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…

Net Worth 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. One of the tasks that I do with my finances is to track my net worth. It’s my scorecard on how I am doing financially.  I have only been diligently tracking the number since the end of 2008.  I am positive the number wasn’t pretty before that time, as I was not very good at managing my finances before then.  So, how did I do this year and what were the drivers of the overall change?  Let’s take a look. Net Worth My net worth increased 14.8% from the end of 2014 till the end of 2015. It was a roughly $19,000 increase year-over-year.  I will say that I am pleased with the number.  It’s going up and the markets did not contribute much of anything to the increase.  The increase was driven entirely by debt reduction and savings.  It is also a far cry from the roughly -$19,000 net worth I had when I … Read more…

Marketers

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. Marketers have become really good at their jobs.  They have convinced people that they can no longer live without certain things, that life is not complete unless they have certain material things.  The marketers have made ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ a way of life for some people.  I have come across a couple of instances recently that illustrate this point quite well.  You’ll have to excuse me if I come across as judgmental.  I don’t begrudge anyone’s choices.  People are free to do as they wish, but I don’t want to hear any complaints when circumstances change and people feel like they don’t have any money.  The first anecdote I’ll talk about is my wife’s college roommate (I’ll call her CR) and the second is a conversation I had with someone at work. I not sure how exactly how we came to be talking about CR, as my wife’s college reunion was a couple … Read more…

Buy the Biggest House on the Block

Home

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. It happened again.  I fell for click-bait.  The title on the link was ‘Buy the biggest house on the block’.  My first reaction was “What idiot thought this up?”  Buying too much house is one of the biggest problems people have in managing their finances and here is someone saying buy the biggest.  The link was to a brief video interview with an economist.  As it turns out, she is preaching the same principles as most do when it comes to personal finance. The interview starts out with her saying the best piece of financial advice she every received was from an older colleague when she was starting out.  She had asked for advice on whether she should buy a car or not.  Her colleague informed her that there are two sides to the interest equation, the paying side and the receiving side.  Her colleague said you always want to be on the receiving side.  … Read more…

Approaching the Limit

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. There are still times when I can still be surprised by my finances; such was the case recently when I reviewed my credit card charges.  There was a time when I would check my charges on a daily basis, but that has changed recently, probably over the last 6-9 months.  I still check them at least once a week, but I don’t watch them like a hawk. So, it was a surprise when I looked at my account online and saw that I was only about $900 away from my credit limit.  Since the limit on my card is $10,000, I was caught a little off guard.  When I looked into the details, there was nothing amiss and my finances were completely fine. How I Got There Not since I dug out of my financial hole have I been that close to my limit.  There are probably two main reasons why I was that close … Read more…

Mortgage Refinance Odyssey

Home

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 odyssey started back in October 2014 and did not end until the end of January 2015.  What I thought would be a pretty straight-forward process, turned into anything but. The Beginning of Mortgage Refinance I am not sure how or why I decided to start looking into a refinance, maybe I was just looking to cut another expense.  The thought crossed my mind in October and I mentioned that I might be looking to refinance to a coworker.  Since they had recently purchased a house, she referred me to her lender.  I’ll call them Lender A, so things don’t get too confusing.  I was looking to eliminate the mortgage insurance from my monthly payment. Since I didn’t have the 20% down payment when I bought the house, I was required to have mortgage insurance.  That mortgage insurance premium represents $300 a month.  When I contacted Lender A, they were sure that they could execute … Read more…

Year-End Financial Grade

  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. There is one number that I am diligent about tracking at year-end, my net worth. I use it as my scorecard to see how I did financially during the previous year – here’s mine for 2014. My History As I have said before, I was in a pretty deep financial hole.  I am not sure exactly how deep it was, but my net worth was probably in the negative $30K range.  This past year was not my best year in terms of dollar or percentage increase, but it was solid.  My net worth increased about 22% over last year and about $23K overall.  I am pretty happy with that increase.  I’ll discuss where the biggest changes occurred and where I think I might end this year. Yay 401k! The biggest change, by far, was in my 401k. That represented almost all of the gains in my net worth.  Between my contributions, my company’s contributions … Read more…