<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
You are viewing: Main Page
 

Roth Conversion

December 6th, 2016 at 09:28 am

DH rolled his 401k from his old company to his new company 401k. He then withdrew $60k and we are converting that to his Roth IRA. We decided on $60k to max out our taxable income in our 25% bracket. We might as well since we are at that level and going forward I suspect it'll be higher so converting any IRA or 401k money to a Roth IRA will likely not be worth it.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about some saving goals I have. My car is 2010 which isn't old and it only has 90k miles on it bought new. But I'm thinking maybe in 3 more years when it's 10 years old maybe we'd get another car and maybe it's time to start saving so we don't have payments? $500/month for 3 years?

I also think we need to start increasing our college savings. $2k/year per kid doesn't seem like enough. I'm thinking if we increased it to $4k/year per kid that would put us in a better position. It another $325/month for both kids.

I guess since 2017 is about to start it's making me evaluate financial goals. Once we buy a house and settle into a routine monthly budget I think it'll be easier to give every dollar a name.

Have you considered your 2017 financial goals?

Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Savings!!!

December 5th, 2016 at 09:20 am

On Black Friday I saved $100. Literally. There was a sale at Costco on the electronic keyboard I had bought last month with a $100 coupon. So I took my receipt and I bought it again and returned it. It was $449 plus tax when I bought it and $349 plus tax when I bought it on Black Friday. Yes $100 in about 30 minutes of time to buy and return it.

I also bought socks and underwear from walmart and holiday pajamas for the kids for 30% off from target. I love buying these sort of clothes on black friday. Overall spending probably less than $100.

I bought the kids a couple of gifts as well. This year they got Lego Advent and chocolate advent calendars. DK1 got a vtech smartwatch from Target which was on Buy one get one 50% so I got it for $35 regular from $55. I am mailing other to friend. She also got a Gemma shopkins doll for $20, and my little pony from TRU for $17. And I still have to look for $1 stocking stuffers. DK2 got shopkins $11 from TRU, equestria doll $5 from walmart, and troll twins $30 (going to get using my target gift cards).

DH got bose wireless headphones for $350. And now to the teacher gifts $120 - 6 teachers @ $20/pop all to Target. Thank you for the 10% target gift cards yesterday.

I have a few more items to get for people but overall I think my shopping is done. If only I had magic elves come and wrap and send my gifts.

November 30th Net Worth

December 1st, 2016 at 10:00 am

It's almost the end of the year and it's been good. So we hit our peak NW in June 2015. And since then we are down about 12%. From when we moved because we had a lot of costs moving, selling house, etc September 30th 2015 we are down 0.7%. So we have made up the difference. At our lowest point we dipped 19.4% from 6/15 or 9.1% from 9/30/15.

Part of it has been saving and part has been the market. We managed not miss a beat and maxed out DH's 401k and Roth IRAs for 2016 and kid's college funds $4k. We also saved our signing bonus. We hit a new high of $600k+ in retirement savings. To just show what holding steady does in DH's old 401k without contributions after August

June 2015 $332k,
9/30/15 $301k
10/30/15 $325k
1/28/16 $288k
3/24/16 $311k
5/15/16 $314k
6/7/16 $324k
6/27/16 $306k
11/3/16 $321k
11/30/16 $340k

In one year we had quite a ride. So shut your eyes and let it ride. A stretch goal for 2017 will be if market cooperate $700k in retirement.

We are right now in a holding pattern until we settle into a house. It'll be interesting what the next year financials hold with proposed tax reform. I can't say I'm upset because I know we'll benefit a lot. We pay a ton in taxes and this year more than ever.

Goodbye my friend

November 30th, 2016 at 09:48 am

We put our dog down last night. It was time. The cancer had mestatisized to fluid in his lungs. Though his blood work came back fine last week he wasn't eating and having trouble walking. He seemed to rally a little over the weekend but seemed ready yesterday night when DH got home.

First time in almost 15 years we've been without a dog in our lives. It's hard and lonely. The house seems empty and quieter. I don't know if we'll get another friend. I think it'll be awhile. I'm so glad he got to spend his last year in a house that was easier for him to be comfortable in. If I can stop crying. Well the saying is death comes in threes and it has this year for us.

Maybe tomorrow I'll try to donate some stuff to a rescue group. Or sometime soon.

The dog

November 22nd, 2016 at 09:31 am

I'm a little worried. Our dog has been on his "last" legs for over a year. But he seems more tired and lethargic and just sick. I feel like it's getting to the end. I'm very sad and not sure if I'm ready to let go.

People have told me to get another dog but I feel like I'm not interested or ready. I'm not sure when I'll be ready. I just want to not feel ridiculous for crying right now. The kids saw other people's new puppies and said they wanted one. But right now the idea of another dog is just not vibing. I'm just hoping he makes it through Thanksgiving. And yes I'm aware he's a pet but he's been a really good friend for many years and to me he's family. He's someone I walk and talk with quite a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving in case i don't get back before Thursday.

Tax Employer Provided Healthcare?

November 20th, 2016 at 09:54 pm

This article in the Washington Post about how Republicans and Democrats can work together to fix healthcare was interesting.

The first and foremost suggestion is to eliminate the tax free treatment of employer provided health insurance. The majority of Americans are covered by this. The biggest benefit go to the biggest wage earners like how SS tax is capped. I think it would be a good proposal and if we wanted to move to a free market health insurance economy the way to go.

The idea is that people have to buy catastrophic insurance and then if you have money you can buy more layers of insurance and care. Or you can deposit it into a Health Savings accounts for maintenance/prevention. This will help probably the very rich and the poor. But middle class people if I had to guess will end up with the short end of the stick.

I will guess that employers will not pay people more to supplement the tax on the health insurance they provide. Or if they don't need to provide health insurance anymore and EVERYONE has to choose to buy it, that people won't get an equivalent raise. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if we were all in the same boat of having to buy insurance. The only thing that would have to be left in effect is forcing insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

But if we all didn't have employer provided healthcare? Do you think it would be better? Are you willing to give it up or pay taxes on it?

i just signed up to kill myself

November 15th, 2016 at 09:51 pm

I just signed myself and the two kids for snowboarding lessons in January. $1000 for 4 weekends with rentals for the kids and 2.5 hours of lessons for four Sundays. Ugh. I know the kids will enjoy it and DH is coming to supervise. But this is my first time back since 2009 probably when I injured my ACL. My DH loves it and guilted me into trying it again. I could do this and try to do a family activity or I could sit in the lodge. I figure I'll give it one more try and then i'll sit in the lodge forever. I am terrible at it. I am inherently clumsy and honestly I'm terrified of the chair lifts. Either way I figure I'm investing $220 for 4 lessons to figure out that I can sell my snowboard and never go again.

This might be why I had kids. So I can send them with my DH to enjoy his sporty past-times. I'm more a summer warm weather person. Wish me luck. When I nearly kill myself I'll refer back to this post.

90k service and then some

November 14th, 2016 at 08:45 am

So my 2010 Subaru Outback has just about 90k miles on it. Wow that went fast. Anyway it cost me $524 for the service and fixing a headlight. Yes my DH could do it but it takes a lot of time to replace the headlight while being really careful with the plastic shield so for $30 he said have them do it. Actually the part was $25 and that's what they charged me free labor.

But they told me the serpentine belt needed to be redone for $115 and front brakes $350. I need to call other dealerships and see if any are having a deal and coupon in the area. Also on the radar is the timing belt to be done at 105k miles which is around $700. Ugh.

But at least by maintaining the car I'll get a lot more years of use out of it. We did buy it new and except for all this routine maintenance the serpentine belt being the only thing that hasn't been "routine", this car has been incredibly reliable and great. I had a corolla for 14 years preivously also bought new and my DH forced me to sell it when we had kiddo #2. Lack of Latch, airbags, ABS made him uncomfortable with me driving it anymore. He'd have gotten rid of it in 2010 but we couldn't afford it.

Recently we got to talking about our plans to keep this car. I laughed and said until DK#1 is driving so 16 years. He said no way. We'll wait newer safety features. I will admit the rear camera and sensors I drove in the rental for the day is nice. I'd also like a 3rd row option. But those are wants and not needs.

How long do you keep your cars? Do you keep them till they break or do you trade them in if your needs change? Do you only buy used and then exchange them when you feel like it?

I found the secret trump voter

November 11th, 2016 at 08:11 am

Laugh I did. My redfin touring realtor yesterday "leaned in" and told me I voted for trump. She is a college educated, white, 45-55 woman living in the suburbs divorced with kids. She leans liberal but couldn't vote for Hillary because she's corrupt and establishment. She said doesn't like anything Trump said or stood for but she pulled the lever because she wanted a change. She said she hasn't told coworkers or other friends, because she was embarrassed. Why'd she tell me? I said I didn't vote for Hillary and Trump. I refused. But then I'm registering as an independent because my values mostly align with a certain independent socialist.

The second was a stay at home mom who also is white, college educated, 30-40 married suburbs. She is pretty conservative and was horrified by Trumps racist bigotry but his stances more aligned with hers. She also was embarrassed to tell people she voted for him.

Both women said he offended them and they don't support his views on race or women or religion. But they just couldn't support Hillary for one reason or another. Neither would have told a pollster they'd be voting for Trump.

So these two women whom pollsters "should" be Hillary supporters were closeted Trump supporters. It cements in my mind that Trump supporters that aren't all racist or bigots. Rather probably a small segment is. Many don't agree but still voted for him for other reasons. People who really disagree actually with his words.

Either way I found it interesting that people are hiding they voted for him. It appears that's why polling was off. Because even exit polls people didn't admit to voting for him.

In an aside a couple of our friends are considering moving and leaving the country. We're saddened by their fear. Praying they make the best decision. Both couples are muslim and I asked recently the moms why did they set aside the niqab? The answer was after they had children they were afraid of being physically assaulted and both had been verbally assaulted while walking with their babies. It had been easier when they were single and younger. But pushing a stroller made them reconsider how they appear and they wanted to fit in more. I wonder if we aren't regressing in our ability to accept people of another race, religion, or sexual orientation.

repealing Obamacare

November 10th, 2016 at 09:54 am

Donald Trump will repeal parts of Obamacare on the first day in office. I believe this will happen with the republican congress. This is absolutely going to fufill their desire and promise.

I'm excited. I'm a socialized medicine supporter and that's not what Obamacare is. I felt and still do Obamacare was better than what we had. But it wasn't what I would have chosen.

I am curious what Donald Trump will replace it with. He has 10 weeks to propose and tell us what is the Republican answer to Obamacare and how it is different. I believe this is exciting.

Why?

Because I think we're about to blow up the American Healthcare system. I think that we are about to cause a catastrophe and health insurance and health care costs will skyrocket in a way the republicans can't even begin to predict. I think it'll spiral out of control faster and unexpectedly and this will cause the US to face the music sooner. Obamacare is actually a system proposed by the Republicans in 90s when hillary proposed socialized medicine during the clinton years. Yet 20 years later they hate it.

CCF you always talk about how bad socialized medicine is with military. But senior citizens have the largest socialized medicine system in the US it's called medicare. Second what do you propose to replace it? I am still waiting on what people propose to replace Obamacare?

Repealing Obamacare will include cutting the subsidies for working and middle class americans. It will allow insurers to lump together high risk people making insurance if I had to guess incredibly expensive for them. But apparently you will be able to buy insurance across state lines.

I am going to guess without being forced to charge the same for high risk preexisting condition people and those who are low risk insurance companies will start to run wild on premiums for everyone.

But this will be a very interesting 10 weeks as we wait to see how this experiment turns out. Do I think Obamacare a success? Yes/No. I think it's great to give coverage to those who couldn't buy it before. But it's not the plan I would have liked.

But now I think Trump will blow it all up by moving toward a free market healthcare. I don't think people really want a free market healthcare when they realize they have to pay for their actual care.

Donald won???

November 9th, 2016 at 08:35 am

Just kidding. I am not surprised. I think of myself as probably an independent in the mold of bernie sanders. I'm more liberal than the democratic party. This entire year I've said I get why Donald Trump wont he republican nomination and I can honestly say I get why he won the presidency.

I didn't think it would happen. But I think that more moderate democrats voted for him than moderate republicans voted for Hillary. I do believe there is racism and hate and sexism in this country. But that's not what propelled him to victory. She didn't lose because she's a woman. She lost because she's a terrible person. I believe if Bernie had won he'd have won the presidency because a lot of people turned off by Trump's message of hate and divisiveness would have voted for Bernie as a outsider (ie independent caucausing with Democrats).

He won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, the same states Bernie beat Hillary Clinton. How? Because I think people hate establishment and they feel the elites of both parties have left them behind, and they have. I will admit I LOVE his "drain the swamp" bit. I hate the establishment and feel they've lost touch with the regular people and Hillary represented the swamp. Him promising to drain the swamp was great. I think it won him the election.

The democratic party deserved this loss. They cleared the field for her, they didn't give Bernie a fair shot, they deliberately gave her the opportunity she missed in 2008. So she's done stick a fork in her. I think she deserves to go to jail. I also hope she does to prove that NO ONE is above the law because that's what pisses me off. It's why I wouldn't vote for her. I didn't vote for Trump either and yes I voted. The truth is she acted this entire race that she was above the law. She made the rules and didn't abide by them. So she deserved this loss and everything that went with it.

I disagree with Donald Trump policies and what he stands for. They aren't what I believe. But I'll respect the opinion of others who want to disagree. Some of the people I know best are republicans and I can still respect the opinion. FWIW they were horrified by Donald's views.

What I still stew over is the fact my vote doesn't matter. That only a small percentage of people in the US get to pick the president. That only people living in swing states matter. That if you live on the coasts and south you might as well not even show up to vote. I am appalled that the popular Hillary Clinton won. I don't like her but I question whether it would have been more legitimate if she had won by popular vote? Then wouldn't every vote everywhere be equal?

I understand the tyranny of the majority is the reason for the electoral college. But now it seems like we are under the regime of the minority (which we are since Donald lost the popular vote) rather than the will of the majority.

Where is the parity of one vote one person? I think the electoral college is antiquated and we need to switch. It's completely unfair that large swathes of the electorate is COMPLETELY ignored and only people living in areas considered swing are worthy of picking.

But maybe I'm biased since I've never lived in a swing state. Do swing state people feel it's fair? Do they see a problem with being a swing state and that their votes are more important than other citizens?

feeling anxious

October 26th, 2016 at 08:15 pm

I'm found a realtor in one of the areas we liked. She is very good but I find myself again pulling back. I'm feeling pressured. I know I'm grinding my teeth over the anxiety. I can feel myself waking up just thinking and worrying.

Have I mentioned I am using redfin? I really like the touring agents and the method behind touring without pressure. I like how you have to tell the offer agent when you are ready. I didn't like the fact that the offer agent I had didn't respond for 2-3 days when I emailed her. I know it's not full service and I don't need hand-holding I just want a person who responds.

So I switched for one area to a full service agent. And now I'm regretting it. The realtor is very good in the keeping in touch. She's also good about following up with other agents. But I don't think she likes how indecisive I am.

I don't think she likes the fact that I want to see the house more than 1x. That I'm looking at houses with my DH then we want to go back before deciding. Every house we've seen and gone back she's asked and pushed if we want to put in an offer.

The truth is we haven't found the house we want. I was very honest with her today that we are in a lease till July 2017. We decided that we would buy our dream home now if it shows up and if it doesn't we'll wait.

But I don't want to settle now. I'm not ready to compromise and buy a home in the location I am not in love with until March or April. Until then I want to wait and keep watching what comes on. I've yet to walk into anything and been "wow" i want this. Everything has been meh and compromised. I know that I have to compromise, everyone does.

Am I wrong to wait? Do I need to rush? I feel like if I'm going to compromise does it have to be now? Can't it be when we're under the gun and need to move?

Yes I feel my DH breathing down my neck about his commute. Today was another 2 hour commute. But at the same time he's willing to wait because he agrees we haven't found it yet. I don't know what "it" is but all homes have been okay.

What should we do? Since we aren't rushing should I just use redfin and suck it up? I can honestly say we hvaen't seen a house we've kicked ourselves over and said we should have bought. I feel so guilty that this is taking so long and more anxious that I won't find anything.

Suggestions?

My parents retirement plan

October 26th, 2016 at 05:19 pm

I want to strangle my mom. I love her and my parents have more than enough to retire on. But my mom doesn't it. She won't spend her money. I want to smack her so hard and tell her you can't die with it and I don't want it.

My mom is in the car with me as I'm prying out about her she feels she can't buy a house she wants. I say just buy the DAMN house. She says "oh we'd have to liquidate" and how will we afford it? I point out to her she gets SS, my dad gets SS, and she gets a pension.

Her monthly take home pay is says is $3k pension, $2k SS, Dad's SS $3k, and $1500 RMD from IRA because he's still working. She's retired and has been for 10 years and still contributing to a ROTH ira. They bring home at least $10k/month and my mom is still trying to save money.

I don't know what for. I wanted to strangle her. I said please buy a new car. Please buy a house you want or renovate it. Her car is a 20 year old Avalon that the A/C is broken in Hawaii but she just constantly refills coolant. She had a leaking roof for years because she couldn't pick a roof.

I wanted to shake her. I begged her to please stop saving. She looked me in the eye and said "oh it'll go to DK1 and DK2. You don't need it, but it's ridiculously frivilous to spend $10k/month".

I give up. I'm not even sure my mom realizes that they make more than the majority of the population. They are still earning income my dad is 86 today (happy birthday dad). They are only drawing on IRA because they have to. OMG. Why aren't they enjoying it?

This same mentality is why she tells me I have to work. The idea of actually spending what you saved for retirement seems crazy.

Do you savers plan on spending your retirement money? Or do you think when you get there you'll be living only off other stuff?

My thoughts has always been we'd draw on our retirement. I always had a plan to be done working by 50 and FI by 45. Looks completely on track, but my DH has mentioned more and more he'd prefer to work a bit longer he's not ready to jump off the hamster wheel. I get it he loves his job. But I like knowing we could.

But can working/saving become addicting? I feel like my parents have worried too much.

Giving early or later?

October 18th, 2016 at 09:22 am

I'm going to admit to suddenly for once being jealous. In a few different ways. My cousin just bought a house with down payment help from both sets of parents. Neither of them have a good job and yet they can buy $800k home without selling their $350k condo. She's an only and I've heard that he's from a "rich" family. Some envy that they get help.

But I have recently known a lot of people who get down payment help from their families. I know multiple people whose parents gave them the down payment of $50 or $100k or more. Some are even paying/funding college for their kids.

I guess my thought is how are these parents able to give their kids/grandkids money now? I know my parents and in-laws are secure. I don't expect any help nor will we get any. But it's likely they will leave us something eventually.

I guess I'm jealous because how do people know they have enough to give to their children before death? How do they know when they are only in the 60s and 70s and in "early" retirement to know they have enough? I ponder this because I'd like to think that maybe we'll save enough to help our kids.

It's a stretch goal that we are able to pay 100% for 4 years of college, some money for a wedding/house down payment, and a car out of college. In that order I'd like to gift our kids with a leg up. I've really thought about it but we'll be in our early 50s and potentially retiring when they go off and finish college. But how will I know that I have enough? How will I be able to part with so much cash so early in our "retirement" position? Of course if DH chooses to work past 50 then I'm assuming we have a large cash flow.

But how secure do I have to be? Do I think maybe whatever our parents leave behind will be used to be passed on? I think maybe we'll get something but I could be entirely wrong. Our parents have paid for homes and pensions. But I'm not sure much cash on hand, which is understandable why gifting us with anything is pretty much nil.

But how do we get there? How do you know? Have you been gifted a substantial amount of cash from your parents or grandparents? Was it before death? If so why before? How did they know they had enough? If you got it upon death did you expect it? Was it more or less than you expected?

power and prestige?

October 16th, 2016 at 10:35 am

I don't like Donald Trump. I still haven't reconciled voting for Hillary either. I don't want to write in Gary Johnson, but I would write in Bernie Sanders.

Anyway this past week after watching the Donald Trump video and his words. It came up in a group of moms. I am disgusted and his words on the video definitely helps perpetuate rape culture.

More than one mom talked about rape on their college campus and having a friend go through it. I am unsure if it really was "friend or themselves" and they were hiding behind the words. Truth is that many guys talk like that especially guys with money and privilege. I mean look at the Stanford swimmer. The more expensive universities tend to have more kids born like Donald Trump to privilege.

I think that Donald did many actions that definitely were suspect in proper behavior. Because he thought he had the money, right, and power. And women don't talk about it because they are embarrassed and many times feel like they were to blame. I had a college roommate who was "date" rape but she never reported because she was drunk. She couldn't give consent but felt shame because she "brought it on herself". I wasn't there it was a sorority/fraternity party. Yet how much has it changed?

Now do we believe women? Do we say that being drunk is not consent? Or do we still bring up the victims past? My favorite line is Michelle Obama's a strong mand doesn't have to put down women.

I'm disgusted by Donald Trump. It just shows his total disdain for people in general. Actually both candidates do. I don't think either people have any sort of moral fiber. Arrrgh.

Do you think he did sexual assault all those women? Or is it the media? I wonder if more come out if it's really all made up. It's falling into the same line of more women stepping forward like Bill Cosby.

i hate house hunting

October 11th, 2016 at 02:36 pm

I am already tired of looking for a home and I've only just started. It's been exhausting and I think the real problem is that my DH and I agreed I would give homes the first run and then only show him the homes that past the muster. I have found a lot of homes with a some sort of problem. I will admit that I've managed to narrow down what I want in the house.

Location is key. We want a 30-45 minute commute for DH in a good school district. He had 2x last week of 2 hour commutes. There were accidents and the bus just got stuck and he was in at work around 10 am after leaving at 8 am. He also had a couple of 95-100 minute return commutes home when it should be between 75-90 minutes typically. This has made him exhausted. He can't work on the shuttle because he is easily motion sick so he only sleeps or listens to podcasts/audio books. But the truth is it's tiring even just adding those extra hours to his day. He's ready to buy the first house we can because of it.

We also have made a list and managed to define needs versus wants. We need 3 bedrooms but want 4 for guests. We need 2 car attached garage but want 3. We need a yard but want at least 1/4 acre but will likely compromise. We need a den, but want a den and bonus/playroom. We need the bedrooms together. We'd settle for a 4 bedroom and bonus if we could use the guest bedroom for a den/4th bedroom. Of course everything is negotiable based on price and location.

One of the problems? Is I feel like realtors are just trying to sell us any house and don't really care. I've gone out a couple of weekends and two different brokers on two different days in two different areas basically said "hey put in an offer." Nevermind neither house was exactly right, they both felt we should jump on it and just go in with an offer. I feel like both realtors feel like "hey let's get rid of these people with homes."

These were the full service brokers. I've found I prefer using redfin to tour homes not full commission based realtors because the full service realtors give me their opinion as to why a house is great. They don't point out the negatives. Instead they are basically just trying to sell me on every home. I wish they would shut up. Hence touring with the redfin is a lot more relaxing and calm. They are based on tours and I can see what I want and make my own notes and take in the house.

I feel also the full commission realtors don't want to bring me back. With redfin I feel as though I can go back more than once to see a house. I learned from a friend you should go see a house more than once because this is a big purchase. Don't rush and make a snap decision. I need to see a home at least 3x I feel. 1 by myself, 1 with DH, then again with DH at a different time of day.

This is the biggest purchase we'll make and I feel as though they want us to see it for 20 minutes and bam put down money. At least with redfin I don't feel that sort of touring pressure.

I will say that I think the full service realtors are better at figuring out negotiations and pricing. The ones on redfin are honestly BAD. They have no idea how to do comps and really price out an offer.

But right now I've told DH if a house falls in our lap we'll buy it. I've gotten a feel for what he likes. I think that we are going to wait and if we can't find a house we really like then we will settle in March/April. But until then I think we should keep looking until we find a home that hits all the boxes and works out for us.

owning a pet is expensive

October 10th, 2016 at 04:39 pm

So this past year we've spent $7938 on our dog. He's still alive amazingly. He was diagnosed with cancer left september and he torn his ACL and was 14 years old or so. He's a rescue so we're not really sure how old he is but we've had him for 10 years and they thought he might be around 3-4 years old in 2006 when we got him. The acl healed, we did chemo, and he's in pretty good spirits still.

When our other dog died 2010 I would guess I spent even more in his last year of life. I wasn't ready having been pregnant and just had a baby. I wasn't ready to let him go. When he did go I was ready and we'd had a good year with him.

But now I see lots of families who go to school with my kiddos getting a new puppy. For the "kids" to grow up with. I hope they understand what they are getting into. A huge commitment both of time and money. It's expensive to travel and when they get older you don't travel unless they are with you. Hence for now we're stuck driving because he can't handle plane rides anymore and we're too nervous he'd die if we left him at a kennel for more than an overnight. And a dog walker wouldn't work since he'd get upset being left alone so long.

Truth is I get that pets aren't family. He's not my kid. But he is I will admit probably my best friend. I am the one who walks him 2-3x/day. I'm the one who cares for him by brushing and bathing him. He sat next to me on the couch when I cried with post-partum depression. I was medicating halfway through my second pregnancy it was so bad. He walked with me when I pushed the stroller 365 days a year and when I felt lonely. I admit that he's not a person and he's not "family". But he is my friend and I've never admitted what we spend on him or our previous buddy.

I don't think that we'll get another dog anytime soon. Certainly not while he's alive. But seeing the numbers in black and white now before he passes is easier. It's not a pretty number, but it's real. I guess we know where a good chunk of our money last year went. LOL.

If anyone ever gives you a "puppy present" give it back. It's probably one of the most expensive gifts you'll ever get.

Do you know what you spend on your pets? I feel a little sticker shock since I've never added it up.

a year in financial review

October 8th, 2016 at 07:56 am

It's been a great year. I'm doing it now a little late because as of September 1st we spent a whole year in our new life. It's been amazing for all of us. We got to get closer as a family with DH not working for 11 months. He pretty much did not get a paycheck for 12 months. But he was unemployed from August 15 2015 to July 25 2016.

We burned through $91.5k. Yes you read that right in 11 months. Granted $17k was tuition but still that $74.5k. We spent around $6700/month including our fees for renting our place which was $8k up front costs. So we spent around our normal $5500/month rate we had budgeted. Lucky for us a signing bonus helped bump our spending for the year up to $71.5k including the $17k tuition.

Was it worth it? Yes. We had a great time. I think perhaps our spending will force us to delay "retirement" by 1 year.

I forgot that from our $91.5k we direct $4k to college for kids, $11k to Roth IRA so I guess we "saved" $15k out of the $91.5k. Also we're maxing out Roth IRA and 401k this year on a compressed 5 month paychecks. So we're still on track to save for retirement even if we aren't saving our normal cash cushion.

But the real goals were met. Move and be able to be closer to family. Get job that DH loves. Buy a house. Check on first two and working on the third.

Sometimes in life as I'm reflecting on the past year you have to spend money to make money. You have to invest in yourself, maybe start a business, buy a rental property, go back to school and retrain to get to where you want to be. It's a HUGE risk and it can cost you a lot of money. But the rewards can be significant, not just financial but pay dividends in other ways.

I suspect our net worth might be able net zero with gains in our retirement accounts. But back to regular programming of saving now. I have to admit it was REALLY daunting spending all this cash without any income. To go from being a saver to a spender. This could be why my DH and I are not meant to be true early retirees, we are too nervous nellies and risk averse to pull the trigger. We're actually very close to being able to do it but would rather pad our accounts.

What I've been up to?

September 27th, 2016 at 09:15 am

Getting the kids back into school has been busy. I've been ironing out their schedules and it's pretty crazy. DH has been on the hamster wheel getting up to speed on a new job. It's always a big learning curve with a new job. As for me? Well I started taking the HR block tax prep course 2x week at night. It's until December so we're on a kid handoff at night at the park and ride so I can make my 6 pm class!

I'm trying this out as a way to see if I like tax prep and if I can possible land a seasonal tax prep job. I need something on my resume after 6 years out of the workforce to get back in. I figured this is better than nothing. I'm also hoping that perhaps this is a way to landing a part-time job in bookkeeping or accounts payable I see on craigslist.

I'm not looking to go back full time in my field. I think that 1.5 jobs for our family would be best. I've already gotten push back from DH for taking this job because he doesn't think it's worth my time. But I'm hoping to get back next fall into a part-time work routine when my youngest might go to kindergarten. That's not decided yet.

I also won month 5 of my dietbet! I lost my 10%. Now is the real struggle. I don't know if I can maintain it. I find it easier to lose but it's so hard to keep the weight off. I missed month 3 and month 4 from traveling so i couldn't weigh in. But I kept at it and made month 5. Now can I keep it off is the question?

And we're deep in the house hunt. That's the next post. It's so hard to find something we like and finding the time to house hunt. UGH.

I am also on the decluttering challenge of 465 items in September. It is getting rid of 1-30 items over the month daily increasing as the days go on. I am at I think 380s items. I am going to make it. I have an appointment at the consignment store to get rid of 30 items. And they usually tell me what else they won't take. And I sell 6 items there daily. Apparently I've sold over $100+ there in mostly clothes.

So now back to my regular programming...

quick check in

August 29th, 2016 at 10:13 am

I have so much to do. We are back from almost a month away. We have new budget to work on, school to start, and house hunting. I think I am dreading the house hunting.

I need to iron out the kids schedules and figure out where we are with activities. It's weird this year we have so much more to do it seems than last year.

We blew August budget out of the water obviously but it's okay. Back to the grind. I'm so excited we have medical insurance and income again.

Going into probate and vultures

August 4th, 2016 at 03:46 pm

I have to say seeing people become vultures about money is disgusting. I haven't had to see it up close and personal until now how people behave about money. How money really can be the root of all evil. How desiring money can lead people to behave poorly.

Uncle J passed away and the funeral was over the weekend. DH went down to support his dad as his dad requested. We decided I wouldn't go because it was too long and leaving my mom with the kids at the last minute seemed like a bad idea. We'll be there tomorrow anyway less than a week later for DH's work.

My MIL, DH's other uncle, a cousin and her daughter, 2 ex wives, and other people were at the house cleaning and looking for a will. My in-laws are divorced. Anyway my MIL picks up DH at the airport with BIL and proceeds to lecture him in the car ride about behaving properly. As soon as they arrive at Uncle J house MIL lays into FIL and they argue. Ends with my DH telling her she's obnoxious, overbearing, shut up and leave. She turns around and yells at him. Boy am I glad I wasn't there. Anyway a will hasn't been found and she makes the comment "at least this way FIL will get what he deserves." And that FIL is expending $x on the funeral and other expenses and maybe he'll be able to recoup it. Yes in the midst of the mourning my MIL is being this crass.

She's not the only one. The cousin who came said she had been asked to be the executor and had come to see the will. But that she hadn't signed any papers potentially because Uncle J hadn't finished doing it. He was 68 so the death from heart attack was unexpected.

He was a nice guy. He always wrote me an email on mine and he kids birthdays. He gave us very nice presents and just kept in touch. He was really thoughtful. A hoarder, eccentric but I thought him nice. We were going to have dinner with him this week. I am disturbed at how callous and money grubbing my MIL and other family members are. My DH and his brother said they wanted NOTHING. They had to prevent people from trying to take the gold rolex and other jewelry off the property.

Uncle J was twice divorced and without children. He died single as well. So his heirs as I understand it are his 3 siblings, none of whom reside in the US and DH's dad being the closest in area and geographical distance. DH and BIL both living in US but DH only one with citizenship and BIL on visa. So I guess we're going to probate.

But his dad asks for advice and doesn't take it. I can't take having them call and not listen to simple instructions like call social security. Call X, Y, Z. I get a lot of response like "can you do it? Why do I have to? What is going on?"

I bet people wouldn't be so damn interested if the property Uncle J owned wasn't worth 7 figures. And I bet people might not have even shown up.

If anything this just make me more cognizant that I need to get our affairs in order. DH and I are going to likely be the executors of our parents estates and we likely have to have the talk that they have wills. I know mine do somewhat they are constantly it seems working on it. I'm not sure about my in-laws.

I wish people would stop arguing and just go away. I also realize the problems that arise from dying without a will.

40 credit cards

July 25th, 2016 at 09:06 am

Over the years I've accumulated probably at least 40 cards. I am one of those people who never cancelled cards. As long as there wasn't an annual fee if we opened and tried it I left it opened. So this weekend I don't know why my DH started looking at our paperwork. When we moved we literally threw stuff into boxes because we didn't get to it. I had debit cards expiring in 2005 from Washington Mutual. 4 of those cards and papers I found in our box of paper. I also had debit cards from chase that expired in 2008. So this obviously a long term problem. We haven't had either accounts since 2005.

We got to the decluttering easy stuff like clothes, kid toys, etc. But older harder stuff we are still working on. I mean we still have boxes of unopened stuff to look through in the garage. But the reality is that we have a ton of cards that I have no idea when I opened them or what is going on.

So yesterday I started organizing some of the cards and calling to see if there were closed. I had over 40 cards and had I think over 20 that were closed so I started to shred them and the paperwork. I still have a few more to work on but now it's a small stack that fits in a box.

I can't close any that we don't use and are open still because we want to buy a house in the next year and I don't want to hurt our credit scores. I need to pull our credit reports soon to check and make sure everything is okay. My credit dropped from 835 last July to 804 this July. It says because I have too high credit loan balances to credit limit. This is from discover and not an actual score. But I'm worried of course. My DH is 816 but it says the same level of credit used to credit limit is problem. Ugh.

Some of this is because Uncle J passed. We're trying to be motivated to get more organized. We shredded and got rid of 200 pieces of paper. I'm up to 958 things I've gotten rid of this year. Perhaps I am on track to get rid of 2016. But seriously I know we have a ton of paperwork still.

lawyers can earn a lot

July 23rd, 2016 at 05:05 pm

Wow I was reading a blog about someone's journey to biglaw and I had no idea that lawyers make so much money. I mean I knew they did I just didn't have a clue it was a public payscale.

1st year (class of 2015) – $180,000 ($160,000 + $20,000)
2nd year (class of 2014) – $190,000 ($170,000 + $20,000)
3rd year (class of 2013) – $210,000 ($185,000 +$25,000)
4th year (class of 2012) – $235,000 ($210,000 +$25,000)
5th year (class of 2011) – $260,000 ($230,000 + $30,000)
6th year (class of 2010) – $280,000 ($250,000 + $30,000)
7th year (class of 2009) – $300,000 ($265,000 + $35,000)
8th year (class of 2008) – $315,000 ($280,000 + $35,000)

8 years after you graduate you are making $300k. If you started at 25 making $180k and then by age 33 you are making over $300k. Seems crazy like a lot of money. No wonder so many friends I knew said lawyers make a lot.

Had you any clue they made this much? I know this is for biglaw and smaller firms pay less. But from reading the blog they don't make that much less necessarily.

I wouldn't do it unless I like it. But it certainly is food for thought about telling my kids if they want to go into law, they could easily be like Mr Money Mustache and retire very, very early.

A rough couple of months

July 22nd, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Death comes in threes. So it's been a rough couple of months. A lot tonight has been feeling some regret. DH and I moved to be closer to our families. We always felt that being so far away we couldn't visit. So we moved. It really has made a difference.

Anyway DH's grandmother passed away in early June, she was 94. His dad and uncle went and spent the month back home. We had discussed going this past year when DH wasn't working but we thought it was too expensive because of the lack of income. And now we have regrets. I told DH to go but he was feeling stress over the job hunt and in the midst of landing his job.

Anyway my uncle also passed at the end of June. My dad really wanted to go but with the time difference and how fast they did the funeral he didn't make it. Instead my parents will do the 100 day celebration after death. Fortunately my parents had gone to visit him in March. Our thoughts were to go to both places next summer we had been planning this trip from last year.

We thought it would make more sense after DH got a job and settled in and we knew our finances. We'd have time and money. Turns out we'll have money and not enough time. It's going to cost us likely $15k-20k next summer. $2k tickets, another $2k hotels, and everything else.

Then just a day ago DH's uncle passed away. DH just came back from visiting his parents with the kids on Wednesday and his dad called us to say Uncle J died. He was happy they had managed to spend June together and travel. They flew back on July 5th together so he enjoyed the time together.

We were supposed to see him in June but he had gone back for his mom's funeral. So we had been emailing and had made arrangement to see him and stay in August when we went back. Now instead DH's dad is flying down probably this week to take care of all the arrangement. Uncle J has no kids and currently wasn't married. He was married 3x. We enjoyed seeing him and he loved seeing us and the kids. He was supposed to have come at Thanksgiving but instead went home so he said maybe September/October. Actually he had plans to come this summer before everything happened. We typically saw Uncle J once a year on our annual trip. He was 67.

I guess it's melancholy. That we've made these plans and feel like we've missed a window. We weren't able to before because the flights were so long and we weren't sure we wanted to with the kids being so small. Then we moved without a job and didn't feel right spending so much on a trip. The same thing happened when we got married. The year we got married DH's 2 grandfather's passed away right before they could come to our wedding.

FWIW we decided next summer we are taking one trip to Asia to see family. We're going to see DH's grandma and extended family and my Dad's family. This will likely be perhaps the only trip before people pass away. It's funny we moved to be closer to our families and now we have seen them a LOT more. And now we even had an opportunity to see the extended family as we'd hoped and it's to late.

And our dog this week relapsed with cancer. He's on his last few months i guess. It's hard to accept and harder still to know that we don't have much time. We can't board him anymore which is another reason traveling this year has been limited to driving. We just can't fly or leave him anywhere. So that was another stupid reason why we didn't want to travel this year.

Ugh it's been a difficult summer.

HCOLA versus LCOLA

July 20th, 2016 at 11:44 am

People always ask why do people live in HCOLA versus LCOLA? Does the salary support the difference in cost of living? Absolutely not. The HCOLA usually salaries aren't commensurate with the higher cost of living. I can say that with absolute certainty. Until now I've only lived in expensive cities so I've never experienced anything else. I grew up in HCOLA and started a family in a HCOLA. But now we are able to buy a home.

So people think it's only about the home prices. But there are so many factors involved. Small things you don't think about. Right now we pay for a SFH electric/gas bill a high of $150/month, currently it's $80/month. I was previously paying $250/month for electric alone monthly plus my heating bill was $250/month balanced and during the winter we spent around $600+/month. We pay $125/month for water now and our portion previously was around $200/month. The food bills I think are around the same.

We pay $190/month now and used to pay for the same days $390/month. So double and even if I priced out full time it's around 2x the cost. It even translates to babysitters charging $10/hr here versus $20-25/hr where we were. Private schools are also much cheaper. Average private school costs around $12-15k versus $30k where we were.

All these small things contribute besides the cost of homes to the cost of living. When we were looking at places to live, I admit I only looked at the cost of homes. But the truth is that there is so much more to it.

Should people move from a HCOLA to LCOLA? It depends. If you want to yes. But on the same token should people move from a LCOLA to a HCOLA? It depends.

I can say that people who stay in HCOLA without high incomes do so for other reasons. There are other reasons like staying put to be close to family. Because they prefer the lifestyle. And sometimes because it's the fear of the unknown. The same things go for people who live in a LCOLA and are tempted to move to a HCOLA.

After meeting friends who moved from LCOLA to HCOLA I will say that it's harder to do that than go the opposite way. There are a lot more sacrifices. It's eye opening to see how much more things can cost outside of housing which everyone see immediately. I mean a friend moved from a place where her house cost $300k and is bigger than her rental that costs her $3k.

Do you ever think about moving?

Tentative Budget

July 20th, 2016 at 11:02 am

Right now with the knowledge I have from company documents and potential gross income I have drawn up a potential budget. Right now I have us saving 30% of our income excluding bonuses. Right now I hope we are able to save our bonuses after taxes. Right now I plan on us saving the maximum 401k, roth ira, college ESA, and ESPP. With all of that we will be at 30% savings. This is of course with us approximating taxes.

With the approximate budget I've drawn up we have $3500/month to save/spend on food, groceries, fun, etc. It's close to what we spend now so we should be okay.

But my budget assumes that we are still paying the same in rent/mortgage. What happens when we buy a house and pay more? I am worrying about our budget. I have to admit that renting another year is a relief. It gives us time to stabilize a budget.

I'm starting to understand now what renting buys freedom. It's buying me peace of mind. However I get why people buy before moving into an area. It's so stressful though to go through a new job, budget, and moving.

How to find a job?

July 18th, 2016 at 11:35 pm

I have been reflecting a lot on going back to work. But the problem I'm running into is what do I want to do? Not just what do I want to do but how to get there? I mean it's so hard to find your passion. But more than that how to even get back into the job market after so long out.

For me it's been 6 years. What does a person do? I've been toying around with trying to set up and internship. But the question is will that help land me a job? But before finding a job how do I find the right one?

I can see that my DH struggled a long time with his career change. He's so excited with his new career and he's passionate again. The two months he was job hunting I saw the high and the lows and the doubts. The doubt that he had made the right decision. That he would be able to find a job. He wondered if giving up something he knew he could do. He actually still has imposter syndrome. He wonders if he can do it. If they'll realize he's fake.

That's exactly how I feel. I don't really want to do what I did. If I do something new then do I need to get more training? How do I test out the new career track? How did you change careers? Was it worth it?

Not liking the candidates

July 18th, 2016 at 09:08 am

I was told in a conversation that by not voting for Hillary Clinton I was voting for Donald Trump. What? Why couldn't I vote for Hillary? And how can I turn my back on the Democratic Party? I nearly lost it. I very politely said I will vote but I'm going to write in Bernie Sanders or I'm going to vote for any independent.

Apparently I'm crazy to think that the democratic party basically gave the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Apparently that being a Bernie Sanders fan means I'm a democrat instead of an independent. And I'm a female suppressor.

No to all of these things. I think I'm actually more a liberal counterpart to a Donald Trump supporter. I mean in the sense that I get anyone supporting the Donald because they hate the establishment. I am not fond of the democrat establishment and I don't want to vote for Hillary.

I could care less if she's a women. She's dishonest and thinks she's above the law. And I was told how is she any different from GW, Colin Powell, etc who had private servers? It wasn't illegal when she started doing it, but it became illegal. Um okay yes but she continued doing it and I believe it's because she thinks she's above the law. Apparently everyone who runs for president thinks they are above the law. I don't think so the only other one I feel like who thinks that way was Nixon and we saw how that ended up.

Yes both liberal and conservative people are beholden to special interests. But why can't a person who supported bernie not support hillary? I don't like donald and what he stands for at all. I am not in support of his comments or platform or him. But I don't want to vote for a woman I despise and think is lying every step of the way. And I see nothing wrong with saying I'm probably less of a democrat than I've ever been and turning more independent as I get older. I hold more liberal views than what the "democratic" party holds. But I have a ton of friends who were republicans but now would call themselves liberaterians. Because republicans are not the party of smaller government anymore, but rather the government of spend more money on their agenda. So how can either party wonder why people are fleeing them?

Do you think both liberals and conservatives aren't in sync with the big party elites?

my neighbors are jerks

July 16th, 2016 at 07:09 pm

Did I mention what's been going on? Remember the incidents earlier in the year about the bullying? The hitting and drawing on my DK1? The luck we had about switching classes. Anyway before the end of the year I turned in a request that they are not in class together. Nor my DK1 is any class with any neighbors.

So a reason we also looked at moving out of our rental was the neighbor situation. Anyway recently we got a note from saying "you suck DK1." We also were left weird rock piles on the door. Until the note we said nothing and then my DH went next door and explained to the parents the situation. We did not show this to DK1, we asked if DK did it and she said no.

The parents said they don't talk that way. They didn't let them out of the sight. The truth is I caught them this week leaving notes again at the door. I am not sure what to do now. By caught I mean I opened the door and the kids were standing in front of our house and ran.

So now what to do? Make situation worse and confront them? Or just realize my neighbors are assholes and that there is nothing to be said or done before they realize their kids are being jerks because they are allowing it? Is it wrong to feel like we should move? I hate feeling trapped in the house and constantly on the kids so nothing happens?

my experience now with realtors so far...

July 15th, 2016 at 03:24 pm

Okay we're house hunting now. Not aggressively but slowly. We're using redfin, but we might change to a regular realtor. I haven't been impressed with the redfin agents but maybe it's because we are using a discount service. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fact that I am able to see homes without pressure. I love the fact that the realtor showing me the home is being paid per house and not there to pressure me into buying. I love the fact it's based on them just being free to tour me on the house.

So what am I having an issue with? Well I've changed agents once with the redfin agent who is supposed to write the offer. Why? The first agent never wrote back to me or contacted me. The market is hot so I suppose he was too busy. Valid point since we weren't in a rush to buy and not interested in a bidding war or closing a deal fast. I actually got an email from him saying that I needed to be faster and put in offers in a bidding war style. He also wrote me an email that I needed to let go of having an inspection or mortgage contingency. He and I obviously did not mesh.

This second realtor has followed up on my tours and asked questions about my preferences. However this realtor as well has made commentary that I need to get in on this bidding war situation. I need to be ready to move.

I'm not ready. I feel like a kid being peer pressured into buying a home I don't want. Hence why I am keeping these realtors at an arms length. I know what I can afford. I know what I am looking for. I know that I am not interested in offering on a house in a bidding war period. We aren't desperate and we don't have to move. We have the financial situation to buy but we aren't going to rush in and buy without contingencies. We aren't doing it and any house we buy will allow us our contingencies or it's not the house for us.

I know this because I know myself and DH. This is a lot of money. This is a big investment and a hefty chunk of change. I am not going to buy a house after visiting it once. I am also not going to buy a place to settle and regret it. If I am buying a place then I better really like it.

My strategy is to see homes that have been sitting a month. This is not uncommon in the price range we are looking at. It also is not uncommon that people in this range are "overpriced" and I've seen many sales below asking simply because they are asking too much. I've watch price per sq foot. I've been watching the market for a year and tracking data on a spreadsheet.

I really am annoyed with these realtors. When I see something I like they'll know. They'll know because I'll drag my DH to see it and we'll see it at least 2x before making an offer. They'll know because I'll tell them instead of them asking me. They'll know because I won't be submitting an offer on an offer review date. I mean I flat out told them I'm not going in on a bidding war. But this second realtor isn't listening.

A friend recently bought a house for $680k and regrets it. It was listed for $675k, they offered $5k over asking and it had been on the market for 24 days! This is in a super hot market where the average days on market is 14. So they obviously listened to a realtor and put in an offer over list price. They say they regret buying a 30 year old house and wish they had bought a newer house. Personally I thought they nuts. I'd have gone in and offered $625k and seen where what they came back with. My DH said it's because they were first time home owners who only saw themselves making another 10% next year. Now they have doubts it'll appreciate that much in 1 year and are worrying if they bought at a peak.

Personally I think the market won't go down. But I think that perhaps appreciation will slow down or stay flat until incomes catch up. I also think for these homes to go up another 10% is a lot to pay $750k for what they bought seems too pricey, but I could be shocked into being wrong. Maybe it'll go up 10% more in 1 year. It will go up I believe, just not perhaps at the rate previously seen. Where it went up about 40% this year alone.

So how do you prevent this from happening? I think staying strong to your plan. Buy the house you want for the price you want. Don't let yourself get emotionally attached to any house. Don't let yourself get caught up on making money on the house. I'm struggling because I want to move and settle. But I don't want to make a financial mistake because I'm feeling impulsive.

I'll keep readers updated. Right now nothing I've seen has been the right house. The location, layout, yard, etc has all been wrong. There was one house but it's been on the market for 6 months since January severely overpriced. We're not ready to move and they obviously are hoping for the moon.

Do you have any more tips on how to find a house? What should we compromise on?


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>