Last week I went on a 4 day cruise. It was planned to port in Cozumel, but due to hurricane Nate we ended up detouring to Key West. This was awesome for several reasons:
1) I had never been to the Keys.
2) I had been to Cozumel 3 times prior.
3) We were given a 50% refund for the itinerary change.
4) We were given a 50% credit towards a future cruise for the itinerary change.
What wasn't awesome was the sea sickness I experienced on our first sea morning, but once we were out of rougher water I was fine. I really enjoyed Key West - which looks pretty darn good considering the short time since Irma - and I hope to return another time.
Last week I went on a 4 day cruise. It was planned to port in Cozumel, but due to hurricane Nate we ended up detouring to Key West. This was awesome for several reasons:
I just remembered that last month has been ten years since I first started this blog. While I have not been nearly as prolific or consistent with my blogging as many others, I'm glad to still be around & hope to be here for another ten years. Thanks for reading & thanks for being a part of this community. I have learned so much from you.
It seems that our country if experiencing a natural disaster overload, or fatigue. They seem to be nonstop & devastating. I pray that you are all well and not suffering the ill effects of the hurricanes, floodings, and wildfires ravaging our country at the moment. I am happy that my area was spared after the devastating floods last year.
My retirement accounts did bounce back to $600k and even exceeded that amount. That was nice to see. I am looking forward to meeting with my Bogleheads group next month & discussing the recent market moves.
I am going to order A Random Walk Down Wall Street to read. It seems to be a popular book among investors & my group. I also plan to order some travel books for my upcoming trips to London & Edinburgh, as well as Greece.
Sunday I had a not so pleasant day that ended with a flat tire after working a 12 hour shift. When I was driving home after having my flat changed most of my warning lights lit up. Darn...I was sure that I was about to be out of a whole lot of money.
So early Monday morning I got to the dealership before it opened & before my appointment. I took the shuttle to work thinking that there might be a serious (and expensive) issue with my car. A couple of hours later I got a call from the dealership that they repaired my tire & all my warning lights were off! I didn't even have to pay the $68 diagnostic fee. When I picked up my car after work they charged me $33, but that was refunded because I bought the tire care package. I've never paid for a tire since I bought my car, but I thought maybe this time I had to pay because the tire was completely flat. As I was getting in the car the service tech asked to look at my paperwork & he realized that I had paid in error. So yay, other than tipping the tech that changed my flat tire $20, all my troubles cost me nothing!
And then...I got an email saying that I got a settlement as part of a class action suit. I almost didn't check my award amount thinking that I wouldn't get much of anything, if I even qualified for a settlement. But I'm nosy so I did...and it was over $10k! A little over $6k after taxes, but oh my gosh! What a total & completely unexpected blessing! I plan on putting the entire amount towards credit card debt. I'm so very thankful.
I finally purchased a new laptop & have computer access at home again. I always had my phone, but you just can't do everything on your phone. I got a Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 with touch screen. There are a few things that I'm not crazy about, but overall I like it. Can't be too picky at the price I paid. It's much smaller & lighter than my last laptop. I'm just sorry that I didn't back it up before it died on me.
This is the time of year that I start paying attention to any news about retirement plans limits. This morning I read projections that the 401k limit may go up to $18,500, but not sure about the IRA limits.
Seems that the stock market has relaxed a bit. I had a couple of days that I had reached $600k before it pulled back. I should have done a screenshot of my Mint.com accounts to remember the feeling I had when I saw my investments balance. I hope that with regular contributions I'll see that number again before the end of the year.
This has been a spendy week between paying off one trip, booking another trip, and having to replace my laptop that died on me. And yes, I could kick myself for not having backed up my computer before it finally died on me. Oh well, I will have to get someone to try & recover those files or call them a loss. Nothing is irreplaceable I don't think. Most of my pictures I upload to my FB account or have in my phone.
I ended up buying the Dell Inspiron 11" 3000. It's a 2-in-1, which I finally figured out is like a laptop & a tablet combined. I don't do much besides browsing the web on my laptop & keeping track of my financial goals in Excel spreadsheets so it's probably more than sufficient for my needs.
I've noted that the big boost that my home value got in the months following the flood has disappeared so I have adjusted for that. I also finally got my insurance claim settled for my plumbing leak damages so we scheduled the repairs for next month. I'll be so happy to not have to look at holes in my ceilings & walls!
I had a wonderful vacation in New York & Virginia earlier this month. We saw several shows. I personally saw Bandstand, Hello Dolly, Sweeney Todd, The Great Comet, and 1984. We also visited the Met & the Cloisters. On Sunday I got to go to Hillsong church which I also did last year. I took the train from Penn Station to Union Station and spent 4 days with my sister's family. I really enjoyed my time with the kids.
I am looking forward to my cruise in October and my trip to England & Scotland after Christmas. In March I have a trip planned to Greece. I can't think about booking anymore trips for a while. I am working more hours at my second job in between my trips. Fun comes at a cost!
Is anyone here a certified financial planner or thought about becoming one?
I have increased payments for my auto & TSP loans, as well as my mortgage. Those few dollars won't be missed, but over time they will really add up towards paying down my debt sooner. I am now very close to breaking even on my principal vs. interest amounts. Very soon I will be paying more on principal that interest. And I have more than 50% equity in my home. I wish that I had increased payments sooner, but better late than never.
I am going to enjoy this long Memorial Day weekend. Yesterday I got up early to take my car in for service. I purchased the tire care package when I bought my car & I have made good use of it. I think this is the second tire that I have had replaced already. They found a small hole that couldn't be patched.
Then I came home & napped, which I have needed. Last weekend I worked 24 hours while fighting a cold. Then yesterday evening I dropped by my co-workers' son's 16th birthday to give him a card and some cash for his gift. They had a ton of food. I ate some there & they send me home with a plate of shrimp, my favorite.
Today I am just being lazy until it's time for church this evening. I will eventually do some much needed cleaning. The gym is not closed tomorrow for the holiday so I won't get out of my run.
At home I have several ceiling repairs to be done due to roof leaks & a tub leak from my second floor bathroom. The plumbing repairs of nearly $700 I had to pay for, but the damages will be covered by insurance. It's so hard to find contractors at this time.
Oh, updates on my other passion besides personal finance...travel! I am going to New York & DC over 4th of July. Taking a short cruise this autumn, traveling to England & Scotland after Christmas, and Greece in the spring. I'm turning 40 in December & celebrating all year!
As of today I owe $230 to Navient. With next month's payment I will be free of student loan debt, yay!!! I've updated my financial goals as I'm marking this goal completed.
Next on the agenda is to pay off credit cards. I'm throwing everything from my second job at my credit card debt. I love the idea of debt snowballs. Once you pay off a debt you can put that amount towards another debt.
I have increased payments for my car loan & TSP loan as well.
We had a nice market rally while it lasted. I have read that Jack Bogle expects about a 4% return from the markets over the next decade or so. That's definitely not the the returns we've been fortunate to see since the market recovery, but it's still good to contribute when markets are sluggish. I certainly have no plans to alter course.
I did go into my TSP and do some re-allocation. I was in one of their Lifecycle funds which was 90% stocks when I first bought into it, but has now crept down to 84% stocks. I'm a more aggressive investor so I backed out of the Lifecycle and did my own allocation of 90% stocks and 10% fixed and goverment securities. I will stay there for the foreseeable future. At lease until age 50.
I got a survey at my job about federal employee benefits so I filled it out & returned it. I then got a call for a free consultation on federal employee benefits. Of course, he tried to sell me a whole life policy at the end. He told me that I am carrying way more life insurance than I need right now, but since the rates are so low at my age I do max out my life insurance coverage.
Not that the money can replace a family member, but it would be nice if something did happen to me to leave my parents a really nice amount of money. As the rates for coverage creep up I will look into a smaller amount in term life insurance. Even with that I really only need to leave my family enough to bury me & pay my home off. I don't have a spouse or children, but I can see that it would benefit my family to have my home paid off until they can get it sold.
Vanguard sent me a check for over $7k for the excess contributions from last year & a little income for this year. Of course, I'll have to pay both the state & federal about $1700 combined for the payment. Next year I will have to go through the process again as they won't send me back the payments for this year. Yes, I could adjust my contributions, but I'd rather get the money dedcuted from the Vanguard account as I explained in my last post. This year's contributions are only a little over $2500. I tried to get them to not deposit the last transfer when I realized the tax issue, but they released it anyway.
I'll use the amount left over after paying my taxes for debt repayment. I don't plan on sending in my taxes until April for the federal & May for the state. Might as well hold on to that money for as long as I can. It would have been nice to have the $2500 returned to me as well so I could also pay down some debt, but at least I'll see more in my paycheck now that I've stopped the 75% contributions to the 401k.
So remember how excited I was that I was going to be able to contribute to both a 457b & and a 401k? Well, I was wrong. My TSP is actually a 401a. Who knew? Obviously, not me. So now I have a tax penalty due to exceeding my contribution limit. I had to write a letter of instruction to Vanguard to start the process of withdrawing my excess contributions for 2016.
Another problem is that I've already contributed over $2k for 2017 & I'm not sure if they'll allow me to withdraw that as well. I'm not interested in having that small amount of money at Vanguard if the rest of my money is with the TSP. I do have a Roth IRA with Vanguard, but I don't want more accounts than I need.
Also, I'm not interested in going through this process again next year if I happen to go over the limit again. Yes, I can adjust my contributions throughout the year, but the easiest thing to do is just to withdraw this year's contributions & contribute entirely to the one account which will not allow me to exceed $18,000 in contributions.
What a bother! I thought I did my due diligence researching the tax laws, but I didn't realize that I had erroneously categorized one of the accounts. Lesson learned!
This paycheck I got my performance award & two raises (annual & step increase), but not the significant raise that we were awarded back in October. They will pay us backpay when they finally give us that raise. Still it was nice to have the other extra money this paycheck. I did increase my 401k deduction to 75% for the previous paycheck, so I hope that the other raise kicks in soon. I'm not really sure what to expect with this new administration.
I made some changes to my finances at the beginning of the year. I did decide to contribute to the IRA monthly rather than biweekly. That will free up some money, but I also upped my contribution to the 401k from 50% to 75%. I'll have to keep an eye on it in order to not go over my limit. I'm not sure that my new job calculates the limit for me in order to avoid penalties. At my full-time job, they don't allow you to contribute more than your limit. It's nice that they keep track for you.
Also, I contacted Vanguard because my last 401k contribution for 2016 didn't post until 2017. I don't know if they can reclassify it as a 2016 contribution, but there is that discrepancy between what will be on my W-2 for 2106 and what will be on their records for the 2016 tax year. I don't like that there is a several day delay between when they take the contribution from my paycheck until Vanguard receives it. At my full-time job the contribution goes into my retirement plan the night before I am paid.
This year I contributed the maximum amount to my TSP & IRA. I also contributed $6900 to my 401k since August at my new job. I made well over $14k in just 5 months (despite having more than a month without any hours). I will have to consider putting more into my 401k. Right now I contribute 50%, but can contribute up to 75%.
In not so good news, as least for the moment, I still have not received my raise after 5 paychecks. Also, the year end bonus was not on this check. So all that extra income will fall into the new year. Even more reason to be more tax efficient with my extra earnings. Tonight I will be working a 12 hour shift & I just found out that we get time and a half after midnight. Yay! I wasn't expecting that as a PRN employee.
Happy New Year all!
P.S. I will someday get around to posting those pictures from Dublin.
In New York for the night en route back from Dublin. Will fly back home tomorrow. I had a wonderful trip, though our time was short. We did the 48 hour hop on, hop off bus which made it easy to see a lot of the sites. I saw almost everything that I wanted to see, with the exception of Kilmainham Gaol (sold out in advance) and Jameson Distillery (closed for renovations until St. Patrick's Day 2017). At the price we got our trip for on Groupon Getaways, I'm okay with making a return trip. Maybe next time I'll see the coastal towns.
I see stocks continue to rise. I still thinking we're in for a recession soon, but I'll enjoy watching the gains until then.
One month and a few days left in 2016. Three more paychecks. I am on track to max out my TSP & Roth IRA. I will contribute at least 6k to my 401k for the year as well. Other expected income includes the cash my parents give me for my birthday & Christmas. I haven't heard what bonus we'll receive at work, if any.
Black Friday spending included the sale at B&BW and some gifts on clearance for co-workers at Williams Sonoma. I bought some new sneakers online yesterday. Don't think they'll get here in time for my trip, but they were needed regardless. At least shipping to the store for pick-up was free.
I'm less than $500 from reaching $500k in retirement. My birthday is December 5th & I hope to reach it by my birthday. If my 401k contribution wasn't still floating out there & had been deposited into my Vanguard account I would have reached it yesterday. I'm not sure that these market highs will hold for much longer so I may not reach the goal by the time my contribution shows up. This is a goal I've had in mind for several years & now it's almost a reality. It's very exciting to see it come to fruition.
I'm also excited so see that according to Zillow, I'm almost at 50% equity in my home. Thanks in part due to the fact that my home didn't flood in August, so it increased my home value by about 10%.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May you and yours continue to have abundant blessings in the seasons to come.
This has been a difficult week for many of us. I just wanted to recognize that finances seems very small considering the other things going on in our country. Having said that, I will focus on one bright spot in this week for me.
We got a raise at work! It works out to about a 6.7% increase. Not the percentage that was advocated for when the salary survey was done, but still, it's a raise. In addition, in January I will receive this year's annual increase of 1.6% (thanks Obama, even though you froze our salaries for years). Also, I'm due for my step increase in January. So what does all that mean, bottom line? An over $7k increase! I am so grateful! I know that I am so blessed & I am already thinking of how to use it wisely.
I am considering increasing my contribution to the 401k at my second job from 50% to 75%. Also, I will increase my flexible spending account contribution to finance getting my LASIK redone next year. My eyesight has finally gotten that bad again.
As in all things in life, this week had some good & bad. Next couple of weeks I will pick up some more hours at my second job as one of their full-time techs is out for surgery. It will be good to get some hours in before December.
My schedule is so busy that I won't be getting as many hours next month. My birthday, a trip to DC & Ireland, and a lot of fun things on the agenda. I'm looking forward to it all!
Blessings to you & yours on this beautiful Sunday.
Not quite 3 months since I've started my new part-time job & I've already made nearly $10k. And that includes 2 weeks of not working post-flood. I won't be getting in many hours at all in December so I may as well work as much as they need me for now. I think I will settle into an every other weekend schedule next year. It would be nice to get 40 hours every paycheck, but 24 is more than I was getting before.
Two months into my new second job & I feel more squeezed than ever. Maybe having a second job gives a false sense of wealth. I have somewhat over-extended myself with my increased savings.
I am contributing 50% to the 401(k) & $500 to my Roth IRA every paycheck. I had not contributed anything to my Roth IRA since last year. If I contribute $500 for the last 11 pay periods of this year & the first 11 pay periods of next year, I'll have met my maximum contributions for this year & next year. Then I'll have $500 more every pay check.
I'm excited that I'll be able to max out 3 retirement plans next year: my Roth IRA, my TSP, & my 401(k). I am making a lot of hours, but I don't want to complain as I have been searching for another job for some time. This job is a blessing & I see how my retirement savings have grown these past 2 months. Now to decrease the debt.
I can't believe that it is almost September & this is my first blog of the year. My last blog was over a year ago about an interview for a job that I didn't ultimately get. But today, I'm writing to say that a month ago & finally started a second job. This job means so many opportunities for me. The opportunity to max out another retirement plan, to pay off debt, and maybe down the road, to buy some income properties. Unfortunately, a natural disaster curtailed my work hours as the hospital closed due to flooding. But more importantly, I was spared any flooding. I'm feeling so blessed lately!
This week I had only my second interview this year. I'm optimistic as I used to work with the manager, but she's interviewing several more people - who also probably used to work with her. Pay is not great, but I'm motivated & the work is largely on the weekend: 5a-1:30p. I would still have most of my weekend to do as I please or need.
In other news, I had an employee leave to pursue educational opportunities so I'm short-handed & will be hiring - hopefully soon! I'm excited to be able to interview & hire someone who fits in with my vision of what we need. My other employees I "inherited". I realize what a huge game changer adding a new employee into the mix can be, so I hope to choose wisely.
I continue to apply & have promising leads, but nothing comes to fruition. I had a promising interview several weeks back, even worked with some of the employees, and I never heard back. It's hard not to be discouraged, but I press on. I am determined to find another income stream & I'm open to any credible possibility. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to share.
I have had some ups & downs since my promotion, but I'm grateful for the chance to grow professionally.
Yes, finally. Finally, my promotion is on record. My last paycheck was supposed to my first for my increased pay, but that wasn't done in time. So this week's paycheck will have a double increase. I've stepped up my credit card payments & have applied for PRN jobs to provide additional income to get my debt paid off for good.
The things that I usually shop for I've been abstaining from. It feels good. I've made a few clothing purchases (caught an 80% off end of season sale) to supplement my work wardrobe. I plan on advancing my career every chance that I get. I'm taking all the classes I can & networking every chance I get. I've never been more motivated. This promotion has been a very good thing & I'm so grateful.
$500 increase for my TSP. IRA limit remains unchanged. I'm always excited to be able to save more!
I thought that I had posted this last month, but apparently not. I got offered a promotion at work after applying & interviewing for the position. Now, that was 3 weeks ago but I still haven't started in my new duties or increased pay. I don't know what my increased pay will be, but it will just be used to pay current debt. Still, I'm so excited, and this is the answer to many prayers. I've been working towards this position since I joined my agency & finished graduate school years ago. I can't wait until I can officially put that new position on paper.
I did a search today for 2015 retirement savings plans limits & found this article which seems to think that limits will likely rise next year. I hope so.
Because I don't have any blog entries for 2014 & it's been bugging me.
The 2nd job has not materialized due to the administration moving very slow. I've remained in contact with my interviewer & she's very interesting in hiring me so I remain optimistic. One thing I know, is that I will not fritter away that second income like I did with my previous second job. I am on a mission like I never have been before.
I am also very hopeful to have good news to share about my current job in the coming months. Fingers crossed & prayers lifted up. 2014 has already been a very blessed year for me.
My trip to China is done & in the books as the best adventure I've ever embarked upon. We had a great time. I never thought I would go to Beijing, but now I can say that I did that and so much more - like walk on the Great Wall! We were leaving Beijing the day after MH370 disappeared, but I am thankful for a safe journey.
Next trip is to visit my sister's family in May to celebrate my nephew's first birthday & her husband's retirement from the Navy. I'm really looking forward to that.
Spring is here & the weather is beautiful. I'm going to enjoy it for as much as I can before the weather & humidity gets stifling hot!
I am enjoying reading about everyone's goals for 2014. It inspires & excites me for what is ahead in the coming year.
I told myself that I was content with working one job, but as I look at my goals, I decided to apply to work a part-time job again. I may not get it, but it would be incredibly convenient as the hospital is located just down the street. It would also help me meet my savings goals & re-build my emergency fund. And the more I work the less time I have to spend money.
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