Detailed Financial Picture – August 2015

July’s Numbers

As of August 3, 2014, we are $328,104.11 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $907,352.89 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $482,118.58. Our Net Worth is $579,248.78, up from $570,236.46, last month (1.58% increase).

Normally, I’d do our early retirement progress first, but Fidelity’s NetBenefits pages are borked, so I can’t get definitive statement data – maybe tomorrow.

We’ve had our first Net Worth increase in a few months, despite buying a new car and taking on a loan for it.  The markets were very nice to us this month.  I am getting about $128 more per month in net salary, and about $30 more per month to my 403(b) – both my contributions and my “match”.  I’ll have a slightly decreased contribution in December to true up with the IRS limits.

We have a new car – a Camry Hybrid LE and are loving it.  It’s the new “family” car.  We picked it up finally on July 17, and we’ve had to fill it up once (and it’s still mostly full).  The “estimated miles to empty” indicator starts at 617 miles with a full tank.  Dad’s driving it until we get to winter, then he’ll be driving our RAV since he’s the primary transportation for Daughter Person, and the RAV does better in the snow.  I get to drive it on the weekends though :) We’ll be putting it through it’s paces in August with two long car trips planned: one to Sesame Place outside of Philly and one to Baltimore to see Dad’s family.

I made a reduced payment on the RAV this month due to cash flow issues.  We put Daughter Person’s ear surgery on the credit card, it’s due this month, and I’m trying to survive without pulling it out from our HSA investments, so cash is a little tight this month – I paid just over the minimum needed on the RAV for the month to give us some cash cushion until we can get back to living on last month’s income.

We’re finally stabilizing in the new house and have unpacked everything except the basement.  We can even fit both cars in the garage!  With Daughter Person’s surgery over, we should be spending a lot less in August.  I’m not focusing on the debt repayment until we can build up a good buffer and emergency fund, after all, everything except the mortgage is 0%.

 

 

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $10,250 (-250.00)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $25,908 (-450.00)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $291.946.11 (-480.84)

Total paid off in July:  $1,180.84

Credit Security Freezes – and why you might want to consider one

I’ve just finished up placing security freezes on both Dad and I. We’re both victims of the latest OPM breach of background investigation data having worked for government contractors. Daughter Person is also a victim, but in our state, we’re not allowed to place a freeze on her credit report as a minor (if we were still in VA, we could). It cost us about $60 for the both of us, but for the protection it offers, I think it’s worth it. Note: If you’re already a victim of identity fraud, you can generally get a security freeze for free with a copy of the police report, but you won’t be able to do it online.

What is a Credit Security Freeze?

Brian Krebs does a better job of explaining it, but the basic gist is that the credit reporting bureaus (all 4 of them!) will not release any of our credit information without us initiating a “thaw” first. In practice, this means that no one will extend “us” credit because they can’t verify how creditworthy we are. I’m sure there are some lenders who don’t bother to check, and we’ll have to deal with those accounts on a case-by-case basis. But, basically, if anyone tries to open a credit account/loan/etc in our names or using our socials, they won’t be able to. It’s a bit of a pain for us because we have to provide a special PIN (10-digits) and $10 to each agency to “thaw” our credit reports to obtain credit – no more card churning for us.

Why did we do it?

Why did we take the (rather) drastic step of freezing our credit reports? The data that is in the OPM eQIP system (used to electronically fill out the SF-86 form) includes our social security numbers (and those of people we live with – like each other and Daughter Person), other names, our addresses for the last 7 years, employment history, citizenship, and educational information. Some financial information is also included. If you’ve ever had to answer ChoicePoint’s set of “identification questions” based on your credit report – guess what someone (China?) has? OPM is planning on offering 3 years of fraud protection and insurance assuming we actually get the letter since my file is out of date (Dad’s should be current), but this information doesn’t really change, and now that that’s been announced, anyone who stole that data is just going to wait 3 years to use it.

We just got a mortgage, and we’ve already been approved for our car loan (whenever the car actually gets to the dealer), so I went ahead and initiated the freeze this week. We shouldn’t need to have our credit checked in the near future (until the Costco AMEX goes away and I have to decide what to replace it with), and I’ll have enough time to thaw the appropriate report before we apply.

Should you Freeze your Credit?

Unless you have reason to suspect that your social security number and other identifying information (like previous addresses) have been compromised, it’s a pretty drastic step, and I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’ve just had a credit card number taken and used fraudulently – don’t bother – this won’t prevent that type of fraud. Freezing your credit only prevents new credit from being issued in your name/social, it doesn’t affect existing accounts (including potentially fraudulent ones).

If you do decide to freeze your credit, check the fees in your state, then go to all four of the credit agencies and place the freeze: Equifax, Transunion, Experian, and Innovis. I was able to place the freeze online at all 4 agencies, but others have had to do it via mail, with a photocopy of an ID document. We had one issue with Equifax not giving Dad his 10 digit PIN once we froze his account, and we’re fighting with them to not have to file for a “change of PIN” with attendant $10 fee.

Hopefully, no one else is in this situation, because it’s a PITA, but a security freeze is one of the many things you can do to protect your credit rating/score.

June 2015 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,442.69 this month to our retirement accounts, and we lost $8,398.29 in investment value this month. 

Our contributions were a bit lower this month because I “subtracted” our HSA withdrawals from the contribution value.  We still contributed to our HSA, we just also withdrew more than we contributed this month.  I’m still unsure on whether we’ll be withdrawing from the HSA to cover Daughter Person’s surgery on Friday, but I’m trying to avoid doing so. (I can withdraw it at any time, so it may wait until we have a money crunch).

The markets have gone down, down, down, and I foresee that they will continue to go down until Greece is either in or out of the euro zone.  We might even end up negative for investment increases this year – as long as I average out to 6%/year, I’m a happy camper.

I got a 3% raise for the upcoming fiscal year, so based on the ADP calculator, I’ll be getting extra from the University match, and my contributions will go up until December, when they do the calculation for IRS maximum (I hope) and they’ll only let me contribute the difference.  I’m keeping my 20% contribution rate, because it’s still close enough to the max, and I don’t feel like doing the new math :)  Unlike Dad’s, there is no “take out the maximum allowed by law” button on my HR site, so I have to do the math every year.

2015 Totals

In 2015, so far, we’ve contributed $34,649.00 (49.50% of our goal of 70k), and we’ve gained $8,783.74 in investment value (36.79% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – July 2015

June’s Numbers

As of July 2, 2014, we are $302,926.95 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $873,163.41 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $471459.58. Our Net Worth is $570,236.46, down from $574,404.90, last month (0.73% decrease).

 

We’re socking away money to pay for Daughter Person’s tubes this month, so I made the “minimum” payments – the minimum payment on the car is something like $283 because I’ve paid so far ahead, but I consider the minimum to be $500 (actual monthly payment is $484).

The markets were not very friendly this month, despite putting almost 5k into our accounts, we still “lost” money.  I’ll be happy when the Greece situation is settled so that the markets can go back to generally rising :)

We’re still recovering from moving, and generally just trying to not spend much at all, rebuilding a slightly larger e-fund, and since our car loan is 0%, in no rush to pay that off until we’ve “rebuilt”.

We’ve also had to come up with a down payment on a new car ($2000) with 0% financing and $1000 cash back – assuming they can get it in for us by the end of the weekend.  Dad’s Accord trade-in value is “scrap”, yet they’re giving us $500 for it – the transmission is dying, plus the SRS light = time to get a new car. We thought we wanted a Prius v, but we test drove one and really didn’t care for the handling on it, it was OK, but it was lacking some oomph.  We test drove a Camry hybrid – and were blown away with the features and how it felt to drive.  The dealer we test drove at was extremely annoying (we told them we had to leave by 4, and they kept the keys to our Accord “hostage” until 4:15 – needless to say, I don’t care what kind of price they give me, I’m not buying from them).  I went through the USAA car buying program (aka TruCar), and it’s not as good as it was 3 years ago when we went through them for the RAV, but it was decent.  We were waffling between the LE and the XLE version and the only thing that we really wanted from the XLE was the leather seats, except all of them in our region also come with navigation – $1200 I’m not paying for.  Turns out, the dealer can put aftermarket leather on the LE, which is actually nicer than the factory leather.  Too bad the dealer I ended up with sold the LE they had in stock before I got there (in the space of the 45 minutes it took me to drive to the dealer), so they’re having to get one from elsewhere.  We signed the initial paperwork and put the cash down to buy it, and they’ll be giving us a call when it gets in – hopefully this weekend.  Then, we’ll have another 0% loan to Toyota Financial, but it should be at least 7-8 years before we have to consider another car.  The final price (with taxes, title, and fee) of the LE with aftermarket leather was $3k less than the XLE  “base price” – and the only want we gave up was the moonroof, which was a nice to have anyway, and not worth 3k.

Here’s to being able to save a bit more next month!

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $10,500 (-500.00)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $292,426.95 (-479.30)

Total paid off in June:  $979.30

Surgery with a High Deductible Plan

We got the word yesterday that Daughter Person will be getting tubes in her ears.  The estimated cost to us out of pocket (including the followup appointment) is $2600.  Most of that is the hospital and anesthesiologist, not the doctor doing the surgery.

We’re still way under our deductible ($7500 for the family), so we’ll be paying all of it out of pocket (well, out of the HSA anyway).  Not planned, but not a huge emergency since we have about 4k in our HSA.  I would have to pull it out of investments and into the “cash” part of the HSA to use it, so I might get to play timing the market.  The surgery is on July 10, I figure we have until the end of July before the paperwork even gets through to the insurance company and we see a bill, so I’m going to try to save enough and pay it out of pocket in August without decimating our mini e-fund.  The doctor takes credit cards, so hopefully I can use this opportunity to earn some points and miles as well, and it lets me float the payment to the following month/cycle to give me more time to come up with the cash.  I’ll post an update once we have the final value.

I am grateful that we have the money available to pay for her surgery, even if it’s not in the most ideal places to pull it from.

May 2015 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,400.70 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $2,965.63 in investment value this month. 

A good bit of the “extra” this month was redeeming my Fidelity Visa cash back award from paying a lot of stuff on the new house: $307 extra into our taxable account just for putting all of our spending on the cash back card.  We did take some money out of our HSA to pay for a rather large medical bill: Daughter Person may be getting tubes, and the first appointment with the ENT was almost $400 out of pocket.  We have another followup appointment, then the decision on whether she’ll be getting tubes or not (an estimated $3,400 bill).

The markets are slowly inching their way up, and they’re still primarily up for the year (thanks February!), but I suspect we’ll be seeing lower values over the next few months and possibly years until the uncertainty of the Fed’s interest rate hike resolves.

We’re doing well on contributions, and that’s all we can really control.

2015 Totals

In 2015, so far, we’ve contributed $30,206.31 (43.15% of our goal of 70k), and we’ve gained $17,182.03 in investment value (71.96% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – June 2015

May’s Numbers

As of June 2, 2014, we are $303,906.25 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $878,311.15 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $473,403.15. Our Net Worth is $574,404.90, down from $577,265.80, last month (0.50% decrease).

The cash has been flowing out paying for new items – we discovered how much we depended on the built-in storage in our old house. We ended up buying several IKEA bookcases and Kallax storage units along with industrial shelving from Costco for the basement. We are, however, almost done unpacking the two main floors of the house. We still have the guest bedroom to completely unpack, and a lot of pictures sitting around waiting for us to decide what wall to put them on. We’re missing a few things, but since I counted all of the boxes coming off the truck, it’s got to be in the house/basement/garage somewhere.

The builder’s subcontractor for media didn’t wire the HDMI connections to the TV mounting place properly, and I haven’t been able to get a hold of them (via phone or e-mail) to work with them to resolve the issue, so I’ve reported them to the BBB and Angie’s List, and may get some traction. They also didn’t wire one of our networking runs properly – it should have been in conduit, so not so easy for us to remedy. I’m going to fix the TV run – it’s nominally in conduit, but we can’t get an electrician’s fisher wire down through it, so there’s no way to get an HDMI cable back through it – I have to destroy drywall in our brand new house. I’m not concerned, I can do it with about a 2″ square hole – but Dad is not happy about me having to do it. I don’t want to have to do it either – but I want my TV off the floor more than I want to wait to fight it out with the subcontractor. At least all of our networking runs are working, even if they’re either not in conduit, or might as well not be in conduit because we can’t pull the blanks through. Next step is considering small claims court – we’re talking $1800 for the entire job, which they sort of did.

We’ve gotten our first electric and gas bills. We pay $16.78 for the privilege of having gas service to the house, whether we use it or not. They didn’t charge us a connection fee. Since the only things in our house that use gas are our fireplace and furnace, I’m wondering if it makes sense to just shut our gas off for the summer months and save at least $50 (June, July, August). I need to call and see if they charge a disconnection fee to determine if it makes sense. Our electric bill was about $45, *much* nicer than the minimum $150 we had at our old house in VA. Granted, it was pretty cool this month, so we didn’t run the A/C as much as we might have, so I want to wait and see what this summer’s bills are. We’re considering a solar system, but I need to know what our electric bills and usage are to determine what the ROI will be and if it makes sense – our roof has almost perfect solar exposure all day long, with no shade (but Pittsburgh has a lot of overcast days).

We’re making progress on the car loan, we might have to buy a new car to replace Dad’s, so we think we’re going to continue paying the $500/mth on the (0%) loan and save up for a hefty down payment (or possibly a full payment) on a new car – inspection is due by the end of July, and we’ve got an SRS light on that we need to get looked at, otherwise, it’s not going to pass inspection. The car we’re looking at is advertising a 0% loan incentive, and if the fix for Dad’s car is more than $1500, we’re likely going to apply that towards a down payment instead. We borrowed an OBDII reader from a friend, but we haven’t plugged it in yet to see what the problem is.

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $11,000 (-500.00)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $292,906.25 (-477.75)

Total paid off in May:  $977.75

I Hate Unpacking

If there’s one thing I hate more than packing, it’s unpacking.  Almost three weeks into the new house, and we’re slowing down on the unpacking.  Mostly because the house is functional “enough”, but there are  boxes everywhere still and it’s starting to drive me nuts having them around.

All of the kitchen stuff is unpacked and put in the kitchen, but I just shoved stuff in the pantry, so it needs a bit of organizing.  I gave in and ordered two Elfa door “systems” for the spices.  The pantry was too deep and the spices kept getting lost – and I really missed my spice racks from our old house.

spice racks

Spice racks In our pantry

I still hate that the pantry has the open metal shelving – anything small tends to fall through or over.  We picked up some shelf liner to help, but I haven’t emptied the pantry to put it in yet.  We also made the mistake of putting packing tape on all of our plastic containers, now we’ll be scrubbing them with Goo Gone for the rest of our days :(

There are more pressing things than the pantry, everything fits, and we can (mostly) find things when we need them.

We still have a lot of stuff just hanging out on kitchen counters though because it doesn’t have a new home yet.

 

Dining Room with blinds

Dining Room with blinds

We added honeycomb blinds to the house.  I *highly* recommend blinds.com – awesome customer service.  I got one blind with a frayed string, called them up the next day and they shipped me a new one, no need to return the old one.  They’re also quite easy to install at least with their “interior mount” option – four pilot holes with the drill, screw in four screws into the window frame, and then the blinds just pop into the mounting brackets.  Also, relatively inexpensive for the honeycomb cordless that you can also pull down from the top: ~$85 for a 36×60 window.

The only room that I feel is really done is our master bath. Since my office is off the master bedroom and it’s not close to being done (I’ve opened exactly 1 box in it), the master is still questionable as well.  We’ve put aside 4 boxes to be donated/sold and continually add to it.  I have one box set aside for Daughter Person’s toys that she has grown out of, and our friends with a 1 year old get first rights of refusal on that box.

This weekend, We’re borrowing my uncle’s truck to go pick up our storm door, some more metal shelving from Costco, another trip to IKEA for a bookcase and a grandfather clock from our friends.  We’ll also be loading our old freezer on it to go to my uncle’s.  We bought a larger one, and they’re taking the older one off our hands – it’s currently in the garage (another “room” we’ve barely touched in the unpacking…).  If I can get my car in the garage by winter, I’ll be a happy person.

 

April 2015 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,284.68 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $2,729.64 in investment value this month. 

 

We gained in every account except my IRA this month.  There’s a pretty hefty sum in an REIT mutual fund in that account, and it didn’t do so well this month.  Oh well, that’s how the market works, and I much prefer to have a REIT than actual property!

I may delay setting aside money for the Roths until later in the year so that we can pay off our car faster.  It’s 0% interest rate, but we’d prefer to get rid of the payment.  And I’ll still be able to make my goal of 70k into our accounts by only putting aside about 3 months worth.  That will have to be played by ear – I just want to get enough into Dad’s Roth account to get out of ETFs and into a mutual fund to have it 100% invested.  We put a token $250 in for 2014 to just open the account, but we need 2500 to invest in the mutual fund I want (FSTMX).  My Roth climbed over the 10k balance and the investment was transferred to the advantage class mutual fund earlier this year.

While trying to get the new house set up, we’re feeling the pinch of cash flow right now with a lot of money going towards retirement, but I keep reminding myself that it’s good for us and most of the house stuff can wait as well! (except the window blinds – we have huge windows, and we need our privacy and insulation!)

2015 Totals

In 2015, so far, we’ve contributed $24,805.90 (35.44% of our goal of 70k), and we’ve gained $14216.4 in investment value (59.54% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – May 2015

April’s Numbers

As of May 5, 2014, we are $304,884 in debt with a mortgage!  We currently have $882,149.80 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $468,778.01. Our Net Worth is $577,265.80, down from $579,430.79 last month (0.37% decrease).

We are home owners again (finally!), so we now have a new asset (the house) and a new liability (the mortgage).  We bought the house for 366,730, but it was appraised at 372k (how they do appraisals before the house is finished, I have no idea).  I’m only counting what we paid for it.

We’ve moved into the house, and the movers were almost 1k over the estimate (I do give them a break since the estimate was in August!).  My goal for the next month or two is to buy the last few things we really want for the house (like blinds!) and then build up our mini-emergency fund to 5k again.  It’s at about 3.5k at the moment.  We also have a full month’s salary “buffer” because we use YNAB and live on last month’s income, so I’m not horribly concerned.  Once that’s built back up, we’re going to start aggressively paying off the car.

We’re rounding up our mortgage payment, and it ends up being about an extra $75/mth towards principal, but at this point in time, I’m not in any rush to pay it off.

We’re maxing out our 403(b)s and HSA plans, and starting in July, we’ll be setting aside $950/mth to go towards our Roth IRAs. The money won’t be put in the account until we do taxes in 2016, but it’ll be there (and be part of our emergency fund as well).

 

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $12,000 (-500.00)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $293,384.00

Total paid off in April:  $500