Plans For My Solitary Thanksgiving

LaunderAllTheThingsThrough a few random events, I’m looking at spending this upcoming 4-day Thanksgiving weekend mostly by myself. Well, technically it’ll be me and Kitty PoP, and while he’s more of a cuddler when Mr PoP is out of the house, he’s still not much of a conversationalist.

But don’t feel bad for me. Seriously! If I really wanted to spend the holiday with family* or friends, I could easily book a flight or hit up local friends for some good pumpkin pie (the rest of the Thanksgiving meal is always rather underwhelming to me as a vegetarian). But I’m actually rather looking forward to having four days to myself, without work, to get things done around the house. Because how often does this happen? Not often enough.

So here’s what’s on my “To Do” list for the Thanksgiving weekend.

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How Much Slack To Cut When Someone’s Fallen On Hard Times Financially?

Maybe a year ago Mr PoP and I were out for one of our evening walks when a VERY LARGE truck took a turn way too wide and we literally jumped out of the way for fear that he would hit us.  As the truck drove past, the driver, we’ll call him TG (for truck guy) gave us a nod as though nothing was amiss and he was just nodding hello.  Mr PoP and I were gobsmacked.  The guy looked and was acting drunk and was driving through our lovely suburban hood.  Not cool.  But we couldn’t really do anything about it, right?  We were a 10 minute walk from home (where our cell phones were) and by the time we would have been able to call the cops he would no doubt have been off the road and what could the police do.

Over the next few days on our walks, we looked at the cars in the driveways watching out for this truck.  We were pretty sure he lived in the neighborhood and just kindof wanted to know exactly where so we could be especially cautious around there if this was a habit that we had never noticed before.  We found the truck sitting in the driveway of a house and made a mental note of where it was.

A Reason For Inebriation?

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PoP Balance Sheet – October 2014

Welcome to our October 2014 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to mint.com and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

October was another one of those months where we’re still getting our sea legs in feeling the movements of the market to a greater extent underneath us. Halfway through the month after looking at what the markets had been doing I had to warn Mr PoP that he probably wouldn’t want to take a look at our net worth on Mint unless he was going to be okay with being down by a significant chunk of change. But then by the end of the month, as we were sitting at the end of our driveway handing out candy to Trick-Or-Treaters, Mr PoP was telling me he had checked out our mint account that day and thought our net worth might be over $800K (for the first time ever) after the prices on our mutual funds updated for the end of the month.

Mixed in there is the fact that we inadvertently maxed out on Mr PoP’s 401K this month. Ooops! (First world problem, we know.) From everything I can tell, Mr PoP’s company doesn’t do an end of year gross-up on any missed matching funds if you max out your 401K early, so I had been hoping to stretch it out a little toward the end of the year. We missed that opportunity and may have lost about $400 (maybe more?) in employer matching funds because of it. =(

Hopefully we can time it better in 2015 (in 2013 we maxed Mr PoP’s out on the LAST paycheck, something I consider amazing considering how much his pay can bounce around), but at least the increase in the 401K contribution limits (from $17,500 to $18,000) will give us more wiggle room to play with AND will have a nice little positive effect on our bottom line next year, too. Specifically, an extra $280 that we keep in our pockets (instead of paying our marginal 28% tax rate on the extra $500×2 = $1000), as well as an extra $125 in matching funds from my employer.

And that’s about as much thought as I like to give our 401Ks. They are really our “set it and forget it” savings mechanisms and I don’t like to deal with them all that often.

So for the month of October:

  • Our total assets went up by $15.5K
  • Our total liabilities went down by $0.8K
  • Net worth rose by $16.2K
  • Total net worth as of the end of October is $802.3K, which represents a 1.76% increase this month. And Mr PoP was right with his prediction.

And for the details…

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PoP Income Statement – October 2014

Welcome to our October 2014 Income Statement!

I make Kitty PoP wear his lion costume every Halloween... Poor Kitty PoP.

I make Kitty PoP wear his lion costume every Halloween… Poor Kitty PoP.

Mr. PoP and I put these income statements together for two reasons. First, we want to be transparent about our finances because we’re trying to be role models for other people who are trying to plant their own pennies (and end up with dollars someday!). Second, we do this to make sure we’re on track to meet our own long-term goals. If you’re not tracking your income statement and balance sheet, we highly recommend you start using a program like Mint to keep track of it all.

Not a ton of craziness on the Income Statement this month in the PoP household.  Spending was a tad on the high side, but that’s mostly because we had another $1,123 in Kitchen renovation expenses this month.

With these kitchen expenses starting to add up in 2014, it’s going to be a tough squeeze to see if we’ll meet our $50K spending goal.  To do that, we’d need the next two months to have an average spending of ~$3,550 or so.  Certainly possible (omitting kitchen expenses this month we were at $3,320), but between the holidays and two weekends out of town coming up (and the travel incidentals those will likely carry), it’s going to be tight.  Though if we end up over $50K by an amount less than what we spend on the kitchen renovations, we’ll probably still count that as a win since the kitchen was always meant to be a 2015 project and we only moved these parts of it to 2014 to make the scheduling easier.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $5,135.

And here are the details…

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How Much Money Do You Make?

"How much money do you make?"

“How much money do you make?”

This is the question that Carl Richards, the NYTimes Financial Sketch Guy, used to open his most recent piece. As he tells it:

“Recently, I tried an experiment. I just started asking people how much they make or how much they’re worth. The results were pretty consistent. They’d look at me in shock and stammer a bit.

We’re not comfortable talking about money. We’ve been taught that it’s rude. Even more important, we may be afraid of what the numbers say about us.”

By hiding these numbers, though, Richards asserts that we turn to other status symbols to demonstrate our wealth and our income to the world. And that’s where folks get into trouble. They buy expensive cars (and other Big Hats) to demonstrate that they’ve “made it” when those Big Hats are often hiding a distinct lack of cattle (err, net worth).

Richards encourages NYTimes readers with the following:

“Maybe this idea is too radical, but for the next week, I’d love for you to test this theory. Try living as if everything you did financially was public information. How does it affect your decisions? Do you find yourself still doing things that just look good, or are you doing things that actually are good for you? Do you find it easier to be your authentic self? And, perhaps most important of all, do you now understand the difference between buying the trappings of success and actual success?”

Been There, Done That…Wrote The Blog

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