This Wonderful Virtual Life

pieLast Thanksgiving, I spent the bulk of the afternoon darting in and out of the coat closet at my in-laws’ house. It was my first feature on Rockstar Finance, and I was absolutely mesmerized. Take a bite, catch up with a relative, check my phone. After three months of blogging talking to myself, people were actually going to see my blog. Was this real life? Continue reading “This Wonderful Virtual Life”

This Wonderful Virtual Life

Life Insurance & the Legacy I Don’t Want

life insurance and legaciesThere are many things I like to think my husband will remember me for. My willingness to edit his grad school papers, only occasionally teasing him about his grammar. My attempt to always have dinner made before he gets home, even if it means accidentally baking a magnetic bag clip that one time I was in a big hurry. My eagerness to go fishing with him, reminding him only every hour minute second how boring fishing actually is.

And money. While I don’t have it all figured out, of the two of us, I definitely have a better handle on our finances. Or at least I thought I did until this year’s open enrollment at my work. Imagine my surprise when I actually took the time examine my current life insurance coverage and discovered that what I would be leaving behind was actually a money mess. Continue reading “Life Insurance & the Legacy I Don’t Want”

Life Insurance & the Legacy I Don’t Want

Is $100 a Big Deal?

100Tim Ferriss. He’s out of touch. If you somehow missed it, there was this one time when he spitballed the fact that people have $5000 in disposable income to spend each month on his podcast. No, dude, they don’t. But he’s not the only person who might be out of touch with money. Last week, I thought I was the one with the money math problem. Continue reading “Is $100 a Big Deal?”

Is $100 a Big Deal?

Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration

graduation-1I’ve done a lot of foolish things for the sake of frugality. That one time I kept using hair product after I lopped off 7 inches of hair. It didn’t make my hair look better. In fact, it looked sticky and frizzy and ugh. But I didn’t want to be wasteful. Then, there was that other time that I bought a fancy shampoo, and it gave me really attractive pimples all along my forehead. Can’t throw that out. No. I spent $7 on it. But that’s not what this post is about. Those are things that I can laugh about, things that I can just chalk up to being Penny. You know, adorably awkward Penny.

This is something entirely different. If it doesn’t cross the line from frugal to cheap, it certainly sits right on it. And it’s downright stupid. Continue reading “Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration”

Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration

A Look at Our Mortgage Numbers

mortgage-1I am terrible at setting goals. I also don’t really share numbers here. At least not in any streamlined way. If you read my posts about unexpected expenses and the $24k in debt we killed last year, you’ll get a fairly decent picture of my income and my spending. But let’s leave a little mystery to life, shall we?

The one thing that I do consistently well, though, is to track my mortgage in an attempt to slash away at it. The goal is to have it paid off before my 40th birthday. Ten years seems reasonable. Rather than continuing to talk vaguely about it, I thought I’d share quarterly updates here.

The Original

When we bought our house, our mortgage was for $214,000. We put down just over 20%; in doing so, we dodged PMI. I’m not even sure I knew how PMI really worked back then. All I knew is that I didn’t want to give the bank any extra money on top of the gobs of money I was already going to be giving them in interest over the next thirty years. While I know some of you gasped at the thought of a 30-year loan, I made sure that we could pay it off early without any issue. See? Little Penny did have her act together a wee bit.

Today

Earlier this year, we started to get aggressive with our mortgage paydown. In our typical budget, we plan for a double payment. Then, I toss my extra side hustle money for the previous month at the mortgage. That means that at the start of the fourth quarter of 2016, we still owe $180,815.12. Be still my heart.

As if that number isn’t panic-inducing enough, I should also point out that last year, I paid $7,076.95 in interest. Before you tell me that I can write this off on my taxes, let me remind you that I know. I did, and I’ll do it again next year. Now, let’s consider the fact that one of my friends rents a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment* with access to two pools and a pond for less than what we paid in interest. It goes both ways. You like your mortgage? Fine. Don’t let me stand in your way. But I’m getting rid of mine.

*There are also dogs. And faint odors. And neighbors very close by. Sometimes, I really do like my mortgage.

The Plan

In short, the plan is to stay the course. There will be months when we pay 3.5 times our required payment. I’ll continue to celebrate obnoxiously on Twitter. There will also be months where we only pay double or slightly more than that. While I hope it never happens, there may even come a time when we only pay the regular payment. Maybe there will be some unexpected expense. Or maybe I’ll get my investing prowess so on point that I put all of my extra income there instead. I’m hoping that quarterly updates will be enough motivation to keep us pushing forward aggressively. Let’s get this done by 40, shall we?

So Tell Me…Should I share more numbers? Do you have a mortgage? What’s your debt-slashing plan?

 

A Look at Our Mortgage Numbers

In Defense of Kylie Jenner

JennerThere. I said it. Now before you think that I’m trying to usher in the apocalypse, hear me out. I’m not about to argue that the world needs another Kardashian. To be honest, I’m not even totally sure that she really is one. Instead, I’d like to defend the interview Ms. Jenner did for Wealthsimple last week, not her as a celebrity or as a person. Because 1.) much to my students’ perennial dismay, I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, and 2.) I don’t actually know her.

Last week, Wealthsimple did a profile on her as a part of their “Money Diaries” series, where they do a Q & A write-up with famous (they say “interesting”) people about how money intersects with their daily lives. And they picked the world’s most famous 19-year-old*. In it, she talks about inexpensive makeup, expensive cars, and possibly living outside of the limelight one day. After the post went live, there was some virtual eye rolling, and one Tweeter even questioned his enrollment in Wealthsimple. To both, I say absurd.

*Actually, I’m making this up. There are probably more famous 19-year-olds. Is Bieber still 19? What about Taylor Swift? Am I 97 yet? Continue reading “In Defense of Kylie Jenner”

In Defense of Kylie Jenner

Harnessing the Power of Not Yet

Power of Not YetLetter grades are one of the hallmarks of the American education system. Whether it’s an A or an F or something in between, letter grades define our academic abilities as students for nearly two decades of life. And then what? People still talk about succeeding and fret at the notion of failing. What would happen if we altered the verbiage and recategorized failure? 

That is, in fact, one of my favorite parts of summer school. Since these are non-credit classes given my students’ ages, I assess individual skill strands. I don’t have to worry about assigning letter grades that have to translate into GPA points and transcript data. My favorite category? Not yet. There is no F. There is no no. Instead, a student is either mastering a skill, developing a skill, or hasn’t done it quite yet. More chances will be offered, and there is more work to be done. She hasn’t failed. He hasn’t flunked. They’re just not ready yet.

As someone who obsessed obsesses over failure regularly, removing the notion of failing from my mindset has been liberating. I haven’t flunked personal finance. I haven’t failed a goal. I’m just not there yet. I’ll get there. I might be on mile two while everyone else is eyeing the finish line, but I’ll keep trudging on. In the spirit of summer school, here are my not yets–financial and otherwise. Continue reading “Harnessing the Power of Not Yet”

Harnessing the Power of Not Yet

FIRE is in My Blood

FIREThe first time I mentioned the revolutionary concept of financial independence early retirement (FIRE) to my mom a few years ago, I was met with a scoff. She applauded the idea of financial independence. But early retirement? It was met with pursed lips, a decided frown, or the click of her tongue behind her teeth every time I mentioned it. Try as I might, I could not levy enough evidence or anecdotes or blog posts to make her sweeten on the idea. Perhaps the concept was just too abstract. But then I took a step back and started to see my mom for who she really is. 

Continue reading “FIRE is in My Blood”

FIRE is in My Blood

Tip Yourself: Spark Joy on Your Phone

Tip YourselfThis past week, I took a long, hard look at my iPhone. Dozens of apps slotted into folders on my home screen – some apps are overused, some never used, and an overwhelming amount of apps that fell somewhere in between. Midway through my quest to clean up my smartphone a la Marie Kondo and Christopher Mims, my index finger hovered over a green and white app. Last fall, I agreed to pilot using an app that seemed to be the perfect blend of motivation and finance. Almost six months later and more than any other app, Tip Yourself still sparks joy with every click. Continue reading “Tip Yourself: Spark Joy on Your Phone”

Tip Yourself: Spark Joy on Your Phone

Do Your Savings Make Sense?

Savings SenseGrowing up, I celebrated nearly every birthday at an arcade. It was magical: bumper cars, skeeball, Bozo Buckets, Whac-a-Mole, and more. The lights and bells that signaled a win delighted me almost as much as the sound of the mechanism churning out tickets. Ever so gently, I would remove my winnings from the ticket dispenser, careful not to rip the last ticket. Then, I would delicately fold them up, trot over to the redemption counter, request that my tickets be counted, and promptly buy…nothing.

For the better part of a decade, I squirreled away tickets in my nightstand drawer. When that got too full, my mom helped me take them in and have them transferred onto a single certificate that could be redeemed at a later date. I didn’t know what I was saving up for, but it was going to be something big. Something meaningful. Something infinitely greater that any of the Fun Dip and plastic tchotchkes that my friends chose. I could buy a lava lamp, a microwave, a speaker system for my Discman. Yes, I would buy something important.  Continue reading “Do Your Savings Make Sense?”

Do Your Savings Make Sense?