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): $36,811
NT's Roth IRA: $7,289
AS's trad. IRA: $14,557
AS's Roth IRA: $23,729
AS's SEP IRA: $6,041
CJ's 401(k): $80,072
CJ's Roth IRA: $8,926
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($288,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
Total Assets: $972,717
Total Debt: $486,682
Current Estimated Net Worth: $486,035
July 2015 estimate: $488,922
Change in net worth: -$2,887
Summary: Well, as could be predicted, our net worth was down this month despite paying down some debt and dumping a few thousand dollars into our retirement accounts. Hopefully just a temporary slump.
I'll update the Individual Net Worth page shortly, breaking it out by person.
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.
Archive for August, 2015
Phew, we finally figured out the after-school situation for our soon-to-be kindergartner (she starts tomorrow! eek!).
Initially we decided that AS would pick her up and take her to daycare on days that she could, and we enrolled AA in the school's after-school program the other two days (Tues. and Thurs.) of the week. For the first week, when AS wouldn't be available Wed. or Fri. to pick her up, we were arranging friends to step in.
When I told the daycare lady about this, she said she'd be able to pick AA up Mon-Wed-Fri. That was a surprise because previously we'd only talked about that happening if AA could get bussed slightly closer to daycare (e.g. to the daycare lady's sister's house). So then we thought to ask if she could pick her up all FIVE days.
So today we worked it out. For $155 more per month, the daycare lady or her husband will pick AA up every day after school.
Whew! Is it the absolute cheapest option? No, but it's the best-feeling one. Our daycare provider and her family are like OUR family. And frankly, her tuition is so cheap that an extra $155 doesn't feel like a big deal at all. With the 2 days a week at the school's after-school program, we would have been paying about $105 more per month anyway, so this is only a bit more expensive than our other option, and AS doesn't lose productivity on her freelancing in the afternoons getting AA from school to daycare.
As for the net effect to our budget, it's $155 more than we originally planned, but still $35 cheaper than full-time daycare for both kids.
We realized another expense we need to work into the budget is school lunches. It's not much; AA will probably only eat school lunch 1 or 2 days per week when there's a vegetarian option (besides grain-veggie salads, which are available every day but I don't think AA would go for). So it'll be maybe $20 per month. Our food budget may need to go up a bit to accommodate making lunches when usually we just relied on the daycare to feed AA, but we'll see. We might be able to just work it into the existing budget.
Even so, with AS's healthcare dropping from $170 last month to just $70 from now on, our overall budget is looking really good.
So, I'm really really happy!
We're still going around in circles on the question of after-school care for the kindergartner. Or rather, transportation to the after-school care. Although I suppose we should also be looking at alternatives to our chosen after-school care as well.
So basically, the school won't bus to our kids' daycare, 1.4 miles away. It's out of their zone, which goes for 2+ miles in the other direction but only about .6 miles in the direction of daycare.
We've already signed a contract with our current provider; $320 per month for after school on school days, as well as school closure days that the daycare is open. (Daycare is open a lot more than school is.)
The school has an after-school and non-school day program that supposedly doesn't fill up, so it's a possibility. $13.05 per day for after-school; $42.20 per day for non-school days. So cost-wise, it would end up similar to daycare; a bit cheaper in months with no school closures, more expensive in months with school closures.
The daycare lady is very willing to work with us, even though she doesn't have a car. Her sister lives close to the school and she mentioned having AA bus there, then the daycare lady or husband could come get her. My daycare lady may charge extra for this service as it would take away from her normal daycare activity.
AS works from home M, W & F this fall, and all days once the class she's teaching is over (assuming she doesn't do it for spring semester). However, she really WORKS and has a profitable business, and I know she gets a great deal done in the afternoons. And I know our kid doesn't like to play alone, so it would be mean to bring her home only to ignore her. Or, if she picked AA up at school and took her to daycare on the bus and came home, she'd lose about an hour of productive time, because that round trip takes about that much time on buses. And again, that would only work on days she wasn't teaching.
A daily taxi from daycare lady's sister to daycare would cost $7-$7.50 per trip including tip. Not sure how I feel about AA being in a taxi alone, but I don't think it's high-risk. Don't know how taxi companies feel about a kid traveling alone.
An ideal situation for me, if I could find it, would be to have another school parent who's driving in that direction anyway drop AA off. I feel that it would be reasonable to pay $5 a day for the 5-10 minutes it would take out of their day. $100 per month (about) would only take our total cost to $420 per month, less than we pay for full-time daycare. I reached out to the PTO head, but she hasn't been able to find someone. I wonder if I can ask the kindergarten teacher to ask around.
Yet another option worth considering: could we negotiate a different contract with the daycare lady, where she covers school closures and summer vacation, but AA does after-school care at the kindergarten on regular school days? I don't know if she'd be up for that, but she might. I'd really like AA to still go there as much as possible, and on non-school days, it would be ideal to drop off and pick up both kids at the same place vs. having two trips for no good reason. Plus, she really loves the daycare and all the kids that go there (including her sister).
For next week, if we haven't found a permanent workable solution yet, we're looking at maybe having a friend pick her up the first day and take her to daycare, or NT might be able to get off work early that day. AS could pick her up the second day, and one of our downstairs neighbors could possibly get her Friday. So if I hear confirmation from the friend and the neighbor, we might have a stopgap solution for the first week, which could buy us more time to figure it out.
Who knew it could be so complicated to figure out how to transport one person for 1.4 miles a day?
The living room reno is done! I'm holding off on photos until we have our new furniture in, but the reno part looks really nice. The contractor said he thinks it went over budget but not by much, so we just paid the 2nd half of $4000 and he'll let us know if we owe more.
He's eager to start planning the next reno, which is nice, but I don't know if we'll be able to do another whole room this year. We've got the UK trip to save up for. It has crossed my mind that NT usually gets a bonus in December...but I don't want to pre-spend that money in my mind, so not factoring that in.
But, depending on how much the living room went over and how much the basement bathroom ends up costing, we may have money to do some small improvements around the house. NT wants more electrical outlets; some walls have random holes and damage and could use patching up; NT's record room needs a ceiling light; the stairs to the third floor have some tacky horrible old carpet that should be replaced; we'd like the popcorn ceiling taken off the bedroom. Other than that, we'd like most of the rooms painted, but that's something we can handle ourselves.
But, I think I'll ask the contractor for a ballpark on renovating the main floor bathroom. I'd like a rough figure to focus on so we can start saving for it.
Anyway, enough rambling about renovations. We hit a snag with our kindergarten plans: The school says it won't bus AA to her daycare, 1.4 miles away. It's outside the zone. Apparently the school is near the edge of the zone; in the other direction they do bus nearly 2 miles.
We've gone through many scenarios, none of them ideal. Our main priority is to keep AA at our daycare for after-school care, which is going to take more effort than just having her do after-school care somewhere in the bus zone. I contacted the head of the PTO and asked her if she could help me find carpool options. If we find someone we'll offer some money for the trouble, though it won't be too much trouble if someone lives in the area; it's about a 3-minute drive to daycare.
If that doesn't work, we've got some backup scenarios we can explore. But this seems like the most likely. We have another week; kindergarten starts Wednesday.
Speaking of, today was meet-the-teacher night. It was really great; the teacher seemed awesome, other parents and kids were nice, and AA looked right at home in the classroom. I'm feeling really good about her starting kindergarten now.
On to freelance. It's been really slow in the checks department (less than $1000 so far this month), but AS has booked some nice income, including 2 days of work at my office. She's now over $53K for the year! It's just that some places are being slower to pay than normal, so the money isn't coming in. It'll be nice when it does! AS is starting her teaching gig soon, so she won't be able to book as much work, but she'll probably still pull in a little bit here and there.
I noticed a random $23 charge on the CC today and asked the family about it; AS says it's this link aggregator she uses but they didn't indicate they were charging her anything. So she's requested a refund. Hopefully just a mistake and not a scam!
Other news, other news...work is going OK, I think I'm impressing the right people to maybe be up for a raise this year, but I got such a big boost with my title change, so who knows? NT should get a raise for how hard he's been working and how well the company's doing, but again, can't predict that.
Got a few semi-spendy things coming up, which the freelance income will be good for when it comes in. My alumni group is meeting for a sailboat ride this month; that part's free, but I promised donuts and coffee for everyone. NT, AS and I have a short staycation planned for early October, and we're considering throwing a Halloween party. And, of course, we're probably going to adopt our foster cat soon.
Guess that's it!
NT's UK rental income hit his checking account. It was more than I was expecting, so I was able to transfer 450 pounds ($720) to his mum. That takes us to 700 pounds down, 1400 to go on what we owe her.
I really hope the income we got this month is the new total now that the place is rented at a higher rate! We'd be able to pay her back (and save up for our 2016 trip) more quickly.
Most of my news is no news. Our plumber pulled a permit for the basement bathroom and now we have to wait for the city to schedule an inspection. Trying to ignore the $4K set aside in our checking account and assume it's all going to the bathroom and the city, but my suspicion is that it's not going to be anywhere that much. So I'm tempted to schedule some more remodeling! But I know I shouldn't until we find out for sure how much the bathroom will cost.
Our living room is still 95% done. The contractor finally got the baseboards from the place that was making them, and he'll bring them sometime this week to install, as well as update a few electrical outlets. Then we'll be done.
We expect the bulk of the furniture in early October. We still need to make some purchases/choices on art, end tables, lamps, clock, etc. But we're kind of waiting until the other stuff is in here and we can see what kind of spaces look like they need filling. (I have been looking on Etsy for art and clocks, but haven't made any decisions.) For end tables and accessories, we'll probably shop thrift stores, Craigslist, antique stores, etc. (Partly to try and save money, partly because we might want some interesting, funky stuff to offset all the neutral grays we'll have going on.) But that all has to wait until the reno is done and the big pieces of furniture are here.
When we do have it furnished, we'll need to sell or Freecycle some stuff we've got. None of it is really great, but we might get an odd few bucks here or there. If I get antsy waiting for other stuff to happen, I might try to get some of that done in the next few weeks.
We found out today that AA's new elementary school won't bus her to our daycare--they say it's out of their bus zone. It's only about 2 miles, so we were really surprised. AS has started making calls to see if there's a way to get an exception or something. I hope we can figure it out, because we really want her to still get to be at the daycare a bit, at least while SL is still at the daycare!
My Roth contribution went through but we still haven't heard anything about AS's issue. I'll have her check in next week or something. I'd love a big bump in net worth at the end of the month, but I don't think the market is doing much. Oh well, it'll pick up again at some point.
Waiting for the next month of UK rental income so we can pay NT's mum another chunk of what we owe, but it's not there yet. The last month it hit on the 17th, so I hope it's there tomorrow.
So that's it. Lots of waiting, but nothing too urgent. Bit of the August malaise, too. As short as the summers here feel, the fall is always nice because it's time to get refocused. Maybe a Dietbet is in order; it's been a summer of eating excess.
Well, I'm being completely lazy for a second day! I actually feel completely over my cold, but when I saw the temperatures were going to be high 80s and 90s for the second day in a row, I backed out of my plan to go to an outdoor breakdance competition and stayed home instead. NT had volunteered there, so he still went, brave boy.
For lunch we had cold sandwiches and snacks. Dinner tonight I do have to turn on the oven, but it's just mock chicken nuggets, tater tots, broccoli and watermelon, so just heat, chop and/or serve; nothing complicated.
I noticed that because of a freelance check, we now have enough float in the budget for me to add another $926 of the September budget to my Roth. I still kept aside enough to max out AS's Roth, because Vanguard is aware of our problem and trying to fix it so that earlier accidental IRA contribution no longer counts toward our max.
I did a rough calculation and think we could max our our 2015 Roths by the end of January 2016! That's great news. Once we max out our 2015 limits, I'm going to up my and NT's 401(k)s so we're each contributing 10%. Right now I'm contributing 6% and getting a 25% (in other words 1.5%) match, so I'm at 7.5%. NT contributes 4% and gets a 50% (aka 2%) match, so he's at 6%. So that'll be a good bump, but I'm focused on Roths first since I think they're more advantageous.
Overall my accounts are only getting 2.5%-3% growth for the year. I don't know if it's just my investments or if the market is sluggish overall this year.
We're teaching our 5-year-old to play Sorry today. I'm so excited that she's learning a game I actually like to play! She already knows a couple games like Candyland but they're a bit boring for grownups. I remember getting my adult family members to play games with me a lot more often once I knew some more sophisticated ones. Now my kid gets to benefit from that increased enthusiasm.
We took in a foster kitty a couple weeks ago, and from his description he sounded like he'd be a hard case with lots of bad habits and health problems. And he looked kind of grouchy in the photos. We didn't think we'd get attached to him; we just volunteered to foster an FIV+ cat since ours is FIV+.
Well, we're all kind of falling in love with him. He's a big lumbering sweetie pie, a frequent cuddler, and totally good-natured in the face of our current cat Clue's hostility. He's wearing her down to the point where she hardly ever hisses. He's really talkative which I thought would bother me, but it's conversational vs. whiny so I've kinda gotten used to it. His other behavior issues are so far manageable and no worse than our current or lost cats' habits; in fact he seems more easygoing than either of them. I'm hesitant to commit to him so soon, but I think he might be a keeper!
The only drawback so far is he's so into hanging out with us that Clue has been around us less. But hopefully she'll realize he's no threat and wants to be her friend, and they can both hang out with us.
Looks like our mini-heat wave will break sometime tomorrow or Monday, and be in the high 60s to low 80s the next week or two. I'll admit it, this last heat wave made me ready for cooler weather. Yes, I'll eat my words once we're in the middle of the winter, but it's how I feel right now!
Yesterday I woke up with a scratchy throat and a general weak feeling. I figure I got the summer cold that's been going around. I had a few meetings and a bit of work that couldn't wait, so I went in and handled all that. I felt kind of dizzy in the last meeting, but didn't faint or anything. I came home and went to bed, and got dinner in bed as well. I went ahead and said I was taking today as a sick day as well.
I feel better today, just kind of run down, so I'm just taking advantage of the day off and lying around. I maybe have been due a personal health day. I'm a naturally lazy person and life is very busy with kids + work + budgeting + house.
We've had the permit pulled for the basement bathroom plumbing work. Our contractor poked one hole in the wall and those pipes looked OK anyway. The plumber he had pull a permit said he's done this type of thing before; usually the city just wants their permit money since the bathroom was done without one. He said often the city will look through one hole in the wall and if everything looks OK, they're happy. Fingers crossed! Would love to have some of the WV money left over after this thing.
We got AA's teacher assignment in the mail today and have been freaking out, looking for info on the web about her. We found a local newsletter where a parent who had 4 kids go through this teacher's class went on and on about how great she is, so we feel pretty good. I'm still a bit confused about how lunch is going to work for a vegetarian kid; I'm guessing she'll be able to have some school lunches and we'll pack sandwiches the other days. We've been spoiled by daycare so I hope we do get to take advantage of school lunches sometimes! They get free breakfast at school if they want, which is pretty sweet. The website says menu coming soon. We should be getting bus stop assignment in the mail next week, and there's also a "meet the teacher" night next week. It's becoming so real!
AS's freelance checks have only been trickling in slowly, so our discretionary spending has stayed low. AS bought some orthopedic stuff for her foot that's been bothering her; I bought a bra and backpack online to replace some things that have worn out.
I do have some of my individual spending money that's built up, so I'm treating the family to sushi delivery tonight.
Got some CC rewards, which I set aside to save up for the UK plane tickets next year.
I did work up the annual budget for next year, and so far it's looking really good. I entered estimated utilities based on the past 12 months. So far the biggest monthly surplus is $1530 in September 2016 and the smallest is $170 in December 2016. And that's just factoring in my and NT's paychecks, nothing for AS. If we get raises it could get even better, though I'm not counting on it since NT and I haven't gotten raises every year.
Most of the surplus will need to go toward catching up on retirement, at least for the first few months. I'm playing it by ear to see when I feel comfortable with where we are.
This whole issue with the housing inspector wanting us to ensure our basement bathroom is up to code has been frustratingly vague. AS and NT have talked to two contractors, the housing inspector and the plumbing inspector. No one is able to give us any specifics about what needs to be done. I even emailed the old property manager of our duplex to see if he and the seller knew anything about it. They both said the bathroom was there before they were involved in the property. (So how did they successfully rent the place for so long without having to deal with it? I don't get it.)
Despite not knowing what we need to do, we need to do it by Aug. 16 or face fines. It's a hilariously Kafka-esque situation. So today our contractor is going to smash some holes in the wall and try to see what's going on with pipes etc. I'm hoping against hope he can just confirm that it's up to code, and we'll just have to pay $100 for a city permit and maybe $1000 or so for the hole-smashing and subsequent repair of the walls.
Wish us luck!
It's alarmingly quiet for me today. I know I have a lot of active projects but nothing seems to be on my plate at the moment. Ah well, I've managed to get some flex spending receipts submitted and other bits of financial and organizational housekeeping. And now I guess I've got time to blog!
Lots of little financial bits of news.
- AS has still been booking work but we've been in one of those "dead zones" where checks aren't coming in. However, I'm proud of us that we're using the shared spending spreadsheet and, if there aren't available funds, no one is spending money. I like that we didn't need a big discussion: When the shared spending balance was big, we spent freely. When it was small, we pared down to things we really needed or wanted. Now that the shared spending fund is mostly wiped out, we've simply denied or delayed our wants until more funds become available. Very encouraged by how seamless and mutual the process has been.
- AS's annual salary has passed the $50K mark! Although she'll be slowing down in taking freelance projects now that her teaching gig (already figured into the $50K income) is starting up in a couple weeks, I wouldn't be surprised if she makes it to $60K this year. If so, she'll surpass NT's salary. She'll have to make it to $65K to surpass mine. It could happen, but I imagine this first year of teaching especially will take a lot of her time!
- AS still hasn't heard from Vanguard as to whether they can reclassify her mistaken IRA contribution so she can contribute up to the true limit in her Roth. I sent them another message today since it's been a week or so since the first query.
- In the meantime, I decided to contribute some to my Roth. I can always fill hers in later if it opens up again. I have enough float room in the budget to contribute $800 of the September Roth money, so I put that toward mine.
- A few weeks ago AS got notice that she's available for new healthcare coverage. She didn't ask for it, but she got it. It was very strange and disorganized; she got a letter daily for about a week, one saying she had until X to choose an option, then the next day saying the option had been chosen for her, etc. Her new premium is $71 per month instead of $172, so that's very welcome. However, if it's income-based and they see her salary next tax season, I don't think this great deal will stick around. But we'll enjoy it while we can! She'd already paid her August premium on her old healthcare, but we're supposed to get a refund at some point.
- This past weekend I took AA out to get the last of the school supplies from her list. I also let her pick out a new outfit for the first day of school. Besides shoes, socks and underwear, we really don't ever have to get the kids new clothes; between hand-me-downs and grandparent gifts, it's not necessary. But I remember how exciting it was to buy a new outfit every year for school, and I wanted to pass that experience down to my kids too. AA had never been in a changing room before! She really enjoyed it, but I think she gets that it was a special occasion. She also picked out a new full-size backpack and a lunch box (these days they're made of material similar to backpacks, not metal or hard plastic like in my day). All told it was $80-some (including the school supplies). I think we spent another $50-$60 the other trip, so in total, school stuff came to about $130 or $140.
- This will be the first month of reduced daycare tuition! It's only $190 less since we're still paying for AA to go to daycare after school and on school holidays, but it's now under $1000 for 2 kids, which is insanely good rates for our area. The rate goes up again over the summer when AA will be at daycare full-time, but we'll enjoy the break to our budget during the school year. When I saw how many school closures there are in a year, I was really glad we'd decided to go for this vs. just having AA come home after school -- not only does it help because AS doesn't have to worry about coverage when she's at her teaching gig, but she won't have to worry about watching AA on school closures; we'll just send her to daycare on those days. (Some days both daycare and school are closed, but that's around holidays where it's easy for one or all of us to get the day off work.)
- Our contractor is still not done with the living room, but only because the place that's making skirting to match existing, to cover the places where archway was removed and door was walled up, has been taking longer than expected. He thinks he'll get that done this week.
- Contractor isn't sure what we need to do to get our basement bathroom up to code. He suspects the walls will need to be broken into to prove that everything is properly vented. NT has left a message with the plumbing inspector in hopes of confirming that. We still don't know what our options are and how much they would cost, so I'm keeping that last $4000 of WV money in reserve for the time being.
- I'm thinking about starting to formulate my annual budget for 2016 today, if it stays slow at work. For both 2014 and 2015, I've created a 13-tab spreadsheet that has each month mapped out and an annual budget snapshot on the last tab. Even though things fluctuate, this makes it much easier to make those changes whenever they come up. And I don't have to save up incrementally for once-a-year items, such as Xmas gifts; I just put the amount we need on the December tab. That way they're already taken out of budget surplus and it doesn't feel like a surprise or a burden. I'm going to put in "real" utility numbers based on the past year's monthly costs (with a little padding on each number in case of fluctuation) rather than having a flat $400 each month. That means utilities will be higher in winter months and especially low in spring and early fall.
I added my September budget in to my spreadsheet, and unfortunately I don't currently have enough wiggle room before 9/15 to contribute all the retirement funds. I might later, when some checks come in. We'll see.
I did have enough leeway to make a small contribution to AS's Roth and max it out for the year, because I remembered it wasn't far off the limit. I went in and it said I could contribute $144.85, so I did. Then, I happened to glance at transaction history and realized that only came to a little over $4500 of Roth contributions for the year.
After doing a bit more digging, I realized that the traditional IRA I'd accidentally opened when I was trying to open an SEP for AS was showing $900+ of contribution. I did get them to transfer that to an SEP instead, so I'm hoping I can get them to fix that. Not sure how strict the rules are, but I emailed to ask. Oh well, if I can't max AS's out this year I'll just work on my and NT's next, and start afresh for her when I can.
The mortgage payments hit today (the U.S. one took longer but finally posted tonight):
US duplex: $653 to principal
All told, that's $968 paid this month. That brings our mortgage debt to $486,682.