2020 Recap

2020 was a crazy year. No question about that! Our finances shifted some, but not any major changes. My great plan from the end of last year of learning how to travel hack turned out to not be timely! Here’s my 2020 recap:

2020 recap
  • In my 2019 recap I anticipated we would spend $55k in 2020. We came in just above that at $59k. Slightly higher than anticipated, but I was still happy with our spending. The top of the list was Home followed by Food & Dining.
  • Our net worth increased by 30%, not as great as 2019 but we are still moving in the right direction.
  • My goal of learning how to travel hack in 2020 went on the back burner.

We checked off all the boxes in terms of maxing out 401k’s, IRA’s, etc and right at the end of the year in December I discovered my husband had been eligible for an HSA for YEARS! Here’s the link for eligibility requirements. He never opened it or contributed. We opened and funded his HSA for 2020 and now we are beginning to fund it for 2021. That was probably the financial highlight of 2020 for me! It was incredibly easy to setup. One form to his employer and it was then setup. I have started tracking receipts in the app and investing the HSA money as well. Here’s where ours is setup, but there’s many great places. I’m very excited about triple tax benefits!

I’m hopeful for 2021 and continuing to move towards FI. How was your 2020 and what are you looking forward to in 2021?

How much does Century Home maintenance cost?

My husband and I have lived in our Century Home a year and a half now. I previously posted about our home repairs during the first 6 months of ownership where we had $3,460 in expenses. So, how much does Century Home maintenance cost now? For 2020 thus far our maintenance cost comes in at $3,700.

century home maintenance

I was sitting at our kitchen table working from home enjoying the peace and quiet when I heard a dripping sound. I walk over to our sunroom and there it is water dripping from the ceiling down to the floor. This can’t be good!

water dripping
Water dripping into our sunroom

I contact the handyman and send him pictures and a video of the leak. He came out to tarp the roof, send me pictures of all the patches coming up, and provide me a quote of $2850 for full replacement of our flat roof area.

Additional issues

It’s never that easy though. As he started the tear off there were signs of insects, rotted boards that needed replaced, and more soft sheets than originally quoted to raise the height of the roof. More money, ugh!

insect damage on roof
Insect damage

The exterminator came out the same day and cost $250 for treatment. The extra sheets and board replacement hiked up our roof cost an additional $600. How much does Century Home maintenance cost? Here we go!

Our Home Maintenance Cost

  • $1,000 roof deposit
  • $600 additioanl roof charge
  • $250 exterminator
  • $1,850 roof remainder

That brings our total of home maintenance thus far this year in at $3,700, or averaging $740/month. I’m writing this in hopes that it helps someone plan for these type of expenses. $740 each month is a lot of money! These older homes have a lot of charm but also a lot of unforeseen issues. Do you save for home maintenance expenses? How much are you spending in home maintenance? I’d love to hear your experience!

home maintenance

Zero-Waste Product Swaps for Beginners

There’s a few products I have been using that over time actually save us money and strive towards zero-waste. Instead of buying items over and over I have only purchased these once. These are easy zero-waste product swaps for beginners. I am definitely a beginner in the zero-waste area but was inspired by this great book, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste Paperback.

zero-waste product

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links. This means I may receive receive a small commission when you click a link. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It is of no cost to you and helps me run this site. I only promote products I believe are great products!

Stasher Bags Replace Sandwich & Freezer Bags

zero waste stasher bag

I first ordered stasher bags over 2 years ago. I use them as sandwich baggies for packing my lunch and also for freezing meats. I have put them in the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. You can even write on them with dry erase marker. No more buying baggies!

Zero waste stasher bag

Brush Replaces Sponges

This brush is meant for vegetable washing, but it works perfect for dishes and replacing your sponge. I purchased mine 10 months ago and it’s still going strong! About every week or so I put it in a boiling pot of water and vinegar to clean.

Brush replaces sponge

Metal Straws Replace Plastic

I recently bought metal straws to replace a plastic straw that came with a glass. They have been easy to clean and a good substitute for my plastic straw that warped in the dishwasher.

Cloths for Makeup Removal Replace Cotton rounds

No more buying cotton rounds! I switched to these cloth squares and they work perfectly for removing makeup. Once one is dirtied it goes in my hamper and eventually into the washing machine. The exact ones I purchased are no longer available, but here’s a similar option.

cloths for makeup removal

Handkerchiefs Replace Tissues

I don’t know how we ever got away from the old school handkerchief, but I am bringing them back. I keep them in a little basket on our kitchen island and we use as needed and then they hit the hamper.

Wool Dryer Balls Replace Dryer Sheets

Instead of buying and using dryer sheets we’ve switched to wool dryer balls. I’ve had these almost a year and a half and the product description says they should typically last 2-4 years.

wool dryer balls

You can start little by little making these product swaps toward zero-waste! Over time it will pay off in your budget by purchasing less recurring items. If you have additional product swaps for beginners please let me know in the comments!

3 Fun Ways To Get Through Stay-at-home

This has been a crazy time. There’s so much negativity online and on TV I thought I’d share 3 fun ways to get through stay-at-home.

3 fun ways to get through stay-at-home

Here’s the 3 fun ways helping me to get through stay-at-home.

  1. Plant seeds and start a garden
  2. Virtual happy hours with friends
  3. Exercise

Plant seeds and start a garden

I’ve never had a green thumb, but with time on my hands I gave it a shot 3-4 weeks ago. I planted cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and rainbow peppers in pots. It took a few weeks but they are all sprouting!

start a garden
Seeds starting to sprout in the containers

Virtual happy hour with friends

A couple of my best friends are spread out geographically and I can’t believe we needed a pandemic to realize virtual happy hours are possible. It’s so much fun! Not to mention budget friendly.

wine for virtual happy hour


I’m on a mission to exercise like crazy in April. I have a bike that I love! Learn about my $310 setup here. A treadmill too if I need a change. My treadmill was a Craiglists buy years ago for around $100 and it’s still with me! When the weather cooperates I’m able to get in a lunchtime walk or run around the neighborhood while listening to my favorite podcasts.

cycling bike
Cycling bike at home

Even if you don’t have a bike or treadmill at home there’s core and other strength workouts on the Peloton app that I am loving. If you sign up by the end of April they have a free 90 day trial. It’s nice to be able to pick a duration to filter workouts, so if I only have 5 or 10 minutes I still have tons of options. If you don’t want to give the app a try you can simply search Youtube for core workouts or whatever you are looking for in terms of exercise.

That’s a wrap, but I’d love to hear how you are finding fun and joy at home!

Aspen & Snowmass Colorado

I recently enjoyed a long weekend in Aspen/Snowmass Colorado. Here are a few recommendations regarding accommodations as well as food and drink!

Aspen colorado airport
Arriving at the Aspen Airport

Accommodations: We stayed at The Westin Snowmass Resort. It was a perfect ski in and ski out location for the Mr and easy for me to walk around Snowmass. The Westin had a lounge that included breakfast and afternoon snacks and drinks. Our room had a mini fridge and a small balcony.

Transportation: There’s an SMS bus that’s free and goes between Snowmass and Aspen. I took the bus multiple times, first from the Airport to Snowmass just a couple minute walk to hotel from Snowmass Mall, and then to and from Aspen.

Food/Drink: There’s a few places I recommend that were wonderful.

  • Paradise Bakery & Cafe: A recommendation from Keeping up with the Bulls was a success (thanks!). I enjoyed a rich brownie and window shopping around Aspen with an Americano.
paradise bakery aspen
Paradise Bakery & Cafe Treats
  • Hops Culture: I met the Mr here after he skiied Aspen. It’s in a basement but had great $4 draft beer specials and food specials. I recommend the pretzel bites!
  • J Bar at Hotel Jerome: I stopped in and ordered mulled wine. Great service, wine, and ambiance. Somewhere between classy and old world cowboy if that’s even possible!
J bar Aspen
Mulled wine at J Bar

All in all it was a wonderful long weekend to Aspen/Snowmass Colorado! Any tips you have to share for visiting Aspen or Snowmass?

Travel gallery wall on a budget

travel gallery
Recently completed travel gallery wall

I love traveling the world and wish I could even more! I did not quite know how to incorporate traveling into our home. After some research I started creating a travel gallery wall on a budget and just finished hanging it up.

The all in total was about $185 including tax. Not too shabby for reminding me of some amazing vacations including Carcassonne honeymoon, Ireland, & Mont Saint Michel.

Have you found other ways to incorporate travel into your own home?

Is Misfits Market worth it?

We have been using Misfits Market for a few months now. We have needed to skip quite a few due to travel so on average 1 box/month. Here’s what arrived in our last box.

misfits market product
Last box from Misfits Market
  • Onion (x2)
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • Mango
  • Cucumber (x4)
  • Green beans
  • Apples (x3)
  • Oranges (x5)
  • Grapefruit
  • Potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots

All of these are organic and including shipping cost $26.50. I think it’s worth it and better pricing than organic produce at the grocery store. A few benefits are we eat healthier because it’s in our fridge and we don’t want any to spoil, we save food from the landfill, and we’re adventurous looking up new recipes.

Have you tried Misfits Market or a similar subscription? If you’d like to try Misfits you can receive 25% off by using code COOKWME-LY8XZD. By using the code I’ll receive 25% off my next box as well, win-win!

Cycling at home for much less than $2,000

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links. This means I may receive receive a small commission when you click a link. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It is of no cost to you and helps me run this site. I only promote products I believe are great products!

home cycling bike setup
My cycling at home setup in our office.

I have enjoyed cycling/spinning classes for 5+ years. All the commercials had me dreaming of buying a fancy cycling bike. I could not bring myself to spend that much, $2,000+, so I went a cheaper route. Here’s how I have been cycling at home for much less than $2,000. 

Bike – Sunny Health & Fitness Belt Bike with 49 lb flywheel

Cadence meter – Wahoo RPM Cycling Cadence Sensor

Subscription – I’m trying the Peloton free 30 day subscription currently, then going to their $12.99/mo. 

Break even point, 10 months – $310 in the bike and meter. I was paying around $11/class x4/month = $44/month. Switching to the subscription of $13/month, so my break even is about 10 months.

10 workouts completed thus far in less than a month and I’m loving it! Here are some of the aspects I find awesome:

  • Flexibility in picking the duration of the workout (wide variety 5-90 minutes, but I usually stick to 20-30 minutes)
  • Genre of music (Pop, country, hip hop, etc)
  • No need to drive to the spinning class

I monitor cadence with the sensor reporting to a free wahoo app on my phone to keep with the instructor. While I do not have a way of monitoring resistance number compared to the instructor I follow by feel and cadence and it has worked well for me.

Have you considered setting up to cycle at home? Do you have any questions on my at home setup?

Money Date – 2019 Recap

The Mr. and I just had an at home money date recently to recap 2019. I highly recommend them! Prepare dinner, pour yourselves some wine, and open up those spreadsheets.

money date

Here’s the list of what we looked at and discussed:

  • Reviewed 2019 Spending by Category -We use Mint and login to review. Our top hitters were housing at $24k and travel at 10k. We paid off our mortgage in September, which is roughly $18k of the $24k in 2019.
  • Net Worth – I keep this spreadsheet updated quarterly and pull the info from Mint and simply logging into accounts. Increase of 44% in the past year wahoo!
  • 2020 Spending Estimate by Category – This is another spreadsheet sheet and we use 2019 as a baseline and create a spending estimate by category. We made a few tweaks based on discussion. Our estimate for 2020 is around $55k.
  • Overall Goals-We talk overall goals, 2020 and beyond. Our biggest daunting goal we set is having $1.5M in non-retirement accounts (beyond 2020 goal).

I’ve learned from the FI community about travel hacking and that’s an area I have yet to jump into and should given our 10k/year travel spending. 2019 was such a great year in the market and our finances. C’mon 2020 you have big shoes to fill!

Rouen France 2019

We’ve been planning a week in France to visit the D Day Beaches & Normandy and stay in Rouen, France. We made the trip in November 2019 over Thanksgiving week.

Rouen France

Rouen is an easy 1 hour train ride from Paris Saint Lazare Station. We walked to our hotel, Hotel de Bourgtheroulde (Marriott property). It was a perfect location in town and had a wonderful breakfast buffet.

Rouen Christmas Market
Rouen Christmas Market

Rouen was a beautiful town with a Christmas market (we learned we love vin chaud) and a lot of history. We saw where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and the church built.

Joan of Arc
Where Joan of Arc was burned
Joan of Arc church
The stained glass comes from a 16th century church that was next door to where this church is now. The stained glass windows stored during the war.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel was a 3 hour drive but very worth a visit! There were only a few cars in the parking lot when we went in November.

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel in the distance
Mont Saint Michel
We made it!

We walked to the Abbey on the top and toured it.

From inside the Abbey

Bayeux France

And this is where our trip went down an unexpected path. We planned on driving back to Rouen, but the Mr. suggested we just find a hotel local nearby, see the D Day beaches tomorrow, and then drive back to Rouen. It saved us time and gas money, but I was 0% prepared (I’m all for saving $ though). For 55 Euros we stayed the night at Hôtel Château de Bellefontaine in Bayeux.

Chateau in Bayeux
Beautiful place to stay
wild boar filet in france
Wild boar filet with side dishes for dinner
Calvados in France
After dinner sitting by the fireplace sipping Calvados  (apple brandy from Normandy).

We woke up and walked around the town, enjoyed breakfast, and then drove for Omaha Beach.

Omaha Beach

We walked down the beach together. Neither of us said a word. Many thoughts and prayers for the brave that were there so many years ago.

omaha beach france
Omaha Beach
Omaha beach france
Omaha beach – the monument in the distance

American Cemetery: The American Cemetery is near and overlooks Omaha beach.

american cemetery france
American Cemetery

We are very thankful for those that served and those serving now. Thank you!

cemetery france

That’s a wrap on our Rouen France 2019 trip. If you plan to go and have any questions I’m happy to answer them!