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It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time to examine last month’s finances. I'm excited that we're in March now – I'm hoping warm weather will the norm instead of the horrible winter we've been having.

Our Spending Habits in February

Compared to January, last month was pretty quiet in terms of spending. Our biggest expenses this month were:

  • Home (Mortgages, Extra Payments, HOA Fees, etc): $1,181.96
  • Bills/Utilities: $404.98
  • Food/Dining: $399.64

With visitors in town this month, we spent more eating out ($210.87) than we've done recently. I anticipate this decreases this month as we get back into our routine.

Checking & Savings

Our automatic deposits have went into our general joint savings to bulk it up in anticipation of the baby's arrival and into our car replacement fund. We keep our general savings and emergency fund in the same account, which may irritate some, but we have a limit on how many savings accounts we want to track.

We've committed to a set monthly payment of $400/month for our car fund with a goal of saving $5,000 this year.

Retirement Accounts

We’re not planning on making any changes to our retirement contributions this year. Instead we’re keeping our automated contributions in place while we focus on our other financial goals.

How about you? Do you have any plans for your retirement funds this year? It’s a new year, so go ahead and see if you can increase your contributions this year compared to 2010. If you’re not sure how much you can contribute to your retirement accounts, here are the current annual limits:

  • 401K – $16,500
  • Roth IRA – $5,000
  • Traditional IRA – $5,000

Our Cars

Both cars seem to be doing well. We've had no repairs to do, we just need to take care of our fluid levels on the vehicles. In case you’re wondering how I calculate the vehicles’ values, I used Kelly Blue Book. Every quarter I’ll update the values to account for depreciation, so you should see an adjustment next month.

Since we  don't have car loans, our cars are just assets on our family’s little spreadsheet. It's nice not to have debts on them. We're hoping to get the next car sometime next year, so we'll continue to save up until we do it.

House and Mortgage

The mortgage payments are chugging along. As part of our usual routine, our automated extra principal payment ($150) was sent in on the 15th of the month. Here’s where we stand today with the mortgage:

  • Total Loan Amount: $112,007.21
  • Interest Rate: 5.00%
  • Loan Term: 30 years, fixed rate

I'm really proud about this. Right now, in the our first year we've paid down 9.2% of the mortgage. That's not including equity on the house  which makes it even better. If we continue to pay an additional $150/month, we’re looking at paying off the 30 year mortgage off in 18 years and 2 months! That’s for a total savings of $60,768.76 in interest!

We'd like to pay off our mortgage way before we decide to retire. We'd love to be able to direct that money into other interests and goals of ours down the road.

Student Loans

Nothing exciting or new, we’re just chugging along with the student loan payments. Payments have been automated so it’s been relatively easy to keep up with them; we just confirm payments have been made each month. I’m really happy that I consolidating my student loans earlier this year to take advantage of the lower rates.

As a reminder, if you’re interested in consolidating your federal student loans, there are 3 ways to do it:

  • Online: You quickly and easily file and submit your application online with Direct Loan Servicing.
  • Phone: You can also call Direct Loan Servicing and have someone walk you through the process at 1-800-557-7392.
  • Paper: The slowest to complete if you’re a procrastinator like me.

It’s easy to do and help is available for completing the application. For private student loans, you need to contact your lender to see what options you have available.

Monthly Summary

After tallying up all the accounts, I’m happy to report we increased our net worth a little bit more.

Net Worth (as of February 28, 2011): $48,055.05 (+$1,514.92)

Your Net Worth Update

I’d love to hear how it went for you and your financial goals. What’s your biggest goal for this year? How are you working towards your goals?

Photo Credit: borman818

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

7 comments add your comment

  1. Great increase this month Elle. Our biggest goal this year is to save a £6k ‘moving abroad expenses fund’, this has meant lowering our mortgage overpayments, but we need to have a cash buffer when we first get to Portugal.

    • Great idea Laura on building your reserves for the Portugal move. I can’t wait to see your progress this year 🙂

  2. Great job! What are your goals for the year? What are you doing with extra money every month made from online?

    • Our big goals for 1011 right now are:

      1. Bump Up Our Savings to 6 months or so to about $10k by June 30. We should reach our goal before then.
      2. Build Our Car Replacement Fund to by another $5k by December. That’s automated every month.
      3. Pay Down Student Loan by about $3k by December.

      My online income is used for our savings goals and I’m working hard to get some work done in anticipation of slowing down when the baby arrives. Guest posts will be welcomed with open arms this summer!

  3. Hey Elle,

    Nice work on the finances. Do you pay your home loan monthly or is it just an additional $150 you add per month? If you do pay monthly you should consider paying weekly or fortnightly instead – you’ll add a couple of extra repayments per year without even noticing 🙂