You wish you could be like me.

At the end of each calendar year I review our financials, update my Excel spreadsheet, and calculate just how much Girl Ninja and I were able to increase our net worth (NW) by.

We started 2014 with a NW of $234,000, and ended with a NW of $288,000.

In other words, we improved our financial position by $54,000 last year, an average of $4,500 per month.

You wish you could be like me.

DON’T YOU!!! 

I mean, we managed to increase our NW by more than the 2014 national median household income ($53,000). That means half of the households in the United States couldn’t save as much as we did, even if they paid no taxes and saved 100% of their GROSS income.

Like the title of this post says; You Wish You Could Be Like Me

…or do you? 

I hope for your sake, you were nothing like me in 2014.

While increasing our net worth by $50,000 in a single year might be impressive, it becomes significantly less so when you consider we made about $110,000 in 2014.

Girl Ninja and I were fortunate to have a healthy income, so it only makes sense that were are able to save and invest more than many other American families could.

An increasing net worth on a $110,000 per year household income shouldn’t be something to brag about.

It should be expected. 

You see, our big financial gains in 2014 are only really half of the story.

…The better half.

…The prettier half.

…The half that I like blogging about.

But there is another side to this personal finance tale and it is ugly.

How ugly you ask?

Try $45,000 ugly. 

That amount represents exactly how much money Girl Ninja and I spent on our credit card last year.

We use our credit card for virtually everything we can and pay the balance in full at the end of each month.

I’m used to seeing a couple thousand dollar balance each month, but I had never taken the time to figure out just how much we were charging over the course of a full calendar year.

$45,000 makes me sick to my stomach. Especially when you consider that doesn’t count any of the money that came out of our checking account, which would be another $30,000 or so for mortgage payments, utilities, and the occasional check or ATM withdrawal.

Sure, Girl Ninja and I improved our financial situation by $50,000 last year, but we spent nearly $75,000 along the way.

I’m disgusted. 

I write about the “Joneses” as though they are some family that Girl Ninja and I are nothing like, but numbers don’t lie.

When you spend $75,000 per year, you are a Jones.

At the time I was justifying purchases with thoughts like…

…”We’ve worked hard, it’s time to upgrade to a more sophisticated couch” ($1,700 in July)

…”Our kitchen isn’t how we want it, we have the money, let’s improve it” ($4,000 in August)

…”Baby Ninja’s upstairs is the worst part of our house, let’s demo it” ($5,000 March)

…”We deserve a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.” ($4,500 in April)

While I believe an occasional splurge is appropriate every now and again, Girl Ninja and I could hardly argue that our splurges were limited or appropriate.

To put it bluntly I’m embarrassed by my failed leadership. 

I have a responsibility to ensure Girl Ninja and I are being good stewards of the finances we have been granted. Somehow, I lost sight of that.

And that really makes me sad. 

Our 2015 budget

New Year. New Budget.

Things are about to get a whole lot less exciting with this year’s budget. We’ve been growing our net worth by $50,000+ per year over the last four years, but with Girl Ninja no longer working, we’re definitely gonna be slowing things down in the “getting filthy rich” category. What else would we expect when we voluntarily walk away from an extra $35,000/year.

Fortunately, we value family over finances, so although we might not make as much this year, I have a smokin’ hot wife and an awesome kid.

 

 

Below you’ll find a screenshot of our 2015 budget coupled with our 2015 financial goals/predictions.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at Jan 20, 2015, 11.24.16 PM

If you want to view the spreadsheet at normal resolution just give it a little click.

Before Tax Income:

I still think it’s stupid we have our gross income included in our budget. But yet again, I leave it anyways.

It’s only purpose in my budget seems to be to remind me how much of “my” money I don’t get to keep thanks to taxes and other deductions.

You’ll notice below my gross income, I have a section titled Side Hustle. This is money I think I’ll make from random opportunities (puppysitting, odd job, etc). As you can see, at $100/mo I’m not expecting anything too crazy. A few years back I sold my PF soul and brought in five figures per year from this site, but I decided to bring it back to my roots and say “no thanks” to advertisers.

I hate when other bloggers host “guest posts” that are clearly articles they got paid to publish. Or when they mention some product or service and include a billion affiliate links to said service.

Investments:

Still planning to throw 10% of my income towards my 401k. As a government employee I have access to some of the cheapest funds in existence so it would be silly for me to not take advantage of the virtually non-existent expense ratios.

I’m planning to make our annual Roth IRA contribution here in the coming days. It’s always painful parting with $5,500 from my bank account, but then I have to remind myself that $5,500 is going to be worth a heck of a lot more down the road. I

Retirement isn’t going to pay for itself and there’s no better time to start investing for the future than yesterday now.

Expenses:

Pretty self-explanatory. I include a 10% “other” category at the bottom of the expenses section as it seems most months have unexpected or non-budgeted things come up (household stuff, a weekend trip, birthday parties, etc). Instead of making random guesses how much we spend on cleaning products or clothes each month; we just try to keep all those miscellaneous expenses less than 10% of our net income.

We also tithe/donate to charity monthly, but didn’t think it was necessary/appropriate to put those numbers in the spreadsheet.

Left Over:

This is the most important part of the budget, the green box titled Total Cash Savings Ability (to the right of the expenses section) is how much I anticipate we will be able to add to our cash reserves on top of our retirement contributions. Some years we increased our cash position by $30k or more. Nowadays we’re hoping to add just a smidge over $10,000 to our liquidity. It’s a good thing we don’t use our Net Worth to measure our actual worth.

Goals:

In the top right of the spreadsheet you will see a section for my annual financial predictions. In 2015 I’m hoping our overall Net Worth will increase to about $315,000. This would be a $27,000 increase from our current position. For my retirement accounts I’m estimating 7% growth over the year (2013 had like 25% growth while 2014 had 6.5%) and a 3% appreciation on our house. Obviously, if the markets do way better (or worse) these figures will be off. All I can do is guess.

We’re going on six years of solid improvement and as long as the Big Man upstairs continues to grant us a generous income, we’ll do our best to be responsible (and generous) with it. That’s really our only goal after all.

How do you budget? You do budget right? Anything I do with mine that you think is weird? What’s your preferred budgeting tool (Mint, Quicken, Excel, Paper/pencil)?

Oh and check out this awesome video of Baby Ninja and I beatboxing together…

 

 

Our 2014 Budget

Finally found the motivation this weekend to spend a little bit of time working on our 2014 budget. Especially after many of you called out my laziness in last weeks post and forced me to get my stuff together. Thanks for the swift kick in the pants ya jerks.

Girl Ninja and I will be repping dual income for about eight months, but come August we’ll be a one income household. Below you’ll find a screenshot of our 2014 budget coupled with our 2014 financial goals/predictions.

 

2014 budget

If you want to view the spreadsheet at normal resolution just give it a little click.

Before Tax Income:

I think it’s stupid that I have our gross income included in our budget. But for some freakin’ reason, I seem to leave it in. This year is no different. I’m reminded how much of “my” money I don’t get to keep thanks to taxes and other deductions.

You’ll notice below my gross income, I have a section titled Side Hustle. This is money I think I’ll make from blogging or other random ventures. As you can see, at $100/mo I’m not expecting anything too crazy. A few years back I sold my PF soul and brought in over $1,000 a month from this site, but nowadays I’m totally comfortable passing up sucky advertising offers.  I hate when other bloggers host “guest posts” that are clearly articles they got paid to publish.

Investments:

In last year’s budget I said I would probably cut back my 401k contributions from 10% to 5% if we bought a house. I’m happy to report that I made no such cut and don’t plan to in 2014 either. Even after Girl Ninja quits her job, I’m still planning to push forward throwing 10% in to my 401k. Retirement isn’t going to pay for itself and there’s no better time to start investing for the future than now.

Expenses:

Pretty self-explanatory. I include a 10% “random” category at the bottom of the expenses section as it seems most months have unexpected or non-budgeted things come up (household stuff, a weekend trip, birthday parties, etc). Instead of making random guesses how much we spend on cleaning products or clothes each month; we just try to keep all those miscellaneous expenses less than 10% of our net income. We also tithe/donate to charity monthly, but didn’t think it was necessary/appropriate to put those numbers in the spreadsheet.

Left Over:

This is the most important part of the budget, the green box titled Total Cash Savings Ability is how much I anticipate we will be able to add to our cash reserves on top of our retirement contributions. It’s not as much as years past, but I can’t complain if we are still able to bank a decent five-figure sum.

Goals:

In the top right of the spreadsheet you will see a section for my annual financial goals. In 2014 I’m hoping our overall Net Worth will increase to about $282,263. This would be a $47,382 increase from our current position. I’m really looking forward to being able to say I’m a quater-of-a-million-aire at some point this year. For my retirement accounts I’m estimating 6% growth over the year (2013 had like 25% growth) and a 3% appreciation on our house. Obviously, if the markets do way better (or worse) these figures will be off. All I can do is guess.

We’re going on five years of solid improvement and as long as the Big Man upstairs continues to grant us a generous income, we’ll do our best to be responsible (and generous) with it. That’s really our only goal after all.

How do you budget? You do budget right? Anything I do with mine that you think is weird? What’s your preferred budgeting tool (Mint, Quicken, Excel, Paper/pencil)?

I don’t even feel like budgeting.

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at Jan 7, 2014, 9.44.56 PM

 

 

Every year, during the first week of January, I update my excel budget. It’s the tool I’ve used for 5+ years now to track how much I anticipate our financial situation will change over the calendar year. Last year (2013) I predicted a $50,000 increase, but with some massive help from the stock market we ended up $70,000 ahead.

Have you noticed today’s date? January 8th. Yeah… that means I’ve failed to update my spreadsheet. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care.

Like at all. 

This year is sure to be a doozy for the Ninja household. I don’t expect the markets will increase another 30% (although I wouldn’t be mad if they did).

Budgeting has always been easy. This year, it will be anything but. 

Girl Ninja will finish out the school year and pop a baby out 6 days in to summer. I believe she gets paid through the summer, but come September, we’ll be a one income household. That’s about $2,100 less per month in our pockets.

Oh and how about our roommate. She’s been the best tenant ever; we almost never see her because she works so late, she pays rent on time or early each month, and she’s super clean. Collecting $400/month from her has been awesome, but I suspect that after the baby comes, she might not want to live here anymore.

I mean, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to live with someone else’s whiny/poopy baby. If she does move out, we’ll be down $2,500/month between the loss of rental income and our single income status. 

That’s $30,000 in discretionary income gone.

Hold please while I go punch myself in the face and vomit everywhere.

And don’t even get me started on baby costs. We’ve never had one before so we don’t know how that will further impact our ability to save. Hopefully I can teach my baby about Roth IRAs before he/she turns six months. Never to young to learn right?

Long story short, making an annual budget is super fun when you are expecting to have your best year ever (like 2013). Making a budget is super sucky when you are expecting the year to be mediocre at best.

Anyone else expecting to have a less-than-stellar 2014?

Keeping up with the Joneses like a boss.

My next paycheck will be a bit larger than the last.  I’ll be getting a slight raise, about $2,500 more per year. While I’m stoked to be getting any raise at all, let’s be real, it’s not a life changing amount. In fact, it only works out to about a $75 net gain each paycheck. Or as I look at it, a free lift ticket each pay period 😉

Since Girl Ninja and I are fortunate to have our income exceed all of our wants, we decided to do the boring/responsible thing and further increase our retirement contributions. Instead of throwing 10% of my gross income in to my 401K each month, we increased that sucker by another 3%, to 13%. My employer matches 5%, so in total 18% of my gross pay will be going in to my 401K plan each paycheck. Is that hot or what?

That's hot

So I get a $2,500 raise, and before I even have a chance to see it in my paycheck, we decide to throw all of it towards retirement. If that’s not keeping up with the Joneses, I don’t know what is!!!!

Since I’m a self-proclaimed PF nerd, I thought I’d run a quick calculation…

If we keep throwing that $2,500 in to our 401K plan for the next 40 years, do you want to know how much extra we’d have come retirement? This example assumes a 6% rate of return.

$416,968

There was really no decision to make. Get $75 extra in each paycheck and blow it on things we don’t need, or have an extra $417,000 waiting for us when we’re old?

Lifestyle inflation is cool and all, but if we are already content with what we have, what else is there to inflate besides our savings account, retirement funds, and our charitable contributions? I’m not going to go run out and buy another TV or laptop just for the heck of it.

Last time you came in to a little extra money, what did you do with it? If you had to inflate your lifestyle in one aspect how would you do it? (We would probably pay for a bi-weekly cleaning service)

The most boring post I write all year.

Regardless of what some may say, I don’t think budgets are sexy at all. In fact, I can’t think of anything less sexy than a bunch of numbers and an excel spreadsheet. This is why I only open up my spreadshet once a year. Now that 2012 is a thing of the past, it’s time to make some predictions on what could come in 2013. Here’s a screenshot of my budget, followed by some explanations 😉

If you want to view the spreadsheet at normal resolution just give it a little click.

Before Tax Income:

Does anyone know why we include Gross Income in our budgets? It’s kind of pointless really. It just reminds me how much of my income I don’t get to keep. I haven’t included Girl Ninja’s gross in this section for a very important reason; I’m lazy.

You’ll notice below my gross income, I have a “Side Hustle” section. This pretty much accounts for my blogging income (and now hopefully MANteresting income). In 2011 I made $13,000 a year from this blog. In 2012, I scraped by with $4,000. I’ve decided to scale back even further and only estimate bringing home $3,000 this year. Hopefully it will be significantly higher, but only time will tell.

Investments:

We’ve finally added Girl Ninja’s retirement accounts to the spreadsheet. It only took being married for 2.5 years for me to get around to it. Haha. Oh well gotta start sometime, right? For as long as we don’t own a house, I plan to contribute at least 10% of my gross pay to my 401k (which gets matched at 5%). If/when we purchase, I may scale back a tad to free up some cash flow. With our savings account quickly approaching $100,000 we might as well use our discretionary income to up our retirement contributions. I’m sure my 70-year-old-self will be happy I did.

Expenses:

Pretty self-explanatory. I include a 15% “random” category at the bottom of the expenses section as it seems most months have unexpected or non-budgeted things come up (household stuff, a weekend trip, birthday parties, etc). Instead of making random guesses how much we spend on cleaning products, clothes, etc each month; we just try to keep all those miscellaneous expenses less than 15% of our net income. We also tithe/donate to charity consistently, but didn’t think it was necessary/appropriate to put those numbers in the spreadsheet.

Left Over:

This is the most important part of the budget, as it really gives us a look in to our financial future. As long as we are spending less than we make, everything is gravy. Fortunately, it looks like we’ll have about $2,400 left after we pay all the bills. I have a few three paycheck months as well, so all said and done we could be adding about $32,000 to our savings account. I’m keeping my fingers crossed all goes according to plan 🙂

Goals:

In the top right of the spreadsheet you will see a section for my annual financial goals. In 2013 I’m hoping our overall Net Worth will increase to about $217,000. This would be a $54,339 increase from our current position. I gotta say, it would be pretty awesome to shatter the $200k threshold this year. What’s crazy about all this is that I don’t really feel like Girl Ninja and I are frugal. I mean we both traveled so much last year we are MVP flyers (booya for free first class upgrades!). We dropped $20k cash on a new-t0-us car. And I funded a new business venture from our personal savings. For as long as the Big Man upstairs continues to grant us a generous income, we’ll do our best to be responsible (and generous) with it. That’s really our only goal after all.

Do you budget like me? Anything I do with mine that you think is weird? What’s your preferred budgeting tool (Mint, Quicken, Excel, Paper/pencil)?

Obviously if we buy a house, all of these numbers are pretty much worthless since we have no clue what our future mortgage will be, how much we will put down (thus decreasing our cash reserves), etc. When we find the right house for us, I’ll make sure to do some revising.

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Where is my money!

I’ve been a very naughty ninja lately. I’m breaking one of my most important PF rules: Manage your money. For the first time, in a long freaking time, I don’t have a handle on my financial situation. It’s a very odd/disturbing/uncomfortable feeling….but kind of freeing too. I just need to set aside a few hours to check my bank accounts, do a little Mint reconciling, and spend some time with my TI-83. Then I should be back to normal.

Typically, I’m totally obsessed with knowing where my money is going, and when it is going there. This means if I have $5,000 in my checking account and $2,000 in charges on my credit card bill, I would immediately transfer $2,000 to my online savings account so that money can start earning a higher yield than my checking account.  This would leave $3,000 in my checking. I’d eventually send $2,000 to my credit card, to pay that bill in full when it came due, which leaves me with my reserve $1,000 for emergencies.

But I’ve been a bad boy, and haven’t initiated any bank transfers lately. I know I have a redonkulous balance on my credit card (travel, travel, and more travel) and an even more redonkulous sum of money in my checking account (approaching $10,000 I think). I know that my checking exceeds my credit card statement, but I don’t know by how much.

Right now, I’m the perfect example of WHAT NOT TO DO when it comes to managing your money. Tomorrow, I’m buckling down and figuring all this mess out so I can ease the financial anxiety I’ve been feeling these last couple weeks.

Am I going to PF hell for letting my finances get away from me? Do even you BUDGET NAZIS get a little lazy sometimes? How do you keep your money moving, even when you don’t have the time to sit down and tell it where to go? What software/method do you use? Slap some sense in to me will ya?!

I know many of you will suggest establishing automatic payments, but auto payments are not my thing…they freak me out.

My favorite nail yesterday (be warned vegetarians): http://manteresting.com/nail/83980