Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: January 2017

january 2017 updateAt the beginning of the year, I posted about my new, exciting vision for the New Year and promised to update you. Read on to see how we did in January.

Giving and Random Acts of Kindness

The Rockstar Community Fund (RCF) is the driving force behind this goal. As my friend, Fritz@TheRetirementManifesto states, the RCF is creating a “ripple in the pond” effect, spreading good and kindness that starts with a small, simple act of generosity and goodwill.

Giving is great for the community, but it also fulfills our inherent need to be a part of something larger than ourselves. And this is one of the keys to true happiness.

I committed to doing at least one random act of kindness, and/or give one unexpected gift, each month this year.

Here’s how I did in January:

  • I still had the December RCF $20 card to give away (since I used my own card in December). I gave this to the secretary at my daughter’s school, who always stops her work to smile and chat, even though she’s very busy.
  • Contributed $20 to the RCF
  • I gave the town librarian $20 to pay late fees for others.
  • I paid a $20 fee for a friend, who I know would have a hard time coming up with the money.
  • I gave my daughter’s hairdresser a $10 bill (besides the tip)

I tried to be mindful of giving in non-monetary ways too – holding doors, offering a smile, and simply talking to strangers for a moment. A grocery store clerk and I exchanged recipes. I listened as my daughter’s hair stylist talked about some hardships in her life. Sometimes people just need someone to listen.


I have to be honest, I still haven’t focused on monetizing the blog – At. All. I don’t go out of my way to seek out sponsor ships or affiliates. I want to write what I want to write and I am picky about what I recommend. The blog brings in some money through ads and a couple of affiliates, but this only occasionally covers expenses. It’s possible I won’t truly monetize until I create something of my own, such as an ebook. My income went down 80% over December (Christmas gift lists were a huge income boost in December). But I have quarterly goals, so it’s not officially a fail (we’ll have to see in March).

Traffic has seen a boost, though. Between the No Spend Month Challenge and a post that went viral for one day on Pinterest (I wouldn’t have guessed this), I did see a 21% increase in traffic in January. Currently, traffic is down, so the quarterly goal is yet to be seen.

Financial Goals

Rental Property

We made two offers on potential rental properties in January and were outbid on both. On the first property, we were competing with owner-occupants – they can and will offer more than we can.

The other one was a fantastic deal. We made a cash offer – $6000 over asking price – and lost it to another investor. After running the numbers over and over (thanks to a fellow investor for helping us with this – you know who you are!), I now think we should have offered more.

I’m chalking it up to a learning experience. And, maybe, it just wasn’t meant to be. Life has thrown us a curve ball that a renovation would only complicate (more on this below) .


Straight from the Mad Fientist Laboratory, here is how long we have until FI, if we stay the current course:

Jan 2017 mad fientist FI date

That’s 4 months less than last month!

Recently, after working with Ms. Montana on my long term goals, I’ve realized we can engineer Alan’s exit from the 9-5 sooner than this, but this will depend on the real estate investing, increased savings, side hustle income and health.

Savings Rate

Last year, our savings rate was 46%. My goal is to get it to 51% in 2017. Our savings rate in January was 36%. This may seem low, but I have extra money sitting in the checking account right now. Also, we front load our IRAs and I haven’t sent this money to Vanguard yet this year.

The combination of the No Spend Month Challenge and Digit helped us with our savings rate. Our Digit balance is now at $1900 and we just started it in June 2016.

Personal Update

I admit, it’s taken me some time to start sharing more personal information on the blog. But, as time passes, I’m more comfortable sharing.

Black Belt – Alan and I tested for our 2nd Degree Black Belt (TaeKwonDo) in December and received our belts last weekend. As a not-so-athletic 41 year old, I consider this a win.

Blue Hair – My daughter dyed her hair blue. Again. On her dime. I admit, it’s pretty. I just hope when it fades she doesn’t regret it. Teenagers and life lessons. 🙂

Health – I admit, I’m am not a huge fan of going to the doctor. I’ve had this knee/leg issue for 10+ years and, though I mentioned it to my family doctor and had it checked several years ago, I haven’t pushed for an answer. Now I realize I probably should have.

I managed to get by in TaeKwonDo, but noticed I’ve lost more range of motion and am having more pain in the past few months. So I dubbed 2017 medical year and vowed to figure it out.

What I thought would be a simple fix is far from it. While the MRI indicated my knee is in perfect structural condition, it also showed numerous cysts in my leg. I’ve been referred on to Mayo Clinic. I don’t have any solid answers yet. But, I admit, the internet has taken me down some rabbit holes I should have stayed out of.

Unfortunately, with that news, our search for rental properties is currently on hold. We’d don’t want to be in the middle of trying to reno and rent a property while trying to deal with medical issues at the same time.

Also, blog activities will slow (actually, they already have). There’s nothing like a health issue to really put life into perspective. I love blogging and will do as much as I can, but health and family need to come first.

That’s it for me. What a month! Here’s to a fantastic February! 🙂

Photo Credit: Another awesome Iowa picture from my son, Jake!

40 thoughts on “Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: January 2017

  1. That’s too bad about the knee but better to get it checked out now then never. I’m sure you’ll be fine, no sense writing until you know what’s wrong. I swear WebMD and Google can do more harm than good when it comes to researching unknown medical issues!

    Best of luck! And congrats on the black belts!

  2. Cutting 4 Months off the FIRE timeline is pretty awesome!

    I love blogging as well, it just has been prioritized below things I love more over the last few months – can totally relate to a slow down.

    Good luck with the knee!

  3. Sorry abut the knee. I know nagging injuries, especially when they can pinpoint what it is or what to do about it, is a drag. 🙁 That’s so awesome that you’re doing all that giving! I think the library fee one is great!

  4. Just curious as to what you tell people about the $20 RCF card when you give it to them and how do they respond? Would love to hear more about the rental property investing plans in a post. And sorry to hear about the knee…so true that the internet may not be the best source of information when it comes to medical issues.

    1. When I gave the secretary at my daughter’s school the gift card, I dropped it off with a thank you note, told her to have a great day and left (so I don’t really know her reaction). The library fees were anonymous. The fee I paid for a friend was paid anonymously as well – he struggles financially and I didn’t really want him to feel like he owed me anything. The hairdresser was very happy with the additional $10 and thanked me several times.

      I’m hoping we can pick back up on the real estate investing hunt soon. As soon as I know what I’m dealing with on the leg, we’ll make a plan for that. And I’ll definitely post about it!

      Thank you, Andrew! 🙂

  5. So I feel like I just sat down at a Thanksgiving table – so much to feast on here!

    Your giving is awesome! (does it count if you do it begrudgingly? I’ve got an upcoming post on that topic). I love your blog and selfishly don’t want to see activity slow down, but as Vicki once reminded me that “the first wealth is health” and that’s so true. Take care of yourself!

    And I LOVE your image in this post. The Heartland always makes me feel all sorts of American for some reason.

    1. It still counts, even if you give it begrudgingly, Ty! Looking forward to reading about it.

      Thanks for the kind words! And I’ll pass along to Jake how much you liked the photo. 🙂

  6. Sorry to hear about the knee, but much better to deal with it now and get it feeling better before taking on anything major like a rental property. Good luck! I have a RCF $20 card that I’m itching to use, but looking for a good opportunity to make someones day.

    1. Yeah, I’m actually bummed about not moving forward with the rental, but it doesn’t make sense to do anything until I know about the knee. I have big plans for once I get past it though!!!

      The best part about the RCF is looking for the opportunity to give! Rather than thinking about all the things going on in my life, I turn it around and start to think more about others’ lives. 🙂

  7. Close one on the rental property! I wouldn’t sweat it though, something will come along. It’s better to be patient, you can’t make money rushing it and paying retail prices. We started looking around and are considering a rental, but only if we get the right price and good cash flow.

    Sorry to hear about your knee, its a good idea to take care of it sooner than later. I’ve been doing some physical therapy to try and address my back pain, which is mostly a result of poor posture from sitting at a desk for years. Health comes first, you can’t buy your way into a new body – at least not yet 🙂

    1. Thanks, Mr. CK! Patience is a virtue with finding a property. And, you’re right, rushing in and paying retail doesn’t make good economical sense. I would love it if we had more multi-family units around here, as those seem to cash flow more easily. Good luck on finding one that works for you!

      Yes, health comes first! I’m a bit stubborn about having limitations, so I’m hoping it doesn’t limit mobility too much. Hope the PT helps with the back pain! 🙂

  8. Lots of interesting stuff!

    Can’t wait to get the details on the first rental house you buy! 😉

  9. Hey Amanda, Love your random acts of kindness. There are so many ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.

    I’ll follow your monetising attempts with interest. I’m yet to join an affiliate scheme but it would be nice the think one day I’ll have enough readers to make it worthwhile.

    Finally, sorry about your knee. Too many times I have googled health conditions and usually self diagnose a terminal condition from nothing more than a slight pain. Health is so easy to take for granted. You should absolutely put that first. All the best! X

    1. Thanks, Sarah! Yes, even the little things can brighten someone’s day! 🙂

      Thanks for your well wishes! I have a general idea of what I’m dealing with, but the scope of the problem is still unknown. Hoping for the best there.

  10. Your giving updates made me smile. And congrats on the FIRE update and the black belt! As for the knee, I’m a person who hates going to the doctor, but unfortunately I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to take care of your health sooner than later. I hope you get the answers that you’re looking for and that everything turns out fine. Try not to let anxiety get the better of you, and the blog will still be here when you’re ready for it!

    1. Thanks so much, Gary! I’m glad my update made you smile today! 🙂 I appreciate your advice on not letting the anxiety get the better of me. Really, over the last week, I’ve cut back on the blogging by at least 1/3 and am feeling much better about it. But I still feel guilty about not commenting on others’ blogs as much. Still reading though!

  11. Great job on the black belt! So sorry to hear about your knee but that’s gotta come first. And if you follow through with going to the Mayo Clinic there’s no need to second guess yourself with internet searches. You’ll be seen by the best of the best.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Groovy! 🙂 Glad you feel that way about Mayo. I’ve only heard good things, so I’m confident I’ll leave with an answer – and hopefully a solution too!

  12. Yikes, I’m sorry to hear the knee isn’t a simple fix, but I hope whatever they turn up as you figure it out can be fixed cleanly and without too much recovery time.

    Sounds like not getting the rental property this month, with the knee thing, is actually better as far as timing. I’m sure the right one will come along soon enough.

    Blue hair sounds fun! 🙂 I always wanted blue or purple hair but could never bring myself to spend the money. Does it fade badly? Is that why she might regret it? 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! Things happen for a reason, so I’m actually glad we didn’t get the house that needed the renovations right now. But hopefully after we get past this, we’ll find something great.

      She loves her blue hair! 🙂 I would do a color too but, like you, I don’t want to spend the money. She saved up and ended up spending $150. Waaaay too much for me! She’s had it for two weeks and it hasn’t faded much at all yet. The last time, it faded to green within a month, though. And, she could just cut it off because she had long hair and only did the bottom 6 inches. This time, her hair is shorter, and she did even more blue, so cutting it off won’t be a good option. Time will tell!!!

  13. I agree with Ty. What a scrumptious banquet this post is. Love the random acts of kindness you performed in January. I had know idea you could contribute to the library to help others with late fees. I hope our library is open to that notion. And on the FIRE front, you guys are kicking butt. Saving 40+ percent and removing 4 months from your FIRE date is quite an accomplishment. The only downer is your knee/leg. I hope your doctors get to the bottom of it soon.

    1. Both the Mr. and the Mrs. today!? 🙂 It’s a Groovy day! On the library – I didn’t know either, but I was checking out some books, handed the librarian a $20 and asked her if she could use it to pay others’ overdue fees. She was quite pleased and didn’t seem like it was the first time it had been done. She said the $20 would probably last for a day or so. I hope the momentum with FIRE continues! Thanks for your well wishes on the knee – the hardest thing right now is waiting for an appointment at Mayo. I’ll definitely let everyone know in my March update.

  14. Love the updates, and personal notes Amanda…except for the news about your knee/leg. 🙁 I also procrastinated in seeing my doctor regarding a lower back issue I’ve been dealing with for the past 6 months or so. I finally dealt with it over the past month, and I’m glad I did. Sounds like you’re in good hands with the May clinic, take care of yourself!

    1. Thanks, MMM! 🙂 I appreciate the well wishes!

  15. Hi Amanda,

    Really like your random acts of kindness 🙂 Congratulations on the black belt. I am pretty sure you will achieve your financial savings goals. It is good that you are being proactive about your health. Hope you get it addressed and resolved soon.


  16. You are doing so much good! Also, thank you for contributing to the Ladies in Media charity:water drive! I hope they figure out what’s going on with your knee. That is not a fun injury to have!

    1. Thank you! Glad to help with the Ladies in Media charity! 🙂

  17. Sorry about the knee, hopefully it won’t be too hard to fix. Congratulations on the black belt though!

    It’s awesome that your FIRE date is getting closer and closer with each update!

    1. Thank you! Hopefully we’ll knock another 4 months off next month! 🙂

  18. We have a cafeteria at work and one day the cashier said, “That will be $5.75 for your lunch and how about you buy her lunch too?” (pointing to the women behind me). Sure! Now I just randomly buy the lunch for the person behind me in line – sometimes I know the person and sometimes not. I admit that it makes me feel good about my day and I enjoy the gratitude from the unsuspecting colleague.

    Sounds like it’s time to get your knee taken care of. 10 years of pain and loss of motion can’t be good. Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Mr. Need2save! 🙂 I love the idea of buying lunch for unsuspecting coworkers! Doesn’t it totally change your day when you bring joy to someone else’s!?

  19. Looks like January was fantastic outside the leg issues. I procrastinated on a knee issue that I had and later found it was a simple procedure that I wish I had done much earlier 🙂

    Sounds like your blog is growing at a great clip and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before you start generating some revenue.

    1. January was a great month! And, so far, February is shaping up pretty good too. Fingers crossed on the leg issues. Thank you! 🙂

  20. I love seeing the extra general life updates, really fills in the blanks of the type of family/person you are, Hope February treated you well (as it just ended! but I couldn’t resist reading this post of yours from last month).


    1. Thanks, Jasmin! I am posting the February update tomorrow. I’ve been trying to sprinkle more personal info into my posts, which has been fun. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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