12 Week Personal Training Update – 17 lbs & 4 inches Lost!

I hired a personal trainer last month.  Why?  Because I was tired of saying “I’m going to totally lose this last 15 lbs”.  Sometimes of course that 15 was 10 and others it was 20 but either way I had said it for years and I didn’t want to say it again in 2015.

Starting Weight: 153 lbs

Starting Body Fat: 29%


Who’s a got two thumbs and’s a real skinny bitch?  This girl!  Time for my second fitness update.  My first update showed awesome progress but I’ve missed a couple weigh ins/measurements.  As of today, my stats are:

  • Current Weight: 136 lbs
  • Body Fat: 26%
  • Body Fat Lost: 3%
  • Lbs Lost: 17
  • Inches Lost: 4 (all around)

Plan of Attack (Version 2)

1500 1300 calories per day

My original weigh in clocked me in at 153 lbs.  This is pretty decent for a 5’3″ female even considering I have a solid amount of muscle on me.  Weight is just a number but so’s body fat.  My body fat clocked in at 29%.  This isn’t terrible as it’s still within a healthy range for women but I wanted to get into the “athlete” range.  This means I would focus on the body fat % and set a target of 20%

My Basil Metabolic Rate is 2,100 calories per day to keep my weight.  I’ve checked this figure by looking at my weight loss per week and break that down into calories.  Calculation based on what I’ve been losing:

Lbs lost per week (1.25) x Calories per lbs (3,500) = Weekly calorie deficit (4,375)!

This means I need to eat less (put fewer calories in my body) so that my body burns my fat reserves to make up for the weekly calorie deficit I’ve created.  I want to speed up my weight loss to hit my target of 125 lbs OR 20% body fat by end of February – 5 weeks from now.

To hit this 5 week target, I decreased my calorie intake to:

LBS needed to lose per week = 2.2 (11 lbs / 5 weeks)
Calories per lbs = 3,500
Weekly calorie deficit needed = 7,700

Per day calorie deficit needed = 1,100

Since my body needs 2,100 calories this means I would need to eat 1,000 ((2,100 – 1,100) calories per day to create a daily deficit of 1,100.  Here’s the problem:

  1. That’s not healthy
  2. Doesn’t consider exercise 

You won’t build sustainable healthy weight habits by starving yourself.  A general rule is not to go below 1,200 calories per day.  Since you’re most likely doing something beyond just breathing every day, your body will need more than 1,200 to be healthy.  If you are eating at least 1,200 but you’re getting sluggish, dizzy or feeling weak then you still aren’t eating enough.  You should always listen to your body and do what’s right for it!  It’s the only one you’ve got right?

All jokes aside, this isn’t about getting skinny.  The goal was to get rid of my bad habits. No more going to In-N-Out every Friday because I had a tough week.  No more eating cakes or donuts not because I was hungry but because it’s there.  I’m a smart girl so why am I standing in my way?

I’m only going to adjust my calorie intake to 1,300.  This gives me more wiggle room than the 1,500 if I have a bad day.  This isn’t about punishing myself after all!


To offset the 200 calorie per day increase I’m eating I will be adding circuit training to my Sundays.  I’m circuit training twice a week with my training and doing a 3 mile trail run on Saturdays with Mr. Refinerr.  Combine the decreased calorie intake with the extra circuit training and I should netting below a 1,100 calorie per day intake!  Of course, I’ll watch my recovery rate and listen to my body.  If it’s having a hard time healing or I’m seeing any of the warning signs I’ll add in some protein shakes.

See you in 4 weeks for the 16 week update!

How are your 2015 fitness goals going??



As you know, I am not a health professional.  These posts are just my experience and opinions.  It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!

4 Week Personal Training Update – Lost 2 Inches & 5 LBS!

I hired a personal trainer last month.  Why?  Because I was tired of saying “I’m going to totally lose this last 15 lbs”.  Sometimes of course that 15 was 10 and others it was 20 but either way I had been saying it for years and I didn’t want to say it again in 2015.

Not My First Rodeo

I got a personal trainer for the first time 8 years ago and lost 23+ lbs and reduced my body fat by 3%!  On top of that I learned proper form and how to the gym equipment.  Best of all, I met my husband (woot woot)!  So I know it’s worth the money but it still feels like a luxury.  My husband struggled with this too because we’ve done so much cost cutting over the last 2 years it was weird to switch gears.

We ultimately were on board with personal training for the both of us because financial independence/early retirement isn’t about saving every penny that comes your way.  It’s about spending your money in ways that tie to your personal goals.  For us one of those is being healthy and we know that any money that goes that way is investing in our future!

Plan of Attack

1500 calories per day

I’m a girl who likes to eat.  But this isn’t the first time I’ve counted calories so I should’ve been able to do this myself except I was making a huge mistake – cheat meal.  A cheat meal is your worst enemy.  You think it’s your best friend, you look forward to it all week but it’s just a devil in disguise!

Some people do cheat days, others just 1 meal.  What can one meal do right?  Turns out it can completely wipe out all of your workouts putting you back to square one or, even worse, on the road to fat town…

I’ve been eating about 2-3 1000 calorie meals per week so I was not shocked when I started to see the buttons on my pants straining a bit.  My trainer changed my life when he explained it to me this way:

“If you save money all week long and then buy a $10,000 car on Saturday – you didn’t save any money did you?”

He was right of course which is why in the past 7 years I’ve fluctuated up and down 10 lbs and was never able to get the last 15 lbs off.

I need about 1800 calories per day to maintain my weight so based on that and the occasional calorie parties I like to throw myself (2-3 meals at about 1000 calories each) that put me at around a weekly total of 13,800 calories before the training vs. 10,500 calories while training or a 3,300 calorie deficit every week.  Since 3500 calories deficit = 1 lb loss I should see some progress.  Of course, the more progress I see means I was eating more calories than I realized.  Most people underestimate their calorie intake by an average of 30%.  This would put me at a calorie deficit of ~4,200 or a 1.25 lb loss per week.

As my weight gets lower so will my daily calorie budget but no lower than 1400 as I’m doing a lot of weight lifting and moderate cardio.  Never go below 1200 calories per day – starving your body of nutrients never made you healthier.


I did my first round of measurements and second round today (below).  On the same date, I weighed in at 152 lbs and my second round has me at 5 lbs or down 10%!  This is a loss of 1.25 lbs per week!  I’ve also lost 2 inches at the widest part of my stomach (trouble area) and 1.5 inches at my hips!

I’m even ok with the chest measurement only because the reduction is in my back not my cups – PHEW!

I’m also dropping down 100 calories which I’ll write another post about how I’m doing that without feeling deprived.  I’m probably looking at another 2 months so stay tuned!


5 Minute Analysis To See Which Insurance Plan Saves You Money!$!

Happy Monday Y’all!

A friend of mine just started at my company and was curious as to which insurance plan she should enroll in.  She is young and relatively healthy but with average medical bills.  She’s planning on getting knocked up and popping that sucker out in 2015 so what’s a girl to do?

Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of our HSA+ plan.  Last year was the first time it was offered and it’s done right by me so far in 2014.  I plan on enrolling in it again for 2015.  My only complaint is that in 2012 they removed Vanguard as an investment option and now only offered actively managed funds unless I opt into one of their 2 bond fund options.

I felt biased and wasn’t sure the HSA+ would be the best option for her so I threw together the analysis below based on the average cost for Orange County, CA slightly inflated for a higher risk pregnancy (provided by a quick Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield search).  The Rx is not pregnancy related.

Feel free to steal it and adjust for your needs.  The highlighted green items you can change to whatever major life event you are curious about and the rest will automatically calculate!



Did you have to do something similar when you enrolled in your insurance for 2015?

How I Took 1 Year Off My Retirement Goal By Selling My Car!

Searching for the One

During my education of financial independence I came across MrMoneyMustche’s advice to get a fuel efficient vehicle.  You can do a search for “car mpg” and find several articles on his website related to this.  For some reason I didn’t think this applied to me!  I have a 2011 Hyundai Sonata which is a very safe car, very reliable and sleek and sexy.  Plus I bought financed it brand new and paid off in 2 years so no car payment!  We rationalized all this because we were downsizing to one car.  I’m a freakin’ genuis right?!

You can give us credit for downsizing to 1 car but like most things in life shit changes and if you’re lucky you get a bit smarter as you get older.  In the two years +/- since buying that car, I changed my wicked, wicked financial ways to a strategically focused goal of FI by 39 or sooner.  I started doing research on what type of vehicle would fit the Mustaschian criterion of being 35+ mpg as well as something that would fit our lifestyle.  With our new-found love of biking and my husband’s music gear and baby refinerrs in the next 5 years (don’t tell my mom!) we decided on a 4-door hatchback.

Consumer Reports

I used my friend’s log in for consumer reports (CR) and started researching small hatchbacks.   I settled on 2 cars which were fit all criteria and were CR best picks: Honda Fit & Scion xD.  I spent a lot of time looking at which year to buy so I didn’t pay for depreciation, self maintaining and how to buy one, etc.  I read a few articles including the ones linked above and decided the 2009 Scion xD was easy for me to work on myself, 5 years old so almost fully depreciated and of course was already a CR best pick!


I created a document with all the websites I found helpful including but not limited to the following.  BTCS was a great find!  I set up a second email address and used it for email negotiating with dealers focusing on month and quarter ends to see if they’d be willing to lose a little money on a car to make their ME/QE goals.  No such luck though!

Before Edmunds True Market Value vs Kelly Blue Book.  KBB seems to be always higher and I found they dropped greatly in market value estimate about 1 month after I bought my car.  Perhaps because the 2015 models came out?  Either way they aren’t a true representation of what people will actually pay.  There were plenty of people who bought Scion xD’s at prices I wasn’t willing to pay because it’s a “popular” car.  Try to be patient and don’t forget people are stupid.  Also don’t be stupid…

  • Beat the car sales man
  • Edmunds true value vs KBB
  • Actual market demand

I found many 2009 Scion xDs selling for around $10k in the 8 months in searching.  There was which sold for $8k with low mileage but it sold within 2 hours and I was working – silly me.  I ended up getting the seller we ultimately purchased from down from $9900 to $8000 over a period of 2 – 3 weeks.  Their Scion was high in mileage at 99k but I saw many models around 150k+ plus it’s a Toyota so it should run forever.  I owned a Scion tC for 3 years back in college and loved it.  I knew that going for a high mileage car would give me the wiggle room I needed in price.  They were also moving at the end of the month so their deadline was to my advantage.  Recognize situations like this that can work in your favor!


I searched the web and created a 7 page document of every section/part you could inspect on our car.  I also looked up pictures of what the engine looked like in good condition.  We did a 45 minute inspection while talking to the car sellers from windows, seats, radio, suspension (bounce check), engine, tires, body, brakes (during test drive) etc.

When doing this I noticed pink crusty residue on what was the water pump.  I was not familiar enough to know it was the water pump and so my mind didn’t go to thinking it was a leak.  Because I didn’t take it to a mechanic before purchasing we later found out the water pump needed to be replaced along with a minor leak in the control arms.  The control arms don’t need to be replaced but do need to be monitored so could be a replacement in the future.

The water pump was a large enough repair that I would have further negotiated another $400 off the selling price but could have gotten them down to $600 easy based on the extra repairs like adjusting the rear brakes, transmission flush (yes I was too lazy to do this myself), etc.

Learn from my mistake.  Take it to a mechanic or be ready for a possible large repair.  This is the nature of buying high mileage cars.  I did neither so I’m uneasy but trying to get over it.  Only time will tell if I made the right decision.  My goal is for this car to last another 50k with a stretch goal of 100k miles (5 – 10 years of use hopefully)!

Selling Your Old Car

Put an ad up on Craiglist list it’s free.  Also put an ad up on cars.com – also free.  Before I put up both ads I watched the market for other people selling my same make/model in the county to see what they were their asking and selling prices.  You can also check out KBB and Edmunds but depending on whether you look up as a seller or a buyer you can get 2 different estimates for the same car on the same website.  Either way doesn’t mean people will actually pay that estimate.

There weren’t a lot of options on Craigslist so I had a lot of interest but no one offered my asking price of $13,500.  I received several offers at $12,000 and kept it for sale over a month trying to get closer to my price.  I also put up an ad on Autotrader and paid $20 (after coupon).  I didn’t get any interest from the Autotrader ad.


During the first week we had it for sale our car to Carmax to get an idea of what they’d pay.  The appraisal process took 30 minutes and was very easy and pleasant.  They offered $12,000.  I had received a cash offer of $12,500 a couple of days early so I immediately texted and told him we could do $13,000 if he purchased that weekend.  In the end he went back and forth with my and other vehicles wavering between increasing his offer and backing out.

Having 2 cars felt like a burden.  We didn’t drive the Sonata and even though there was ample parking with good visibility to potential buyers after a month I incurred added insurance, paid for a detailing and wasn’t getting any closer to my newly reduced asking price of $13,000.

Learn from my mistake.  Go to Carmax first to get an offer.  They sell at a premium because they take cars under dealership or manufacturer warranty (which mine was) and get everything repaired.  The also add insurance/guarantees into their price so you get a piece of that margin.  Even if you don’t end up selling to them their offer was very close to what private parties were offering.

If I could do it again I would have accepted the $12,500 cash offer on the spot.  Because I didn’t I ended up spending $165 on a detailing and another $67 on insurance and $20 on an Autotrader listing (I’ll get a refund because it didn’t sell in less than a month) just to end up selling it to Carmax.

Feed up Capital & Gas Savings

Hindsight being 20/20 and all I still met my goal of purchasing a car that will cut the amount of expense it generates.  Based on the calculator my annual gas savings is $571 per year!


As mentioned above, my new car cost me $8,000 before repairs ($600) and excluding sales tax ($560) total = $9,160.  I sold my old car for $12,000 – $165 – $67 = $11,768.  By replacing my car, I reduced my retirement nest egg by $37,257 ($11,768 – $9.160 = $2,608 / 7%)!

Since I’ll invest the $2,608 then dividing it by 7% will give me the amount of principle I would need in my retirement fund to generate this income.  Add in the gas savings of $571 and I’ve further reduced my f-you fund by $8,157 for a total of over $45k!

Annually I contribute, at least, $35,000 (2 x $17,500 401k max contributions) and $6,000 (2 x Roth IRAs) for a total of $42,000.  With the reduction of over $45k from switching my car, I’ve essentially reduced my retirement horizon by 1 year!

Not too bad for my first time buying and selling a car!=)  Have you ever done this?  What went well and what would you change?!

Find Your Groove – Establishing New, Awesome Habits to Get S* Done!

Bad Habits

I’ve established some very bad habits recently.  This isn’t the first post I’ve done about wanting to reboot myself and I’m safely assuming it won’t be the last.  Sometimes when you’re investing a lot of time into work you forget to keep your personal life balanced.  I started thinking about this yesterday and an article I came across today reinforced it.

With my father’s recent passing it’s easy to get a bit lost. Things are just weird – for lack of a more elegant term – but If there was any time for me to get back into good habits, stay positive and grateful for the time I have it’s definitely now.  Not just for myself but because it’s what my dad didn’t raise any “cream puffs” (one of many, many dad-isms along with “the hell you say?!”.

Changing a Habit – Getting up Early

I want to focus my one goal because I think it’ll be easier to accomplish.  Getting up early can lead to multiple side benefits so I’m going to start here.  Just Google “getting up early” and you’ll see the plethora of results telling you how great it is.  I know this isn’t for everyone, but when I had to force myself to get up early when I was in the middle of busy season and trying to get my CPA license.  It worked and I’ve been a believer ever since.

I’m a big fan of Zenhabits so when I Googled how to get up early and came across his article I was hooked.  I also found a couple good ones on Lifehacker and Wikihow.  Seems like there are 2 schools of thought:

1. Get up early 15 minutes at a time

2. Go for the whole enchilada

With either methodology, you’ve got to keep your wake up times consistent on the weekend a.k.a no sleeping in!  This is going to be a struggle – who doesn’t love sleeping in and being lazy on the weekends!  Well not this girl (…anymore)…  Refinerr 2.0 will be a super productive getting shit done machine!  Just check out this list:

  • Writing more for my blog
  • Running
  • Spend 15 minutes reading outside

I really liked one article that talked about jumping out of bed with great enthusiasm, ready to take on the world.  I’m going to do that!  I want to do all these things.  They are important to me and at the end of the day when I choose not to I just get an hour more sleep and a heap ton of guilt for not doing them.  Instead I could be chatting up the other awesome FI community members, learning a fancy new $20 word I can throw around at work and getting some sunshine in the process.  Best of all, running will keep me healthy, positive and is a very important outlet for my stress.  So with all good goals, I’ve got to make these SMART.

  • Wake up everyday including weekends at 5 am
  • Read outside for 15 minutes after yoga
  • Register for 10k before July 25th (best friend’s wedding!)
  • Running schedule – Mon/Wed/Fri
  • 10 minutes yoga – daily
  • Write for 30 minutes on off days from running (Tues/Thurs?)

I’m going to keep my progress updated so you can keep me accountable.

With all sad endings, you can choose to make it an opportunity for growth.  It’s not easy but I try to keep my father’s passing in mind as a chance he’s given me to be better.  I was able to write and say something at my dad’s funeral that I still want to be true so I posted it below.  Hopefully it will inspire you and if not, that’s cool too!=)

I’m not very comfortable in churches.  My atheism probably doesn’t help this.  My father was an atheist – until he was diagnosed with cancer.  My father always talked about his ashes being spread in the islands.  He wanted his body to be, where his heart had always been.  That too changed.

My father was a strong, adventurous man. And at the end, he was afraid.  He was afraid of leaving everything and everyone he loved.  He was afraid of dying.  This did not come from a place weakness.  He feared, so he could show me how to be strong for him.  He feared so he could show me how to be selfless.

We see fear as an enemy, to overcome or it will defeat us.  We are human beings in a world of constant change.In this chaos of change, we are afraid.  We fear failure, not being good enough, being alone and being judged.  We fear we’re not OK or our life isn’t good enough.  We fear being forgotten.

When you are afraid of these things, remember my father.Do not let your fears hold you back.  Be strong! Remember that he was afraid so you didn’t have to be.

This is the gift my father has left all of us.  Live a brave and epic life.  Make my father proud.  Mae West said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Who Says Girls Are Bad At Math? March Financial Review!

We set aggressive goals for 2014 (because why the hell not)?! Check out January and February if you haven’t yet.  Below is a download from our Mint.com account which I threw together along with commentary for your viewing pleasure of our second month’s budget to actual analysis!



We Made Our Budget!

You should see a few things right away:

  1. We should have increased our new house fund savings account to show the funds which aren’t going into our Roth IRA as we maxed out for the year last month
  2. We’ve went over budget for eating out which is not great for this month but mostly conflict with our health goals.  You can’t calculate the price down the road of eating poorly.
  3. We saw the first of many wedding expenses to come.  My best friend is getting married and I’m in the bridal party.  I’m glad I have the financial ability to celebrate this with her without having to stress about money!  She’s a very conscientious person so I know she’s keeping this in mind when planning.

We only budget for after tax regular paychecks excluding bonuses.  You should always budget for your worst case income scenario.  I’m maxing out my 401k for the first time EVER!  My husband has a way to go but he increased his by 5%!

Savings Rate

So we made our budget which means we’re closer to spending $36k per year but what did we put into our f-you fund?  This means we saved approximately 47% of our income after taxes (total savings $2.8k/$5.9k)!  This isn’t necessarily f-you fund money because it’s not going into our retirement but it will go towards a passive investment property (or a home which we’ll pay off unless the rate is extremely low) therefore reducing our needed living expenses.

Add this along with our 18% contribution to our Roth (husband is around 20%) and we’re at about 65% savings rate!  This blows my mind because I can show you months in 2013 where we only saved 20 – 30% of our money.  I’m not including the $200 total monthly HSA investment we pull before taxes or the maxed Roth IRAs for both of us!

Where’s your savings rate at?  How did your March finances turn out?

Happy budgeting!

Negotiate Your Credit Card Fee Like A Boss! The 5 Minute Trick I’ll Never Forget

Step 1: Prep Work

In any negotiation, you need to know your bottom line before starting.

You will need to be prepared for 1 of 2 outcomes – you either pay the annual fee OR you shut down your account.  Know which one you’re comfortable doing.  Remember, credit card companies hear this all the time so they aren’t interested in your bullshit.

I have 2 credit cards; one of which I’ll pay the annual fee and the other I’ll shut down without hesitation because I only opened it for a free plane tickets to Hawaii.  As of 30 minutes ago, I just did this exercise twice and got 2 very different outcomes but got what I wanted each time.

Make sure you know what winning looks like before you go in to battle!

Step 2: Don’t be a Dick

The person on the phone has to deal with irate people all day long.  Don’t add to their misery unless of course you’re speaking with a direct member of the Visa/Mastercard/AMEX family who set up these fees!

Use a calm tone of voice – be in control and unemotional.  Use their name.  Make small talk.  There’s no reason this has to be an unpleasant transaction.  You have something they want ($$$) and they have something you want (travel poiiiiiiints).  Surely you can come to a mutually beneficial agreement in no time flat!

Step 3: Let Them know Your Issue

Immediately let them know you really like the benefits of the card especially the dollars spent to points conversion for travel but you’re not interested in paying such a high annual fee.  You’re letting them know that your:

  • Flexibility – You’re open to not just refunding the fee but lowering it.
  • Bottom line – You want travel benefits AND you don’t want to pay the current annual fee.

Step 4: Let Them Know You’d Like To Cancel the Credit Card

Once you state this, they will tell you they can’t refund the annual fee because of all the wonderful perks you enjoy with the card.  You, of course, already know this but this is what they have to say to you.

I let them know I understand and asked if it’s possible to speak with a supervisor.  They will transfer you or put you on a brief hold.  Either way you’re going to repeat Step 3 again.  The supervisor will repeat the same message the customer service rep stated and this is where it gets fun!

I asked for them to transfer me to someone who could cancel my card.  The Supervisor is the person who can shut down your card so you’re already at the end of the line.  Let him/her know you understand the situation but it’s unfortunate you have to cancel such a great travel rewards card.

I started asking about how to redeem my points.  You already will know that any cash redemption would be ~50% of the value it could be if you redeem for travel.  Cash redemption is definitely the lowest redemption/conversion % of any of your options.  For example, my CapitalOne Venture had ~65,000 miles so I had the option of redeeming for $300 cash or $650 in travel.

For both the CapitalOne Venture and Chase/British Avios cards, the reps and supervisors did not offer to refund my annual fee.  The CapOne supervisor did offer to switch me to their other Venture card with a 1.25 dollar to point conversion (instead of my current 2.0 rate) as that card doesn’t have an annual fee.  I declined reiterating that travel points were why I enjoyed the card.

Step 5: Ask About Other Promotions

With my CapitalOne, I knew I’d pay the annual fee either way so if they weren’t going to budge on the fee I still wanted to keep the card open.  Right before I canceled it I asked if they had any other promotions like additional points to keep my account open and what do you know hiding in the dark corner of the room just happened to be a promotion of  5,000 bonus points!  Do the math and 5,000 points = $50 worth of travel!  I accepted the bonus points which were credited immediately to my account.

For the Chase/British Avios points, I did not ask because I had only opened up the card to get the 40,000 promo points and planned on closing it only if I had to pay the annual fee.

Step 6: Bask In The Glory That Is You

I kept the CapitalOne Venture open, which added 5,000 bonus points to my current balance, effectively reducing the $59 annual fee to $9.

The Chase/Bristish Avios card had already transferred the 40,000 promo bonus along with 11,000 in additional points to my British Avios Executive Club so I already had all of the points I’d planned on getting.  I just wanted to try my luck.  Because they wouldn’t refund me the full amount, I closed the card.

I also didn’t want to keep it open as I’ve already opened up a Chase Sapphire* to get 40,000 promo points for a business trip I leave for tomorrow.  All of this was done while sitting in the comfort of my stretchy pants sipping my morning coffee.  Add savings money to the situation and if that’s not heaven I don’t know what is!

How’s your weekend going!?  Negotiate anything good lately?!

*I am not affiliated with any of these providers nor do I receive commissions from them.  I just liked the offers!

Great Expectations – Let It Go & Lead

Conferences and cancer

I’ve been missing in action for the past 3 weeks.  I had a work conference in Denver, caught a cold which took me out for a week and spent the last week wanting to kill everyone I work with.  I’ve also accepted the fact that my dad’s dying of cancer.  He was diagnosed with cancer and given 4 weeks to live (without treatment) about 4 weeks ago.  

This sucks – sure.  Death sucks and if you’ve lost a parent you know that it causes you to deal with a lot of your own shit.  To make a long boring story short, there’s a cycle of unhealthy behavior in my family.  My dad causes it and we all seem to fall in line.  Some people just don’t change even if their life’s given a due date.  

I’m not one to dwell on my past because it doesn’t define me.  I know who I want to be and the behaviors I don’t want to inherit from my parents but I find myself unnaturally angry. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but it’s feeding into my frustrations at work.  

Be Patient 

My company created a new department; a department in charge of continuous improvement, business strategy, etc.  I’m part of that department and I was sold on the position because I want to be an agent of change.  I want to help people and mostly I want to build towards a bigger cause which adds value to our organization.  Not too crazy right?

Problem is it’s hard to change old habits.  It’s hard to get people aligned with a new vision when they’re too busy trying to just make it through their day.  Our company is self-described as “scrappy”.  Scrappy means do your job regardless of not having the resources or time just get it done and, by the way, make sure your rock that customer’s face off!

Problem is people don’t want to perform heroics every damn day.  We’re not saving lives here!  People don’t want to deal with fighting corporate fires all day long.  The economy is coming back and frankly we’re going to lose a lot of people.  

They sold me on a vision and mission that they weren’t prepared to fund – at least not right away.  When I voice plans for the future, they agree but I’ll say we need to be patient.  They get carte blanche on that one because they’ve also put “patience” as a challenge area of opportunity in my development plan.


I’m the middle of this frustration and anger fest, I was offered another job.  I’d be able to do all the things I want to do, without relocation and working from my house at least 50% – my choice

I sat down with one of my mentors and vented my frustrations.  At the end of my venting he said I seemed angry.  He told me about H.A.L.T.  Don’t make decisions when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.  In that moment, I was 3 out of 4.  When I calmed down I knew I didn’t want to leave my company.  I don’t know if I’ll have the career I expected to but I do know that staying and working on my patience, frustration, influencing skills etc. isn’t going to hurt my career either.

So now what?  

I’ve got to change my emotional state and how I react. I don’t want to be known as the girl that stuck it out but man was she a huge bitch! There’s a lot of value in my doing a job everyone knows you hate but doing it with a smile on my face the damn whole time.  I have to change my expectations.

The 4 Noble Truths

The first of these truths is that ordinary existence is suffering. The second is that suffering is caused by ignorance and craving. The third is that suffering can be transcended. And the fourth Noble Truth is the way and means to transcend suffering…

Why do people get angry?  Because someone/something didn’t meet their expectations.  It sounds incredibly simple but it’s true.  Example – well I’d be angry if someone killed a baby!  Of course you would.  You have the expectation that normal people don’t go around killing babies.  

I had an expectation of what my new role would be and how people would react to my new department.  I expected that it would be easier and everyone would know that, long term, this was a great thing for us.  This isn’t happening and I can’t make it happen.  I can only control how I react by changing my expectations.

I don’t prescribe to any religions but II love studying them specifically Buddhism.  Letting go of my expectations reminded of me what I’d read about transcending suffering by changing my view:

Wrong view occurs when we impose our expectations onto things; expectations about how we hope things will be, or about how we are afraid things might be. Right view occurs when we see things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life.

Look at the CEO’s and leadership articles focusing on meditation.  I’m not going in the direction I want to go in – not in my career or my life.  When I get angry now, I try to identify the expectation I had which wasn’t met.  So far it’s been very helpful and I plan on refining this along with all the other skills I need to be – at best – a great leader and – at minimum – someone my co-workers want to work with.  I don’t know about the patience but I’m definitely going to add this new skill to my development plan!

Who Says Girls Are Bad at Math? February Financial Review!

Check out January if you haven’t yet to give you some background on our 2014 goals & progress.  Below is a download from our Mint.com account which I threw together along with commentary for your viewing pleasure of our second month’s budget to actual analysis!

feb review

We Made Our Budget!

You should see a few things right away:

  1. we got a large unexpected amount in income from an additional bonus program and
  2. we’ve got enough money left over in my budgeted income and expenses that I should up my savings budgets.
  3. we didn’t contribute the full $2k to our Roth because we maxed it out for the year.

We also finished our desired asset allocation with this last purchase.  If you haven’t already check your asset allocation based on desired risk out on Personal Capital portfolio analysis feature.  It was a great way to confirm I was on the right road for now.

We only budget for after tax regular paychecks excluding bonuses.  You should always budget for your worst case income scenario.  We aren’t matching out 401k’s out.  We’re at 15% so I have a few more basis points to go until then and my husband has quite a bit of ways until he’s maxed out.

Savings Rate

So we made our budget which means we’re closer to spending $36k per year but what did we put into our f-you fund?  We only spent $1600 of the bonus with the remaining of the net income number above (~$4k) going into savings.  This means we saved approximately 54% of our income after taxes ($4k + $1.1k / $9.7k)!

Add this along with our 15% contribution to our Roth and we’re at about 69% savings rate!  This blows my mind because I can show you months in 2013 where we only saved 20 – 30% of our money.  I’m not even including the $50 for each us us going into our HSAs either!

Where’s your savings rate at?  How did your February finances turn out?

Happy budgeting!

Mad Money – Drop It Like It’s Hot!

Mad money – money to be spent FOOLISHLY, for some- thing you DON’T NEED, on the SPUR OF THE MOMENT or FRIVOLOUSLY, indeed CRAZILY

I came into some money a couple weeks ago.  No gold coins but not a pretty sizable chunk – 9% of my base salary all in one little check!

My company has a confidential (shhhh don’t tell) bonus program for key performers.  I received it last year and got a larger bonus this year for continuing to add value to the organization.

Drop It Like It’s Hot


When you talk to people who aren’t frugal or even conscious of their spending, they attribute savings with sacrifice.  Essentially you aren’t happy because you aren’t spending your money.  I don’t put much stock in that because I came from a household where material items were purchased to fill an emotional hole that just wouldn’t quit.  I saw it didn’t work – not even close.  I remember reading an article from MrMoneyMustache experiment where he wasted $1,000 to see if spending money made him happier.  You probably know the answer – no.

In the spirit of MMM experiement, I gave myself and my husband some mad money.  Now to be fair, this mad money came after 14% into my Roth with the remaining 35% going to taxes which meant I netted ~50% of the original sum.  Of that remaining 50%,  I put half into savings with the second half left for myself and my husband to split and go fucking crazy on!


I love shoes.  I love clothes.  I love fashion.  This was the hardest area for me to get my spending in control.  I took a good hard look at my spending and realized I didn’t have shit in my closet to justify what I spent.  I bought random pieces when I felt badly about myself.  When I didn’t like the way I looked I assumed I just hadn’t found the right pair of pants.  I never did find those magic pants but I did figure out that I had to stop this bad habit.

Now, when I felt badly about myself I get in shape, give myself a break or possibly both.  Clothes are just clothes.  They aren’t solutions and they sure as hell shouldn’t be treated as emotional band-aides.  Even with my mad money I still followed my clothing strategy of replacing current items with basic, quality pieces strategically purchased for my French wardrobe.  I buy in outfits – not pieces.  This means every time I buy a piece it must be easily interchanged with another piece to make a different outfit entirely.   Something like these:




I’d never purchased clothing off of Ebay because I was worried it wouldn’t work out and I’d waste money.  I went for it and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. Know your measurements – use a tape measure and get all of your measurements down.  Don’t guess on your size.  Ask the seller if they haven’t listed the measurements yet.  Also find out how they measured the item (did they stretch it, was it laying flat, from where to where did they measure?)
  2. Know what looks good on you – I need more definition in my waist to flatter my shape.  I’m petite so I look better in jewel colors than pastels.  Try on clothes in malls without buying them to get an idea of what looks good on you.  Just because they look good on that mannequin doesn’t means they’re going to look good on you!
  3. Buy from a pet free, smoke free home – if you have allergies be careful.  Assume the garments aren’t clean.  As soon as you get them check for any obvious rips, tears, stains so you know you don’t need to return them.  If you’re good with the condition and plan to keep it, then immediately throw it in a plastic garbage bag.  Don’t bring it into your house if you don’t have to.  Throw that garbage bag in the trunk of your car and send it immediately to the dry cleaners*.  You don’t want to catch fleas, lice, bed bugs etc.
  4. Ask for more pictures, more info, etc – don’t by shy.  If there isn’t enough information then ask lots of questions before you buy.  If the seller can’t make time for your questions then they don’t deserve your money. You won’t regret missing out on that silk blouse – there are plenty of fish in the sea – but you will regret buying it without due diligence.
  5. Sleep on it and/or bid low – you can always up your bid if you decide you really do want a piece.  You can’t undo a bid.
  6. Have fun!  You’re shopping after all…

So far I’ve gotten about 8 silk blouses from Anthropologie, Ann Taylor, J Crew, White House Black Market in addition to a Calvin Klein silk cardigan, camel mini skirt from Express and Ann Taylor black pencil skirt ALL for less than $220 including shipping.  All in excellent condition too or still with tags on them!  If I had paid retail for everything I would paid 2 – 3 times more.  I’m really glad I gave this a shot and not just because it left plenty of mad money for shoes!

Did Spending Money Make Me Happier?

Obviously no.  I was happy before the mad money!  What I did find interesting is that spending this money was hard!  That even looks ridiculous as I type it out but I’m dead serious when I say that I didn’t feel like I had been going without.  I didn’t feel like here was my chance to buy everything I’d been eyeing but not purchasing so I could make my budgets.  My husband even said the same thing.  I told this to my mom and she said it was because we have a hard time treating ourselves.  She’s wrong.

We’re always treating ourselves!  We love riding our bikes on Saturday.  It’s quiet.  We have the whole trail to ourselves and we’re in the sun outside.  We don’t run errands on the weekend.  We make huge cups of coffee and just hang out together with our Pekingnese** on our laps until lunch time.  These are our favorite things to do.  We used to spend all Saturday running all over creation in our car.  Why?  I don’t know.  We call our weekends “mini vacations”.  It’s. Awesome.

I’m still grateful for the check and will absolutely enjoy what we’re buying but they are luxurious to us!  Even though we bought used or had to work to find discounts.  I enjoyed the bargain hunting and I enjoyed just window shopping!  Mostly I just enjoyed getting that check because it came with very nice compliments and appreciation for my hard work.  Everything else is just gravy.

Have you gotten unexpected money recently?  What did you do with it?!

*Assuming you need to dry clean it because you’re buying quality pieces.  If not then wash and dry on the hottest setting.


Lazy Sunday Pekingese
Lazy Sunday Pekingese