Benefit Time 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. It’s time for the annual benefit open-enrollment.  This used to cause me stress because I knew costs would go up and I’d have to figure out how to fit that into my tight budget.  Years ago, a $20 or $30 a month increase in my benefit costs was too much.  Thankfully, it has become a non-event.  My costs still went up, so I just have to shift some things around to keep the budget balanced. My Selections There were no actual changes to what I selected last year.  I kept all of the same plans and coverage limits.  For the family, we are on the highest deductible health plan.  The deductible for an individual is $3,500 and then $7,000 for the whole family.  In the 3 or 4 years that we have been on this particular plan, we thankfully have never met the deductible.  Even if we had to meet the deductible now, I have … Read more

Ever Changing Plans

Car

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. If you’ve learned anything about me over the last few years, you’ve learned that I am a planner.  I am always thinking about then future.  This is especially true when it comes to my personal finances.  I have short, medium and long-term plans.  Our next car replacement is falling into the short-term bucket.  We finish paying off my wife’s car this year and the plan was to wait a little while, maybe a year, then get a new car for me.  That plan is getting a revision. My Wife’s Car We bought my wife’s car in December of 2011 just after the little guy was born.  We had a smaller 4-door sedan, which was just not going to cut it with 2 small kids.  We sold the sedan for a slight loss and rolled the negative equity into the new car loan with a 6-year payment term.  Our financial shape at the time was ok, … Read more

Changed Mindset

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 like how my thinking has changed over time.  Gone are the days when I would just spend my annual bonus like a drunken sailor.  Not that I ever was a drunken sailor, but you get the idea. I just found out my annual performance bonus for the year.  My wife and I had plans for it, we were thinking of putting a screened-in deck on the back of our house.  Instead, we are doing the very boring thing of just putting it into savings.  That would not have happened 10 or 15 years ago.  It’s nice to see the change. Annual Bonus It’s not technically an annual bonus, but I have received one every year.  I have performed well enough to merit one every year that I have been with the company.  We had been given warnings that the bonus pool this year was not going to be as big as it had been … Read more

Conversation on Parents Paying for College

Graduation

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 don’t know how exactly the conversation came up, but my wife, her mother and I were talking about college expenses.  My mother-in-law remarked how she had heard someone talking about how they were not going to be paying for college for their kids.  During the conversation, we talked about a few things.  One discussion point was whether a parent should pay for college.  The other was the plans that, my wife and I, have for our children.  The last was on how having limited student loans have benefited my wife and I financially. To Pay or Not to Pay There is not a right or wrong answer to this question in my opinion.  I do not believe that parents are obligated to pay for higher education for their children.  I believe that once a child reaches the age of 18, that anything a parent does after that is extra. Now, that doesn’t mean that … Read more

Net Worth Time 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. My goal for my net worth in 2016 was apparently too light.  I looked back on the post from last year to see what I expected or hoped for at the end of 2016. “I would be quite happy if the net worth change for 2016 was a positive 25,000 or more.  That would be a nearly 17% increase, I’ll take it.” When I totaled up my numbers for 2016, I beat that guess by over 50%.  It was a good year, not as good as some, but good enough for me.  I ended 2016 with a net worth that was higher by over $39,000.  It was my second best year ever and it was mainly driven by savings increases and some modest debt repayment.  As always, I let you look at where all the gains came from. 401K Once again it was my 401K that led the change in the net worth number.  The … Read more

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