Updated on 03.02.08

February 2008 Review – Assets -0.5%, Debts -1.0%

Trent Hamm

Once again, it’s time for a monthly review of my finances. I generally break things down by evaluating my assets and my debts (which together make up my net worth), and then using these numbers, I attempt to set goals for the coming month. This is a useful exercise for everyone to do, simply so they can keep tabs on their overall assets and debts and make sure that they are consistently heading in the right direction. Let’s break it down.

My goals for February were interesting and varied. I had four goals for the month:

No eating out unless there’s a special opportunity with my wife. I didn’t quite achieve this goal, as I ate out a few times during the month mostly out of a pure convenience need, sadly enough. Sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what I want.

Start saving for my wife’s birthday gift. Check, though I somewhat modified what I had in mind originally.

Reduce my debt by 1%. Check, and this one was a big milestone. It felt awesome to realize that my entire debt load was reduced by 1% this month. If I were able to make this same amount of debt reduction every month, I would be completely debt free in less than six years. No mortgage, no nothing. Wow.

Spend $0 on entertainment purchases this month. Check. The only new entertainment item I acquired the entire month was a long-preordered game for the Nintendo DS that I had purchased using a Christmas gift card.

Three out of four? Pretty good. My only real disappointment was in my assets, where it went down substantially due to a second straight weak month for my retirement accounts and higher-than-expected energy bills.

In March, my biggest focus is building up some extra buffer for when I leave my job at the end of the month, so Here are my goals for the next thirty one days.

An asset growth of 0.8%. I’m going to pull back the throttle on my rapid debt repayment schedule for a while and instead build up more cash in my savings and checking accounts for the moment. Thus, I’m shooting for a decent asset growth this month.

Completion of my 2007 income taxes. I have to pay in a little bit based on my thumbnail estimate. During the month, I hope to get this all finished up and sent in.

A very detailed plan for the first six months of my layoff. I already have a rough sketch of the first year, but I work best with specific plans and deadlines, so I’m going to literally lay down a daily schedule (four days a week) for the first six months after I leave my current job. The fifth day would give me room to breathe and also some space to work on other projects.

That’s my personal financial plan for the coming month. What’s yours?

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  1. Graham Lutz says:

    Good Job! My Goal at this point is just to get my income back to where it was before I quit my job and started my business. I think I have about 6 months to go, and right now, I’m about $2000/mo. in the hole! Isn’t entrepreneurship fun!

  2. My goal for March is to do a little better at reducing my total debt. It only decreased .22% in February. I’m also trying to decrease my debt by at least 1% per month.

  3. Nice work trent, I know how you feel when you talk about the relief of noticing that you’ve paid off some of your debt, even a small amount. It is so satisfying. 3 out of 4 is still pretty good, especially when you think that most people just meander along without even thinking about these things. Keep up the good work, you’ll be debt free sooner than you think! (Although don’t stop blogging then!)

  4. Frugal Dad says:

    It’s good to hear you are thinking through the decision to step away from full-time employment. I think many people opt to test the depth of the self-employment waters with both feet, instead of one toe at a time. You are no doubt doing it the right way and will be rewarded with success.

    My retirement plan took a hit this month, too, thought I haven’t compiled all the actual numbers just yet. I’m guessing I saw a significant drop, but I also killed off quite a bit of bad debt, so it probably evened out.

  5. Andy says:

    Congratulations, Trent! My fiance and I close on our first new home on March 24th. We are putting 3 percent down and 3000 in closing costs. My finacial goal for this month is to remind myself that we cannot have nice things right away and to not go into debt buying new furniture and what not. After we close on the house I will work on recovering from the hit that it will take on my savings account and start putting away 200 dollars per pay check for furnish our home. For now we will use my futon from college and hand me down furniture from out parents. We have to remember that we will potentially get nice things as gifts for out wedding in September, too. So, in a nutshell, my financial goal for March and the coming months is just to be patient and not go on spending sprees.

  6. Nice job sticking to your goals! Goals are so important for any milestone you are trying to reach. I might start adding my goals to my website so that i have some accountability!

  7. LollieMouse says:

    Awesome job on the debt reduction! I noticed you said you spent on energy…any suggestions about that? My gas company said that when the outside temp goes below 55, my heat will ALWAYS come on, regardless. I have 4 zones and in Mass, the temp is always below 55…we keep all 4 zones shut way down, but I still got a bill for $399…any thoughts?
    Congrats also on making the decision to write and to step away, very courageous and you and your wife who loves and supports you are admired !!

  8. 144mph says:


    Wasn’t this game the one that you mentioned you shouldn’t have purchased in the first place?

    Every time you bring up your DS in your blogs, it smacks of hypocrisy since you’re continually talking about how much you value your time and try to maximize your enjoyment of life. Then, in the next breath, we hear about how you still have some fascination with video games. I’ve got a 14 year old brother who does the same stuff, he’s got his priorities mixed up too, but he’s 14 and doesn’t have a wife and kids and at least 2 jobs….

    Sorry if that sounded harsh, I’m a reformed gamer myself, I spent about 3 months playing FFXI back in 2002 when I should have been looking for a job. I really enjoy your writing and I don’t want to discourage you, but please, give up the video games.

  9. Penny Squeaker says:


    With the way our economy is in a ression – media wants to call it DEFLATION/INFLATION/STAGFLATION, it’s always best to cash on hand.

    In order not to fall into the credit crunch, using credit cards or Heloc etc…

    Building cash at this time, instead of investing long term or debt repayment, will help w/higher energy (gasoline/electric) costs, raise food prices.

    Build that pantry – watch for those sale items, fresh fruits + veggies, as well as staples goods. Let’s not forget victory gardens!!!!

    Popular during WWII – Victory gardens

  10. clevelis says:

    I’m elated to say that I will be high interest debt-free this month. I also have my emergency fund firmly in place and still growing, along with my investment account.

    Soon I will be going back to school full-time, pre-med semester then medical school. After this long stint in school I’ll have student loan debt that was well worth it.

    Your blog has been quite encouraging! Thanx!

  11. JOE CHIN says:

    Depending on the rate, you probably shouldn’t make extra payments to your mortgage, as the interest is low (at least for me), and tax-deductible. You’d be better off investing the funds. I’m heavily into equities at the moment, so lately I’ve been dumping extra money into Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index fund, which looks pretty stable and gets a better rate than a money market fund.

  12. JOE CHIN says:

    Note on my last comment: I’m heavily into equities, so I’m putting new money into bonds to get a safer risk allocation.

  13. Ruthie says:


    Are you not doing these any more? Haven’t seen one since Feb.

  14. Ruthie says:

    Are you not doing these any more? Haven’t seen one since February (well, March on February).

  15. ChrisB says:

    I’ve got the same question Ruthie did, Trent… no more net worth posts? Have you stopped tracking, or just stopped posting the updates?

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