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

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

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

Marathoning

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. Long-distance running has been one of my main hobbies now for about six or seven years.  It serves as a useful endeavor because it helps me to stay dedicated to exercising and also to reduce my stress.  I was reminded again of the parallels between distance running and long-term financial planning when I completed my third marathon. Long Build Up For those that have never run a marathon, it takes some time to prepare.  The training plan that I follow is 17 weeks long.  It is one of the reasons I like running marathons.  By signing up for the race, I set a goal for which I need a significant lead time to prepare.  It takes time to build up your running distance to the point where you can tackle 26 miles.  Do too much too fast and you risk injury. Similarly in personal finance, you need to set goals.  Goals help focus your efforts, … Read more

Performance Review 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. My annual performance review has come and gone this year. I always seem to be harder on myself than my boss.  This is a good thing, as he thought I performed well over the past year.  There were a couple of areas he thought I should work on and I don’t disagree with his assessment.  Overall he liked my contributions to the team and hoped for more of the same in the coming year.  In conjunction with the performance review is the compensation review.  The money is tied to performance, so the better you perform, in theory the more money you can earn.  This is all subject to the company’s overall performance.  The money is broken into 2 pieces, salary and bonus.  Naturally, I’m going to give you a peak into how much I received and what I am planning on doing with it. The Salary In my opinion, I would almost always rather have … Read more

Surprise

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. Whenever I have budget surprises, they normally aren’t the happy kind.  They usually mean something has been more expensive than I anticipated or there was an unexpected expense.  This time is different however.  There is going to be a surprise source of income. My wife will start bringing in an income starting in September.  She will be providing childcare for someone 5 days a week.  She will be earning between $1,000 and $1,400 dollars a month depending upon the number of days she watches the baby.  Since I don’t count on her for any income, this certainly will be bonus income. What to do? The easy answer to this question would be to save it all.  Though it would not be easy to convince my wife this is the best course of action.  So, I need to balance saving some of the extra income with the need to enjoy some if it too.  What I … Read more