Did FIRE turn me into a bad feminist?

June 27, 2019 - 7 Responses

Part of the reason I resumed blogging was simply because it was a chronicle of my life. Even framed in terms of finances, there are some personal memories buried in monthly recap posts.  There are a even few draft posts from shortly after I abandoned my blog – one especially raw post from just after Kiddo #1 was born about my miscarriage and his birth – that I didn’t publish but am glad I can look back on.

I’ve kept a paper journal off and on, though the motivation to write was usually linked to crises I was working through – i.e. they are not very positive.   My Excel budget, which has expenses going back to 2006 (!), has also turned into a weird journal of sorts – remembering gifts given, dinners out, and travels.

But looking at my past posts stirs up some things I hardly remembered, so I’m thankful that they’re still around (even if some of it makes me cringe!).

One thing that struck me in those older posts was how much I was working.  References to overtime, overnight shifts, call-ins and missed holidays.  And though I remembered the stress of those years – I only switched out of that type of work last August, after all – I’d forgotten how much I actually used to love it.  The adrenaline of a ticking clock, hard engineering problems, and knowing that people were counting on me.

And of course, early retirement wasn’t a Thing.  Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme was our only model, and I liked a few more creature comforts than that.  So I drove myself and my career hard, thinking that perhaps someday I’d be an industry expert, called in to help other companies, other countries, before retiring “early” at 55 with a million dollars.

I don’t think it was motherhood that changed me.  I remember a Christmas trip delayed when Kiddo #1 was still in diapers. Racing home to nurse in the middle of a 20-hour shift when Kiddo #2 was refusing a bottle.  Switching jobs after I was denied a promotion for the third year in a row, which I knew was because I was a mom and they thought I’d never leave.

It was that miserable new job that gave me the early retirement bug, and once I realized that we had more money than some of those bloggers who had already retired, that felt like the turning point.  And over time, even though the job itself improved, the work was less important and the parts of my job that I’d loved most became an annoyance.

The stress of dinnertimes interrupted or missed completely. Chad’s career derailed because he couldn’t travel, couldn’t stay late at work.  The relentless cycle of missed weekend plans because I was on call.  Calls at 10pm – just as I’d finished my second shift and settled into bed. I don’t have to do this. The casual sexism of the client with the flashy title. I don’t have to put up with this.  The comments when I left work to make it to daycare pickup on time. I don’t need this job.

I hope I’m still doing good work, but when my new boss asks me where I’d like to be in 5 years, the answer is “working part-time or not at all.”  When I get recognition (I was highlighted in our client evaluation presentation – twice! – and got a bonus after 6 months on the job), it all feels a little meaningless.

But there’s this niggling fear – as I lean decidedly out of my career – that I’m failing my gender.  I refuse travel and leave at 5:15pm on the dot, but I worry that this will poison the well for any women who come after me (though I’ll note that ALL THOSE DUDES working late have wives cooking their dinner, so….).

Ultimately, the pursuit of my own happiness will probably outweigh the commitment I feel toward other female engineers. Although in reality, perhaps it’s not as bad as I think. I can use my lack of fear to agitate for women I admire. I can still do good work, while also highlighting where I see double standards.  And if/when I retire early, I can squash that myth that women aren’t good with money.

What do you think? Do we owe other women badass careers?  Is the pursuit of FIRE anti-feminist? Do we need to do extra to ensure we don’t screw over those who come after?





2019 Spending Projections

June 22, 2019 - 7 Responses

I mentioned the voyeuristic thrill of seeing others’ spending, comparing numbers with an air of faint superiority (“how can you spend $800/month for food for two people??”) or incredulity (“how can you spend only $100/year on clothes??”). So it seems only fair that I share mine.

I always try to project conservative amounts for spending and income.  It’s logistically and emotionally more difficult for me to pull money out of savings than to accept a lower savings rate.   I start with a baseline of savings – usually maxed-out 401Ks, some college savings, an HSA.  Mortgage prepayments are low priority (we already have a 15-year mortgage), as are any taxable savings or investment accounts (though my compulsion to hoard cash is ever-present).

With that in mind, here are the numbers:

Housing (includes PITI + HOA): $4140 / month

I actually count about $1280/month of this as savings, which is the extra principal of the 15-year mortgage.  I do this because otherwise it would seem that we save less with a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year, and math doesn’t work that way.

Utilities: $500/month

This includes basic utilities, internet, and also our unlimited-data cell phone plans.  Those plans are bonkers at $160 per month (for both me and Chad), but I consider it to partially be a payment for the reduced cognitive load of worry about data usage.  Chad uses up to 18GB per month (I HAVE NO IDEA HOW), so we at least get our money’s worth.

Entertainment: $70 / month

We are homebodies, generally.  And if we want to go somewhere during the weekend, there are plenty of free options. Spending that gets assigned to this category includes alcohol / beer (for home and when I can be bothered to itemize receipts, at restaurants), movies at home or at the theater, outings with the kids (e.g. June will include a trip to play mini golf). Last year we used this account to rent a jet ski while on vacation.

Food: $500 / month

This includes groceries and some bakery items (e.g. we buy a challah at Panera every Friday).

Eating out: $125 / month

If more than one person eats at a restaurant / gets takeout, it goes in this category.  If Chad and I get lunch on our own or with friends, that’s counted in our own personal spending categories.

Auto/Transportation: $450 / month

About half of this is property taxes (Virginia is weird) and auto insurance. The rest is gas, oil changes, other maintenance, tolls, etc. We generally do not spend the whole amount, but I remember $4/gallon gas and do not wish it to derail our plans.

Household / Toiletries: $450 / month

Usually Target/Walmart runs go here (when I’m on top of things, food items are stripped out to the Food category), as well as house repairs, furniture, décor, etc. Last year we spent at least $1000 less than this amount (despite buying some furniture and still having a kid in diapers), but as home repairs are unpredictable and expensive, my conservative budgeting accounts for it.  Also, there are parts of our house (think textured 1990s wallpaper and your grandma’s window valences) that we’d like to update/upgrade this year.

Personal Spending Accounts: Me: $150 / month, Husband: $250 / month

Anything that benefits a single person is here: gym memberships and fitness classes, outings or meals with friends, electronics, books, clothes, etc. It all goes here.

Why is my monthly amount less than Chad’s?  The simplest way to answer this is because I’m the one interested in early retirement.  Chad is naturally a frugal person, but if he wants something, he just buys it.  My journey is not his journey.  I’ve also constrained myself on purpose – to limit thoughtless expenses (especially fast fashion), and to meet savings goals.

Ultimately, money fights with your spouse are the worst and the whole reason I want money is happiness.

Gifts: $2000 / year

This is self-explanatory.

Medical: $200 / month

I never know how to budget for medical expenses. I adjusted this year’s to be a little high, but this is one categories that I figure will cost what it costs.  If a kiddo needs to get stitches, I’m not worried about the budget!

Travel: $6700 / year

I’ve coined this The Year of Travel.  We haven’t spent over $1000 on travel since 2015, but this year We are taking a 10-year wedding anniversary trip AND we both have solo trips planned with friends and family.  The solo trips have been planned by others, so cost control is limited.  Our anniversary trip is a big enough deal that we were willing to go all out, though we did use travel points for some of it.

Childcare: $31,000 / year

It is what it is.  I try to project 2 price increases into this, as well as extra fees.  We have a wonderful daycare with lots of outdoor space, loving teachers, and a good mix of free play and learning.  The amount will drop slightly once Kiddo #1 enters kindergarten, but I suspect that money will instead flow to the next category…

Kiddos: $250 / month

Kids don’t have to cost much, but we find it does add up.  This includes extra classes for the kids (Kiddo #1 is in karate), sports fees, clothing, toys, diapers (when I can be bothered to itemize Costco/Target/Walmart receipts), etc.  Daycare costs have been creeping down as these costs creep up.  Their birthday party costs are also included here, which includes food, décor, space rental (we paid $500 for a bounce gym party for Kiddo #1 this year, much to my chagrin), and presents.

This is one of those categories where it seems so high but then I look through expenses and most of it seems reasonable (or, as noted above, not worth a fight).

Charity: $200/month

Like StackingPennies, I wasn’t raised to give to charity and my history with it is pretty spotty.  I tend to have years where I donate a lot (last year we gave $7300, but the years before that were between $1200-$2000 with one year that spiked at $5000).  Much goes into our donor advised fund first since I’ve been burned by charities selling my information (I get 2 – 3 letters per week asking for donations from charities I’ve never supported).

However, Matt’s post made me realize that I’m making excuses.  I’m glad I’ve been flexing the giving muscle a tiny bit, but we can – and should – give more. I may end up increasing this number with the money left over in our spending categories.


Total spending: $122,000 / year  <—— Holy sh**********t

Total spending minus childcare: $93,000 / year

Total spending minus childcare and mortgage (FI budget): $53,000 / year


2019 Savings Order of Operations

June 10, 2019 - 5 Responses

In math and in computer programming, the order of operations defines how you solve problems and prioritize the order in which you perform procedures.  In the spirit of, “You can do anything, but not everything,” below is my Savings order of operations for 2019.

1. 401K Contributions
This cuts our taxable income and lets us save for retirement. With all of the ways to access retirement funds early, if needed, this is our #1 item.

2. Roth IRA / Backdoor Roth IRAs / Mega Backdoor Roth IRAs
We dance around the eligibility limits for Roth IRAs, but these tax-advantaged accounts are better than regular taxable accounts.  We have a fairly large cash position, so it’s not necessary that we access this money quickly.

3. HSA
This ends up happening no matter what through employer deductions, but I’ve changed my thinking about the HSA vs. Roth IRAs in the past few years. If I can’t fund a Mega Backdoor Roth via normal cash flow / income (and I rarely/never can), I will pull money from the HSA to do it. Once the money is in an HSA, pulling it out to put into a Roth IRA offers the same benefits without the recordkeeping headaches. (Um, and it’s tax-free money into a Roth!)

4. Kids’ college funds
This ends up being weirdly tied with #2 and #3 above. My savings target is the maximum untaxed amount for our state, per kid (so $4K each). I’ve saved “extra” over the past few years, and also sort of cheat this since I simply fund it with invisible-to-me Dependent Care FSA reimbursements.

I have an underperforming yoga teaching side hustle which allows me to contribute to a SEP IRA or Solo 401K.  The SEP IRA required no extra paperwork, so I went with that.  This conflicts with a backdoor Roth, though, so I have to strategically roll it into my 401K before I convert my tIRA.

6. Taxable Investment accounts
We don’t usually made it this far down the list, but this would be tied with #7.

7. Mortgage Prepayment
We have a 15-year mortgage already and our rate is amazing (3.125%), but I still do not like that huge balance hanging out there.  Ideally, we’d contribute extra and then recast – protecting that awesome low interest rate while having annual payments that are slightly less onerous.

Checking In

June 7, 2019 - 6 Responses

I almost titled this post, “Restarting the Blog,”  but since both of my previous attempts failed, that may be too optimistic a title.  Even now, this post feels like little more than throwing some words into the void (but isn’t that any new blog?).

My first baby, my rainbow baby, starts kindergarten in the fall.  Preschool graduation was last week, and though I don’t usually fall for pointless ceremony, I may have gotten a little choked up at this one.

Baby #2 will be 3 later this summer.  We are almost out of diapers, though poops in the potty are still a challenge.

I switched jobs.  The new job is a project engineer role, which means less of doing the actual work and more of coordinating others to do it for me.  In some ways, this should be the perfect fit (I’ve always been a very good big picture person).  However, my fingers get twitchy to do the work myself, especially when it comes to using modeling software and fun problems. It should be reasonably easy to move around if I decide to revert to regular engineering.

Money is interesting again.  The added wrinkles of our lives – daycare costs (over $30,000 per year, which should seem crazy but at this point I’ve seen folks paying that much for one kid) and a 15-year mortgage of half a million dollars (PITI + HOA of $50,000 per year) – mean we cannot do all the savings anymore.  We still save more than the average American, anywhere from 40 – 60%, depending on which calculation I pick.

I’m still following some of my favorite blogs, the ones who are still around, anyway.  Some of their blogs have exploded, some are posting monthly(or less frequent) updates.  I guess that’s what made me want to write again… If I enjoy this voyeuristic peek into lives I’ve been following for over a decade at this point, maybe it’s time I give back.

Assuming this doesn’t become another one of my biannual life summaries, I want to start talking about some life changes that are coming up, give folks an idea of our spending, and talk about some trade-offs I’m currently making.  I used to be pretty bad at protecting the fact that I had a blog, so TBD on whether or not I will get specific with numbers (though perhaps any IRL folks deserve to be rewarded if they’re checking in 2 years later!).

Abandoning Early Retirement

January 7, 2017 - 2 Responses

I mentioned that I went on a brief early retirement kick a few months ago.

At the time, I had just switched to a new job that was proving to be completely unfulfilling. The pay was amazing, but I’ve learned that no amount of money can really make up for a boring job. Although I knew realistically that I could leave whenever I wanted (my old bosses wanted me back, and I had offers from another company), the day-to-day reality of waking up and going to that job wore me down.

The timing for this malaise was especially bad since we’d just bought our house and wanted to try for Baby #2.  I punched number after number into J Money’s Retirement Calculator, tweaking the numbers for every possible eventuality. I started reading blogs like Freedom 35 and Early Retirement Extreme and even Mr. Money Mustache, at least until the hyper-frugalism and frugal smugness grated too hard.

Early retirement is only slightly easier to plan for than regular retirement.  Would we keep the house or sell and move to a lower cost of living area? Would we downgrade to less demanding jobs or work part-time or just be bums? Every set of numbers had a different set of assumptions, and this can make the answer really different.

Interestingly, though, one truth became clear: people can retire – are retiring – on what we currently have saved.

And like a baby sucking its thumb or hugging a teddy bear, my calculations were soothing to me.

I’d done something similar when I hated my first job and considered going back to school full-time.  Calculating living expenses vs. savings and knowing that I could quit at any time and still finish school made it easier to go to that soul-sucking job every day.

(Of course, I’m older and wiser now and more skilled and more likely to speak up for myself.  I went to my boss and told him it wasn’t working.  He immediately changed my duties to be more in line with my experience and the job I hated quickly became a job I loved. Early retirement suddenly seemed way less important.)

Still, the knowledge that I really wasn’t tethered to a job – any job – was a little eye-opening.

Realistically, I get way too many of my feelings of self-worth from working. I also have a pretty neat job in a really cool industry where I get paid a healthy salary. And even if admitting this makes me a  terrible mother, I’m also way more partial to working than to childcare (sometimes it’s just nice to sit and drink a whole cup of coffee while it’s still hot, you know?), though Mom Guilt often sneaks in and it’s hard to balance everything.

So what do you do when you’re sort of financially independent except you’re risk averse and not interested in not working?

I was inspired by a former coworker who worked 2 days a week for about 10 years. Her resume has no gaps, and I doubt any future employers will ask her if she worked 40 hours per week during those years. I wasn’t interested in working quite that little (plus we depend on my benefits too much).

Our solution is for D and me to each work 4-day weeks.  This gives each of us a chance to get chores and errands done, or to spend an extra day with the kids. With the arrival of Baby #2, it was a good opportunity to ask our bosses for these reduced schedules.

My concern in the short term will be my control freak tendancies at work and the lack of understanding from our coworkers.  I found that three days a week was too hard – too hard to get my work done, too hard to meet with other employees, and too hard to be as involved as I wanted to be with our projects.  I also got a little bit of pushback from some coworkers. Why can’t we have a meeting on [day you’re taking off]? Can you cover XYZ that’s not only on your day off but also at 8pm? How long are you going to be part-time? Etc.

In theory, this does make our nominal budget very tight, especially since the two biggest line items – mortgage and daycare costs – are relatively fixed. That said, we can always work more if money becomes a problem.  Right now, the lowered stress and extra time with our kids seem to be in far shorter supply.

What would you do with almost financial independence but with a lot of uncertainty?


4 years later…

November 18, 2016 - 2 Responses

*cracks open wordpress, bats fly out*

It has been nearly 4 years since I wrote an entry.  I had no plans to stop blogging, though by that point I think my updates were coming monthly.

When I wrote that last post, I didn’t even know I was pregnant.

I lost that baby.

It was already dead, though my body (for whatever reason) decided to hold onto it for an extra month.

At the time, we’d been struggling with some fertility issues. Minor surgery corrected the problem, but we’d been trying for nearly 2 years by that point.

It was a blow.

I didn’t realize then how common miscarriages are.

At the time, I think I considered writing a post about it, but it was still so raw.  As time stretched on, it seemed exhausting to go back and share everything.  Finances didn’t seem important (and by that point, as DINKS with engineer salaries, it was a steady drumbeat of automated savings… fun to watch it grow, but nothing interesting to share).

I got pregnant again.  I held my breath, keeping it a secret as if that would keep this baby safe.

He’ll be three in February.

Baby #2 was born in August. I go back to work on Monday.

We bought a house.  We bought another new car. I switched jobs after my promotion was denied 3 years in a row. I started teaching yoga classes. We’re inching closer and closer to major net worth milestones, we surpassed various salary milestones. We itemized taxes for the first time.

I’ve wanted to blog again, now that there are so many more things to think about.  How we’ll pay down our mortgage.  How we’ll afford $30,000 for daycare for both kids. How we’ll handle college savings.  How we’ll manage to keep our house clean with both of us working full-time.

I’m still reading most of the blogs I used to (the ones that are still going), though I don’t think I’ve commented.  I was also reading a lot of Early Retirement blogs for a while, though I’m off that kick now.

I don’t know that I’ll blog again, but that’s what has been up with me.

Miss you.

2012 In Review

January 3, 2013 - 2 Responses

2012 was a year of great uncertainty. Last January, we weren’t sure when D would finish school, if he’d find a job, if we’d buy a house, etc. You all remember when D got his job offer, so at least that’s one question answered. We’ve deferred the house hunting until 2013, though, so the uncertainty isn’t going away any time soon (have you ever tried to make a budget without knowing how much one of your major expenses will cost? It’s impossible!).

This was a year of mixed blessings. D got a new job, but his commute currently takes about an hour. We bought a new car, but we struck a compromise between my insistence on fuel efficiency and D’s desire for space, with the result being that I think the car is a gas-guzzler and D thinks it’s too small. I still enjoy my job, but I had a promotion get turned down and I’m struggling with some bitterness about that.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. We got to take a couple of great vacations this year, and we’ve been visiting family more than ever. I never want to forget that I am very lucky and my complaints are really very small.

Overall, I had a good year. But I’ll be honest – I didn’t look at my goals at all this year. I should start doing a review at least halfway through the year. I met my financial goals (which is probably just the result of setting conservative goals and having a higher income) but epically failed on being the kind, charitable, minimalist type of person I want to be. Below, a summary.


1. Max out retirement accounts.

I maxed out my 401K, and we currently have money set aside for our Roth IRAs. I have just been lazy about actually making the desposit! D doesn’t become eligible for his company’s 401K until late 2013, so no deposits made to his.

2. Save/earmark an additional $15,000.

We put just over $45,000 into savings, but $30,000 of that was money we took out to pay for the car. I feel OK about this number since D only worked part of the year and because we cashflowed all of the things that were supposed to be earmarks.

I’m going to be honest – this was a strange goal when I set it. That said, I can’t really complain about our savings account balances.

3. Stay under personal budget.

I haven’t run the numbers for December yet, but I’m pretty sure I came in under this budget item despite higher spending on fitness stuff (yoga classes are expensive, yo!) and books/music.

4. Donate $100/month to charity.

I set aside the $1200, but I’ve found it hard to pull the trigger on any one charity. Charities I’ve donated to in past years just keep sending me fundraising information. I’m have so many address labels (with my maiden name), calendars, stickers, etc. I’m a little bit grossed out by it all, to be honest. I’ve been wanting to find a charity that’s not spending their money on mailings and salaries, but even Charity Navigator isn’t really helping me.

I’m weighing several options for using this money, but that’s a topic for another discussion…


1. Get at least 4/5 on my year-end review.

I got a 5/5, but it was bittersweet because of #2.

2. Ask for a promotion.

Asked for it, and it got rejected by a nameless executive who has no idea what I do.

I tried to write a post about this several times. I’m struggling with a lot of bitterness about it. Our department had a LOT of turnover this year, and my bosses leaned on me very heavily, counting on me to do work far above my current level. So when the promotion got rejected, it was pretty demotivating. I’m embarrassed, because I really think I deserve the promotion, so this made me feel as though I’ve overestimated my abilities. My bosses have promised me a promotion in 2013.

3. Train on at least one new task/discipline.

Done, in spades.


1. Work out 4 days per week.

Done! There were a few weeks where I might have worked out 3 times, plus there was a two-week period where I was on crutches and didn’t work out at all. Still, I’m pleased with how well I did this year, and I have actual muscle tone in my arms for the first time… ever.

2. Take an extra yoga class.

I have definitely taken a lot more yoga classes this year! I abandoned the cheaper 8-week series in July for multiple reasons, but I found another studio with awesome classes, even if it costs quite a bit more than $5/class.

2013 will include more yoga goals!

3. Set one food-related goal per month.

I’m going to be honest – I totally forgot about this goal until I reread my 2012 goals post! I know I made them for a few months, but consistently failed to meet them. Then I think I stopped, and never restarted.

Being Better

1. Work 15 hours for a non-profit.

I didn’t do this AT ALL. The animal shelter that I decided on wasn’t taking new people in January, and then I just… never looked again.

2. Read 100 books and jot down a quick summary/review.

I read about 80 books (which is close to my 2011 total) and created a GoodReads account and started off the year jotting down note in a small diary. And then I left the diary at my sister’s house. And then I basically avoided the internet for a few months. So, fail all around!

3. Institute a one-in-one-out shopping rule.

I explained earlier about my weight loss this year. I still think it’s temporary (and my unhealthy holiday eating habits might have pushed me back up!), so I haven’t donated anything. I have put some things into storage, but I don’t think it counts.

Eyewear Sticker Shock

October 4, 2012 - 6 Responses

I’m lucky enough to have avoided most health problems in my life, with one exception: my eyesight is terrible.  When I was twelve, my dad (who also has bad eyesight) tried on my glasses and was amazed that the prescription was so close to his own.  Luckily, my prescription has tapered off by now, but I still need glasses and/or contacts to function like a normal human.

I went to the eye doctor last week to update my prescription and order new contacts and glasses. I have one pair of contacts left, so I need to reorder. I haven’t had new glasses in years, but the anti-glare coating on my current pair has started flaking off, so they need to be replaced.

Right now I’m going through a little bit of sticker shock!

For contacts, the doctor is saying I should go for daily lenses.  They gave me some free daily lenses to try out, and let me tell you, those things are luxurious.  No need to worry about remembering to pack a contact case or solution, no need to track how long it has been since I last swapped to a fresh pair.

However, do you know how much those things cost?? It’s $650 per year.  Normal 2-week lenses are only $250 for a year.  I am also worried about how much waste goes into the daily lenses.  That’s 730 little plastic blister packs with foil seals.  That’s a lot!  And it seems like such a stupid thing to worry about (especially since I contribute my fair share of waste to landfills), but seeing the pile from just a week of these babies made me feel like a bad global citizen.

I was considering getting a 6-month supply of daily lenses and then just wearing them half-time with glasses, which would at least decrease the cost/guilt slightly.

Unfortunately, it looks like glasses are going to be expensive too!  My insurance will only cover a specific amount for either glasses or contacts, so either way I’ll have to cover a chunk of cash.  Here is the glasses breakdown:

Frames: $250 (The cheapest pair they had were about $200, my favorites were, of course, around the $400 mark)
Lenses: $100 for thicker lenses OR $200 for thinner lenses, + $100 for anti-glare coatings

I could keep my old frames, but in all honesty, they have not fit properly since I bought them.  They look good on my face, but they slide down my nose.  Plus the plastic is discolored in places (and oh my gosh I walk around like that all the time, what is wrong with me).  The lenses would definitely need to be replaced, which I might end up also doing to have a backup pair.

I’ve also been looking at some of the online retailers that promise glasses for $100, but I’m a little wary of them.  Maybe as a backup, but that still means spending the $400 – $600 on the primary pair.

The debate in my mind seems a little silly since obviously I need to see, but at the same time, it makes sense to optimize my spending, especially when we’re talking about over $1000.

Do you wear glasses/contacts?  What kind do you use, and how much do you pay?

To Accomplish, October 2012

October 3, 2012 - Leave a Response

I feel like this year has flown by; I am just completely baffled that it’s October already. That means it’s time to check my yearly goals and panic over how far I am from meeting them. It also means it’s time for pumpkin-flavored everything, baking lots of cookies, and panicking over what gifts to buy everyone for Christmas. I also feel as though I will have no free weekends until 2013!  At any rate, this is a busy month so this will be more of a To Do list than anything involving actual goals.

To Accomplish, October 2012

1. Workout 5 days per week.
My sister is getting married in a few more weeks, and then we’re going to Hawaii. I need to step it up!

2. Read 10 books.
This is ambitious, given that I’ve been struggling to meet my 8 books per month goal. Still, with a loooong flight at the end of the month and a couple of days of vacation, I should be able to make this. Hopefully.

3. Buy D a birthday present.
OK, this is cheating because I’d remember to do it no matter what. But it’s on my To Do list, so it goes here.

4. Get ready for my sister’s wedding.
This involves a bunch of random beautify tasks, such as using those terrible teeth whitening strips, buying nail polish, making sure my makeup still works, etc. I also have to buy jewelry and shoes. And get my dress tailored. Ack!

5. Register to vote.
I attempted to register to vote when we moved here, but thanks to a DMV employee who fulfilled all of the stereotypes of DMV employees, my application was rejected. Since I’d like to be able to vote in the upcoming election, I should really get on this.

6. File my work expense report.
I always forget to do this and I’m pretty sure the people who work for the Travel group hate me. I can’t help it, it involves a.) keeping track of receipts, b.) filling out paperwork, and c.) finding a fax machine. That’s way too many things.

7. Figure out what to do with my stock options.
I got some stock options a long time ago and they’ve just finally vested. Now the question: Do I sell the shares or keep them for future emergencies?

What I’ve been up to

September 14, 2012 - 2 Responses

One of the most most difficult parts about being a slacker blogger is that each week I skip posting, there’s more and more stuff I want/need to post about.  Posting goals & wrap-ups as my two posts a month just feels like cheating, so I skipped those too.  This is stupider, since now it has been 6 weeks since my last post (boo).

Is it more forgivable if I don’t have internet access at work?  One of my coworkers was just fired for looking at “obscene material” (!!) on his work computer, so now no one can access anything outside our company’s intranet.  We can access company websites, that’s it.  I’ve started taking cell phone breaks (because we can’t have those either, lest someone take a picture of some drawing and sell them to a competitor. Which has happened.) at lunchtime, but it’s really hard to blog on that thing!  It’s hard enough to send a decipherable text message.

So here you go.  An infodump.


So… we have two incomes again.  This is a magical thing!  The problem? I forget that after a few years of “famine” (and since our household income has been above $100,000 each year thanks to D’s grad school stipends, I mean it’s like a famine where you have to eat cheddar and drink apple juice instead of having caviar & wine) it’s not a good idea to gorge yourself on everything you’ve been missing.  We basically spent D’s 2012 after-tax income on a new car.  Then we booked a trip to Hawaii (we have a travel fund that should just about cover it, but still!).  We’ve been taking weekend trips and buying brand name groceries.

I’m aware this is all very tame.  But for someone who blogs about personal finance, this is rock bottom or a cry for help or SOMETHING.

(These are First World Problems.)

Now I’m itching to make The Biggest Purchase of my life.  I’ve been looking at houses on Zillow, and all of a sudden, I want one.  Badly.  If certain houses on Zillow had a Buy It Now option, I’d probably have 5 or 6 by now.  My brain keeps running the numbers and saying, “If you just wait a little longer…” and I calm down for a day or two and then one of my favorite houses sells and I panic all over again.

D and I have agreed not to do anything until after my sister’s wedding.  We at least have to replenish our savings accounts!


Remember how I was going to buy quality not quantity and stop shopping at Old Navy?  Yeah, not so much.  You see, I accidentally lost 10 pounds (accidentally- see my explanation below) and then none of my clothes fit.  And of course, I sold off or donated most of my smaller clothes last year, thinking, “There’s no way I’ll be that small again.”  I’ve been wearing most of my too-large clothes anyway, but sometimes it’s hard to ignore that I look frumpy.

Since the whole thing was an accident, I assume that this size is temporary.  I think my body generally prefers to be about 5 lbs heavier, which puts me right back in my bigger clothes.  So I’ve been justifying cheaper shopping sprees.

Also, my personal budget keeps getting eaten up by yoga classes and iPhone apps.

That said, I’ve been enjoying buying some accessories (they always fit!).  My quality-over-quantity purchases this year have been a Kate Spade necklace (it’s reversible!  Which means I got TWO expensive necklaces for the price of ONE exorbitantly expensive necklace!) and a J. Crew purse.  Both were more than 50% off but still cost well above what I’ve ever spent on one item.


I started taking a kickboxing class!  I even did something out of character and bought gloves after 2 classes.  This is something normal people do all the time, but I am so cheap that I won’t buy yoga accessories and I’ve been doing yoga regularly for 3 years now. The gloves are blue and I like to tell people that I bought them because they match my new purse.

It’s a lot of fun, even if I end up with bruises from kicking the pads wrong.

I said above that I accidentally lost weight.  This is an obnoxious thing to say.

The truth: I tend to eat whatever D eats.  When D went on a diet earlier this year, I was eating less without thinking about it.  I still worked out at the same level, but I was actually eating healthy.  Will this continue once D moves on to maintaining?  Maybe, but I’m not holding out much hope.


Work is going well.  My boss is putting me in for a raise!  It’s not a sure thing – I’m just at the cusp of the experience level – but I sent her an updated resume that basically plagiarizes the  job postings they’ve had for the next salary level.  Fingers crossed!

So what have you been up to?  I still have 200 unread posts in my Google Reader (this is down from 500!), but slowly & surely, I’m catching up on everyone’s lives!