Bonus Time

I had my sit down “yearly review” with my boss the other day [….] it went fairly well.  He laid my bonus on me, which I was estimating to be around $35k.  I’ve only worked at this new company for a little over 7 months and I had my bonus from my other company in March – which was about $32k.

I was floored when he handed me a piece a paper that said $52,500!  Not only that, but they’ll take out my 10% 401k contribution and match their 10%.  So, sort of like $57,750.  With my bonus in March, I’ve grossed almost $90k in bonuses in 2013.

Now [….] how to spend it?  I want a tablesaw.  That was coming out of normal cash flow anyway.  We’ll use it to fund our big vacation in 2014 [….] more on that in another post, but it looks like India and Beijing for the time being [….] and the wife wants the rest of the bathrooms upstairs redone.  The rest, goes to taxable investments.

Most importantly [….] as Stephanie @ the Broke and Beautiful life spelled out [….] “DON’T BLOW IT!”

How do you spend your windfalls?

Saving Out

That’s my clever psuedo-portmanteau.  Clever eh?  Ok, it isn’t as bad when Tobias Funke from Arrested Development combined his analyst and therapist professions.  I’ll let you guys and gals google that one, as the humor comes off much better in party talk than written chatter.

So what is Saving Out?!  I guess I could have named it “Working Money”  [….] wah-wah [….] It is saving money while working out.  I’m on a crusade to get back down to my “fighting weight,” and watching what I eat is one part of it.  The other part of it is exercise.  I do take advantage of my employer’s offer to cover 1/2 of a local gym membership.  So, that is $60/month which is taken right out my paycheck.  Not really saving money there, but I enjoy the warm shower, occasionally a steam room [….] aka “The CEO workout” [….] and an opportunity to workout.  Which, as you may have picked up on, I don’t do very much.

The other little perk I get is my employer will pay for either a parking space downtown or my public transportation.  When I moved into the new house a couple weeks ago, I thought I would drive into work every day.  I’ve commuted by bicycle for the last 4 years (and the last 6 months I would take the lightrail every once in a while), so this was going to be a big change for me.  I hopped in my car for the 15 mile journey downtown at 7:15 am.  And I missed my 8 am meeting.  I quickly realized, driving isn’t saving me any time as I could easily ride my bike in about the same time frame, +/- 15 minutes [….] more on the plus side :).

Then this happened.


And that is a warm day compared to the last week.  A lot of temps in the morning were sub-zero.  In fact, I do a lot of work in North Dakota, and Denver was matching a lot of the low’s in Minot.  But, I still rode my bike everyday.

Luckily, it is kind of a challenging ride in the morning, but a lot of the ride is downhill.  So, enough to get my heart pumping, but easy enough to get me to work in a decent time.  Going home, I have a few more options:  1) I can ride home (which I have not yet done), 2) I can take the light rail and ride 7 miles back home and 3) I can take a bus and have a 2-3 mile bike ride back in on roads that are pretty calm [….] All of the options are reversible as well.  I like using option number 3 for the trip home and it takes me just about an hour door-to-door.  Not too shabby.  I pop in my headphones and listen to some of my favorite and free podcasts, maybe doze off and I’m home after a 3 mile ride.

So, for no cost to me – throw in the $60 for the gym membership if you want – I get exercise and I “get” to fill up my car 6 times a year.

How do you commute to work?  Do you save money by working out (saying being healthy saves money in the long run doesn’t count)?

Weight Loss and Blog Roundup #1

I’ve been back to tracking caloric intake and burn with My Fitness Pal.  If you haven’t used it, it is amazing.  Especially if you are like me and a little rolly-polly right now.  You can scan barcodes on what you eat and it pulls up all the nutritional information.  It truly is the single best tool for weight lost.

I started the week at 245 lbs (244.6 if you must really know).  Currently, I am down to 240 lbs.  That’s over 4 lbs this week, which is good considering all the holiday candy staring at me in the office.  Caloric intake this week – Mon thru Thurs – was 12,517 and Caloric burn (with estimated Basal Metabolic Rate) was 13,984.  I burned 1,467 calories in 4 days.  I rode my bicycle about 86 miles this week, so not too shabby.

Onto the good stuff.  Below are some blog posts worth your precious weekend time (you can even burn a couple calories reading) [….]

Matt @ Mom and Dad Money continues his brave journey to getting people to think more about life and disability insurance policies.  Totally worth the time, especially if you think your coverage from work is [….] that’s not a mistake [….] adequate.

The PoP’s are having one of those civil “discussions” between husband and wife [….] my money is on Mrs. PoP.  But, they are asking the correct questions when it comes to having a cash pile – how much do I keep in cash? 

Amanda @ the giraffe life is working out in the cold.  My hat is off to her!

FI fighter asks, “Do you really need to budget?

Andrew @ Living Rich Cheaply has an excellent post on judging a book by its cover.  Or maybe we should?  Wait?!  Or don’t we?  Or, HOW do we?

Happy Weekend [….] Merry Christmas (whispering)

What’s your favorite Christmas Song?

Getting $*@% Done

I’ve got a co-worker who can’t seem to get her crap together.  “I’m still working on that.”  “I’m really busy.”  “I know I’m late, I’ll get to it later this week.”  She seems to have a thousand irons in the fire.  Many go in the fire, but very few get pulled out to be finished off.  She drives me nuts (that, is another story).

One the other hand, I have another co-worker who gets his stuff done.  Before another task is started, one is crossed off the list.  I haven’t been in career mode long [….] just under 9 years [….] and co-worker #2 is the second individual I have met who gets tasks done.  It is a skill, it is a talent to cover that much ground – and I am envious.

I’ve been trying to learn this skill for years.  What I’ve found is 2 main things need to happen: 1) Know what needs to be done and 2) finish the hard stuff.

My wife recently asked me to remodel a bathroom (more on that in another post).  I could have easily knocked it out in a weekend.  But the way to do it in a weekend – insert shower, paint the walls and switch toilet to a tall toilet – would not have made my wife happy.  On the other hand, she didn’t want me cutting studs from rough sawn lumber.  If you don’t know what needs to be done, you can’t finish tasks [….] you either don’t do enough, in which case you do not pass go and you do not collect $200, or you spend too much time doing unnecessary tasks.  Identifying what qualifies as completing the task is key to getting tasks done – just like Goldilocks, you need to find out what is just right.

Second, you need to finish the hard stuff.  I firmly believe the 80/20 rule applies here.  When you have a task in front of you, 80% of it will come easy, and take 20% of the time.  20% of it is difficult, and takes 80% of the time.  The difficult part is where we typically fizzle out.  Take my bathroom remodel for example, the plumbing ate my lunch.  I spent an entire Saturday trying to plumb in the drain [….] I thought it would take an hour.  But, I persevered and wouldn’t quit until it was done.  It took time (and about 5 trips to Home Depot), it was frustrating but I didn’t move on until it was done.  To get tasks done, you have to power through the hard stuff.

We’ve all been guilty at one time or another of moving on to another task without finishing what we are currently working on.  It’s the easy thing to do.  The hard thing is to finish the task we are working on.  Trust me, it’s a skill and talent.

Do you know someone who just “gets things done?”  What do you think drives them to do it?

To pack a lunch or not pack a lunch….

[….] that is the question.

In the PF blog world, I’m sure many see it as a slam dunk – pack a lunch.  Before we go there, let’s discuss my lunch yesterday.

  • I went out.
  • I ate Sushi.
  • I ate a lot of Sushi (like I do once a week).
  • There was more Sushi than we could all handle.
  • I didn’t spend a dime.

I’ve been at my new job for just over 1/2 a year now and I have eaten out every single day.  That is correct, I have never once brought a lunch from home.  And I can count, on one hand, the number of times I had to run down to Chipotle for a $6.25 burrito.  So in 6 months of work, I have spent no more than $37.50 on lunch.  How is this possible?  Well, in 2014 I am responsible for delving out almost $100MM of my company’s money and A LOT of other companies want this money.  Combine this with my super busy work day and lunch is a convenient time for me to meet with people (along with about 4-5 other vendors during the day).

In essence, I would spend money to pack a lunch in.  I won’t lose sleep over the $10-$20/week I would spend if I were to pack a lunch.  And I’ve got that first world problem of I am getting tired of all the restaurants downtown (sushi not included).  All that is tolerable.  Less tolerable is having me or my wife pack something the night before.  But the real reason is my weight.  This spring, I lost about 35 lbs and got closer to my “fighting weight.”  I’m now back at my weight before I went on my diet this spring.  I’m not obese, I’m still active, but I would like to be a little more competitive at the sports I enjoy, namely cycling.

So, in an effort to lose some weight and get home a little earlier, I am going to pack a lunch twice a week.  We’ll see how it goes [….]

Do you pack a lunch?  What is your cost?

Black Friday Virginity Lost

2013 will be my wife and my fifth Christmas together.  Ahhh…!  3 of the years we have managed to put up a Christmas tree, and those were the more recent years due to either having children or wanting children.  My original hesitation was the actual act of getting all the Christmas schwag out (to put it away some 6 weeks later).  My mother in law has a 4 year rotation of her Christmas glitz, and the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  Getting out all the Kitsch was one thing, but putting up the tree was another.  After we got the tree out of storage last year my wife and I looked at each other, let out a sigh and we said the same thing we’ve said since marriage, “we need a new tree.”

My wife has owned the same tree for 17 years.  It was a major PITA.  Some of the limbs were broken, so I’d have to try and make them blend in the best I could.  Not to mention the lights.  That’s right, after spending at least an hour getting the tree in an upright position, I’d have to get the lights on.  The first challenge would be my wife’s old lights which were wired in series (if one light goes out, they all go out).  Invariably, what would transpire over the next 3+ hours would be at least one trip to Walmart for a new strand or two of lights.  If I was lucky, I’d only burn half a day to put up the tree and get lights on it.

For years I had looked at after Christmas sales for a new tree, but nothing ever blew my skirt up.  I was in Burma last year for Black Friday and my sister, who was also lusting after a new Christmas Tree, had missed out on the deal running around to other places with my parents.  So I knew the deal and was happy when Home Depot ran the same thing they did in 2012.  I had my eyes on this pre-lit beauty for a while.  $69 for a $200 tree.  I used a Lowe’s 10% off coupon that Home Depot will usually match, so I was around $62 and change.  Plus, HD didn’t collect my Lowe’s coupon (and it has been used a couple times since then)!  And as always, I bought it with a gift card.

My father and I arrived at 4:30 am for the 5 am opening.  We were third in line, and third to want to the tree.  But, news they had almost 40 of them quickly calmed us down.  I decided at this price I would buy 2 with the intent of not having to return for another 34 years.

The new tree went up in about 10 minutes, and was a dream come true.  10 minutes later, the tree was vertical, lights and all.  A 4+ hour task just now became 10 minutes.  Point for the good guy!

What were your Black Friday Adventures?