Pregnancy And Remodeling A Kitchen

We are DIY-remodeling a kitchen. My best friend (NOT ME – I swear!!) is pregnant.

You would think there wouldn’t be a whole lot of similarities between the two endeavors, after all:

  • She’s building a human being (though I still call it a gremlin) whereas everything we’re building will be inanimate.
  • BFF’s progress can be measured weekly by the similarity of the gremlin in size to various fruits and vegetables*, whereas ours is better measured by the number of nails going through the nail gun or the number of staples used to install batts of insulation these days.
  • The ongoing costs for her gremlin will continue for 18+ years, whereas I don’t expect us to have any significant ongoing costs with our kitchen.

But given that so much of my friendship with BFF has seen us going through similar things at the same time (in college, we got inadvertently dragged in the same direction so often that we joked we had an invisible rope that connected our hips), I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised to discover there are actually a ton of similarities between pregnancy and remodeling a kitchen (what I’m calling our respective “2015 projects”) and we’ve had quite a bit to relate to with each other lately.

Here’s our list so far: Continue reading Pregnancy And Remodeling A Kitchen

Reflections on Building Inspectors and Code Enforcement

Now with insulation!  And LED can lights!

Between our DIY kitchen remodel (now with insulation!) and the solar panels that we had installed in March, we’ve had quite a few inspectors stop by our house over the last month or so.

In our city, the building inspectors act as check to make sure that construction work is done to code and is properly permitted. Talking with other homeowners we know, it seems some people think building inspectors and code enforcement are  an unnecessary nuisance and don’t bother with them for DIY or even some non-DIY under-the-table projects. Heck, we’ve probably done some work over the years that probably should have been permitted*, so can’t judge those thoughts too harshly. But with bigger projects, we’ve always gotten a permit and here’s the big reason why.

We think we’re getting our money’s worth by permitting big projects.

For this kind of value determination, there are two factors:
1 – How much it costs
2 – What we get out of it

How Much Is A Permit?

Continue reading Reflections on Building Inspectors and Code Enforcement

PoP – An Unintentional Namesake of a Very Fine Man

IMG_5171Nearly three years ago, we did what we often do – walked on the beach and had a good long talk about our goals and progress and different things we see for our future together. It was during this walk that we decided we could start a blog together to chronicle some of these more financial goals. But what to name it!?!

Seriously. The naming thing was an issue for us! It actually delayed starting the blog for a solid month because we couldn’t pick one that we both liked and that didn’t seem to sound dirty out of context. (You’d be amazed at the number of websites that do… Seriously, try it out with some of your favorite blogs thinking with the mind of a twelve-year-old boy.)

Finally, we settled on Planting Our Pennies. It was a name that we both thought was okay – we like pennies and plants and growing them both! – and it also met the non-dirty-sounding criteria*. And to top it off, the name gave us an easy abbreviation that we could turn into the online pseudonyms we still use three years later – Mr & Mrs PoP.

What we didn’t think about until much later was that we had unintentionally created a namesake of a very fine man, my maternal grandfather, known to those that loved him as Pop or PopPop**.

Continue reading PoP – An Unintentional Namesake of a Very Fine Man

PoP Balance Sheet – March 2015

Welcome to our March 2015 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 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!

Mr Market was down a bit for the month of March, but we didn’t see too much of a decrease across our collective brokerage accounts due to the fact that we sent a fair amount of money toward those accounts this month (our normal 401K and HSA deposits, along with $11K that got deposited into our Roth IRA for the 2014 tax year).  As it turned out, we made too much money in 2014 and had to backdoor into our Roth IRAs for the first time.  Luckily for us, we don’t have any traditional IRAs so there shouldn’t be any tax consequences to using the backdoor on our 2015 taxes.

We also went ahead and adjusted the value of our house up to account for the solar panel system that is now sitting atop our roof.  This is a little more subjective, since whole house solar systems are so rare where we live (though solar pool heaters are fairly common) there aren’t really a lot of good comps to get an idea of what value they add.  The best information that I have found seems to come from a HUD study that indicates that the market value of a solar system is (on average) equal to about $20 per every $1 saved on electricity costs per year (which doesn’t seem unreasonable given a use of a DCF analysis on the value of that same cash).  Since our system should save us about $100/month, $1,200 per year, in electricity costs, I went ahead and added $24K to the value of our house.  It’s probably moot since we don’t ever plan on selling this house, but worth tracking anyhow.

You’ll notice that our investable assets dropped for the first time since tracking them here, though the net worth didn’t.  This is because though the drop in our cash due to our upfront payment for the solar system was offset by the increase in value on our house, making those transactions basically a wash from the perspective of our balance sheet.  But because we explicitly exclude our house from what we consider our investable assets, the drop in cash wasn’t offset by anything there.

So for the month of March:

  • Our total assets went up by $14.3
  • Our total liabilities went down by $0.8 
  • Net worth rose by $16.2K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of March is $870.5K, which represents a 1.90% increase this month.

And for the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – March 2015

PoP Income Statement – March 2015

Welcome to our March 2015 Income Statement!

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.

Start to current on the kitchen.  Sorry for the image quality on the current pic.

Start to current on the kitchen. Sorry for the image quality on the current pic.

The numbers this month are not stellar, there’s no way around it.

Top of the list is what we spent on the Kitchen Reno this month, $2,517.  We’re making progress, but the punch list to getting inspected and getting a ceiling ended up being much longer and much more complicated than we had talked about initially.  Instead of re-using much of the electrical and HVAC system that was initially over this area, it’s all been redone to be more robust and up to current code (mostly).  Overall, that’s a good thing (though I do love re-use!) – it’s going to be significantly harder to blow the breaker than it used to be and our lighting system is going to be much more customizable than our previous lighting system.  But these additional improvements added costs in terms of time and money.  Blessedly we had one last cold snap last weekend and hopefully the weather will stay mild enough for another week or so until we can get inspectors out to the house.  We’ve already had some 90 degree days and more of those (and warm muggy nights) are going to be killer without some insulation and a ceiling before too long.

Food spending was totally over as well, at 25% over budget overall.  Groceries were about $50 over, which has seemed to be par for the course lately as I struggle with limited cooking facilities and eating out was $100 over, mostly due to taking friends out to eat – friends that we would normally have over to eat at our house.

Excluding those items, the rest of our spending was actually pretty good.  Turns out when you’re spending this much time renovating your house you don’t have a ton of time to spend money doing other fun things, like the scuba trip Mr PoP was originally planning on going on this month.  He has postponed his next scuba trip until after we get a ceiling and for both our sakes I hope he doesn’t have to wait long.

As less than stellar as they are, here are March’s numbers.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $3,586.

And here are the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – March 2015