January 2015 Goals Progress

Well, January has come and gone. It was a mostly uneventful month at work and home and for that I am thankful. Aside from establishing this blog, nothing super exciting happened.

My daughter seems to be growing up faster than she should be able to. We went from two word sentences in early January to four and sometimes five word sentences by the end of the month. She said “I can see it now” when referring to the moon the other day. It was surreal to hear my baby girl put a full sentence together.

I made some progress on my goals which isn’t bad considering it had been only been about two weeks since I established them. All of my goal progress can be tracked on the Goals section of my blog, but I’ll also be detailing my specific accomplishments each month to see whether I’m on track.

A lot of these goals that require me to, er, do anything physical, really, are on hold or weren’t started because of the wart treatment I began on my left foot recently. As much as I’d like to get some of these things done, I don’t see myself standing on a ladder any time soon, so I’ll have to revisit some or most of them in March.

January Accomplishments

Replace the lawn: I researched synthetic vs. traditional lawns and will be making a post detailing my findings later this week. Synthetic lawns have a considerably higher upfront cost than traditional lawn, but if we plan on staying in the house for more than 8 years, a synthetic lawn will have paid for itself. This is something we’ll keep discussing probably into spring, so this is officially on hold.

Read a Book: I finished Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. I didn’t like it quite as much as the First Law trilogy but I’ve heard good things about his book The Heroes, so I’ll be starting that this week.

Learn to cook 2 basic dishes: I’m giving myself a half-pass on this. I only managed to learn one new dish, but I also started my goals tracking halfway through the month.

Get rid of Spa: Got a quote from sparemovers.com. We’re looking at about $600 to have the spa removed and all the fixtures torn out. I haven’t looked into what it would cost to fill in the area and remove the landscaping (mostly stone) around the spa yet. We’re actually considering whether it would be better to winterize the spa (i.e. drain and clean it and leave it empty) until we decide to have it removed or we sell the house. We live in California so the chances of it freezing and cracking are pretty low.

Savings Goals: I was able to put $800 in my emergency fund and $1000 into investments last month. My emergency fund is at my target level now, so I can invest all of my savings this year. If I can continue at my January savings rate I’ll be on track to invest an additional $18,000 to $22,000 this year!

Mini Update: Weight Loss

Weight - February 4th

My co-workers gave me crap for eating ice cream after lunch the first day I started my diet, but as of this morning I’m down 5 pounds since January 1st!

First month is usually the best so I’ll be happy to drop 2-3/mo. in the following months, but even if I can get down to 180 by the end of the year, I’ll be happy.

My Financial Life Story

I grew up relatively poor. I don’t know that my family was ever in “poverty”, but socially I think most people I know today would consider what I had to be a poor person’s upbringing. I grew up in trailer homes and qualified for reduced or free lunch programs most of my life. We lived off canned soup, hot dogs, and Kraft Mac N Cheese. My parents mostly drove older cars that my dad repaired himself because taking one to the shop was out of the question.

And yet somehow, I never went without. I always had the coolest LEGO sets and the latest video game console (often several consoles per generation) and all the games a kid could want. I had clothes to wear and shoes on my feet. We kept brand name snack foods in the house and my parents had a big camper and we could afford to take several 3-5 day camping trips every summer.

I didn’t realize then what it took to support that lifestyle. When I was 16 my parents divorced, and not long after, my dad sold the camper and his truck for a loss and filed for bankruptcy. I never knew that the extravagant Christmases in which each of us four kids got $300+ worth of gifts (the LEGO sets, the video game consoles) were paid for with a check my mom’s grandparents sent all their children yearly. We didn’t own very much or have any money in savings. The lifestyle we portrayed ourselves as capable of living was an illusion propped up completely by credit.

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What I Thought of The Destiny Beta, 5 Months Later

Early August of last year, I played the Destiny beta for about six hours on a Saturday and then wrote this. I found it sitting in my drafts today because I haven’t had anywhere to put it until now.

I remember having some heated discussions with my co-workers about how they loved the beta and couldn’t wait for the full experience. I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d played the same game. Of course, it’s easy now to say the game was not what most people expected, and to take potshots at one of the biggest disappointments of 2014 may seem petty by now. But I have to admit I take a small amount of pleasure in having kept this evidence that I was right from the beginning.

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Improv Classes and the Cost of Commuting

As outlined in my Setting Goals post, I plan(ned?) to take improv classes at the UCB Training Center in Los Angeles this year. My hope was to get through 3 classes this year and be registered for the 4th by the end of the year. However, I’ve sat down to crunch the numbers while keeping in mind my Super Long Term Goal of early retirement, and my goal of depositing $15,000 into savings this year, and now I’m struggling to fit those classes into my budget.

The classes themselves are only $400 for an eight-week course. Not so bad, really–though, at a cost of $50 per class, they are 5 times more expensive than the drop-in classes I’ve been taking at the STAGEStheatre in Fullerton. But when I sat down to look at the cost of driving… well, read on.

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Not Everyone Can be David Bowie

About 8 years ago in the waiting room of a hospital, or maybe a dentist’s office, I read an interview with Brandon Flowers of The Killers. He talked about being 25, and how that was the same age David Bowie was when he released Ziggy Stardust, and realizing, and I paraphrase “Bowie released his best work when he was as old as I am today. If I’m going to be remembered like Bowie, I need to release my best work now”.

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Setting Goals

If 2014 was the year of establishment (we settled into our new house, I settled into my new job, we settled into our roles as parents), 2015 will be the year of improvement. 30 is around the corner and I want to lay the groundwork for a successful decade of improvement, discovery, and happiness. That starts with making my goals public on this very blog.

Inspired by Mr. 1500, someone that was inspired to start his blog by my new personal hero, Mr. Money Mustache, I’ve decided to go on the record with some public goals; for this blog, for my own life, and for my family’s future.

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