When the worst DOES happen

When the worst DOES happen

I’m not even quite sure how to write this post as it almost seems wrong to write it in the first place. The last month has been a complete blur. My mother passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. She’s had one form of cancer or another for the past 14 years, but three years ago was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Even though we knew this was the inevitable, you can never truly be prepared for something like this. We had 2.5 years longer with her than we anticipated, but it still seemed too fast. My mom has always been a bit of an anomaly when it came to her cancer, she was a fighter and always got better against all odds. I think we had all come to believe that even with a terminal diagnosis she would be ok. If you remember back in June she came to visit me on the East Coast. I knew she seemed more run down than usual, but I chalked it up to her new chemo.

This past month, especially the past two weeks has taught me a LOT both personally, professionally and financially. Over the next several blog posts I will touch on all of these things.

I’ve discussed previously how I am a perfectionist…well, my mom is also a perfectionist, I definitely got it from her. While the last two weeks came faster than we anticipated, my mom had time to plan. She had an entire word document of everything that my brother and I needed to do in regards to her finances, bills, etc.  She joked that she would be controlling the funeral arrangements from her grave. As I type this I’m currently sitting on hold  with the water company, going through her step by step directions of everything that needs to be done. There have been a few snafu’s that I don’t think she anticipated (and would be so mad if she knew there had been a mistake) but ultimately everything is flowing as well as can be expected at this point.

One of the big things learned through this process is how being financially secure makes EVERYTHING so much easier. I’ll discuss my mom’s estate in an upcoming blog, but I can tell you that Mr.Hodgepodge and I being financially secure made things much less complex. We were also extremely fortunate to have supportive employers who let us drop everything and just go when needed, which meant Mr.Hodgepodge flying back and forth from the Midwest to the East Coast.

I’ve discussed that I am in the Healthcare profession, more specifically I am a medical social worker. I work with families on a daily basis assisting with end of life decisions. I consider Grief and Bereavement an area of expertise, but I can now tell you that all of my professional training did not prepare me for my own grief experience. The complete fog that has been my life for the past month, was made less complex by not having to worry about finances. Being able to buy the most convenient flights and rental cars, without looking at cost was hugely important. My budget looks a mess and I have no idea what category to put “urn” under, but we were able to absorb all of the unplanned expenses. This certainly doesn’t change the heartache I feel, but it does take away at least one level of potential stress that could have been there.

 

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I haven’t disappeared

I haven’t disappeared

Hodgepodger’s this blog hasn’t gone dark, I promise. The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur, as we have had some unexpected events happen. I will update more at a later time, but any prayers or positive thoughts you would like to throw our way would be appreciated.

Thanks,

The Hodgepodge’s

Personal Goals

Personal Goals

This is a Financial Blog, so I obviously spend a good deal of time discussing finances, goals, problems etc. Today I am going to change things up and discuss personal goals. I’ve mentioned before in this blog that the mister and I have a streak of lazy in us when it comes to basic home maintenance, but the reality is it doesn’t always stop there.

Giving my all in my career is important to me (the mister too) but when I get home from work I am usually pretty emotionally exhausted. A typical evening in the Hodgepodge Household consists of coming home, feeding the dogs, trying to talk myself into going to the gym, followed by sitting on the couch reading personal finance blogs and passively watching television until  I move into the bedroom, surf the internet on my phone and fall asleep.While I am an introvert by nature and will never spend every weeknight out and about doing activities it is not lost on me that the majority of my life is not Friday-Sunday…the majority of my life is Monday-Friday and it can be significantly enhanced.

I’ve been taking a few steps here and there over the last few months to enhance my time and ultimately enhance my life. For instance I’ve stopped listening to morning radio on the commute to work and now listen to NPR, this has been a very positive change and I can tell a difference in my conversations with friends and with Mr.Hodgepodge. I’ve also made it a point to invite a friend over for dinner at least one weeknight evening a month. This is both personally and financially advantageous.

But now I need to tackle the “typical” day. So here are my new daily goals.

  1. Work out 30 minutes a day
  2. Clean 20 minutes a day
  3. Read a physical book for 30-60 minutes a day

My goal here is not to change my “introvertness” and in general I know myself well enough to know that I will never be crazy productive on weeknights. I need laid back evenings to prepare myself for the day ahead, but I truly believe adding the above three things to my day will enhance my life, my marriage and my finances.

So, the plan of attack is as follows: As EASY as it SHOULD be for me to work out in the evenings I just cannot manage to make that happen. So I will now be waking up 30 minutes earlier and working out in the morning at home. I LOVE my current morning routine, wake up, shower, drink coffee and watch the news before getting ready and leaving for work. Getting up 30 minutes earlier will allow me to keep the same routine, just with added health benefits.

Next up: Cleaning 20 minutes per day. Our house is not that dirty, but I’ve been reading blogs on how to deep clean your house every 30 days. The thought process behind it is that if you spend 15-20 minutes per day cleaning different areas of your home, you will have completely deep cleaned it every month. I plan to set a timer each evening when I get home and will start the tidying up process.

Last but not least: Read a physical book for 30-60 minutes per day. I spend a significant amount of time reading personal finance blogs and articles and while I definitely get benefits, I’m typically half reading/half watching tv. I need to implement designated reading time each day. I have quite the stack of books to be read and plan to go into our office and spend time reading each day.

I’m happy to report that day 1 has been a success! And the reality of it is that I still have PLENTY of time in the evening to decompress, play with the puppies and zone out.

Hoping this blog keeps us accountable with not only our financial goals but also our personal goals.

Until next time.

The Hodgepodges

Weekend of woots!

Weekend of woots!

This weekend was exciting on a financial front. I spent Saturday morning reviewing my spreadsheet, drinking coffee and reading personal finance blogs (this is a typical Saturday for me.) While reviewing articles I decided to officially calculate our savings rate. I had an idea what our savings rate was and I was pretty close. After taxes we are at a 28% savings rate. Rough math, if we add in our 401ks it’s about a 38% savings rate. I’m pretty pleased by this, but our ultimate goal is to be at a 50% savings rate by January 2017.

So, how are we going to do that? We are comfortable with our current budget and spending, so we don’t plan to cut back there. While we are working on being more mindful with our spending, we aren’t focused on cutting back at this time. The way we plan to hit 50% is with raises and being cognizant of lifestyle creep. Mr. Hodgepodge was recently promoted and will receive a raise in August/September time frame. His current company  announces the promotion, but does not announce the raise until later on in the summer.  So at this point we have no idea what the impact will be officially, so we are purely guessing. I’m also possibly looking at a new position, which would come with a pay increase. If both of these things occur, then we should easily hit 50% savings rate by January.

The goal moving forward with any type of pay increase, promotion, bonus is to save 80-90% and allow for 10-20% of lifestyle inflation. What will lifestyle inflation look like for us? In our current location it will mean more weekend getaways and vacations. When we eventually get to New England the lifestyle inflation will go to an increased mortgage. One thing Mr.Hodgepodge and I are missing is our weekend getaways. When we were dating we went away pretty regularly. I’m not sure why the weekend trips have decreased, I think partially life just seems busier, but a large part is that we added a second dog.  We now have to board both pups when we go away, which is significantly more expensive than just the one.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with where we are financially and with our goals. I think we are starting to hit a nice stride. The other SUPER exciting thing is that Mr.Hodgepodge and I BOTH broke 800 for our credit score. <——geek alert. Totally texted my mom, I felt as though I got an A+ on my report card. Mr. Hodgepodge wants me to point out that his score was higher, but whatever…the credit cards are in his name, so I credit his score to that.

Clearly you can see this was a thrilling weekend in our household. How about you all, any exciting financial epiphanys had this weekend?

Financial Update June 2016

Financial Update June 2016

June was a pretty good month for us. We started a new way to “budget” that I am enjoying more than I expected. Once we discovered where some of our “leaks” were, we were able to implement a new strategy. We are now keeping a specific amount of money in our checking at all times. At the end of the month any money leftover is getting placed into a “short-term”savings account, which will be used for any overflow in following months: healthcare costs, unexpected puppy costs, etc…

Alright! So here is where we are towards our goals. First up. Short term goal:

 

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We went up about 3% this month, I’ll take it! Nothing crazy, but I typically expect about a 2% increase a month, so this is good. Hoping next month we see even more progress. At this rate we should easily hit our goal in 2 years, short of nothing unexpected happening (knock on wood.)

Now for our much more ambitious FIRE Goal:

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Thanks to Brexit only a VERY VERY small gain of .2% towards our FIRE goal this month, but it’s not a loss, so that is all that really matters. Looking at my accounts from Friday I think we’ve already regained quite a bit.

That is all for this months financial update. Expect another blog post soon about our new budget strategy. Happy Fourth!

“Spousonomics”

“Spousonomics”

When Mr.Hodgepodge and I had been dating for about 6 months we took a trip across country. We had the bright idea to buy a book on tape to have something to listen to for the road trip. We settled on a book called Spousonomics, mind you we had been dating for 6 months (we are huge geeks), so perhaps a little heavy for so early on, but either way we listened to about half of it and it provided for great conversation on the trip. This blog entry is really not about the book, because in all honestly it was six years ago and I really only remember one paragraph. A really good paragraph that I refer back to in my marriage regularly, but it wasn’t about finances. I’ll circle back to that later. I think the title of the book is perfect for navigating personal finance in marriage. Which in itself can be an experiment in economics.

I’ve said previously in this blog that Mr.Hodgepodge and myself, while having many similarities and ultimately  the same goals in regards to personal finance, tend to go about it in different ways. I am MUCH more conservative and vocal than the mister. Thus where balancing the spousonomics comes into play.

Here is where we differ:

I grew up middle class financially, expecting to marry a middle school teacher and stay in the same socioeconomic class.

Mr. Hodgepodge grew up middle class with the expectation that he could change his socioeconomic class.

I want to retire early, I enjoy my career, but it can be emotionally draining and I cannot see myself doing this forever…or even for 5-10 more years. If I see a career path in my current field that gets me out of the emotionally draining aspect of it, I would stay…but as of now that isn’t happening.

Mr. Hodgepodge does not want to retire early, he loves working. I know…weird. He does however want to be financially independent to open his own business in about 10 years.

I make considerably less money than Mr.Hodgepodge and if I leave my current career I could potentially be taking a pay cut. Thus affecting our finances and how we save for the future.

Mr. Hodgepodge is the “bread winner” in our family and his career trajectory looks promising.

I plan for the future taking our current salaries into consideration.

Mr. Hodgepodge looks at his career trajectory when planning for the future.

I want to make it clear, we are very much on the same page financially and we consider all money that comes into the house “our” money, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t feel guilty at times when I might be pushing our financial agenda a little harder, knowing full well it is his salary getting us to our goals a bit more expeditiously than if I was going at it alone.

So…Spousonomics. How do we navigate these differences? While small, these differences have the ability to grow much larger. We have to always check in and make sure our goals are still on point. I’ve thrown myself completely into the FIRE world (of note, he is the one who encouraged me to start this blog) and in general tend to be much more outspoken than the mister, who is much more laid back. If I don’t check in with him, he is likely not to speak up about how he is feeling. We discovered recently that he is feeling pretty constricted in regards to our finances. It has nothing to do with the amount we are spending, we are spending at a very generous rate, but probably has everything to do with things I say without thinking. I’ve talked before about how I used to say “We’re Poor”, and how that was affecting him and I worked really hard to stop doing that. But for instance I might still say things like “now is that going to be a special occasion purchase or is that going to be a  weekly purchase?” Which is completely unnecessary. We spent a long time talking over the weekend about the emotions of finances, how we were both letting the feeling of money frustrate us, which is silly because again, our end goal is the same. Coming back to the paragraph in Spousonomics that I reflect on regularly in our marriage. The author discusses that in marriage things don’t have to be equal.

What? I know right, it was mind boggling for me too!

But we all have our strengths and our weaknesses in life and it doesn’t make sense to have one partner spend exponentially more time doing a “chore” they don’t do well or don’t enjoy, when perhaps the other spouse can get it done more efficiently and with more enjoyment. He gives an example in the book that if one spouse is speedy at doing the dishes, economically it doesn’t make sense have the pokey spouse do the dishes. While it might seem “even” if both spouses are taking turns doing the dishes, really it’s taking away from the bigger picture, which is your time together. This rings true in my marriage with finances, Mr.Hodgepodge does not enjoy budgeting, but I do….I don’t want to work forever, be he does. So, in that case…I’ll keep budgeting and he can keep working and we will all be happy living a spousonomical life.

Happy Monday!

The Hodgepodges

 

Garage Sales and side hustles

Garage Sales and side hustles

Today the Hodgepodges had a garage sale, scratch that. Today 1/4th of the Hodgepodge house had a garage sale while the other three members (mister and pups) slept in until 10:00 AM!!

I’ve been trying to downsize all of our “stuff” lately. I had planned to donate most of it to just get it out of the house, but figured I’d see if I can make a little money and then donate what doesn’t sell. A friend was also planning to have a garage sale, so figured I’d load up my belongings and give it a go.

I don’t know about you all, but typically garage sales are a better idea in theory than in practice. They take a lot of time and effort with typically very little reward. Last time Mr.Hodgepodge and I had a garage sale I think we made 5 dollars an hour, hardly worth our time.

I am happy to report, that this garage sale was MUCH more successful. The majority of my big items sold, which certainly helps and everything else is now getting donated. I consider this a win/win. Which brings me to side hustles:

Over the past two years the Mister and I have gotten into buying vintagey furniture on the cheap with the goal of fixing it up. We had discussed at one point renting out a booth in an antique store, but need to build up the inventory first. I have several pieces in our garage currently that I am working on. I had hope to get several items done before the garage sale, but only completed one.

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My dad bought that locker for 1 dollar, I painted it and sold it for 75 dollars! I do not like to use Craigslist, but I posted it on there with the date and time of the garage sale and had a full price offer the night before the sale! I could hardly believe it, no haggling.

I don’t expect my furniture side hustle to bring in a significant amount of business, but it certainly is fun and helps with my creative side.  I only buy pieces that I would put in my own home. I figure this way if it doesn’t sell it isn’t a complete waste. I’ve only finished 4 pieces so far, three I’ve kept but if we move I’ll certainly sell. My carpentry/painting skills probably could not withstand a move out-of-state.

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This bench is the piece I’m most proud of, Mr.Hodgepodge and I had a lot of help from friends with electric saws and my mom who can sew. It was a dresser that we cut apart and put back together. I’m thinking we could sell it for 200, but I’m not quite ready to let it go just yet.

Even if our side hustle ends up not making us money, it still brings us significant joy and feeds our creative side. If it makes me extra money I’ll take that  too!

Happy Saturday!

The Hodgepodges