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Defining my uniform

As you all know, I put an ix-nay on the clothing spending for July and decided to continue that into August. I was buying random clothing pieces without considering how they fit into my overall wardrobe. I’m now starting to think about which pieces I reach for regularly and what I wear the most, which I’m realizing has definitely changed with my new job.

I would say that the general dress at my last job was dressy casual, i.e. nice jeans and a nice t-shirt. At my new job? It’s more old jeans, old/free t-shirt. As a woman in tech, I tend to dress in a way that doesn’t make me stand out any more than I already do and so the shift in what my coworkers wear has caused me to reconsider what I want to wear to work. In addition to that, the temperature in my current office is much warmer than it was in my previous offices AND my size has changed yet again. I had been size X from about age 2001-2013. In 2014, I went up to size X+2 and now in 2015, I’m down to size X in some clothes and size X+1 in other clothes.

One thing I find with buying clothing is that you generally don’t know how you will feel about an item until you have it and wear it. For example, I love the t-shirts that I bought from the Gap in 2014 (minus the white-ish ones, though those are comfy around the house) and absolutely hate the ones I bought this year. They’re the same size and the 2015 versions are way tighter and the v-necks lower. The material isn’t as nice either. I bought a few shirts from a store in 2012 and absolutely love one of them, summer after summer, and hate the other two. You don’t always know. I also find that my spring/summer style tends to be a bit different (more feminine mostly) from my fall/winter style. I do have a rule though that if I don’t wear an item outside of the house within two weeks of buying it, I have to return it. And I am really good about returning things!

I’ve done a huge purge of my closet this year and it’s looking really empty! Huge, as in “It’s Deductible” tells me I’ve donated approximately $2,000 of stuff this year. I’ve been iteratively going through clothes, meaning that once some are gone, I have been finding more to donate. We’ve also been donating items that my boyfriend and I have duplicates of since he moved in. Some of the clothes I’ve been donating I bought in high school or elementary school and I haven’t worn in a few years! Also, ahem, my donations pile was taking up about a quarter of my boyfriend’s closet and growing over the last 3+ years and I hadn’t given him that closet space back since he moved in, oops…

Here’s my current inventory:

Item Ideal Have Need
Shorts 1-2 0 1-2 would be really nice to have 1-2 pairs of shorts
Skirts 2-4 3 0
Crop pants 1-3 1 1-2 have one pair jeans, would like a pair of khakis as well
Jeans 2-4 4 0 have 2 pairs skinny, 2 bootcut, 2 dark, 2 lighter
Cords 2-4 2-4 0 have 2 that fit great, 2 that are a little big
Leggings 1-2 2 0
Pajamas 3 3 0 have one pair shorts, 2 pair pants (1 light, 1 flannel). My light pair are totally worn down at the ankles, but whatever.
Robes 2 2 0 have 1 winter, 1 spring/summer
Socks 15-20/5 15/5 5/0 have 15 ankle, 5 boot. up to 20 ankle would be nice
Bras 5 5 0 but they don’t fit, so I need to find new ones in September
Shoes 9 8 1 1 pair running, 3 pairs flats, 1 pair slippers, 1 pair winter boots, 1 pair leather knee-high boots, 1 pair leather ankle boots, 0 pair sandals (would be nice to have a pair of sandals…)
Dresses several several 0 I generally allow myself to refresh my closet with 1-3 new dresses per year.
Outerwear solid solid 0 I have a solid rain jacket, a solid insulation layer, a solid vest, and a solid wool coat. I’m not a denim or leather jacket person and tend to buy good, long-lasting outerwear, which means I don’t refresh this section very often.
Sleeveless 5-9 9 4 3 of these I would not wear to work and 3 are almost worn out, so I will plan on buying 4 more somehow to refresh my closet.
Short-sleeved 10-15 7 3-8
Three-quarter sleeved 5 1 4
Long-sleeved 5 1 4
Camisoles 5-7 solid 0
Cardigans 5-7 solid 0 My grey and black ones are getting a little worn, so they will probably get replaced next year.
Sweaters 5 solid 0

*Note that this list doesn’t include the house clothes that are of indeterminate age and aren’t worn outside of the apartment.

What does this put into my need column?

  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of crop pants
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • up to 4 sleeveless tops, 3-8 short-sleeved tops, 4 three-quarter sleeved tops, and 4 long-sleeved tops

I’ve given myself an approximate budget of how much it’ll cost to acquire these items and started shopping! I’m looking forward to having some more clothes to choose from as I’ve definitely been running low on clothes all summer and it was only my combination of sleeveless + short-sleeved shirts that got me through the summer. I don’t have enough short-sleeved, three-quarter sleeved, and long-sleeved shirts to get me through the fall, let alone winter.

Readers, have you done a closet purge and inventory recently?


How I Got My 800 Credit Score

A few months ago, I logged into CreditKarma to see that my credit score with TransUnion and Experian had surpassed 800! I’m not the best at seeing the long-term and so when I started working post-college in early 2010 with a non-existent credit score, I was convinced that would be the case forever! By the end of 2011, when I started condo/mortgage hunting, I had managed to get my credit score to the low 700s, which although didn’t result in the best mortgage rates, was pretty reasonable. I was definitely impatient at times in this process, but now that I have achieved the ideal credit score, I plan to no longer worry about my credit.

What principles did I follow to successfully build my credit?

  1. In the early days, I kept my credit utilization to at most 30% of the limit. Now, I don’t worry about this because I have a ton of unused credit and much higher limits.
  2. I would go 6-12 months between applying for new credit.
  3. I made every single payment on time.
  4. I applied for new credit and increased my credit limits as deemed useful early in the process.
  5. I constantly tried to remind myself that patience is a useful virtue.


I tried unsuccessfully to apply for the Chase Visa once or twice before I smartened up and instead hunted around for a credit union that would give me a secured credit card with no annual fee. The first few places I found (cough a big bank cough) wanted to charge me $39/year for me to let them hold $500 of my money to give me a credit card! This process all boggled my mind though – why would no one lend me unsecured money when I was making $100,000 a year?

By the end of the summer, I had a $500 secured credit card from a credit union, which really just meant that $500 of my savings account with them was my credit card limit. I set my internet bill to auto-pay on the credit card each month and diligently paid the credit card off when I got the statement. Progress!

Near the end of 2010, I had finally saved up enough money to buy a car in cash*. So what did I do? My parents had always taught me that you should buy a car with credit and then save/invest the money instead. That was because they had good credit and could buy a car with a 0.9% interest rate. Me with very minimal credit ended up with a 4.99% interest rate. I wrote a check for the first $10,000 of the car, financed the remaining $10,000 and change at 4.99% for 12 months, and set up the automatic payment from my savings account, which resulted in a ~$900/month payment. Yes, I had a $900 car payment. My mom thought I was crazy. I hate debt and wasn’t willing to pay interest for any longer than necessary. I didn’t see it that way though – I saw it as the loan being offset by my savings account that were at the same credit union and so in my mind, I didn’t really have a car loan even though I did.

I also got a $1,000 normal credit card from the credit union that gave me the car loan. In 2015, I never use that credit card anymore, though I will not close it until some other useful credit card is my oldest one as this is the card giving my credit history a reasonable age.


After six months with the (ridiculous) secured credit card, I asked the credit union to convert it to a real credit card. They increased my limit to $1,000 and it became a normal credit card. The points were terrible, so I hardly used it after that point. I eventually put a recurring $25 donation on it, set up a $25 auto bill payment from my checking account to it, and ignored the credit card.

I finally got approved for the Chase Visa…with a whopping $400 limit! What exciting times! I tried unsuccessfully to increase my limit after six months.

I was really surprised at the end of 2011 when I started condo/mortgage hunting to discover that my credit score was around 700 and I qualified for a solid 3.5% interest rate. (My credit woes were probably lessened by my 20% cash down payment and solid cash reserves.) The mortgage lender, on the other hand, was super confused by my $900/month “car payment” that was over 10% of my gross income and that combined with the proposed condo monthly costs would take up a third of my gross income. That’s okay because the “car loan” got paid off as I was going through that process.


In mid-2012, I closed on my condo with a credit score in the low 700s still and a 3% interest rate.

I also opened up two store credit cards to get discounts at the till. I think I got $100 or $200 off at Home Depot for opening up one of their credit cards (and they even let me pay in cash for the purchase – never used the card and eventually closed it in late 2013) and about 20% off at a women’s clothing store for opening up one of theirs.

I promptly refinanced my condo’s mortgage at the end of 2012 once I’d paid it down to 25% and secured myself a 2.5% interest rate for the following five years.


In early 2013, I made a goal to finally move away from constantly paying down credit cards to keep the utilization at a reasonable level. It went swimmingly:

I asked my primary credit union (the one that gave me the car loan) for their cashback credit card with a limit of $10,000. They said yes, basically on the spot. That card gives 1% back on everything and its points were automatically deposited into my membership accounts every month. Easy cash back, awesome.

The second step was to ask my other credit card company to increase my limit to $10,000 as well. I didn’t get the answer I wanted at first and I didn’t give up. I politely explained that 30% of that amount represents a very small amount of my monthly income and my monthly spending and asked if there was anything further they could do. I was transferred to someone with more authority who did give me a bit more of an increase from the initial offering. I’m happy with that. This card essentially gives 2% back on gas stations, drugstores, and restaurants.

By mid-2013, I was trying to optimize my credit card rewards a bit more. I ended up going with the Fidelity American Express and lo and behold, they gave me a $10,000 limit! That card was great and is definitely a keeper. It’s back to being my primary card again at last.

At the end of 2013, I did some small churning: I applied for the Chase Freedom for a $200 bonus and the Barclaycard Arrival for a $440 bonus. I still have both of those cards today, though I’m just as terrible at remembering about the quarterly categories as I had thought I would be.


On my three year anniversary with my Visa, Chase increased my limit by $1,000! That was a nice touch, especially considering that I was hardly using the card by this point. Oh, actually, that in hindsight seems to have coincided with when I applied for the Chase Sapphire Visa. (which I plan to do again next winter once my twenty four months are up!)

I went on a closing accounts spree in 2014, closing my first credit union card and all the accounts there, my Home Depot card, my Loft card, and my Chase Sapphire Preferred months ahead of its fee being charged simply because I didn’t use it.


Sometime mid-2015, my credit score surpassed 800! It’s now hovering around 795-805, which I’m perfectly fine with.

I’ve started some slow churning now with being able to charge my grad school costs to a credit card. I paid for my fall tuition with a credit card to get points and will probably continue to do that.

I’m going to downgrade/cancel the Barclaycard this year with the negative changes coming its way, especially with my reduced credit card spending. If I cancel it, that will result in just over a three year average age of credit cards at the end of this year, which isn’t too bad for having only five years and a bit of credit history.

In conclusion, time and patience will build your credit history. Good luck telling that to my 21 year old self!


*In hindsight, spending $20,000 of my $70,000 and change net worth on a brand-new car was a bit strange of a decision, but everything has worked out just fine and the then-$20,000 no longer seems like a luxury with my now-net worth.


Frontloading: Managing Cash Flow (And the accounts I use)

My spending plan spreadsheet shows me how much the checking account needs to receive to cover the next month’s spending plan. This varies a bit, but has lately been around $3,000. If I go over the spending plan (cough on clothes or condo projects), then that amount goes up. Since I graduated from college (until my current job), I was salaried and paid monthly basically the same amount every month, except when I got a raise, I finished paying Social Security tax for the year, or when I got a bonus (at which that amount would appear in my brokerage account and I would transfer it directly to savings since my normal paychecks covered my spending entirely).

The process!

A sample month in 2014 would look like this:

  1. My full paycheck ($5,000 and change) would be direct deposited into my checking account on the last business day of the month.
  2. The spending plan amount would stay in my checking account (somewhere around $3,000).
  3. The remaining amount would be transferred somewhere else, e.g. to the mortgage, to investments, or to a savings account.

This year, on the other hand? My direct deposit this year was/will be enough to cover my next month’s spending plan only 6 out of 12 months. The amount of money direct deposited to my checking account has varied a lot:

  • one month of under $3,000, not quite enough to cover the next month’s spending plan (last month at the old job)
  • one month of $0 (while between jobs)
  • two months of five figures (first month at the new job and a later month where I sold an ESPP purchase)
  • four months of under $500 (while frontloading the pre-tax/after-tax 401(k))
  • one month of $5,000 and change (while frontloading the after-tax 401(k) and selling an ESPP purchase)
  • one month of $6,000 and change
  • two months of $7,000 and change (when I’m done paying Social Security tax and contributing to retirement accounts)

Direct deposit amounts in 2016 will also be sporadic, though I will be able to cover the next month’s spending plan 9 out of 12 months and my average monthly direct deposit will be $2,000 higher than in 2015.

My newly adopted system smooths out all of these moments. Right now, I have four accounts at Ally:

  1. General savings (or what some people would call their emergency fund), which has a target amount of $30,000 (increased to $35,500 around December-March to cover my Roth IRA contribution)
  2. Grad school savings, which has a target amount of the remaining tuition and books
  3. Next month fund, which has a recurring target amount of $3,000 or what the spending plan amount for the next month is
  4. Donations

All income gets sent to the “Next month fund” savings account, including ESPP proceeds, direct deposit from my job, bonuses, tuition reimbursements, and credit card rewards (dividends from investments are automatically reinvested at the moment) and then a series of transfers keeps the money sorted out properly between these accounts. On the last pay day of the month, I take a few minutes to put the data from my pay stub into my tax spreadsheet (which also tells me how much should go to donations) and:

  1. I transfer 1% of my gross pay for that month (currently ~$100) to the donations account.
  2. I set up a transfer for the 1st of the next month to transfer the spending plan money from the “Next month fund” to my primary checking account and if there isn’t enough money in there, I borrow it from the “General savings” account.
  3. I use any money left in the “Next month fund” after the above two transfers for the savings snowball! In priority order that is: keeping the general savings account above the target amount, keeping the grad school savings account at the target amount, paying extra principal on the mortgage, and then lastly, taxable investments.

I’ve debated direct depositing my paycheck to my general savings account and then when the balance surpasses its target, transferring money elsewhere. I don’t like this option because then I need to withdraw money from savings in order to pay my expenses every month instead of just in the months where my direct deposits don’t cover my expenses and I have a disposition to not withdrawing money from savings.

You’ll notice that I don’t like the term emergency fund. I have always labeled my “first” savings account “general savings” and hadn’t heard of the concept of an emergency fund until I started reading personal finance blogs a few years ago. I have never had a concern with borrowing from my savings account because I’ve always paid myself back. I see the amount in this savings account simply as a cash buffer to weather whatever storm comes my way, despite the fact that most months, my cash flow can cover most “emergencies”.

The central point of my financial management is my primary checking account, through a credit union offering no monthly fees with no minimums. I bought a check book on the account years ago before I realized that other banks (i.e. Schwab, Fidelity) would give you a check book for free just for opening an account. ATM withdrawals at most credit unions are free and easy to find, as is a branch, somewhat. My boyfriend has his checking account with the same credit union and we have it set up so that we can transfer money to/from each other without seeing the other’s accounts, though that is much less necessary now that Square Cash is so easy to use. I have occasionally debated changing the institution that has my primary checking account (probably to Schwab), but this one meets enough of my requirements and has everything set up to go through it at this point that it doesn’t seem worthwhile to switch. This checking account is a “rewards” one in that they’ll pay me X% interest (marginally better than Ally’s) on the first $Y,000 in the account if I use my debit card at least Z times in a month, which I’ve taken advantage of on the months where I’ve bought lunch at work.

I have two other checking accounts: Schwab and Fidelity. I have the Schwab one because they reimburse ATM fees worldwide and have no foreign transaction fees. I usually keep somewhere around $200-500 in that account. It was super useful when I went to Japan! I didn’t have to worry about how much to take out at a time. I have the Fidelity checking account to receive the cashback from my Fidelity American Express card.

All of my bills autopay to either a credit card (cell phone) or primary checking account (mortgage, HOA dues, property taxes). My credit cards are all on autopay out of my primary checking account. All non-bills go on credit cards and those are accounted for in my spending plan spreadsheet at the time of the spend.

Other accounts: I have my Roth IRA and taxable investment account at Vanguard. I have a brokerage account wherever my employer(s) have opened one up for me, for the sole purpose of receiving their Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). I have a mortgage loan. I have my 401(k) where my employer opened it up for me. I have a Health Savings Account (HSA) through my credit union for a higher interest rate, as well as the one opened by my employer.


Budgeting: always stay a month ahead

I loved being paid monthly. I know some people hate it because then they run out of money by pay day. A simple bit of budgeting or planning (whichever word you prefer to use) can help with that really (so long as you do have enough money to go around).

Since an internship when I was 20 (quite a few moons ago now!), I’ve been paid monthly. And I have loved it! Without even realizing it, this forced me to always be a month ahead. I would get paid on the last business day of the month, set aside some money for the next month’s spending, and then send the rest to whatever my current savings goal was. Now with being on semimonthly pay, I plan to use part of the first paycheck to cover the next month’s spending and then the second one to savings, so that if I don’t get the second paycheck, the next month is already covered.

The other way that I stay a month ahead is on my credit card. You know how you can charge money on your plastic and then not actually pay for the items until sometimes almost two months later? That’s not how I budget. I follow a similar methodology to YNAB in that the day the money is spent is the day it comes out of my budget. My checking account balance has enough money at all times to pay off all of my credit card balances, even the ones that haven’t seen a statement yet. There’s no looking around for where to get the money when the statement comes. It’s already there.

Once you’re a month ahead, finances are much less worrisome. It doesn’t matter whether you’re paid biweekly, weekly, monthly, semimonthly, or completely sporadically. You add up all the income you received in the month, send some to savings and set some aside for the next month’s spending, rinse and repeat.

My parents always taught me to use one paycheck to pay for some things and the other one to pay for other things and to always pay your credit card before the due date, as in a few days before was just fine. I tried that way for a while and I found it really stressful to always be pulling money out of savings to pay for things you hadn’t planned on when the credit card bill came, so now I do things this way. I budget a bit (but I’m not very hard on myself at all if I miss the target) and have the money to pay the credit card statements in my checking account long before they come due. It’s freeing!

Edited to add: I’ve gotten a fair number of comments in recent months asking if I budget. I wrote several detailed posts on this back in April 2012. I’m still using the same spreadsheet, but the numbers are a bit different.

  1. April 2012 Spending Plan
  2. How I Made My Spending Plan
  3. April 2012 Spending Plan: Conclusion

Looking back at those posts made me realize that I don’t forecast for home maintenance or long-term car maintenance. I also don’t have a plan for what I’ll do to replace my car. My current assumption on the latter is that I’ll have the mortgage paid off then and will just sell some taxable investments. For home maintenance though? I’ve definitely had to do some replacing. Honestly, I just keep a larger cash buffer to help with that.

Readers, how do you pay your credit card bills? Are you more like me or my parents?

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July 2015 net worth update (+1.4%)

31-Dec-2014 30-Jun-2015 31-Jul-2015 MoM YTD
cash $12,300 $10,400 $7,800 -$2,300 -$4,500
savings $47,800 $49,600 $55,600 +$6,000 +$7,800
investments $164,500 $203,100 $206,500 +$3,400
mortgage $143,000 $138,600 $137,900 +$700
net worth $531,600 $574,200 $582,000 +$7,800
taxable assets – debts $70,600 $58,400 $56,200 +$2,200
$ until FI $811,300 $849,300 $806,500 -$42,800

This month, I continued to work on maxing out my after-tax 401(k). I have 3 more paychecks of that left. I also sold some ESPP and moved the money to my general savings account. It turned out that when I transferred 2x as much as usual to my checking account for July, I really only needed the normal amount, oops! So I only transferred about $200 to my checking account this month. That resulted in a 105% savings rate for July and a combined 58% savings rate between June and July.

Expenses: I spent $3,578 in July including the mortgage or $2,551 without it. Some of my controllable expenses broke down as follows:

  • $0 clothing
  • $33 Entertainment/Social [average so far this year: $133, average last year: $211] – this was all eating out with friends.
  • $10 Eating out by myself [average so far this year: $6, average last year: $18]
  • $12 Work lunches [average so far this year: $56, average last year: $147] – I brought my lunch every day until our fridge had an issue and then I bought lunch on two days because of that.
  • $114 A birthday present and a donation to a friend’s GoFundMe campaign (my donations account isn’t all for deductible donations!)
  • $1,456 Housing: regular HOA dues, annual condo insurance policy, repairing the fridge, and buying a new guest bathroom sink.
  • $ Annual umbrella insurance policy
  • $20 Eyebrows
  • $0 Toiletries [average so far this year: $39, average last year: $33]
  • $120 Shopping – A second can of paint and some painting supplies that we’d forgotten about with the first trip. Also some plants for the balcony.
  • $481 Transportation: six month car insurance policy and one tank of fuel
  • $78 Travel – my half of the rental car

As per usual, housing was 70% of my spending this month. I’m expecting it to be about 90% of next month’s spending.

PSA: Make sure to shop around for insurance every few years. I was able to save 25% on my package of insurance policies by shopping around, from what my previous insurance carrier wanted to charge me.

Savings: $55,600 (up $6,000)

These funds are spread across a checking account that gets free ATM fees anywhere in the world, my current employer’s health savings account, a health savings account at my credit union, a bit of a buffer in my credit union checking account, and general and grad school savings accounts at Ally.

This is up from my HSA getting a nice boost this month, as well as me transferring the ESPP proceeds to my general savings account, which is back up to $18,000 and a balance I’m much happier with. The plan for non-retirement savings for the rest of the year is to boost this account up to $30,000, top up the grad school savings account a bit more, and then pre-pay the mortgage.

Investments: $206,500 (up $3,400 or +1.7%)

This includes my pre-tax 401(k), employer 401(k) matching, my after-tax 401(k), my Roth IRA, and my taxable investments including stock index funds, Series I Savings Bonds, and ESPP cash/shares.

The change here comes from:

  1. Large contributions to the after-tax 401(k)
  2. Employer matching contributions (almost double what I got at my last job!)
  3. A month’s ESPP deposits
  4. A quarter’s ESPP contributions sold
  5. My investments were mostly flat this month
Mortgage: $137,900 (down $700 or -0.5%)

Some statistics here:

  • 2.5%: the interest rate on my 5/1 ARM
  • January 2018: when the interest rate on my mortgage is set to reset, possibly to 7.5%
  • 28.1%: portion of my regular payment went to interest (originally was 59%; down 0.2 percentage points)
  • 61.5%: amount of equity in my condo, assuming purchase price (up 0.3 percentage points)
  • 51.8%: amount of the mortgage I’ve paid down (up 0.3 percentage points)

I’m just letting the regular, automatic payment go for now, until my cash savings is at the level I want and my 401(k) is fully maxed out for the year.

TOTAL: $582,000 (up $7,800 or +1.4%)

I ended 2014 with a net worth of $531,600, so I’ve seen a change of +$50,400 or +9.5% so far this year. I’m going to set the y-axis on this graph to $650,000 so we can see how my net worth grows towards that throughout the year.

July 2015 Net Worth Update



Reining in the why behind my clothing spending

A few astute and critical readers have commented on my clothing spending occasionally. This year, I had spent $2,608.02 on clothing as of June 30th. In July, I spent $0 on clothing. My goal for August is to, again, spend $0 on clothing.

I’m mostly fairly controlled about my spending, so you’re probably wondering why I spend so easily on clothing. I’ve wondered that too. For most of my life, I’ve kept spending low by being busy with school or work and not having the time to shop for miscellaneous items, which then results in a flurry of spending once the busy season ends. Online shopping can blow that out the window since it’s so easy to buy stuff.

There’s no real reason for me to save the amount of my income that I do. I’m far over-saving for a “normal” aged retirement. I could easily cut back on savings and be just fine, eventually. But there’s also no real reason to unconsciously spend money on stuff that doesn’t bring me joy. Sure, I have a really nice leather purse now, but I have one. And sure, I have a nice smartphone, but I keep them for 3 years before getting another one. The real kicker though is that I still have my five year old car and plan to keep it for many more years, same with my condo.

The little spending can easily get away from you when you make enough money, when it seems small. That exorbitant sum of money I’ve spent on clothing is a whopping 4% of my net income so far this year. I’ve resolved that with my level of income, I’m more than willing to spend money on things that bring me joy. Our trip to New Zealand earlier this year cost me around $7,000, plus two months unpaid off work (that made it a very expensive trip!), but that was totally worth it.

Do you know why I realized I was spending so much money on clothing this year so easily? My new job. At my old job, my to do list was never ending. At this job, sometimes the to do list does end and then I need to busy myself with finding more tasks or go home early. Or sometimes, there’s more wait time while in the middle of task. You know, compiling. Well you know what I was busying myself doing while compiling? Looking at clothes online. And BUYING them. That’s not all of the spending though. One thing I’m good at it is not having too many of one particular item…so then I create new categories of items and buy one of those!

Most of my projects for the summer have been to try to see what I’ll give up for grad school, combined with some deep cleaning. I’ve figured out how to get my hour of exercise a day: walking to/from the bus stops on my commute and going for a 15 minute walk mid-afternoon at work. Getting an hour of exercise on the weekends will always be a work in progress. I’ve developed some strategies for bringing my lunch to work and that it’s not that expensive anymore if I forget. I’m trying to reduce the amount of time I spend thinking about clothing. I’ve developed some strategies for spending less time geeking out over spreadsheets: reducing transactions has been a huge help with this. We have also been purging and reorganizing things around the house as part of merging two households into one.

Usually telling myself I can spend $0 on a category results in me spending tremendous amounts of money on it, so I’m quite surprised this worked. Now to stick to this no clothing buying plan through August as well!

Readers, how do you keep yourself from spending money on clothing?



Q2 2015 Update


Things were pretty normal in terms of income in Q2. There were no bonuses or missed paychecks. I did get only about $375 in paychecks though! Probably my lowest paycheck amount ever other than unemployed quarters in the past? My net income was about $300 less than Q1.


In Q2, I only saved 59% of my net pay: depositing 105% of my net pay to various savings accounts and withdrawing about 45% of my net pay from savings accounts to cover spending. My savings deposits were split up to the following accounts:

2015 Q1 Savings Distribution

This quarter, I finished maxing out the pre-tax 401(k) at $18,000. My employer will continue to make their matching contributions every paycheck for the rest of the year, as if I had been contributing each paycheck. I started on the after-tax 401(k) contributions.


Q2 2015 Spending

All in all, I spent $11,706 in Q2, with education taken out. Housing + shopping + clothing added up to 80% of my spending this quarter. The pie chart cut off the legend for the following categories: personal care, recreation, life, and financials.

I had estimated I would spend $8,548 in Q2, so I went $3,415 over my estimate. $2,429 of this was the refurnishing and repainting of my home office. Most of the rest of the overage was extraneous clothing spending. I came in under my estimate in travel, entertainment, food, and transportation. Housing was right on the dot and was high this quarter because of some extra HOA dues and property taxes. Food and entertainment were mostly under because my boyfriend has been picking up those costs with our current expenses arrangement.

For kicks: I spent $87.37 on transportation in Q2, which bought me two tanks of gas, one Uber/Lyft/taxi ride home from somewhere, and a top up to my prepaid tolls account. Living in the city has some frugal benefits! I also spent a whopping $10.32 on travel and $157.61 on entertainment for the entire quarter. I spent $211 on average in 2014 on entertainment, MONTHLY. My food costs were also about half of what they were in Q1.

With the overages this quarter, I estimate that I am on track to spend $42,190 this year overall, which is about $4,083 over my original estimate or an 11% increase.

I’m not going into too much detail here since you can see that in my monthly reports.


Let’s check in on my goals from the beginning of the year:

1) Enjoy living together! Have an awesome trip to NZ! ON TRACK! Living together is going great overall. It’s definitely taking some time to get the place to a point where it feels more like things were chosen by both of us.

2) Contribute the maximum to all tax-advantaged accounts available to me. This means $5,500 in a Backdoor Roth IRA, $18,000 in a pre-tax 401(k) and possibly some additional funds to the after-tax 401(k) and possibly my 2016 Roth IRA amount in a savings account ready to deploy in January. This will account for probably about 2/3 of my savings in 2015. ON TRACK! I’m done with the Backdoor Roth IRA, the pre-tax 401(k), and have started on the after-tax 401(k).

3) Learn the ropes at my new company and have an awesome first year! ON TRACK! Things are going great so far. I like my group and things seem to be much less toxic than in my previous company. I’m really optimistic about how things are going!

4) Exercise for at least 45 minutes per day. My phone is really helpful at tracking this for me! ON TRACK! I’ve exercised for an average of 53 minutes per day according to my phone. February was the best month with the traveling!

5) Go to the gym (or run) three times per week. FAIL! This is just a flat out fail. I’ve managed to lose some of the stress weight from my last job and get a reasonable amount of general exercise and outside time (yay city life!), so I’m fine with this.

6) Contribute enough to a Health Savings Account such that Out Of Pocket Maximum ~= Current HSA balance + Employer contribution + my contribution. ON TRACK! I may increase this once my after-tax 401(k) is done for the year, we’ll see.

7) Succeed at Operation Bayes – I’ll explain this later. SUCCESS! Now you all know that this was applying to and getting into grad school, which I did successfully! Yay!

8) Spend under $40,000. FAIL! I’m now on track to spend $42,000 this year.

9) Save 70% of my net income monthly…and 100% of my bonuses. (Yay for a big raise that will allow me to save that much of my monthly income!) NO IDEABetween the ESPP, lump sum contributions to my 401(k), etc. this got far more complicated to calculate in the same way that I was doing before. So far, I’ve saved 69% of my net income overall.

10) Contribute the maximum that I can to the Employee Stock Purchase Plan. ON TRACK! Definitely doing this.

11) Pay down the mortgage with any funds that are leftover after 2), including the proceeds of 10). NOT HAPPENING! I’m reasonably confident at this point that I will not make any extra mortgage payments in 2015, mostly due to two months of no income, setting aside money for grad school, increasing my emergency fund, and maxing out my after-tax 401(k). All of those things took….$85,000. Wow!

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