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Archive for July, 2018

11 years of retirement progress

July 31st, 2018 at 09:19 pm

I've never looked at my retirement changes year over year, and suddenly was curious. I started in September 2007 since that was the first time I added up all the retirement values, but for every year after I used the July retirement amount. Here's what I found:

2007: $62K

2008: $65K (+$3K)

2009: $69K (+$4K)

2010: $109K (+$40K)

2011: $141K (+$32K)

2012: $151K (+$10K)

2013: $175K (+$24K)

2014: $220K (+$45K)

2015: $248K (+$28K)

2016: $279K (+$31K)

2017: $344K (+$65K)

2018: $421K (+$68K)

It's interesting that growth has been so uneven. There are different factors: I may have found out about some of NT's pensions in 2010. My dad gave me a pre-inheritance of which I put $9K into retirement, which impacted 2011. Between 2014 and 2015 we slowed our retirement contributions while we were purchasing our duplex and trying to sell our condo. And of course vagaries of the market affected everything.

Sure hope we can continue more in the vein of 2017 and 2018 from now on!

July 2018 retirement goal update

July 31st, 2018 at 08:15 pm

Goal: $512,564 by March 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 $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).

Current balance: $421,009

May 2018 balance: $411,632

Progress: $9,377

We didn't have any progress in June, so this isn't as good as it looks. To reach the interim goal by the end of our birthday month (March) in 2019, that's 8 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $91,555 -- $11,444 per month -- to reach it.

We rarely come close to that, so it's pretty unlikely. But at least I'm making progress in the right direction -- nice to see the amount needed to reach this mini-goal has shrunk to a 5-digit number anyway!

July 2018 net worth update

July 31st, 2018 at 08:09 pm

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): $66,580
NT's Roth IRA: $29,132
AS's trad. IRA: $19,592
AS's Roth IRA: $50,267
AS's SEP IRA: $25,970
CJ's 401(k): $132,522
CJ's Roth IRA: $33,229
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,060,790

US Mortgage $386,825
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $32,306
UK Mortgage 2 $6,810
UK Mortgage 3 $7,171
TOTAL DEBT $442,112

Current Estimated Net Worth: $618,678

June 2018 estimate: $607,461

Change in net worth: +$11,217

Summary: Pretty big gains this month, which helps offset last month's stagnation. If this pace were maintained the rest of the year, I'd reach my net worth goal and come close to my retirement target for the year. Doubtful but I suppose within the realm of possibility!

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.

Some close scrapes! and dealing with the overspending

July 17th, 2018 at 08:31 pm

Don't you hate the moment of panic when something goes wrong or almost goes wrong, but then love the endorphins that flood the body when you get back what you thought you might have lost?

Last week I was working in my Number Crunch worksheet. It's a Google Sheets file, about 12 years old, and I use it to keep my real-time budget; checking account balance at the top, future income and outgo below for anywhere from one to 4 months. Along the side I show the projected checking account balance after each transaction. I update the checking account balance frequently (at least a couple times a week, sometimes more than once a day) and delete transactions that have happened.

But that's not all; I also keep my own record of AS's freelance income on additional tabs (one for each year). It helps me track tax and retirement and see what income has already come in and what we're still expecting. It has also come in handy because AS sometimes misses things on her much more complicated tracking spreadsheet, so every once in a while we compare bottom lines to make sure we've got the same amounts, and if not we get to the bottom of the issue.

But that's not all! I also have a tab where I note utility costs for each month, and note the highest bill for each month for gas, electric and water/sewer/trash, as well as the average monthly cost each year. This helps me plan my annual budget.

But that's not all either! I also have a separate tab where I track all credit card purchases for the month. Between us we use our CC a lot, so this helps ensure I don't miss any transactions. That tab also has info on all open and closed cards.

Although much of the info in the sheet is "real time" meaning I delete old transactions, I'm also able to use the version history function to look back at changes if I ever think I've messed things up. I use that fairly often as well.

So yeah, that spreadsheet is a beast of burden that does a lot of heavy lifting in my personal finances! Anyway, I was working in it last week and my fingers slipped and I opened a new browser window. When I clicked back to Number Crunch, it said it was trying to update. So I closed out of it and tried to go back in. I got an error message! I tried another browser, same thing! I opened several other Google Drive files, no problem there, just with Number Crunch!

My stomach dropped. I called AS. I left a message on help forums. I went to the file on my phone and lo and behold it was there! I couldn't save it or email it, but I was able to copy the data on each tab and paste into a new sheet. However, it pasted values only, none of the many formulas I use throughout. And of course all the version history was lost! Ugh. But I was so relieved I at least had the info, and I updated a couple of the most-used formulas.

I kept checking the help forum and it said there was an overall problem with Sheets. I didn't think this could be what happened since my other Sheets files were fine, but then lo and behold, they said the problem with Sheets was fixed, I tried to go into my old Number Crunch, and there it was in all its glory! I was sooooo happy. I actually felt euphoric.

I kept the one where I pasted numbers only, just so I now have some kind of backup. AS says I should probably save a backup outside of Google Drive too, to be safe. I should look into that.

Anyway, it made me appreciate the file all the more; in 12 years I'd never even considered the possibility that I would ever not be able to access it. I didn't realize how much of my peace of mind is wrapped up in knowing that document exists!

This was a much smaller moment, but today as I was about to step off the bus to take my 6-year-old to summer care, I suddenly felt lighter. I looked back and realized I'd left my purse on the seat! I grabbed it and stepped off the bus, thinking about my work phone, my wallet, my keys and my expensive glasses. Boy was I glad I hadn't left that purse! And it made me remember last week's close scrape with the spreadsheet and decide to write about both moments.


In other news, AS has the big freelance job! She'll invoice them for hours worked each Friday and get paid the following week. She's also got another multi-piece writing job that she'll be billing hourly for and invoicing as she delivers each round of. So a huge job and a pretty big job that aren't reflected in the spreadsheet because we're not sure how much they'll be in total, but I'll be adding them to the spreadsheet incrementally as she invoices.

It's a good time to be pulling in regular work because booking our UK airfare earlier than expected has stretched our available funds. I'm actually keeping an eye on whether I need to transfer money from savings temporarily to cover that credit card balance when I pay it off in mid-August. It'll be close, but thanks to Number Crunch I'll be able to forecast whether or not we have enough in the account.

We normally have a lot of cushion in checking just because I budget out so far, but with shared spending money a lot in the red, vacay fund a little in the red, and NT's personal money quite a bit in the red due mainly to buying inventory for his hat business, the float margin is looking very tight in August when we pay off the big credit card balance we racked up from UK airfare, our recent Va. trip, NT's inventory, summer program tuition for the kids, and other things. Close to $10K all told will need to be paid off!

Luckily even if we have to transfer from savings temporarily, I'm feeling good about much of the deficit being cleared up over the next few months. AS's two new jobs will help a lot, plus the other jobs she's already worked and expecting payment on, and hopefully NT will see some return on investment at a few key events coming up.

On the down side, we do have another family trip in early August, and they always end up costing more than I'd like. But we won't have to worry about those charges until mid-September, by which AS should have received quite a bit of money from her various projects.

This summer is even spendier than usual! We're having a blast, but one good thing about fall will be lower child costs with school back in session. Not just child care during the day but we tend to spend more on treats and fun activities during the summer.

The worst case scenario is that we would have to use some of our renovation savings to make up the deficit. We haven't heard back from our design consultant, and I'm inclined not to ping her, because that way we haven't committed those funds and have them in reserve if we can't dig ourselves out of the spending hole another way. Paying off the deficit right this second would take about a quarter of our reno savings. I won't do it unless I see no other way, and at this point, I do see a potential other way, so I'll wait and see how the next few months unfold.

News and notes

July 9th, 2018 at 07:28 pm

I'm having an annoyingly slow day at work where no one is giving me the info or go-ahead on several projects, so I'm more or less twiddling my thumbs. Probably if I start blogging, work will come in -- that's how it works sometimes! Smile Let's see how many random updates I can get through before that happens.

We got back from our first Va. trip on Thursday. It was a mini-family reunion and went very well, but we're happy to be home. Suburban Va. is just not our thing.

Every kind of spending money is in the hole now: each of our personal spending budgets, the shared spending, and we overspent our vacation savings on the Va. trip. Despite lame attempts at frugality it ended up costing us about $200 per day, not including the plane tickets. (We still have more than enough in our reno savings to cover the hole if necessary; I'd just rather not dip into it again.)

However, AS seems to be close to locking in that big freelance job! Rather than counting on a full $32K, we've decided to log it incrementally, since she'll be allowed to invoice and get paid weekly. That way if it ends early or anything else happens, we won't have budgeted with that big number in mind.

One of the reasons spending funds are so in the red is that June was a thin month for paychecks and we haven't received any yet in July. So once money starts rolling in we'll at least chip away at the big hole.

AS has started 2 weeks of jury duty and already got called for a case! It's very interesting to me but I know inconvenient, so I'm hoping for her sake that she gets released early.

NT is having great fun building connections with his hat business but is still a couple grand in the hole. It's one of those things that could take off or just end up being a hobby (hopefully a break-even one eventually). Only time will tell, but as long as he's enjoying it and it doesn't end up costing us tons of money, it's worth pursuing.

We enrolled the kids in a new swim school that's not easily accessible on the bus so we have to rent a carshare every Sunday. But they've already progressed leaps and bounds in just a couple of sessions, so the additional cost is kind of worth it!

AS has been pushing me to try to start a joint novel-writing project with a friend who lives in New York, so I'm finally reaching out and getting started on that. I'm excited that this may kickstart my writing outside of my usual November NaNoWriMo thing! I typically don't do any fiction writing the rest of the year, but I'd like to.

The kids are waitlisted for an in-school after-school program for next year, and if it doesn't go through, SL will go to daycare for another year and AA will just come home on the bus. She'll be in third grade and extremely conscientious about safety and rules, so if she's alone for an hour or two it'll be no big deal. Either way -- both in after-school at the elementary, or one doing after-school at our daycare -- our childcare costs should go down significantly during the school year, to $500-$650 per month! It's not been lower than $900 for several years.

My friend-making attempts with one woman may have failed -- I've decided to let her make the next move if she's interested, because I really can't tell -- and a couple others have stalled, but I have some alumni events coming up this summer that should be fun. And I'll be seeing my Canadian pal in person in August, so I'm really hoping we continue to hit it off.

The weather had been rather crappy most of the summer, but it's been wonderful since we got back from Va. However, I haven't been able to get myself back into the night walks I did frequently the past two summers. Hoping to kick-start that soon -- I've barely seen the lake that's only a half mile from our house! Plus my weight has plateaued about 7 lbs. higher than I want it.

Oh, I just thought of something regarding the shared spending deficit! We have an extra paycheck coming in October, so if we can manage to get the deficit to under $2K, I shall budget out through October so we can wipe the deficit out with that paycheck. (I have the annual budget worked out on a separate spreadsheet with one tab per month, and I usually paste into our regular spreadsheet one month ahead, so I've got August in there right now. But the way I have it structured there's nothing to stop me budgeting two or more months ahead.) That would be a weight off. But it would feel like a waste somehow to do the budget through October now and only cut the deficit in half vs. eliminate it, so I'm going to wait on that.

July 2018 debt payments

July 5th, 2018 at 09:37 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $724 to principal
UK1: $182
UK2: $39
UK3: $40
All told, $985 of debt was paid.

Current debt totals:
US Mortgage $386,825
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $32,306
UK Mortgage 2 $6,810
UK Mortgage 3 $7,171
TOTAL DEBT $442,112

June 2018 net worth update

July 5th, 2018 at 09:10 pm

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): $64,859
NT's Roth IRA: $28,363
AS's trad. IRA: $19,113
AS's Roth IRA: $47,581
AS's SEP IRA: $25,285
CJ's 401(k): $129,506
CJ's Roth IRA: $32,353
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,050,558

US Mortgage $387,549
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $32,488
UK Mortgage 2 $6,849
UK Mortgage 3 $7,211
TOTAL DEBT $443,097

Current Estimated Net Worth: $607,461

April 2018 estimate: $607,337

Change in net worth: +$124

Summary: This paltry increase in net worth is due to paying off nearly $1K in debt. Most of our retirement accounts lost a small amount of value this month.

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.