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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

Growing our Family – Temporarily

No, no pregnancies or anything like that, but we’ve registered and applied to be a host family for a high school foreign exchange student next school year.  We’re looking at being matched with a young woman from Slovakia for an entire school year.  There’s still red tape and paperwork to get through, but luckily, we both already have our clearances thanks to Girl Scouts, so we shouldn’t have any trouble with that part.  Then the young woman gets to read our family and home description and decide if she’s willing to stay with us.

We’re looking forward to sharing our family and neighborhood with a foreign student and at the same time, hoping she can share information and tidbits about her culture with us.  We think it’s an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange, and especially for Daughter Person – she’s already asking us when her “big sister” is coming.  I’ve heard both great and not so great stories about hosting, but most have been either great or ambivalent, and we can survive almost anything for 10 months.  The program has a lot of support if we need it, both emergency and help figuring out solutions to issues, and we’re comfortable with the local coordinator’s ability to match students with host families that generally work together.

From a financial standpoint, we’ll be paying extra for food and gas (transportation), but the students come with $150-$250/mth of spending money, and their own health insurance.  We’ll also get to deduct $50/mth on our taxes as a charitable donation. Feeding a teenager may be more than the extra $100/mth we’re planning, but we’ll approach that as we come to it!

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

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

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.

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

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

 

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

 

Property Tax Fun

Our house is new construction, and we were warned by the sales guy for the builder about interim taxes.  We were also expecting to get billed for the interim taxes *after* we got the money back from our escrow analysis for this year (expected April/May).  It didn’t quite go down like that.

Mortgage companies don’t pay for interim taxes.  Since we have new construction, and the property hadn’t been assessed at the time the tax bills went out, we paid taxes on the unimproved land amount (about $200).  But, we own improved land with a house on it, and the county comes by to re-assess the property once the deeds are filed and they get off their asses to do so.  We had gotten the 2016 assessment back in September, and know what we’ll be expected to pay (more or less) next year.

On Thursday, I got a letter letting me know that the county assessed our house in 2015 for interim tax purposes (at more than our 2016 estimate?).  On Friday, I got three bills from the local tax collector: one for 2014 school taxes (2 months worth since they’re on a fiscal year of July-June), one for 2015 school taxes, and one for 2015 borough taxes, totaling about $8.5k. Not having that money easily accessible and deciding to borrow from our line of credit (again) to cover us until we got the expected escrow analysis in April, I moved money into our checking account and wrote the checks (yes, they had to be three separate checks).  I had until January 19, 2016, but I figured I’d rather take the tax deduction this year rather than next.  So, I put the checks together, put them in an envelope to mail off this morning (Monday).

Monday mail arrives, with the escrow analysis and a check for $6.1k.  Now, we only have to cover just over 2k in taxes, which we expect with Dad’s annual bonus in a few weeks.  It’s not that I *like* coming up with 2k out of the blue, but we were kind of expecting this to occur, just not as quickly as it has.  That $6.1k will be deposited tomorrow once we both sign it, and then it will be transferred back to the line of credit so we’re not borrowing quite as much.

There’s still quite a large escrow balance with our mortgage company, and we’re probably going to “owe” them next year for escrow (about $300-$400), but it was nice getting that check now instead of in April/May when it would have been a year since we got our mortgage.  I wonder if the analysis will continue to occur in November or the very large balance in the escrow account triggered the analysis, or if it’ll begin occurring April/May like I was expecting.

 

Swingset is Done!

I’m now more confident in our ability to add a deck next summer/fall – Dad, not so much.   There were some differences between the instructions and reality, and we did OK in resolving them – one involved another trip to Home Depot for another piece of lumber to re-drill (luckily, not a 12′ beam!).  There were only two trips to the hardware store after assembly started – to acquire an impact wrench (best invention ever!) and the second beam of wood.  There were multiple trips while I was prepping the wood however.  I needed a longer drill bit (did you know a standard drill bit won’t fit through a 6″ beam of wood? – they sell extra long bits for this purpose), the right size socket for the impact wrench (there are special impact sockets), and I picked up an impact driver as well.  I have to say, I really like the impact driver and wrench.  Between the two, we were able to drive in 3 1/2″ lag screws pretty easily and attach the decking and rock wall very quickly.

My little brother said he was going to come over at 8am on Saturday, and he’s notoriously unreliable, so we planned for him to show up around 9 – he actually showed up around 10:30.  So, we didn’t even really get started until 10:30-10:45 on Saturday.  And lucky for us, it was one of the hottest weekends of the summer (yuck!).

The basic fort frame.

The basic fort frame.

 

We started following the instructions, and set up the fort frame.  Then quickly discovered that our “level” backyard isn’t so level.  We had to dig out 4″ at the “front” of the fort to have it level.  That took what seemed like forever.  And the portion of the yard we put it in gets zero shade throughout the day – not morning shade, not afternoon or evening shade (And I forgot to put on sunscreen – ouch!).

As you can see, the fort is a good size (6’x6′).  We had to measure carefully, because there will eventually be a 10′ monkey bars hanging off the right side there.

 

Daughter Person checking out the Rock Wall

Daughter Person checking out the Rock Wall – progress at the end of Day 1

By lunch, we had gotten the basic frame of the fort done, and we ran into our first issue with the instructions.  The side that holds the swingset needs a swingbeam (4x6x70″) instead of a simple panel.  There were no holes drilled on the posts to put the carriage bolts through.  So, I had to go get the drill, find the extra long extension cord and drill new holes – which weren’t quite straight since I wasn’t using the worktables in the garage.  But, they worked, and we got the beam on.  Then we went to put on the metal support for the swingbeam, and the holes weren’t drilled evenly (or even close to the holes in the support).  My brother tried to fix it, but wasn’t super successful.  He had to go to a party, so he and my mom left, and Dad and I continued and installed the rock wall.  My mom and my brother were to come about 9am to resume helping.

Again, my brother is not very reliable, so he and my mom showed up about 12:30 – after we had eaten lunch (and he was upset we didn’t save any pizza for him).  While we were waiting, Dad and I were able to put together the ladder to get up into the fort, and attach the bottom beam for the rope ladder.

Progress Halfway through Day 2

Progress Halfway through Day 2

We had a few kludges here too.  One, we had to work with Daughter Person around us and getting into all kinds of stuff, and the ladder didn’t fit into the opening 🙁  I hauled out the miter saw again and cut a few angles and solved that issue, then we had to contend with the un-level ground again, and dig in the bottom of the ladder and rope ladder.  I hate digging.

At this point, my brother showed up and we decided to just go get a new beam for the swing support and re-drill the holes.  My brother and Dad installed the slide and the rope ladder by the time I got home from Home Depot with the wood.  I went back into the garage to drill the holes right (measured off the metal support thing rather than the tape measure!), and Dad went to rest his back and complain that he’s old.

Hanging the Swings

Hanging the Swings

We *finally* get the swing beam support up and attached and then we have to tackle installing the swing beam.  That was probably the hardest part of the entire operation – and tempers were flaring.  My brother almost broke the A-frame metal support by trying to connect the legs to the swing beam while it was vertical and then tipping it towards the fort. Turns out, following the instructions was the almost right move in this case: support the swing beam on the fort while attaching the legs, then walking the legs away from the fort.  Then, you get to level the swing beam by pulling apart the legs (thus bending the A-frame support – just in a different way).

 

 

It’s done, we’re proud of it, and still talking to each other.  Although, both of us are a little singed and very sore from using muscles that we don’t normally use.  And, I don’t want to go outside until the temperature drops well below 90!

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