in the “green,” we haven’t gotten there yet!):

Net Income 2014

 

September 2014 was a big month, because we got the money from our house, but we didn’t even need September’s boost to be in the green every month!

Another reason this 2014 Net Income chart makes me happy is because I had a well-paying side hustle from February through July, and I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to stay in the green once I transitioned from being a full-time teacher and part-time side hustler to my new full-time job (for which I earn less than before). Plus, moving is a huge expense, and while we saved up for it, I knew all of that money would be flying out of our account, which would bring down our net income for the month in September.

We had a few months where it was a close call, but it’s ALL in green! Even if this isn’t a formal goal for us, it is a huge part of tracking our financial progress and success for me.

I’d like to add that while we took in more than we spent, all of that “green” (ha ha) almost all gets turned around and sent right back out to Debt Eradication, which I count as “transfers” in Mint, not “spending.” In other words, things almost always end up pretty tight at the end of the month, even though the chart above might indicate that we’re raking in the dough.

What ways do you track your financial awesomeness?

We Sold Our House!

Just a quick note to say that we closed on our house today, and they are mailing us our check (whatever is left over from paying the lawyers and the real estate agents) tomorrow morning! It took me signing the papers early on my way out of town for a conference and my husband going later with L to get his part all signed, but it’s done! Honestly, though, until we get the check cashed and cleared, I’m afraid to breathe a sigh of relief, but I’ll take my chances of tempting fate by posting this anyhow!

Selling a house is hard work, and I know our house-selling experience wasn’t nearly as hard as many people’s. I am feeling very thankful. Whew.