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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

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

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.

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

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)


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

**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)


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

^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.

July Savings

October 4th, 2019 at 12:57 am

Received $75 bank interest for the month of July.

Snowflakes to Mortgage:
--Redeemed $47 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $66 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $15 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to Mortgage:
$ 3 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$39 rounded up mortgage payment

TOTAL: $170 snowflakes to mortgage

401k Contributions/Match:
+$600

Snowball to Savings:
-0- {No side income this month}

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

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-0-

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 280 Car Stereo for MM(16)
-$ 265 Car Insurance for MM(16)
-$ 220 Vacation Expense (brought friend to camp)
-$ 130 Amazon Prime
-$ 120 Dentist

TOTAL: $1,780 deposited to cash and investments

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

This is more of a June sum up (on the spending side), since we mostly charge everything and pay off the following month.

From last month:
June went pretty well. It was a very low spend month. Without all the stress and extra income, we just fell back on our old habits (which is living on a shoestring). It's an easy default for us.

It was the first month of my new salary reality ($1,000 less per month), without any side income or additional income. June went very well and we were still able to hit aggressive savings goals. I wish I could say July went so well, but I sat down and went through the books for July today (I always pay everything the first of the month) and July was pretty ugly. It was a "death by a thousand cuts" month, though I think we did pretty well considering. Just not sure if I will have anything to add to (cash) savings next month. It will be a bit of a breakeven month. I expect August (spending) to be more like June. Maybe more low key since the kids will be back at school for the entire month. We are also done with vacations, birthdays, etc.

Our dining out rewards were also clearly insane. I had about $200 in spending (kids' birthdays) that were reimbursed by other people. Plus a lot of vacation eating out, etc. Our grocery bill was actually quite reasonable. (Probably not reasonable enough, considering MM was mostly gone for 8 days. But was much better than other summer months. Phew!)

401k contributions dropped a bit since it was just my income/contributions this month.

Short-term spending was very kid-centric. We paid final expenses on car (before handing it over to MM on his birthday). As a birthday present, we got him a new car stereo with bluetooth. We also paid for DL to invite a friend along to camp. (Which is no big deal because most years MIL insists on paying for us. Just paying it forward).

I did decide to throw all my snowflakes to the mortgage this month. I expect this may likely be the "last hoorah" with our mortgage. I had been paying down an extra $3k per month (OT money) to keep payoff within 30 years of original mortgage. (We've refied several times as interest rates drop, but never felt comfortable with a shorter mortgage term with the volatile economy in our lower-cost locale). I am no longer getting paid OT and so don't have that extra money to throw at the mortgage. MH's income will probably fund IRAs this year (bigger priority). I put a placeholder on my sidebar, but as more time passes and there's no windfall to cover it, it seems less likely I will pay any extra on our mortgage again. So, why the extra payment today? Completely psychological. It's a year or two later than I expected, but we finally dropped below the $150k mark. I had to throw the extra $170 this month to get there. It feels good. Having a $14X,XXX mortgage, feels extraordinary for this California girl.

We've absolutely never hit our mortgage hard. Never more than $20 here or there, or the "extra $3k per year after I cut the monthly payments down by $7,500 per year" kind of thing. Still paying far less than when we started (at 8%). So throwing the extra $3k per year was throwing it a bone, and making sure we don't have a mortgage for more than 30 years But it all seems pretty moot at this point. We are only planning to stay in our home 5-ish more years. We will never pay off before we sell. & we plan to downsize into a home we can pay cash for. Our bigger goal right now is to save up a down payment for our next home. It would be our preference to buy our next home before we sell this one. It just keeps things more flexible and will allow us to jump when we find the right home.

This is also compounded by this whole "kid starting college in 2 years" thing. There will also be cash hoarding in prep for that. I don't know how much I can succeed on either of these fronts (down payment, college costs) with my salary, but MH is looking for full-time work to that end. If he starts bringing home $2k-$3k every single month, we are just going to start hoarding cash. We will never live up to a second income. We will use it to buy a house (again) or pay for a temporary expense like college.

Anyway, I feel much better about this after having reached this psychological milestone. It's easier to just let it go. Will be happy to have an under $150k mortgage for a few years, and then will be done with the only debt we have ever had.

Edited to add:
I suppose I officially reached cash savings goal for 2019. It's not that exciting, because it depends on what comes up the rest of the year (that might drain cash) and I still need to come up with IRA money. I mean, I have $12k cash for our 2019 IRAs, but that was all saved from second income. I need to start meaningfully saving for 2020 and forward. Trying to get ahead of the curve as much as possible, until we get our income back to where it was.