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

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

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

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

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