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2019 Goals

January 5th, 2020 at 02:37 pm

2019 Goals

**Financial**

[X]$12,000 to IRAs 2019 (MAX)
...($12,000 @ 12/31/19)
...Not entirely sure how we will fund this. Because my salary decreased by $12,000 this year, this was the obvious thing to give. It will have to come from gifts, MH's income, my bonus, and/or shifting money from taxable investments. Funding our IRAs is always our first priority, but just will not be funded from my salary.
UPDATE: For 2019, ended up funding with second job and MH's income.

[X]$7,000 to savings
...($7,175 @ 12/31/19)
...$550/month, plus interest.
...Topping off with snowballs
UPDATE: Goal Met. Even when I subtracted out major expenses paid with cash, extra to mortgage, etc., we somehow ended up meeting our savings goal. I definitely over shot. Some "over preparing" on our part.

[X]$1,500 to investments
...($2,033 @ 12/31/19)
...Funded with snowflakes
UPDATE: Goal Met. Did better than expected, but did it with the snowflakes.

[X]9% of my full-time income to work retirement plan
...This is the minimum for the match; I'd otherwise rather fund IRAs.
Note: Maxing out IRAs is additional 15% to retirement. This is very deja vu to lower income years. The last time we saved 20%+ to retirement was during our lowest income years. This is due to substantial tax savings and employer contributions (how I am funding the entire 9%). Plus, if we max out IRAs regardless, it's a bigger percentage of a smaller income.

STRETCH GOAL:

[/]$6,000 to mortgage
...($3,370 @ 12/31/19)
...$3k per year to pay off in 20 years (from last refi); also ensures that we pay more principal than interest
...In years past I had funded with OT, but am no longer working at a job with OT. This is a placeholder because we skipped 2018. If we have a windfall of any sort, I'd like to pay down $3,000 for 2018 and $3,000 for 2019. For now, this is our lowest financial priority (expect to fund some home improvements instead during 2019, and tend to other expensive cash flow items first).
...2020 & Forward, our much bigger priorities will be college and down payment for next home ($$$$$). I don't expect to have any future mortgage goals (but to pay off when we sell in a few years).
UPDATE: 1/2 Goal Met. I ended up putting +$3k (2018 placeholder) as a stretch goal for 2020, and will be adding $100/month mortgage in lieu 15-year/lower interest refi. If MM(16) gets accepted to and chooses private college (likely), we will probably really and truly abandon future mortgage goals. For now, have more cash/income than we expected.

Some commentary from my original 2019 Goal Post:
Money that was going to taxable investments before, is now going to 401k. From a net worth standpoint, it's all well and good, but I am not thrilled because I feel like I need a bajillion dollars cash (teen drivers x2, braces x2, home repairs, etc., all in the very near future). "College savings" is accordingly on the back burner again, but I am okay with earmarking ROTH money (for college) during years we contribute 20%+ to retirement. Otherwise, it wouldn't make any sense to be so retirement heavy, at the expense of the rest of our finances, but everything is so "hell if I know," I'd rather err with piling up ROTHs.

I do also expect some side income in 2019, but will just be hoarding up cash to fund IRAs and to pay for big planned expenses.


All of the above is still true. It feels good to knock out braces ($$$$$) and is mostly why I worked second job 1/2 of the year. We don't borrow for things, we've always been creative and/or just make more money as needed.

College is still complete limbo, "Heck if I know." Somewhere between -$0- and six figures. Should be more clear in another 12 months. I could see just doing the 9% to retirement (work retirement plans with matches) if MM(16) ends up at private school. But it's too likely he will end up at our "cost pennies" alma mater, so I don't see the point of changing anything at this point. Could be drastic changes next year when we get out of limbo land.

Net Worth Update

January 1st, 2020 at 03:12 pm

+$105,000!

Wow, what a year! My money worked harder than I did this year, for sure.

{We've many times had six figure real estate increases in a single year, but have never had these kind of stock market gains}.

It was a good year to have this win. I had taken a pay cut and we had some significant expenses. Which makes it all the more incredible how the year turned out.

I was just excited and wanted to make sure to crunch numbers first thing to see where we landed.

We paid down the mortgage by $9,000 and the rest was stock market contributions and gains. (If you are wondering why I'd rather invest than pay down my mortgage more rapidly, this is probably a good illustration. Maybe especially considering that we have also had many $100+ gains with a mortgaged home).

Today we could pay off our mortgage and still have $340,000 cash/investments. For the first time, we could do this with only cashing out about 1/2 our ROTH IRA and all of our taxable investments. It's the first time we could leave everything else intact (emergency fund, kids' college, rest of retirement, etc.). I am not tempted yet, but honestly, if I had an additional $50k in investments, we could pay off our mortgage AND leave six figures in our ROTH IRA. At that point, I would probably be tempted. Especially with just cashing out at a peak. Taking the money and running. I've always said there is a tipping point. I just have never been so close to the tipping point. If my stocks go up $100k next year, I wouldn't rule it out. (We seriously considered doing this with our house in 2005, but we just missed the boat. We had literally decided to move and cash out our house, doing a second "moving to a significantly lower cost region" move, but the market started to tank before we executed the move. We clearly weren't the only ones who had this idea). I am afraid we are probably in "will just miss the boat territory" this time too. Will see...

P.S. I'd honestly rather the market go down and be able to buy stocks cheaper. While it's fun to see big numbers on the balance sheet, I don't think of this huge stock market run up during my prime working years as being terribly useful to my long-term wealth.

We need our net worth to continue to increase (on average) $50k per year to reach our Financial Independence goal at age 50.

Estimate Net Worth Change for 2020:
Mortgage: Paydown $7,000
Investments: Contribute $4,000
Retirement: Contribute $21,000
Investment Returns: $18,000 (would need 4% gain)
TOTAL INCREASE: $50,000

Our net worth changes never look anything like our estimate (it's rare any asset class actually has an average year). But, I go through this exercise just to make sure my goal is realistic and doable.

P.S. We will likely hit the $1 mil mark with our assets this year. Just $30k to go... That will be a very exciting milestone.

P.S.S. Good Riddance to 2019! I wish I was more optimistic about 2020, but it's shaping up to be very difficult. I can only hope for some space whatsoever to breathe and process anything that is happening.

December Savings

December 29th, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Received $60 bank interest for the month of December.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card (maxed out 2019 grocery rewards).
--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $33 cash back on dining/gas card; used for grocery rewards this month

Other snowflakes to Investments:
+ $231 Re-Invest Dividends
+ $ 8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

TOTAL: $355 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$1,400

Snowball to Savings:
+$1,100 MH Income
+$ 500 Bonus
-$ 250 Charity

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 482 Flood Insurance
-$ 195 AAA
-$ 160 Vacation Expense
-$ 125 Yearbooks (2)
-$ 100 School Concert

TOTAL: $4,053 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Vacation expense was $100 fuel and $60 eating out, MH's LA trip. We planned to spend a wee bit more on that trip, but I ended up sick at home instead. We canceled the one hotel night we were going to pay for, he used his parents' timeshare for two nights.

$100 school concert ~ $60 to buy tickets for us and all the grandparents. We also ended up spending $40 to feed everyone the night of the concert. This is the art school we pay -0- to, so I am always happy to contribute monies. I save a bajillion dollars with all the free/public art classes.

I guess MM(16) was sick that night (before he gave me his awful flu). Always someone can't make it last minute and I give away the $9 tickets. It always makes someone so happy. So when we got there I went up to the box office and told the lady buying tickets I had an extra student ticket if she wanted it. She didn't even look at me or say Thank You. I told MH, "Wow, that was really unsatisfying." Usually the response is more like, "Really????!!! Thank You!!" She looked so stressed out buying those tickets, I'd like to think I made her life a little easier.

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So... I am completely dumbfounded by this update. This was our level of savings when I was working second job. But I guess that it comes down to getting my raise and getting that $800/month back. I wouldn't have thought it was going to be a particularly lucrative month, was more just our typical savings kind of month.

But... This probably sums up pretty well how I ended up with an extra $3,000 that I felt comfortable throwing at the mortgage. I decided quite unexpectedly and last minute to knock that goal out. Sidebar is updated. (Had $3k+ cash left over after setting aside $12k for IRAs; we also have a 12-month emergency fund).

401k was a little extra this month because I received a 3rd paycheck 12/31 (my small business employers always advance the last paycheck of the year for tax purposes). I did also receive a bonus, which bumped up my 401k contribution.

The bonus is a new thing I have never had before. I didn't blog about it because it was not too exciting. I mean, it's EXCITING. But... I didn't pay any taxes in whatsoever for my self-employment income this year, so I put most of my bonus to taxes. It was a choice that I made. (This had been my plan all along, but I had expected a summer bonus to cover it). It's nothing like it sounds. My tax rate only ended up being about 10% on all that side income. Because I ended up with $8k orthodontist expenses to offset my income. I know there is definitely a huge element of financial savvy and strategy that comes with my tax knowledge. Like knowing I can just withhold my SE taxes from my paycheck, and it's all the same in the end. (Which I felt was prudent because I had no idea where on earth my taxes would land this year, until I got confirmation of bonus this month). But... Honestly 90% of the time it is just being in the right place at the right time. I had $10k of write-offs I wouldn't have had in prior years, between the ortho and tax law changes. So I made out pretty well.

I still had $500 left over (from bonus) after that, which I threw at savings.

Edited to add: We did our "gift from in-laws to Charity" thing over the weekend. I ended up making all of our donations Sunday night, and realized I was about $250 short of what I Wanted to do. Which makes sense, because we used to allocate my old Christmas bonus ($250) every year to charity. {I guess I consider that more of a "Christmas Gift" than a "Bonus". My bonus this year was a few thousand dollars, which is the very new and different part. I have absolutely never before had an employer give me extra money "just because". To clarify why I said I hadn't received a bonus before}. I ended up subtracting $250 from bonus above and updating numbers.

November Savings

December 8th, 2019 at 02:26 pm

Received $60 bank interest for the month of November.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card (maxed out 2019 grocery rewards).
--Redeemed $59 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $30 cash back on dining/gas card; used for grocery rewards this month

Other snowflakes to Investments:
+$100 Birthday Cash**
+ $30 Surprise gift from credit union
+ $ 6 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
- $95 Annual Fee on grocery card

TOTAL: $130 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$775

Snowball to Savings:
+$1,100 MH Income
+$ 215 Self-employment income

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$5,750 Property Taxes
-$ 432 Disability Insurance
-$ 227 Car Registration
-$ 85 Museum Membership
-$ 50 Medical Expenses

TOTAL: -$2,314 Net
(Invested +$905, -$3,219 from cash)


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**I decided to add my birthday cash to investments. Otherwise, I'd only have a $30 deposit, which is probably below the minimum that I can add to investments. There is absolutely nothing I want or need, so is probably the best use of Birthday money.

I was just going through the kids' accounts and saw that they also both received $10 from our credit union. Nice for them!

November was another month from hell. I was so sick that I missed work for 2+ weeks.

We had to cancel our LA trip. Well, MH went for a couple of days and MM(16) stayed home to take care of me. I feel pretty *shrugs* about it because we were maybe going to go twice in the first half of next year. I mean, it's a bummer and I had been really looking forward to the adults-only trip, but we may get a redo soon enough.

I've got a lot of friends and family going through some very tough stuff, so that is the stuff I need to tend to when I feel a little better. On top of everything else (which has been way too much), GMIL had a stroke on Thanksgiving. (I think she will be fine). There were other worse things that happened...

On the flip side of the coin, net worth is up $90k+ for the year. Finances just keep swimming along in the background. It will be interesting to see where things land 12/31.

October Savings

November 3rd, 2019 at 03:15 pm

Received $70 bank interest for the month of October.

Snowflakes:
--Redeemed $39 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $133 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $18 cash back on dining/gas/grocery card.

Other snowflakes:
$ 5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

{Note: Did not put snowflakes to investments this month,applied to large expenditure}

401k Contributions/Match:
+$750

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 900 MH Paychecks
+$ 100 MH Focus Group
+$ 265 Self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,265 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 3,700 Orthodontist**

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 460 Car Insurance
-$ 260 Electricity^ (for prior year, electric car)
-$ 190 Misc.
-$ 120 Prepay school lunch

TOTAL: -$695 Net
(Invested +$750, -$1,445 from cash)


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^Electricity expenditure ~ we have balanced billing and so though we added an electric car to our household we haven't really been paying for it. Had a $260 accumulation I could have spread over next 12 months, but I just wanted to pay it off and be done. I didn't want to spend the next 12 months paying for the last 12 months of car charging.

Prediction from last month:
October should be a good money month.

Things went as predicted. We would have had +$3,000 to savings/investments if it wasn't for another orthodontist surprise. (More Below). & to be clear, I am in "significantly reduced salary" mode.

Unfortunately, November will not be any prettier. I just pulled $5,500-ish out of savings so that I can get property taxes covered for the next year. I am paying a little early and pre-paying. This goes in the "simplicity" category. Don't want to think about it for another 12 months.

**Most of the Citi card reward was due to charging some orthodontist expenses to a credit card. It was very out of nowhere, so I immediately pulled from savings and just paid it off. (This is what we had decided to do for LM, but MH just presumed we'd come to the same conclusion with kid #2. He didn't even talk to me about it! Just came home to, "I spent $4,000 today.") MM went in for a consult and he was recommended a similar treatment plan to his brother. I think it's probably where we would have ended up but I was just dumbfounded that MH didn't discuss with me. (I think this is just a side effect of us both being so run down by life at the moment). On the flip side, he was in such a hurry to pay, he whipped out the credit card. That's good because I got about $75 cash back to offset the cost. Wish I had known for DL's braces. All their fine print was that there was a fee for credit card. Just another reminder that it never hurts to ask! I swear, fine print is usually optional, from my experience. When it comes to bigger purchases.

I had been planning to spend around $12,000 on braces this year (expected scenario) and we are up to about $8,000 so far. So, it was kind of *shrugs* in the end. It probably helped that I was being very cognizant this was precisely why we had so much extra cash and everything has been pretty zen lately. We over-prepared, as we tend to do.

I just threw all the credit card rewards (this month) to offset the ortho costs.

October was some crazy month from hell, as they all are any more. So honestly, this was probably the most boring thing that happened. In fact, that was a "calm" week. I remember thinking it was sad that waiting for MH's MRI results and getting a surprise $4,000 bill is what I consider calm.

& there is more. Now, MM(16) is being referred to jaw surgery. The saving grace is I have two boys. The surgery I had at 16, they don't do until 20s for boys. Because they are still growing. DL(14) has my same jaw and was referred to surgery at age 23? That is very grey area with "cosmetic surgery for medical reasons" and not sure how that will shake out. I don't know what the heck MM(16)'s deal is but it's not the same. I believe they said age 26 for MM. But, the Ortho did happen to mention that our insurance had never turned down covering this particular surgery (if he referred). So that was a nice heads up. Regardless, both cans are getting kicked *way* down the road. It really really sucks that they both have to deal with this, but I don't have any room whatsoever in my brain (right now) for "things that may or may not happen in another 10 years."

September Savings

October 6th, 2019 at 02:07 pm

Received $73 bank interest for the month of September.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $53 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $56 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $8 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 3 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$ 20 Citi Price Rewind
$150 Dividend

TOTAL: $290 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$700

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 210 Car Maintenance (new battery/oil change)
-$ 160 Misc. Purchase MH (disability related)
-$ 70 Misc. Purchase MH

TOTAL: $2,573 deposited to cash and investments

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I don't think that things could be any more financially mellow. I am experiencing the reward of working my butt off earlier in the year. Phew!

October should be a good money month. MH received a 12%+ raise (minimum wage increase) and was asked to work more hours. It's becoming more obvious that we should just use his income to fund our IRAs. But 2019 is well covered so we will probably start that in 2020. I also have about $500 in side work to bill, so we will have a few snowballs to add to savings.

Anyway, I can tell you that money has been entirely in the background through all of this, but it's just even moreso right now. We had a lot of big expenses earlier in the year, but it's just a little slice of quiet and calm right now.

March Savings

April 3rd, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Received $83 bank interest for the month of January.

Also received a $150 bank bonus.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $46 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$100 Tax Refund
$170 Dividend

TOTAL: $359 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$800

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$ 750 February self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,550 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 890 Elliptical purchase (dropped gym membership)**

**My super awesome discount gym closed and transferred my membership to a really crappy gym.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 450 Misc. Expenses (school lunches pre-paid for a few months, medical bills, etc.)

TOTAL: $2,750 deposited to cash and investments

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Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.


All of this is still true. I put $2,000 medical bills on new reward card. I pulled this out of savings in April, along with $11,000 to fund IRAs (for 2018). All of this will show up on my April report.

{I ended up funding our IRAs today}.

I also didn't save any of MH's income in March (again) and couldn't tell you why. It's kind of moot because March is really just paying all of February expenses (credit card charges). So this month was already over (spending-wise) when I did my last monthly update. I don't know that anything has particularly changed, but March expenses (paid in April) ended up balancing to about the penny. & that was during a crazy busy month when I doubt we were particularly frugal (except for being too busy to spend money). I actually just found $150 I accidentally transferred to savings for April, and will fix that by the end of the month. I expect I might find more stuff like that if I look back the last two months.

Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

I will try to do some more work posts later. But I am starting to feel more *chill* about dropping second income. Some of my reluctance to drop the second income was not having any real idea how things would go with new job. But after 6 months, I feel pretty confident I have found a long-term work home. I also think it's pretty likely I will replace my old salary this year (with the one job). This was part of my strategy and willingness to take a pay cut in the interim.