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Archive for November, 2015

Retirement goal progress

December 1st, 2015 at 04:14 am

The goal: $486,000 in retirement assets by 2019

Current balance: $256,156

Oct balance: $252,891

Progress: $3265

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 39 months, so we'd need $5893 per month to reach it. Not likely through straight contributions, so we'll have to hope for some growth on top of that!

November 2015 net worth update

December 1st, 2015 at 03:44 am

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($27,368)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($32,801)
#3: 4,452 pounds ($7,123)
NT's 401(k): $39,700
NT's Roth IRA: $7,473
AS's trad. IRA: $14,959
AS's Roth IRA: $24,409
AS's SEP IRA: $6,082
CJ's 401(k): $83,878
CJ's Roth IRA: $12,363
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($288,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
---
Total Assets: $984,156

Total Debt: $483,753

Current Estimated Net Worth: $500,403

October 2015 estimate: $496,161

Change in net worth: +$4,242

Summary: Our retirement accounts pretty much stagnated, but we made some contributions and paid down some debt, so our net worth finally inched up over the half-million mark!

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. I don't have a way to check NT's UK pensions or flat value, so their values stay static for the purpose of this update (unless I happen to get some info by chance). UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.60 for every British pound.

Lost November

November 30th, 2015 at 05:52 am

Oh, hi.

So I see it's been a while since I posted. Let me recap my November.

My last entry was Nov. 5. On the morning of Nov. 7, I woke up with body aches and chills. (Yes, I got the flu shot back in September. Oh well.) For two days I crouched on the couch or lay in bed, alternately shivering and sweating. Monday I felt marginally better but stayed home sick. Tuesday, I felt a little better so I worked from home. I managed to go in Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday a cough developed that was really persistent, so I stayed home, billing a half day each day and resting up some more.

That weekend (Nov 14-15) I felt like I was improving so I went in Monday through Wednesday, sucking cough drops and putting on a brave face. By Wednesday afternoon I could tell I wasn't better yet, so I stayed home for a half-sick, half work from home day on Thursday. Friday I needed to go to a studio to help direct an all day video shoot for my job. I was chilly and lethargic but managed not to ruin any shots with my coughing. We ordered lunch from a great sushi place and I could barely eat my spring rolls and cucumber maki. I came home and felt like a zombie.

Saturday (Nov 21) I rested all day and thought if I didn't feel any better in the morning, I'd go see someone. I woke up with my face aching from congestion build-up overnight, and planned a bus ride to get to the nearest CVS minute clinic. Luckily I got there early and was the first one to sign up, because they only had one doctor on duty. She checked me out and said "Well, your ears look great! ... I thought I'd start with some good news." She told me I had sinusitis and was just on the verge of getting pneumonia. She also said judging from my symptoms that it sounded like this rollercoaster ride had started with the flu.

I got antibiotics, an inhaler and Mucinex and was told to cough up everything in my lungs so it didn't develop into pneumonia. I wonder now if I was overzealous with the cough drops and caused the mucus buildup.

Monday and Tuesday I just straight stayed home sick, not trying to do work except for answering one or two emails. Wednesday my office was closed and so I had a freebie day to rest up before Thanksgiving. By Tofurky day I felt mostly human; not a huge appetite, but I cooked all my dishes, tried a bit of everything and enjoyed myself. My 5-year-old woke up that day with diarrhea and ended the night with a fever and chills, but we put her to bed with some acetamenophin and she woke up Friday like nothing had happened. Ah, the miraculous healing powers of young bodies!

I too was feeling much better on Friday. Still a bit lethargic, but completely human. Stuffed myself with leftovers and got my Thanksgiving food coma just a day late. Smile

Yesterday and today I've felt completely back to normal. Thank goodness! I haven't been that sick for that long maybe ever.

Oh, and did I mention I was doing NaNoWriMo? Some days I couldn't even muster the energy to type, so I would fall behind, and then other days I would lie on the couch and type on and off all day, sometimes getting 5000 or more words done over the course of a day. I finally finished (finished my story and got to 50,000 words) this evening! AS also did (and won) NaNoWriMo, as did one of my downstairs neighbors. NT was gone a ton of the holiday weekend for this group he belongs to, helping organize and attending several talks and music shows they had going on, so I felt like I barely saw him, and AS and I barely talked because we were hunched over our computers trying to finish our novels. I only took breaks to rest, play video games, take care of the kids' basic needs and eat.

Once I was done with NaNo it was time to catch up on my long-neglected budget. I finished that up tonight. I remembered to do a 400 pound payment to NT's mum, so now we only owe her 450 pounds. Luckily nothing else was late or too out of shape with our budget. It's been a hugely spendy month; the latest blow was an $800 bill from our contractor for going over budget on our living room. (Though, to be honest, he did run into a few snags, so I can understand why we didn't hit the original estimate.) But we're doing OK.

Oh, and while I was sick my city had another controversial homicide of a civilian by a police officer. (Getting justice for police brutality is my No. 1 cause.) There were marches, rallies, and now a large group of activists are camped outside the police station nearest the killing. A few days after they started the occupation, some racist armed guys that had been infiltrating the camp, saying weird things and filming, got chased away by some of the protesters, and they opened fire, wounding five people! All this was happening and I couldn't attend a single event. NT was able to attend a few things, and I donated money to three different causes related to the crisis, and shared tons of info on social media. Some sick days I just stayed glued to Twitter, following what happened.

My dad was calling and emailing on and off because he and Mom are doing their wills and he wanted to get various bits of info from me and keep me updated on what was going on with it. I was frankly shocked he didn't already have one in place; he's 84 and my mom is 81. I had my estate planning done when I was about 36! But then he's got a very standard traditional family structure, whereas I've got two partners and a non-biological kid, so the law defaults work for him, while we really needed to put protections in place.

While we were communicating I let him know I wouldn't be coming home in December. I'll aim for January, when I'll have more PTO. Plus, I just lost a month. I haven't done any Xmas preparation, planning or gift buying, and I feel like I've barely had any quality time with my nuclear family for a month. I want to stay home and make up for that lost time, plus get ready for Xmas.

Now I'm going to have some urgent stuff to do for work this week. I've got en email and intro for an infographic due by midmorning tomorrow, and three or four articles I'd really planned to turn in before the end of the month, but luckily we've got a bit of wiggle room on those. By the time I'm done with all that I'm sure I'll be butting up against deadlines on a few more of my projects. I suddenly seem to be constantly busy at work! But I've got some really high-profile projects and most of the stuff I'm doing is well within my comfort zone, so I'm happy at work. Just a little freaked that I'm going to be farther behind than I realize when I get in tomorrow!

But there were some high points to this lost month. First, I finished NaNoWriMo, proving that I really can write a novel in a month even under the worst possible circumstances.

Second, this was the first holiday when our kids played and/or watched shows by themselves for large periods of time, so we actually got time for adult relaxation (or would have, if I weren't sick and dealing with NaNoWriMo). It's bittersweet because I know someday they'll barely have time for us at all, but at the same time the taste of freedom is sweet!

Third, our 5-year-old AA had a breakthrough on reading and writing. She can now sound out and spell basic words!

Fourth, we should be able to pay off NT's mum by mid-December. That will feel really great!

Fifth, the El Nino winter has been really mild so far; we've barely had any days below freezing and just got our first real snow on Thanksgiving day (and that was only an inch or so). Winter will begin in earnest soon, but ordinarily it would have been here for a month already, so this has been a heck of a reprieve.

And sixth, it's over! I'm really looking forward to December, when I won't have NaNo and hopefully won't be sick; AS won't be doing NaNo, doesn't have as much work booked, and will finish her teaching semester in 2 weeks; and NT doesn't have nearly as many meetings and events planned for either of the volunteer organizations he belongs to. I'm calling it Family December, and I intend to have lots of quality time with them as well as with my kids. We also have at least three holiday parties (counting work, alumni and friend parties) to go to, and none that we have to organize ourselves. Our dating/wedding anniversary is this week and we've got a babysitter and reservations at a favorite restaurant. And I'm going to at least TWO music shows with NT. So a fun, social month, as long as my health holds out. I'm so looking forward to it!

Fun budget noodling

November 5th, 2015 at 09:35 pm

With all the writing at work and for NaNoWriMo, I'm using a small window of downtime to fool around with numbers for a change.

I don't really work on a monthly budget anymore; I do an annual budget with real dates of predicted income and expenses. I do break it out by month, but some months have 5 weekends of grocery shopping, some have no haircut appointment, some have birthday or Xmas gift line items...you get the idea. Also, I don't factor AS's money in until she gets paid. So the surplus varies and I don't have a sense of how much my budget works out to monthly.

I do have an "emergency budget" amount figured out, but it's skewed because it assumes no daycare (if we were all out of work someone would stay home with the kids), and a tiny grocery budget, but does assume we all need to buy bus passes and healthcare out of pocket.

So I did a workup of an average month, with four weekends and no one-time events like Xmas. Then I factored in my and NT's take-home pay. I was pleased to see that even without AS's freelance income, we have over $1000 surplus:

Daycare (minus flex spending reimburse) -$668.34
Mortgage ($2789.40 -$1074 rental income) -$1,715.40
Utilities (est) -$400.00
Spending money -$120.00
Groceries -$200.00
Spending money -$120.00
Groceries -$200.00
AS dental -$27.95
Roth IRAs -$1,375.00
Spending money -$120.00
Groceries -$200.00
Spending money -$120.00
Groceries -$200.00
Barber -$100.00
Cell phones -$50.43
AS healthcare -$71.00
Carshare -$90.00
Bus pass -$85.00
---------------------------
Total expenses -$5,863.12


CJ paycheck x2 $3,344.12
NT paycheck x2 $3,579.46
--------------------------
Total net income $6,923.58

Budget surplus $1,060.46

Then I wondered, what would a bare bones budget (but not emergency where we'd need to cover our own healthcare and bus passes) look like relative to our budget? The last time we had a real bare-bones budget, our expenses were much higher because we hadn't refinanced or paid off all our non-mortgage debt. So I figured that out as well:

Daycare (minus flex spending reimburse) -$668.34
Mortgage ($2789.40 -$1074 rental income) -$1,715.40
Utilities (est) -$400.00
Groceries -$150.00
Groceries -$150.00
AS dental -$27.95
Groceries -$150.00
Groceries -$150.00
Barber (just NT, me every other month) -$30.00
Cell phones -$50.43
AS healthcare -$71.00
Bus pass -$85.00
---------------------------
Total expenses -$3,648.12

CJ paycheck x2 $3,344.12
NT paycheck x2 $3,579.46
----------------------------
Total net income $6,923.58

Budget surplus $3,275.46

Essentially, we're very close to being able to get by only using one income if need be! That is super cool to look at. This budget wouldn't be very fun, since it cuts grocery spending and omits fun money and carshare spending, but it would keep us alive, fed and sheltered.

That was a fun exercise. Now back to working with words. Smile

November debt payments

November 5th, 2015 at 09:04 pm

Where is this month going?! Between NaNoWriMo and the craziest work week I've had in a long time, I haven't felt like I had even 5 minutes to post about my debt progress.

Anyway, our mortgage payments all posted:
US: $659 to principal
UK1: $221
UK2: $47
UK3: $50

All told, that's $977 paid to principal this month.

October retirement progress

November 1st, 2015 at 09:34 pm

Since July, I haven't had any progress to report on the retirement goal to have $486,000 in retirement assets by 2019. Our plan values dropped for two months straight. However, this month they mostly recovered. With all the money we dumped in over the past couple months, our retirement assets are now at $252,891, or $4319 more than they were in late July.

To make the 2019 goal, I need to be growing by more than that per month, let alone by quarter. But I know investment values can be irregular. Hopefully we'll make up for lost time someday soon.

October 2015 net worth update

November 1st, 2015 at 09:21 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($27,368)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($32,801)
#3: 4,452 pounds ($7,123)
NT's 401(k): $39,277
NT's Roth IRA: $7,405
AS's trad. IRA: $14,933
AS's Roth IRA: $24,368
AS's SEP IRA: $6,069
CJ's 401(k): $82,887
CJ's Roth IRA: $10,660
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($288,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
---
Total Assets: $980,891

Total Debt: $484,730

Current Estimated Net Worth: $496,161

September 2015 estimate: $479,334

Change in net worth: +$16,827

Summary: Our retirement accounts haven't quite recovered their value (my 401(k) was up over $85K at one point and now is less than $83K), they've recovered enough to show the benefit of our recent contributions and debt paydown. We'd previously lost nearly $10K of net worth over two months; now we've made that back plus nearly $7K more.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. I don't have a way to check NT's UK pensions or flat value, so their values stay static for the purpose of this update (unless I happen to get some info by chance). UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.60 for every British pound.