Detailed Financial Picture – May 2016

April’s Numbers 

As of May 12, 2015, we are $315,386.43 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $949,273.60 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $526,121.89. Our Net Worth is $633,887.17, up from $613,953.62 in April (3.25% increase)

Surprisingly, our net worth went up this month, we put a lot of money into the markets, and when they decline, our overall net worth tends to decline – with 85% in stocks, we’re sensitive to market swings.

We’re also getting closer to the $1 million in assets mark again. This time, with less debt (and less house).  I’m more interested in the net worth getting up to $1 million.

I still haven’t gotten Dad’s first paycheck yet, but our HSA contributions now come out of his paycheck directly, so we get the “triple tax win” of no federal tax, no social security tax, and no medicare tax. No PA state tax on it either… I know how much is coming out of Dad’s paycheck for benefits, and I could make an educated guess at taxes, but I’m waiting.  I think he’ll get paid twice a month, so that should be coming up shortly.

We’ll have more disposable income with his new paycheck, since we’re not contributing as much tax advantaged.  I will probably contribute to our Roths (assuming we can contribute), and pay down debt faster – then increase our contributions to our taxable account, but we’ll see.  I want to know what numbers I have to play with in YNAB before I allocate it anywhere.

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

  • Line of Credit (9.75%): $4,500 (-1000.00)
  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $5,873.42 (-489.44)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $21,965.00 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $287,548.01 (-495.00)

Total paid off in March:  $1433.74


On Being Sick Without Health Insurance

For one day this month (May 1), we were not covered by any insurance.  The insurance from Dad’s old job ended on April 30 (Saturday), his new insurance wouldn’t kick in until May 2 (Monday) his first day of work at the new job.  We figured that we have 45 days to sign up for COBRA, so if we needed to, we could (we hadn’t even gotten any of the papers about it yet!). Friday, April 29, Daughter Person is sent home from school with a sore throat and fever.  We decide to kind of ride it out and see if it’s just a virus or if she might have had strep.  Saturday, she’s fine other than a fever and saying her throat hurt occasionally.  We let it go.  Sunday (the day without insurance), she wakes up screaming about her throat hurting and still has a fever, but this time is having trouble breathing because her tonsils are so big. Look in her throat, and sure enough there are the typical white spots of strep. Panic!

I asked around my local mom’s group about their opinions on the two urgent care options and which would be more likely to give us a discount for paying cash up front – neither.  BUT, Walgreens/CVS have the in-house clinics that are open on Sundays, and they publish their prices!  We went to the local Walgreens, waited less than we normally do for our doctor, and get this: PAID LESS than we would have at our doctor’s office – with insurance!  We then looked up the cheapest place to get her prescription filled with the OneRX app, and were on our way.

We were charged $134 at Walgreens, and $20.44 at Rite Aid for her antibiotics (azithromycin).  When we took her in March for the same exact thing, we paid $165 for the doctor’s visit (after the insurance negotiation!) and about the same for the prescription from WalMart.  If we needed to, we still could have pulled money out of our HSA to cover it, but the charge was quite low (we thought), so that money’s still working for us.  Now, I’m wondering why exactly we bothered paying $282/mth premiums for our health insurance, it certainly wasn’t saving us anything!

April 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,007.41 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $3,302.53 in investment value this month.

This is likely our last high contribution month for a while. Dad’s new company doesn’t contribute as much, and we are losing his 3% mandatory contribution going forward.  We’re expecting to get another large-ish contribution into our HSA ($666.66 into a different one) from his new company.  On the plus side, his new company supports payroll deductions for the HSA.  On the downside, the investment options in his HSA kinda suck.  I’ll probably do a rollover to our existing HSA (or a brand new one!) before the end of the year to keep all the money together.

Dad’s new 401(k) is with MassMutual, and the cheapest investment option has a .97% fee – it’s at least an S&P500 index fund.  Because of taxes, we’re contributing our 18k (or as close to it as we can this year), but it’s going to hurt us going forward.  Needless to say, none of his IRA or old 403(b) money is getting rolled into that account.  The tax savings more than makes up for the fee, and Dad is going to forward a strongly worded letter that I write to their HR person to look at a different 401(k) option with less fees (like Vanguard or Fidelity).  The funny thing is, the company acts like they’ve got the best investment options available to their employees – I just laughed…  The match is OK for the area, but the investment options are *horrible*!

Without contributing 3% mandatory pre-tax *and* cheaper healthcare *and* a higher salary, we’re going to be even closer to the Roth IRA income limits than previuosly – possibly over 🙁  I’m going to save 11k for the year with the “extra” money we’ll be getting because of these differences, but it may or may not go into a Roth (we have too much in IRAs to do a backdoor). If we make too much, I’ll just put it into our taxable account, if not, it’ll go into our Roths.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $23,303.67 (33.29% of our goal of 70k), and gained $9,148.74 in investment value.

I will do my best to be … friendly and helpful … and be a sister to every Girl Scout

Starting in the fall, I will be a Girl Scout Daisy Troop Leader.  We’re already registered and signed up, but the new leader training won’t occur until late August, and the “official” start of the Girl Scout 2016-2017 year isn’t until October 1, 2016.

How did I end up as a leader?

Daughter Person is entering Kindergarten in the fall (wait what?), and she’s expressed interest in being in girl scouts.  However, there was no troop or leader yet for the incoming K students in our area.  So, I found another volunteer to be a leader, and we’ve gone through our local council to start a troop.  We already have 5 adult volunteers registered (and cleared in PA) other than the leaders.  They are moms (and dads) who just wanted to help, but weren’t interested in taking on a Leader role.  There are also 5 girls that we know of registered, and once we settle on a meeting place and time, we’re opening up the registration on the Girl Scouts of America’s main web page to allow incoming girls and parents to find our troop.  The current K-level Daisy troop has 12 members, so I suspect we’ll have a similar number.  The limit is 12 girls with only two leaders – we’d have to find another volunteer to step up to be a leader to have more than 12 girls.

I did girl scouts long ago (before there were Daisies!), and my mom was a scout even longer ago, although she was a leader when I was in scouting.  We both showed Daughter Person things we did and pictures, and that’s how she got excited.  I have the cutest picture of her in her new Daisy uniform – complete with the Beanie (her choice!).

This will be a new adventure for both of us, and so far, I feel like I’ve been drinking from a firehose with information from our council about meetings, and troops, and training, and everything else involved in starting a troop.  I got a lot out of scouting when I was younger, and I hope Daughter Person does too!

New Job for Dad

Dad has accepted a new job, at a larger salary than he is currently making.  But, he’s not likely to get any bonuses like he does for his current company.  We’ll be losing 5% of company match in our retirement accounts and 3% of his salary, but the savings of benefits/health care almost makes up for it.  Instead of the $260/mth HSA plan we’re on now, we’ll be on the $75/mth HSA plan (unfortunately, new (higher) deductibles 🙁 ).  We’re continuing the HSA plan this year to not have tax headaches next March, but the following year, we’ll have $130/mth PPO coverage – for all three of us.

We’re holding off on any budgeting decisions until I see what his first paycheck is (end of May), but we’ll likely be putting more aside into a Roth or our taxable account (with less tax advantaged money to reduce our AGI, we might be over the limit on Roths rather than just under it), and maxing out our HSA again this year.  Not sure we’ll be putting aside as much as we initially planned this year, but we might be!

His company is based in Europe, and the benefits show it.  Other than the retirement being “normal”, the remaining benefits are amazing – if it were just Dad, he wouldn’t be paying anything at all.  We’ll also remain “healthcare agnostic”, which is important in Pittsburgh thanks to the big fight between UPMC and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network (AGH).  We’ve been seeing mostly AGH doctors (because a AGH hospital is closest to us), but the option to see UPMC doctors is nice, and if we went with my healthcare, we’d be going UPMC (it’s 1/4 the cost of Highmark plans), and having to change doctors – every year as the price war rages on…

He’s going to be traveling a lot at first, but then that will settle down, and he’ll just be commuting.  I expect our gas spending will increase (he’ll be driving more), but that’s it.  We’re hoping to have plans in place to not eat out, and to have ready-made food available to avoid that.  We’re also expecting a general increase in income to more than offset that.   We just won’t have as much tax-advantaged space to work with.

March 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,478.73 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $29,203.07 in investment value this month.

I did get a raise in March, which resulted in a bit too much being contributed to my 403b since the HR system still had my old percentage calculation.  I’ve adjusted it so that I contribute slightly less next month to be more in line with the IRS’s 18k max.  My raise also means I got more of a “match” from my employer since it’s based on percentage.  I adjusted the rate to what would be taken out normally, so my paycheck will be quite large in December with no contributions taken out (no worries on my “match”, it’s paid whether I contribute or not).

We finally made it into positive territory for investment gains this year – even if not by much. We didn’t spend enough on our Fidelity Cash back card to warrant a “reward” to our taxable account last month. It was close, but not quite.  We’ll be able to redeem those points for cash back this month though.  We’re focusing spending on a new AMEX we got that gives $300 cash back when you spend $2,500 in 3 months.  No credit pull was necessary, and it’ll replace our Costco AMEX as an AMEX card in late June.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $18,296.26 (26.14% of our goal of 70k), and gained $5,846.21 in investment value.

Detailed Financial Picture – April 2016

January’s Numbers (the last I did…)

As of April 8, 2015, we are $316,810.17 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $930,763.79 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $511,183.09. Our Net Worth is $613,953.62, up from $584,336.14 in January (3.5% increase)

We’ve passed the half-million mark in our investment accounts and have stayed there for about 2-3 weeks now, so we’re probably going to continue staying there until we start drawing down our accounts.

We’re hoarding some cash at the moment to start building a deck on our new house, so I haven’t paid off the line of credit as aggressively as I probably could.  We’re pouring the concrete patio in June, and will start building over the winter, so we can enjoy the deck next summer.  I’d love to just pull the money from our line of credit to get it done this summer, but Dad has talked be out of that idea.  We’re settling for designing it and getting the patio poured  this summer.  We need to have the deck design so we know where to tell the concrete folks to dig a big hole for a support post.  We are going to save a whole lot of money doing it “ourselves” though.  I say ourselves in quotes because really, a friend is helping majorly, we’re just providing the money, labor, and food to actually build it.  I’m responsible for the design though, so I’ve been trolling google images figuring out what I want.  We’re planning about 15-20k (I want a covered portion) for the whole deck + patio.

Dad is considering a job change, which likely means a drop in his salary, and we’ll lose our HSA plan, so we’re likely to slow down a bit on the income, but we’ll be able to put almost as much aside for retirement, it just won’t be as tax-advantaged (no 3% mandatory contribution). We’ll see how things shake out. We can afford for him to take quite a significant cut in salary, but the benefits for him might not be worth it.


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

  • Line of Credit (9.75%): $5,500 (-600.00)
  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $6362.86 (-489.44)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $22,404.30 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $288,043.01 (-493.41)

Total paid off in March:  $2,022.15


Over Half a Million in our Investment Accounts

In the past month, we’ve reached a milestone: we have more than half of a million dollars in our portfolio – the majority of which is earmarked for retirement – about $10k is for Daughter Person’s 529.  Our net worth is more because we have a house (mostly) and some cash accounts, but this is the bulk of what we’re saving for retirement.  Our goal is about $2 million before we retire – 25% of the way there.

Of course, the markets could go south again, and our balances would go with it, but we have time to ride out some of the market swings.

Most of our contributions have happened in the last 3-4 years.  We’re continuing to try to increase our annual contributions, and if the markets do their thing, we’re looking at working another 9-10 years at the most, and we’ll have a nice cushion for unexpected expenses, and not have to work.

From - our portfolio balance

From – our portfolio balances

Reducing the Grocery bill (aka done potty training – finally)

We are now “done” with potty training, and I’m more happy about the fact that we’re not buying any more of the almost $1 each night time pull-ups/diapers.  Daughter Person went almost two weeks with a dry pull-up every morning (except 1-2 accidents), and we asked her if she wanted to try sleeping with underwear instead, and she jumped at the idea.  She’s now gone two weeks with no pull-up, and only one accident.  I call that a win!  We’ll be giving friends who have a younger boy the remaining pull-ups for them to use.

I’m just happy that we’re not buying them any more.  We were using the Target brand “nighttime” pull-ups for older kids (knock off brand for “goodnites”) because she was too big for the night time version of huggies and pampers pull-ups (why the night time sizes stop at 3-4t and the daytime sizes stop at 5t is beyond me, most kids are delayed at night time training vs daytime training).  She’s happy about it too because she’s a “big girl” now.

Now, I just have to survive her starting Kindergarten in the fall!

PCI Nightmares

I have now seen PCI from the merchant side. I’m on the PCI team on campus, and I help get everyone ready for our normal reporting date of June 30.  Except, this year, we’re a level 2 merchant, and we’ve chosen to have a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), come in and basically audit us.  And all the data collection starts a *lot* earlier.  I’ve spent the last 4 months working with our various departments and getting all the paperwork ready for our initial submission to our QSA – mostly involving nagging people to get things done and produce evidence, and learning that things people said were in place last year, weren’t really in place, and pushing folks to get them in place for our deadline.

Now, we wait for our QSA to do their side of the work, and tell us what we’re missing.  It’s been an interesting process, and I highly suggest that any merchant go through with a QSA, even if they’re not required to.  1) The QSA acts as an advice authority.  They’ve probably seen it all, and have suggestions on efficient ways of doing things that you wouldn’t have thought of.  2) They make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row as it relates to PCI and that you have all of the documentation to prove it.

It has been a lot of work, and I’m looking forward to a bit more relaxing at work.  I have 300+ e-mail messages in my inbox right now because I’ve been working on this pretty much to the exclusion of everything else I also have to do.  This next week is going to be clearing out the junk – both e-mail and mental fog that’s been surrounding me the last month or so of this final push.  You should see more regular posts from me now that this is over and I have time to actually think instead of just do.