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Archive for October, 2018

My mom

October 30th, 2018 at 08:00 am

The past few days have been hard. My mom went into the ER with chest pain (and just gradually feeling worse over the past couple weeks; regular doctors and specialists unable to pinpoint the problem).

Her heart rate was super low and she had several infections in various parts of her body. There were some scary points where a temporary pacemaker wasn't working, where they were debating whether to do surgery before they got rid of some of the infections.

But yesterday she had pacemaker surgery, today she's off oxygen and catheter, and the infections are coming under control. If she continues to pull through she'll likely have to go to a rehab facility before going home, which is good, because after her heart attack a few years ago she totally ignored the physical therapy exercises recommended. If she's at a place, they'll make her do something.

I'm in MN and she's in VA, so all of this has been communicated by email, calls and texts. My dad is stressed and burdened by all the decisions and insurance things he's having to handle, but he had two of my sisters around to help somewhat. One went home and another came, so he still has two there.

I was holding off booking a trip until I heard whether I needed to get there right away, but now it seems like it might be nicer to come in a week when she's probably going to be better able to enjoy a visitor. So I'm going to research flights for early November. I have an extremely busy month (all cancelable if there's an emergency) so I'm looking at a three- or four-day window next week as my best bet for a non-emergency visit.

Luckily we have vacation funds stored up that we don't really have plans for, so if I make this trip and still need to run out another time if anything goes wrong, it shouldn't put a financial burden on my household.

Everyone is being supportive including my work. I know things are touch and go still, but I'm enjoying the feeling of relief after the surgery even if it turns out to be premature. The mind and body can use this respite. It was a few days of -- I don't even know what to call it. The feeling of my mom in danger and my dad suffering mentally was like this ocean of raw emotion right under the surface 24/7. As long as I stayed busy and around people it stayed under control, but it was always there, every second, even when I was laughing and having fun. So to have the ocean subside a bit, even if temporary, is a good sensation.

Medical cost increases for 2019

October 23rd, 2018 at 09:32 am

We had our benefits presentation today, so now I know how much more our medical costs will be (pretax; the effect on my paycheck won't be 100% known until Jan. 15).

Medical is going up a little, plus I've just edged into the next income bracket, so the premium for me and the kids is going up $85 per month pretax.

Dental is staying the same.

I'm adding NT to vision coverage next year because he thinks he may need glasses, so that's going up $8.33 per month.

Since he'll likely need glasses, I'm going to put another $600 into flex spending, or $50 per month.

That means medical expenses are going up $143.33 per month, or $71.67 per paycheck. I'm going to estimate $60 per paycheck for now and we'll see what the change in tax withholding actually is in January.

On the bright side, AS's Obamacare premium is actually going down a little bit for some reason. I guess she made a tiny bit less in 2017 than 2016, so maybe that's why. If so, we'll enjoy it while we can in 2019, because she's making a lot more this year and 2020 healthcare will likely reflect that! (Of course the GOP could do more horrible things to the ACA and it could get even worse, so there's no sense extrapolating that far into the future for healthcare costs.) I believe her costs will decrease about $20 per month.

So I guess the impact of the changes will be about $100 lower income per month. Could be worse, I know. Hopefully NT or I will get a raise to help offset it, since this comes out of our regular budget which is covered by our paychecks. (I handle AS's pay separately; after her tax and retirement it goes toward renovations, vacations, variable/unplanned costs and shared fun money.)

Note to self for net worth update

October 16th, 2018 at 04:54 pm

A UK pension statement came in the mail; since I can't check them online it's the only time I get one. The Scottish Widows pension value has increased from 26,544 pounds last year to 28,134 pounds this year. I'll reflect that in our net worth update at the end of the month.

October 2018 debt payments (a little late)

October 4th, 2018 at 01:43 pm

I hate having to wait a day for my US mortgage to hit the actual account, because sometimes I then forget to update my debt totals! But anyway here I am, better late than never.

All our mortgage payments hit:
US Mortgage: $730 to principal
UK Mortgage 1 $179
UK Mortgage 2 $39
UK Mortgage 3 $38

All told, that's $986 to principal this month.

Current debt totals:
US Mortgage $384,641
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,769
UK Mortgage 2 $6,696
UK Mortgage 3 $7,053
---
TOTAL DEBT $439,159

Quick life update

October 3rd, 2018 at 02:29 pm

Wow, I haven't blogged properly for months! Life is just busy, I guess. Some highlights:

- Social life is good. Making/keeping/deepening friendships is a LOT of work, but I'm loving hanging out with folks when I can corral them. Next week I'm going to Wisconsin to see my fave band and my Canadian friend!

- AS's big freelance job is still chugging along; she's invoiced for about $8K of the possible $32K. They pay weekly for however many hours she worked the previous week, which has been GREAT for our shared spending!

- We applied AS's increased income plus NT's third upcoming October paycheck to eliminate the shared spending deficit and begin saving up for renovations once again. We've fallen out of touch with our kitchen designer, but we probably won't nudge her until we've built up the savings to more than they are now.

- Most of the goals I set at the beginning of the year have fallen by the wayside, except learning guitar. I love guitar! I still take lessons weekly and practice almost daily. I can play almost 20 songs, I think.

- Another unexpected project I didn't foresee on Jan. 1 but am still working on is planning a novel with an old college friend who lives in NYC. We're slowly bringing the plot and characters into focus and I hope to have a detailed outline done in time to work on the novel in November. Doing a shared project for NaNoWriMo is an iffy proposition but hopefully there's no harm in trying it this once. I just need to figure out a way to keep working even if my friend gets busy or stuck, so I can get to my 50K words by the end of November!

- Also, it's become something of a habit to see more music live! There were a few years when I really didn't feel inspired by music but I'm getting really into it again. In addition to the October show in Wisconsin, I have tickets to FOUR concerts in November! And I discovered another local act I really like; he's taking a 2-month hiatus from playing live, but I'm looking forward to when he starts playing around again.

- My work just started up the pedometer challenge, which is 4 weeks in October. I know I'll do enough steps to get the $25 gift card; the real challenge is doing enough steps to get one of the $100 weekly prizes. We shall see! I did finally order some new sneakers which I've been meaning to do for months.

- We decided to do a staycation in October instead of going to a lake. Still deciding what fun things to do but we've got $750 set aside for the 5 days, so I'm sure it'll be great! Our next trip as a family will be to the UK, leaving the day after Xmas and coming back in the first week of January.

- Work is good, family is good, everything is trucking along!

September 2018 retirement goal update

October 1st, 2018 at 11:58 am

Goal: $512,564 by March 2019

Current balance: $436,289 ($76,275 to go)

July 2018 balance: $431,075

Progress: $5,214

As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone (which changes whenever our salaries change) is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $75,120, so $225,360; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2017 was $50,452, so $100,904.

To reach the interim goal by the end of our birthday month (March) in 2019, that's 6 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $76,275 -- $12,713 per month -- to reach it.

We rarely come close to that, so it's pretty unlikely. But at least we're making progress in the right direction!

September 2018 net worth update

October 1st, 2018 at 11:53 am

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 26,544 pounds ($33,180)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $70,321
NT's Roth IRA: $30,975
AS's trad. IRA: $19,888
AS's Roth IRA: $51,078
AS's SEP IRA: $27,988
CJ's 401(k): $137,166
CJ's Roth IRA: $35,156
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,076,070

Debts:
US Mortgage $385,371
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,948
UK Mortgage 2 $6,735
UK Mortgage 3 $7,091
---
TOTAL DEBT $440,145

Current Estimated Net Worth: $635,925

August 2018 estimate: $629,727

Change in net worth: +$6,198

Summary: OK gains this month, mainly due to debt payment and retirement contributions, not market growth. My 2018 net worth goal of $650K still seems within the realm of possibility! We would only need to gain about $4700 per month October-December to get there...

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat, but it's been on the market a long time.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.