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December Wrap-Up

January 1, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth was up about 3.5% this month, and I can hardly comprehend the deltas any more. When I first started tracking my net worth, it could take an entire year to accumulate a ~$20k net worth increase.  Now, we regularly see swings larger than 20k (in either direction) each month. It is just wild.

In yet another flip flop on where to prioritize the mortgage, we sent in $8k to mortgage principal. It’s a spoonful of water in the bucket, but it helps.  If we accumulate enough of these little spoonfuls, a recast would lower our fixed costs. My real dream is to refinance into a 15 year mortgage, but the payments are out of my comfort zone for now (even if my budget shows we could afford it).

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance):

  • Monthly spend (excluding some major categories as noted above): $5,681
  • Highest single transaction that hasn’t been featured in a previous month: $1,670 for a new espresso machine. This was 100% T’s choice. It pained me just a little bit to enter it into our expenses.  The way we do joint finances is essentially that we have one pot, and we both are frugal, and we buy what we want/need. (This wouldn’t work if you have a tight budget to meet.)  Significant purchases are always discussed. Still, in the end, we pretty much always come down to the decision residing with the purchaser, entrusting that person to make a good decision. My input was several months of “I don’t think it is necessary / worth it. Can’t you find something at a lower price point?” But, I don’t make the coffee, nor do I really care significantly about the coffee, other than that there IS coffee of some sort. T is very into it, and he makes us each a coffee every morning. If he thinks it is truly worth it, then who am I to tell him it isn’t?  We can afford this.  There is a line, I’m sure, but I guess $1,670 isn’t crossing it?  He’ll sell his old set up for about $250.
  • Most annoying expense: $1,038 for the dentist. T suddenly needed a procedure done. We hit our out of pocket coverage limit, which is pretty low.  Our dental insurance is not super great. We can reimburse from our FSAs, but we generally don’t put a lot of extra money in the use-it-or-lose-it account. I usually ignore things paid from our FSA in my spending logs, so we’ll see what we actually have to cover out of pocket.  We can carry $500/year over in our FSAs, so they weren’t totally empty (as you might expect they would be in December).  Still, we didn’t put a lot in them for next year, so we’ll wipe them out to pay this bill.
  • Expense that brought the most joy or utility:  All of the gifts for others!
  • Donations (for accountability): $150 for the local food bank, $100 for a local dog rescue of our puppies breed. The woman who runs it is awesome. Saving animals is generally low on my charitable giving priorities, but I mix in some local/personal giving with my higher impact giving.

House Projects

I don’t think we had a lot here, between travel and LO being sick.  We decorated for Christmas, then undecorated. We moved the nursery glider into the living room and put the non-kid friendly chair (leather, not cowhide print) in storage for now.  I sold a non-kid friendly side table that I never really loved anyway.  (I did love the idea of it when we bought it.)  I had it listed at $75, but kept getting low ball offers, because people expect to be able to negotiate.  I added “price firm” to the ad, and got more offers – but people wanted to meet me in the city or asked too many questions.  Finally, someone offered to pick it up and pay $75, and it was gone!


Nothing of interest to say here. Work was good, although a little slow with a lot of people in and out for vacations.  I expect the new year to be very busy.

Other life stuff

LO was sick for just before the holiday, with a moderate fever for about 5 days.  Aside from the fever, she was mostly fine and treatable at home with Tylenol.  Luckily, it cleared up just before we had to travel. She was stuck with the lingering runny nose and hacking cough, neither of which you can do a whole lot for, but at least she was feeling less miserable.

We had brought her to the doctor 2 days before she fell ill. She was having some excessive crying at bedtime and was possibly more clumsy/stumbley than usual, so we wanted to get her ears checked.  Her usual pediatrician wasn’t available and the one we saw had us waiting for over an hour for our appointment.  The medical assistant made it obvious that this was a routine, noting she “spends a lot of time with her patients” (at the expense of the schedule). That is not acceptable, especially with a fussy one-year-old in tow. I understand doctors hate being forced into schedules that allocate brief appointments, but for goodness sake, I just wanted someone to look into her ears for a second. Most infuriatingly, the doctor did the physical exam, asked us to meet her in her office down the hall, then went to see another patient for 15+ minutes.  THEN she came back to say “it is probably just teething, try ibuprofen”  Thank heavens for our regular doctor, who rarely makes us wait any more than the usual.

Aside from the sickness, LO is doing great.  Walking everywhere, eating well, a few words, lots of playing, very active, very happy, extremely cute. She’s sometimes fighting naps and sometimes crying before bed. We might be ready for a one nap schedule on non-daycare days.  I don’t know.  She sleeps through the night, which is the #1 gift, but I just can’t crack the code to have her consistently drift happily off to sleep for naps and night.  (And if we try to let her dictate when she sleeps, she just stays awake until she absolutely melts down into a cry fest.)

We spent about 5 days in the midwest visiting family, which was really nice. Traveling on planes with a 14-month-old lap monkey was seriously not fun – but we all survived. This was her 4th roundtrip via plane, but the first where she was fully mobile and the first with connections. Daycare was/is closed for 2 weeks around the holiday, so she’s been home another week after we returned. I only had some of those days off, but T was able to largely cover the days I had to work.

I’ve wrapped up my 2019 spending log and started my 2020 projections/plans. I hope to pull together a separate post about some of this soon. I also want to write a decade in review post.  It’s been quite the decade. Happy new year!  Happy new decade!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2020 11:53 am

    Happy new year and new decade!

    Spoonfuls are a good way to look at those payments to principal! I flip flop the same way a lot and definitely want to refi to a 15 year mortgage as well but like you, the payments are way out of my comfort zone as well. Far enough that I wouldn’t even venture to say that we could “afford” it, not that and the savings rates I’m aiming for.

    We have the same approach to buying now. I SORT of have ultimate yes/no say over final decisions in the sense that I will steer us away from the purchase if it’s not CURRENTLY in the budget, and for really big hobby things I get to decide when they can happen but mainly that’s all to do with cash flow more than whether or not the purchase is “permitted”.

    Yay for selling that side table for your desired price point!

    “if we try to let her dictate when she sleeps, she just stays awake until she absolutely melts down into a cry fest.” We have the same sleep personality in JB. We have Midwestern friends who look at us like we have three heads when we say that we enforced nap times, because THEIR kids would just go to sleep when tired, even as infants. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic that is but we didn’t get it 😀

    • January 2, 2020 12:40 pm

      Yeah “afford” isn’t a strictly defined term. It would definitely eat into our savings rate, but also, additional principal that a 15 year mortgage has built in contributes to our savings, even if it doesn’t show up in my savings rate calculation. Still, I just can’t commit to the payments.

      So, does the sleeping get better with age, or am I dreaming? I kept thinking that eventually she’ll accept that naps are a thing. . .

      • January 3, 2020 5:30 pm

        True re the additional principal going to payments.

        Sleeping did get better for us but that was mainly overnights. Naps were easier for several months and then they got hard again. Then they disappeared and I shed a tear over that. I think it’s best to look at it as a pendulum! We had good overnight sleeps for months, then we had problems for a while, then it was back to good, then problems. Etc.

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