I wondered what was wrong when I couldn’t access the blogs. I’m so sporadic with my posting, but I actually had a few good entires that got lost. Maybe I can somewhat replicate them later on.
Viewing the 'General Musings' Category
Apparently I’ve landed myself in retired blog status due to not posting for 3 months. So an update is in order.
It’s that time of year again: tax season. A time of year that I don’t particularly look forward to as i’m Sure to owe taxes again this year. Thankfully, this year will be in the hundreds instead of the thousands. The much hyped middle class tax breaks netted me little & I will miss some of the lost deductions. Oh well, there are worse things to happen than to be gainfully employed (two jobs even!) and to owe a little in taxes.
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.
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.