NT's raise hit today, and I was within $9 of my estimate. I would've liked to have estimated too low by more than that, but that's OK. A raise is a raise!
Our direct deposits hit the new checking account! Hooray, everything seems to be working! AS has been added to the account and I'm working on switching her Vanguard account over. Then I just need to confirm the kids' Pax accounts have switched over and I believe I'll be done with the switch.
One thing I haven't done is cancel the $15K line of credit with my old bank. Decided I'd hang onto it until we see how this whole refi thing goes. Hopefully I won't have to dip into it.
We're still waiting on many payments AS is owed, but I went ahead and booked our vacation home for April and AA's mini-manicure/pedicure appointments for her and her friends. So far we only had to put down a deposit on the rental property, so hopefully AS's checks will come in before we have to pay the rest. (If not, we have plenty of float money, but I like it better when the budget is balanced.)
Looks like NT will be going to England in September for his sister's wedding, but we're waiting for them to nail down a date. I'm still leaning toward a trip to NYC in March, but I haven't felt like booking it until we see some money roll in. AS is considering a train ride with a sleeper car for her solo trip.
We're still waiting on one or two 1099s from AS's clients before I fill out the tax questionnaire and book our appointment with the tax guy. Kind of hoping for a refund this year since AS made less than in 2015 (but we sent in the recommended estimated payments based on the previous year's income), but would also just be happy with breaking even.
Archive for January, 2017
NT's raise hit today, and I was within $9 of my estimate. I would've liked to have estimated too low by more than that, but that's OK. A raise is a raise!
Goal: $489,745 by 2019
(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 $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2016 was $51,785, so $103,570)
Current balance: $304,883
December 2016 balance: $297,419
Another decent-sized bump this month, though as I mentioned in the previous entry, I take it with a huge grain of salt. However, AS's and NT's salaries increased, so the goal got more ambitious and we actually lost a bit of progress on it.
To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 25 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $184,862 -- $7,394 per month -- to reach it. Probably not going to happen, but I'll keep doing the best I can!
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 20,398 pounds ($25,497)
FL: 5,534 pounds ($6,917)
NT's 401(k): $49,362
NT's Roth IRA: $16,574
AS's trad. IRA: $16,237
AS's Roth IRA: $33,935
AS's SEP IRA: $13,806
CJ's 401(k): $100,224
CJ's Roth IRA: $19,872
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($225,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
Total Assets: $999,883
US Mortgage: $399,535
Loan from friends (duplex): $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $35,570
UK Mortgage 2: $7,499
UK Mortgage 3: $7,896
Total Debt: $459,500
Current Estimated Net Worth: $540,383
December 2016 estimate: $531,974
Change in net worth: +$8,409
Summary: Our assets are almost back up over a million again. The market was pretty strong this past month, but I'm not counting on this as long-term gains. Irrational exuberance that there's going to be a big economic boom thanks to destroying environmental regulations and workers' rights. Don't buy that it's good for the economy long term.
Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat and am in the process of a refi application on the duplex, so should get an assessment soon.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.
I finally lost some weight this year--3 lbs. down at my Sunday weigh-in! Very happy. I wasn't perfect with eating but I exceeded my Stepbet goals, so I'm glad it worked out. I'm at 134, so not far from getting below 130 if I can keep it up.
I started the application for the refi last night! Interested to see where we appraise at; nothing would surprise me, whether we're below what we bought for or way above. All the indicators out there give very mixed signals, so I'm not holding my breath.
We tried three new recipes this past week! That takes us to 10 tried, 40 to go.
- Breakfast ramen bowl: AS put this on the list and made it for us. Basically a ramen soup with (veggie) bacon, seaweed, green onions and egg (hard-boiled for AS, scrambled for SL, and tofu scramble for the rest of us). It was deeeelightful.
- Honey sesame tofu: Another of AS's ideas, and I made it. We had it with broccoli and rice. While it didn't knock my socks off, it was really good and easy to make, so I'd do it again for sure.
- Black bean, spinach and quinoa bowl. NT's contribution. The flavors were really good, but I find quinoa doesn't have the satisfying chewiness of rice, so together it was all a bit soft. I grabbed some tortilla chips to eat with it, and that fixed the texture issue for me.
So one of the two guys I'd been working with for estimates got back to me saying he'd cover half the appraisal cost if the home didn't appraise at least 80% LTV.
Talking it over with my partners and neighbors, I realized there was a psychological hurdle about the prospect of blowing $475 on a step that might go nowhere. Bringing it down to $235 suddenly made it seem less foolish.
So I wrote back to him accepting the offer. Now we get to see what our home will actually appraise at! If it's worse than 80% LTV, we're out $235 but at least we didn't regret not finding out. If it's at 80 or better, then we might have to scrape up some funds to cover closing costs, which will be painful in the short term (especially since we have a number of renovations we're saving up for and fun things we want to spend money on) but will be worth it in the long term.
We tried another recipe last night: grilled cheese, sun-dried tomato and spinach sandwiches. Wow, it was so delicious! There was pesto in it too and the whole thing was fried in olive oil. It's a keeper for sure, and it was easy to kid-friendly it by just giving them plain grilled cheese. So that's 7 recipes tried, 43 to go.
I've been doing pretty well with my eating and exercising; I've only had a couple of night snacks and they were related to socializing. I haven't lost weight but at least I've maintained. Hoping if I'm really good this week I'll have some progress on the scales Sunday. So far I've skipped breakfasts and night snacks, done my AM weekday strength training, and kept up with my Stepbet goals.
I've begun setting aside 11% instead of 10% of AS's pay for her SEP retirement fund, so that goal has been reached. I'm waiting to see what NT's new paycheck is before I decide whether to up our retirement a bit more or wait to see if I get a raise this spring. Another thing we could possibly spend his raise on would be life insurance, which I've never gotten around to getting (for any of us).
My bank switchover is nearly complete. I want to see the direct deposits and autopays come through OK next week and then I'll rest easy. I had to mail in requests to change the bank info on the kids' Pax funds, and I'm waiting confirmation that AS has been added to the new checking account so I can switch her bank info in her Vanguard account. I finally closed the old account yesterday and deposited the remaining money in our new one. I'm hoping to get checks delivered today so I can pay daycare tuition and our bathroom contractor. I think I still need to go online and cancel my USBank line of credit. There's a lot involved in switching banks! Hopefully I'll stay happy with my new one and never have to change again.
We've started planning birthdays and travel for the year, although I haven't made any purchases yet. I know AS has a lot of money coming in any day now, but right now our shared spending is a bit in the hole (mainly due to AA's ER bill from when she had strep, and the late fees on that one credit card. Also we've been using Lyft kind of a lot lately.)
Once the money's in the bank, we can start putting money toward our planned birthday and travel stuff, which includes (all estimates, no exact amounts):
Cabin rental for April ($735) + rental car ($250?)
AA's party in March ($200 mani/pedis + $70 lunch?)
SL's party in March ($90 karaoke stand)
NT's road trip in Feb. ($65 car & $75 hotel?)
CJ's NYC trip in March ($300 plane + $400 food & expenses?)
Grownup bday celebrations in March ($100 each for food?)
Family trip to Va. this summer (TBD)
AS's solo trip (TBD)
NT trip to England for sister's wedding in November (TBD)
My tentative plan is to take AS's net pay (and any other windfalls) and save 1/3 for home renovations, 1/3 for travel, and 1/3 for other shared spending (including birthday-related expenses). Currently we've been saving half for home renovations and half for misc. shared spending. Hopefully the money rolls in fast enough to cover all the above things (which are nice-to-haves but not necessities)!
Yesterday and today we tried new recipes. Yesterday it was something called "Roasted & Toasted Things" from my favorite cookbook author. I'd always been a bit intrigued by the name but had never gotten around to trying it.
It was pretty good: oven roasted veggies (mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and I subbed in zucchini instead of eggplant), toasted almonds (recipe called for pine nuts but they're SO expensive), white beans and wild rice blend.
I wouldn't go out of my way to make it a bunch, but if I was in the mood for something tasty yet super healthy and nourishing, I'd make it again.
Tonight it was BBQ jackfruit and pickled onions from the Veggie Sri Racha Lover's Cookbook. Really good, if a bit spicy for the kids. We had it on buns with sliced avocado and wedge fries. I loved the pickled onions. NT says he prefers jackfruit simmered in sauce, vs. baked as this recipe called for.
So that's 6 recipes tried, 44 to go. No other progress to report; the bathroom is getting there slowly but surely, but it'll be a while before it's done.
Well, several things have conspired to make me think the refi thing is just not worth the sweat right now. So my progress on that is, I have my decision for now, unless something changes in our situation.
We got a quote on the insulation and it's quite a lot higher than the ballpark figure the energy audit guy threw out -- our share of the house alone would be over $8K -- so we're going to get a second quote. If we do go with this, that will pretty much rule out saving up much for the kitchen reno this year. But it would be nice to have insulation -- the comfort levels of the house vary wildly depending on where you're standing.
We tried another recipe last night: "Pizza bowl" from the cookbook "Isa Does It." OMG. It was nothing like a pizza, but it was aMAzing. OK, maybe a little too garlicky -- I enjoyed it going down but did not enjoy the strong aftertaste on my tongue for the rest of the night. Next time I'd cut a few garlic cloves and make sure I cook the sliced ones more thoroughly. But other than that it was amazing -- brown rice, vegan sausage, red onion, kale and a red pepper-cashew sauce, topped with olives, fresh thyme and chili flakes. Definitely a keeper with a small edit to the garlic. That's 4 new recipes tried, 46 to go!
Dang. My goal for many years (since I've given the credit card companies thousands of dollars in the past) has been to not give them another dime. Today I had to give them $60 because we accidentally charged a purchase to a credit card that I no longer track.
I've been asking NT to cancel several credit cards for at least a year now, maybe more. I used to remind him every month or so but I'd kind of given up. Anyway, one of them called him to say he was 2 months behind on a payment. I looked into it; it had been linked to Paypal and I must have accidentally chosen it to pay something.
Every once in a while I have a budget tracking discrepancy, so I imagine when this happened, I marked the purchase as going on our regular credit card. Then when the month's payment came I probably had a $36 discrepancy from what I owed and wasn't able to reconcile it, so just altered the budget. My math does fail me from time to time, so I probably thought nothing of a $36 discrepancy.
So we paid the stupid tax. Hopefully this will spur him to close those cards once and for all.
So the place across the street sold at $499K. That's good news because our place is comparable (slightly less updated but more square footage) and we owe $399K, which would give us 80% LTV.
Bad news because a refi is now back on the table, only with considerably less attractive rates. We're currently at 3.5% fixed. The best 30-year rate AimLoan is showing is us 3.75%, and that's with (at least) $9K in closing costs that we'd supposedly have to foot the bill for.
Back in August we could've gotten the same deal for 3.25% interest rate.
The ones we wouldn't have to fork over as much money for would be 4.0% to 4.25%. So we'd actually be going up quite a big from our current rate. That would only save us $154 per month over what we're paying now with mortgage interest. I guess it would pay for itself fairly quickly if it were a nearly free refi. I'm checking again with the AIM guy because I seem to remember when he got me a more "actual" quote, there were no options with zero points and zero closing costs, which the link he sent is currently sending me.
Assuming we could scrape up funding for that (we don't have a ton of cash on hand now that we've committed to the bathroom reno), that would save us about $250 per month. So I guess it would pay for itself in 3 years.
It's just that much more painful because we'd probably have to take out an unsecured loan of some sort to finance the refi. Which would mean it would take more than 3 years to really pay for itself.
I don't know. Interest rates are probably going to keep going up. If we wait longer, it might actually end up being beneficial to hang onto our current mortgage, $260 mortgage interest premium and all, vs. taking a higher interest rate.
I just don't know if it's worth it. I'm so bad at figuring these things out!
We tried a new recipe Sunday that AS found: Korean BBQ mock chicken with peapods and coconut rice. OMG. It was amazing. A little time-intensive (mainly making the mock chicken ahead of time) but really really delicious. I added it to our "favorite meals" list. That's 3 new recipes tried, 47 to go.
Today we had our financial meeting with our downstairs neighbors about the agreement for them to purchase their share of the house (they're calling it the "intentional community agreement"). It went pretty well. They agreed that we need to research the questions I had about tax implications and how to figure out their fair share should we refinance, pay off early, etc. And the need to put in clauses about what would happen if they decided to move and not buy their share, that we should seek aribtration in the case of an unresolvable dispute.
On my concerns about their figuring out their own financial stuff before we become entwined financially, it was a mixed bag, mostly good:
- NJ let me know he has settled up with MN on his back taxes, and plans to file taxes jointly this year with CC (they've been legally married for about 3 years now, so it's high time). He was a bit more vague about when he would have his federal taxes fixed, but acknowledged that it would have to happen before they were legal part-owners so there wouldn't be a lien. (If the agreement goes as planned, they wouldn't become legal owners until they've paid their full share of the home, so I want them to settle it sooner than that. I may bring this one up again to get a clearer sense of when he's planning to fix this problem.)
- He has already started looking into retirement savings, which he hasn't done even though his husband has always put money away.
- I mentioned my family's need to get life insurance. He said his husband has it, but he has a pre-existing condition that makes it harder to qualify. Still, he knows there is insurance out there for people with his condition, so he will start to look into it.
- He has a good deal of student loans and isn't sure they'll ever be paid off. I think as long as there was a clause or something about what would happen if he defaulted on the loans, this would be manageable.
- I need to look into tax implications of remaining a landlord for the foreseeable future (since the agreement would keep them as renters until they had paid their full share). He thinks I should be able to deduct the portion of the mortgage payment that covers their unit; I think it's interest and property taxes only that can be claimed. So I need to look into this.
Overall, they're very happy with the living arrangement and feel good about continuing to pursue this agreement. And so am I ... I want to protect myself financially but I feel good about the communal living part of things. There are minor annoyances from time to time, but overall I feel like we're really good at living under the same roof (albeit in different units) and making it work. Very responsive to each other's concerns, and able to voice said concerns, so I think this is a good arrangement long-term.
We got a statement for NT's UK pension #2 (which I'm going to start calling SW pension because I get them mixed up), and it has increased in value to 20,398 pounds ($25,497).
I also see that UK pension #3 (now to be called FL pension) went up slightly to 5,534 ($6,917).
And UK pension #1 (now AV pension) is at 17,967 ($22,459).
This year I'm going to have NT look into whether these can be rolled into a US retirement account, or at least rolled into a single UK account. I hate having all these weird lingering financial things in the UK. Now that we've started thinking about selling the UK flat, it's making me think of other things we could do to minimize the international business I have to take care of!
Last year was a kind of crazy travel year.
- I made 2 trips (January and April) to Va. to see my and AS's folks (once just with the kids, once with AS and the kids)
- NT, AS and I traveled to NY for my 20-year college reunion at the beginning of June
- The whole family traveled to UK (Exeter) at the end of June for 2 weeks (and NT, AS and I took an extra trip to Oxford & from there to Barcelona without the kids)
Fun, but it really added up! I'd say we spent $15K-$20K on travel alone last year.
So when NT asked me about trips at the end of the year -- even though he was only talking about a weekend at a cabin -- I kind of ran away from the idea. I wanted this year to be focused on home improvement.
But now that the sticker shock of last year is wearing off, I've quickly warmed to the idea of some travel this year -- albeit nowhere near what we did last year in terms of cost!
So vague plans include:
- A cabin trip somewhere in MN or WI -- maybe 5 days or so?
- A family trip to Va. with maybe some day trips for NT (and maybe AS and the kids) to other attractions (I'll be planning to spend most of my time in my parents' living room with my mostly immobile mom, but I know that'd drive NT nuts)
- A solo trip for each of the adults?!? This came up kind of weirdly; NT had proposed the idea of an overnight trip to Chicago with some of his friends to see a show, which AS and I agreed to, with me half-joking that I assumed if we let him do that, I'd be entitled to a trip to see my favorite band on tour at some point.
He's now doubting whether he'll do it -- but in the meantime, my favorite band announced they're playing in NYC in late March. I was thinking more like Wisconsin when I said I'd be entitled to a trip in return, but AS suggested I could have my bday gift money put toward an NYC trip, and then it wouldn't cost us as much from shared spending. So I'm kind of thinking about it.
NT was shocked when he learned that we'd assumed his trip would come out of shared spending (and thus why we thought we'd be entitled to trips ourselves). I guess I assumed he'd never be able to afford the trip on shared spending so it was implied in his request. He was more like "What would make me ever assume that it wouldn't have to come out of my own money?" Ha! I guess I am that much of a ballbuster when it comes to frivolous spending. I should be glad he didn't assume that.
What I didn't know at the time he asked was that round trip bus to Chicago is only $40 per person and he'd been planning to go in on a hotel room with his friends. So the trip he'd been planning actually would be super-cheap and probably doable on his spending allowance.
But now the genie's out of the bottle and we're all kind of dreaming of our own solo trips, so we may go ahead and go through with it. We'll see. Dunno -- I've never wanted a trip without them before, but I'm just that obsessed with this band! Plus I have lots of friends in NYC I'd love to see -- and I could probably crash with someone and not have to pay for a hotel.