PoP Balance Sheet – January 2016 – Readers Pick Our ERLI!

Welcome to our January 2016 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!

Despite the fact that we just had our lowest spend month in 2.5 years, our balance sheet didn’t move in the positive direction. With the S&P500 dropping nearly 6% over the course of the month (and being down as much as 10% during one trading session!), we didn’t have enough income coming in to offset our market losses, even if we had spent $0!  But, we did drop some cash into the market…

After seeing our 2015 W-2s, I went ahead and completed the back-door funding of our Roth IRAs for 2015. So that moved $11K that we had set aside in cash into our Roth IRA accounts. While I’d love to say that I timed it perfectly and executed the trade when the market was at its low point this month, my luck just isn’t that good. But we did end up buying in at ~13% discount to where we bought in last year, so I’ll call that a win.

Anyhow, here are our numbers for January!

  • Our total assets down by $19.4
  • Our total liabilities went down by $2.9K 
  • Net worth went down by $16.5K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of January is $932.8K, which represents a 1.74% decrease this month.

And for the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – January 2016 – Readers Pick Our ERLI!

PoP Income Statement – January 2016

Welcome to our January 2016 Income Statement!

A preview of our pantry cabinet. It's 7.5ft tall and ~6ft wide with LED strip lighting mounted inside!

A preview of our newly installed pantry cabinet. It’s 7.5ft tall and ~6ft wide with LED strip lighting mounted inside!

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.

Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, January turned out to be our lowest spending month in over 2.5 years (since June 2013!).  What made our spending so low? Well, mostly the fact that we didn’t spend a ton on the kitchen this month. =P

Kitchen spending was officially negative $10 this month, between depositing cash that we made from selling a couple of items that came out of the kitchen (the old stove and fridge) and our first $80 refund from using the Price Protection benefit on our credit card, we offset (plus a little extra), the incidentals that we spent continuing our kitchen project. We’re not 100% done with kitchen spending, but the bulk of it is definitely in our rear-view mirror now, and that feels pretty good.

Shopping was also high, as Mr PoP bought two suits at the last minute to attend a conference for work, and also bought an iPod since he decided he didn’t want to risk bringing his new iPhone to the gym with him to work out. I bought myself a pair of goggles since mine have gone MIA and I needed to do some swimming workouts after hurting my foot. =P

Lastly, a fair amount of money also went into our rental duplex this month. We had a quick turnover of renters, with one set moving out on Jan 1st, and another set moving in on January 3rd, giving us 2 days to turn the place around. And during those two days I wished we didn’t have a rental property since it was too short of notice to hire any of the needed work out, so we were left to do it all ourselves.

One of the outgoing renters was borderline hoarder (or maybe a full-on hoarder if his roommate hadn’t tried to keep it under control), and we ended up needing to do a fair amount of clean up and repair since *too much stuff* increased the wear and tear on the unit. While I was dealing with the mess (I’ve tried to block the mental images of what I scrubbed from the walls) and painting, Mr PoP was repairing a leak the outgoing tenants only told us about when they were getting ready to leave. That meant he got to spend those two days tearing out part of the shower, replacing the rotted concrete board behind it, and retiling the shower wall. What a guy, right?

Mr PoP also bought a new weedwacker to help him better maintain the lawn and edging at the duplex, and so he can stop having to borrow his dad’s every week. It was pricey, but he promises to wack all the weeds (and all the rain we’ve had this winter means there are plenty of them to wack!), so hopefully it will be worth it.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $6,016.  

And the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – January 2016

Our Florida Solar Panels – Year 1 Report

Our solar panels!

Our solar panels!

It was just over a year ago that we won the lottery. Well, it was more of a race of sorts – a race to get accepted into the Florida Power and Light (known as FPL around here) Solar Rebate Program. As it turned out, the solar rebate allowed us to install a photovoltaic system (solar panels on our roof) that would provide our house with its electricity needs for decades and get a very large rebate from FPL that would cover about half of the cost. Since Federal tax rebates cover 30% of the cost (and the rebates stack!), that meant that we would essentially be installing these solar panels at an effective 80% discount after the two rebates, slashing the payback period on them dramatically (to around 5 years instead of ~25 years).

But in order to get our rebates, we needed to act pretty quickly. The system had to be installed, inspected, and up and running within 90 days or FPL would pass our rebate amount ~$15K on to the next customer on the waiting list. And since FPL was saying that this would be the last year of the solar rebate program (which so far is true), we knew we wouldn’t have this opportunity again.

Probably as a result of the rush, some of our understandings of how our solar system would work with the grid haven’t really panned out exactly as I had anticipated, so the return on our investment isn’t *quite* as high as it might be otherwise. But it’s still pretty darned high, so we’re not kicking ourselves in the shins.

But first, the good.   Continue reading Our Florida Solar Panels – Year 1 Report

Our Experience Using Price Protection

Mr PoP and I are not big on “shopping”. (Please control your shock.) Yes, we purchase items when we need them, or more realistically when we want them, but the act of shopping for them is generally a fairly unpleasant process all around. To address that unpleasantness, we try and find our optimal point along what I like to think of as the Price-Headache curve* that applies to the purchase of most items.

IMG_5658

From this graph, you can see that if the purchaser is willing to pay virtually any price for a good, that purchase can be made while incurring infinitesimally small headaches. Think an uber-wealthy person simply mentioning a desire to a personal assistant who then dispatches a team of personal shoppers in pursuit of satisfying the whim of the ultimate purchaser. Very few headaches, but the uber-wealthy individual is paying a high price for that luxury (though perhaps indirectly via the salaries of their assistants and personal shoppers).

In contrast, there is an asymptotic price that will be approached for each good where the purchaser cannot obtain it for any less, despite a willingness to bang one’s head against the wall. For this, I turn to memories of being dragged out to early morning Black Friday sales with my mother when I was a kid. It *was* truly possible to get a crock-pot for $4, but one had to brave both the weather and the crowds in order to get a shot at one of those loss-leading crock-pots.

More recently than my childhood trips on Black Friday, the internet has flattened the Price-Headache a bit, allowing purchasers to procure items with fewer headaches than ever before, but it has also seemed to shift the curve to the right.  Or (as my mom would say), the deals just aren’t as good as they used to be*.

But even with the help of the internet, it still seems to come down to this: How many headaches is one willing to endure to secure a low price?

Not only does the answer to that question vary from person to person, but (as I have discovered) it’s also not a fixed value. I’ve seen myself move a bit further to the right on the Price-Headache curve (willing to endure fewer headaches) over the years as our financial position has strengthened. But in the end, a part of me is still my mother’s child, not really wanting to pay more than I absolutely have to, particularly when it comes to big ticket items! And I feel like this year I finally discovered a tool that helps me reconcile these two contradictory positions.

Enter Price Protection Through Our Credit Card

Continue reading Our Experience Using Price Protection

Is This The Weirdest Identity Theft Ever?

I’ve had my own issues with identity theft over the past several years. From getting called by our lady in HR to confirm that I was still working for my employer when I was the victim of unemployment benefits fraud, to the fun adventures with the IRS and being the victim of tax return fraud. And more recently I found out that I am one of the millions of people in the U.S. whose confidential employment screening records were stolen in the OPM hack. When I found out about that I kindof laughed… now in addition to my social security number, address, employer, and whatever identifying information can be gleaned from my rather minimal social media presence… my fingerprints may have also been stolen. Suuuuuuper.

So while I signed up for the free* ID theft protection available to OPM hack victims, the reality is that by using our password database and super secure passwords, monitoring our credit scores and accounts using free tools like credit sesame and what’s offered by our credit union, and having a 7-year credit alert on my credit account, we’re probably doing just about all we could do to cover our bases. At least in terms of MY identity.

But now Mr PoP has officially joined the identity theft club. And like so many things Mr PoP does, it just had to be in a way that was supremely weird.

It All Started On Saturday…

Continue reading Is This The Weirdest Identity Theft Ever?