An Emergency for Our Emergency Fund

 

It took us quite a bit of time to come up with our $1,000 emergency fund. Once we had it, it felt like the act of having an emergency fund guarded us against emergencies happening. Murphy’s Law, amirite? Meaning, if we didn’t have money set aside that would be when an emergency would pop up!

On March 8, 2017 Southern Michigan had a wind storm with wind gusts in excess of 60 mph. I came home from work and found this!

Fallen Tree

We were incredibly lucky, because those high winds brought cold air and resulted in numerous power outages that took days to be restored. That is not good news when temperatures were in the teens and twenties. Not only that, but this tree could have done so much damage: to our house, our next door neighbor’s house or their shed, our garage, deck, fence, or either of the garages for the neighbors in the back. Instead, it was caught by another tree! So lucky!

Unfortunately that luck meant that this tree was not able to be claimed under our home insurance policy since it didn’t do any damage to any of the various structures surrounding it. So, it was all on us.

I started calling tree service companies right away, but there was so much storm damage that all of them were really busy! Most didn’t answer the phone, a couple others bid $900 to take this tree down for me, and one company said $500 to remove everything!

And then the owner ignored my calls and texts.

I went with another company that a coworker recommended. He bid $850 but when I said I would think about it, he texted me back and said he would do it all for $800.

I’m really happy to see this tree go, because for one, it was really ugly. There was about 20 feet of tree trunk before the pine branches showed. It dropped really ugly skinny curved pine cones. If it dropped those fat majestic ones we could slather with Elmer’s Glue and glitter we would have had Christmas ornaments for years! I would have loved it! But all we had was ugly wormy looking ones. Also, I couldn’t get grass to grow due to the constant layer of pine needles and shade.

Now we begin the process of rebuilding the Emergency Fund. I felt like we had it for a long time, but when I asked the bank teller he advised that we opened the account in the beginning of October (right around when I started tracking my net worth with you guys)! Let’s hope we have a better streak in the future.

November 2016 Net Worth Update

Welcome to our November Net Worth Update!

This has been a great month with some exciting changes. I am happy to report our Net Worth grew $356 in the month of October, and I would like to explain what happened to help contribute to this change. First of all, on the fateful night of 10/4/2016 I jammed all of our numbers together, assets and liabilities in to very rough estimates. For 11/1/2016 I have actually researched each number.

You may have noticed I’ve changed the look of the Statement of Net Worth so that we can now see the current amount, previous months amount, and the amount of change. Also we have some “fire” editing to show which assets have decreased in value and which liabilities have increased.

statement-of-net-worth-november

Assets

I get our home’s value from zillow.com, and for some unknown reason our home decreased in value over $1,400! There’s nothing I can really do to control that except for work on my home to try to inch the value up over time. A house recently sold a couple doors down for us that was in really poor shape, so I may see this number fall even more in the coming months.

For the HHR, I get the value from Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com) and select the year, make, model, mileage, and mark it as good condition. Last month I went through all of the questions and was told the car was in good condition, so I’ll be going with that from now on, and then I select the tab for a private sale. We are up $191! I didn’t expect that. I thought it would fall by bits and pieces as it ages.

I have the real 401(k) amounts now. My husband had no idea what his log in information was! We were going to update his elections to a Target Date Mutual Fund because he had never made a selection (I can’t preach too much there; I just learned to make my own selections after reading 99 Minute Millionaire by Scott Alan Turner) but his company automatically put him in his Target Date Fund so that was cool! Now we are working with real numbers!

Our checking account always looks sad and will typically be less than $100 because this account is a holding place for our spending money that’s how much we usually have allotted for any given week.

Our regular savings account is equally sad when you guys see the balance because we have just paid every bill in one big chunk after saving up for the entire month.

Our Christmas savings is now in our regular savings account waiting for presents to be bought. We are thinking about upping our contributions to these “club” accounts (Christmas and Vacation) from $5 a week to $20 a week, but that’s still in the talks. These automatic contributions come from our spending money.

Liabilities

Our mortgage went down just a little bit thanks to interest. There is an exciting update here as well! Our mortgage payment is actually going down $30 because of an escrow recalculation, but we are still going to keep sending what we have always sent. Doing this will shave 5 years off the mortgage and save up $12,000 in interest over time!

You may notice the HHR loan says $0.00! That’s right! We paid it off with a 0% balance transfer to my Capital One account for 12 months. Speaking of Capital One, I failed to include this account on my very first Statement of Net Worth because I figured if I pay it off every month it’s not a “real” liability. Well, now it’s going to be carrying the balance of the HHR and I have a goal of transferring the personal loan to it around April 2017 if I can score another credit limit increase (my score is 3 for 3 currently. I’d say odds are in our favor). So, now I send $275 ($3,259/12 months rounded up to the nearest $25) to pay that off within 12 months. Yay!

The CP Visa should really be a lot better. We send this debt $100/wk and seem to use it up as soon as we pay it. Hopefully next month is better, but I’m not sure with the holidays coming up…

Rent-a-Center has been paid off. Another 0% interest success story. The chest freezer is all mine!

Navient. Ugh. This is the main reason why doing these reports are so good for me. I get to actually see how much this debt grows when I don’t have to pay anything on it at all. My payments have recently been increased from $0 to $100 starting this month actually, so it will still grow if I don’t give it more money, but at least not by as much as it has been. I really dreaded logging in to Navient and getting the new balance but I’m really glad that I did. It’s really not as bad as I thought it would be. Someday I will go Gazelle Intense on this loan!

Great Lakes is my husband’s student loan and this one only grew because I estimated his balance last month and I have the true balance now.

Vermuelen’s and Home Depot are coming down as expected, but I plan to use Home Depot again in the near future for either interior door replacement (our bedroom doors are very old solid monstrosities and the door handles keep coming apart; my mother in law was stuck in the restroom for a while when she came to visit over the summer), or replacing the bathroom vanity which only has a floating sink at the moment (my son could use a supported sink because he cannot stand, and the added storage space would be great). I expect the charge to be less than $500 no matter which option we go with.We are still in talks of which of these 2 options will add the most value to our lives. Do you have an opinion?

The Capital One has of course increased $3,188 because it has absorbed the liability of the HHR.

And there we have our new Net Worth Negative amount of: $(66,969)!

Some exciting changes coming up in November:

  • I will be receiving my first pay checks for my side hustle at The Jackson School of the Arts
  • I just sent off $400 from our escrow adjustment to pay off the 401(k) loan
  • My first payment (ever!) to Navient will post this month
  • Our first increased mortgage payment will be sent 11/30/2016

Fun Facts:

  • If our Net Worth continues to grow at the rate of $356 it will take us just under 16 years to become Net Worth Positive!
  • Our Net Worth grew 0.5% this month

I really enjoyed this chat and I hope you will join me next month for our December Statement of Net Worth and join me every Saturday for tips on how I save money!

Talk again soon!

XOXO,

Dolores

Avoiding Burnout: Find Your Happy Place

If you were to know me in person (or “IRL” as my daughter says on Instagram), you would know that I am extremely detail oriented. I have a list for everything, and a schedule for just about everything. I’ve been that way since I was a child with notebook paper:

3:45pm – Get home from school

4:00pm – Watch Full House, start working on homework

Etc. etc.

I’m not kidding. I still have a “Get Home” Schedule today. And a weekly dinner rotation schedule. And a daily 15 minute deep cleaning schedule. These schedules can sometimes be hard to stick to because there are days that I just don’t want to stop vegging out on the sofa scrolling through Facebook. That’s probably some type of Chore Burnout. There is a Debt Repayment Burnout as well, and some recurring advice I see for that burnout is to surround yourself with inspirational reinforcement.

I have a handy dandy unit which helps keep me from Chore Burnout and Debt Repayment Burnout. I had my husband install an under-the-counter media player which I absolutely cannot live without.

avoiding-burnout

You can find yours here: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ilive-Ikb333s-Under-Cabinet-Bluetooth-r-Digital-Radio/41074191

While I clean house I jam out to 1995 Spring Break Radio on Pandora, while I’m waiting for my husband’s regular on his way home from work phone call I play some mellow Sam Smith Radio, and while I’m cooking dinner, doing dishes, or packing lunches I’m listening to Personal Finance Podcasts!

Do you have that one friend that really gets you motivated to look at your bills, pay off debt, improve your credit score, and finally get ahead? If you are my “IRL” friend, that’s probably me! But, if you don’t have a “me” in your life (sadly) here are some great podcasts you can listen to.

  1. Martinis and Your Money
    1. Shannon McLay invites guests to drink martinis and have slightly tipsy discussions on all things money. I have gotten serious cases of the giggles listening to this show, especially with the Happy Hour Ladies who get in to all sorts of topics to keep even the not-so-money obsessed person enthralled. I have also had the absolute daylights scared out of me when a guest convinced me to log in to my student loan account and see what I owed after 4 years of forbearance and the Income Based Repayment Plan. And now, here we are!
  2. The His and Her Money Show
    1. Talaat and Tai McNeely have a wonderful, well laid out show here where they regularly interview people who have achieved debt freedom and ask the person every question that you would want to ask if you were there to ask it. My absolute favorite question is, “What book suggestions do you have for our listeners?” This is when I lunge for my dish towel, dry off my hands, hit the pause button, open my iPhone notepad (I told you, a note for everything!) and quickly take down their suggestions. At a later time, I look the book up on Amazon and see if it’s something I’m interested in.

img_5783books-to-buy-2

Financial Rock Star

  1. Scott Alan Turner is the first personal finance podcast that I started listening to. He takes reader submitted questions, reads them on air and gives an answer. It really is great for getting your own questions answered, and exercising your personal finance muscles as you try to answer what other people have asked and see if he gives the same answer as you. Super fun! Riker and Jake are okay, too.

Some books I have greatly enjoyed is Dear Debt by Melanie Lockert. I found her on Martinis and Your Money as she is one of the Happy Hour Ladies. She chronicles her journey getting out of debt and writes debt a letter at the end of each chapter. It’s really great to read how her attitude toward debt changes as she frees herself from its grip. She also blogs at deardebt.com. Be sure to give her a follow!

I have also read 99 Minute Millionaire by Scott Alan Turner which I regularly return to, to read all the highlights I have all over it. There are great pearls of wisdom everywhere in that book!

I really enjoyed Millionaire Next Door. This book is super enlightening because it is a study done of millionaires and what they drive, how they spend their money and surprise – It’s not like you might think! Spoiler: Those who have money don’t feel the need to flaunt the fact that they have money. I just love modesty for this reason. They also have a formula for what they call UAWs (Under Accumulators of Wealth *raises hand*) and PAWs (Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth). Using this formula, in order for me to be a PAW I would need a Net Worth of about $109,624.32 but we all know my Net Worth is -$67,325! What is that, even? A Super UAW? Don’t worry, I’ll get there by leaps and bounds. Or maybe by $25s and $50s, but I’ll get there. I hope you’ll join me!