Ever Changing Plans

Car

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. If you’ve learned anything about me over the last few years, you’ve learned that I am a planner.  I am always thinking about then future.  This is especially true when it comes to my personal finances.  I have short, medium and long-term plans.  Our next car replacement is falling into the short-term bucket.  We finish paying off my wife’s car this year and the plan was to wait a little while, maybe a year, then get a new car for me.  That plan is getting a revision. My Wife’s Car We bought my wife’s car in December of 2011 just after the little guy was born.  We had a smaller 4-door sedan, which was just not going to cut it with 2 small kids.  We sold the sedan for a slight loss and rolled the negative equity into the new car loan with a 6-year payment term.  Our financial shape at the time was ok, … Read more

Changed Mindset

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. I like how my thinking has changed over time.  Gone are the days when I would just spend my annual bonus like a drunken sailor.  Not that I ever was a drunken sailor, but you get the idea. I just found out my annual performance bonus for the year.  My wife and I had plans for it, we were thinking of putting a screened-in deck on the back of our house.  Instead, we are doing the very boring thing of just putting it into savings.  That would not have happened 10 or 15 years ago.  It’s nice to see the change. Annual Bonus It’s not technically an annual bonus, but I have received one every year.  I have performed well enough to merit one every year that I have been with the company.  We had been given warnings that the bonus pool this year was not going to be as big as it had been … Read more

Rewards Summary

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Curiosity got the best of me recently.  I wanted to know just how well I had done with credit card rewards in the past year.  My basic credit card rewards strategy is simple, essentially consisting of only two cards for the joint family expenses. The first is the Citi Cash Back card which pays 2%.  I have adjusted that slightly in the short term, but I’ll explain that later.  The second is the BJ’s MasterCard which pays 3% back at BJ’s and gives 10¢ back per gallon of gas. That is all we use for the household expenses, but it isn’t the only place I was able to rack up my rewards last year.  Both the wife and I have our own credit cards for our personal spending that also offer rewards.  I then opened up another card to take advantage of a quick cash back offer.  In total for 2016, I was able to … Read more

Raise Time

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Let’s hear it for more money! I will never complain about receiving a higher salary.  With times being what they are at the company, I was not expecting to receive much this year, just hoping for a little.  I was awarded an increase of $1,500 to my annual salary.  So, where did I spend this windfall you might ask? Budget Balancing Truth be told, I didn’t really do anything fun with it.  I simply balanced my budget.  When my wife began babysitting back in September, I increased my 401k contribution at that time, going from 8% to 9%.  That obviously meant a reduction in my take-home pay. I used some of the additional money that she was bringing in to bring to make up that difference.  The difference worked out to be about $85 a month.  I figured my wife was likely to continue babysitting again this coming fall, but I did not want to … Read more

Conversation on Parents Paying for College

Graduation

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. I don’t know how exactly the conversation came up, but my wife, her mother and I were talking about college expenses.  My mother-in-law remarked how she had heard someone talking about how they were not going to be paying for college for their kids.  During the conversation, we talked about a few things.  One discussion point was whether a parent should pay for college.  The other was the plans that, my wife and I, have for our children.  The last was on how having limited student loans have benefited my wife and I financially. To Pay or Not to Pay There is not a right or wrong answer to this question in my opinion.  I do not believe that parents are obligated to pay for higher education for their children.  I believe that once a child reaches the age of 18, that anything a parent does after that is extra. Now, that doesn’t mean that … Read more

Net Worth Time Again

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. My goal for my net worth in 2016 was apparently too light.  I looked back on the post from last year to see what I expected or hoped for at the end of 2016. “I would be quite happy if the net worth change for 2016 was a positive 25,000 or more.  That would be a nearly 17% increase, I’ll take it.” When I totaled up my numbers for 2016, I beat that guess by over 50%.  It was a good year, not as good as some, but good enough for me.  I ended 2016 with a net worth that was higher by over $39,000.  It was my second best year ever and it was mainly driven by savings increases and some modest debt repayment.  As always, I let you look at where all the gains came from. 401K Once again it was my 401K that led the change in the net worth number.  The … Read more

Open Enrollment Yet Again

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Once again, it was Open Enrollment time at work. Enrollment usually requires me to some calculations to figure out what the best options for me are, but this year’s enrollment is fairly mundane compared with previous years.  In fact, I do not have to make any changes to my benefits at all and there is little change to my costs.  I will let you take a look at what is happening again with my benefits as well as take a peek at my medical claims this year versus last.  I will also give you a quick peek into my long-term disability coverage since I looked at that in conjunction with my enrollment. Benefit Changes This year there are no coverage changes for the plans my employer is offering me.  It is probably the first time in a few years that I did not have to evaluate which plan would be the better option for me.  As … Read more