Home > Archive: January, 2021

Archive for January, 2021

A Mishmosh!

January 28th, 2021 at 07:30 pm

This is probably going to be a bit of a scattered entry.  Stream of consciousness lol.

2020 Taxes - 2020 W-2s became available from my employer early this week.  I went ahead and entered it, and entered an estimate of my mortgage interest (I have this info already), my share of the building mortgage interest, and my share of the property taxes (these are both estimates based on 2019).  Based on these numbers, it looks like I am still better off by a few thousand dollars using the standard deduction, and early estimates show my federal refund coming in at $2k.  I know this can change a lot as you move through the different steps so I am not holding my breath yet lol.  Hopefully the info on the building comes in the next few days, and then I can go ahead and complete my taxes and know for sure what I'm getting back and when.  Either way, whatever I get back will be divided between extra debt pay down and getting at least a baby EF going since I have not been able to add to savings yet via paychecks.  Once my 2020 state refund is received, I'll go back and file the amended state return for 2019 to claim the additional money I think I'm due back for that year.  Since that has to be filed with a paper form, I don't want to hold up 2020's returns/refunds by doing so.  

Payday - it's tomorrow and I am hopeful that the changes in withholding that I made move me in the right direction.  I am looking at a budget shortfall of $163 (based on previous take home), and that doesn't even include spending categories such as groceries etc.  So we shall see what's what after tomorrow.  

Amazon returns - one more processed, and so there's only one more outstanding.  Hopefully that will be processed soon.  Right now my gift card balance is $36.22, and will be around $88 or so when the remaining return is processed.  Haven't decided what I am going to spend that on, but I'm in no rush.  I also have $19.60 in Target merch credit (can only be spent in store).

Tuition reimbursement - My company announced today that starting in 2021, they are offering tuition reimbursement as one of our benefits.  This got my wheels turning.  I did not finish my degree, and it's always bugged me that I have student loans (low as they may be) without a degree to show for it.  I have proven that I don't need a degree at this point in my career, but it would be helpful in terms of obtaining a common certification (the years of documentable experience needed are less with a degree).  It's a great thing to put on my resume, and I know for certain that my company would pay for the exam fees.  So, I am looking into degree programs, and pondering the thought in my head.  I would likely be attending one of the state univerisities, and full time tuition for the year is around $7k plus fees.  My company would reimburse $5250 per year.  I have to work out how long the program would take based on my current credits, and how much it would cost, and what I would end up paying out of pocket.  Still lots and lots to think about.  But I think overall it would be a good idea, even if it ends up with me taking on a small amount more of student loan debt.  I gotta play with my spreadsheets lol.

Otherwise, keeping spending very tight is still going well.  Starting to plot out getting my spending categories/slush funds to eventually be funded (well, I can't fund them yet, right now we are still in the discovery phase haha).  Weight loss journey is going well.  Sticking to my plan, annoyed with the scale being slow to respond, but that's kind of what they do so....

Withholdings & Taxes & Planning, Oh My! :)

January 25th, 2021 at 05:21 pm

Since the last time I posted about it, I ended up deciding to increase my withholdings from my twice monthly check.  I had been referring to it as "single zero" and "single one" but it appears that in 2020, the W-4 changed and is now completely different and confusing lol.  After a lot of googling and researching, I was able to figure out how to update my online W-4 in such a way that I would get a very small refund next year, and increase my take home pay every check.  Hoping I did it correctly, I guess I'll find out Friday haha.  I did also model what lowering my 401k contribution would look like....knowing that I didn't want to take that step.  It turns out that my take home pay would go down, since I'd be increasing my taxable income.  So less take home and less being contributed?  No thanks.  Not helpful at all.  I'm estimating that the change in my withholding should net another $100-$150 a check.  Between that, and the extension on student loan forbearance, hoping that that closes the budget gap a bit.  Still more work to do but baby steps.

I also stopped procrastinating on resolving some tax issues I had with my 2019 state return.  I purchased my home in Sept of 2019, and moved out of NYC (which has an income tax) to a suburb that does not have one.  I reflected this incorrectly in my state return (no impact on federal), and instead of getting a refund like I thought, the state came back to tell me that I owed them money.  Yuck.  Once I saw their notice, I understood what I had done to screw it up, but I also realized that they had screwed it up too....I didn't have the patience to work it out at that time, so I just paid the money they said I owed, so I didn't get any penalties, and knew I'd eventually fix it, and hopefully get some of that back.  I figured now was as good a time as any, so I spoke with someone in my state tax department on Friday, they walked me through what I needed to do, and if my new math is correct, I should be getting about $400 back from the state for 2019.  I do need to amend my 2019 state return, so I think I am going to file 2020 taxes, and then file the amendment, since I have 3 years to do it.  My assumption is that the amendment will take longer to process than the current year taxes, so I don't want to hold up 2020's waiting for the 2019 amended to work it's way through.  That also gives me time to find a tax preparer to possibly just handle the amendment for me for a reasonable price.  If someone wants to charge me more than $100 for it, it's not worth it to me.  I'll just go through it again on my own.  For 2020, I have most of the documents I need to prepare them.  I do my taxes on my own and this is (usually lol) a simple affair.  Although I am a homeowner, I own a co-op (similar to a condo), and so the portion of my ownership expenses that I can deduct are not huge (my personal mortgage interest + my portion of building mortgage interest + my portion of property taxes).  The standard deduction is still far more beneficial to me.  Since this is my first full year owning, I will wait until the documents from the building's accountants come through, but am assuming this will be the case.  I'm roughly estimating a $1400 refund from federal and owing a small amount (less than $100) to state.  I can live with these.  

Tracking of spending continues.  75% of the way through the month, and I'm a bit dismayed by my total spending amount so far - I've spent about $525 on non-bills.  Of that, $135 is a yearly cost paid in a lump sum, $90 is periodic but not monthly costs, and $70 are one-off amounts.  The remaining $230 is food, with 96% of that being groceries.  If I weren't being as granular as I am with tracking the spending, I would freak out.  I'm not thrilled as that seems like a lot, but hopefully when I have the picture of a few months and can see an actual trend, not a standalone data point, it looks a bit better.  But for now, the grocery spending seems ok to me.  A touch high but I did replace some protein powder this month which is always spendy.  

Once I have a few months of this data, I'll use to start incorporating these amounts into my budget - to fund spending categories, ala the envelope method without actually using cash.  My primary bank doesn't offer sub accounts that I can easily set up this way, so I think I'm going to do a bit of research to see if another bank nearby offers this.  If not, I'll just keep it all in one bucket (my main checking) and track the breakout manually.  

Other than that, nothing big to report.  Just waiting for the next payday to make some more progress!  Still going strong on no unnecessary spending.  



Surprise Gift Card and Some More "Free" Spending

January 19th, 2021 at 08:28 pm

I received a surprise $50 gift card from my company for a project I've been working on today.  It was a virtual Visa, I decided the best way to use it was to purchase an Amazon gift card for $50 (so I didn't have to worry about lining up amounts, etc.).  After a few minor technical difficulties, I was able to reload my Amazon gift card balance.

I then ordered the 12 pack of half pint jars that I was looking at, plus a 5-pack of foot peel masks, and a set of mason jar lids that have straw holes so I can take my smoothies on the go with me if that's ever desired.  None of these things were necessities, so they needed to be funded from "found" money.  The total came to $44.76, and I have $5.24 remaining on my gift card balance.  I still have ~$45 pending as mentioned in my last post, and another $50 or so for an item I haven't yet dropped off at the UPS Store yet.  I'll decide what to order with that balance at some point in the future.

Over the weekend, I received a refund to my gift card balance of $15.15 for something else...I ordered a flat sheet which came to $15.16.  So the penny came out of pocket....I decided I could live with that lol.  

So far so good on not spending any "real" money on wants.  

Once my transfer from the new checking account comes through (hopefully tomorrow?), I can pay the remaining bills from this pay period, and hopefully make a transfer to savings.  I also need to get some more grocery/household items.  I go grocery shopping a lot, but they're usually small trips.  I find that if I do a big shopping trip, it's less likely to be things I will use imminently, and moreso stocking up on random things because they're on sale.  Trying to only buy what I need.

Speaking of groceries, I've been trying to focus on cleaning out the freezer.  All through the pandemic, every time they said there was going to be a meat shortage, I would panic and buy meat - then never use it lol.  I also bought frozen veggies.  I've been going through and finding uses for the things in the freezer, so I haven't had to buy much in that regard - this week's dinner was completely out of the freezer, as was last week's.  Plus I made a large batch of meatballs & sauce, that covered dinner with a friend Friday, dinner with my mom and sister Sunday, and 2 containers of just sauce for the freezer.  All of that was made with things I had already.  I have plans for lots of other things in there as well.  I did realize that I have no bacon left - which is ojnly funny to me because for the last few years, I have eaten bacon every day as part of my breakfast meal prep.  Through most of the pandemic, I had 3-4 pounds in the freezer at a minimum at all times, I would buy a few pounds every time it was on sale, or buy it in bulk from the warehouse store if I was there.  I changed up my breakfasts in November sometime, and haven't made bacon more than once or twice since then....nor have I bought it because it wasn't top of mind.  Over the weekend, I had a use for it, so went o pull some out of the freezer, and realized....that was the kast pound lol.  So I guess next time I go to the warehouse store I'll get some, unless I see it on sale before then, but it just struck me as funny.  Bacon was almost as precious to me as toilet paper was during the early months!  

(Sort of) Unexpected Expense :(

January 16th, 2021 at 10:35 pm

The other day, I was thinking that I needed to check to see when I would be charged for my annual Amazon Prime subscription so I could make sure that I had funds in place for it.  Didn't follow through on it, as I was busy.....and woke up today to check my bank account and see that it had been charged to my debit card.  Blergh, not part of the plan for this paycheck.  Oh well.  I made some adjustments and shifted things around to cover it, and decided to add yet another tab to my endlessly evoloving spreadsheet - one to track annual expenses that are not (as of yet) funded in my budget.  I'd like to get to a place where anything outside of bills and savings doesn't need to be tracked because it can just be paid for out of "leftover" money....but I am not at a stage where I have leftover money or a buffer to work with yet.   I'm hoping that all of my tracking helps me lay that foundation.

Update on Amazon returns - I chatted with them again, and they were able to push through the refund for my purchase.  I did get an email confirmation for it, and should see it reflected on my credit card in a few days.  They also said that they were pushing through my gift returns, but I have not seen those yet. The rep said that I would see them in my gift card balance in 2-4's now been 24 and nothing.  I also started another return today, which was supposed to be an instant refund to my gift card balance if I went that route.  Also not showing in my I guess I'm going to have to get back on chat with them.  Kind of annoying.  I do understand that they're swamped right now, but I would prefer if they were open about delays rather than committing to timeframes that are not realistic.  It's mostly annoying since I want to use these gift card balances for "fun money" - I decided I am going to purchase a set of half pint mason jars (I use them for a lot of meal prep and storage but only have 1 in that size), and a fitted sheet.  That's about half of my currently pending gift card balance (waiting on about $60, this adds up to $31).  I am going to be returning another gift this coming week, a set of sheets I decided against, which should put another $54 or so into my balance.  Which leaves me with ~$80 in fun money when everything processes.  Not sure what I will use that for, not in any rush.  I'm trying to be much less impulsive about just placing the quick Amazon order "because it's only $10".  


January 15th, 2021 at 07:05 pm

I am paid semi-monthly, on the 15th and last day.  I was very happy to see the calendar hit the 15th today....both because I want to continue having actionable items on my goals for the year, and also because I needed an infusion of money lol.

I was pretty impressed to see that the HSBC direct deposit is already in effect.  That means that I will have met the requirements to earn the bonus with my March 31 paycheck, and can expect to receive the bonus itself by May 31.  

I had to lower some of my planned payment amounts for a few line items, because there just wasn't enough to cover it all.  This paycheck was my first at my newly increased salary and my estimate on PaycheckCity was a little off, so I need to go back in and recast my allocations. 

Overall, I need to either increase income (which isn't all that easy since I am on salary), or get rid of a few obligations.  I may have to consider lowering my 401k contribution, which I reeeeeeally don't want to do (but it's an option).  I'm also going to take a look to see what impact changing my tax exemptions would have (I currently claim single 0, in the past when I've needed more money in each check, I've bumped to 1, but usually didn't like the results at tax time).  That could also be an option just to get me through the next few months until I can set them back to 0.  If the newly announced next coronavirus package passes, and we get an additonal $1400 check, I will definitely use that to help it along.  I'm also hoping that they extend student loan forbearance (at a minimum).  

All a work in progress.  Either way, I am really enjoy tracking my spending by category, it'll help me determine what an appropriate amount to allot for that category is based on my current lifestyle.  It feels like I am spending a lot on groceries ($123 since Jan 1), but I guess when considering that I don't spend any money on takeout, and make all of my food from that, it's $8 a day.  Of the $275 I have spent so far this month, almost everything except groceries was either an outlier purchase or something that is a multi-month supply (prescriptions, printer ink, etc).  I would guess my Feb spending will be lower.  Hoping so, anyway.  

Still waiting for my gift returns to be processed by Amazon, so no "fun/free" spending for me just yet.  There's also a non-gift retuen still pending that will be refunded directly to my credit card.  They told me on Wednesday that they should be processed no later than last night.  Havent gotten any emails about it yet, so I need to get back on chat with them today.  

Tinkering with Tracking

January 13th, 2021 at 07:07 pm

Part of my personality is that I get frustrated with inaction - if I have a goal, I want to always be doing something towards it.  Since this doesn't necessarily work for debt payoff (since I only get paid twice a month, and there's just not a realistic expectation that I can do something tangible towards this goal every day), I am constantly tinkering with the tools I use for financial management, because it makes me feel like I'm doing something lol.  This does often lead to overengineering of my spreadsheet, but I also really enjoy playing with spreadsheets. 

Way back in 2002, I started developing the spreadsheet I call my budget.  That's not reeeeally an accurate name, but good as any.  The main tab is a grid of what needs to be paid out of each pay period through the year (which means that on payday, I just pull it up and it takes 10 min max to pay all of my bills - I don't pay bills when they're due, I pay them on the payday prior).  Over the nineteen years since I started doing it this way (holy crap how did that happen?!), I've added a lot of other tabs to track different things that I've wanted to keep an eye on depending on what my goals were that year.

One thing that I haven't really tracked is spending.  For a long time, I had two jobs - my day job, and a second job 4-6 nights a week where I made almost as much (if not more sometimes) as my day job.  Day job was for bills, night job was for living and playing.   Once I stopped working my night job, I had to figure out how to fund my living and playing expenses.  That was 7 years ago and it's been a long time coming that I actually started tracking.  

So I recently added 2 new sections to my spreadsheet. 

The first is to track spending.  My plan is to track, by category, everything I spend on non-bills.  So far, my categories are alcohol, grocery/household, toiletries, car/auto, medical, office supplies, and miscellaneous.

The second was borne out of my post to document a 2021 baseline of where all of my debt & savings stood as of 1/1/21.  I decided to go ahead and create a tab for that, that will also calculate the net change in dollars and in %.  I'm planning to update this monthly to give myself a little bit of a boost when I feel like I'm not making any progress.  Numbers don't lie Smile

Discretionary Spending/Amazon Returns

January 12th, 2021 at 04:58 pm

I don't think I went into too much detail on this in previous posts, but for the next few months, I've put myself into a discretionary spending timeout.  The only thing I can spend money on out of "real money" are groceries, and replacement of household essentials (mostly cleaning supplies, etc).  

I mention "real money" because I left myself a small loophole so I don't feel like I am completely depriving myself of the shopping dopamine hit haha.  Any store credits (ie, returns that could not be given as a refund, and can only be spent at that store) can be used for "fun" spending.  My cousin and I joke all the time that it's not like spending real money, because in my opinion, I've already spent it.  She disagrees lol.  

I'm currently waiting on a bunch of returns from Amazon to be processed.  All but one have been dropped at the UPS Store, but I think they're majorly backed up.  Usually when I do an Amazon return this way, by the end of the day, I've gotten an email confirming receipt of the return, and the refund is processed.  I dropped some returns off last week, and they have not been processed yet.  Dropped three more off today, so not sure what to expect timing wise.  I have one more to drop off, but I am going to drop that one off at Kohl's to see if that happens faster.

Of those returns, 3 were Christmas gifts that I ended up deciding against.  Those will be credited to my Amazon account as a gift card balance.  This should be somewhere around $95....based on the rules I've set for myself, I get to spend this on whatever I want, not just necessities.  There were a few things on my Amazon wish list that I did not get for Christmas, so I'll have to decide what of those I want.  Two of the returns were purchased with my credit card, so the refund will just go back to it, and I don't get to play with those funds lol.  And finally, one was something I purchased for my mother.  I transferred the money for that purchase from her bank account  to mine to reimburse myself.  So once I get the refund, I'll transfer it back to her, as the correct item has already been purchased.  

I'm playing with the idea of giving myself a small "play money" allowance every paycheck in a few months once I've caught up a little more.  I've seen a lot of people do this via these blogs and have always been intrigued.  Not sure what amount is appropriate - it'll depend on how much is leftover after all budget line items are satisfied.  But I do think that it would help with my impulsive spending.  If I set boundaries that I can buy things for myself, but it has to come out of this bucket of money - if I want something more expensive that can't be funded from one month's allowance, then I need to save up for it.  Obviously much larger purchases would have to be considered separately, but I can't think of anything that would meet that defnition that I want soon, so I can hold off on figuring that out for now.


Bank Account Bonuses

January 5th, 2021 at 07:58 pm

For the past few years, I've been using bank account bonuses as a way to make a little extra cash without too much effort on my part.  I have access to update my direct deposit on my own via ADP, and I'm already used to managing multiple accounts, so it's worth it to me.  I tend to stick to those that don't require minimum balances, and only want you to have funds directly deposited.  I also don't mind transaction requirements if they're within reason.  Since I am working remotely, and not in NYC for the time being, I am also sticking to banks that have a branch local to me, in case I need to go withdraw it on payday to deposit into my main checking.

In early December, I saw a bonus for Capital One.  Open a checking account (no fees on this kind of account), have $1,000 in total direct deposits within 60 days of account opening, and receive a $400 bonus.  I opened the account 12/2, and completed my DD requirements by 12/31.  Based on their schedule, I should receive the bonus by the endof April, although I expect it'll come sooner.  I am hoping to put this completely into savings.  There are no fees or minimum balance requirements to keep this account open, so I'll keep it open for 6 months just in case - sometimes there's a stipulation that the accunt has to be open otherwise they can claw the bonus back.  Once the bonus is credited, I'll withdraw the majority of the balance, leaving a few dollars in there, and leave it be until mid-June.  

The next bonus I chose was an HSBC bonus.  I plan to open that account today (just waiting on my replacement printer ink to be delivered....I like printing out the offer pages and account confirmation screens just in case).  This one nets a $200 bonus with monthly recurring DD totaling $500 received for 3 consecutive months.  To avoid a monthly fee of $25, I'll need to keep a recurring DD going into this account.  Once the initial 3 months have passed, I'll reduce it to $100 a paycheck or something like that.  The bonus should take 8 weeks once qualifying activities are completed, or 5 months after DD begins.  If I open the account today, I don't think it would go into effect for my next paycheck, so I am looking at July 1 or so for the bonus.  

Once that's done, I'll see what else is around that I am eligible for and seems easy enough to complete.  The downside to these bonuses is that you do get a 1099 on them, but it usually doesn't amount to so much that it drastically changes my tax situation.  

Back to Work, and 2021 Baseline

January 4th, 2021 at 08:02 pm

I’ve been off of work since Friday, December 18th, only logging on here and there.  My company was technically closed from the 24th on, so I really only missed 3 business days, which means there isn’t a lot that happened while I was out.  Thankfully, everyone is on the same struggle bus today, my boss and I were laughing about trying to remember how to do our jobs today.  It should be a busy week, but thankfully quiet meetings wise. 

My $600 stimulus payment was received on Friday.  I was hoping to split this between general savings ($400) and my highest balance non-consolidation credit card ($200), but unfortunately there was a bit of a budget shortfall in last week’s paycheck/bills that needed to be paid from it.  Ultimately, I think only about $125 of it will end up in savings, and no extra sent to debt.  Oh well. 

I received word today that another account in the consolidation program will be paid off.  That takes me to 4 paid off and 8 to go.  Still a long way to go but progress nonetheless.  I expect another 3 to be paid off within the next 6-ish months.  Then we start getting into larger balances that will take more time.

I also added a new tab in my budget spreadsheet to create a snapshot of where I am at the start of 2021, vs where I’ll be at the end of 2021, so I can track the change.  I’m not going to use this to project out, although I easily can.  I just thought it would be a nice measure of progress at the end of each year and it took me about 4 minutes to put together (aside from going and looking up the balances lol).  It also forced me to log into my mortgage account and student loan account, which I had not done in a while.  My mortgage was right around where I estimated.  My student loan was (in a happy surprise) about $1k less than I estimated.  Below is where things stand as of ~1/1/21:


Priority Debts:

Consolidated Balances - $30,361.05

Non-Consolidated Balances - $11,485.85

Mom - $17,500

Total Priority Debts - $59,346.90

Non-Priority Debts:

Mortgage - $150,447.16

Car Loan - $15,017.11*

Student Loan - $3,082.55

401k Loan #1 – $7,392.73*

401k Loan #2 – $6,634.05*

Total Non-Priority Debts – $182,573.60

*Car Loan, and 401k Loans are only in this category because they will be paid off by 2023 on the normal payment schedule.  I have bigger fish to fry so I am just going to leave them be and pay as scheduled unless I get some kind of windfall that changes things.  The nice thing about the 401k loans is that every payment towards this is a corresponding increase in my 401k balance, since I am paying myself back, in addition to my ongoing contributions. 

Total of All Debt:  $241,920.50


General Cash Savings - $50 (yikes!!!)

401k - $25,605.69 (this will be fully vested in May, so no point IMO in splitting out what is vested vs what is not.  As of January, all but about $3k of this is vested)

Robinhood - $292.69

Coinbase - $35.63

Total Savings/Assets - $25,984.01

This does not include the value of my home, or the value of my car.  If I want to calculate net worth, I could add in an estimate for each of those, but one thing at a time.  

This is sobering to look at, especially all in one place, but I’m very excited to see the decreases to debt, along with the increases to savings/assets as time progresses. 

Closing Out 2020/Onward to 2021

January 1st, 2021 at 07:34 pm

We made it!  While I don't have any illusions that the calendar switching from 2020 to 2021 will solve all of the issues plaguing us as a society, it still feels like a milestone that I definitely had doubts about hitting at multiple points through the year.


So.  2020.  What a year. 


Focusing on financial stuff only, I started the year with mounting debt, took some steps (401k loan #1, and a balance transfer) to try to tackle it, but they weren't enough, combined with not changing the behaviors that caused me to get into the debt in the first place.  In August, I was enrolled in a debt consolidation program (see previous post), and by October found myself taking about ANOTHER 401k loan.  This loan was mostly used to pay down my main credit card.  By December, this card was maxed again.  At the same time, I was in a toxic involvement, that had me spending a lot more money than I should have been (increased grocery and gas bills, plus underlying anxiety about it causing me to shop excessively).  Once that ended in mid November, it led me to take a hard and critical look at everything in my life and come up with a plan to fix it.  I've always been very good and making a financial plan, but not so good at changing the behaviors.  This time was different.  I was spending willy nilly.  I've pretty much stopped that, and some of my expenses have dropped dramatically as well, so while I could try to analyze what exactly I spent so much d*mn money on, I don't feel like it's helpful at this point so I am just moving on.


I stopped making resolutions a few years ago, as I felt they were too rigid.  I try to make goals.  This year, I saw suggested somewhere that you set a theme for the year.  I liked that, and so my theme for the year is "Forward".  All of my goals tie back to the theme.


2021 goals:


Stay the course with current debt payoff 

Consolidation:  Since I last posted, another account has been paid off, so now we are down to 9 (of the original 12).  Consolidation balance is currently around $30k.  It's hard to project what will happen with this balance but I’m hoping it’s down to around $20k by end of year.  I also started tracking it a little more granularly, so I have a better understanding of the fees, and what my net effective savings by going through this program are. 

Non-consolidated:  When I started this blog, there were 6 accounts with balances.  I have since paid one off, so 5 to go.  I hope to pay 3 more of those off this year.  The combined balances of these accounts is around $11k as of today.  I’m hoping to have it around $5k by the end of the year.

Begin payback of “Mom debt”

Payments will be slow this year, as I have a lot of other balls to juggle.  Thankfully she is understanding and doesn’t need the money paid back on any schedule.  As other debts are lessened, I will increase my payments to her.  This year is mostly about getting started.

Re-build savings

Continue to use automatic transfers to savings to keep funding this, and attempt to direct most “snowflakes” into this as well.  Once this gets to baby EF level ($1k), then split any snowflakes between savings and debt payoff based on current situations.  I keep close track of snowflakes, and am currently projecting a few thousand for the year as of right now.  My definition of snowflakes is broad, lol.  Basically anything that isn’t paycheck – even if it’s expected counts as a snowflake to me.  In the past, since my spending wasn’t under control, those were usually wasted or used to shore up budget shortfalls.  I’d like to end the year with at least $2k in general EF.  While I’m in major debt payoff mode, it doesn’t seem prudent to focus on savings categories/slush funds, but I have a feeling it’ll start coming into play organically as I go on.

Continue to service non-priority debt on normal schedule

Mortgage – I honestly have to log in to see what my current balance is.  I assume somewhere around $150k.  I have this set on auto-pay, and I do confirm that the payment is taken out of the dedicated checking account for housing costs….and I only log into the online servicing account every few months.  It’s not a very user friendly site, but I do want to keep a closer eye on it.  I’d like to refinance this in late 2021/early 2022, depending on the market/credit score recovery etc.  My interest rate is 5%, and I’d like to lower that.  I’d also like to borrow against some of my equity to fund some expensive cosmetic surgery (that isn’t a want, and couldn’t be considered medically a need, but is very much mentally one).  We’ll see. 

Car – while I am dealing with credit card debt, I have no intention of accelerating this payment.  It would be nice to, and save some money in interest, but there are other, higher priority, goals.  My hope is that by the time I need a new car, everything but mortgage debt is cleared and so I can make a wise decision.

Student Loans – the balance on these is less than $4k.  I honestly don’t care about them.  When automatic payments resume in Feb, it is what it is.  I of course have a hope that there will either be an extension in automatic forbearance, or even some level of cancellation, but they aren’t at a level where this has a huge impact on my budget. 

Continue to bump retirement savings

Ending 2020 with a balance of ~$26k, not including outstanding loans of $14k or the contribution/loan payment from my 12/31 paycheck.  My starting balance in January 2020 was just under $24k, with no loans.  I am currently 75% vested in my company match, and will be 100% vested in May.  The $26k includes all match funds. If I hadn’t taken the loans this year, it would have been a nice increase.

My current contribution is 10%, I would like to be at 12% by mid year. 

It’ll be nice to see the balance growing, between twice monthly contributions/loan payments, as well as hopefully market growth.  I’m invested in a 2040 target fund.

Continue dabbling with investment vehicles

Right now I currently have small accounts with Robinhood (around $300) and Coinbase (around $30).  I’d like to continue throwing a few extra dollars at both of these as able throughout the year.  Hoping that the tiny amounts will add up.  No real goal for where these would end up. 

Get promoted (this is both a financial and non-financial goal)

Obviously a promotion would come with a salary increase which would allow me to increase allocations to debt payoff/savings.  As of 1/1, my salary is $85,200.  I believe a promotion to the next level would put me in the mid-90s. 

It’s something I’ve been busting my *ss towards since starting at my company almost 4 years ago.  The promotion is honestly 1-2 years overdue, but whenever it comes, it will be tangible recognition of my hard work, and allow me to keep growing professionally.

Non-financial - continue to stay focused on my weight loss journey

Since January 2018, I have lost ~85 pounds post bariatric surgery.  I have 15-30 to get to my goal (if I could ever decide what my goal is).  I’ve long since learned that setting time-bound goals for weight loss is an exercise in frustration, so I would just like to end the year having made additional progress towards that.  I managed to lose 23 pounds in 2020, which is impressive in and of itself in year 3 post surgery, but then add a global pandemic on top that?!  I’ll take it. 

Start taking steps for plastics.  Post massive weight loss, it’s common to have excess skin that will not shrink along with the body underneath it.  My actual body frame is quite small now, but the loose skin does not make me appear like I am the size I actually am.  It’s very difficult mentally, and makes me feel….unfinished.  Insurance will likely cover a portion of this, but I am estimating around $40k for the procedures I want.  While I don’t want to get into the habit of borrowing from my equity/refinancing my mortgage, for this instance, it’s the best option I have.  The first steps are to start making appts for consults with some of the surgeons I have identified to get firm costs, and then engage with insurance to see what they’ll kick in.  I hope to start doing this mid-year into fall.  Then when I have a better idea of numbers and what I actually need to kick in, I’ll start the refinancing process (by which time hopefully my credit score has recovered enough from debt consolidation to go this route). 

That’s all a lot and I have a busy year ahead of me.  I’m also looking forward to getting the vaccine when eligible (in my state, I am in the last category, so it will be some time)….being able to reconnect with friends who I have not seen during this last year due to COVID, and maaaaaaybe finding a romantic connection (still a bit bruised and not at all comfortable with meeting new people right now with the virus raging, but hoping that will be allayed with more widespread vaccinations). 

Happy New Year to all!  May this year be better.