Author Archives: Mom

About Mom

A family of three living in the Pittsburgh area. We both work full-time and work on raising our daughter.

Building a Deck – footings

I’ve been busy putting in the footers for my deck.  This has been a long and arduous process, but finally complete!  Now, to let it all cure, and then start on the wood part of the deck.  I’m not looking forward to lifting a 2x12x18ft long piece of wood over my head (no matter how many people are helping!).

5 tons of concrete (10,600 lbs in 60lb bags) just after delivery (and it was on sale!)

Holes, ready for inspection.  Those larger ones are 20″ diameter by 36″ deep.  The smaller ones are 12″ diameter and 36″ deep (for a landing)

These holes were probably the most annoying ever – there’s 2ft of gravel around the house covering the french drain.  As we were digging, the gravel surrounding the hole kept falling into the hole.  We ended up practically excavating the entire gravel area to get the footings deep enough.  There’s a reason we used the tubes – to keep the gravel out of the holes.

The work area ready to pour concrete.  We had a mixer that holds 4 60lb bags of concrete, and each hole took between 16 and 20 bags.  Luckily, the majority of the holes were big enough to just turn the mixer into the hole.  I had to use the wheelbarrow and shovel to fill the 12″ diameter holes.

All done – the lighter concrete was done on day 1, the darker was just done that day (day 2).  The j-bolts and support bases are installed according to the plans (ie, perfectly in line with each other and spaced appropriately).  Although, we did discover that our house is not square – it’s off by about 3 degrees, we’ll have to correct for that when we put up the joists and decking.  The cardboard tubing is going to be left in place to just decompose on it’s own, but we could use a hacksaw or circular saw to cut them off at ground level and remove them.  Eventually, we’re going to put something under the deck as a patio, but we haven’t decided what yet, and there’s no rush.

November 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,968.94 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $11,616.97 in investment value this month.

I’ve been remiss in posting, but between Girl Scouts and working on our deck, I haven’t had much time in the evenings to make posts.  We have our concrete poured and almost ready to accept posts.  We need to wait at least 2 weeks, preferably 3 before putting the weight of the wood on the concrete, so we’re taking a short break over the holidays.  Girl Scouts have started the “behind the scenes” stuff that happens for cookie sales, so that’s been taking a lot of my time.  Even though the girls can’t sell until January 6!

We’re on track for putting our 70k in “retirement” accounts this year, and setting up to do so next year as well.  Dad’s company has (finally) announced their health plans for next year, and for $60/mth we get a family HDHP with a $1500 individual/$3000 family deductible plus $1500 into our HSA.  I was wavering on whether to go with he HSA again in 2017, but with the changes, we’re *definitely* doing it.   It’s nice working for a (primarily) European company!

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $59,251.63 (84.65% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,963.17 in investment value. (the $6500 set aside for Roths isn’t counted in this total)

October 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,964.78 this month to our retirement accounts, and we lost $12,774.09 in investment value this month.

October was not a good time to be in the markets – but a great time to add money!  We added a lot this month, and we’re at a relatively stable situation.  The only variance in our contributions now is how much cash back we get on our Fidelity card as that goes straight into our taxable investment account.  And I plan on getting quite a bit in the next month or so as I pay for wood and materials with my cash back credit card.

We’re on track to contribute our 70k this year.  We have $6500 sitting in a savings account waiting on whether we put it into our Roths (the desired place) or our taxable account if we can’t contribute to our Roths.  This year had a few too many changes in income and deductions that I’m not positive what our AGI will be (my back of the envelope calculation says we’ll be able to contribute to our Roths).

 

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $54,282.69 (77.55% of our goal of 70k), and gained $24,346.24 in investment value.

Detailed Financial Picture – October 2016

August’s Numbers (because it’s too late to bother with September)

As of October 10, 2016, we are $306,612.08 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $996,855.00 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $575,673.22. Our Net Worth is $690,272.92, up from $678,032.86 in August (1.8% increase)

It’s now almost mid-October, so I’m just going to combine September and October’s numbers.  Nothing interesting has happened on paying down debt – most of our money has gone to the deck and retirement accounts. We’re on track to pay off our RAV in December, then we may or may not pay down the Camry faster – probably not.

I’m likely to build up a good sized emergency fund (6 months) next.  We only have about two months available right now, so I’d like to build that up.  We can survive on one salary, and we have access to our taxable and a good bit of our Roth funds, so I’m not concerned, but I’d like a little more cushion.  Once you’re done paying down debt, there’s a lot more choices of what to do with your money, so I’m having a hard time deciding what exactly to do with it!

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

  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $1,794.66 (-1,794.66)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $19,768.50 (-878.60)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $285,048.92 (-1,004.48)

Total paid off in August and September:  $3,677.74

September 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,958.33 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $1240.00 in investment value this month.

September was a very busy month for us.  We tried to start the deck (and failed miserably), I got a killer sinus infection that had me down for two weeks, and Girl Scouts started.

The markets were relatively flat, and most of our increase was from contributions.  We have 4k set aside for possibly a Roth contribution (depending on if we can contribute), and that money is not being “counted” as it’s not in a specific account yet, just hanging out in our checking/savings until I decide if it’s going to the Roth or to the taxable account.  Ideally, I put 5.5k of it in Dad’s Roth so that we can get out of ETFs and into a mutual fund in his account.  The rest (planned 1.5k) will top off my Roth, which already has over 10k in it.

Other than saving money, I haven’t really done any progress on the deck.  We tried to drill holes, but the auger we rented wasn’t powerful enough and we were told (after the fact) that homeowners can’t rent the equipment we’d need – so I called a few places for quotes, but it’s such a small job, a lot of companies just don’t want to take it on.  Now that I’m not sick or catching up from being sick, I need to make more phone calls to find someone to dig said holes.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $49,317.91 (70.45% of our goal of 70k), and gained $37,120.33 in investment value.

August 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,965.54 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained all of $373.99 in investment value this month.

Can you believe it’s September already!

We’re well on-track to hopefully invest our full 70k this year.  I have 3k sitting in a checking account waiting to see if it’s going to go into a Roth or into our taxable account, and I’m not counting that in our values until it ends up in whichever account is appropriate.  I also have about $1500 in Dad’s “new” HSA sitting just earning interest because the investment options are so bad (an S&P 500 index for .45%).  I’m going to do a rollover at the end of the year to our “old” HSA, which offers Vanguard funds for .05% fees.  It’s still up in the air whether we’re going to continue with the HSA account or move back to a more traditional PPO next year (the PPO is not significantly more expensive than the HDHP option at least this year, but I need to investigate more).

I have a permit for our deck, and we’re breaking ground on Saturday – we’re renting a two-person auger to “dig” the 14 holes necessary (10 big ones – 2″ diameter, 36″ deep – for the deck, 4 12″ diameter, 36″ deep ones for the landing).  I’m putting together the final “bill of materials” for the wood and going to call around for the best price (including delivery).  I also have to get 8000 lbs of concrete delivered to fill those holes with (once they’re inspected) – this is really happening, and the expensive parts are starting.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $44,359.58 (63.37% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,880.33 in investment value.

Detailed Financial Picture – August 2016

July’s Numbers

As of August 11, 2016, we are $310,289.82 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $988,322.68 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $570,107.77. Our Net Worth is $678,032.86, up from $667,922.76 in July (1.51% increase)

 

Our deck plans are done, and I need to get them to the permit office this week.  The expected cost is just over $13k, and I included a 30% “oops” factor into my calculations.   We’re planning on getting the concrete footings complete along with the poured patio (have to be done at separate times because of frost heave) in September, and the deck part done in October.  We may or may not get the covered roof part done this winter, that will depend on weather, but we’ll have the patio and deck done to enjoy this fall and next spring!

These updates may get boring shortly, if they’re not already.  We’ve finished aggressively paying down the debt we were going to, are contributing quite a lot to our retirement accounts, and have generally entered a boring financial period of our lives.  I’ll still be excited when we hit (self-defined) milestones like 1 million in assets (again), 1 million in net worth, cars paid off, mortgage paid off, etc, but it’s not quite the same as the laser focus on paying off debt.

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

  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $3,589.32 (-897.33)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $20,647.10 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $286,053.40 (-499.81)

Total paid off in July:  $1,836.44

 

July 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,977.23 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $18952.98 in investment value this month.

 

This was a pretty “normal” month for us with Dad’s new paycheck and deductions.  They’ve finally worked out the issues with the HSA, and the FSA, and the retirement money.  The HSA has enough to invest now, but with the lowest cost index fund being .45% expense ratio, I’m going to do an annual rollover into our old HSA, which offers Vanguard funds at .05% expense ratio.  But, the money going into the HSA is not being taxed by the Feds, the state of PA or Social Security and Medicare, so it’ll continue going into the “new” HSA and I’ll just rollover every year (if we continue the HDHP plan).

This month was a better month for investment gains, almost as good as March was.  Of course, as I look at the markets today, August might be painful.

I’m cooking up big things at home, which is taking up all my time – I’m designing a (large 22’x14′) deck for our new house, and wow, can it be complicated – especially when you add a roof to the project!  I’ve got the basic design down and drawn, but now I have to draw the elevation drawings and the little details about code compliance (like how the beams will be fastened to the posts…, and stair rises and runs).  Then I can finally get our permit, and pour the concrete footers.  Realistically, we won’t be using the full deck until next spring, but if we have good fall weather, it might get done before winter!

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $39394.04 (56.28% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,506.34 in investment value.

Detailed Financial Picture – July 2016

June’s Numbers

A little bit later than usual this month, we’ve been busy!

As of July 18, 2016, we are $312,126.26 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $980,049.02 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $559,435.67. Our Net Worth is $667,922.76, up from $646,555.06 in June (3.3% increase)

We’ve finally gotten all of Dad’s paycheck woes straightened out.  The local taxes came out (perfect timing too – no more estimated taxes!), the HSA amount was applied properly, the daycare FSA amounts were all straightened out as well.  He finally got through to an HR person, who called me, and we worked out the details.  Turns out *no one* at his company got money into their 401(k) in May – he’s just the first one to notice.  The 401(k) provider sent the check back to the company (they haven’t figured out why last I talked to them, and I will probably never know), so nothing was deposited.  That’s all been straightened out as well.  I’m just really surprised that Dad seemed to be the only one to notice… (OK, so maybe I am a bit anal about the money).

We are going to pay off the RAV this year (barring any emergencies), and in early December, I will be able to mark that as paid off!   I’m still reconciling the emotional hit of paying it off against the fact that it’s “free” money, but we both agree that we’d like to only have one car payment. I could pay it off “right now”, but we’re also saving money to hopefully put in our Roths at the end of the year – this might be the last year we’re able to.

Dad’s paycheck is much larger in the take-home pay department, which has been nice for us, and we’re still putting aside almost as much to our retirement accounts as we were, it’s just not all tax-advantaged.  Again, you’re not seeing a lot in the debt-reduction area as the cars are 0% and the rest is our mortgage, we’re focusing on other items.  You might see another dip into the Line of Credit to complete our deck, but hopefully not.  I want to get that done before next spring.

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

  • Line of Credit (9.75%): $0 (-4500.00)
  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $4,486.65 (-897.33)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $21,086.40 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $286,553.21 (-498.20)

Total paid off in June:  $1,834.83

 

June 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,922.1 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $1,922.77 in investment value this month.

This was a “low” contribution month for us (relative to previously, but it’s our new monthly contribution.  Dad’s company’s HSA contribution gets contributed on a twice monthly basis (41.66/paycheck) rather than a large contribution like at his old company.  We’re also reaping the benefits of not paying Medicare or Social Security taxes on our contribution.  We had some problems with them getting the right contribution, but we think that it’s been worked out going forward. We’ll be 4 cents below the federal maximum for the year, then we’ll have to make a decision on whether to continue with the HSA next year or move to a PPO plan ($75/mth premium for the HDHP and $130/mth for the PPO plan).

We are seeing about 2k more per month in our budget, and that will be used to save for a possible Roth contribution.  If the money isn’t able to go to our Roths, it’ll go towards our taxable account – but won’t actually get deposited until March/April of 2017 when we know if we can do a Roth or not.  Based on a back of the envelope calculation (gross salaries – 401k limits – standard deduction), we’ll be barely under the threshhold (by $500), so when I actually calculate it using itemized deductions, we should be good.

 

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $34,416.81 (49.17% of our goal of 70k), and gained $16,553.36 in investment value.