Guardian Angels

Angel

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 Must Be Lucky I am beginning to think I have a guardian angel looking out for me, maybe more than one.  I opened our above-ground pool recently and in what seems to be an annual occurrence, I fell off the pool.  It is not that far down, but it is probably about a four foot fall. We have been on the house for about four years and I’ve fallen off the pool at least 3 times.  Every time I have managed to escape serious injury.  I was thinking about this the other day during one of my morning runs.  I tend to have random thoughts when I am running for an hour.  I had landed on my right side this time and wasn’t really able to brace myself.  I thought this was lucky because had I used my right arm to brace, I likely would have broken it.  I then thought, even if I … Read more…

Mortgage Refinance Odyssey

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. My odyssey started back in October 2014 and did not end until the end of January 2015.  What I thought would be a pretty straight-forward process, turned into anything but. The Beginning of Mortgage Refinance I am not sure how or why I decided to start looking into a refinance, maybe I was just looking to cut another expense.  The thought crossed my mind in October and I mentioned that I might be looking to refinance to a coworker.  Since they had recently purchased a house, she referred me to her lender.  I’ll call them Lender A, so things don’t get too confusing.  I was looking to eliminate the mortgage insurance from my monthly payment. Since I didn’t have the 20% down payment when I bought the house, I was required to have mortgage insurance.  That mortgage insurance premium represents $300 a month.  When I contacted Lender A, they were sure that they could execute … Read more…

There’s a New Way to Look at Retirement Calculations?

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. This article I found in The Wall Street Journal somewhat surprised me.  It discusses how advisors are now counseling their clients, not on the size of their nest egg, but rather on how much income it might be able to generate.  The surprising thing to me was that this is what I have been doing all along. It was probably about 5 years ago, that I wanted to seriously analyze my retirement savings.  I had some decisions to make and needed to figure out what my retirement savings would look like in 30+ years.  I tried looking at various on-line calculators, but found myself disappointed in them.  Essentially, the calculators weren’t robust enough for me.  I couldn’t change some basic assumptions that were built into them.  So, I built my own.  It is simply an Excel spreadsheet that takes my assumptions and turns them into an income projection.  The key to the calculations are the … Read more…

Middle Class

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. When it comes to financial articles, I usually fall for click-bait. Such was the case when I came across this article a while back.  The article discusses seven things that the middle class can no longer afford.  I consider myself middle class.  I am probably upper-middle class with and annual income around $100K.  So, naturally I was curious about the things I was supposedly unable to afford. Vacations This first item listed is vacations. This is not something that I have given up.  Granted I don’t take an expensive vacation every year, but my wife and I still get away for a few days.  I am saving for two big vacations.  One is a family vacation to Disney World.  I am expecting the cost to be about $10,000.  The trip is planned for roughly 3 years from now.  I have been saving for it for the last couple years and should easily have the money … Read more…

Throwing Away Money

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 came across an article recently in the Wall Street Journal.  It was written as a tongue-in-cheek way on how to throw away a fortune.  It is written to show you how you might be spending or throwing away money by accident.  The author listed seven ways to throw your fortune away.  I was curious as to how many of these I was guilty of in the past, and whether I was actually still doing any of them today. Delay Saving Yes, I was guilty of this in the past.  It was one on the reasons I was in a financial hole to begin with.  My retirement savings did not begin in earnest until late 2007, when I was 32.  Now, I contribute 7% to my 401k, with my employer kicking in an additional 8%.  This year, I also began fully funding an HSA.  These steps, along with additional savings and paying down debts has … Read more…

The Retirement Industrial Complex

billion dollar lottery

A few weeks ago I was perusing one of my favorite forums – the Bogleheads – and saw a post about one of my other favorite online places, Mr. Money Mustache. The gist of the post was questioning whether he was a hero or some sort of scam artist, and what played out in the commentary revealed a lot about the people who are active Bogleheads. It started like this:   Mr. Money Mustache: Hero or Foolish? by StarbuxInvestor » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:10 am Personally I don’t get this guy or want his lifestyle and see no way this is going to end well when he is older. Am I missing something? That said if he and his family are happy then more power to them.   It had become clear to me lately that most Bogleheads aren’t like me. First off, they are doing way better in their financial lives. The ones who post frequently seem to have worked many years in high paying jobs. Though they are extremely in touch with their finances, I am a bit sad to find out that they seem to be out of touch with “normal” people. I still haven’t yet … Read more…

Financial Creativity

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 wife and I are on the same page when it comes to our financial goals.  We both realize the importance of a strong emergency fund, as well as, saving for retirement.  This is driven by solid communication between the two of us.  I am the numbers guy in our household.  I know all of the ins and outs of our financial house.  My wife understands it all, but isn’t into the details like I am.  Given that we are on more of a solid financial footing now, than we were a few years ago, it is starting to become harder to increase our savings rate.  Life has a way gobbling up any money that is lying around.  That’s why I have begun to get creative in how I go about increasing our savings.  Take my recent opening of an HSA as an example. Stealth Savings Increase When we enrolled in the high-deductible healthcare plan, … Read more…