Monday, December 22, 2014

End of Year Goals Check-In

Towards my birthday, I wrote a post about End-of-Year/29th Birthday Goals, and shortly after, wrote about how hubby and I were going to do the Buff Dudes' Challenge.....

Well, I'll just come right out and say it: I didn't achieve any of those fitness goals. I was on track and making good progress before it got colder, but as the temperature dropped dramatically and it started raining more days than not, I struggled to keep my motivation and routine going (still struggling). I failed to account for that aspect when MAKING the goals, so maybe that aspect alone may be that my goal was less realistic than it could have been.

Or, maybe I just needed to work harder and meet  my goals instead of being a lazy butt.

Either way, I am not going to cry over it because you can't change the past, only the future. For now, between the cold and the holidays (including our anniversary on the 28th), as long as eating is decent and I am getting a walk here and there to maintain, I am ok with what it is. In January and heading into Spring, hubby and I will work as hard as we can to meet the goals.

On the bright side, I am lower in weight than I have been in a while-and definitely lower than I was this time last year, mainly due to the fitbit I have in helping me keep on track. On my birthday, I was 196-199 pounds, but I currently sit at 181, so that is a huge win for me, and I will take it.

As for the financial side of things, here's where we stand on that:

You may remember from this post that both my husband and I were going to be laid off from the same job. As I mentioned in that post, I had already got a new job so had taken my PTO and applied it to my car  payment. Husband's last day was 11/4, and once he (finally) got his first unemployment check, we took a large part of his severance and finished paying off the car. So the car is now owned free and clear! We are very excited about that, but unfortunately, the plan to SAVE that same money got wiped out by the fact that we will need to pay for ACA insurance (instead of having it come out pre-tax from our checks), and that will be about $167/month, and we got notice that our  rent is increasing $50/month starting 1/1/2015. So we were kind of bummed about that since instead of saving it, the amount, and a little more (car payment was $180 including principle payments) will be eaten up by other things. On the bright side: By getting rid of our non-working car (which we've meant to do for months), we save about $20 off the car insurance premium over what we were paying for two cars, so it all balances out and pretty much breaks even, so at least there's that. And, of course it's only temporary that we break even right now, since as soon as hubby gets a job, we SHOULD be able to save a bit more than we are now.

As for where we stand on the rest of the finances, I would say we're doing pretty well, actually. Here are some of the highlights:

-I finally have the day-to-day things fully automated and correct. Since we now have two checking accounts, one is used for "spending" money and one is used for bills money. Since I had calculated what it takes to cover all bills and have it direct deposited in the bills account, and automated, all bills get paid on time (which they were before, but sometimes would get crossed because different due dates so sometimes spending money would screw it up) and having an account for a set amount of spending money has been very helpful for us because if it's not in the account, we don't spend it. (The ultimate, can't-see-it-can't-spend-it set up.) And because of this, it has really cut back on our accidental spending and then having to rearrange/transfer money from savings to cover bills. Win, win!

-While I do still need to set up IRAs for both myself and (help) hubby, and transfer my 401k from previous employer to a new carrier, our savings themselves are slowly growing. When I first started this blog, I believe between all accounts for savings, it was ~$1800, but is now around $2200-2300 (though I do have a few small things to pay off like a medical bill from October when I had laryngitis), so there's good news that we're maintaining the same level, if not growing it very slowly while husband is still unemployed.

That's where I am at currently. I hope that by the end of 2015, I will have all previously laid out goals met, and then some. (I won't rehash them since they are in the linked info and you can see them, so don't want you to have to re-read them, again.)

How about you? Where are you at in your goals and plans? Have you had some set-backs that you're working to overcome? How is that going for you? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money

In the recent past (a couple months ago), I read Bert Whitehead's Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money: Overcoming Financial Dysfunction, and here's some of my thoughts on it.

Whitehead, for the most part, writes in easy-to-understand language for people who may not be familiar with every concept he speaks about. He occasionally goes off into something that, to me, didn't always make sense, or sometimes left things without examples, but I guess that's to be expected sometimes.

One thing I did like about the book, was that Whitehead talked about different Money Personalities that he created by observing his clients. (That link goes to a completely different site since I could not find the personality matrix on Whitehead's own site, which you'd think would have it.) The personalities are The Bon Vivant, The Entrepreneur, The Nester and The Traveler, and each has it's own different quirks and "dysfunctions" about them. While no one thing can pinpoint any one person, the personality types are a great way to get an idea on what makes one "tick" as far as money and to start to identify ways to help direct things the way that is wanted/needed.  So that is one positive thing about the book.

However, Whitehead has some distinct things he writes about that I simply don't agree with, and would never practice in my own life or recommend  to others. For example, he talks about NOT paying your house off early if you are able to and says instead that you should keep the mortgage for the entire term and put the money into the stock market, giving an example of how much more it can grow over time, etc. While that could be true, there's no guarantee of it, and while a house is NOT an investment and also carries no guarantees, I feel that if you are able to pay off your house early, it's a good idea to do so since at least you'll have a place to live. Suze Orman agrees with me on this.

Another point that Whitehead makes that struck me as odd and I don't really agree with, is that he would like people to "upgrade" their mortgage and take on more debt at different stages of their lives, almost regardless of their need for a different house. If you're making more money, he wants you to upgrade the mortgage to a more expensive one. I don't agree with this simply for the fact that you should not take on more debt just because you may make more money or something changes in your life that DOESN'T require a different dwelling-in fact, if you make more money than when you bought your house, that's a great way to add to your retirement nest egg through your chosen method of investment or savings. If your life circumstances change and you need to upgrade or downgrade, then by all means, explore your options for changing your dwelling and/or mortgage, but not simply because your income increases.

Overall, I think there is some value in some of the information provided in the book-such as the money personalities listed above-but that many things are either so far removed from the average person that they are not entirely helpful or that things (like above) are out of the scope of reality to the point of being bad advice. If using the star rating system, I'd have to say for me, this book falls in the category of 3/5 stars.