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…

My Credit Card Rewards Update

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. A while back, I talked about revising my credit card strategy. I was looking for a way to increase the amount of cash I received by using my credit card for all my purchases. I was curious as to whether I saw the increase that I thought I would, turns out, I did. My Credit Card Summary If you didn’t see that post, I basically used one card for all of the household purchases. I was using the Bank of America 1-2-3 card. The card gave 1% on all purchases, 2% on groceries and 3% on gas. If you deposited your cash reward into a Bank of America bank account, they would give you a 10% bonus. I was averaging between 1.2% and 1.4% for most months. I then saw an ad for the new Citi Double-Cash back card. You earn 1% on your purchases and then you earn another 1% on your payments. Since … Read more…

HSA Check-In

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. Since open-enrollments may be around the corner for most folks, I thought I should write an update on how my year has been going with my HSA. Quick Summary A quick refresher on the choices I made for my medical insurance this year…I opted to continue with my HSA-eligible plan, but opted for the highest deductible. The plan had two main components for me to be concerned about, a deductible and out-of-pocket maximums. The deductible is $7,000 and means that I cover all expenses (both doctor visits and prescriptions) until the deductible is met. The second, the out-of-pocket maximum, has an individual level, $6,450 and a family cap of $12,900. Overall, I had calculated that I was better off financially, so long as my claims did not go much above the $6,000 range. So, how am I doing? HSA Update As always, the little guy is leading the pack with medical expenses. For those not … Read more…

Selling Myself Short – Don’t Underestimate Yourself!

billion dollar lottery

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 am beginning to think that I have been under-estimating myself a little bit.  For those that haven’t seen it in previous posts, running is something that I do as part of my regular exercising. Currently I have been running now, more or less off and on, for about 5 or 6 years.  This past October I finished my first marathon and I am signed up for another one this coming October.  Marathons, and the training regimen that go with them, seem to be the only thing that keeps me on a regular pattern of running.  In addition to the upcoming marathon, I recently ran a couple of shorter races as they fit within the training plan. The First Race The first race was 15K, or 9.3 miles.  Before the race, friends and family will usually ask how I hope to finish or my desired pace.  For this particular race, I had run 8-miles the … Read more…

Plugging a Hole

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 was bad. I spent more money than I should have spent.  The good news is that the over spend came from my allowance, so the damage was minimal.  Still, I was in danger of not having the savings that I wanted by year-end.  I planned on having $600 set aside by the end of the year for the surprise trip for my wife in a few years.  Poor impulse control led me to spend too much money. The Spend The biggest expenses I had were a couple casino trips that I had not anticipated. I have not really been to the casino much in the last few years, so I had not set aside money for gambling purposes.  I ended up going with my good friend a couple of times.  I went mainly because he was having heart surgery.  He and I went once before the surgery and then again a couple of months … Read more…

Changing a Need to a Want

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 recently made a change to something I had previously considered a need, dry cleaning.  I don’t have to wear a shirt and tie to work, as my workplace is business casual, but I prefer it.  I have been wearing a shirt and tie for work since my internship in college.  I have also been going to the dry cleaners once a week.  In the last few weeks, I have been rethinking that habit.  I have the money budgeted for the dry cleaning expense, but I began to question whether that’s where I wanted my money to be going. Expenses Trending Upward Over the past several months, I have been seeing a couple of my expense categories trending above their respective budget allocations, namely food and what I call house.  Other than I think the kids are eating more, I can’t say for sure what is driving the increased food spending.  I just know it’s … Read more…

The American Dream

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. The headline, as designed, caught my attention. “The American Dream is out of reach.”  It being a CNN Money article, I was curious to see what is was about.  Apparently, CNN Money had conducted a poll and about 60% of the respondents said the American dream was out of reach.  I think there are a lot of pessimistic people in this country. The American Dream The simplest I way to describe the American dream is that children generally end up in a better position financially than their parents.  I am sure that is what my parents wanted for me and it is also what I want for my children.  Now, better is of course a relative term.  My dream is certainly not for them to become the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.  That would be nice though.  No, my dream is that they are more financially secure.  My hope is that I can teach … Read more…