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

centsibly rich februaryAt the beginning of the year, I posted about my new, exciting vision for the New Year and promised to update you. Here’s what how we did at the Centsibly Rich household in February.

Giving and Random Acts of Kindness

Inspired by the generosity of the Rockstar Finance Community Fund (RCF), I committed to doing at least one random act of kindness, and/or give one unexpected gift, each month this year. I didn’t do as well, monetarily, in February. But hopefully I spread some good in other ways by simply being kind to the people I meet everyday. Even something as simple as a smile can help. Here’s what I did in February:

  • Contributed $20 to the RCF
  • When I went to Aldi’s, I found a quarter in one of the carts. I took the cart and put my quarter in the next cart. When I left, I dug out all the quarters I could find and put them in several carts.
  • Gave a $20 gift card to the cashier at Costco to pay for the next person’s order

I haven’t been including charities here because my focus is on random acts of kindness, but I did donate $50 to a great cause this month. Some of my amazing, fellow bloggers are on a mission to raise $10,000 to help bring clean, safe water to communities who, otherwise, don’t have it. The organization is Charity: Water and 100% of the proceeds go directly to building clean water systems for those in need. If you’re interested in helping out, go here to learn more.


I was so thrilled that Centsibly Rich was included in Rockstar’s Up and Coming Blogs list in February. I can’t even tell you how honored I am to be a part of this list! This made my month. 🙂

I mentioned last month that monetizing the blog isn’t a huge focus right now. I do have an idea brewing that could change that, but it will be several months before it’s to ready to announce. 

When averaged by month, my income is up 50% over last year (but I made very, very little the first 9 months of the blog), but it’s down 74% over December 2016 (gotta love Christmas). Next month, we’ll see how the quarterly goal works out. I recently took on a small freelance project, so that will boost the quarterly income a little.

Traffic was great in January from the No Spend Month Challenge, but dropped off in February. I did see some great referral traffic from the Rockstar Blog Directory (if you haven’t checked it out, you really should). So far, traffic is down 50% over January. This is disappointing, but January was a really great month. 

Rental Property

The search for a rental property is on hold due to a potential surgery/medical issue. We don’t want to be in the middle of trying to reno and rent a property while dealing with health issues (more on that later).

That said, we are still looking. We found one potential property that, from the pictures, didn’t appear to need a ton of work, but would still cash flow. One step inside the house and we knew why it seemed too good to be true.

The more we look at and run the numbers on different properties, the more we learn. And I think this is great – when the right property comes along, we’ll know it!


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

february mad fientist

That’s 3 months less than last month!

We saw a jump due to market returns and contributions to Alan’s 401k. After I fund the IRAs in March, we should see a decent increase too.

Savings Rate

Last year, our savings rate was 46%. My goal is to get it to 51% in 2017. Our savings rate for the year, so far, is at 37%. I still haven’t front loaded the IRAs for 2017, but will in March. Honestly, I haven’t done it because the market had been going up, but I think I’m going to bite the bullet and do it soon. Plus, we have a tax return coming so in March the savings rate will go up.

Digit kicked it up a notch in February, as I had extra money sitting in our checking account from January. Our Digit balance is now $2435 and we just started it in June 2016.

Personal Updates


It was a great February in Iowa! Temps hit the mid-70s on several days, which is unheard of this time of year. We took full advantage of the great weather by trimming trees, cleaning up the flower beds/landscaping, and going on multiple bike rides. Bike rides in February – amazing!!!


We’re selling our camper. Alan and I have been camping together for 23 years. We started in tents, borrowed pop ups, and, finally purchased our first camper when the kids were 3 and 5 years old.

For years, we spent every other weekend April – October (along with several entire weeks) in a campground, creating the most incredible family memories none of us will ever forget. I honestly think camping was one of the things that helped us become such a close family.

Camping is good for everyone, but it’s great for kids. Hiking, playing in the dirt, learning about animals and birds, swimming, biking, playing games, running. No television or electronics and no life interruptions, like chores and work. Every family should try it at least once.

But our days of camping together as a family are drawing to an end. It’s bittersweet. The kids are older – Jake will graduate from high school next year and Cait is only 3 years behind him. They just aren’t into camping anymore (especially if there’s no internet or friends).

Alan and I were hesitant to sell it. Letting it go is like letting go of a piece of our family’s past. But, it doesn’t make sense to hang onto a material object, especially one of that size, for sentimental reasons. And we will be able to sell it for over $10,000, so there’s that. Plus, no more insurance or license and we won’t have to store it.

The more we talked about it, the more weight was lifted. It was almost exciting to think about letting it go. Freeing. No more maintenance, no more storage.

What initially seemed like such a difficult decision, now seems right in so many ways. We’re gaining back time, money and space from something that no longer benefits us. It feels amazing. And it may just be the start to some other big changes!

camping collage


As I mentioned last month, I found out I have numerous cysts in my right leg and have been referred on to Mayo Clinic. It seems like I’ve been waiting forever for an appointment due to a mix up. My doctor sent two MRIs to Mayo – one from an injury on my left knee (in 2012) and the most recent one of my right leg, which shows the cysts. Unfortunately, Mayo downloaded the wrong MRI, looked at the wrong leg and discarded the disk. So, I had to start the process over. And when I finally got a call for an appointment, I couldn’t go on the first available date. But I’m scheduled to see two docs in Neurosurgery mid-April, so I’ll let you all know what I find out then. Until then, I’ll enjoy ignorant bliss. 🙂

There you have it – seems like a lot for such a short month!

So, tell me, how was your February? Did you have those great temperatures?


Photo credit: My son, Jake

48 thoughts on “Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: February 2017

  1. Aww, i hope you get better soon! The rental property can wait until you’re back in tip top shape!

  2. I can relate to the camping. We had a blast doing this as our kids grew up. We’re a few years ahead of you on where we are with our kids (2 in college, 1 graduating h.s. this spring). About 5 years ago – we came to the same conclusion. Camping was harder (schedules, kids friends, Internet, etc) – and we sold our camper too. It’s all been good, though – one of changes as family life evolves!

    Good luck with the cysts. And good approach – ignorant bliss (I’m a big fan of ignorant bliss!)

    BTW – we’re your neighbor to the northeast – Wisconsin! And while we didn’t have 70’s in Feb, we were pretty close (and it was really nice!)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lance! So great to hear of another family that did the camping thing. 🙂 Though we’ll miss camping, we have all those great memories. It was a little hard at first, but I know selling it is the right thing to do. It’s just a symbol of life changing and kids growing up.

      Love Wisconsin – in fact, we have camped there countless times. So many great outdoor activities. Wasn’t the weather amazing in Feb!?

  3. My parents have been telling me how great the weather there has been this winter.

    It’s been good in Colorado too. Now if we can just make it to April without a major snowstorm!!! 😉

    1. I don’t remember ever having that many beautiful days in February. And – it’s supposed to be in the 60s this weekend! Glad you’re experiencing good weather in CO too. And I hope you didn’t just jinx us all for a major snowstorm in Apr. 😉

  4. Love these photos! Woohoo on the FI progress. I’m afraid to plug in our numbers to that calculator 😉 Good luck with your health. Cysts can be so scary! Hoping that you get nothing but positive news.

    1. Thanks, Penny! I didn’t start using the calculators until I knew we were getting closer, so I completely understand (though you may be closer than you think!). Thanks for the well wishes! 🙂

  5. Congrats on making the list!!! Awe I was kind of sad to see the camping thing. I wish my parents had taken me camping as a kid but neither one of them were into it, so it’s been hard to get into it as an adult. I think someday your kids are going to really appreciate those moments. And sorry to hear about the mayo mixup. 🙁 I’m sure that’s a pain in the …knee? to go back. 🙁

    1. Thanks, Tonya! I was a little sad about the camping thing at first too. My parents were never really into camping, but I did spend a ton of time outdoors as a kid and I’ve always loved it. I know the kids will appreciate it (and I hope they take their kids). We have so many great stories and memories that come up at least weekly at our house. And thanks for the kind words – much appreciated.

  6. So much going on but it’s smart of you to hold off on another rental property until you put your health issue behind you. I’m excited to see you shaving off some months to FI. That will turn into years off before you know it! Congrats on making the RockStar list!

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Groovy! Congrats to you guys too! I’m excited for March’s numbers – they will look even better unless the market tanks. But, for now, I’m enjoying watching the time get shorter!

  7. I think making to switch from camping to boating makes a lot of sense. I know that time ever is coming for us, so I’m trying to enjoying the camping and road trips while I can. In 10 years, that season will be over.

    1. It was great while it lasted! And, it actually lasted longer than I thought, mostly because our oldest loves the outdoors. Enjoy your time while it lasts! It passes much too quickly. 🙂

  8. Amanda, congrats on making the RS Up and Comers list, it’s so well deserved!! I love the camping pictures, what great memories for your family. I know the feeling of letting go of something that has meant so much, but one season ends, another one begins!

    1. Thanks, MMM! 🙂 Though hard at first, sometimes letting go is exactly what you need to do. I’m ready for that next season!

  9. Good luck with the surgery. Sometimes necessary, but never fun.

    Really nice to see that you’re keeping the random acts of kindness going and in the public eye. The world would be a better place if we could get more folks on board.

    I can totally see where letting go of the camper would be a tough thing to wrap your head around. It’s always head vs. heart when getting rid of objects attached to sentimental emotions. It does seem like you got a lot of great memories out of it, though.

    1. Thanks, Matt! You know the most fun random act I did in February was the quarters in the carts at Aldi! I loved sneaking in there and loading up all those carts. A small gesture, but hopefully it brightened someone’s day and inspired them to pay it forward.

      We have sooo many great memories of camping – and that’s what it’s all about! 🙂

  10. Camping is such fun,. I have such great memories from trip as a child and with our family. But funny how our kids can seems to get over the fact that’s there’s no wifi in the woods. 🙂

    We’ve had some amazing weather too in February, so warm we spotted the ice cream truck in February. Don’t think I’ve seen that before.

    Good luck with the knee. Waiting for answer is the hardest part,

    1. Yes! Most places we camp don’t have wifi and, for some odd reason, that does pose an issue for the teens when we’re gone for more than a couple of days. Personally, I love it. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words, Brian!

  11. I love these types of updates, they satiate my voyeuristic tendencies (smiles!).

    Sorry to hear about the camper, ironic to see you’re selling at exactly the same time we sold ours (our daughter was a Sr in High School). It’s actually good to “take a break”, and it’s wet our appetite for when we’re going to Go Big with a nice 5th Wheel in retirement (June 2018). Hang in there, you’ll get another chance to go camping!!

    Congrats on a great month, LOVE your concept of Random Acts Of Kindness!

    1. BTW, I’ll be praying for you for that April visit with the Doc. I can only imagine the stress you’re facing during this “waiting” time. Hang in there!

  12. Good luck with your health, Amanda. That camping update made me sad … it’s hard to see our family grow up like that. I know it’s natural but that doesn’t make it easy.

    1. Thanks so much, Ty! I admit, the camping update made me sad too. I had a couple of tears when I put together that collage. They grow up too fast. 🙂

  13. Hope everything goes well at Mayo! I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I could not believe this weather! I was in Chicago one weekend in short sleeves. IN FEB. It was crazy awesome. Of course, I also got to see a certain someone cough you cough this month which was equally great!

    1. Thanks, Gwen! The weather!!! Couldn’t have asked for a better month. That’s weird – I was lucky and excited to see a certain someone at the beginning of the month too! 🙂

  14. That sure is a lot for a short month! Congrats on making the Rockstar list and for choosing to let go of the camper while holding on to the memories. I’m sorry to hear about the mix-up at Mayo. I know days can seem like years when you’re waiting to find out what’s going on. I’ll be sending my positive thoughts your way.

    1. Thanks, Gary! We’ll always have those precious memories. And thank you for your positive thoughts – I truly appreciate it! 🙂

  15. Yea, the weather has been crazy. Can’t believe we’ve had temperatures up to 70. I think old man winter wants to remind us he’s still around because here in the northeast, it’s supposed to drop back down to the 30s and possible chance of snow. But hey…spring is around the corner…can’t wait for that. Hope everything goes well. And thanks for sharing about the Charity…it’s a very good one.

    1. The weather has been crazy good! 🙂 We’ve dropped back down into the 30s with flurries too – and we had snow last week. But temps bump back up into the 60s this weekend! Wahoo! Thanks, Andrew! 🙂

  16. I hope the health issues are all better soon. I really like the random acts of kindness – that quarter idea was a fun one!

    1. Thanks, Chris! I’m going to plan ahead next time and clean out the coin jar to fill up even more carts – that was just too much fun. 🙂

  17. I remember when my parents sold their popup camper when we moved away. It was bittersweet, but, we did enjoy VRBO finds instead and the ability to fly to farway destinations instead of only sticking within driving distance.

    They did buy another popup a year or two ago and have started camping again by themselves.

    I also hope your health improves soon at least you are right down the road from the hospital where even the U.S. Presidents visit!

    1. That’s the plan from here on out, Josh. Our next family trip is booked in a VRBO and we’re driving. Over the summer, we may rent a modern cabin by a lake – sort of the same as camping, but we’ll probably have wifi and everyone will have more space.

      I’m guessing Alan and I will buy a popup or small camper once the kids are off on their own. It’s definitely something we love.

      Thanks for the well wishes. I do feel fortunate to be close enough to Mayo to drive there easily. And they’re ranked #1 for Neurosurgery, so I’m very happy about that.

  18. I’m sending positive vibes your way, may your Mayo news be boring.

    Congratulations on making the RF list; you should be proud, and yay for the increase in blog income.

    It must have been difficult to let that camper go. Letting go of something so rife with good memories is always hard.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. BITA! 🙂 I certainly do appreciate that.

      It’s hard to let the camper go, but we will always have those amazing memories!

  19. I’ve also always been disappointed my family wasn’t into camping while I was growing up. I had a few cousins who were Eagle Scouts and knew how to do everything imaginable outdoors and I always felt like the dumb city-kid (because I was). We’re making it a point to embrace the outdoors as adults and are really looking forward to spending more time away from the technology that dominates our daily lives. ‘The Minimalists’ podcast taught me that by selling the camper, you’re not selling the experiences and memories you had with your family. And it sounds like it frees up quite a bit of capital to be used for different needs. Thanks for the update, looking forward to more!


    1. That’s one of the best things about camping, or just being outdoors – the connection with nature and the disconnection with technology. For me, it’s the best escape there is.

      You’re right, we will have the proceeds from the camper to put into our investment property fund – that’s a great thing! And we’ll always have those memories to hold onto. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, Ryan.

  20. Ryan

    Congratulations on making the RockStar list, Amanda!

    I hope everything goes well with your health issues. Thanks for sharing your acts of kindness and the rest of your monthly update.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ryan! I very much appreciate it – and I’m happy to share! 🙂

  21. I love reading about your random acts of kindness, Amanda! Like a breath of fresh air. I can understand how the sentimentality surrounding kids getting older can hold you to want to hold on to your camper – good for you for being strong. Keeping things that have lost their place can be more depressing than getting letting go and taking hold of something new. Your place on the Rockstar Finance up and coming list is so deserved – good for you! I am sending prayers that your cyst issue is dealt with speedily… xo

    1. Thanks you, Linda! You’re so right, holding on to something can make you feel worse. Once we decided to let it go, it felt freeing – it’s almost symbolic of a new stage in life. And thank you very much for your well wishes. 🙂

  22. It’s been too long since we last went camping. Even though they are 17 and 18, I think we could convince our sons to go camping for a weekend. Mrs. Need2Save and I actually want to get a used travel trailer once we retire and take a year to travel the country.

    February was a roller coaster month in the DC metro area. One day it’s in the upper 70s and a few days later it’s in the 30s. No snow at all this year, which is a little disappointing.

    Hoping that your leg issues get taken care of with as little discomfort as possible.

    1. Hey, Mr. Need2save! Last year, we were able to convince them to go for 3 weekends and a week-long trip – but they are going to be busier this summer, and the convincing was becoming more difficult. That said, our 16 y.o. just told us he’s going to sign up to go to Idaho with a group to backpack this summer, which makes me so happy! I’m glad he grew up in the outdoors and wants to continue enjoying nature, just more independently. Alan and I will probably get a small trailer or popup once the kids are gone. I don’t think we can let camping go for too long.

      Sounds like DC was similar to Iowa. We’ve seen a little snow, but much less than normal.

      Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  23. Sorry to hear about the cysts and the mix-up with Mayo – really surprised that they messed that up. I will be praying for good news for you.

    February flew by for me and I’m not even sure what I did the past month. I’m looking forward to some good gigs this next week in particular including a lunch and learn I’m giving on Friday.

    1. Thanks so much, DC! I don’t think it was really anyone’s fault on the mix-up. My doctor’s office shouldn’t have sent the past MRI of the other leg either. Mix-ups happen – I’m just glad to have an appointment.

      Sounds like you’re going to be busy – but in a good way. A lunch and learn is great! Is it on personal finance?

  24. Congratulations! Great work Amanda, and a nice accomplishment to be listed in Rockstar’s up and coming blogs. So sorry to hear about the mix up – hope all goes well for you on the health front.

    February flew by, we met our savings goals. We spent a couple of weekends on outdoor family fun given the nice weather down in Texas this time of year 🙂

    1. Thanks, Michael! 🙂 Congrats on the savings goals! I bet Texas is beautiful right now – it’s great you’ve been able to get out and enjoy it.

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