A Whole Pile of Updates

As we approach the end of the year, I figured I should update you on a bunch of topics that either A) I left hanging or B) you might find interesting.

Here we go!


At the beginning of the year, I set myself the goal of keeping my personal expenses under $30,000 for the year (or an average of $2,500 per month). This includes rent, health insurance, personal travel, clothing, etc.; it does not include money I spend on my business, nor does it include the money I put towards taxes and investments.

It looks like I’m going to achieve this particular goal—and if you’re curious about where my personal spending actually goes, here are the numbers:

It's a screenshot of my budget. I'm sorry it's a screenshot and not something screen-readable.

To answer a few questions that immediately come up when I look at this budget:

  • Rent and health insurance are two of my biggest expenses—and my CPA is pretty sure I’ll have to pay back the $3,600 I claimed in health insurance subsidies, which will put my actual health insurance premium total at $5,913.96. Luckily for my budgeting system, that number will go under taxes and will still let me pretend that I kept personal expenses under $30K for the year.
  • When I applied for 2020 health insurance, I didn’t claim the subsidy. My new premium will be $370.33, which will mean either cutting $177.50 from another part of my budget or increasing my 2020 personal spending limits. (I haven’t decided what to do yet.)
  • Yes, the “Giving” line feels embarrassingly low. Combine it with the “Patreon” line and the “Arts” line (because part of giving to the arts is buying tickets to events and performances) and you get $1,371.18, which is 5 percent of my total personal expenditures for the year. Do I want to increase that percentage in 2020? That’s a good question.
  • The HyVee Membership lets me order groceries online without paying a grocery delivery fee. I did the math, and it’s worth it—in fact, it’s some of the better money I spent this year.
  • The $8.00 I spent on “Travel” (and not “Family Trip” or “Vacation”) went towards shipping my passport to the government to get it renewed.


Hahahahaha I am going to owe SO MUCH in taxes this year

(by “so much” I mean “probably $20K”)

(this includes the money I already put towards estimated taxes, but I’m still going to need to make an extra-large Q4 estimated tax payment to catch up)

Financial independence

The calculators claim five years and eight months if I continue investing at my current rate ($5,151.46 per month on average) and stick to a $30,000/year personal spending limit.

Who knows whether that will happen, but it’s interesting to know the numbers.

Phonebanking for Andrew Yang

Remember how I claimed I was going to do more of this?

Well… I did not, mostly because I was getting so many calls from political campaigns (and getting so irritated by the multiple calls from the multiple campaigns) that I did not want to add to the call volume.



Still excited that Yang made the next round of debates, though. 🧢

Various dietary abstinences

Look, I know that nobody cares about what I eat except for me. But I want to be transparent about this, just in case you saw me eating some award-winning peanut brittle at a holiday party this weekend—because I did in fact eat the peanut brittle, and the kringla from the recipe that has been passed down for generations, and I ate the ham even though I am mostly vegetarian, and I even consumed both bourbon and mead even though I hadn’t had a drink since (if I remember correctly) Thanksgiving 2017.

Because I’ve now been in Cedar Rapids long enough to get invited to multiple holiday parties, and that means ham and great-grandma’s recipes and carols around the piano and ridiculous festive holiday clothing and I am not going to abstain from any of it.

Do I feel like pretty much absolute garbage today? YES YES FOR SURE YES.

Was it worth it? YES YES FOR SURE YES.

Am I going right back to “no refined sugar, no meat, no booze, no coffee” in my everyday life? ABSOLUTELY.

The dance pad

I am using this surprisingly less than I thought I would.

The Instant Pot

I am using this exactly as much as I thought I would, and have finally overcome the learning curve.

The breadmaking project

Part of said learning curve included learning that all of those recipe blogs that claimed you could rise, proof, and/or steam-cook a yeast bread in your Instant Pot were wrong.

I wasted literally four pounds of flour trying to steam bread on the yogurt setting, proof bread on the yogurt setting, rise bread on the yogurt setting, rise bread on the warm setting, etc. etc. etc.

Then I made bread the ordinary way with an oven.

It turned out just fine.

No laptop after work

One of the best habits I picked up this year, even though it’s one of the reasons why I don’t use the dance pad as often as I thought I would.

Mystery Book

33,872 words—or just a little over halfway there. ❤️

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