Goals for 2016

The New Year is nigh and like every other individual basking in the guilt of holiday over-indulgence I have goals for the New Year. But this year I plan on being SMARTer!

SMART: Specific/Measurable/Actionable/Realistic*/Time-Based

I’m keeping my goals broad and few so that I don’t get overwhelmed.


  • Save and Invest $50,000


  • Get to and Maintain 145 lbs
  • Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

GOAL 1: SAVE AND INVEST $50,000 (Specific and Measurable)

Action Steps:

  • Go down to $80/week from $140/week
  • Continue to max out 401k for a total of $18,000
  • Invest (an average of) $1333 biweekly
  • Alternate between credit cards with points to earn rewards and cashback, instead of using cash
  • Weekly Friday Budget & Goal Review (to be blogged)

Is it Realistic?

There is so little wiggle room here, it’s almost absurd.  But if you are going to aim, aim high! It really depends on me maintaining cordial relations with my current roommate (so far not a problem) and having no financial upsets or splurges (but the former is what Emergency Funds are for).

I do have at least two international trips planned this year (one of which may or may not happen depending on scheduling). I’d also like to visit family in California at least once. Using a combination of airline points and savings from the sale of my car this year, the trips should be covered (not gonna lie: a tiny chunk of my Emergency Fund may be tapped).

Time Bound: Basically by December 31, 2016 I should have invested $50,000


The upper limit of my normal BMI is 155. The older I get, the (MUCH) harder it gets to lose weight. I certainly don’t want to get to FIRE only to take on a bunch of weight-related health issues. The steps I plan on taking to achieve this goal will also help with my hypertension.  I’m not gonna lie: I also want to be kinda hot for my age. This goal gives me plenty of fudge room to enter FIRE looking and feeling good.

Action Steps:

  • Stick to oatmeal each weekday morning until I get to 155
  • Limit of 1 cafe mocha and 1 cider at work per day
  • Count calories with Lose it!
  • Continue regular morning workout routine
  • No eating/drinking after work except [insert biweekly social group here]

Is it Realistic?

I currently weigh 166. February 19  may 27 is 20 weeks from January 1, which sets means I’d have to lose  1-2 pounds a week.  Shame on me if I can’t manage that.

Maintaining 145 should be even easier since my calorie allowance will actually go up.

Time Bound: February 19 May 27, 2016


Action Steps:

  • Walk to farthest end of the subway station entrance
  • Get off 2 stops early coming home (only exceptions are rain and snow and illness/injury)
  • Take phone (w/step counter) every time I walk to track steps
  • If there is extra time in the morning, walk around


Is it Realistic?

This will be MUCH easier on the weekend than during the week. I’m still enamored of this city and want to explore as much as I can during my off days. I’ve already had days where I get to 20,000 steps. Of course, I the number of times I get up just to get coffee/go to the restroom, might make up for the difference at work.  Getting off two stops early will definitely do it.

Time Bound: Daily

So there you have it.  What are your SMART goals for the year?


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Weekly Post Sneeze, Sniff, Cough: 12/5/15-12/11/15

NY Botanical Garden

Botanical Booze: Saturday night I made the trek up to the New York Botanical Garden (really should be called the Bronx Botanical Garden) simply because I somehow ended up on a page that told me about the Holiday Train Show and the (adults only) Bar Car Nights.  Minature replicas and booze?  I was sold!…for the price of $35.

Sicko!: And….that’s when the sickness set in.  It’s 10 days and counting and today I head off to the doctor to see “What’s up, doc!” ha, ha, ha (but not really…I want to die right now).  Fortunately, my job has a one-time free visit to a practice here so I can get some antibiotics and be done with this cursed plague!

So other than buying out my local grocer of Progresso Chicken & Rotini…and then discovering Chicken & Orzo w/ Lemon! and Chickarina w/ Meetballs, and liters of Sprite to drown this thing out when I got sick of water no spending this week.

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Weekly Post Tis the Season!: 11/29/15-12/4/15

Brookfield Plaza Lights

David Rockwell Holiday Installation at Brookfield Plaza

Stress-Free Christmas: I sent out my yearly reminder that I expect no gifts from my family. Spend the money on yourselves instead, thank you very much. Especially as I won’t be able to make it home this year. Frankly, once the kids are grown, why stress yourself out dealing with the malls and stores and wrapping and yadda, yadda, yadda? I suspect people who are into all that are semi-masochistic (most recent Black Christmas fiasco for reference). Bah Humbug.

Discovered!: A friend from Houston somehow discovered my twitter account and followed me.  It’s only a skip and a jump from there to here. Ah well, it was bound to happen at some point.  All I ask is that you don’t use my real name here.  The pretense of anonymity must be maintained.  Welcome, J!

Roll-Over: Since McCready & Keene wasn’t updating on Personal Capital (or responding to any of my messages!) I decided to roll-over on them…straight into a Vanguard Account.  We’ll see how long (and how much money) this takes.

Mixing Work and Pleasure: Tonight is the holiday party for my job.  At a snazzy hotel with an open bar.  Quite the step up from the catered lobby event (with a strict two-drink limit) of my old place.



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November 2015 Report: Month 7/150

Brooklyn Bridge

NET WORTH: $154,040 +7.5%

Life Lately: As you can see there is a substantial uptick in my Net Worth this month.  Yes, it’s a combination of getting a shiny new salary upgrade (combined with a low COL in a high COL area)…but it’s also attributed to my retirement accounts with my old employer not being updated in Personal Capital; more on this below.

Otherwise…New York city is AWESOME!  I’ve been doing the touristy thing before I get too jaded (all within budget of course). Also eating way too much, but ditching the car has certainly helped in that arena.  There is a reason why there are so few fat New Yorkers!


  • Salary: Obviously.  I mentioned a 50% increase in pay.  But I’ve managed a living situation where I pay only $800/mo in Brooklyn. This leaves a veritable shit ton left to invest.
  • Challenge: I felt confident enough with my current spending levels to have joined a group on the MMM forum to save $50K in 2016.  This means sticking it out with the roommate situation, despite every bone in my body longing for solitude.
  • Birthday!: $100 gift card to Chipotle and Starbucks from mom.  $100 Amazon gift card from dad. A text message from my sister.
  • Mcready and Keene:  This was the new administrator for my old employer’s 403b accounts. Hell if I could get them to respond to any message, which leads me to beleive that they are responsible for the lack of updates in Personal Capital . At any rate, I want my accounts in one place (and updated!) so I’m rolling it all over.  I just have to figure out if I want to go aggressive (VTSAX) or play it save with a date fund.


  • Shady ex-employers: There was some new system incorporated last year at my old employer where we (supposedly) got 2 paychecks and now that I’m gone I have to pay the second one back.  Hence my finally pay check not being quite up to snuff with what I thought it should be.  Debating on whether to pick this battle.
  • Consumption: In the form of food. I spent way too much on Shake Shack (despite it’s obvious inferiority to In-n-Out Burger). I spent way too much on Indian food. Beer at the grocery is comparatively expensive.  Beer in the bar is comparatively cheap.  Go figure.  At any rate: back to oatmeal and bringing my lunch to work!  All this walking is going to help only so much.
  • COBRA Insurance: I paid $17 via my subsidized employer health plan.  Now that I’ve left the flock, the $900/mo (cadillac plan) is all on me.  I tried looking into the whole AVA deal-i0 but they wouldn’t let me start until January.  So the next 45 days are gonna be a drain!
  • Birthday!: $50 Amazon.com gift card to my sister. She texted me to say thanks.

IN SUM: I’m very excited to get going on this $50K in 2016 challenge.  Although, I am cheating by using $5500 of my car sale money for the IRA portion.  Keeping my food and beer intake in check should help with everything else.  December should be slow on the homefront.  No vacation so no trips planned.

December Goals: 

  1. Get to 150lbs (lets be realistic)
  2. Stay within my $140/week budget
  3. Rollover old 403b plan into Vanguard IRA

November Wins/Fails:

  1. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale  Carnegie as part of my plan to move up in my career. Done!
  2. Okay, 145 lbs for realsies! Fail!
  3. Stick to $100 a week budget (not including recurring expenses and gas). Draw (I upped my budget to $140 for COL changes).
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Weekly Post: Birthday Week!


Interesting Pink Circles at 77 Water Street

This week I turn 38. This means I have exactly 11 years (or rather 10 years and ~364 days) to retire before 50.

Net Worth Glitch: For some reason Personal Capital has not been able to update one of my retirement accounts.  It’s been about a 6 week lag so I decided to check in directly with the site.  turns out, I have met my end of the year goal to reach $150K Net Worth!

Birthday Bump: Since my parents know whats up when it comes to presents, suffice it to say that for the next few weeks/months, I don’t have to worry about: The Latte Factor at Starbucks; how much more Chipotle costs in NYC; and what next to buy from my Amazon.com wishlist (although, tbh, I’ll probably end up getting something absurdly practical).

Birthday Export: Since my sister’s birthday is only 4 days after mine, you can subtract $50 from my Net Worth for her standard Amazon.com gift card.

The Roommate: If there is one thing that moving has taught me, it’s that I’m never happy with where I’m living. In a house? I hate having to mow the lawn and live in the suburbs.  In an apartment? I hate that I can’t paint the walls and redo the kitchen. Live alone? There’s too much space and what if I fall and can’t get up? Live with someone else? I hate having to be social and the lack of privacy.  Knowing this, I’m keeping my yearnings for solo living in check.  I pay $800/mo to live in NYfriggenCity! Get over it Oinkster…even if I desperately miss being solo at times.

Flithy Stinkin Rich: Have you ever dated someone so obscenely beyond your paygrade that it was mind boggling?  Moving to New York has put me back in touch with a skeleton from my past who at the time was in the middle of brokering a deal that netted him a commission of $2 million. Don’t get the wrong idea, nothing beyond coffee is ever happening at this point. I couldn’t tolerate the power dynamics and, suffice it to say, there’s a reason he’s labeled a skeleton.

Out There: In related news, I’m officially on the market.  There are far too many cool bars and places I want to go to without looking like the single female on the prowl (read: escort). Doing the bar thing solo is one area where I think men win out on. Despite this being one of the most populous cities on earth, meeting someone in passing just doesn’t happen…it doesn’t! OkCupid, here I come. Sigh…



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Weekly Post Nov 14-20: Taking Myself to the Cleaners and Other Adventures


Big Red Sculpture: 140 Broadway

I’ve decided to start a weekly post in addition to a monthly roundup. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my new employer has a firewall that blocks most of my usual workday time-wasters. Not at all.

Where does it all go?? Somehow at the end of last week I ended up with exactly 0 dollars despite having quite a few $20s in my purse throughout the whole week.  As such I have decided to keep a detailed account of my money this week.  See below.

Laundry Day: Down to my last pair of undies, I was finally forced to use the laundromat around the corner for the first time.  It also happens to be a dry cleaning business and (for a fee) they will also wash your clothes for you.  Ha, ha, no, I can load clothes and insert coins myself thank you very much. But apparently you can bargain on the dry cleaning part. I spent Sunday morning listening to Russians and Long Island folk in a spirited (and loud) bargaining session with the Asian owners until they all agreed on a price that most certainly was not the one plainly listed on the wall. I could learn a lot from these folks. Ah New York.

Back on Track: After indulging in all the gastronomic fare that NYC has to offer it is finally starting to catch up with me in the waistline department. Not to mention the bank account. It’s time for me to start bringing my lunch to work again and indulging in Starbucks only on weekends.

Gym Time: Speaking of waistlines, it has been 3 weeks since I’ve been at the gym.  At an average of 5,000 steps during the weekday and >10,000 on weekends, my rather indulgent diet has been kept somewhat in check.  But that is not enough! All the 24 Hour Fitness’s in New York are twice as much as Houston. My job offered a rather convenient option for $77, which was cheaper. But now I’m wondering what adding more steps a day plus a mini weight training workout in the morning might do.  Do I really need the gym?  This will be pondered while I see what the new and improved diet does for me. I will say this: 91 steps to get out of the Whitehall exit for the subway has certainly been favorable to my thighs and ass.

Pay Day: My first paycheck at my new job came last week.  Thanks to doing the math first in Paycheck City it wasn’t too much of a shock. This of course doesn’t factor in health/dental insurance, which will come to about 160/mo once it kicks in starting January.   Keeping up with my $1500 extra a month in my taxable account shouldn’t be too hard. I also received the last of my pay (vacation) from my old job: $385.07.

Cash Heavy: I still have all the money from the sale of my car in my bank account.  Yes, thank you Personal Capital, I know it’s wasting away there.  But I’m saving part of it to max out my IRA next year.  The other I’m keeping just in case I need to move into my own place and have to pay 1st/last/deposit all at once.

In the News: The New York Times had an article up about how 50% of New Yorkers  are barely getting by. I have an above average income for the city (when you factor out the mega-millionaires). I can’t imagine FIREing early if I struck out on my own instead of rooming with another (for what is still cheaper than what a lot of other roomies would pay).  I don’t know how someone on half my income could manage, even without contributing to their 401k. It’s insane here. (but I still love it)

Surprise Updates (Or Lack Thereof): My retirement account from my previous job for some reason wasn’t updating in Personal Capital. I didn’t think much of it as it was only about a month and a half behind.  Well, it turns out a month and a half makes all the difference. It was about $5,000 off from my Personal Capital Net Worth….pushing me right into my $150K Milestone!

Sunday: Lunch Food

  • Mustard: $2.99
  • Bread: $ 4.29
  • Pumpkin Ale: $10.99
  • Cheese: $4.99
  • Avocado: $1.25
  • Carrots: $.99
  • Cucumber: $.67
  • Bag of Spinach: $3.99
  • Alfalfa Sprouts: $ 1.99
  • Tomatoes: $1.02
  • Tomato: $1.00
  • Tax: $.98
  • TOTAL: $35.15

Monday: Metro

  • Metro Card Re-up (including $1 card purchase because I foolishly folded the prior one, making it un-usable): $32 (credit card purchase)

Tuesday: Political Meetup (and the dangers of drinking 1 beer too many)

  • 1 Beer: $6 (two others paid for by a generous individual of the male persuasion)
  • Tip: $3.00
  • Shake Shack Burger: $4.19 (to ward off hangover)
  • Shake Shack Cheese Fries: $3.95 (to ward off hangover)
  • Tax: $.72
  • TOTAL: $17.86

Wednesday: Lunch Food

  • Avocado: $1.25
  • Alfalfa Sprouts: $1.99
  • TOTAL: $3.24


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October 2015 Report: Month 6/150

{Pic Coming}

NET WORTH (11/12/15) : $143,345

Life Lately: Sorry for the delay in posting to all 0 of you reading this.  It’s been a whirlwind month of major life changes, all good.

Well I suppose the big news is: I moved to New York City! It was a complete fluke, but the bottom line is: my belief that putting it out to the universe works.  Obviously it’s more expensive here (e.g. $2 difference in price for a Chicken Salad Bowl at Chipotle), but my salary also increased substantially. Pretty much an increase of almost exactly 50%.  I have yet to see how much taxes obliterate that windfall.

UPs:  There are definite financial benefits that come along with moving from TX to NYC.  Unfortunately, most of them are one-time.

  • Obviously the first thing I did was sell the car: $11,000
  • Cancelled Auto Insurance, which gave me a refund for the unused portions: $213
  • When I found out the gym here was literally twice as much–CANCELLED!: $45 refund.

DOWNs:  Moving, no matter how much you swing it, costs money. No, the company didn’t pay for it.  But it was a good leasson in minimalism.  When all was said and done I was down to 7 boxes (1 for a beloved wreath alone), 2 suitcases, and 2 backpacks full of stuff.

  • Shipping Boxes to NYC: $230 (Note: $50 of this was for the box-o-wreath)
  • Flight + Checked Bag fees: $247
  • Car to and from airport: $102 (NYC Supershuttle is a total rip-off)
  • Increase in monthly rent to new roommate: $400 (still a steal at an overall cost of $800/mo).

IN SUM: I wanted to live in NYC and I’m here. There is obviously a cost-of-living adjustment upward in general but the major areas where it will hit the hardest are: Housing and Taxes. Nothing more I can do about the former than I already am (maxing out those tax-advantaged accounts!) but I fully plan on keeping the latter in check to at least maintain my process towards a 2027 FIRE date.  Right now I have a roommate who seems thrilled with me. I’m not sure how sustainable it is (both with the landlord and with my own sanity, I prefer living alone).  There are some quality deals to be had for solos, especially minimalists like me who actually prefer tiny spaces.

November Goals: 

  1. I think I may be able to swing for my $150K Net Worth Goal
  2. Join the gym I pay for through work…and develop a new schedule to incorporate it.
  3. Try a dating site.  At the very least I may get a new roomie out of it! (hence the financial aspect).

October Wins/Fails:

  1. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale  Carnegie as part of my plan to move up in my career. WIN! It is definitely a great book with quality, if a bit obvious, advice. It has already come in handy at work and with making new friends in NYC
  2. Okay, 145 lbs for realsies! FAIL.  Hitting up all my favorite TX haunts one last time, combined with farewell lunches/dinners/drinks but the kibosh on this one.
  3. Stick to $100 a week budget (not including recurring expenses and gas). FAIL. For the same reasons in #2.  The l
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