Cabin Fever

This winter has been brutal and cabin fever has really set in for me. Hours upon hours of shoveling, snowplowing, and roof raking in sometimes heavy snow, cold, and wind. Dressing in layers because our house is not well insulated, is drafty, and we’re just 0.1 degrees away from the coldest February on record.

All of these are conspiring against my productivity and energy levels. I have noticed a huge lack of focus, especially in the past few weeks. All I want to do is relax and do nothing, especially in the evening. I also noticed that I am aimlessly browsing my various digital devices, not really accomplishing anything. I try reading, but just lose focus early on.

I wish I had an easy tip to combat cabin fever, but it’s alluding me so far. Hopefully hints of spring start appearing. This week we will probably go a full seven days between snow events, the longest in a month, although it’s still brutally cold. We’re expecting possible -14 degree (F) temperatures tonight.

Why I closed my Mint and Personal Capital accounts

In this past week, I closed both my Mint and Personal Capital accounts. I had thought of keeping those accounts, but a few annoyances pushed me over the edge.

Personal Capital

  • You can’t hide an account that is now “closed”. If you delete that account, you lose all of its history. This meant I had a bunch of accounts still showing up on my account list, with red exclamation marks, with nothing I can do about it.
  • Every time I synced my main bank account, I was forced to enter in my two-factor authentication code. Frustrating when I wanted to quickly look at the “state of the world.”
  • I’m not too impressed with their investment tools, which is supposed to be their defining feature. I actually found it difficult to track how my investment accounts were doing over time and what balance increases were contributions vs. actual gains.

Mint

  • Mint has an incredibly annoying bug where Fidelity 401k accounts essentially double their account balance, with this additional amount showing up in the investment reports as “cash.” Mint acknowledged this bug but says they cannot provide any timeframe for an fix. You would think one of if not the largest 401k providers would be high on their priority list.
  • Investment tracking is incredibly poor. I can’t find a YTD status.
  • Their interface always feels slow and heavy.

As replacements, I continue to use YNAB for all things budgeting and I have built several spreadsheets for tracking Net Worth, Retirement Contributions, and other related stuff. In sort, I replaced Mint and Personal Capital with slightly manual but 100% in my control processes.

When Personal Finances Gets Boring

A funny thing has happened since we paid off our last car and a credit card with some medical bills on it: personal finances has gotten a bit boring. Actually, this has been a trend for awhile, but it’s gotten much more evident in these past couple of weeks.

With YNAB, I’m always budgeted a month a head of time, relying on last month’s paycheck to pay this month’s bills. I wake up every morning, shower, get ready, sit down at the kitchen table with my laptop and an OJ in hand. Quickly visiting the various accounts I have, I scan for anything unexpected and download the latest set of transactions to import into YNAB. Since every receipt I have is already entered into YNAB, it’s usually as quick as approving matches for the transactions. Double-check budget categories to ensure we’re on track for the month. Close laptop.

Less than 10 minutes to complete my daily financial check. When a new month arrives, I spend maybe 30 minutes updating some tracking spreadsheets. Done.

The past 8 months I have spent building up YNAB, various spreadsheets I use to track things like retirement contributions and Net Worth. Now, that groundwork has done. Our non-mortgage debt is almost gone outside of a few remaining student loans with small monthly payments.

It’s now about patience.

The next blizzard

Tonight and into tomorrow we’re expecting about another foot of snow in near blizzard like conditions, after a ~3 week span of major storms every 3-4 days. We’ve already reached the Top 10 snow amounts of all time in these ~3 weeks and we’re rapidly approaching the Top 5. To top it off, we have near 0 degree (F) temperatures and way under 0 when factoring in the windchill.

I’ve been spending all morning roof raking in an attempt to get the massive amount of snow off my house’s and garage’s roofs. It is incredibly tiring work to say the least.

I really hope we have a slow thaw, as much as I wish spring were here. If we have a sudden warm up (or worse, rain), there is going to be massive flooding and roof collapses.