Category Archives: Finances

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.

May 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $6,165.44 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*!  They’re also pulling the same stunt that I had with ADP in my old company. ERISA only requires that contributions be deposited by the 15th of the following month, so they get to make money off half of our contribution for a whole month, and half for a half month.  I don’t know the exact amount of Dad’s company contribution (although I have a good guess), so these numbers may be updated.

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 previously – possibly over 🙁  I’m going to save 7k 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.

Detailed Financial Picture – June 2016

May’s Numbers

As of June 2, 2016, we are $313,961.09 in debt with a mortgage.  We currently have $960,516.15 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $536,428.97. Our Net Worth is $646,555.06, up from $633,887.17 in May (2% increase)

I sent the “final” payment off to the line of credit as soon as our paychecks for the end of the month cleared.   I’m also considering paying off the RAV4 before the end of the year – it would normally be paid off in May.  Not sure it’s worth it by the numbers, but it would be satisfying emotionally.  It’s 0% interest rate, and we’re now saving up for our deck.  We’ll be pouring the footers this month or next – depending on when the permit is issued, when the inspector can come out and when our friend (the foreman) is available.

June is looking great from a budget perspective.  We had one of Dad’s paychecks from his old job (paid on a one week delay), the payout of his PTO, and two paychecks from his new job.  Lots of extra money coming in (how we paid off the line of credit).  Too bad his new company sucks at payroll so far – they aren’t taking out local taxes, and they’re taking out the correct amount for the HSA contribution, but aren’t depositing the correct amount into the HSA (which will put us over the Federal contribution limit – *sigh*).  We also haven’t seen the approximately $1500 taken out of his two paychecks deposited into his 401(k) yet (nor his match).  I’m giving them until the 15th before I start to raise hell (ERISA gives them until the 15th of the month following the paycheck to deposit the funds, and they seem to be fully milking that).

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

  • Line of Credit (9.75%): $0 (-4500.00)
  • Car loan – RAV4 (0%): $5,383.98 (-489.44)
  • Car loan 2 – Camry (0%): $21,525.70 (-439.30)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $287,051.41 (-496.60)

Total paid off in May:  $5,925.34


Detailed Financial Picture – May 2016

April’s Numbers 

As of May 12, 2016, 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 April:  $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!