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Raise!

September 17th, 2022 at 07:12 am

I walked into my office Friday morning & the first thing my co-worker said was that we got our salary increase. It turned out to be a little over 16% which is better than I expected. I had hoped for at least 10% to make our current (temporary) retention pay of 10% a permanent increase. Once we start being able to fill vacancies due to the increased pay, we'll lose the retention pay. The increase to salary is more important as it impacts your retirement pay, matching for retirement contributions, and more. I am very excited & so thankful. 

I had made some stretch savings goals when I started looking at my budget for next year. I am going to be able to meet that & more. People that were looking to retire are also reconsidering as their retirement pay is based on their high 3 years of salary. We'll be able to retain employees when we've been losing them. Everyone seemed to be in a jolly mood all day.

We federal employees should get a 4.6% increase in January. It will be slightly less for us as we are on this special salary scale, but that is another added bonus. I'm glad that retirement contribution limits are increasing so I can take advantage of this increased income to save for my future.

 

Finance Buff’s Annual Predictions

July 24th, 2022 at 01:55 pm

The Finance Buff has released his annual predictions for contribution limits for retirement plans. As he mentions, so far he has predicted these with 100% accuracy. I enjoy reading his posts every year. 

He is predicting an increase to the 401k contribution limit of $2,000, not the $1,500 I posted recently from another source. And an increase to the IRA congribution limit of $500. That would be an annual increase of $2,500 or a little more than $200 a month. 

https://thefinancebuff.com/401k-403b-ira-contribution-limits.html

Made Some Market Moves

May 13th, 2022 at 06:50 pm

So for the first time in a very long time I did some portfolio re-balancing. I've been using my contributions to slowly change my target allocations the past few years, but that is a slow process with the size of my portfolio versus the amount I'm contributing. With the market down I decided to make some changes. Long story short I went from 71% domestic allocation in my mutual funds to 78%, and from 29% to 22% international allocation in my mutual funds. This will still keep me on target for the 20-40% international stocks that most recommend. I had changed to a 60% domestic/40% international allocation back in 2017. Slowly I drifted from that allocation just due to US stocks outperforming international stocks. I was at about 34-35% international when I just stopped contributing to them entirely, then it had drifted down to 28% by the end of 2022 first quarter. I know that I wanted to get it closer to 20% so I just bit the bullet & did a re-balancing this week. Right now I'm just contributing to the S fund in my TSP and VTSAX in my IRA, though I still hold C,S, and I, as well as VTSAX and VTIAX. I also hold VHYAX in my taxable brokerage account. That is the money from the sale of my condo for a future home purchase. It is holding nicely despite the downturn. I'm actually still up from when I invested back in September.

In income news I still haven't received the 10% retention incentive that we signed for back in March, and the salary survey for our special pay scale has been completed, but mum has been the word on that. We shall see. Despite not doing any OT, I am still making extra at my PRN job. It would be nice if I can start contributing to the brokerage account regularly. I could scale back my monthly savings contributions and maybe split them between cash savings and the brokerage fund. I'll probably finish out this year of fully contributing to cash savings, though. Then maybe get back to investing in the brokerage account in 2023. I'm trying to get close to being able to pay cash for my next car and with these car prices, that could be a pretty penny!

According to Mint I am down $138,880 over the past month, but still holding well over $1.111 million in investments.

Bad Habit

April 29th, 2022 at 07:58 am

I've gotten in the bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night, in which case I end up on my phone, like now.

Still no retention bonus on our checks. I believe that once is goes through the process that we will get retroactive payments, which will be nice. We were under the impression that it could happen a lot quicker than it actually has so that leaves people feeling frustrated. 

I'm still not quite sure how I would like to allocate this money. I am saving $1,000 cash monthly already. I'm not sure that I want a lot of cash on hand, but at the same time I feel like my cash reserves are minuscule compared to my investments. Perhaps I should keep building it for a future car purchase? It's either that, or fund the brokerage for a home purchase.

In hindsight I do have a little regret about front-loading my IRA in January, right before the market started tanking. Maybe next year I'll go back to monthly contributions. If only we had a magic ball to predict these things!🔮

Heavy Spending Month so far…

April 21st, 2022 at 07:41 pm

This month has had some big spending due to work expenses, most of which as being reimbursed for our laboratory's recognition week. I also paid the first installment of next season's theatre tickets.

I'm excited about the season which includes: Six, Moulin Rouge, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lion King, Tina, Pretty Woman, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Fiddler on the Roof. I passed on the season option of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I've seen it before (as I've seen many of these shows) and the holidays are busy enough as is. If the Christmas show was White Christmas I probably wouldn't pass it up. I love that movie. ☃️ 

Our Easter was nice & quiet filled with good food and beautiful spring weather. I love this time of year before it gets crazy hot. I am trying to think of a getaway before the temps start rising. I would say Maine, but we already have our trip to Maine booked for this fall. I am looking forward to it, rustic as the trip may be. I have been wanting to visit Maine for a while. Maybe I will venture further north, like Quebec. 🇨🇦 

We have not yet received our retention incentive, but I continue to work overtime and my PRN job. This month is also a 3 paycheck month, so yay! I'm not making any big money moves right now, but I may get back to adding to my brokerage account for a future home purchase. Right now it stands at $75k.

 

Q1 March 2022

April 9th, 2022 at 03:00 pm

I can't recall if I've been using my car value in my net worth as does Mint, but when I calculate it myself I never do.

Investments $1,271,591

Cash $14,888 

Total $1,286,479

Net Gain from February $29,318

My gains include my contributions which are $800 to my TSP every two weeks & $1,000 to my cash savings monthly. The TSP is going to open up an investment window this summer, but I am planning on sticking with their low cost options. I am big on low cost index funds & I don't plan on changing that strategy anytime soon.

We still haven't received the 10% retention incentive on our checks, but I've been training on my PRN job steadily, which means most Saturdays. So there's still some extra income coming in.

Employment

June 5th, 2021 at 05:47 pm

I notice that employers are trying hard to recruit employees. Costco upped their minimum wage to $16 & Wal-Mart has a minimum wage of $11. McDonald's is starting at $10 and is even advertising paying workers daily.  Last time I went to Wal-Mart there were signs advertising $13-21 for overnight stockers. These are really good wages for my area.

It seems employers are going to effectively raise the minimum wage even if the government can't seem to find consensus. And the more they raise their wages the less $15 as minimum wage seems a pipe dream as it once did. I think a split between current minimum wage & $15 should be easy to pass now. 

As for my own wages, the President has proposed a 2.7% raise for federal employees, which would be nice. If I get a promotion that will be a nice bump on top of that raise with another step increase to come in a year's time. I won't be making 6 figures, but I'll be close enough with working just one job.

My investments are up $8k this week. I hit $1.3 million net worth and $1.165 million in investments. I should hit $15k in savings this month before I quit my second & third jobs. I already sent off my resignation letter for my weekend job at the hospital. 

 

May 2021 Review

May 30th, 2021 at 01:57 pm

The market is closed Monday so I can make my end of month review for May now. I am at an all time high in my investments. I close the month of May with $1.158 million in investments and a net worth of $1.292 million. I was able to add an additional $2k to savings in addition to my regular $500 monthly contribution. Next month I hope to hit $15k in savings.

I plan to work my additional jobs through June then just work my full-time job. I may pick up another job in the future, but I have no plans for that at the time. 

Coast FIRE

May 23rd, 2021 at 02:43 pm

I follow the FIRE community a lot. There are so many different FIRE communities, but one I follow is the Coast FIRE community. It's basically when you save a certain amount that allows you to no longer have to save anymore to be able to retire when you want. My age is 57. It's the earliest I can retire & get my health insurance benefits. If I retire earlier I don't get the health care benefits. I also get a social security supplement until I reach 62.

I found this Coast FI calculator that says that I am at about twice my Coast FI number. It doesn't take into account my pension or social security. I put in $40k as my annual expenses & that's generous. I spend approximately $3k a month now. That includes $1k to savings (Roth IRA & emergency fund) & my mortgage.

I should no longer have a mortgage when I retire or have to contribute to savings. My TSP comes out of my paycheck so I don't included that in my expenses which I budget based off of my take home pay from just my full-time job, not my additional income from my two other jobs. I want to make sure when I quit my other two jobs (in the next month or two) that I don't start racking up credit card debt again. I even have money budgeted for travel on just that income. I can't live without travel!


I hear some people say that they still save in retirement. I would probably be able to do that as well, but it wouldn't be intentional for me unless there was a tax advantage.

Here's a link to the calculator:

https://walletburst.com/tools/coast-fire-calc/

Payday 5/14/21

May 15th, 2021 at 04:56 pm

All 3 of my pay days fell on Friday this pay period. I received enough to cover my bills for the month plus a surplus to save yesterday. When I get paid again in 2 weeks that will be all surplus to savings.

I made my initial savings goal last month ahead of my December timeline, so I'm working on the next $5k benchmark. This will get me to 5 months' expenses. I may achieve that goal next month at current savings rate. I don't see a reason to save beyond $20k with a very stable, in high demand job, but the surplus could be for my next car purchase, which is always inevitable.

I would like to take a short trip after this inspection, but I'm not sure where. I could also use a staycation to get things done around the house, but a change of scenery would be nice. Maybe I could do a little of both.

The market was a little all over the board this week & so were investors. Times like this I try not to read my investing groups too much because some people are so easily rattled. I started investing in college during a downturn so I'm not too bothered by the ups & downs. I survived 99-00, 08-09, 17-18, 20 and I'll survive this blip even if it turns into something major. I'm 14 years out from retirement with my current plans & I will have a pension to anchor me so I'm riding the waves. For once international stocks are doing well so I'll take those gains while I can.

It's my nephew's 8th birthday today. Time really does fly by. It feels like he was just a baby yesterday. I remember how much he loved to be held. Those days are so sweet. 💙

 

May Day

May 1st, 2021 at 05:19 pm

My dad & I are on our way to my aunt's 70th birthday party today. Feeling a little sleepy after another late lab night, but I'm sure I'll wake up once I get to see family & friends that I haven't seen in over a year.

April was a good month financially. I worked a lot, but I saved a lot as well. $2,250 to my TSP, $4,500 to my savings, and $500 to my Roth IRA. What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I was still paying off a car & TSP loan and was only saving $100 a month toward my savings. 

In other news, I had an interview Monday! Short notice as a key person on the interview panel was leaving on vacation so we interviewed the same day. I hate interviews because I always think of the perfect thing to say after the interview. That's even with prepping myself. My manager said that she felt it was a good interview, though, and 2 of my references told me that they were contacted. So I wait & hope for good news. 

 

Facebook Market Sales

April 17th, 2021 at 12:48 pm

I'm going to spend some time this week changing my candles for sale by delivery only to offer shipping. A potential buyer mentioned that you can ship 4 large candles for $22 flat rate shipping. I think it would help me move my inventory a lot quicker. I went to the post office & picked up a large priority shipping box. I packed 4 large candles to make sure that they would fit well with plenty of packing material to minimize breakage. They are insulated pretty well.

I have been paid 6 times already this month. Two paychecks to go. Income surplus is nearly $4,000 now. That will be a nice deposit to savings. $500 to my IRA on Thursday & $750 to my TSP yesterday. 

Investments $1,142,785

 

So Many Hours

April 10th, 2021 at 03:52 pm

It's 10 o'clock in the morning & I'm just waking up. I didn't getting home until after 4 this morning, after getting caught in a horrible storm. So thankful to have made it home okay. I left & it was raining, but not horribly. By the time I got halfway home I had little to no visibility due to driving rain coming in waves, lights were going out as I drove putting everything in complete darkness, & the winds were terrifying: knocking traffic lights askew & debris across the road. I was shaking & praying the whole time. When I got out of my car I could barely see to unlock my door & I got drenched from head to toe in a matter of a few seconds.  Still thanking God that I made it home safely. I never want to experience something like that again.

I worked so late last night (or rather this morning) because my third job picked up a major client. Just when I thought things would be slowing down due to vaccinations, I learn that not only is the Covid testing picking up, but also we will be getting mass collections. I worked every weekday except Good Friday & this Thursday and still made over 55 hours. That's the most I've made since I got hired a year ago & had to put in training hours. Thankfully I didn't pick up many hours at my second job. The only thing keeping me at my second job at this point is that I genuinely like the people. 

I'll definitely have a nice chunk of change to send to my savings this month. I get 8 paychecks this month! My checking balance is at over $11k as I continue to have surpluses in my budget. My goal is to keep it at least $5k to avoid fees. As much as work I can't outwork my investments! They continue to grow. This week was a good week for the market, though Friday ended a little down. It's exciting to see people meeting big goals. I saw a few people become TSP millionaires this week. I know I'll get there, too. 

Today I'll stay mainly close to home, cleaning up around my home. I'll also stop by to visit with my parents. Tomorrow I'll meet up with several girlfriends to celebrate a friend's birthday. It's my first social gathering in over a year. The birthday girl is staying two hours away, so we're splitting the distance and meeting up at a street fair in a city an hour away. We wanted to stick to something outdoors for safety, though I think most if not all of us have now been vaccinated. I hope the weather cooperates! 

Net Worth: $1,248,369

 

 

Future Goals

April 6th, 2021 at 08:53 pm

I have pre-populated my budget worksheet for the month & I believe that I will be able to send an income surplus of $3,000 to my savings. At this rate I will exceed what I had planned to save in 2021. This has me thinking about what I can do with that money once I fully fund my emergency savings. I will have other expenses: purchasing my next car hopefully later rather than sooner, and other home projects.

I am really thinking about paying off my home early. I get so inspired listening to the Dave Ramsey show. Seeing so many people even younger than myself having paid off their homes is so inspiring. Especially when many own homes worth far more than mine. My condo would be paid off by the time I retire, but paying it off sooner is even better. It's definitely something to consider.

March Review

April 1st, 2021 at 01:15 am

I reviewed my monthly budget spreadsheet for March and with a surplus of over $2,000 I decided to send $2,000 to my savings. This might be my strategy in future months as my checking account continues to grow. 

Tomorrow & Good Friday are pay days. April will be a flush month. I expect I'll be able to send more surplus to my savings.

I had a couple of conversations with my chief pathologist & co-worker that continue to make me optimistic about potential promotions. It means a lot that my superiors have confidence in me. 

I'm having some progress in physical therapy. Not as quickly as I'd like, but that's partly my fault because I should have seen the doctor sooner rather than later. I am hoping to avoid surgery. 

My mom & I discussed our Easter menu. It will be just the three of us as usual, but we still have a rather large menu planned. I'm hoping that it will be a beautiful spring weekend! 🐰🐣💐

Thank You

February 3rd, 2021 at 11:26 pm

Thank you so much for your condolences. I truly am touched by your kindness & thoughtfulness.

My evening job has slowed down & I'm perfectly okay with that. I also took off February at my weekend job. I'm ready to scale back. 

Today I sent a full balance payment plus 10% to my credit card. I really want to keep both credit card balances as close to zero as possible from here on out. I'm being very mindful of spending as well. I've noticed that I've been doing a little too much shopping online. I am paying the balance in full with each bill, but after working so hard to pay off $22k in less than a year, I don't want to end up back in the same boat.

My dad officially did my taxes after I ran the numbers through the calculator & it's what I expected. I will owe about $1400 between federal & state. I've been keeping $5k in my checking account so I'll be able to pay it out without pulling from my growing savings. I bumped my savings from $100 to $500 monthly at the first of the year now that my debt has been paid off.

2020 Year End Review

December 28th, 2020 at 03:50 pm

It's almost 2021 & time to reflect on the wins & losses of 2020. 202 was a very good year for me with few losses except for a couple of canceled trips, which actually ended up being to my advantage.

1. Paid off my TSP loan. I took out a loan of $30k in the autumn of 2015 to pay off credit card debt. I buckled down to pay it off early in May 2020.

2. Paid off my car loan. I had an accident (not my fault) in November 2015. The insurance company totalled out my 2008 Toyota Corolla. I put $10k down on my Honda CR-V and financed $20k at 2.19% for 73 months. I buckled down to pay it off a year early. I hope to keep this car for at least 5 more years.

3. Probably my biggest debt win this year was the $22k in credit card debt that I had earlier this year. It's now down to $2k and I will pay it off next month. That will mean a lot more money to rebuild savings and explore stock investing. I am recommitting to paying off my cards every month.

4. I worked a lot! I made approximately $30k at my side hustle jobs. Since so many of my plans were canceled: trips, dance classes, theatre season tickets, I was able to maximize my time to earn more.

5. I lost some weight. I've gained some of it back, but am recommitting to healthier eating in 2021.

6. I had $0 savings at the beginning of the year. I now have almost $3k in savings. It's not a lot, but it means I won't have to get a loan from my mom again if I have to replace my A/C or some other home repair pops up. I have recommitted to saving monthly. Again, this will be easier with less debt payments.

7. And finally, I passed $1 million in net worth in September. Earlier this month I achieved $1 million held in investments only, not including assests such as my home or car.

Here's to an even better 2021!

 

Unexpected Savings

September 20th, 2020 at 12:32 pm

My cell phone bill was $38.13 lower than last month. When I logged into my account to see what the difference was I found that I paid my last installment on my cell phone last month. 30 months of payments! I won't be trying to upgrade this cell phone anytime soon. I just pray that I don't start having problems with it. I upgraded to the iPhone X between my trips to England & Scotland and Greece because my phone was overheating & burning through the battery. I didn't want to go to Greece with an unreliable phone. And the iPhone X was such an upgrade as far as the camera. I have great pictures from Greece.

Although I get my credit report regularly I'm not sure if my phone was on it as a recurring payment. If so, it will probably drop my credit score by a few next update then eventually go back up.

I also received my $40 Costco gift card in the mail. It was part of the Groupon special when I purchased my membership. When I have room in my freezer I'll make another trip.

Where I’m At Now

July 18th, 2020 at 01:58 pm

From a high of $22k in credit card debt earlier this year I’m now down to...[drumroll]...$12k! And I now have a $5k buffer in my checking account that I haven’t had in years, plus I have $2300 in savings that I haven’t had in years. All of this has happened in less than 6 months, y’all! 🤯

Amazing how quickly you can see changes when you buckle down & make the changes. Also, I would never wish the devastation of this pandemic on anyone, but it honestly had a role in changing my behavior & contributing to my success. With nowhere to go, canceled trips, and all the available hours to work it made a big difference. Also, the $5k gift from my mom that she will match at the end of the year. I’m so blessed!

And my investments are up to $840k this morning. Who knows how long they will stay there, but they’re chugging right along for now.

And in other good news, my latest credit score updates was 836. If I pay off all my debt maybe I’ll see a perfect score of 850?

Pay Day Friday

June 13th, 2020 at 05:03 pm

I received 2 of my paychecks this Friday. I will receive the third on Monday. My credit card debit is down to $15k with yesterday’s payment. Monday I will send $500 to my Roth IRA. I have set up recurring transfers again on the 15th of every month.

I am contemplating taking a break from my second job in July. The third job is keeping me plenty busy with 20-25 hours weekly. Having a break on the weekends would be nice.

With the lack of gym time I’m looking to make some changes to my diet. I’m speaking to a friend today that has lost a lot of weight through dietary changes. And with my weekends free maybe I can get back to taking my evening walks on weekends at least.

Sign-on Bonus

May 15th, 2020 at 01:05 am

I received the job offer last Friday & filled out the HR paperwork that night. Today, less than a week later, I was handed my sign-on bonus. The manager told me it was probably just the paperwork with my info but no check since I had missed the pay period cut-off, but when I got in my car I opened the envelope & there was a check. So surprised & pleasantly so. I am banking the money until I complete the one year period.

COVID-19

March 14th, 2020 at 03:37 pm

I know everyone is tired of hearing about COVID-19, especially us health care professionals, but it affecting all aspects of life. This week my facility had the first positive patient in our state.

I was supposed to leave for Montreal tomorrow, but that trip (and the event I was traveling for) is now canceled. Also looking very iffy at the moment is my trip to Switzerland booked for May. It may be a blessing in disguise that I can stay home & focus on paying off debt rather than traveling.

I’m down nearly $200k in the market. Sure wish I had been sitting on some cash that I could have dumped in the market.

The Revealing

March 3rd, 2020 at 06:26 pm

So through a set of circumstances that my mom is calling divine intervention, almost the entirety of my debt was revealed to her. Of course I was...there is not a word that could accurately describe what I felt. My debt is definitely a source of shame & fear. Not fear in that I can’t pay it, but that it’s a cycle that I’ll never get out of.

So we had a discussion over the phone. She wanted to wait until later to talk since I was at work, but I hate that. When people have something serious to say to me I want to hear it now, not later. Anyway, after the discussion I went in & cut my TSP contributions down to the minimum I needed for my full match. That will put $600 more in my check before taxes. Once I finish paying off my TSP loan in July I’ll have another $250 a paycheck after taxes. Once I pay off my car I’ll have another $150 per paycheck, also after taxes of course. If I suspend my IRA contributions that’s another $500 a month.

I’m going to pull out my Dave Ramsey book & get serious. I may even take the course offered at church. I’m tired of this debt yo-yo & I’m going to nip it in the bud once & for all.

My mom asked me about my travel & will take the next 2 trips that I have scheduled. After that I’m on hiatus. It will be hard to pass up trips with my friends, but I’m so determined to do this. Also, I think my mom is somewhat in shock & I’d like her to not worry. She says that she isn’t, but like me, she’s a worrier by nature.

IRA Follow-up

January 11th, 2020 at 05:29 pm

I finally got in touch with Vanguard & she showed me how to correct the issue online. It was very simple. So I was able to recategorize my contribution from 2020 to 2019. I now have $1k to contribute for 2019 & $6k to contribute for 2020. I will send $500 to my 2019 IRA in February & March.

I owe my mom one last payment of $250 for my AC loan. My TSP loan is now below $4k. My car loan will be paid off in the first half of 2021.

I transferred $100 to my savings yesterday & mailed $20 to the local food bank this week.

I received my Clever Fox budget planner this week. I really like it & I’m well into journaling my January budget. I brought my lunch 4 times this week! That’s a record for me.

IRA Contributions & Budget

January 6th, 2020 at 08:07 pm

I forgot to turn off my automatic contributions to my IRA, so I sent my first contribution for 2020 even though I still haven’t fully funded 2019. Whoops. Needless to say, I turned off the automatic funding. I will finish paying my mom back for the AC loan this month & should have the funds to max my 2019 IRA by April 15.

I have decided that 2020 will be the year I learn to live on budget. Honestly, I never tried before. Just spent as I pleased & my credit card debt reflects that. I want to start this decade off being mindful with spending money.