Refinanced 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. I did it again, I refinanced my mortgage.  This was the third time since my initial closing on my house that I refinanced.  It has been slightly amusing as each time I think that it will be the last time, but that hasn’t happened yet. The first couple of times I refinanced, it was more about lowering my monthly payment.  That was not the case this time around, this time it was more about lowering the life and total payments. Paying Attention Since I had just refinanced my mortgage back in early 2015, I had not really expected to go through the process again this year. I had a 3.99% 30-year fixed mortgage which I was going to pay off early, in just under 24 years.  However, I began to notice that the rate for 30-year mortgages began to drop again.  I kept noticing headlines and such mentioning that the rates were nearing historic lows.  … Read more…

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…

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…

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…

Bells and Whistles – Do You Need the Extras?

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 almost fell for it, the common trap of buying more than you need. I Need… Recently, I had begun thinking about buying a GPS watch for running.  My typical running style is to just run as fast as my body is willing to run on any given day.  Sometimes that’s a quick pace and other days it is a slower pace.  That works for the majority of my runs, but on the really long runs, that can be problematic. It becomes a problem when I start out running too fast on a long run.  I essentially tire myself out to quickly and I don’t have the energy to finish my run.  In theory, I could just time how fast I’m running over a given mile and adjust my pace if needed.  The problem is that I don’t always know where a given mile is on my run, as my routes vary with the distance. … Read more…

Expense Reduction

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 my financial goals is to always try and reduce my expenses. I always want to be efficient with how I am spending my money and to control the leakage that seems to occur when I am not diligent.  That leakage is what got me into financial trouble years ago.  I simply was not paying attention to where my money was being spent and ended up spending more than I was making. Now, whenever I can, I reduce expenses.  Since I have been doing this for a few years, there are often no big changes, but this year, I managed to reduce my expenses by about $150 a month.  There was another change that began when 2015 started and another change that is currently in the works.  Those two additional changes will reduce my expenses by another $300-$400 a month. Dry Cleaning It was probably May or June, when I began to think about … Read more…