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

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

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

Just a Feeling

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 has occurred to me that I seem to be managing my money less in terms of hard numbers and more in terms of how I feel. Granted, I still have set budget amounts for my normal monthly spending items, but savings is where things have shifted.  It is possible that with the recent stock market volatility that I have grown hesitant to add more to my Vanguard account or it is because I just don’t like the way my Capital One savings account looks.  Either way, I have decided to make a change. 50/50 My savings are not in a bad position, but I just don’t feel comfortable with the level that it’s at right now. There have been some recent hits to savings that have been easily absorbed, but have reduced the overall level in the account. Some things like pre-buying my oil for the winter are known and expected, but others like … Read more

Time for Open-Enrollment

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, open-enrollment time has arrived for me. This year’s enrollment has been relatively uneventful. There were no major changes to the benefits that I currently have and no large changes in cost either. The one change that had been introduced, the 401k change, was reversed. All in all it was fairly uneventful. I will walk through my thoughts and selections in case it might help you in the future. Health Insurance This has been the area that has seen the biggest changes over the past several years. The coverage that I have elected has come down in price over the past few years. The trade-off I have made is that I am taking on more risk. This is a trade-off I have been willing to make as a result of more stability in my financial situation. This year brought no major changes to the health coverage and only a minimal change in cost. The … Read more

Being Nimble – Financially Flexible

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. Over the past several years as I have become better at managing my finances, one trick that has kept me on budget is being nimble or flexible.  I have written in the past how flexibility has helped me to stay within my budget.  The topic has come up again recently. Our Canceled Trip My wife and I have taken a small vacation without the kids the past couple of summers.  The trip has consisted of a couple of nights staying at a hotel, a few dinners out and activities during the day.  We always budget for the getaway, usually with money from my annual bonus. This year was the same; we set aside $1,000 for the trip.  We ended up not going on the getaway. What this means is that we had $1,000 budgeted for travel expenses that we are not going to use.  Since we already fund retirement sufficiently for us and our emergency … Read more

Savings Struggles

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’ll admit it, I fall for click bait all the time, especially when it comes to personal finance articles.  My latest trap came from the following article.  The headline about the real reason Americans struggle to save made me curious.  My first reaction was people can’t save because they spend beyond their means.  Was there another underlying factor I hadn’t heard of?  Turns out, no it was exactly what I thought.  There was some other interesting or scary depending upon your perspective, information from the survey conducted by the Federal Reserve. Savings Struggles The survey revealed that 47% of those surveyed would not be able to handle a $400 emergency expense.  That really blew my mind, that something as small as $400 would cause people to have to borrow money.  That even isn’t that big of a surprise expense.  Simple car repairs anymore seem to run in the hundreds of dollars.  Most car or homeowners … Read more