2016-07-15 07.38.17

Guest Room Dresser Project

Our guest room is small and is kind of a Hodgepodge of a room.  It serves as our guest room, storage for all of my crafts and other random stuff like suitcases, my periodic exercise room, and also our linen closet.  One of the huge downsides of owning a home built in the late 1800’s is that there is little to no storage so this room kind of does/holds it all.

Since the room is multi-use we decided a bed was a complete waste of space since it was only used as a guest room a couple of weeks per year and left no usable floor space.  We had a futon in there for a couple of years but it was dreadfully uncomfortable.  So last year we build a Murphy bed and purchased a nice memory foam mattress for our guests. Continue reading “Guest Room Dresser Project”

2016-06-29 20.31.44

Mid-Year Savings Update

The SFF household has been busy so this post is slightly delayed but we finally had a chance to sit down and review our total income/expense numbers for the first half of the year.  I have been anxiously awaiting this info as we keep our individual income and expense money separate so I was a little in the dark as to how we were doing as a couple.  But I am happy to report that we have increased our savings rate from last year!

In 2015 we saved 28% of our joint net income.  This was a little lower than I had wanted but we have both made an effort to decrease our spending even more and Mr. SFF has been transferring money to our joint accounts more consistently resulting in a higher savings rate.  Based on my calculations we have saved approximately 46% of our net income so far this year.  Woohoo!  I am pretty psyched about this as it is a drastic increase from last year and we both still have buffers of extra money in our individual accounts which is not included in this number. Continue reading “Mid-Year Savings Update”

Monthly Food Update – #6

I know, another food update.  I promise I am working on some other topics but I just gotten distracted lately.  So this past month was a little brutal.  Our grocery store food costs were actually OK but a long weekend to CT completely blew our food budget with four meals eaten out.  We spent more money dining out in just those four days than we have probably spent all year.  Ouch!  Did we have a great time visiting friends?  Yes without a doubt.  But it certainly hurt the wallet.  The funny thing is that we used to dine out all the time but now it is just painful when I look at the numbers.

On a positive note, this past month I made a mini chalkboard to list our weekly meals.  I keep our weekly meal plan on a google spreadsheet but now we have a nice little visual right in the kitchen.  I already had the supplies to make the chalkboard, including the chalkboard paint, so this little project didn’t cost anything.  It’s not perfect but it seems to work pretty well.

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Last weeks menu as set on Sunday.

Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #6”

2016-06-21 07.26.12

My 2016 Clothing Ban

No, I am not banning wearing clothes, I am banning buying clothes for the entire year, and possibly longer.  Well, I already purchased a skirt on super sale in January costing a bank account breaking $3.49, but other than that, I decided months ago that I am not going to buy a single piece of clothing for the entire year.

Why am I doing this?  Because sometimes I can get the urge to buy something for myself and although I have been pretty good since starting this journey towards FI I know myself well enough that having the actual goal, shared publicly here, would make it even more powerful and keep me accountable. Continue reading “My 2016 Clothing Ban”

2016-05-20 20.29.10

Monthly Food Costs – Update #5

I am trying to decide if it is time to stop these monthly food updates.  I mean tracking it has been certainly helpful to me but I am torn as to if I should continue to share this info.  But alas, here is the last months update.

The month of May was brutal to my regular budget.  All sort of extra things were thrown in (Mother’s Day, Mr. SFF’s 40th b-day, and pre-paying for some travel costs) and I was only able to save the $400 per month that I automatically transfer over to our saving.  This was thoroughly depressing but thankfully even with this dismal amount, my average savings rate for the year is still at 42%.  Before starting this post I was pretty sure that our monthly food costs would also be high but I was pleasantly surprised as I entered the last of our receipts into my spreadsheet that we were actually close to our monthly food spending goal (which is pretty flexible/variable) of $500 per month even though I did buy some more organic food.

We had a couple of dining out costs, two which were lunches due to some issues with meal planning and one birthday dinner that went over our gift certificate.  But on the other hand we also had a few “free” meals over the past month.  My mother in law took us out for a birthday dinner celebration, we got a couple of free dinners through Mr. SFF’s work, and we also went out to celebrate 15 years together but this was fully covered by a gift certificate from a friend  so those nights probably helped a little with our monthly costs.

May 8 – June 7
Category Totals Purpose
Food $474.30 Breakfast $50.88
Groceries $71.18 Lunch $90.67
Alcohol $51.88 Dinner $202.24
Snacks $70.18
Ingredients $37.86
Entertaining $0.00
General household $3.19
Cleaning $12.99
Personal care $55.00
Rental Properties $0.00
Alcohol $51.88
Beverages $22.47

Lunches out: $19.58
Dinner out: $65.56

What my meal planning blunder really shows me is how much meal planning really does help.  The two lunches that Mr. SFF bought when I messed up planning were certainly not cheap, even though they were nothing fancy.  With an average of $9.79 per lunch, if he were to do this twice per week for 50 weeks out of the year that’s a total of $979 per year.  I think he used to buy lunch out pretty often but if I can prepare our lunch reliably with only the occasional schedule mess-up, even if the prepared lunches cost $2 each this should save $579 per year.  It’s amazing how fast the little things really do add up!

Two weeks ago I planted our little vegetable garden and although it will be a couple of months before we have anything to harvest, I am excited to see how this might affect our food costs.  I am going to try to keep track of the food that we harvest to see if it is possible to estimate our savings but I am just hoping that it will be evident when we look at the numbers.

Here are some of our meals over the past 31 days, including one lunch and breakfast this time.

2016-05-09 13.25.37 2016-05-12 19.13.54 2016-05-13 18.11.57 2016-05-15 19.04.28 2016-05-16 18.58.38 2016-05-17 19.52.07 2016-05-19 18.40.00 2016-05-20 18.37.44 2016-05-21 19.07.05 2016-05-24 18.46.07 2016-05-25 07.08.32 2016-05-25 18.55.14 2016-06-02 18.44.15 2016-06-06 18.33.15

5/9: (lunch) salad with grilled chicken, avocado, beets and sliced almonds
5/12: almond flour chicken, carrots and sweet potato fries
5/13: glazed salmon, green beans, rice
5/15: balsamic chicken, carrots, roasted cauliflower
5/16: pork tenderloin, carrots, wild rice
5/17: tofu stir fry with carrots, broccoli and snap peas over rice noodles
5/19: ham with pineapple glaze, broccoli, rice and GF roll
5/20: burger with avocado and goat cheese with salad
5/21: pork, wilted kale, potatoes
5/24: one pot chicken taco (GF) pasta dish
5/25: (breakfast) local eggs, GF toast and avocado – this was a break from the norm
5/25: glazed salmon, wilted kale with prosciutto
6/2: almond chicken, green beans and sweet potato fries (one of my new favorites but the almond flour is expensive)
6/6: grilled pork, wilted kale and beets

 

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Could We Ever Return To a “Normal” Life?

Over the long weekend Mr. SFF and I went for a great bike ride enjoying the beautiful weather, time together and the extra day off.  While riding around we went down some roads I haven’t been down in ages and there were all of these new developments going up.  I mean, a lot of them.  Some of the houses seemed reasonably sized while others seems pretty big.  And as I passed all these houses I started wondering if I could ever go back to a “normal” life where I would desire one of these houses.  And the answer is I am really not sure I could. Continue reading “Could We Ever Return To a “Normal” Life?”

Personal Capital

How Our Rental Property Has Accelerated Our FI Date

Rental properties are certainly not stress free but man, do can they provide income!  Our new duplex has had a little bit of stress and work associated with it but really nothing substantial.  We continue to have good communication with the tenant who was paying rent late and this past month he was on time so there was improvement.

But one of the best things about a rental is the cash flow.   Continue reading “How Our Rental Property Has Accelerated Our FI Date”

2016-04-27 17.29.16

Monthly Food Costs – Update #4

After another full month of tracking our food and grocery expenses I feel that we are finding a good system that works for us.  Are we still spending more than the average family?  Maybe.  But we are saving a ton of money compared to our 2015 food costs and still eating healthy.

I am still doing meal planning on Sundays and find that this is the key to making this work.  I usually only plan meals through Wednesday and then do a mid-week plan for the rest of the week.  Although this is not my favorite part of the day on Sunday I do find that there is a lot less stress mid-week when it comes to food so it has been worth it.  Here is my meal plan from last week. Continue reading “Monthly Food Costs – Update #4”

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Growing Up in a Hoity-Toity Town

I was recently thinking about how the town I grew up in might have shaped the way I feel about money.  Both Mr. SFF and I had similar backgrounds even though we grew up in different states.   Our home towns were both upper middle class and great places to raise children but as we both watched as our families struggled through difficult times and I can’t help but wonder if this shaped the way we manage our money today.  (And to be clear, neither of us have even been given or inherited any money from our families. All of our wealth we have created on our own.) Continue reading “Growing Up in a Hoity-Toity Town”

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How Our Journey to FIRE Has Strengthened Our Marriage

The divorce rate in the US has statistically been high in over the past few decades.  For a while it was believed to be around a rate of about 50% although new data (thankfully) shows this number has actually declined.  Now there are many reasons for divorce but a couple of the consistently top reasons are money and communication.  For the SFF household though, this is certainly not the case. Continue reading “How Our Journey to FIRE Has Strengthened Our Marriage”