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Coveting what others have

April 28th, 2017 at 04:18 am

I wanted to write about sometimes wanting what others have. I covet it too. I admit it. I'm only human. I feel bad that other bloggers feel bad about wanting what others have. Who doesn't? I feel we'd all have to be saints if we didn't.

I'm okay with most things. I hate cleaning so a big house isn't my thing. I am not a clothes horse or into fashion so that's not a big deal. We eat out enough and love cooking so I don't feel that either. But I admit I covet other people's cars. It's only happened more recently.

I've been lusting after other people's minivans or 3rd row suv. I think about how nice it would be to have a car with the extra space. I debate internally is it worth it. I know it's not practical. I know it doesn't make sense, but I still want it.

It's also possibly something I'll do even if it doesn't make sense. However I realize that I'm only human. I'm not perfect and most people as humans can't be satisfied with everything. I also think it's not a bad thing to want something. But maybe it is.

I think we just need a bit of perspective. That it's okay to want things others have. But realize that there are trade offs and are we willing to do it? it's not wrong to have the big house or fancy car. Maybe the trade off is never eating out or traveling. Maybe the trade off is not saving as much.

But whatever it is, it's okay. We aren't meant to always lived deprived. It's okay to not always be frugal and stretch every dollar. I repeat that to myself. It's okay. If we save 20% it's not the end of the world to not be saving 40%. At least we're saving something.

I may end up "gifting" myself a minivan or suv eventually. Even though I don't run my ridiculously reliable subaru into the ground. After all I've been coveting it for quite awhile.

nope, not yet

April 26th, 2017 at 04:40 am

Nope not yet. No house. Offer way, way too low. But my realtor said a sucker born everyday. Apparently they had multiple offers and ended up about 10% above asking price without a home inspection or mortgage/appraisal contingency. No getting out of this for the suckers/buyers. Trust me if they need these buyers to close because now they know there is a roof leak and I believe they'd have to disclose if the deal falls apart. But I doubt it will. It would be really interesting to see what happens.

On another note, I spoke to a friend who is in over her head with her house. I made a lot of financial suggestions and I think she really shared with me all the details because she lives where we used to live and it's easier to talk/chat with someone who doesn't judge and can't see you face to face. It's easier than admitting you made a mistake to a friend you see all the time in person. Truth is it's easy to get into financial trouble even though you know better.

So what happened? Well when we moved two years ago they had just bought a massive fixer house for $1.2M. They are planning on moving in this Friday about 2 years later. The renovations initially budgeted at $600-800k turned into $1.6-$1.8m so they are into the house for $3M. Yes those are real numbers where I used to live.

Anyway the monthly note on the place hasn't been too bad since they didn't finance the entire renovation but paid a lot of cash out of pocket. They are out $8k/month. The problem? Her husband switched jobs last year into a commission only job and hasn't made an income in a year because he hasn't closed any deals. Now the income they were counting on hasn't appeared and they have been burning through savings.

She's stayed at home with their 3 kids but isn't sure what to do. She's been at home for 7 years now. And she realizes it's not so easy to find a job. But it's a difficult position to be in because her husband could take a salary position but it might not be enough to keep up with the lifestyle they have. Or she could go back to work but it might not be at the salary they hope. He also could find a job that could support their lifestyle but it would likely mean moving. She isn't sure what to do. Without income it could be difficult to qualify for a conventional mortgage since right now they have a construction loan. They became aware of this yesterday. They have savings but the bank isn't counting only on their equities.

They could rent out the house I suggested but she isn't sure where they would live since they are moving out of their rental. I also suggested looking for any high paying job. I think a dream house can come and go. Maybe it wasn't meant to be.

Going through this right now I'm really talking myself into accepting and understanding that no house is perfect. There is not only 1 dream house in the world. And it's super easy to get caught up in a dream. Even the most financially savvy people can get caught up in emotion over logic.

we're making a house offer

April 25th, 2017 at 03:32 pm

Our agent is submitting an offer on the house today at 2 pm. I'm not sure if I'm excited or not. It's a good house with everything we wanted and a decent location. In the area we wanted but not quite middle of city more like edge. Still in the school district but DH's commute is longer than I would have liked. But otherwise the location works. It works for us weekend commute wise to where we like to go. It works for schools. It works for quiet. The house is a good layout and a good size.

So any hang ups? Well we are coming in under asking by a lot. And we do have an escalation in case there is another offer. We decided this because we had a home inspection yesterday because our realtor felt something was off about the house but couldn't pinpoint it. She said the preinspection the seller did didn't feel right to her so she asked us to get one. Turns out she was right. Best $675 we ever spent. Over 4 hours and we now know that the roof is leaking in multiple places including a couple of skylights. The siding has problems and needs repair that will cause the house to need to be painted. The backyard has to be regraded with the sitting water and side of driveway recemented. We also need to replace the water heater and piping, and the a/c that they once had obviously broke and they hauled it away so they wouldn't need to replace it. It's something we'd like to replace as well. So hence our below ask offer. They may laugh us off but at least we did our due diligence and will accept the house for less.

Our plan initially before the inspection was to put wood throughout the entire house and paint it. The house is 2004 built and quite dirty. The roof leak was probably due to the owner power washing it and probably the builder being cheap when installing it. The siding was due to improper installation. But this is all fixable. Inside was okay but normal wear and tear of carpet all over the house from 13 years and probably never replaced. And never painted so marks all over the wall.

Interestingly their inspection report did not find the roof leaks. Nor the siding issue. It also said "owner has a lot of personal effects making evaluating the house difficult." And yes they have A LOT of stuff. Nice, expensive stuff, but OMG it was really crammed into the house. I say that not as someone trying to minimize but really as someone just house hunting. Seriously they should have rented a storage because a couple of the rooms you couldn't really see the floor it was packed full of boxes and stuff.

Anyway we'll see what they even say or respond.

miles to burn

April 18th, 2017 at 06:07 pm

Trying to iron out the days we want to travel is stressful. I'm not sure hawaii will work out this summer because of timing and costs.

I've got $100 credit for me and the two kids. DH has $50 credit from late flights. We also have a travel companion certificate we can use as well as miles. I typically hate miles because I'm particular about not having connections and flight times.

But lately I've been talking with friends. I wonder if it would be better to focus on flights that we pay for and instead use miles to book hotel rooms and save money that way? I say that because I'm considering switching to the Marriott rewards card I think Creditcardfree and Disney Steve have. I'm just struggling to redeem airline miles with trips that work.

I mean honestly we also aren't airline loyal so we have a bunch of miles spread across whatever is the cheapest and I can get a deal on.

This whole figure out how to use miles is stressful. Do you use airline miles on flights? Have you had a lot of success? Or do you find it easier to use it on hotel rooms?

saving is a priority

April 13th, 2017 at 04:06 pm

People don't save period. They barely save for retirement. They barely save for an emergency. Many use a tax return as enforced savings. But many really couldn't tell you what they are spending their money on. Nor do they see it as important to start saving.

One could argue that it's because they don't make enough. The truth? That saving is a priority. People make a conscious decision to not save. They also make a conscious decision to live day by day and paycheck to paycheck. I understand people who make below the poverty line struggling or around the median salary for the US. But at the same time perhaps it's time to look at your expenses and see if it's worth living where you do if you can't afford it.

I'm not a huge latte factor fan. I don't see how $5 a day works when you make $4k/month and pay $2k/month rent. It just won't work to survive without going into debt. Or $500 car payment. A lot of times just the basic outflow is to high to even pay for groceries or utilities and that's how the CC debt starts. So $5 coffee isn't going to make a difference if you start out the month in the hole. It just make the hole $5 deeper.

I'm not sure how to make people realize it might be a good idea just to save?

itinerary planning

April 11th, 2017 at 03:23 pm

So I've pretty much finalized my parents crazy tickets. I spent some time and I think I got it for $1100 which is a good deal. Way better than expected considering they are also flying multi-city with us and another island connection in hawaii.

I'm researching for a deal to hawaii this summer and next February.

Right now I'm debating between VRBO and hotels. VRBOs seem to make sense when we stay put for like 4 to 5 days in a city. But I'm not sure it makes sense for 1-2 days in a city to pay a cleaning fee on top of the cost of the rental.

I'm also debating our mode of transit between cities. Obviously train is the first option but buses are often used as well. Did I forget to mention we're doing Japan and Hong Kong? I've finalized the airfare but not the details. Now I'm working on the cities and plans.

Right now I only know Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disney. Onwards to planning.

$6500 tax bill

April 11th, 2017 at 02:19 pm

We owed $6500 this year. Sounds like lot? It is. We actually would have been okay if we hadn't rolled $60k from a 401k into a Roth IRA for my DH and paid the taxes on it.

We did this to fill the 25% bracket we are in and tax advantage of being here for this year. I'm not sure where we will be in the future but I think it's reasonable to guess we might not be able to take advantage of it again for awhile.

That being said we rolled DH's old 401k to new 401k and took a $60k distribution. This way we aren't holding a rollover IRA and that will prevent us from doing a clean back door roth ira annually. Otherwise we have to calculate across all pre-tax IRA dollars the amount we are rolling over. We can now contribute to a non-deductible IRA and roll it to a Roth IRA every year still.

I have to say I'm hoping they streamline the tax laws. I'm curious if the breaks will only be for the rich.

I'm crazy busy working nightly right now and loving it. I will admit it is fun to do taxes.

crazy good travel deal

April 9th, 2017 at 02:52 pm

OMG I scored an insane, did I mention INSANELY good deal on our asia trip this summer? $762 round trip for 3 weeks and 3 cities? Yes that's per person from Stateside to asia then 2nd country then back again. Woot woot! We're going and it was $2853 for 4 of us. 8/8 to 8/29. Yeah I'll post pictures.

Now onto booking hotels and figuring out what we are going to do. I've picked cities but I'm not much of a planner type.

I'm going to guess that hotels will run us around $100-150/night depending on exchange rates. So for our 20 days I am guessing $2500 to be conservative. that means we are at $5k for basics not counting train tickets or meals. Another $1k in train tickets and meals solid $2k at $100/day for a family of 4 and treating people. I think my parents and in-laws are joining us at certain stops.

This does not include fees for any touristy things we do. I am thinking $12k for entire almost 3 week trip for a family of four. That is phenomenal deal. And I couldn't get miles to work so whatever. This deal was so cheap it'll earn us a ton of miles way below 2 cents a mile.

Now onto the planning. I'm so psyched because for the rest of the summer we have a ton of other small trips planned. Now that i've ironed out part of it i'm super excited.

college savings

April 6th, 2017 at 04:02 pm

We just contributed our $2k to our kiddos college fund a bit late for 2016. We're still in flux trying to buy a house but decided to go ahead and do it. We're invested for both of them in VTI and that's it. I guess in about 10 years we'll consider moving them to something more conservative but I figure at 4 and 7 we're better off taking the risk since the goal is to not draw on it for anther 11 and 13-14 years.

So I hadn't realized but DK1 has $19,398 and DK2 has $12,778. It's pretty good I think. Continuing on this track we should definitely have $50k by the time they hit college each. Stretch goal? $100k which I hope by that point will cover 4 years at a state school which is our goal as parents to give to them as a gift.

Now doing taxes I see a lot of people saving nothing for retirement. Saving nothing for college. But stressing out about how will they pay for college. I hate to say it but I suggest they instead focus on maxing out a 401k and IRA before worrying about college. And inevitably the words come out "but I have to pay for college. How else will they go? They need to go."

I don't know what to say. Since most are white collar professionals I would have to say not going to is not an option and I understand. It's not an option for my DH. And truthfully these people make more than enough money that college shouldn't have been a problem. But neither should saving for retirement.

But instead they are in their 40s/50s and basically bupkis for retirement or college. I have to say something has to give. And using their free cash flow for $100k towards college seems like a bad idea.

I'm not sure how we change this as society? I mean the obvious is to educate people about saving for retirement earlier. Saving for college earlier. Have less debt.

But what about this feeling that we have to pay for college? That we owe our kids a college education? We have to help them? Are we obligated? Is there an income obligation? If you make over $100k then you should be helping your kids because you make enough that you should have been able to save for retirement and college?

I'm not at that stage but seeing this make me wonder. Yes DH and I are being responsible but we're being overall responsible like others on this site and saving for retirement and college is secondary. Right now as it stands I think we are pretty close to having enough in taxable accounts that we could fund college now. But we aren't quite ready to commit to "earmarking" and putting that much into a 529.

But are we supposed to? Should we feel obligated? That we do well enough that we can afford to save for retirement early so instead we should focus on college? That we should delay ER for fully funding college 100%? I always have said our goal is FIRE and looking at our numbers we are there.

But DH is not about to give up his new career anytime soon he loves it. I love working part-time. I can't see myself volunteering and I love getting out of the house. So right now it's not on our radar. We have a slower pace of life since I stay at home for the most part and are more relaxed than most of our contemporaries. So we can fund college more but are we obligated too?

Can't break frugality

March 30th, 2017 at 03:31 pm

I thought I'd post a funny conversation between my DH and myself as we drove to see an open house.

DH - I really love this new coffee from starbucks. We should start buying it.

LAL - Um okay it's expensive. (it was a gift from a friend a bag of beans blonde).

DH - How expensive can it be? We can afford it.

LAL - Okay I'll make a note next time we get low and buy a bag.

Driving a bit further...

DH - Okay so much is the bag?

LAL - $15 for the bag.

DH - WTF. No I don't need it. A 1 lb bag cost $15? I thought maybe $7-8. Forget it costco is good.

LAL - It's fine we can afford the indulgence. You're right it's $15 in the grand scheme of things.

DH - NO way. I didn't get my money by spending foolishly. Costco is good.

LAL - well costco beans are made by starbucks.

DH - the reject beans. Maybe in 10 years.

LAL - in 10 years the bag will be $20 and you'll freak out again.

DH - well i'm not made of money you know.

Kids are sitting in the back listening for a teachable moment. DK1 "if we can't afford coffee how are we buying a house?"

LAL "we're choosing to buy a house and we can buy the coffee. But dad doesn't want to spend extra on the coffee right now. He may change his mind in the future."

DK1 "okay like me choosing to save my money to spend on a toy I really want?"

LAL "exactly."

So being raised by frugal parents (both of us) it's hard to break the mindset. I am going to guess we're raising our kids that way too.

Just a very funny conversation. I haven't decided yet to buy my DH the bag of starbucks coffee. Right now we have so many bags of Kona Coffee and couple of starbucks gifts that I'm probably okay for the rest of the year at the rate he drinks.

two sides of the coin

March 16th, 2017 at 04:08 pm

I find it odd. I appear to have two different sets of friends. Both are great but ones are savers and others are spenders. The savers are two other families whose kids go to piano with our kids. They both have two DK same age as our two and all 6 kids are in 2 classes of 3. We were with them last year as well and will be with them next year too. The kids love each other.

Parents #1 quit his job last May because he didn't agree with management. They are doing great and paying for private school and have a huge safety net. The Dad is deciding what he wants to do with his life. They keep up with all activities and I know live modestly. You can tell with the cars they drive and they still travel and eat out and live comfortably. The mom has said they probably have another 1-2 years expenses.

Parents #2 the mom just quit her job over the treatment from management. She applied for her own job it turns out they have been trying to hire since January. Well she tells me that they have a year of savings comfortably without worrying. The Dad owns his own business and has been the primary caregiver of the kids while she went out and was the breadwinner. She's going to take some time and reflect on what she really wants to do. Her goal is to find a job after the summer.

I gotta say it's refreshing to hear from friends that they are secure without jobs and not worried about the future.

On the other hand since I'm doing taxes, I got a chance to look a 3 different friends tax returns for free. Just in case they missed something. They all made $160k-$200k and all have some credit card debt, minimal retirement savings, and just spending everything that comes in. Making that much and saving $5k/year for retirement seemed nuts. And not having an Emergency Fund or down payment for a home. I did suggest they try to divert 5% of income into a saving account. But they said it was impossible. Where would they get the money from?

Truth is that finances no matter what you make is a mindset. You can make a lot and spend it all. You can make a lot and save a lot. I think that part of it is being satisfied with what you make and spending it wisely. The first sets of parents I think live simply and are happy. The second sets are constantly buying things, eating out, and spending on everything. Does it make them happier? I'm not sure but I know if they lost their jobs they would not be calm and happy the way the first set of parents are. Able to walk away because the job sucks. I wonder if people realize that sometimes the savings gives you the freedom of not worrying. It's not just about the money.

good news and bad news

March 14th, 2017 at 06:44 am

Good news is DH's eyesight is stable. He still has his driver's license. Two years ago did I mention that our optometrist said he didn't pass his driver's test. He agreed to let my DH continue driving and instead let his specialist determine my DH's condition. In April 2 years ago he got tested and passed. He has blank spots in his vision and while he would fail a normal peripheral vision test he is okay enough to drive.

Does this mean he should drive? Well I drive him quite a bit. He can drive to and from the bus station. He can drive a familiar route at night but honestly he's better off not driving at night, not new areas, and nowhere with pedestrians. He hit 2 pedestrians 2 years ago where we used to live. It was another impetus for us moving. We are better off now. Right now we are looking for houses and I realized I need to tell the agent some extra criteria.

Anyway good news besides the fact that his medications are working and his vision loss has appeared to stabilize is great. The really interesting part is 2 years he gave blood. He signed a consent to participate in a clinical trial. After a grant came through the dr ran his blood and identified the mutation on a gene for rhodopsin. This dr had only guesses and they had tested in vitro (in cells) these mutations. My DH proved them correct in their identification. His test results however were done in trial but now we have to see if the insurance company will allow it to be done and covered. Cross your fingers.

Bad news? Well I found out today my cousin has stage 4 colon cancer. It's actually my mom's first cousin and she lives nearby and we've gotten to know each other well. My mom is traveling abroad so I can't tell her right now. I also don't want to call my grandmother or my aunts because I don't want to upset them. My cousin sent me message saying to go ahead and tell them. She isn't up for spreading the word to the family. I am hoping maybe my grandmother will make it up here in the next 6 months to see us once in our new house and see my cousin. She's the daughter of my grandmother's closest sister who passed years ago. My grandmother's family didn't approve of her marriage and her sister was the only one who came to the wedding and stood outside the chapel while my grandmother got married. My aunt helped her sew the gown and always talked to her and wrote letter and years later my cousin visited and stayed with my grandmother and mom. So now what? I am going to make some food and drop it off tomorrow. And wait for my mom to touch base.

I'm getting an ulcer

February 7th, 2017 at 09:42 pm

I'm getting an ulcer I swear it. I feel my anxiety getting worse as we look for a house. The market has slim pickings and I'm worried we should just move into another rental. My DH says not to worry that we should let this season play out and see what happens. The kids asked for a dog but I said not until we buy a house. I am still missing not having one but I feel like this is something that needs to wait until we settle down. Finding this rental with a dog was hard. Doing it again? I think would stress me out.

We also had some issues with the mortgage. The year of no income hurt us and we had to explain it. Due to this we also qualified for less money because of it. We aren't so happy about having to potentially put more money down on the house. I'm stressed because our realtor wants us to work with her guy so she can say we're qualified with a reputable broker she knows instead of us getting the best deal. This makes me leery and upset.

I know I shouldn't stress out. But I can't help it. I don't know if we should shelve buying a house another 1-2 years. We can move into another rental and save money. I mean also I worry because if they take away the mortgage deduction on taxes I think it'll impact home prices. It certainly influences our decision. We'd spend less significantly and I think we might choose to pay cash. I can't imagine that others in our bracket might not be forced as well to spend less.

Also DH will have 2 years of income if we wait which since they aren't counting his entire income right now might make a difference. Strangely if he had been working his last job we'd qualify for more than we do now even though we make more money now.

I am also embarrassed IRL to talk about our 1st world problems. So it's only here I can really express how I feel.

Plus our DK1 is being tested again. She's got an anxiety disorder. Big surprise. Trust me with her behavior we've had multiple tests for autism or spectrum and that's not it. Nor is it sensory processing. It really is an anxiety disorder that has come on early. And yes I feel guilty and more anxious because I worry about her. So I'm not sleeping well and I have TMJ even with my night guard. My mom is anxious and on medications. I only used them pregnancy/PPD, but I do wonder if I shouldn't get back on them.

Anyway maybe everything will work out. Let's see what happens by May.

another one bites the dust

January 20th, 2017 at 09:33 pm

So I've been mostly using redfin to find a house. It's slow going, but it is really picking up. I met a realtor I like and she appears to really know the area I am interested in buying. She's been buying and selling since the 90s in the area and can easily name streets and values and locations. Even gave me an honest opinion about schools/location/value and how it affects home prices. We haven't meet yet and are meeting tomorrow in person.

She insisted on showing us 3 homes to see how we react. And she wanted to meet DH and I both. She's basically going to evaluate how we react.

Unfortunately a couple of red flags went up. Sigh. I am probably going to get a lot of hate from realtors from saying this but I have the emails between this realtor and myself proving it.

She suggested that we use her mortgage person because they will help us win in a bidding war situation. She is doubtful we'll be able to be picky because we are only putting down 25-30% cash and to be really competitive we need to be at 50% down or all cash. She said she usually waives the inspection and mortgage contingencies.

These things has already brought out the worse in my DH. I'm wavering. We might have to step back out of this market and rent for a number of years just because we can't afford to do these things. We discussed it last night and the truth is that my DH says we're being responsible by not letting go of things we think protect us. I think we need to hear her explanations of why she suggests these things to people and it's possible we won't work with her. Solely because we can't stomach the terms.

Right now I shudder at the thought of renting for another few years. I already miss having a dog and want another but we had made an agreement that we would wait until after we moved into out house so we wouldn't have to deal with our landlord and another pet deposit. Or finding another rental that takes dogs. And I don't really want to move the kids.

But what should we do? Just look and see if we can win something? Do it our way and hope we can buy and still stick to our terms? How much do we risk? These next six months is going to be stressful.

Spend everything you make

January 19th, 2017 at 04:59 pm

Okay people really do spend everything they make. You think they don't. Or at least I thought they didn't. Turns out people really do spend everything they make and then more.

I've now seen people making incredible salaries, still working, and drawing from a 401k. Paying 30% tax on their 401k withdrawal based on their income and somehow not saving. Being in their 60s and still have a mortgage with interest. I am floored.

It explains a lot about people talking about how will they retire? I mean I work in a tax office where one of the other tax people has admitted to it being too hard to save. So she gets a $8k tax refund to help them through the year make ends meet. She said it was too hard to save for college so they meant to but they never got around to it. Her kids have $8k saved at 16 and 14 and most of it was from her dad's initial contribution into a 529 of $2500. She said everything else just seemed more important.

Or another one said there's no way we'll retire before 65. My husband was hoping 60 but we have so many expenses. Apparently they have a couple of rentals that aren't really breaking even. I wanted to point out that perhaps they should cash in and buy rentals that actually produce income. But they see it as a long term investment of price appreciation. I'm not RE savvy enough but I can't help but wonder if this is a losing proposition? Sure you can write off depreciation and other stuff on rentals, but if you can't cover the mortgage with rent, I wonder if you shouldn't buy a different property?

These are supposedly financially savvy people and the clients who come in are in the top 2-3% of earners in the US. But they have very little savings. They spend it as soon as they make it.

I know we chose to live without income. But I have to wonder don't these people worry? Do they even have 3 months saved in an EF? From what I can the answer is no.

Life is busy

January 13th, 2017 at 07:15 pm

Since I started working part-time things have been crazy. I enjoy it. I love getting away from the kids. But the truth is that the money is good too. I haven't done anything with it but put into our account. But it's nice to be having adult interaction and identity away from the kids.

Next step realtor license. I want to work for redfin doing tours. All this is a long term plan after we buy the house.

a new part-time job

January 3rd, 2017 at 09:22 pm

I did it. I started doing taxes for HR Block part-time. I'm not sure if i'll do this long term. I think I'd like something year round. But this was a break into working again after not working since June 2010. It's minimum wage and I'd have to work next year in order to be able to get the minimum wage and then commission on number of returns done. Thus the high turnover rate of 1st year tax preparers. But with the continuing education prep I've at least made $250 and it's paid for the $149 course.

My next step? I am thinking of studying online to get a realtor license and hopefully landing a job as a redfin touring agent. I prefer doing that sort of realtor work than selling or buying homes.

Perhaps i'll end up doing what I trained for again one day. But for right now I'm liking this part-time gigs. The only problem is I'm trading babysitting since I'm working nights from 5-9 and DH has trouble getting home by 4:45 so a friend is watching the kids for an hour and I'm watching hers during the day. Phew.

2016 Wrap up and 2017 Goals

January 3rd, 2017 at 09:15 pm

So we ended 2016 pretty good. How good? Our NW went up $41k. We are still down from our peak NW $120k, I'm still happy where we are. Our retirement contributions were $29k plus $2552 employer match into the 401k and we ended the year up $73k so we doubled our investment. We maxed out our 401k in 4 months. With income and savings we only "spent" $30k in cash from January to August, we didn't get our first paycheck till August 12th.

Our average spending was $80k for the year. $6500k/month including $2400/month rent. Not terrible to live on $4000/month for a family of 4. It was front loaded that we had a lot more expenses without employer provided health insurance. So we spent more on essentials till August then we splurged a lot more on eating out and stuff since we suddenly had more money. NOT perfect but we were okay.

Anyway our 2017? Save $100k and increase NW $150k. Big stretch goals.

Investments out of control

December 30th, 2016 at 08:59 pm

I've allowed our investments to get out of hand and out of control. Because of our move and rolling into a Roth IRA and 401ks and just starting new funds and being concerned about just our overall cash I've allowed our investments to get out of control. How out of control? I have no idea what we're invested in right now.

DH just took his 401k and dumped it into whatever we chose years ago. I didn't pick his new 401k instead he just dumped it into a couple of funds but told me the other day they told him it was super risky. I haven't done a comprehensive overlook at what we should do in about 2 years.

The kids are left in VTI for college. Boring but what else to do? I'm feeling pretty stressed out right now. I started my spreadsheet with dollar amounts and choices.

I think we've been a little to risky because my DH was allowed a lot of leeway in investing in individual stocks for fun. We rarely touch any of this even in taxable accounts we've got invested in stuff. We need to sit and make a better plan.

Goal - streamline and properly invest our accounts.

Odds and Ends

December 29th, 2016 at 07:58 pm

I'm struggling with auto-bill pay. I am so annoyed by it. I put things like the internet, cell phone, garbage, water, electric bill on auto-bill pay. The problem is that the CC it's hooked up to keeps getting changed and I have missed payments because I forgot to update the credit card. The real problem is that these credit cards discover, citibank have been compromised so much that we were trying to update our accounts over the summer every month. It's so frustrating.

Plus I'm pissed at Capitol One now for not paying our CC in full even though I have confirmation numbers of payments. So now we are hit with finance charges and late fees and I'm dealing with paying everything manually and calling the card companies to deal with the fees. I'm just annoyed that it's taking so much time. Plus they refuse to help me when I have confirmation payment codes. Seriously? So I've been dealing with all of BS all morning.

I need to still evaluate our investments and rebalance our accounts. I think we're a little to aggressively invested. Of course it probably doesn't matter too much long term. Staying invested is most important.

But TD Ameritrade lost $60k of our money for 2 weeks. They couldn't find the check we mailed for our Roth IRA conversion. But after we called and complained then they suddenly found it in processing. I am ready to shriek.

The US needs to become more automated. They literally cut checks from checking accounts and mail them. Other countries do immediate electronic debiting when you pay bills. I can't help but wonder how the US is so far behind other countries with processing of banking?

At least the year is over and we have some potential good news. DH might not be the executor of his uncle's estate. There might be a will. So he doesn't have to deal with anything. Cheers. So much better because he won't have to deal with any ramifications from being executor. YES!

15% to retirement works!

December 16th, 2016 at 06:41 pm

I have a feel good story I thought I'd share. A friend of mine was telling me that saving 15% of her income was the easiest thing when she was working and that it did a lot of heavy lifting for retirement.

Well she started at costco at 18 and didn't go to college. She started saving 10% for the first 2 years then 15% from years 20-38, she only ones part-time now because of her kids. She maxed out at $50k/year and has always saved 15% of her income and she's 39 and has $300k in her 401k. She's now set for life even if she never saves again. All the early saving did it for her.

She said I always tell people starting out to save 15% of their income and it'll do it for them. But most people never do. She looked at me and I said "no worries we're fine."

We missed saving in our early 20s and so we had to save A LOT more money to make up for it. We're still socking it away because of it. But the compounding works!

So it doesn't matter what you make but what you save.

no house

December 13th, 2016 at 05:31 pm

Ugh no house. Lost it to someone else willing to pay cash. We were in the midst of doing some due diligence and someone else just came in and got it done.

Oh well. Time to keep on looking. I keep telling myself that spring is the time when more inventory comes on the market. Patience will be rewarded. We had hoped to find something but nothing is really what we want.

It's really hard to bet on finding a house we like and passing on so many we don't. We probably could settle but I find that I don't want to pay a lot of money for something I really don't love or like. That I'm taking the "safe" bet. But at the same time I also think if we bought a house now in desperation there is a great possibility we'd regret it.

I think all financial decisions made out of desperation are bad ones. They cause someone to act irrationally, justify bad decisions instead of actually thinking logically and reasoning out a decision. Or at least that's my justification for not jumping on a house I don't like but should probably buy because it's "good" enough.

But I guess it's like marriage. Should we settle for someone who is "good enough" and the "right" person you should marry but you don't love them? You just like them and it's the right decision? I think no. Because marriage is tough enough that you should really be sure. I do think people need common values but settling can cause people to compromise on those values. Hence I don't want to compromise on a house right now. Or at least these are compromises I don't want to make.

FWIW I feel that some realtors are definitely not working for our best interest. I have one non-stop pressuring me to buy at the top of our budget. That they'll take an offer at the top of our budget since it's been sitting. My response has been I don't love the house and I don't want to spend to the top of our budget if it's not something I really love. But hey it's in her best interest to sell me something.

cross your fingers

December 7th, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Okay at 8:30 am this morning we saw a house. We loved it. It hit everything on the checklist we wanted. So we're going to make an offer. But it's not perfect. There are a lot of problems.

Mostly that it's an unfinished home. But we're working with our mortgage broker and we can do a hard money construction loan, but we'll see what else can be done. I just love the location and the house being new and mostly done DH loves the location and house. I think the yard is small and it backs up to a busy road.

But life is about compromises. Nothing in life is perfect. Everything always has a catch. And I definitely felt good walking into this house. Now we just need them to accept the offer with contigencies mostly the financing and home inspection. My worry is that it's not "livable" and while it's under budget we have to get approved for a different type of loan versus the conventional mortgage we got approved for.

I'm worrying and thinking about it. This is the first house and it might not be the last house I'll regret if we don't make an offer. Everything else we've walked away from and I haven't cared personally. I will care but I will understand if we aren't meant to get it.

Roth Conversion

December 6th, 2016 at 05:28 pm

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 05:20 pm

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 06:00 pm

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 05:48 pm

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 05:31 pm

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 21st, 2016 at 05:54 am

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 16th, 2016 at 05:51 am

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.


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