Happy Friday – We Just Bought Ourselves 4 Weekends!

IMG_5408And we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We’re still working our way through a lot of the finishing touches on the kitchen, but now that our sink and countertops are in, a lot of what remains is on me.

That means Mr PoP has been getting antsy to get started on the next big phase, which is extending the new tile that he laid in half the house (basically the kitchen and living room) through to the bedrooms.

We’ve already purchased the tile itself (way back in summer 2015!), but before it can be laid, the old tile has to come out.

What Does That Entail?

Continue reading Happy Friday – We Just Bought Ourselves 4 Weekends!

PoP 2016 Spending Summary

If 2015 was the year of major home renovations – which saw us installing solar panels and spending the bulk of the total that we’ll spend on our major home renovations, then 2016 was the year of travel. I used every single one of my 25 PTO days before Thanksgiving this year, and Mr PoP used almost as much as I did!

2016 Spending Goals


First was Hawaii!

We started the year with a plan to spend:

  • $45.5K on “personal spending, excluding
  • another $3.6K on finishing our remodel,
  • and set aside/spend another $18K on a “fun car” for Mr PoP.

But when a couple of weeks into January we found out we were going to go to Hawaii, and that I could attend the Chautauqua in Ecuador, we ended up nearly doubling the planned travel spend for the year by extending the Hawaii trip by nearly two weeks, getting me to Ecuador, and Mr PoP to Burning Man, with a few other getaways along the way.

2016 Actual Spending

  • $47,959 on “personal spending”, excluding the
  • $3.3K on the remodel (so $51,302 total),
  • and we set aside $18,000 in a savings account for Mr PoP’s fun car, but have yet to spend it.

Travel’s really the biggest outlier here, and we ended up being able to dial back in a couple other areas to partially offset the extra ~$4K we spent there.

Where Did The Money Go?

  • Then Omaha!

    Then Omaha!

    Groceries: $4,513

  • Eating Out: $2,696
  • Total Food – $7,209 – 14% of the total. We had actually increased our food budget to $650/month for the year, but found as the kitchen became more usable it wasn’t needed as much as thought!

Continue reading PoP 2016 Spending Summary

PoP Balance Sheet – December 2016

Welcome to our December 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!

2016 was quite a roller coaster of a year.  In the first few weeks of January, the stock market dropped 10%, recovered fairly quickly, had another steep drop and recovery after the Brexit vote, and then went insane and somehow ended up a over 10% by the end of the year.  Since we’re not market timers, though, that didn’t really impact any of what we did throughout the year, but we did manage to hold on for the ride, and ended up with some pretty solid net worth gains for the year (both in our brokerage accounts and outside of them).  

  • Real estate appreciation tipped us higher by ~$145K, which was about 2 years worth of accumulated appreciation on three properties (see these posts for those updates).   
  • Our brokerage accounts also tipped higher by over $165K, raised by the insane stock market climb as well as our habit of continuing to put money into our various brokerage accounts pretty steadily throughout the year, between our and our employer’s deposits, we put a tad over $100K into various investment accounts this year.
  • Our net cash position also increased as we planned to either restore or purchase a “fun car” for Mr PoP and steadily set aside $1,500/month ($18,0000 total) in cash for that endeavor.  That money remains unspent, and hopefully we’ll have an update on the plans for it within Q1.  
  • Liabilities didn’t show much change, with our standard mortgage paydown schedule knocking a bit less than $7K off the balance for the year.

All told, that added up to a gain of $331.1K in net worth for the year, a record for us. I’m doubtful we’ll duplicate that in 2017, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

Here are the numbers for December:

  • Our total assets up $20.3K
  • Our total liabilities went down by $0.8K 
  • Net worth went up by $21.1K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of December is $1,280.4K, which represents a 1.68% increase this month, and a 34.87% increase for 2016.

For the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – December 2016

PoP Income Statement – December 2016

Counter installed! Yay!

Counter installed! Yay!

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.

We named our tree El Gordo this year because it ended up being quite a bit fatter than we thought when we brought it home!

We named our tree El Gordo this year because it ended up being quite a bit fatter than we thought when we brought it home!

A solid month on our Income Statement, with a little bit of splurging on restaurants and shopping for others for the holidays, but a nice bottom-line overall. Having just taken down the Christmas tree this afternoon, I will say that it was nice to have one this year (renovations really prevented it the past two years), but I don’t feel the need to go all out with a tree every year just for the sake of tradition. They’re beautiful, but they are a good deal of work to put up and take down!

Our countertop installation took quite a bit more work than putting up the Christmas tree, but luckily this should be the only time we ever have to mess around with that massive piece. It does look pretty, though!

In terms of gifts, my favorite this year was one that we gave to Mr PoP’s dad, Papa PoP. After installing the biggest section of our brand new countertop, we were left with a small bit that was trimmed off as excess that we sliced into 1″ slices, rotated 90-degrees, and glued together to make an end-grain cutting board. We used a wood-burner to burn our initials on the back, added some rubber feet, and oiled it with a food-grade oil so they can use it as a cutting board and not just a decoration.

Made with love, by the PoPs!

Made with love, by the PoPs!


Mama PoP and Papa PoP also got us some neat toys for the kitchen-a Joule Sous Vide cooker and Breville convection toaster oven. We’ll probably write a post about the Joule in the future, but Mr. PoP is pretty happy with it so far. Thanks Mama & Papa PoP!

We’ll do a wrap-up on the whole year later this week, but this is December’s numbers!

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $8,042.  

And the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – December 2016

My Take On Visiting An Aldi

I have a confession.  I’ve been hanging around the personal finance blogosphere for nearly 5 years now (holy cow, that’s a long time) and only recently found my way inside an Aldi.  There have been a couple of times I’ve walked past an Aldi – most notably in the Blue Mountains in Australia!  But I had never actually been inside one until now.

For those as out of the loop as I was, Aldi is a discount supermarket chain.  It’s low-cost to the extreme, to the point that the check-out folks won’t bag your groceries for you (or provide bags), and you need to bring a quarter in order to unlock a cart if you want to use one while you’re shopping.  But frugal folk seem to swear by it as a way to keep grocery costs nice and low!  

An Aldi finally opened up near-ish to us, so while Mr PoP was out of town on a long weekend, I (armed with a quarter for the cart – though I forgot my reusable grocery bags!) made the time to drive down there and check it out.

And I’m sorry to say… Aldi didn’t really live up to the hype.

First, the good.

Good #1 – The Food Was Cheap

Continue reading My Take On Visiting An Aldi