I'd really like to get back to building up my savings again. My savings accounts were depleted in an effort to pay down debt, but I'd like to have that assurance of having something set aside again. Also, after more than 12 years of owning my own home it has belatedly dawned on me that I really need to have an account for those unexpected, yet expected, home repairs & maintenance costs.
I have already started to work on my 2019 budget with estimates of an increase in my retirement plans as well as an increase in pay. My pay should go up in January even if an annual raise isn't approved, because I am due for an increase due to my pay schedule. Retirement plans may increase $1k in contribution limits, but my pay should increase at least another $2k, hopefully $3k if an across the board increase is approved.
I have read predictions that both the 401k and IRA limits will increase by $500 next year. It will be nice to be able to save an extra $1k next year. I will make the adjusts accordingly in December, when the changes are signed into law.
Over the past couple of weeks I have met many goals on the path to debt repayment. My mortgage is now under $65k and I have 50% equity in my home. My auto loan is now under $10k so I now owe 4 figures rather than 5 figures. My TSP loan is now under $13k. In July I paid off my federal taxes owed. I'm most relieved to have paid off the federal taxes owed. Hopefully, the adjustments that I have made to my exemptions were sufficient for this year.
This week I sent off the final payment for my federal taxes (including the late fees & penalties). This year I owed over $4k, which is a much larger amount than I've ever owed. Last year was an unusual year with income that I didn't anticipate. This year will be less income, but I still decreased my exemptions to 0 at both jobs. I don't anticipate another 6 figure year for 2018.
I have been working a lot of extra hours at my full-time job, but there is no overtime pay involved. I earn hours to take off later. I don't have strong feelings about not getting overtime, but it would be nice if I did. I've raided what little cash I had to pay off the IRS. However, I will enjoy the extra time off later when we get past our inspection.
No other new news on the personal finance front. Things are the same, but I'm happy to see some bounce-back in the stock market, for however long it holds.
A few weeks ago I wrote a pretty long blog summing up my past few months & it appears it was never posted. Don't you hate when they happens?
My last entry was in February & since then the following things have happened:
Took a trip to Greece & New York in March. It was a wonderful experience, perfect weather in Greece. I got to experience my first St. Patrick's Dqy parade in New York & take in some great Broadway shows including the preview shows of Mean Girls & My Fair Lady. Also saw, Chicago which never gets old.
I filed my taxes and owed over $4k. Ouch. I'm on a 120 day payment plan & have to pay it off by the end of July. I knew I would owe, but wasn't planning on paying nearly that much.
April was fairly quiet. Last month I had two deaths in the family, one expected as my grandmother was in the final stages of dementia, and the other unexpected as my younger cousin died suddenly. It was a rough couple of weeks there.
I'm hoping that June will be better.I am not planning on taking any trips this summer. I am preparing for my biannual lab inspection & planning some fun in between working my two jobs.
I have a couple of trips planned for the fall, to Seattle & Vancouver, and possibly a winter trip to NYC.
So after some back & forth with Vanguard (mostly on my part) they finally responded to my latest inquiry that I have received all the monies from them that I am eligible to receive. The remaining balance I will transfer to my TSP as I 1) like to keep my money consolidated in my 2 retirement accounts, and 2) I was not eligible to keep my money in my employer's plan. It is only about $600 and i have already initiated the direct ransfer of funds. Hopefully it will be completed by the end of the 1st quarter next month.
Btw, if you are a Vanguard customer they are giving away these really cool #investinglikeaboss mugs. You need only request one from the Facebook page & they will send it in a few weeks. I am looking forward to getting mine.
It's crazy how much money we have lost in the market in the last month, but I consider it an opportunity to buy at not sky-high prices.
I have a had a few phone consultations with a representative from Personal Capital. Of course they want me to sign up to have them manage my investments. The percentage is small, only 0.89% for up to $1 million then it goes down. Their asset allocation calls for some REIT's & gold, neither of which I'm sold on. Has anyone worked with them?
I got home late last night. Still recovering as I came home with a little cough & sore throat. I had a wonderful time. I left on December 27th for London, then traveled to Edinburgh January 2nd. I had such a great time. The original purpose for the trip was to attend the musical Hamilton that opened at Victoria Palace last month. Other things I did included touring Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Whiskey Experience, & Mary King's Close. We also attended an abbreviated changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This was my second trip to London and also my second trip to Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace (I still have not been there during the short period to tour the inside of BHP yet). In two months were are traveling to Greece!
In financial news, Vanguard refunded me most, but not all of the money in my 401k. Strange, as all monies were to be returned to me. When I contacted them they said that the money remaining was from a 2016 contribution. Problem with this is that the balance appears to be over double what that contribution was, I had already received the withdrawals on 2016 contributions in early 2017, and there should be no money remaining in this account since both years contributions were to be withdrawn. So we will see what they do next. I'm starting to be less than impressed with Vanguard lately. I might need to start looking elsewhere.
Happy Holidays to all! My family is flying in today. I am looking forward to spending the next several days with them. We both fly out on the 27th. Them back home, me to London then Edinburgh.
My gym is going up $1 in January. I decided to cancel my membership. It will be $50 a month & I can get a membership at a 24 hour fitness club for much cheaper. I am also looking to cut my cable next year. I guess my New Year's resolution is to be more vigilant about my spending. I don't plan on cutting out vacations so I will look elsewhere. I barely watch television anyway.
My goal was to have $500k by age 40. It seemed a very lofty goal at the time, but I have not only accomplished that goal,I have surpassed it. Now for the next goal. Is $1 million by age 45 out of the question? Maybe not, but it will require some dedication to cutting expenses, getting rid of debt, and continuing to save a good percentage of my income. $750k seems too conservative, but if we run into a bear market it may be an optimistic goal.
I'm excited for what the future holds in many ways.
My 40th birthday was Tuesday & I took the day off. It's pretty much my only day off in a 4 week span so I was looking forward to it. I slept in a little later than usual, went to the gym, then the spa (massage, facial, and pedicure) followed by dinner, then drinks. It was a very good day. My friend made me a beautiful scrapbook. I can't wait to fill it with new adventures & experiences in this next year of life.
On Thursday I attended the dinner thrown by the law firm that handled the union's class action settlement. My check turned out to be significantly bigger than expected. The amount that I thought was before taxes, was actually after taxes. So I ended up with a check for $10k.
I also got a check from my parents for my birthday and my insurance dividend from USAA. In addition to what I've already received, I'm also expecting to have my 401k contributions returned to me as I'm over the contribution limits, plus my performance bonus before the end of the year. Rumors are that we will get a percentage amount rather than a cash reward. Percentage awards are usually preferable.
This month has been very financially prosperous!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! My year has been full of blessings and I have much to be thankful for this year. We had our usual small Thanksgiving with just me & my parents. I invited a co-worker over, but he didn't come. Lunch was delicious as always.
Now that I have contributed in excess of the $18k limit for my retirement plan, I have contacted Vanguard to get a distribution of funds. Despite what they implied at the beginning on the year, it seems they are willing to give me the distribution now rather than waiting until I receive my W-2. That would be much easier & give me some extra money for debt repayment.
There's less than 2 weeks until I turn 40 & I am making plans. I am taking the day off as usual. I have booked some time at the spa for a stone massage, facial, & pedicure. This will be my first massage. I'm looking forward to it.
I am also planning on having dinner at a French restaurant that I've always wanted to try. They have a 4 course early bird special which will make it a little less pricey. I'm not having a big party as that not me. There are plenty of holiday parties going on as well. I have always said that it's nice having a birthday in December as it's such a festive month that you feel you get to celebrate all month long with everyone without having to be the center of attention.
For now Congress has decided to leave the 401k limits alone. Next year the limit will increase $500 as planned. And as I have since 2008, I plan to meet the maximum allowable contribution amount. This will be roughly $712 a paycheck, though I usually round up to a higher amount for my deduction & have a larger paycheck on the 26th paycheck.
I mentioned a while back that I am expecting a settlement from a class action lawsuit that I wasn't even aware of. It looks like it is going forward. They plan to have an even distributing the checks next month. If I am able to make the drive that day I will. I'd rather have a check that large in hand, rather than mailed to me. I am still planning to pay down credit card debt with the check.
The maximum contribution limit for 401k's will increase to $18,500 in 2018. The IRA limit is unchanged. I am happy that we will get an increase.
In other news, I read in the NYT & other sources that Republicans are looking at limiting the 401k contribution to $2,400 in future years in order to finance their tax cut plan. This is insanity. The last thing we need along with the tax increase on the middle class and cuts to Medicare & Medicaid, is for them to limit what Americans save for retirement. I hope that all proposing this are voted out during the midterm elections next year.
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.
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.
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