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.
Viewing the 'General Musings' Category
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I am very thankful to be so abundantly blessed. Too many blessings to list them all, but a few stand out at the moment.
I have had a great year at work. I recently was awarded a peer award by my colleagues. I also have the highest rating level possible. Bonuses are tied to ratings. I don't know what my bonus will be this year, but I am grateful for whatever I get in these difficult economic times. Also at work this week I won our Biggest Loser competition. It was nice to have some extra cash in my pockets, not to mention the benefits of getting healthier.
My birthday is Thursday & I'm looking forward to the coming holidays. I just know that this coming year will be an exceptional year for me!
It's pretty cool when you meet & surpass a goal without knowing it. It was a pleasant surprise when I logged into Mint this morning & was able to mark a goal completed & set a new goal. Two major goals met in one year. Pretty stoked about that.
As we head into fall, I was thinking about reaching this year's goals & looking ahead to next year's goals. This year my main goals are retirement & debt repayment, as they are every year. I always meet my retirement goal, as I will this year. In January I funded my Roth IRA with the maximum $5,500. I don't know if I'll be able to do that this January. I may have to fund it throughout the year, since my savings have been somewhat depleted to pay down debt. I will continue to fund my retirement account at work with my maximum contribution. I have not read if they're anticipating another increase in limits next year, though. A $500 increase would only mean an extra $20 biweekly though.
Last year I transferred the majority of my credit card debt to a card with 0% interest for 18 months. I started out paying $200 weekly, but now pay $100 weekly since I have one job. I still plan to have that paid off before the 18 months of no interest.
On a lighter note, I am going to enjoy this 3 day weekend by taking some time to cook, relax, and visit with family & friends.
I was watching the news the other day, on the 50th anniversary of MLK's March on Washington & his famous "I Have A Dream Speech". They pointed out that while he is celebrated today, when MLK was assassinated he was seen as a very divisive figure. He was hated by many who saw him as a race baiter, rabble rouser, & just a generally bad American. And I was thinking, don't they do the same thing today? Hate you for your politics, hate you for your skin color, hate you for your religion, accuse you of doing what they are guilty of themselves? Then I thought, people can say whatever they want about you. The test of time will judge your actions in the correct light, not the view tainted by people's political agendas or bigotry. If you just keep on doing the right thing. What a legacy MLK left by not letting the naysayers deter him from speaking the truth boldly. Your critics of today are temporary & will be soon forgotten. Just keep pushing on.
The stock market has had some record setting highs this year. More than any other year I believe I read. I'm always happy to see my investments increase.
I'm managing on one job just fine & enjoying all the free time. I've started working out 5 days a week & started back training by jogging. I can't wait to see my progress. One thing about running, you can really see the improvements early on & they keep on coming.
My employer is officially no longer paying on my student loan. I believe the money was misappropriated/lost. I've always made the payments & will continue to do so. This repayment plan was just extra. I'm sorry to no longer have it, but prepared to pay it myself regardless.
Two weeks since my second job was eliminated & I'm more tired than ever. I feel like I need to get a second job again just to get some rest!
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