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?

PoP 2015 Spending Summary – Now With Kitchen Pics!

Our solar panels were probably our best money spent of the whole year...

Our solar panels were probably our best money spent of the whole year…

On our last balance sheet update of 2015, I noted that we had a significantly lower increase in our net worth in 2015 than we saw in both 2013 and in 2014.  And while in some ways that’s disappointing (we had grown nicely accustomed to increasing our net worth by $200K/year the previous two years!), looking just at our net worth as a summary of this year feels far more inadequate this year than in other years.  More than other years, looking at where our money went this year feels more important than ever.

2015 Spending Goals:

  • $50,000 on everything but the remodel

  • $20,000 on our remodel

  • $70,000 total

We spent $50K on everything in 2014, but wanted to challenge ourselves and set a goal of $45K for 2015 “non remodel” spending.  However, when we found out early in January 2014 that we had the chance to install a solar system (with large rebates), we changed our goal for “non remodel” back to what we spent in 2014, $50,000, but included the solar expense in that goal total.  For us, $50,000 seems to be a sweet spot that allows us to live a life that requires us to be conscious of our spending, but doesn’t feel too limiting, either.

2015 Actual Spending

  •  $46,772 on everything but the remodel
  •  $23,927 on the remodel
  •  $70,699 total

Looking at the total, we’re within 1% of our goal.  (Eerily that we were within 1% of our goal last year, as well.)  On the whole, that’s pretty good.  But looking at the total obscures things a little bit.

We’re over on the remodel, which (as a very goal oriented person) I’m not thrilled about (Mr PoP couldn’t care less).  What makes it worse (again, to me – not Mr PoP!) is that we’re not yet done and still have probably $3K in kitchen expenses ahead of us.  (Really, though – I’m probably more annoyed that we’re not  yet done than I am that we went over our planned spend…)  But we’re inching ever closer to finishing this project (which is still the biggest we’ve ever attempted together), and Mr PoP has not let me “cheap out” even as we also expanded to scope of the project at several points.  At every step we’ve considered our options, and generally ended up paying more for higher end materials than the bare minimum that would have been necessary.  The goal is that these higher end materials (like 12 gauge wire for all of our electric to replace the 14 gauge wire, opting for commercial grade tile, LED lights with an estimated lifespan of 25+ years, etc) will last longer.  Time will tell, but the goal is that this spending overage will be worth it in the long run.

On the other hand, we’re under on the “everything but” category.  Significantly under, actually.  And that’s all the more impressive for us when you consider that this number also includes the $5,869 in expenses we booked (the non-reimbursable portion) from having our whole-house solar system installed earlier this year.  So backing that out, our spending on everything that wasn’t “capital improvements” on our house was actually only $40,903, a number we consider a solid win.

Where Did The Money Go?

Continue reading PoP 2015 Spending Summary – Now With Kitchen Pics!

PoP Balance Sheet – December 2015

Welcome to our December 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 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!

Our balance sheet update isn’t horribly exciting this month.  The S&P500 was down about 1.75% for the month, and our investments followed a similar trajectory.  Our savings offset the drop a bit – and we’re happy to be buying on a dip, especially with the additional 2% “discount” that we got from executing our monthly taxable investments after China dragged the markets down on Monday.  But we still ended up down about 0.35% for the month.

Looking back, 2015 as a whole wasn’t nearly as exciting on our balance sheet as 2013 and 2014 had been.  Those years saw gains of right around $200K each on our balance sheet between real estate appreciation, stock market appreciation, and keeping our spending nice and low.  This year our cash outflows were significantly higher, the stock market ended the year down, and we’ve been reticent to book increases in the value of our real estate lately.  Altogether, this means that we only saw a $122K increase in our net worth for 2015.

Honestly, I never really thought that there would be a point in our lives where I used the words “only a $122K increase”, but after 2013 and 2014 I’d be lying if I didn’t say that looking strictly at that number 2015 feels a little bit like a let down.  But the reality is that there was WAY more to 2015 that isn’t captured in that one number, so we’re really not disappointed with the way the year shook out.  (More on this in an upcoming post looking back on the whole year.)

Anyhow, here are our numbers for December!

  • Our total assets down by $2.8
  • Our total liabilities went up by $0.5K (merely a function of when we pay the cc bill…)
  • Net worth went down by $3.3K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of December is $949.3K, which represents a 0.35% decrease this month.

And for the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – December 2015

PoP Income Statement – December 2015

Welcome to our December 2015 Income Statement!

Amazingly, this picture makes Mr PoP's phone look better than it does in person!

Amazingly, this picture makes Mr PoP’s phone look better than it does in person!

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.

When we started off the first day of the month with over $2K in charges finally coming through from spending the previous month (those appliances I bought on black Friday!), we knew it was going to end up as a pricey month.  And it was, but it also wasn’t nearly as expensive as it could have been given everything that we had going on.

In terms of gadgets, Mr PoP got the new iPhone (at ~$450 so far – he still wants to buy AppleCare – it’s definitely not a used phone from Glyde this time) that he had been pondering getting for a while, with the impetus to finally pull the trigger being how thoroughly he managed to destroy his old iPhone 4S after dropping it while tiling.  (See picture above!)  This is kindof a weird purchase for us, because it means an end of Mr PoP on Ting with me.  (We’ve been happily with Ting for just about 2 years now.)  This phone allows Mr PoP to go onto a company-paid cell phone plan, at zero cost to us – but by our calculations, given the $15-$20 that Mr PoP’s usage cost us on Ting, it’s a pretty darned long pay-off period for this “free” cell phone plan (we figure at least 2 years…).  But Mr PoP had been wanting to upgrade, and breaking his phone sealed the deal.  So he got his new phone and went on the company-paid plan mid-month.

The A/C on the car also stopped blowing cold, which was more of a headache than it would normally be in December since we had temperatures in the mid-80s for much of the month.  Luckily we took it to the same shop that we had success with last month and it ended up being a relatively inexpensive repair.  We also had to pay insurance for the next 6 months on the car.

Food spending was a bit high, and there were a fair number of meetups with people at restaurants towards the end of the month.  But all in all, not too terrible.

Here are the numbers!

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $6,626.  

And the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – December 2015

Happy Friday – Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas to you from all of the PoPs, especially Kitty PoP!

Luckily for Kitty PoP, he was only in his Santa sweater for a couple of minutes this morning. With the temps in the mid-80s today it's too hot for Kitty sweaters!

Luckily for Kitty PoP, he was only in his Santa sweater for a couple of minutes this morning. With the temps in the mid-80s today it’s too hot for kitty sweaters!