They key to success is steady, consistent improvements, and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to this month to reach your financial goals. Share your accomplishments and have a virtual drink to send off the month! Plus, a few of my favorite articles from around the web.
Passive Cash Back On My Shopping: I signed up for Ebates, which is a portal that gives me cash back when I purchase from different retailers. I wrote a little more about it here. I conservatively hope to earn $350-$450 a year from this based on other shoppers’ feedback.
Home Buying Progress: We finalized the contract and I was finally able to lock in our mortgage for a new home. We got a pretty insane rate from this super secret mortgage source. Over the lifetime of the loan it will be worth over $145,000 more in our pockets. For a few hours of work and research. The home inspection is done, we’ve got our commitment letter, and we’re trying to nail down a final date for the closing.
Preferred Stock: I picked up some more dividend-producing preferred stocks. Got my first dividend payouts on my holdings and the price on the shares have risen due to uncertainty in the market. I wasn’t expecting principal appreciation and don’t expect it to hold, but it’s a nice feeling for now.
Apartment Rental: The original closing date for our new home puts us at an awkward place with our lease. We’d essentially be carrying two places for a month. I was able to get the condo sellers to agree to an earlier closing date and also get the management of my current apartment to agree to let us out of our lease early if I can find a new renter for them to start their lease when we move out. So this is half a win, because I still need to find a new renter. If I can do this, it’s $2,400 extra in my pocket – one month’s rent, which I can use on some renovations in the new place.
Airline Credit Expired – I successfully negotiated a credit on a past flight. That was over a year ago and honestly I had forgotten I had it. That credit has expired, which is $135 down the drain. I emailed customer service to see if I can get it reactivated, but I’m not holding my breath. I may need to keep a list of credits somewhere or find some way to track what items I have that are outstanding like this. If it’s not in a monitored doc I track regularly, I will definitely forget about it. I think they count on people like me forgetting. It’s disappointing, but it’s definitely my fault.
Rate Lock Delay – My home’s contract was finalized on a Friday around 3pm. I should have emailed my lender to lock the rate in that afternoon, but I figured I could wait until Monday with no ill effect, and that would give me three extra days for the rate lock period (60 days). I’m a new home buyers, so I didn’t realize how unnecessary 60 full days are to the closing. I thought the extra time I would gain for the window outweighed the small chance the rate would go up. As it stands, we are closing 14 days before the rate lock expires…and the rate went up that weekend. It wasn’t a huge move, but it will add up to about $800 a year in extra interest. I really kicked myself for this one for an entire week. But you live and you learn, I guess. Next time I’ll weigh the different facets more appropriately with more experience of the home buying process.
High Monthly Spending – The hubs and I spent $5,389 this month, which is a few hundred higher than where I’d like it to be. The main reason this is in the fail section is because our restaurant spending has skyrocketed to over $1,000 this month. My parents were in town and we really wanted to take them to a few special restaurants. We went to one meal that cost $300 for four people. That plus a week of take-out happy ordering has really put a dent in our wallet. I will be monitoring this closely next month. I think my revelation around portion sizes will help. But I also replaced our awful skillet and may be doing a little more cooking this month.
Help, I Didn’t Do Anything This Month!
If the month got away from you, no worries. You can still slate a few wins to keep making steady, consistent progress towards your goals. Here are a few suggestions that will take less time than it takes to finish your coffee.
Get A Dashboard Set Up To Track Your Expenses, Income, And Net Worth (5 Min) – I’m a big believer that you make the most progress on the things you measure. The constant feedback helps you stay motivated and also tweak your strategies. In five minutes, you can use my favorite service, Personal Capital, to hook up all your accounts and get a bird’s eye view of your finances. You’ll have a constant window into your financial health and be able to drill down into any spending problems, portfolio allocation issues, and more. Best of all, it’s free. For more detail on how I use it, check out this article or jump right to the good part and get started here.
Figure Out How Much You Need To Retire With (15-30 Min) – Set your retirement goal by using one of my two favorite retirement calculators. For those who want a more comprehensive view as well as the latest research, you can walk through the three scenarios I use to triangulate to a retirement number over here.
Inside Jobs – The Atlantic interviews 103 people from different walks of life about their jobs. I love reading stuff like this – you get a taste of what it’s like to live a whole different life. It’s also invigorating to hear how others derive meaning from their jobs. The careers are varied: pastor, lawyer, prison guard, butcher, paramedic, sport horse doctor, cattle farmer. You name it, it’s there.
The Quest For the Not So Big House and Your Personal Board of Directors – I really love everything by JD Roth. The topic of houses has been on my mind a lot recently given our own purchase. This was a breath of fresh air to read.
The Tail End – Wait But Why is not a finance-focused blog, but I have found that some of their articles have had the largest impact on my financial decision making. This particular post played a huge role in getting me to retire. I think about it all the time when it comes to money and life prioritization.
Alright, it’s your turn. What went well for you this month in your financial life? What progress did you make? What could be improved?