Tax Comparison

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. Tax time has come and gone, thankfully. I wouldn’t say that I dread it.  Since I plan accordingly for it throughout the previous year, it usually is a non-event.  It is more of a time annoyance than anything else.  I did receive a small refund from both the federal and state governments.  What is more interesting to me, is comparing the return this year with my returns from previous years, and looking at the tax return as a window into my financial year.  I know complete surprise from the numbers guy. Wages It was not my best year ever, but it was close, 2014 was the best. Looking at the wages line on my federal return, does not quite tell the whole story.  The reason for this is all of my health benefits and 401k contributions are removed from my wages and only the net number is reported.  On a gross basis, I had total … Read more

Seesaw

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 stock market has always amused me.  One day the world is apparently caving in, the next day everything is rainbows and butterflies.  I keep track of my 401K balance relatively often, more so to keep an accurate net worth number, not to see my rate of return.  Market gyrations do not change my investment plan.  My asset allocation is based on my risk tolerance and daily or monthly fluctuations are not going to change it.  I thought I would give you a peak into how my 401K has done over a 12 month time frame at monthly intervals as well as how it did during the Brexit volatility. Monthly Ups and Downs I went back and looked at the last 12 monthly statements from my 401K.  I was only interested in the change in market value, not the ending balance.  The ending balance would have been impacted by my contributions, so I wanted to … 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

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

Following the Plan

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. “Follow your plan.” I have told myself that a few times over the last couple of months. The situations that I said that to myself were different, but the saying applied to both. The first situation was during the stock market volatility after the summer and the other was the marathon I ran recently. I listened to myself for one and not the other. Running My Own Race I had already completed one marathon before I ran it for the second time this year, so I had an idea of what time I could finish it in. I had run a few other shorter races over the summer and generally felt pretty good. My training plan was similar to last year and I had connected with a group of guys that run together on the weekends. They are generally faster than I am, but I figure running with them helps me to improve my overall … Read more

Job Loyalty

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. Recently, the company I work for announced the benefit changes for the upcoming year. One change in particular did not go down well with the employees. People were angry, bitter and talked about disloyalty from the company. I’ll talk about the numbers surrounding the benefits in another post. In this one, I’d like to talk how people felt the change was personal, that their friend had betrayed them. I never got that worked up about it and mainly just shrugged the change off. 401k Change Maybe it is because I tend to be more analytical than most that I didn’t get too upset about the change. All the company was doing was changing when they were going to give you your 401k matching contribution. Instead of matching each paycheck with your contribution, they were changing to a once a year match in the 1st quarter of the following year. While not ideal, and certainly not … Read more

Retirement Analysis Revisited

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. With the recent 2016 benefit announcement by my company, I needed to do some modeling. Specifically, I needed to model out the impact of the 401k change. The company was going to be moving from a pay period match to an annual lump sum match.  After some fierce employee backlash, the company changed its mind, but not before I had gotten to run through some numbers in Excel. My Retirement Analysis I knew that changing the timing of the 401k matching contributions from a pay period match to an annual match wouldn’t be good for me. The question was, how severe would the impact be? I kept my first pass at the impact pretty simple. I kept my salary constant and just wanted to see the lost interest over the next 25-30 years. I kept the investment return constant at 9%. The impact in the first year was about $400. By the end of the 25 … Read more