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March 29th, 2017 at 07:52 am

I figured I should start a "college" category in my blog. Still got a ways to go, but it's creeping up on us.

The *big picture* is that no one in my family has ever borrowed for college, so the road to a debt-free college is crystal clear to me. & I don't mean at all from a wealth/means standpoint. I put myself through college. Putting my kids through college should be infinitely easier, in comparison. They will have significantly more options than we had. It also probably helps to live in a state with abundant and affordable college choices.

Some of the ways that we expect to keep college costs down:

--Saving money ahead of time for college
--MH working more while kids are in college
--Possibly finding an employer who will chip in with college costs
--Kids working in high school/college, even if just during summers
--Thinking outside the box as to housing (which is important with the high housing costs here)
--Mostly considering public colleges
--Community college (this is really what all the regional public colleges prefer these days, getting first two years done at CC, so motivation is more than just saving money)

Certainly not meant to be an all inclusive list, but in general sums up how we stayed out of college debt.

My husband and I actually had completely opposite college experience. Our parents were both opposite extremes, and so we seem to end up meeting in the middle. We both agree that we expect the kids to work significantly during high school and college, that our own financial health comes first, and that we don't want to borrow a penny for college. We don't want them to graduate with any student loan debt. We are willing to help our kids in any way we can as long as we are within these parameters.

I'd say that when our eldest was ages 0-10 that college was not on our radar at all. Part of the reason is that in-laws were providing college money. They gift the kids $1k per year, each, since birth. Initially they invested with their super pricey broker (load funds + ridiculous advisory fees) but for whatever reason they gave us the money to manage in recent years. Which means the money is actually growing instead of being eaten away by fees. Phew! At this point we are quickly closing in on $40k, which would cover two public college degrees, and allows for future price increases as they continue to receive gift money.

We personally have not tied up this money in college type funds because we don't have any incentive to. We would rather have free use of the money. We don't have a big enough income, but I do have enough tax knowledge, to not bother with 529 plans or other college savings options. To be clear, we are not paying any taxes on these investment gains. So we don't need the trade-off of extra hoops to jump through for tax breaks that we don't need.

Along the same lines, MH and I both used our "college money" for a home down payment instead. In a state where college cost pennies and housing costs are sky high, I think it seems very likely our kids will experience the same. So I don't want to be penalized for tying up their gift money for college when they more likely will use it for post-college housing. Ideally, we'd actually really like to pay it forward and save this in-law money to give them as a lump sum *after* college. I don't know if we will be able to swing it, but this is what we would like to do. & if we can't, we definitely want to do something like this for our grandkids. (I think if it was not for the in-law money, this would just be a "pay it forward to grandkids" goal).

Anyway, the "generous in-law situation" sums up ages 0-10 with our kids. Between that and the low cost of college here, and my hubby's prolonged unemployment, it just hasn't been on our financial radar at all.

That said, we have in the past put ridiculous percentages of our income into ROTHs knowing that we could use that money for college. I can't say it would have been our financial priority to tie up *all* our money in retirement funds, otherwise. So I am sure for a while that was our college strategy, and I did discuss in this blog during those times.

In 2014 we were in a position to start putting money away into taxable investment accounts again (in addition to fully funding IRAs). I guess college is the only goal at this point, besides retirement. Though I don't consider this *all* to be college money, it is certainly accessible if we need it for college. We are putting away about $7,500 per year. I think matching the in-law college money is a good place to start. It probably works out too that we will probably get there in another couple of years. At that point we may just back off and figure that $40,000/each is a phenomenal start. I think we'd probably most likely just focus on cash flowing the rest (if there is anything left to cash flow).

Since I worked my way through college, I think the idea of MH working + kids working seems easiest on some level (would be a LOT of cash that we could put towards college). But, I think the "saving ahead" is important just because you never know. Relying on future income streams is a little outside of my comfort zone. So while some part of me thinks that "cash flowing with several jobs" is really the most obvious and the easiest, we always have a Plan A + Plan B + Plan C, etc.

Edited to add: I didn't mention financial aid. With the high wage/low college cost combo, regionally, I don't expect it to come up. I know it's infinitely more complicated than that, but that's just the short answer. It will be a better use of our energy to seek out scholarships that aren't based on need.


In other news, I am sure I have discussed in the past about MH thinking of returning to college. I mentioned in my blog several years ago that nothing about the timing was right. With the economy in particular, it seemed like a particularly poor time to invest any money into a degree.

Today, things are lining up to make a lot more sense on this front. So I know it's something we will discuss more seriously as to the next two school years. I will have to leave that for my next post on the college topic.

Taxes, Ting, Groceries

January 31st, 2015 at 06:38 am

**I did file our taxes on Tuesday.

And... I already got a refund from the state. WHOA!

The irony is that I mostly never get state refunds because there have been so many years our state has been insolvent. I've already adjusted our taxes this year so that we should not get a penny back from the state for 2015.

IRS refund should arrive early next week. The entire $3,300 in tax refunds is earmarked for travel this year.

I have not filed the kids' taxes yet but they are mostly done. I might file them today. I just wanted to double check everything and I still have to pay the taxes they owe. They owed $6 in state taxes on about $2,500 of investment income. I try to keep their income tax-free but don't expend much energy towards that end. BM owed 5 of those dollars - I didn't notice his dividends were starting to get up there. More money, more dividends! I will revise my tax strategy to "$1,500 annual income" for him. If he owes the state $5 for that, I can live with that. (Federal is tax free $2k per year with the kiddie tax rules, but the state is only $1k tax-free).

**We got our first Ting bill since I have had work wifi. We barely used any minutes, texts or data this month. Our bill was $26.60. This is definitely what it will be at through tax season. When winter is over and my dad starts traveling again and I am not holed up at work 6 days a week, will see.

That's for the two of us. So, $13.30 per phone.

**Dh did a grocery run yesterday and did really good. He had earned $25-off and stocked up on a bunch of sales. Receipt said he paid $120 and saved $60. The pantry runneth over...

**Oh, and yesterday was kind of a lucky day all around. Surprise money in the checkbook. (Not expecting refund quite so fast). In addition, dh got his passport (we did not pay to get it faster, but they just sent it in a couple of weeks??). & dh also got the extra bulb for his projector (that was a rebate deal). Woohoo!

Lucky Day

November 20th, 2014 at 08:37 pm

**I noticed that the projector that we just bought was selling for $200 less today. (Probably has been one sale for a while, isn't that how these things go? Did it go on sale the day after we bought it?)

I wasn't sure it was the same projector, but I forwarded the link to dh. He pretty quickly wrote back that he had secured a $200 refund. Woohoo!

**Dh found a large amount of change, like he always does. It was up on a ledge and so I presume he just felt weird taking it. Because it wasn't on the ground? Don't ask me. Noticed it while picking up LM from school and I was going to let LM grab it on the way home, but forgot.

Anyway, I remembered later when driving the kids home in the evening and BM popped out of the car and the change was still there.

Three quarters and three dimes!

Other Fiscal Doings:

**Payday this week; paid off projector purchase. (When I get the $200 refund I will put it to savings).

**I redeemed $40 cash back from the Citi double dash card. Will throw into investments (snowflakes to investments). I expect to have $3,000 by year-end. (Not ALL snowflakes, but heavily contributed to with snowflakes).

**I harvested gains in the kids' investment accounts. I thought I was going to skip this year, but I can't complain about the market.

I basically just sold and re-bought their funds, to lock in tax-free gains.

**I made a play on Target stock after the data breach and that is paying off this week!

**I paid $2.65 for gas this week.

Death to the 529

January 10th, 2013 at 09:39 am

So, I talked to MIL to sort out the 529.

The final nail in the coffin was that BM's 529 plan didn't make any money in 2012. Even MIL knows that is "really terrible." !!

I don't have anything personal against 529 plans - they are a good tool for the wealthier. BUT, it is good to know how your 529 plans are performing and it is good to know if you are actually saving enough taxes to warrant the higher fees and all of the limitations that come with a 529 plan. I included a helpful article below, that discusses some of this. In addition, many tax cuts were just extended more permanently. For us, this means our taxable investments won't be taxed, for the foreseeable future. 15% tax bracket = 0% capital gains tax rate. & doubtful we will have gains large enough to bump us into a higher tax bracket, especially since we can harvest tax gains periodically. This recent tax law change makes the 529 plan pretty useless for our purposes.

I won't hold my breath until MIL gets her money out - I know stock broker will give her a really hard time about it. The penalties and interest don't amount to a hill of beans since the thing never made any money.


9 Situations In Which a 529 Plan May Not Make Sense



January 9th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

**Dh tried another Indian crockpot recipe. Chicken vindaloo.

The recipe closely approximated this one:


Except the recipe dh made was about double. (I am surprised it all fit in the crockpot). I think the flavors were good, but was a little watery instead of creamy. I found another recipe that was tomato sauce based and we might have to try that one for comparison.

Anyway, no wonder this is one of my favorite Indian dishes. All it is is a LOT of onions and garlic and peppers, and vinegar (TONS of onions!). That's about it - throw in some chicken and a pile of spices. YUM!

Will see how the leftovers shape up - if the sauce thickens a bit. This was dh's complaint about the saag paneer - he added cream after and said it was perfect. Might be the same story for this dish - it just isn't creamy. It's good enough that I don't think I really care. Big Grin


**I got a parking ticket in San Francisco for not curbing my wheels on a "more than 3% grade." Rolleyes I googled a bit, and while these tickets are often wrong, apparently, and fightable, I am pretty sure the grade was more than 3%. I've already paid the stupid thing... It's just that it never occured to me to curb my wheels since I wasn't actually on a hill of any note. I looked up 3%, and is about how it sounds. Like, about flat. The moral of the story is to never park *anywhere* in San Francisco without curbing your wheels. For me, lesson learned!

I won't sweat it, but I am peeved on a deeper level about the government's desparate grab for funds. I have a couple of friends who got even more stupid tickes locally, recently. IT doesn't matter what city - they are all desparate. At least mine wasn't $250...

$60 Out...


**MIL is talking about cashing out BM's 529 and giving the funds to us to invest. I am extremely pleased about this. I was telling dh, I have no idea why/when/how she started giving us the money to invest, but I appreciate it very much. I don't like 529 plans to begin with (inflexible/high fees), but what is worse is they have it in Merrill (more fees and fees and fees).

This was the holdout - she has a few thousand in a 529 plan for BM, from when before LM was born. Apparently once LM was born she just starting giving us the annual gifts.

I don't think there will be *any* penalties or taxes, because the thing has never made any money. But, that is what we have to sort out.


**Dh is talking me into returning to the city for a live show in a couple of weeks. Apparently the Thrilling Adventure Hour is going to be peformed there. It is an old-fashioned radio type show - usually performed live and then put out on podcast. Some of our favorite actors and comedians.

This is dh: "Of course the kids can go - it is not 21 and up." We have our strengths, and dh often seems clueless when it comes to the rules of children. I suppose it probably would have been easiest to call the venue. I *finally* found the policy last year was no children under 5. Though I will recommend a call to be sure, before buying expensive tickets!

I am not a huge fan of the podcats, but I am totally hooked on Paget Brewster in the Beyond Belief show. She is a crackup!! Really makes you appreciate radio theater - something we have never particularly experienced in our lifetime.

It's the week after dh's birthday, so I think we will likely not buy him anything for his birthday, and will make it a birthday thing. In fact, his mom was going to give him a check. No idea how much, but I think it is fair to use it for this. Other than that, will have to come out of vacation fund. We have short-term savings for this kind of thing, BUT, I already hit the short-term way too much for the first of the year. This is an opportunity that can not be passed up, but we have the vacation budget for it. {We had been talking about going to LA to see the show at some point - which would cost a heck of a lot more in gas and such}.


Other money out out out:

**BM needed new shoes - ran by Payless yesterday (thank goodness for those wide sizes).

**Funded kids lunch accounts for second half of year.

**Passports will be $200+ - will take from vacation fund. I don't know my options for paying. I assume check only, but will have to look that up. {I am trying really hard to go checkless, but something or other always pops up!}

Baconator & Investment Taxes

March 29th, 2012 at 05:24 pm

**Is it weird that I am bummed that first mortgage payment is not due for another month?

I think I am just itchy to make first payment and to see how extra principal payments are handled. The CU website does not have a space to enter "extra principal" with payment, and I am not keen to revert to a paper and check method (I do have paper coupons). I think I will just make the paymnet and send an e-mail about the principal application. I can't be the only one online who wants to just pay it at the wesbite, without a paper check.

Anyway, it's probably best to replenish savings with next paycheck. April 16th should bring me some serious cash inflow. Or not. I need to wait for my overtime to be 100% sure how much I want to put to the mortgage, anyway.

**I am thinking a lot more about tax gain harvesting. I share in case you are not aware that the long term capital gains tax rate is 0% for "15% or lower" income tax brackets. {Expires this year? Maybe not expiring with all this election stuff?} I've got too many tax shelters to bother with taxable investments, so it doesn't mean much to me, but am thinking about it in term of kids' UGMAs and my folks (who have no income at the moment, but lots of investments). Regardless, I was also thinking this was an easy scheme to skirt around the kiddie tax. To harvest gains. If the stock market stays up like this... I googled a bit and apparently this is quite common. I just hadn't thought about it before. Will need to think about it more as the stock market performs well and their balances grow.

**So much of marketing is getting you to pay more for very similar products. (Or, allowing you to pay much less, if it means you wouldn't buy it otherwise - i.e. senior and student discounts. Better to sell at lower prices than not all, to certain demographics).

Funny experience today. Dh met me for lunch. I had $7 cash in my wallet, and wasn't so interested in eating out, as I just wanted a break from craziness at work (but no time for the usual drive home). So we go to the Wendy's across the street, and I just look at the Dollar Menu and get some junior bacon cheeseburger thing. & some value fries. Dh orders the Baconator! It came out to like $7. Neither of us eat there very much at all (once every couple of years?). I am a BK gal and he likes Carls Jr. So, we sit down to eat and dh looks at his very small burger, and looks at mine, and says, "What is the difference??" I said, "It looks like it has a thicker patty?" He didn't believe me, but I thought it looked very slightly more substantial. Though otherwise it was pretty identical. So he tells me, "I paid $4 for this thing!" I just had to laugh because though it was a perfect size for me, there was no way that little burger was going to hold him until dinner. He was thinking big giant Carls Jr. type burger, know what I mean?

So he did complain about it - they told him it had a "premium bun" (looked identical?), more bacon, extra cheese, and a bigger patty.


I am sure all fast food chains have similarly priced type items. We just happened to order the budget-priced and the cadillac-priced version of the same thing. No discernable difference. We were both business majors (he majored in marketing), so there is nothing surprising about this. But I just thought it was funny. My dh was not amused!

Ah, I love the dollar menu!

I actually just noticed the other day that the BK shakes were almost $4 as well. I was thinking of getting one. I looked at the price and thought, "Like hell!" Their little fudge sundaes are $1. I figured the difference was negligible there, too.

Thoughts on the ROTH

April 15th, 2009 at 08:28 am

I changed our retirement contributions around.

I made my last 2008 contribution on Monday. We maxed out 2007 due to a windfall but didn't even bother trying in 2008. But I always put as much as I can into the prior year. So if we were to have another windfall, or dh were to return to work, we don't let go of ROTH contributions foolishly.

Anyway, since January I have been contributing $350 per month to MY ROTH simply because it was the only financial institution I Could figure out how to make 2008 contributions to automatically, during 2009.

Dh and I view our retirement (As everything else) merely as "one." That being said, he does not work and I have a pretty awesome retirement plan at work. The only downside, and it is a big one, is that if something happens to me, dh only gets something like 50%. I didn't even necessarily realize this until rather recently when I updated my paperwork to add my children as secondary beneficiaries.

Anyway, so between those 2 factors, I think it is a priority to plump up his ROTH. I will probably get $8k in my work plan this year. We will probably only put $4k-$5k into the ROTHs. Seems fair that it should go to him. (In the meantime, life insurance makes up for this unfortunate fact).

That being said, my boss will retire in a few years and I can roll my work retirement into an IRA. So this is certainly not the situation forever.

I am contributing $50/month, going forward, to my ROTH. Just to keep it rolling. I am contributing $300/month to dh's ROTH starting in May. I just set it all up for automatic contributions. Since the last couple of years we have only been contributing around $100/month max, we have stuck to the "retirement funds" and "Total stock indexes." As I changed things around my $50 continues to go to a "retirement fund" and dh's contributions are 50% total stock index/ 25% international index / 25% balanced fund. We haven't bought much international since the market dropped, so it's good to jump back in at lower prices.

I read something the other day like those Retirement funds are risky. Some are down 50%! Well, sure, if you just contributed once, at the peak, and never looked back. Dollar cost averaging significantly smooths those bumps. My "retirement fund" is down 20% today. I have contributed every month since mid 2007. I became a fan of dollar cost averaging when I had my 401k at my last job. It REALLY helps when the market slides anyway. We've unfortunately contributed most of our retirement monies in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008. Great! Right before the busts. But the dollar cost averaging makes it manageable. The losses are significantly muted. Being able to continue to contribute while the market is in the toilet, does pay off in the long run. WE are literally about breakeven - the balance in our retirement today reflect the initial contributions we have put in the last decade. Which kind of sucks that we don't have gains - but happy to say we truly have not "lost" much.


This year has been good to us. We met our 15% gross to retirement and 10% gross to cash savings goals in one fell swoop. I was hoping to meet these goals when LM garduated preschool. Our home refinance and his unplanned switch to a much cheaper school has made these possible about 18 months of schedule.

So I have been stepping back and looking at our startegy. My goals are clear. The best way to achieve them are not.

Maxing out the ROTH (basically, maxing out a second one) is clearly a priority. WE are still in a virtually zero tax bracket and we would be crazy not to take advantage.

Other goals are to save for college and to pay down the mortgage ahead of schedule. I will put up with a mortgage that is reasonable and cheaper than renting, in the short term. In the long run we are extremely debt adverse and want it paid off well before retirement.

I am worried about affording our health care, as usual. But besides those types of expected expense increases there is not a lot on the horizon. WE are very content with our "Wants" spending at present. I know dh wants more gadgets and we talk about more grand vacations when the children are older. But those things can wait for a second income or a big raise. In the meantime we are quite content. The nice thing for our wants wish list is most of them are one time expenses. Nothing we necessarily need a permanently increased income for.

I have personally been tempted to stop or greatly reduce ROTH contributions just long enough to get our cash savings up to snuff. It is TEMPTING!!!!!! IF we had $30k in the bank I think our current $5k annual cash contributions would suffice. But with the market in such a tizzy, dh and I decided to continue the ROTH contributions as is. We are instead nearing $20k in the bank, and so have a decent amount of cathing up to do. But for now we are optimistic we can max out one ROTH and get our savings up to snuff in the next year or 2.

As far as maxing out the second ROTH? If we can avoid using our medical deductible, we can max out a second ROTH, maybe in 2010. We could contribute that money to a HSA but I like HSAs about as much as 529s. Lots of fees and little flexibility. Which leaves me of the opinion that HSAs and 529s will be our friend when my spouse returns to work and we have more savings than we know what to do with (& when our income tax rates are higher). In the meantime? Not ready to contribute to a HSA or a 529. They make little sense for people in our situation.

Which leads me to thoughts on college. No one in my family has spent much on college, and prices are still quite reasonable in California. In fact, my parents did not save a dime of money for me for college and since dh's parents are huge college money gifters, my kids have about as much money as my entire college education cost (a whopping $10k) at age 3 & 5. IT's not something I particularly sweat, and is another reason I would not save TONS in a 529. BEcause you get penalized on the money that is not used for college.

I have been thinking about it and maxing out our ROTH would put us about 25% contributions to retirement. Clearly more than necessary (we have always put away 10% - 15%, since we graduated college). As long as we are in this position I have decided not to contribute more money to the kids. The one exception is I may contribute a little more so I Can diversify their funds a bit more. (Since every fund needs a certain minimum). Aside from that, the ROTHs will become triple purposed. They hold some of our cash emergency fund, they hold a decent amount of our true retirement funds, and now they will hold a decent amount of investments for college in the offchance our kids "must" go to Stanford or something along those lines. In the meantime, truth is, their college will probably be paid for by the grandparents anyway. So even if dh returned to work, not sure we would go the 529 route... I view it more as contributing to retirement, but I can still sleep well at night if I am REALLY wrong about the whole college thing.

Which means simply, after thinking about it, the only true goal we have once our retirement vehicles are maxed, is to pay off the house.

Dh's income literally went about 100% to our house when he worked (down payment). & I think we will resume this plan when/if he returns to work. Literally, take his paycheck and pay down the house. It's amazing to me what a huge difference a mere $5k a year in income could make. That would be quite a dent. But yes, I think we have come full circle.

I tend to be extremely idealistic so we shall see. One thing at a time...

I just wanted to share my thinking with my current goals. They always seem to be evolving as circumstances change.


June 28th, 2007 at 10:33 pm

$20 challenge:

$7,635.32 - Balance 6/18

$ 90.00 - Interest
$ 75.00 - Focus Group
$ 75.00 - Gift Cards (reward)

$7,875.32 - Balance 6/30

Dh did a focus group last night. They only take a few people so you can get paid to show up and just leave (kind of like jury duty - but a much bigger paycheck).

So he made $75 for 2 hours - he did get called in. They paid cash. He kept $20 to replace his emergency $20 in his wallet, I took $5 since I also had no cash, and will put $50 in the bank with my paycheck next week. I might just save it, but am thinking to holding onto it in case I need babysitting next month. He is going on a big 3-day hike but no date set. Not big on planning - LOL. I may need a babysitter since it will be a busy time at work. We'll see. $50 would hardly cover it either, but it's a start. Otherwise I'd put it straight to the efund.

He filled out a form that asked questions about me too. So now 2 of us are in the focus group pool. SWEET. Hell he made more per hour than I do. I am impressed!!!

Interest ran around $90 this month. Yes I did the balance transfer but the money was only in there a few days before interest was paid for the month. Actually most of it comes from my new 5.7% c.d. It's only a 0.4% increase but gosh between that and the balance transfer for a few days made QUITE a difference. A very good month.

Oh yes and the $75 gift cards - credit card rewards. We used them for stuff we were going to buy anyway (food, laundry detergent, kids PJs, kid birthday presents). Free money.

Our credit card bill thus far looks INSANELY low for the month (knock on wood). The gift cards no doubt helped. Well just a few more days. We may come under budget. Even with some huge excesses. Lord knows how - we just haven't spent much on gas and groceries since we got back from vacation. ??? Even with ALL the driving. Gas prices going down certainly helps.

In other news I think I lost my mind. Though I am not big on putting the kids before us financially (well their college anyway - obviously we put them first today). On the other hand, I am learning about the power of compounding. I am considering dropping in $50/month into a mutual fund for them. Looks like they will get enough money from grandma to open a fund this year. If I open one I kind of want to make regular contributions, and the AIP minimum is $50. I believe per month. So I am considering it. I could easily redirect the money I was prepaying on the mortgage to this for BM this year. & next year I can start to add the money for LM too. $50 by itself is small beans. & since LM is younger I can easily wait another year to better afford his contribution.

I will consider it if I can fully fund my IRA. Dh's IRA next year will be left to windfalls and him working. Then again all I need him to scrounge up is $400/month to fund his IRA and put our retirement savings at 25% (25% of my wage anyway). It's not that big of a deal. I think though I like this idea because I can put a very small token amount to the college funds now and it should REALLY pay off with time. I estimate with a pretty conservative balanced fund that their money would be $50k/each at college. Just doing $50/month plus grandma's money. & if she eventually stops her contributions, if dh is working we can make up the $1k/year easily. So I think $100k for college (for both the kids) is a worthy & easily attainable goal. The fact is the longer we wait the more it costs us. I am coming around.

I am not a big believer in 529 plans since we didn't spend much at all on college. I don't like the penalty for not spending it on college. I am considering UTMA accounts instead. We could avoid taxes in the meantime. Which is not really my aim. Well, maybe it is. LOL. I have always been against saving a big chunk in the kids' name - entitlement issues. But whatever. Between that and their already existing 529 ($4k or so?) and any taxable investments we'll save down the road, yes this is why I never really worried about it. The kids will have so much more money for college than I could have ever even imagined having. They are truly blessed. Up until now I figured a paid off mortgage before they start college and a 2nd income would have them WELL covered. & it really would. But hell if we save now then that is less we have to save later - more we can enjoy that second income when it returns. Big Grin

Well it's a plan, for now I am looking at a budget like this:

17% Retirement (long-term)
13% short-term ("escrow" fund)
5% mid-term (car/house fund)
1.5% Kids

I think I can throw them that bone. My aim has been 15% retirement so if we made it and everything else is covered, the kids will just have to be darn spoiled...

My parents hinted they would trickle down more money (they have been getting a lot in inheritance/wealth management gifts from their parents). So it is likely we can scrounge up a full IRA contribution for dh next year as well. Part sweat, part windfall perhaps. Not counting on it but there isn't really anything else we would need the money for at this point. Well I hope it stays that way anyway!

If you told me in 2003 that I could swing this all on one income I would have never believed it. WOW. We used to save dh's money. I keep pondering the many scenarios if he goes back to work and we won't even need it for savings. Perhaps early retirement will be back on the table. Since we have had kids I figured that was out the window. Wink I try not to get too ahead of myself there. Health insurance is still a huge issue and I also need to save pennies for orthodontia and all that too. I think we will still have PLENTY of challenges ahead. But my more immediate goal of working part-time is becoming more and more realistic by the day. My goal was to support my family on part-time income by age 40. Getting there. With each raise we rely less and less on my entire income, and the market is still conducive to some big raises. So I am feeling good these days about everything financially. I really haven't for the last couple of years. So PHEW.