Hello friends! I got an email from a reader today (Hi Jean!) checking to make sure that nothing had happened to me, since my little blog world here has been so quiet. So I figured this would be a good time to check in with some quick updates on our life.
All is well! But every time I sit down at my computer, I have an opportunity to do paid work, and that’s hard to pass up – I’m making hay while the sun shines! I’m still working at the freelance job that I took in 2013, and still loving it. It’s truly a dream job, and I still can’t believe that I lucked into it. And I’m also writing for another insurance site now, in addition to writing the content for our own website.
The third job materialized last fall, and I debated for a while over whether to take it. My contract involves writing ten posts a month, and I knew it would be tough to fit that in around all of the writing I was already doing. But I decided to take the job, so for the last several months I’ve been writing constantly. I love what I do, but it’s a pretty non-stop pace. Hence the reason this little corner of the internet has been so dusty!
Open enrollment is an especially busy time for us, since all of our clients have to sort out their insurance for the coming year during the open enrollment period. But that just ended, so things have settled back down to a reasonable pace.
I’ve been working on our taxes today, and I’m just about finished with our corporate return. Mr. Money Mustache posted an article yesterday about why he hired out his tax return, and it made me feel good about our own tax setup. We established an S-Corp in 2006, and we’ve been using the salary + dividend model for the last decade (wow, time flies!).
I’m aware of the other trick MMM mentioned (splitting pay in an unequal manner between spouses, in order to minimize the amount paid for Social Security), but our income has never been high enough for that to be an issue – all of our salary would be subject to Social Security regardless of how we divided it up, especially since some of our corporation’s income is paid to us in dividends, with no FICA taxes.
Anyway, that MMM article reminded me that I’ve come a long way with my understanding of taxes and corporations :-)
We’ve been living frugally and steadily saving for quite a few years now. We’ve both been contributing to retirement accounts since 2001, and chipping away at our mortgage since 2003. We’ve had a taxable brokerage account since 2009 (initially earmarked as a place to keep the funds to pay off our mortgage, but now a place to stash money once we’ve maxed out our tax-advantaged accounts), and we’ve been contributing to 529 accounts for our sons since they were born. We’re still doing all the frugal things we’ve always done.
But other than occasionally checking in on the numbers, we never paid much attention to our actual net worth. In the early years of this blog, I used to write about it (in 2006, it was under $69,000), but for several years our approach was to just save as much as possible and ignore the balances. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what we did all throughout the 2009 – 2014 stock market boom.
And then – because my timing is stellar – I decided to start paying attention to our net worth last spring. I made a spreadsheet and started plugging in numbers in April 2015 :/ But the good news is that our cash assets have still managed to climb slightly over the last ten months, thanks to our ongoing contributions. And we’re not planning on pulling any money out of the market anytime soon, so market corrections don’t matter at this point.
Our boys are doing great. We just registered our younger son for kindergarten this week. He is so excited to go, although I already know I’ll have to hide my tears when he heads into the classroom on the first day. Our older son is in second grade, and they both amaze us all the time as we watch them growing up.
My handy husband hung our gymnastic rings from the vaulted ceiling in our living room, and also added a climbing rope. So our living room doubles as a jungle gym, which is awesome. Despite how busy work has been for both of us for the last few years, we’ve kept up with our workouts, thanks in large part to the fact that we have a gym in our basement – and now the rings and rope in our living room.
I’ve been working a lot on squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. I can squat 145 now, and deadlift 195 for reps. I weigh 118, and I’m working towards being able to squat 1.5 times my weight, and deadlift 2 times my weight. I can do ten pull-ups, and I’m working towards a muscle-up on the rings. So I have a long way to go, but I also remember when I was all about cardio and struggled to squat 70 pounds.
I’m finding that strength training is a lot like working towards financial independence… success depends on taking the long view, and making small, incremental progress. Progress isn’t entirely linear in either case, but once you’ve got some time under your belt, you can look back on where you’ve been and see how far you’ve come.
Speaking of time, next month will be the 15th anniversary of my first date with my husband. Asking him to go on that date was by far the best move I ever made :-)
So that’s what’s going on with us. Nothing too exciting, just a lot of work that keeps getting in the way of writing about our frugal lifestyle. But we are indeed maintaining all the same frugal habits we’ve developed over the years. The last time we went out to eat was when my mother in law took us out for my birthday, in August. We’re still a one-car family, and our first generation iPhone is still working great on our $10/month phone plan. We still buy everything used, and stash away a good chunk of our income each month.
I hope all is well with all of you too!
Thanks for the update! I have to admit I had forgotten about your blog – so glad I kept it in my feed reader :)
I often think of you and your frugal ways,FB!! :) so good to hear an update from you.
How did your garden fare last summer? you downsized from previous year .. did that work out well for you? we are planning to put some fruit trees next year. I’m thrilled about it.
I’m glad you are enjoying your paid writing job. How does one find a job like that? can u give me some pointers please.
Notes From The Frugal Trenches says
Lovely to read your update! So glad the boys are well.
Agreed with Kay re finding writing work – any tips greatly appreciated!
Thanks ladies! Both of the writing jobs found me, rather than the other way around. Both times, I wasn’t looking for extra work, but the businesses approached me with offers I couldn’t refuse.
I’ve been writing the content for our own business website since 2006, and got my first paid job doing that sort of writing in 2013. So I had written a whole lot of unpaid articles in a very niche topic before I ever got paid for writing them. Technically, I was getting paid by our corporation, because my husband and I have always split all the income from the business, and we were using the content I created as a way to attract and retain clients – but being paid by someone else just to write didn’t happen for several years.
I spend a lot of my time reading IRS regulations, HHS/CMS regulations, etc. and then turning them into stuff that’s easier/more interesting to read. I pick out the important points and highlight those, and I use my writing to answer questions that our clients ask – I always assume other people have similar questions, and that usually turns out to be the case.
I think the reason I get paid to write is because I work in a specialized area, and one that can bore a lot of people to tears – I don’t think everyone is excited to read IRS regulations on a Friday night :-) So if there’s an area where you’ve established yourself as an expert and it’s a topic that’s often confusing to the general public, you might find that there are writing opportunities available if you’re able to explain the subject in a way that interests people and answers their questions.
Best of luck!
Ah! That makes great sense. Thank you FB!
Thanks for the update! Long-time reader/lurker, and congrats on the additional writing gigs.
So hard to believe that your youngest is about to start kindergarten. I remember when you were making cloth diapers out of sweaters for your oldest! A lot of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging and I do miss their voices, yours being one of them. At least post a picture of the yard so we can see how tall the trees have grown since you broke ground? ;)
Noa Smith says
Great to here your update :)
Jean Lowe says
Hi again. I am the “Jean” who was looking for you before and now I have found you again. Love your blog and your lovely family. Keep sharing please