What did I learn from the February Challenge: And March’s mortgage update

Last month (February):

Balance: $84,162.48
Years left: 6.833333333
P = $875.17, I = $339.24, Escrow = 621.66

This month (March):

Balance: $82,617.28
Years left: 6.666666667
P =$881.26, I = $333.14, Escrow = 621.66

One month savings:  $2.62

Too bad the stock market didn’t keep those gains– we had been at the point in which the taxable e-trade account was bigger than our remaining mortgage.  Now we’re two months away again.  I shake my tiny fist at Mint for showing me stock market updates more frequently than I want to see them.  It’s a bit unnerving to have one’s net worth fluctuate so wildly.

I spent the month of February with conflicting feelings… On the one hand, I hated having this stupid challenge in the back of my mind and having to be mindful about my spending and DH’s spending.  On the other hand, I had a paper deadline for Feb 28th and kind of didn’t want the month to  end until that got finished(!)

Well, we did it.  Spent $1,227 of non-childcare non-DH’s-allowance out of our take-home pay.  That’s less than $2000.  This makes up for the profligacy of the previous two months and we’re back on track for summer, even if my summer salary gets sequestered (it shouldn’t– it’s from the last fiscal year or something).

Where did it go?  $550 to groceries (that’s a lot for us!).  $303 to utilities (that includes stuff like the insect guy and the internet/phone etc.)  $125 on “shopping” (a catchall for books, diapers and other things).  $86 on gas.  $71 on restaurants (much less than usual).  $34 at the dentist.  $25 on Netflix.  $20 on charity.  $12 on heart medication for the cat.

Now, lest you think we’re an angelic family of four, that doesn’t include bills that we pay once a year (like private school) and it doesn’t include the $1,260 that we spent on childcare and out of DH’s allowance.  This month was full of coffee bean experimentation (DH’s current hobby).

This week, btw, we didn’t spend any money before the month ran out.  (DH ordered parts for the fridge, but that hasn’t been charged yet.  Update:  I spent $26 on gas on the 28th.)  I also got a check for doing a referee report.  And we got a $50 cash back check from the credit card company.

What did we learn?

1.  Not having an emergency is nice.  DH bought an engine/fan set-up for the freezer to replace the one that keeps freezing up (after stalling out).  That should cost around $50 and will hopefully work.  If not, then one of our soon-to-happen emergencies is going to be buying a new fridge.  We’ll probably get something reasonably nice this time around.

2.  We’re kind of tired of the restaurants in town anyway.

3.  We have a lot of food in the freezer.  And some of that food should be thrown out because it didn’t taste good when we froze it either.  (I’m looking at you, disastrous Jambalaya.  I do think we’ll be able to eat the last of the Turkey Turnip Chickpea stuff eventually, but only when someone is craving an ultra-healthy chicken soup.)

4.  Not going into the city saves quite a bit, but also creates a bit of wanderlust.  We may go crazy sometime in March.

5.  Fancy cheeses sometimes go on good sales.  Buy the ones that are on sale when you’re trying to save money instead of not buying any.  Failing that, get one of the inoffensive cheddars.  Don’t come home with no cheese or you will be sad when you need a snack.

6.  After a couple of weeks I stop  the “wanting to buy things just because I can’t”.  I must get acclimated or something.

7.  I still hate having to think about money.  After years of not having to do that, it is nearly impossible to make thinking about it again “a game” or anything other than annoying.

8.  We have a lot of individual bills.  For some reason it doesn’t seem like as many when they’re listed on the cc bill as it does when mint updates with them every few days.

9.  I really want to go into the city and spend a lot of money just because I can.  I won’t though.  Well, no more than usual, anyway.  Well, maybe a little more– I am hitting a milestone birthday.

In the end, I think I’ll keep Mint.  I do like being able to see how much we’ve been spending.  I don’t think I’ll keep such a close eye on the individual items going forward, however.

Do you track your spending?  Do you budget?  How does (or does not) that work out for you?

Do we Love Any Links on March 2nd?

Actually, we might not.  In apology for not loving the internet this week, here are some babies eating lemons to take your mind off things:

I think we have some, we just need to go through our gchat records.  Also I liked that gai shan life thing and the thing she linked to.

But I may not get to this until Saturday morning.  Let this be a placeholder!

love the title of this movie review from red eye chicago

*SO* much fatigue  from Jezebel

ooh look, a new post from FGA.  She has been missed!  (to clarify:  We’ve been enjoying her comments, but the posts have been missed.)  Also it’s a really good and insightful post on the emotions surrounding debt freedom– more complicated than you might think.  Single Mom Rich mom also appears to be back and has a related post.

delegar introduces us to gangstagrass.  It is as advertised.

This is an awesome marriage proposal, from yahoo.

This made me literally LOL: Best Short Story About A Robot Learning What It Means To Be Human And Also There’s A Cat #FakeHugoAwardCategories

did you write this post? did I?  It says academic cog wrote it.

I guess… it’s really cold in Norway?  And boring?  via the NY Times

Questions from Mados

Mados gave us a Leibster award and asked:

  1. If you were to do a research project (no limitations, all resources provided), what would be its title and subject area?
  2. Do you have a formal degree/education – and what is it?
  3. What is the worst job you ever had, and why?
  4. If you had the chance to travel to another planet and return, which planet would you go to (not considering risk and travel time)?
  5. If you and everybody you knew were to leave Earth on a generational spaceship and never return, which 3 words would best summarise your feelings about life on Earth?
  6. Who is your favourite author?
  7. Have you ever thought of starting, or actually started, your own business – or undertaken freelance work?
  8. What is your preferred balance between solitude and socialising (including with close family, but pets don’t count) – as a general ‘rule of thumb’, in percent?
  9. How do you prefer to socialise most of the time – Online or Offline?
  10. Has blogging helped you to develop as a person or change your life in a positive direction?
  11. Which advice would you like to give new bloggers?

That’s a lot of questions.

#1:

1.  “#1’s thoughts on taste-testing ice cream and gelato throughout the world”
2.  PhD
3.  High school internship doing data entry for a geneticist.
4.  I’m fine with Earth, thanks.
5.  Wet.  Skies.  Ground.
6.  How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
7.  I do freelance work when it gets offered to me, which is generally a few times a year.  I don’t usually seek it out.
8.  Depends on if you’re counting work or not.  Without work, 10-20% outside the family.  Including work as socializing, more like 50% outside the family.  If the family counts as socializing then 95%.  I like my family.
9.  I do most socializing online these days, but it depends on who I’m socializing with whether I prefer IRL or online.
10.  Blogging gets me to think deeply about some things I only think shallowly about.  Don’t know if that is good or bad.
11.  Dude, it’s just a blog.  Also:  People who blog about being neurotic get more neurotic so they have something to blog about.  Don’t succumb to Sandra Tsing Loh syndrome.

#2:

  1. If you were to do a research project (no limitations, all resources provided), what would be its title and subject area?  “How long would it take #2 to become bored if her only job was to lie around and read novels in between naps?  Followup: How much money would then be necessary to make an academic position comfortable again?”  These are empirical questions.  (#1 pokes in… ooh, I changed my mind, I want the latter!)
  2. Do you have a formal degree/education – and what is it?  Ph.D.
  3. What is the worst job you ever had, and why?  When I worked in a cubicle at a normal desk job.  It ossified my brain.
  4. If you had the chance to travel to another planet and return, which planet would you go to (not considering risk and travel time)?  Can I pick a fictional planet?  Because the ones around here seem a little short on restaurant options.
  5. If you and everybody you knew were to leave Earth on a generational spaceship and never return, which 3 words would best summarise your feelings about life on Earth?  Down With Patriarchy.
  6. Who is your favourite author?  *Brain asplode*  Too many answers!
  7. Have you ever thought of starting, or actually started, your own business – or undertaken freelance work?:  oh, heck, no.  I am not a businessperson.  I’m not averse to some freelance work if it comes to me; I have neither the time nor the inclination to search for it, and no time to do a lot of it.
  8. What is your preferred balance between solitude and socialising (including with close family, but pets don’t count) – as a general ‘rule of thumb’, in percent?:  Dude, I am so introverted.  I prefer to spend lots of time alone with my partner, and some time alone by myself.  I like to hang out with friends occasionally, a few times a week.  My family all live very far away (except my partner).
  9. How do you prefer to socialise most of the time – Online or Offline?  Depends on with whom.  Often, not at all.
  10. Has blogging helped you to develop as a person or change your life in a positive direction?  Uh… not really.  I guess accountablogging is helpful but I don’t do that much of it.
  11. Which advice would you like to give new bloggers?  Make sure people can leave comments in a non-irritating way.  Patrol for spam.  Please be interesting.  Capital letters are your friends.  I refuse to read anything that has 1 sentence and then a cut tag; you have to put at least most of it on the front page or I won’t go further.  No ads, please.  (#1 adds:  Centering all your text does not make your blog cute, just annoying.  Also, #2 has adblock, so you can ignore that part about ads– she won’t know.)

So now, gentle and grumpy readers, help us think of 11 new questions to ask!  (Also, feel free to add your answers!)