Category Archives: Finances


We’ve finally moved into millionaire territory after flirting with it for so many months.  It’s still less than our desired amount for retiring, but we’ve passed another major financial milestone.  Our retirement accounts are flirting with $875k right now, and I’ll be happier when those reach $1million.  Our net worth includes our vehicles and our house (minus mortgage of course).

We’ve been both busy and boring this year. Saving a lot of money, spending some of it on vacations and fun, but otherwise boring in the money department, enjoying our summer with an almost 2nd grader, and resting up for the upcoming school year.  Daughter Person is at her first sleep away camp for the week (Girl Scout camp), and we’re picking her up today, so we’ll see how she liked it.  We already got a call that a cabin mate had lice, and could they use a lice preventative shampoo on her – seriously, like you had to ask?? What parent is going to say no?

We’ve made three trips to the Niagara, Ontario region – took our exchange student to visit the falls, and then had a nice week with just the adults touring the wineries up there, and a final one visiting friends who have just completed the adoption of their foster children having a welcome home party.  Our exchange student’s family came to visit, and we visited DC with them, and they enjoyed some of what Pittsburgh has to offer.  We’ll be visiting them in Slovakia next summer – it will be Daughter Person’s first (non-Canada) international trip.

Other than those few trips, summer has been uneventful, although we’re starting to plan to finish our basement next summer (another DIY job!), and that’s becoming a bit eventful as we try to figure out how we’re going to use that space.

Updating our Asset Allocation

As we move nearer to early retirement, we’re making steps to change our asset allocation.  Previously, we were pretty aggressive in stocks, and we’re slowly starting to reduce that exposure.  We were 15% bonds, 5% real estate, 20% international (15% developed), 10% small/micro cap and the rest (50%) in total stock market.  Over the last 5 years, I consolidated the international to only developed (20%), and 55% in total market, 5% in small/micro cap.  This year, I’m moving to 17% bonds, 53% total market (the rest the same).  It’s been nice to capture some of our gains over the last year – and our allocation was way out of whack at the end of the year thanks to the markets. Next year, I’ll move to 20/50, and slowly move to a 40/40 (bonds, total market, but reduce international to 10) over the next 5 years.  I will probably rebalance once per quarter this year as I tweak our 40k/403b contribution percentages to get them on autopilot for the next year or so.

I use a spreadsheet I created to monitor our asset allocation across multiple accounts – especially since I don’t want to be selling/buying in our taxable account.  It has worked well, and lets me know when we’re more than 1% out of our desired allocation.

2017 Early Retirement Progress

This year, we contributed $70997.76 (101.43% of planned) to our retirement accounts, and have gained $108,709.34 (298.25% of planned) in investment value.   11k of that is still waiting to be invested – we’re on the cusp of whether we can contribute to a Roth and if so, how much. As of right now (using preliminary numbers from final paychecks), we won’t be able to contribute the full 11k.  Anything we can’t contribute to a Roth will go into our taxable account.  I just need to wait until we do our taxes.

2017 was a good year financially.  We made several large purchases, deck materials, a piano, tonsils and adenoids out, and still managed to contribute more than 50% of our take home pay towards retirement – I can’t say it hasn’t been tight at times though.  I got a slightly higher than standard raise this year, and Dad got a raise (apparently, at his new company, that’s less frequent than “regularly”).  We’re moving more and more into the Roth phase out income bracket.  There are worse things than raises though.

I’m not looking forward to the new tax laws restricting state, local, and property taxes, as we pay a *lot* of those, well more than the 10k limit (heck, our property taxes alone are higher than 10k).  There’s not much we can do about that other than move, and that’s not a move we’re ready to make yet. Depending on the implementation, we may also have a much higher MAGI under the new tax code and will push us even further into the Roth phase out bracket – or even into the not able to contribute range.  We’re still going to save the 11k, but probably put more of it into our taxable account next year.



New Milestone: 750k invested

Since the number has stayed above 750k for the last few weeks, it’s time to say that we have more than 750k invested.  15k of that is a 529plan for college, so it’s not all retirement focused, but it’s still a significant chunk of money.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when we had half a million in our accounts (just over a year and a half).  It’s true, once you have money, it grows quickly.  We’re approaching the 1 million networth mark as well – Personal Capital claims it’s 867k right now, but I know that’s off since it hasn’t synced certain accounts in over a month.  When it comes to deciding if we have “enough” to retire, it will be purely based on our non-529 investment accounts and not our net worth.

The gap in the graph is when Dad’s 401k moved from Mass Mutual (cheapest S&P500 index was .83%) to Fidelity (.05%).  I’m much happier about the move, since we have real choices for investments in that account now – and significantly lower fees.  We didn’t have access to log into either account for just over a month, so neither did Personal Capital.

Are you basing your retirement off of invested assets or net worth?

Q2 2017 Early Retirement Progress

This quarter, we contributed $15,780.11 to our retirement accounts, and have gained $21,516.55 in investment value.  That averages out to just under $5,300 per month on the contributions, and just over $7,100 per month on investment value.

We’ve survived Daughter Person’s tonsillectomy and adenoid removal, and she’s doing great now – she can breathe at night so much easier.  The total cost there was about $2900, and we met our deductible, so our health care for the rest of the year is 10% of the insurance cost unless we meet our out of pocket amount (I doubt we would).  We’re taking advantage of that for any delayed/elective visits for the next six months.

We’ve made the almost final purchases on our deck materials – the railing and the decking at least.  I suspect we may need to buy some smaller items like more screws or a lag bolt or two, but the major purchases are done – and we’ve gotten the cash back from some of it (one of the charges cleared after the closing date of our credit card, so we haven’t seen the cash back from it yet.

We’re also on track to contribute 11k to our Roths at the beginning of next year if we’re able.  I’m putting aside $917/mth in a cash account for now, and it will either go to our Roths or to our taxable account once I know if we can contribute to the Roths.  I’m not counting that money in our contributions yet however.

Things are looking good for fully retiring in 2025/2026!

2017 Totals

In 2017 we contributed $31,346.44 (44.78% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $51,246.68 in investment value (81.57% of our planned total).

Q1 2017 Early Retirement Progress


Let’s make this easier, a quarterly report (although I’m still recording it monthly for my own records).

This quarter, we contributed $15,566.33 to our retirement accounts, and have gained $29,730.13 in investment value.  That averages out to just over $5,100 per month.

Next month will see an uptick in contributions, all because of cash back from our recent spending, and I suspect the following two months will as well.  We spent quite a bit on the deck wood – the framing is almost complete.  We should finish the joists this weekend.  Then we get to build the stairs.



We also made another large purchase.  Not completely unexpected, but not 100% planned for, but the opportunity arose, and we took it.  $6300 for a baby grand piano.  It’s a 1982 Sojin (Daewoo), reconditioned, and beautiful.  And, yes that is the easy piano edition of the Hamilton Soundtrack.  It was an anniversary gift from Dad.  We had been looking at “real” pianos to replace our digital piano, as it was starting to get in the way of our progress.  Unfortunately, the way our house is designed, an upright will literally not fit anywhere without blocking a door, window, (built-in) bookcase or fireplace.  So, I demanded that we get a baby grand, and it couldn’t be shiny ebony (black).  We visited Rick Jones Pianos in the DC area while we were visiting, and they had this beauty.  Met all of my aesthetic requirements, and met all of Dad’s playability requirements.  So, we bought it.  The price we paid included the piano, bench, a humidity system to protect it and delivery to our house near Pittsburgh.  It also came with one free tuning, and as long as we maintain it, we can trade it in for what we paid for it towards another piano – that’s likely to be a very long time away.

At the end of this month, Daughter Person is getting her tonsils and adenoids out, and we’re paying for that – definitely meeting our deductible this year, but taking advantage of the cash back!

2017 Totals

In 2017 we contributed $15,566.33 (22.24% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $29,730.13 in investment value (81.57% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – March 2017

January’s Numbers

As of March 1, 2017, we are $299,544.21 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $1,073,633.00 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $651,159.34. Our Net Worth is $774,088.79,  up from $736,973.30 in January (5.04% increase).

We were able to contribute the full amount we set aside to our Roths and since I had set aside an additional $1834 between January and February (intended for 2017), I contributed that as well – who knows how much we’ll be able to contribute next year – we were literally $400 under the lower contribution AGI limit.  We are on track to have 11k set aside for that purpose next year though, so we’ll see after next year’s taxes.

I’ve ordered the wood for our deck – $2666 of just wood – then we have to buy the decking and the railing (the decking will end up being about $2400, but the railing is looking like $3500 or more)  We’re going with composite and vinyl to save on maintenance costs, but I’m really looking forward to starting on the wood and getting a deck to enjoy this spring and summer.

We’re now paying $324 and some change “extra” on our mortgage, and starting to see the number go down – it will still be a while before there’s any *real* progress on it, and I don’t know how quickly we’ll end up paying it down – we know we’re not going to be retiring in this house (taxes are too high!).


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

  • Car loan – Camry (0%): $17,572.00 (-878.60)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $281,972.21 (-1,579.06)

Total paid off in January and February:  $2,457.66

Detailed Financial Picture – January 2017

December’s Numbers

As of January 11, 2017, we are $302,001.87 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $1,038,975.17 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $614,131.46. Our Net Worth is $736,973.30,  up from $721,133.15 in December (2.2% increase).

We’re slowing down on the debt paying, although we are increasing the “extra” principal that goes to our mortgage by a few hundred dollars per month.  The rest of the money is going to investments, college, and our deck.

I sort of did our taxes based on our final paychecks, and it’s looking like we might have a reduced Roth contribution this year, so I’m going to wait until we get our *real* W-2s and 1099-DIVs to make our contribution. The downside is that I tend to not get one of my 1099-DIV forms until the very last possible minute (mid-late Feb)  On the plus side, it’s also looking like we’ll be getting about 2k back from the Feds.  I had my withholding set to “married, but withhold at higher single rate” the entire year, and never bothered to reduce it to “married” mid-year, so a bit more than was needed was taken out.

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

  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $0 
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $18,450.60 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $283,551.27 (-486.68)

Total paid off in December:  $925.98

December 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $10,864.10 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $11,645.82 in investment value this month.  $6500 of that is still in a savings account waiting to see if we can contribute it to a Roth or our taxable account (I’m picking up TurboTax on my way home from work today to get started).

2016 was a lot nicer to us in investment gains, but doesn’t quite make up for 2015’s losses, although we’re only about 10k lower than our planned account balance at the end of the year.

We made our goals this year, thanks to a lot of cash back on our Fidelity card.  We lost Dad’s awesome match and HSA contribution in May, and are down to a 4% match, and $500 HSA contribution (last year).  This year, his company is contributing $1500 to our HSA, spaced out over 12 months.  And our insurance is even better ($30/mth to cover all three of us with a HDHP!), with a lower deductible.

We’re planning on fully funding our Roths this year, or putting that money in our taxable account.  I’m putting aside $917/mth in our budget for that, which will get me to 11k by next December.  We’re also upping our base contribution to our taxable account to $300/mth (which will then be supplemented by our cash back), and we’re coming out about even given the loss of Dad’s matching from his old company.

We’re still shooting for a contribution of 70k, and an increase of about 6% over the year, and if we continue to make it, we can retire in 2026.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $70,115.73 (100.17% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $47,608.99 in investment value (156.59% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – December 2016

October’s Numbers (because it’s too late to bother with November, again)

As of December 8, 2016, we are $302,927.85 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $1,024,061.00 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $601,841.70. Our Net Worth is $721,133.15,  up from $690,272.92 in October (4.5% increase)

Our RAV is paid off! And wonder of wonders, we got the title in less than 3 months – unlike when we moved here and it took 3 months for Toyota Financial to transfer our title to PA.   I started tracking my debt and net worth just a month after the first payment for that car was due in July 2012 – how things have changed!

November was quite a ride in the markets – up, up, up!  We’re over $1 million dollars in assets (again), and approaching a $1 million net worth.  Our net worth has increased 23.41% since January – a good bit of that is contributions, but not all of it.

Our escrow analysis came back, and we owe $200 more per month (some of that’s “make up” money), so that will affect how much our mortgage is paid off.  Starting in January though, I’m adding an extra $300, so the amount we pay down will increase a bit.  Might as well throw money towards the debt that actually has interest (unlike our car loan).  The remaining money that we’re not spending on our car loan will be used for building up a real 3-6 month emergency fund.  We have access to up to 30k if we need it which is more than 3 months of necessary expenses (it’s 3 months of income), but it is currently invested, and we’d rather not touch it.  I should probably start tracking the value of our “cash” emergency fund for some accountability – maybe then it’ll actually happen 🙂


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

  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $0 (-1,794.66)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $18,889.90 (-878.60)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $284,037.95 (-1010.97)

Total paid off in October and November:  $3,684.23