Home > Archive: May, 2016

Archive for May, 2016

Retirement goal progress

June 1st, 2016 at 04:55 am

Goal: $485,480 by 2019
(As a reminder, this is to get me to 3x my current salary which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $57,083, so $171,249; and AS to 2x hers, which last year totaled $57,178, so $114,356)

Current balance: $269,301

April 2016 balance: $265,900

Progress: $3,401

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 33 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $6551 per month to reach it. I'll keep trying!

May 2016 net worth update

June 1st, 2016 at 04:51 am

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): $42,311
NT's Roth IRA: $9,932
AS's trad. IRA: $15,051
AS's Roth IRA: $25,950
AS's SEP IRA: $8,315
CJ's 401(k): $87,425
CJ's Roth IRA: $13,025
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($288,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
Total Assets: $997,301

Total Debt: $477,825

Current Estimated Net Worth: $519,476

April 2016 estimate: $515,079

Change in net worth: +$4,397

Summary: Pretty much a repeat of last month: The market had a (very) modest gain, so our net worth went up. I also put a bit toward AS's SEP IRA. I can't wait until we start contributing to our Roths again, so we can hopefully top a million in assets yet this year!

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.

Update on tax/dental bill: AS freelance check

June 1st, 2016 at 02:46 am

AS received a $1975 payment we didn't think she'd get until early June! So we squeaked one more May payment in. She did have to pay a $57.58 fee to get the payment through Paypal. So our future surplus is lowered a bit, but our current deficit is better. But then we got another dental bill, so that lowers future surplus and cuts into the deficit reduction.

AS freelance check net after tax/retirement: $1,283.75
Paypal fee: $57.58
AS dental bill: $650

Actual deficit: $5,903.70
Future surplus: $5,838.76

I'm hoping after the NY trip we can stop spending and knock out some more of the deficit! Most of the UK trip spending money is already saved up so hopefully that won't make too much of a dent. We have a couple of hopefully minor home repairs. Other than that I want to take it easy on spending until we're closer to funding this tax and dental stuff.

Beginning of a jam-packed month

May 31st, 2016 at 06:52 pm

I cannot believe tomorrow is June 1. This year has seemed to fly by faster than any year before. It's just crazy.

The first of our summer trips is coming up: AS, NT and I fly to New York for my 20-year college reunion. We leave early Thursday morning, REALLY early. Since I had Monday off, that means a two-day work week.

The kids are staying here. Thursday and Friday, our downstairs neighbors will be taking care of them. Then Saturday (maybe beginning Friday night), another good friend will be staying over at our place and taking care of the kids until we get back Sunday night. Neither of them is charging us anything to do this, but we'll be sure to leave some cash just to cover the extra expense of feeding, transporting and entertaining the kids!

Our downstairs neighbors are out of town at one of THEIR 20-year college reunions. They come back tonight sometime. That gives them a break of one full day before they take over parenting two kids for a couple of days! We need to touch base with them to work out the logistics of where the kids will sleep Wednesday night and the other nights they'll be watching them.

We also need to finalize our plans for Thursday and Sunday, when we'll have some time outside of the reunion to explore NYC. I know we're thinking we'll do Manhattan on the Thursday (possibly meeting up with a friend) and Brooklyn on Sunday (meeting up with two or more friends). We know for food, we want to do soul food, dim sum and pizza, so we just need to figure out which ones we'll do Thursday vs. Sunday. NT also wants to browse a record store. I did at some point have a vague plan mapped out, but I didn't bookmark anything, so we'll need to figure it out again tonight and tomorrow.

I know it'll be easier to figure things out on the fly without having the kids with us, but I still feel like I need some idea of what we're doing. We're going to do public transportation vs. renting a car, so we need to figure out how to get from the airport to the city to my college on Thursday, then to Brooklyn and back to the airport on Sunday. The hotel we chose while at the reunion is about a mile away from the college, so that's an easy walk. While at the reunion, our schedule and meals are all taken care of, so we don't have to worry about that.

Once we get back from New York, AA will only have two days of kindergarten left! And I have only two full weeks of work then a four-day week before our trip to England and (for the grownups) Spain.

There's also a daycare sleepover mid-month. What a crazy month! So far, July (once we get back the 9th) and August look very uneventful. I think that'll be a relief!

For LivingAlmostLarge

May 31st, 2016 at 12:44 pm

My company does a lot of stuff related to the building and construction industry so we get sent a lot of news about it. Thought LAL would want to see this one, though I don't know how useful a national study is:

Retirement accounts over $100K!

May 27th, 2016 at 02:22 am

My personal ones, that is.

I typically only check retirement accounts once a month, but lately I've been thinking about retirement savings more, and so sometimes I absentmindedly go check the balance of my main 401(k) to get an idea where the market is. Well I just did that right now and noticed it was up over $87K for the first time: $87,033.08, to be exact. I knew my Roth was close to $13K, so I went and checked that: $13,003.21. That puts my retirement funds value at $100,036.29!

I know it's just a drop in the bucket compared with what I need, but it sounds like such a massive number to me!

NT has been over $100K for about 2 years now, thanks to his early investing in pensions in the UK. AS, who had barely any retirement savings to speak of until a few years ago, is getting very close to $50K: She's at $49,151.47. Unless hers take a major dive, she should hit that milestone in early July, when we'll put $2750 in her Roth.

Update on tax bill: Dental bill & business expense

May 26th, 2016 at 03:57 pm

These were both expected expenses. The dental bill is just for the first part of AS's tooth implant procedure. It's a bit different amount from any of the estimates we got, so I'm not sure what the final total will end up being. But the next appointment is in September, so maybe we'll be done with the tax bill goal before new charges come in!

That does mean we'll need to spend up her Chase Sapphire with other stuff to get the bonus, because September will be too late. The NYC trip plus groceries and other regular expenses will hopefully get us to $4K. Who knows, maybe we'll open ANOTHER bonus card for September's charges!

AS also ordered business cards (finally!) for her freelance business.

Both of these expenses increase the actual deficit and reduce the future surplus.

AS dental bill: $1,450.57
AS business cards: $53.88

Actual deficit: $6,479.87
Future surplus: $6,546.34

The NYC trip (first weekend in June) will further increase the current deficit and reduce the future surplus. AS is expecting some freelance payments in early June that will reduce the actual deficit but have no effect on the future surplus.

The projected surplus is based on booked work to date; after our UK trip (last week in June/first week in July) she can continue to book work for the remaining six months of the year, so we hope there will be more money in play then.

Since we have such a large deficit to clear up first, we haven't formed any specific ideas about the projected surplus or any other money that comes in the second half of the year. Obviously a big chunk will go to AS's dental procedures. We may owe more on the basement bathroom than we have set aside; we still haven't spoken to our contractor since work was completed last month. We haven't put any more money into improving the house, so I imagine there may be some things this fall/winter. I wouldn't mind a warm-weather vacation in December or January, so maybe some of it would go to that. We've also talked about rebuilding an emergency fund. I also feel like the kids' mutual funds need some replenishing. And we'd all like to get back to charitable giving.

But I'm not going to make any specific plans because there could always be more unexpected expenses this year; we've already had so many big hits that nothing would surprise me!


May 22nd, 2016 at 11:34 pm

For LuckyRobin and anyone else who's curious, this is the fake meat I make, how I slice it into strips for "pulled pork," and how it looks cooking in BBQ sauce (also homemade).

Added to AS's SEP IRA, super cheap meal plan, etc.

May 21st, 2016 at 09:28 pm

I finally added AS's first-quarter contribution to her SEP IRA. I'd been holding back because of the tax bill and upcoming dental bill, but even though we still have a shortage on paper, the income that's going to cover it is a sure thing, and thanks to the 0% credit cards, we can easily float some of our expenses until those freelance checks come in. So I finally fought back my worries and contributed. It's just $568.67 anyway; AS had a light first quarter in terms of actual checks received, even though she's been booking work at a very steady pace.

First quarter of 2015, she pulled in $19K, vs. less than $6K this first quarter. It was because of work she did in late 2014 that she didn't get paid for until January 2015. So considering that, we're not sure she'll make as much this year even though she's working at about the same pace as last year. She might, though; she just hit on what may be a lucrative steady stream of work from a former co-worker of mine.

Still, I'm happy to be adding to our retirement. Since I've put off maxing our Roth IRAs until later in the year, it hasn't been a very exciting year for retirement fund growth (especially since the market has been so stagnant). Starting July 1, it'll get better as we start working to max our our Roths before the end of the year.

We've had a lot of expenses, including grocery expenses for a couple of recent parties, so this week we wanted to plan as cheap a meal as possible. Our groceries came in under $100! That's really good for us.

Here's our meal plan:
Saturday lunch: leftovers from last night's party
Saturday dinner: spaghetti & tomato sauce (total cost about $3)
Sunday lunch: spinach salad with strawberries, tofu & pumpkin seeds (already had pumpkin seeds; cost for other ingredients about $5)
Sunday dinner: mock pulled pork sandwiches, broccoli & potato salad (only needed a Vidalia onion and some garlic for the sandwiches since we have buns in the freezer and I made some extra fake meat last week; total cost of new ingredients about $5)
Monday: cereal & toast (things we had on hand; bought some more bread at $2.50 a loaf in case we need more bread for breakfasts etc.)
Tuesday: parsley breadcrumb pasta (already had heels of bread + parsley; spaghetti was $1)
Wednesday: General Tso tofu, peapods & rice (cost of new ingredients about $3)
Thursday: pizza (bought flour for the crust, vegan cheese, plus bell pepper and mushrooms; $9 total)
Friday: French toast, fake bacon & hashbrown patties (only needed the veggie bacon; about $4)

So weekend meal and dinner ingredients only came to about $31; the rest was spent on things like milk, kindergarten snacks, toilet paper, lunch items for the adults, fruit and cat food. Which all came to about twice the actual cost of our meals! Amazing how it all adds up.

We budget $200 per week, but we'd gone over the previous week, bought wine for last night's party, and bought supplies for a lemonade stand for the kids, so we about broke even this week. That's all I wanted, so I'm happy.

I started using an allowance tracking tool for the kids called that I think I'm going to love, but I'll write about it another day when I've had more experience with it!

This weekend and next week look pretty cheap, so hopefully we'll stick to that. (Except AS's dental bill if it comes in, of course.) I'm trying to be very conscious of spending until June, when we have a bunch of travel that will rack up expenses.

Update on tax bill: Much randomness (edited)

May 19th, 2016 at 05:02 pm

EDITED to add even more random bits of money in ....

We had a lunch out with my sister that I put on the card, but we also received various cash reimbursements from her, a friend and NT's group. AS got a payment but it was less credit card charges. I made a grocery budget error in our favor. Overall, the net result is positive to the actual deficit but reduced the future surplus a bit.

Also, our cellphone bill was a bit under what I budgeted, and we found out AS's mom will need $75 less than we budgeted for.

Error in our favor $10.87
Restaurant $66.97
Pay in from various sources $40.00
Payment net $610.13
A's mom doesn't need $75.00
Cell phone budget surplus $18.90

Actual deficit: $4,975.42
Future surplus: $8,050.79

Nice to see our deficit go under $5K and our surplus back over $8K, even if it's only a temporary bump before the first of the dental bills arrives!

Update on tax bill: Lotta hits

May 16th, 2016 at 04:29 pm

As I detailed in last night's entry, we had lots of small blows to our progress on the tax bill. One thing I forgot to mention was some replacement parts for NT's bike. The one bright spot is that NT was able to use the bus pass allotment from his work to top up AS's and AA's bus passes, so I added $85 toward the tax bill goal that would have been used for bus passes.

All of these impact both current deficit and future surplus.

Groceries over budget $72.22
Bday gifts for 3 kids $51.67
City fine for basement bathroom $250.00
N medical bill $40.00
Bus pass budget surplus $85.00
N bike repair $10.67

Actual deficit: $5,663.35
Projected deficit w/ future money in: On paper we still have a projected surplus of $8,007.88

Market malaise

May 16th, 2016 at 03:41 pm

I was checking my retirement balance (it's a bit less than it was at the end of April) and saw the performance summary for the first quarter of this year: up 1.26%.

Out of curiosity I ran a report for Jan 1 2015 through Dec 31 2015. Down 1.27%.

I don't know if that's a net gain or loss if you count all 15 months, but if it's a gain it's probably a depressingly small one.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that my investments will show a 6% return over time. Now that I'm paying more attention, I hope to someday see a good period that makes up for these crappy ones, but so far I haven't. My first foray into the market was when the tech bubble burst in 2000 or so and I had just put most of my 401(k) into a tech fund that had previously been making money hand over fist. I lost about 50% of my meager funds. Since then I've experienced the real estate bubble bursting, the Great Recession, and whatever you call this crappy period of time. So it's hard to have much faith.

Progress lost this week, but I'll total it later

May 16th, 2016 at 05:22 am

It's been a bad weekend for our tax bill goal. Most of the lost progress was expected, but it still stings after we'd been on such a roll and cut the goal in half in about 2 months. Groceries went over budget because of some prescriptions plus a potluck, a dinner party and my sister being in town. We had to buy birthday gifts for 3 kids who had parties this weekend. We got notice that the appeal of our county fine for the basement bathroom was rejected, so we owe $250. NT got a straggler medical bill for his collarbone stuff. Looks like AS's mom will probably need the money after all (at least that's already been taken out of the progress, but I was kinda hoping to get it back). Could be I'm forgetting a couple more things; I'm kind of tired which is why I don't want to figure it all out now. We may get one more AS freelance check this month but probably no more than that, so positive progress may be slow to nil for the rest of this month. Adding the AS dental bill will take our progress back quite a ways. June has a lot more expected payments but also our NYC trip which is going to cut into their positive impact.

Ah well. I know we'll get through OK; I'm just impatient to be done with this goal and get on to using our money for other things!

Update on tax bill: Daycare tuition increase

May 11th, 2016 at 03:34 pm

I got the contract for summer daycare for AA, my kindergartner, and it's $80 more than expected. This impacts the budget for June, July and August, so that's $240 total. It has to come out of our future surplus and impacts our actual deficit.

Daycare tuition increase: $240

Actual deficit: $5,323.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,347.44

AS's mom called back yesterday to say she didn't want us to send the money; she wanted to figure things out on her own. She has an appointment today with an organization that can help with rent and is also going to contact her apartment's management. AS is going to check back in with her today; we're now worried that she's putting a good face on her situation because of our initial hesitation to give her the money. I'm keeping that $400 as a line item for now in case AS determines that we should send the money anyway.

Update on tax bill goal: Ups and downs, upcoming dental visit

May 10th, 2016 at 09:02 pm

AS and I celebrated Mother's Day with brunch and mimosas at a favorite restaurant and some lattes on the way home. Total cost with tips: $77.

AS's mom called and won't be able to make rent without a loan. Some resistance on my part and a heart-to-heart talk with A ensued, and we got her mom's promise to get some documentation of what's going on with budget that she's not making ends meet. But we are giving her $400. There are lots of petty angles I could vent over, especially involving AS's aunt, but I've already hashed it out.

To compensate, AS took another $1000 writing assignment for this month, which is going to be hard on her time. I'm torn: very glad for the money but worried about how hard she'll be working this month.

Mother's Day (affects both actual and future): $77
Money to AS's mom (affects actual and future): $400
AS freelance job net (affects only future): $650

Actual deficit: $5,083.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,587.44

AS's first dental appointments are tomorrow. We'll pay for them when we get the rewards card, but I'll put them in the spreadsheet right away as we get billed for them. I think I'm just going to tack them onto this goal and call it the "tax/dental bill goal" from now on.

We're putting the dental expenses on a Chase Sapphire card. I'm thinking I'll keep the eventual (approximate) $550 cash/$700 travel in the rewards account. The cash will be there as a mini-emergency fund. If we don't need the cash this year, we can use it to help pay airfare for a warm weather vacation in December or January.