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R.I.P. Trash D.R.I.P.

August 1st, 2021 at 04:45 am

Well its been nice knowing 'ya.  

A long time ago in a galaxy... ok, I gotta stop that.  Anywho, it's been 2007 since I started a little experiment.  I would work out how to do without paying for the local trash pickup, and I would invest the money.  This would be my incentive to cut back on my trash.   To do this I started a DRIP (Direct ReInvestment Program) online.  I invested in a stable stock, and put in originally $25/mo. as this was close to the monthly trash charge.  I upped it after a few years to $40 and left it there ever since.   Well with my efforts to clean up my finances this year, along with my finances being tight as I put so much into my 457 plan + pension + HSA + taxes + insurance (yikes!), I am taking home only 15% of my gross pay right now.  Any little bit will help and so I have decided to stop monthly investments in this stock.  I'm sure its for the best as tracking all these investments if I should ever decide to sell will be ... lets just say "a challenge".  

So to get two benefits, I stop the investments and save myself tracking and get a little extra cash.  Yep, not a bad idea.

Time to start cleaning up

July 13th, 2021 at 01:37 am

Over the years I have had investments in a number of things.  Home, pension, brokerage, IRA, 457, HSA, DRIP, Savings Bonds, CDs (maybe more?).  Anyway, as I get closer to retirement I realize that in some things fewer is better.  Or at least that is the case in this point in life.  

I've come to this realization through a number of things I have seen lately.  One of them has been working with my mother.  She has (and I have helped from time to time) gone through her things and has been getting rid of things she no longer needs.  This is a great thing to do as you get older.  It makes life easier, and certainly easier for someone else if that person has to come after you to deal with your items. 

For me this has been a slow process, but it is a good thing in any case.  Which comes to the posting.  For a time I had up to 8 DRIPs.  They made sense when I got them.  Little to no cost of purchase & ownership, sometimes special benefits to owning stock.    However in the past few years those benefits have become fleeting as brokerages now charge almost no fees.  Of the original 8 one was bought out to go private and one I sold last year to add a "loss" to my income to cut back on taxes at 24%.  This left me with six.  This year I was looking at the remaining ones, and two of them have started in the past years to charge a fee with each dividend to send me the money.  OK, not much, but still, it adds up to 2-3% of the dividend is lost.  So what to do....

Well I always heard you could transfer your ownership to other brokerages.  So I started to do research on transferring two of my remaining six to my brokerage.  I found the paperwork to fill out, and went to a local office last week.  The person there made it sound very easy, so asked for a little help on filling out the papers and in 15 minutes handed them over to the receptionist.  If this works without issue I may do another one or two later this year.   I have two I plan on keeping as DRIPs for now.  One I invest monthly, and the other gives a 5% discount on reinvested money.

Isn't the greatest thing ever I guess, but I think its a good thing.  And my GF who is doing taxes says it will greatly help in tax prep in the future.  Yeah, I think this is worth the effort.

 

UPDATE: Only one week later and both stocks have appeared in my brokerage - faster than I expected by a lot.  And it was so easy.  Now I'm considering if I should do this again with the remaining four I have.  Something more to consider this week.

Six month update? May as well...

July 5th, 2021 at 03:31 pm

Well I did a 3 month update, and as the amounts seem to keep rising, so why not a quick six month update as well.

Investments: Started the year at $1,305,000 and as of today stand at $1,531,000.  That gives an increase of $226,000.  With contributions of $33,300 that leaves growth of $192,700.  That growth is just crazy.  Feels like I moved into the 1%. 💸

Also financially: I did a $20,000 in-plan Roth rollover this spring.  Going to hate the tax hit this year, but it is what it is.  And I may do a second one this year if I get really ambitious.

Work related

Good news: My golden handcuffs come off in 18 months.  😀

Bad News: I have to go back into office 2 days a week starting in Sept.  😒

This isn't needed to do our work, but there are people that have had to go to the office throughout this mess, and because of that they aren't going to let the rest of us telework forever.  GRRRRR...   Also due to that I have not used annual leave so far this year as I want to use it after we start going back into the office.  So from Sept. '21 to Dec. '22 I want to use 99 annual leave days (40 days carried over into 2021 + earning 26 each year ('21 & '22) + 7 days of compensatory time I have accumulated over the years and never used).

Other: Started going to the gym this January. 💪  Lost some of the softness that had built up over the past year.  This is a good thing. 

Life goes on - just working on cleaning up my finances and my health as the finish line approaches.

Passing the Quarter Pole...

April 5th, 2021 at 01:56 pm

What is it they say in horse racing... "Passing the quarter pole"?  (Actually I checked and that is when you are a quarter mile from the finish, so I have this backwards.  Oh well...) In any case, here we are one quarter of the way through the current year, spring is coming, and finances are doing well.  And its about all I can talk about as the downside to working from home every day is there is nothing much to talk about.

My investments started the year at 1,305k, but now my investments are up to 1,440k in one quarter. That an increase of 135k.  Invested 7+11.5 or 18.5 which leaves growth of 116.5.    That's more than I earn in a year, and much more than I take home - yikes.  This has to go down at some point, doesn't it???

Finally started working out in a gym again after a year away.  Its good for me as I was getting a bit soft.

Also finally emptied out a storage unit I had for a year & half.  They kept upping the cost, to where it was $200/mo. Now I can use that to pay bills as I am putting so much into Roth investments that I only get small paychecks up through October.

As I barely drive any more my car that I was going to replace I am just keeping it plugging along for now.

Just in a holding pattern.....

2020 Year End Review

January 2nd, 2021 at 05:19 am

Wow, when you thought "life can't get any crazier", 2020 comes along and takes that statement as a challenge.  With that stating the obvious, here is my year in review.

Well I sure didn't expect this.  I had been expecting some type of pullback at the start of the year and March sure gave it to us.  Yet like everyone else here I am with amazing growth by year end.  I started the year with investments at $1,090,000 and ended with them at $1,305,000.  I put $50,000 into my accounts which means they grew $165,000.  That's way more than I gross in a year (and multiples of my yearly expenses).   Hard to believe this amount doesn't even match the 2019 growth, though I discount that given the large drop at the end of 2018 inflating that number.  As I mentioned last year, I was able to double contribute to my 457 account this year for a total of $39k.  Of that I contributed as 95% Roth.   I also upped my savings account (outside of the investments) by $5,000 which is nice to see too (its now over 1 year of expenses). 

As part of my "investments" (though not included above) I am one year further along with my pension.  I now have a vested yearly payout of $36k, though I need to hold on to the beginning of 2023 for that.  The exciting thing for me is that I am now eligible for an immediate reduced pension.  I could leave today and get $24k/year, but I think I can handle sticking around for two more years.  I remember 2003 when I was unemployed and getting around $1,000/mo. unemployment, having very little savings and a mortgage.  And thinking that unemployment would run out in a few months, and then what?  My situation today is a world of difference.

No Gas, No Problem! (Plus a Pension!)

June 20th, 2020 at 10:06 pm

Well its been a while, but since I last posted here I have worked from home for over 3 months since the last time I drove in to the office. What a strange time. I filled up the gas tank before I drove home that last day as I had no idea what was to come. Since then I have used just over 1/2 of the tank. And I have a small car and a small tank. There have been stretches where I have not left the house other than to jog at lunch for over two weeks. The last two days I went out for a short drive, I think it was the first time I was out on back to back days.

Due to this crazy situation I have not been taking any time off from work, nor will I for the near future at least. I now get 26 days off per year (annual leave), and I was at the carry over limit coming into this year, so I need to use all 26 this year, or they get converted into sick leave (not something I want to do as I already have over 6 months worth of sick leave built up). So far I used 1 day in January, and with things as they are I won't be taking my usual time off in the summer, nor time off around Labor Day, AND.... if that's not enough, I will soon be given time off from my employer to take care of my mother for her second knee replacement. This time off won't count against my annual nor sick leave balance. Its very possible I won't be using any annual leave until September, maybe October. OK, so I will have a few months to burn 25 days off - this could get interesting. Yes, I do plan on taking time off to go to Florida (probably 10 days), assuming they are open for business late October/early November, so there is that, but that's all I have planned for now.

On a slightly different front, I just passed a very important (or not so important - take your pick) milestone for my work. I just passed the point last week where I can quit work and get an early retirement pension without waiting. Yes, its reduced (about 60% of what I earned to this point), but I can now say no matter what I will have money coming in for the rest of my life. Now its 2.5 more years I have to work to get to the golden point. When I hit that date I can get 100% of my earned pension, plus a 6 year 50% supplement pension as well, and a subsidy toward health insurance that I can keep buying from my employer for life. OK, that's probably worth double what I would get today - maybe more, so it's like I hit the bronze medal level. Pretty dang good, but lets see if I can make it all the way to gold medal.

2019 Year End Financial Roundup

February 15th, 2020 at 03:04 pm

OK, time for the 2019 review (better late than never?).

To start - my investments ended the year at $1,090,000, a fabulous number. A great year for me investment wise, but given the big drop at the end of 2018 it inflates the returns for 2019. So two ways to look at it for me. For the last year they increased $265k (with $51k of additions) (amazing), OR for the last two years the investments grew $249k (with $104k of that my contributions) (pretty darn good on an annual basis, but nothing like 2017). I think the more realistic numbers come from looking at the last two years. Will this keep up - who knows? Due to having a pension I have been going near 95% stocks and I am starting to consider cutting back on the stock allocation starting this year.

Also I have one more year added to my pension so that now the vested yearly pension is $35k though I have to keep with the job to 2023 to get that. I have a discounted early retirement option I can start getting around the end of June this year(!) (would be around $22k). Nice to know I am pretty well set at this point.

The End is coming

February 15th, 2020 at 02:03 pm

Well the end of my pseudo / pretend / whatever pre-retirement. Not really pre-retirement I guess, but it will be 2 weeks being a caretaker with my mother recovering from surgery. And I am sure retirement could feel like this. Pretty easy really. After a few days she has been able to get around and take care of herself (not perfect, but she can and is mostly willing), but when you have as much sick leave to burn as I do, and you can use it to take care of a relative, why shouldn't I take advantage of the opportunity?

In any case, being able to sleep in day after day, sorta lose track of the day of the week, not stressing about money, binge Netflix, yeah - I could get used to this. Nice to see my accounts go up while I have been here. Also have been able to go to the really inexpensive grocery store and picked up some workout supplements, protein bars, and more for not much. That's a nice plus too.

Retirement is nice - I see why people recommend it.

Financial Oracle to the rescue

December 12th, 2019 at 10:04 pm

(NOTE: Previously posted this summer during the time of the Purge. - Reposting as I still have the text)

My buddy at work has over the years seen my finances and has heard what I do to improve my finances. So as time has gone on he has asked me more and more questions, especially of late. He inherited some money from His father's estate recently. I don't know the amount, but I think it is a hundred thousand or two, something like that. First his questions were where to save, how to invest, somewhat general things. Over this time he has trusted my wisdom on finances more and more. I have become the defacto Financial Oracle. Of course with great power come great responsibility. [Hmmmmm.... I think I heard that some place before. Well in any case....]

So this week he comes over and starts telling me about a trip he took to the bank and how he was offered investment "counseling". I had to put that in "quotes" because it reminds me of the phrase "With friends like these, who needs enemies?". So he starts to try to explain what they were offering him, and I tell him it sounds like a variable annuity, a very very bad product. He insists that's not what its called, but still he didn't understand what it was and if it was good.

And so starts........

****** Financial Oracle to the Rescue [Play appropriate theme music here] ******

I finally tell him I can't give him any better answer without whatever paperwork they gave him. I told him I don't care what they said, they could say anything. What matters is on the paper. And I was willing to look it over if he liked. So yesterday I got paperwork from him for the two products they were proposing. And an eyefull it was.

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WARNING: Crazy dry financial info follows. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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First thing is these were called "Buffered investment securities". Ok, have to say I didn't know what these things are. I don't know every financial product out there after all [Oops.... don't let him hear that...]. So off to Investopedia for some research. Hmmmmm... some products of a general nature that help you taking on some of the risk when the market, or whatever you are basing it on, goes south. Ok, so what's the catch? Well doesn't say specifically, but each product has its own downside so its up to you to read the fine print and figure it out what do the providers get out of it.

OK, with that out of the way it was time to start reading, or in my case skimming through and finding the parts that are important (there are walls of text in spots, mostly telling you things you should already know. I'll save my eyesight, thank you very much.).

So I start with document #1 and what do I find? First there is 5% commission he must pay up front, though it can be from 2% to 8% so throw that money away to start (apparently you don't know the exact percentage until they print out the final paperwork for you to review and sign). The investment follows the S&P 500 going off of the index values at the start and end dates only (ignores everything in between). It also ignores dividends (which runs about 2%/year right now). So as this is for 5 years, there is another 10% of earnings you lose out on versus investing in an S&P 500 ETF. Add in any compounding of this money and it could easily cost him 20% of his investment in earnings. He will get the growth in the index at the end, but only based on the starting 95% of his investment.

So that was the down side, what the company gains. And what does he get for giving away his money for 5 years? The company will cover his losses if the index goes down, but only down to 26%. After that he is responsible for any further declines. So say the index goes way down, like 45%, how would my friend make out? Well he would lose the 20% I previously mentioned, but the company will cover the losses of 26%. So basically instead of being down 35% (45% loss less the 10% earned in dividends if he invests in an ETF that follows the index) he would now be down 39%( 45% loss + 20% of potential earnings lost {see above} - 26% covered by the company ). So even if the market goes down, you are losing about the same amount of money (ok not exactly - there would be taxes on the dividends, but still...) And your money is locked up for 5 years. Oh, and BTW, there is no collateral, so if the company goes bankrupt, you're out of everything. Oh you do get growth if the index goes up, but you lose out on the earnings in any case, and the 5% haircut up front. After I told him all of this he was basically "OK, I got it, this is terrible. I had no idea." Whew, talk about a lose-lose scenario for investing in this "great package".

PS: I just reviewed the second document. This one is worse, which is hard to believe. It follows the Dow Jones Industrial index value over 3 years. For a 3 year lock in of your money, you are limited to 15% growth (that's it, you cannot earn more!), you pay 3-5% up front (again, decided on the day it is created), lose all your dividends (say 6%), and ignore compounding on that money, and how much do you save if the market tanks? 15% max, but that's after losing the 9-11% previously mentioned. Or a savings of.... 4-6%. And for scenarios that almost never happen. Whooo hooo, what a deal!!!! I can save myself 4% of potential losses if I limit my upside to (15% max less loss of money from 9-11% , so therefore a max earnings of 4-6% over 3 years) no matter what happens. If the market goes up 50% over 3 years? Sorry you get 4%, the brokers will keep the other 46%. What a deal.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

If you've read this far, I think they change the names used for these things so they are tough to look up and research, but this seems to cover it: https://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2018/10/26/buffered-return-enhanced-notes-bad-investment-choice-that-sounds-good/#81c90c625378

Final note: to be fair, the second item isn't exactly what I wrote. Weirdly, if the index drops 10-15% you make out great with this security. But if the market drops 16% (one percent greater drop), you actually lose an extra 15%. (WTF???) So I could look at this as a bet on the market dropping from 10 to 15 percent. Anything else and you lose, possibly big time. I had to check it three times to make sure this was right - its one weird financial thing to stay far far away from.

Final final last note: If its not clear, just say no to anything promoted like this. Seriously, if you can't understand it, just stay away. These aren't bad, they're atrocious. You may as well burn your money.

Under the wire

December 12th, 2019 at 09:44 pm

Just a note here: Its a shame about the lost blog entries from this summer. Oh well, life goes on...

As a reminder to myself they included "99 bottles of Beer on the wall", "My extra Max savings plan - 457 Catchup" and "Financial Oracle" . Sigh (UPDATE: I found saved texts to myself with each of these - I may be reposting them soon - yay).

And now on to the wire (No, not that "The Wire").

In my never ending efforts to keep my lifetime taxes to a minimum given my current profession and maximize spending potential (or at least see how high I can make my pile 'o cash stack when I am really old), I am trying to keep my earnings subject to taxes below certain thresholds. For now that is to keep my marginal taxes on the federal taxes no higher than 22%. In the past that was never a problem, but now, its becoming an issue.

I've estimated my future tax hit given SSI, pension, & RMDs (i.e. when I am 70+ y.o.) that will require taxes and they are already going into the 24% range. Yes, only a small slice will hit 24%, and yes, for me RMDs won't start until 2032 at the earliest (could be 2033 if the new bill affecting retirement accounts is signed into law), but the earlier you start on adjusting your finances to handle situations like this the easier it will be. Also there is the issue of IRMAA surcharges may be in my future if I don't work on my future taxes (The IRMAA is effectively an excess tax, so lets treat it as it really is).

Anyway, this past month I estimated the upcoming federal tax hit for 2019 and I estimated I am going to be right up against the top of the 22% tax band this year. I guess this is good, it shows I am taking advantage of all the room I have for this tax rate.

Nice to be under the wire this year. Next year I may sell a loser or two out of my brokerage account to try and get me back under the wire - we'll see how it all plays out next year.

Stranger in a Strange Land

February 21st, 2019 at 12:24 am

Long time … No write …

With all due respect to Robert Heinlein (from where this title came from) I felt like a stranger in a strange land during my visit last week to nearby shopping mall.

Ruminations follow

Last week I ended up going to a local shopping mall. How often do I go to any shopping mall. Maybe once or twice a year any more. Now I am not one of those that shops online or on TV, I'm lucky if I spend a few hundred a year any more, but I just have no need to go to the mall.

Now why did I go there? Well I had a ticket for a free movie at the attached theaters, and I had over an hour to burn, so walking I went. And as I looked around it seemed like 50% of the stores were clothes (mostly women's), 20% shoes, 10% department stores, and the rest some type of specialty store or personal service (massage anyone?). And everyone looked so excited to be there (little kids that wanted nothing to do with it being the exception). But for me it was just boring. There was just nothing I wanted and the stores mostly looked alike. At least the Disney Store was interesting, but only for maybe 10 minutes of browsing.

I dunno, have I just gotten to the age shopping has no appeal? Is it I have everything I want, and by not watching TV (and not even getting magazines now) I don't get mesmerized into wanting more and more? Is this just the new "thing" and it will pass?

I admit I feel happier this way, but walking in those crowds I just feel like I can't even understand what I am seeing any more. I guess I'll just stay in my bubble for now....

Surprise - you're going to Disney (WDW)

September 29th, 2018 at 11:42 pm

No this isn't about winning a free vacation (I wish), nor a relative taking us there, and it *is* about saving money, so bear with me for a bit...

Since the beginning of the decade me and the SG-GF have been taking vacations to Florida in November due to using my mother's time share (near Disney). She has a set week to use at that time, and at first I paid for the use, and now it is free as a payment for my re-roofing her house. Our trips to FL had, for a time alternated between Disney visits and Universal Studio visits.

So last year we did a crazy two week FL vacation by using the time share and matching up free time share stays with time share tours. And then we got 7 day Disney tickets, and basically did Death by Disney (as compared to Death by Chocolate - see my entry from last year about that). It was great (two weeks, cost a little over $1,000 for both of us and seven days at WDW, yeah that was a hell of a deal), but I think we both had enough of Disney for a while.

.......

Which leads to today. The SG-GF was about to pre-purchase our tickets this week. As she is a DoD employee she can buy tickets on base and at a discount. For Disney, the discount was almost zero to other ways to buy, but for other attractions, such as Universal Studios, there was a good discount on tickets. And as this year was to be our year to go to Universal, that meant we would be having a less expensive trip to Florida. And really, it has been 4 years since we were at Universal (One year instead of Universal we hit other less major FL attractions, which accounts for the long time), so we were psyched and ready to go there.

Well..... not so fast!!!! Disney has had a very, very nice discount offer for active military for some time, but not for DoD employees. Soooo... wassup??? Disney just extended the discount offer for tickets to DoD employees starting in the middle of September (we hadn't heard about it) but only thru the end of the year. A "one time offer", they say. I sorta think it has to do with Star Wars Land coming to WDW next year and people are waiting to go to Disney for next year, and therefore attendance is dropping somewhat. I have no proof of this, but it makes sense.

Anywho.... with the much lower price, WDW tickets are now very comparable with Universal Studio prices. The time frame for us is perfect. And these are "Plus" tickets, which also allows us to go to their water parks, Disney World of Sports, free miniature golf (SG-GF thinks I am nuts about doing miniature golf, but I say we should try it once so we know what its like there).

We would have bought tickets earlier this summer, but we waited to make sure the SG-GF was feeling up to going to the parks (she had some physical problems this summer - she's much better now). So by waiting to buy the tickets, we will save money by seeing WDW again this year, and hitting Universal next year instead at lower prices. We figure this will be perfect, as with Star Wars Land opening next summer WDW will probably be overrun with tourists next November, so going to Universal then will be the smart choice anyway.

I love it when a plan accidentally falls together. Bwah-hah-hah....

Still alive - Still saving.

July 21st, 2018 at 11:15 pm

Hard to make posts when most everything is going well. Maybe not hard, but at least interesting. Anywho... everything is going well if you ignore the job. And relationship wise too. The job... well that's another story. Lots of boring info follows, but I wasn't up to making these separate entries, so they all get packed into one.

And away we go....

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Finances
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I don't have the dollar amounts here, but I did do a half year analysis back at the end of June, and the return on my investments was - UGH. Maybe 2-3%. I forget exactly - probably just trying to forget. (Its gone up some percentages in the past month - so go me). My investments have been growing though as I have been putting money in faithfully. In fact....

... I have only $800 more to contribute before I hit the limit for this year. And that means next paycheck goes up maybe $700 and then the rest of the year goes up $1,300. Hurrah, I survived another year of retirement plan contributions. And I put in the Roth IRA money at the beginning of the year. And I have already paid property taxes for the year. And made all of my major purchases for the year. And I got a 4% raise that will show up in my next paycheck. 4% is not bad in today's economy. So I'm looking at large saving numbers for the remaining 5 months.

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Frugality
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Well I got the lawn mower from the SG-GF working and it was / is much better than mine was, so I was able to sell off my 10 year old clunker. I may have had it longer - all I remember is I got it at a yard sale long long ago for $20. I sold it this spring for $10, so I figure I was able to use it for $1/year. Not toooooo shabby! I've been keeping my expenses extra low. Maybe $25/week for food, $20/week for auto gas, electricity for the past year was maybe $500, same for natural gas, and internet now costs about that as well. Phone (cell & MagicJack) is around $125/year. No cable. So utilities are not much.

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Ebay-ing
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This has been going very well, though it comes and goes in spurts. For the year I already have well over $1,000 in sales, probably close to $1,200. A few things were for the SG-GF, but still... I like it. As usual I still think I need to pick up the sale pace. Not sure how, lower the prices perhaps? Also had one Craigslist sale for $100 for wooden train stuff I pick up here and there - probably cost me $20 for the lot.

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Relationship
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The relationship with the SG-GF is going great. In fact she is retiring at the end of the year and moving in with me after that. OMG, that means we need to condense our lives and get rid of lots of stuff. I think in the end it will be great, but its going to be stressful for a while until we are settled.

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Health
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No major problems so far this year. Though it does seem like small things crop up that never would when I was younger. Growing old #@$%!@$%!!!. I have kept up the extra workouts at work, so muscle definition is doing great now. Makes me wonder how I could have turned out if I was this dedicated to working out when I was in my 20s. Oh well, better late than never.

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Job
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Left this for last. Oh man, there have been days and weeks and... where I have really (and I mean REALLY) hated this job. It was never like this, in fact I sorta liked it before, until I got put on the PFH (shorthand for Project From Hell) a year or two ago. No one thing is horrendous about it (ok, I can think of a few), but there are so many ways this was set up awful, it just added up to Gawd Awful. I'm sorta dealing with PTSD now. Even when the day is good, any little thing I get dealing with it just rattles me.

Good news is I did get the 4% raise, and my annual leave starts accumulating an extra 6 days / year starting this fall. I am gonna need it.

**********

So life is doing good. Could be better, but sure could be worse too. How long until a pension kicks in? Four years, eight months. Is this what it feels like waiting to get out of prison? Who do I talk to to get a pardon?

Teamwork helps

March 14th, 2018 at 02:36 am

Since I haven't written for a while, there is a lot here, and I have them categorized for ease of reading. Can you say I have worked on a computer for too long? I knew you could.

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Finances
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Been a while since I posted anything here. Life has been going well, no major issues, watching my money go into my 457 plan and being overwhelmed by the drop in value from the markets going down some. Ooops, I just checked, and it is only a few thousand from the high value I saw in mid February, so I guess that's still doing well too.

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Making extra money
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Been doing well selling on ebay lately. So far this year the total is over $500 and that's not shabby considering I am just trying to get rid of things now. Which brings me to my help.

I was talking with the SG-GF a few months ago about everything I was finding as I dug through closets, and pointed out I had a number of unopened Mary Kay items from my EX sitting here and would she know someone that I could give them to. She quickly set me straight (that is - helped me) - I might be sitting on a gold mine of no longer produced products that still have demand. To me it was junk, what did I know? Well I checked on ebay and sure enough, these items do sell. Not sure if they sell for more then originally sold for, but still.... nice getting these out the door and getting a good chunk of money back. I am down to my last six bottles/tubes (I sold two more today), so I'm not getting rich, but this is working great.

My next area of concentration is going to be my toy trains. I probably have 200% of what I really need, so half of them need to go. Biggest problem is figuring out what to sell, and how much to ask for. Oh well, I will make it work one way or another.

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More Finances
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On the credit card front I just got two new credit cards to get the bonus money/points. These are my first ones since the middle of last year. Each one was "use it for $500, get $100 worth of points". Already used one on this year's home insurance (just a smidge over $500), and the other one will be used on either car insurance or a plane ticket for my son, probably both as neither is $500 by itself.

And now with my Real Estate taxes pre-paid for the year, and these items out of the way.... not sure where I will need to spend any serious money until... maybe my vacation to Florida in November????

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Frugality
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I had gotten a Sam's club membership on sale last year (in Feb.), and mostly used it for discounted gas. I got their credit card to get a bonus there too. Really wasn't worth that much for me, but still cheaper gas worked out nice. However, I found out about the gotcha last month. Turns out they don't give any cash back (on the credit card) unless you are a member of the club. And since they only give you cash back after your anniversary with the club.... well you need to sign up (or in my case - they just billed it to my credit card with them!!!) for the next year to get your cash back from the prior year. Those sneaky devils. Ok, so I didn't complain, and got my cash back (they make you do it at their store!). But as I researched it, I found the way to make this work for me.

The membership says you can get all your membership cost back any time for the year you are on. Soooooo.... if I don't use their credit card to buy things, I can use their membership for free for a year, and then cancel and get the last year's membership back, and not lose the cash back on their credit card. AH-HA, I see a work around that will do fine for me. I just need to remember to cancel sometime next January. OK, discounted gas for free, yeah I will take that just fine, thank you very much.

Apparently to not prosper was the right choice

January 6th, 2018 at 11:34 pm

In a blast from the past (In particular

Text is this and Link is http://bennkar.savingadvice.com/2006/08/27/to-prosper-or-not-to-prosper-that-is-the_13505/
this entry) I mused on whether participating in "Prosper" or other lending club web site would be a good choice. I never wrote more on it as I never tried it. Don't know if it was fear of the unknown, inertia, or just what, but I passed on it, and then just forgot it. I guess other things were on my mind then (like getting divorced!).

Anywho, this was brought back to me today as I was reading personal finance forums and there was a long thread on Lending Club, Prospr, and the like. From what most people wrote, it turned out that while they did make money with the sites, it was not nearly as much as they hoped, and that over time the payback tended to get worse and worse, and now most people were just cashing out and wouldn't bother with it any more. And their returns in the past years had usually been less than 10%, often only a few percent a year. Now they were saying how they lost out on having that money in the market in the run up of the past years.

I suspect the first couple of years would have done well, but with interest rates so low only the desperate would use these sites any more. And it turns out they do a very bad job (or no job) of getting the outstanding debts.

Turns out most fads are just passing fads and a waste of time and money. I guess the lending club model (at least here in USA) was a passing fad I'm glad I passed on.

2017 Year End Financial Roundup

January 4th, 2018 at 07:56 pm

OK, as a follow up to last year's End of Year Financial Status, I have put together a 2017 version...

*** 2017 Year End Financial Roundup ***

OK, so where do I start? First these numbers are rounded to get approximate performance. OK, so how about looking at my different savings vehicles and see how they performed? OK, lets start there...

*My 457 plan (401k equivalent): Started the year at $460k now, and is now $563k. I put in $24k, that leaves $79k growth - almost 17% growth after backing out contributions. Overall that is a 22% increase.

* My ROTH IRA: Started the year over $113k, ended the year a little under $139k. I put in $6.5k, leaving growth of $20k. That's almost 17.7% growth and an overall 23% increase.

* My Brokerage: I Started the year at $57500, now $80600. I put in $14,300, leaving growth of $8800 - 15.3% growth, and overall 40% increase.

* HSA Account: New this year, it ended up at $4400

* Loan: New this year, an outstanding loan to the SG-GF. Current balance of about $5000.

So maybe a ~16% growth for the year. And overall a 25.6% increase. (Yes, I didn't work out my DRIP numbers as I don't have numbers for them (they're around $50k), plus I wasn't adding anything to them this year - except for my trash DRIP). I really need to get stock certificates from them so I can transfer them to my brokerage (or sell them - not sure which makes sense).

Sooo.... how about my savings rate? The percentages are similar to last year

Text is (See 2016 here) and Link is http://bennkar.savingadvice.com/2016/12/11/year-end-analysis-early-december-edition_210752/
(See 2016 here), though the savings percentage went from ~50% to near 55%. The other expenses were similar, so my living expenses probably came in at about 10% of my gross salary. Ok, that's just crazy. I don't feel like I am deprived at all. I went on a 2 week Florida / WDW vacation with SG-GF. My car is fine for my needs. I spent 2 weeks with my son visiting relatives back home. Spent long weekends and then some with the SG-GF as well. I am happy living at this rate but I know its not sustainable forever. I will need to upgrade the car in the coming years (hopefully not for a while), do some work on the house ($$$), and who knows what else could come up. Still, not too shabby.

Tax prepayment is made, now I hold my breath

December 27th, 2017 at 09:41 pm

Well the early tax payment has been made (see my prior entry for details). Turns out the county doesn't care how much you pay early, they will just keep applying the amounts from the pre-payment until it runs out. Since the further in the future the less likely it will benefit me, I hedged my bets. I paid enough for this coming year, plus some of 2019's bill. Assuming you can use these payments (and according to everyone that reads the laws there is no reason you can't) for itemizing taxes, I will be saving $1,250 this year on my fed taxes (& maybe a hundred or two for the state). And if for some reason I can't use it for taxes, its not a major loss anyway. The money was just sitting in my savings account not doing much.

Today was a nice day financially in other ways too. I went into Paypal and requested another $150 out of the account. I checked for the year, and I pulled out over $1,500. Now some of that is sales for the SG-GF, but even so I probably netted near $1,000 for my sales. Nice to see I can make some money with this stuff, but I think I need to be more proactive on some of my sales. I may need to lower the price on some things that just aren't selling. I want the stuff outta here - soon.

Also went to the credit union to deposit my latest electric company dividend check - $144. For the year that makes $570 in dividends, and totaling up my last 12 electric bills came to only $385. Now of course I get taxed on the $570 (boooo...), and my natural gas bill for the year is probably in the $300-$400 range, but still... nice to see another year come and go where I get dividends that more than pay for my electricity. Nice.

Now I need to work up my year end numbers for 2017. They're crazy good, almost too good to be true. Hmmmmmm..... And also get ready to put my 2018 money into my Roth IRA. Yikes my checking account balance is shrinking fast.

25% Guaranteed Return? I'll take that thank you.

December 22nd, 2017 at 05:41 pm

As you may know, there is a new tax law in the U.S. starting next year. Being a wage whore (errr I mean slave) there isn't usually much I can do to affect my taxes (other than using IRAs etc...). But it looks like this year there is a way to save serious money. But to do it you have to live in the right locale (looks like I do), and have free cash to do this (again I do), and have the right tax situation (again yes!).

It goes like this. If you currently itemize deductions but will fall below the new standard deduction going forward , if you pay next years taxes now you can pay fewer taxes based on your current marginal tax rate (25% for me), and next year you will not lose any tax deduction since you will take a standard deduction. Only problem is you need the cash to do this, and live somewhere that you can prepay (not everywhere allows this).

According to a newspaper article this can be done where I live. I have free cash, and I work very close to the tax office. Sooooooo... Tuesday morning I plan on going there and seeing if I can make it so.

Prepay for less than a year and save about $1000 on taxes?? Where do I sign up???

Crazy cheap electronics

December 14th, 2017 at 04:42 am

The other day as I was sitting on the bed watching NFL games I looked and saw I had with me a smart phone I just got back 10 months ago. I also had with me a Fire tablet I read books on or surf the web. And I was watching on my new-ish TV (32 inch smart TV). And I started thinking how crazy having these items is for me. Why? Because The cost of my electronics now is almost zero.

My TV was free (& new) from a friend last Christmas, the DVD player with it he also gave me maybe 3 years ago (still works great), the tablet I got as part of an award I got at work this summer (anything up to $50 on an awards site, and this 7 inch Kindle Fire was among the items I could get), and my smart phone was part of a QVC sale for $80 with a year of service (and I was about to renew for a year for $80, so I was able to get it for $0 more). And now I am sitting downstairs typing this up, and there is another flat screen TV I got for free, and hooked up is a Blue Ray player I got for $5 at a yard sale.

My only other high tech are this lap top I am using and the ink jet printer for it, and both are at least 8 years old. Since its been so long ago, its like they're free now as well.

Not sure where I am going with this, except that I need to get a new laptop as this one has been slowly dying for 3 years. And when I do, no matter how cheap I can get one, its going to be a shock to the system. I haven't had to pay for electronics for so long now, its like I have forgotten this stuff costs real money. Hard to believe I had to buy a 386 processor computer 25 years ago to help me get through my Master's degree in computer science, and it cost over $2,500!!!! And I thought I did well to not spend even more!

My how times have changed. Not always for the better, but when it comes to high tech, yeah, the prices are sure better.

Florida vacation expense analysis

November 17th, 2017 at 01:32 am

Time for my after Florida vacation expense analysis. Every year is different, especially in the cost. I had one year where the costs were almost zero, depending on how you calculate, whereas others were..... well not expensive, but certainly more than zero.

This year was different. Main reason was it was a two week vacation the first I have had with a significant other in many many years. Certainly the first with the SG-GF in Florida.

So what did we do? We spent one week at my mother's time share (as part of the payment for my work on her roof). The rest... one day at a hotel paid by the GF, three days at a time share paid by the GF with money and a time share "tour". The other three days were by me at a hotel paid for with $50 and a time share presentation. Yep, that's right, we both did time share presentations. Oooh, wasn't that fun. Smile

But what else? Well we each bought 7-day Disney World tickets. Yes, we went to the parks for 7 days. If there is "Death By Disney" I think we did it. It was fun, but I think it is safe to say we will skip Disney next year (go to Universal probably), we got our fill of Disney for now.

And what else? Well that was a bout it. We needed days to travel there and back, days to recover from the parks, went to yard sales for 2 Saturdays (by now we know a ton of the community yard sales in the area). We each burned a half day at a presentation (don't believe them when they say it takes two hours, budget for 3.5 minimum!). And we got to say "No" A LOT. But its cool, I enjoyed it, but the SG-GF not so much (the presentation and sales pitch – that is). She is not used to saying No so much.

So with all of that out of the way, what was the financial hit? Lets see (below is what I paid only – doesn't include what SG-GF paid)....
* Disney Ticket - $400
* Disney Parking - $140
* Gas - $32 ($72 less $40 I would have paid for two weeks of gas going to work anyway)
* Hotel - $83 (Had to pay $50 + tax on "value" of stay – ugh)
* Eating out - $40
* Park lunches - $95 --- Oh, as an aside, food at Disney would be lots more expensive but we would take in some food each day. Not tons, but enough to get us through the day if we would buy a lunch at the park. Also we now know you can get ice water for free at all locations inside, so that cut down the cost of drinking tremendously.

OK, that totals.... ummm.... $790. Now I didn't include some expenses for various reasons. Those include buying groceries at Aldi's (about the same as I would have paid for two weeks of groceries anyway), Disney figurines I bought ($60 – that was really discretionary and I could have done without I think), and a few dollars at Dollar Tree to stock up on items I just ran out of on trip and brought back home with me. And I'm not including all the extras I brought back with me (enough soap, shampoo, dish detergent, and laundry detergent to supply me for a few months at a minimum Smile ).

And then I get paid bi-weekly and I had a nice paycheck waiting for me when I returned. So all in all pretty good. I hear of people paying many thousands for a week down there, so not bad at all.

Probably won't do that again, as moving in and out of 4 places over two weeks was a challenge. But hey, its like we say, it was an experience. Yes, it sure was. A great one.

The Big Picture

October 1st, 2017 at 01:34 pm

After two somewhat major bills this late summer (ER visit & car repair) I had been feeling like I was mostly treading water financially. Not super stressed as without a mortgage/rent bill I could afford the expenses. Still, it was really aggravating.

So yesterday I decide to check on my financial balances. I added up everything (IRA, Retirement, Brokerage, DRIPs, Savings, all the rest) and found I passed another benchmark. For today at least the total is up over $800k. At the beginning of the year I was a good chunk under $700k so this is great, much better than I would have expected.

I dunno, I've been working out twice on work days, I have good health (for now anyway), a great GF who sent her last child off to college (YAY), in a month we're taking a two week vacation to FL/Disney, and my finances are looking better than ever. I think this shows I need to step back from time to time and take a look at the big picture, at least "big" as in my life, and see how well I am doing. Now if I can survive 5½ more years at this job I'll be golden. Sigh...

19½, how you tease me so

July 15th, 2017 at 10:54 pm

I'm fortunate to work where you get a pension, and as such I have a date where I can stop working and get the pension paying out on day one versus waiting until I turn 65. In my case due to the odd date I started working, I will be able to retire and get the pension on the exact date I have been working 19½ years. I'm getting close to 14 years in the bank now (2 more months), so its no longer a mystical date out there, but one that I can start to see in the distance, yet it is a tease for the moment.

Anyway, come to last week, and I go to a little retirement presentation (probably first one I went to in about 2 years) for a person I worked with for about 7 years before he moved to another division. I've barely seen him in the last 7 years. Anyway, as they are going through his work history and what not, its pointed out he is retiring after 19½ years. Arrrgh! I think about this enough already, I don't need more reminders!!!!

Ok, just had to get that off my chest. I really need to stop thinking about this.....

New Retirement Account - Ooooh Yeah

June 21st, 2017 at 08:56 pm

Just realized today I will add a new retirement account this weekend - how did I lose track of that? Actually I had it since the beginning of the year, it is my Health Savings Account (or HSA). However, I was not allowed to do any investing with it until it reached the $2,000 mark. Well... with my contribution this Friday I will cross that mark. Now that I can do investing, it makes it feel like a real investment account.

Yes, this is supposed to be used for health expenses, but if your expenses are minor you can just pay for them out of pocket and use the HSA as another retirement account, which is my current plan (Note its addition on the left). Yeah, as I am turning 55 this year (ugh) I won't ever get this account to a very high level, but still it helps with my taxes today (saves money on various taxes), and I don't have to worry about spending the money like I did with the Flexible Savings Account I was using previously. Plus, my employer contributes some to it (I got over $700 this year).

Its small, but adding a new account to my list of accounts is cool.

The Power of Differences in Style

June 11th, 2017 at 12:07 am

The SG-GF and I like to go to yard sales and estate sales (probably too much, but whatcha going to do?) but when we go together you can see we have a very different way of going about it. She likes to
peruse every item, talk with the sellers, and just enjoy the experience. Me... I go in, view items very quickly, only stopping at things that really catch my eye, and talking as little as possible.

As you might imagine, this can make for a frustrating time for the two of us when we are together. We've had to compromise quite a bit to make this work for us. I often take a book along and when I am done will return to the car and sit and read until she comes back.

That said, there is another difference we have that I think works for us. She is more of a price haggler where I am not. If I don't like the price, I will put it back, thank them, and move on. Usually that means she can at times get a better price than me, but I am not always worried about getting the absolute lowest price, since the prices are usually so good anyway.

That said, my way works too. Sometimes sellers will deal better with people that don't hassle them about every little thing. Case in point was a local estate sale a few weeks ago (NOT run by an estate company)
where I bought a few items and actually chatted some with the seller. (Yeah, I stretched myself there) I then went and got more things,and for a good chunk of it she just let me take the stuff for free. Not everything, but I could tell she appreciated I didn't haggle with her, especially as the prices were very good.

Come to this weekend, and she was there again still emptying the place out. She remembered me, and while I could only find a few things to get, she just told me to take them and not worry about it.

Not sure where I am going with this other than it is interesting that different techniques can work the best at times. Still... its nice to know I can ask the SG-GF to haggle on something and she is always
up for the challenge.

YTD Money analysis (Why now? version)

June 10th, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Ok, why am I doing an analysis today you ask? Ummmmm..... because I feel like it. That and I have some time to decompress at home, so why not?

OK, that out of the way... how are things going? Well... checking the numbers it looks good to me. Here goes...

* My 457 plan went over $511k this weekend. Comparing to the end of the year and backing out contributions, I get a 6.7% growth year to date. Not shabby.

* My ROTH IRA is today over $127k. Doing the same analysis, I get a 6.7% growth YTD. (I sense a trend here)

* For my brokerage, its over $67k. Same math for this gives me a 5.6% growth YTD. It would be over the 6.7% of the others, except for a stock that will remain nameless. (Damn you Macys!!!!)

As for the total value, I have an over 11% growth so far this year. Lets see if we can keep this up for the remainder of the year.

PS: Yes, my numbers on the left are a little lower than what I posted here. I am afraid the numbers will go down at some point, and I would feel bad lowering them. So I am letting them trail a few percent behind just to feel secure. Go figure.

The Bank of SG

March 9th, 2017 at 08:36 pm

Having extra money allows you to ways not only to make money you couldn't previously, but you can help people in ways you weren't able to previously. Previously I was figured I needed some work done on my car and had the SG-GF's son work on it to help with his side business. I guess I would have spent the money anyway, but it did give me some flexibility to go do this.

Come forward to a few weeks ago and the SG-GF is looking to get a vehicle for son #2. She's not poor, but she is cash flow poor, plus she is trying to look even poorer to help get son #2 a better financial aid package for college for next year. So to stay "poor" she was working on trying to get a car loan, and the bank was giving her grief. I knew she was very trustworthy, and I remembered jumping through dumb hoops years ago when I was getting a car that didn't prove anything other than the bank *could* make you do that. Well when I buy a vehicle now I pay cash, no more of this BS. Soooooo.... as I heard her story I finally told her to forget it, she can borrow the money from me instead. I had more than enough in the bank, and it was earning next to zero anyway, so what was the point of me having this money sit around? So now I am officially the "Bank of SG". Smile She'll pay me back with interest rate that the bank was offering, but now we'll keep the money "in house".

As an FYI... I am not holding the title for the vehicle, or anything like that. Our relationship is the collateral, and I think that means more than anyone's word to a bank. Plus... if for some reason she didn't pay it back, and the relationship did go south (ain't happening, but just saying...) I will get off a lot cheaper than I did with my EX, so that's another way to look at how I am arranging this. I'm not testing her, but I sure know she is more honest than my EX, it ain't even close.

Never ending soap bar redux

February 10th, 2017 at 08:21 pm

In the past I pointed out it seemed like I would never have to pay for soap again. I had built up quite a stockpile from CVS when they were having freebie sales some years ago, and since then I had been finding more ways to get soap for free that my stockpile barely budged. Well that hasn't stopped since I wrote on this last time. Last year that didn't stop as I got soap for free from various places (in free boxes at estate sales / yard sales usually) as well as a large cake of soap used by someone for "soapmaking" along with a book on how to do it - it was the end of the day and she just wanted it gone. Also going through the SG-GF's items we found more bars of soap she wasn't going to use, so that added to the lot. And then whenever we go on trips, we get soap bars wherever we stay. So by the end of the year I think I had more soap than at the beginning of the year.

A new year and it has re-started already. Someone cleared out their desk at work, and left out for anyone travel bars of soap and shampoos. Well now I am stocked up with another month or two of supplies before I have to start on my original stash. Who knows when the next lot will fall into my lap - it seems like it always happens.

Yeah, it probably doesn't save a ton of money, but my stocks of soap, shampoo, deodorant, even dish detergent, have barely budged since I don't know when. But it all counts - waste not want not - and that extra money helps to bulk up my savings for a rainy day (or to use with the SG-GF for various enjoyments in life).

Helping Friends for the win

February 7th, 2017 at 07:13 pm

I have a friend at work I try to be extra friendly with (ok, not overbearing or anything, but I can be a bit aloof, so being friendly is above and beyond for me). If he needs help, a ride, whatever, I try to do it for him. Nothing extraordinary, but I do what I can. I will often find something cheap at yard sales for a fun Christmas present for him (usually no more than $3 or so). This year he even commented how he likes mine the best, that anything else he gets is usually boring.

Anyway... come up to last week just before the Super Bowl. I have joked in the past about how old & small my TVs are and I don't care. I would rather save money than get the latest gadgets. So he comes up to me and says would I be interested in a new TV (as long as I don't sell it). Ummmm.... well... sure I guess (Ok, most conversations don't start out this way so I am intrigued). Turns out he bought something before the holidays (not sure what, I wasn't concentrating on that part of the story), and as part of the store's "sale" the buyer would get a free 32" super duper does everything imaginable LCD flat screen TV. Somehow he ended up with two of them ... but... he already has fancier and larger TVs and these would be downgrades for him. (He is always amazed at how much I have saved, and then buys expensive electronics, new cars, and well you get the idea)

So the unopened TV made it home last week and I set it up Sunday. Turned out my old tv was 20", so this was a major upgrade. I spent the day setting up various functions on it, and even one channel that would not come in with the old digital converter box now comes in great with this digital ready TV. Go figure.

So now I have a great TV out of the blue. Not saying I did the things I do for him expecting any payback, but its nice to think I was appreciated (or pitied for my poor existence - take your choice Smile ) and its great to upgrade for $0.

2016 Final Numbers & '17 Roth IRA Funded

January 8th, 2017 at 12:11 am

Well 2017 is here and the numbers are doing well.

I won't list the 2016 numbers as they are basically the same I had listed in my prior posting. As it stated, my overall ROI was in the 16% range, so I am very happy with the year. The market wavered all over the place, and basically ended where they were at mid December when I posted. I have added some to the numbers in the "About Me" section, though I do keep them a bit low as I expect there to be a little pull back in the future and I don't want to feel too bad about it when it happens (silly I know, but it is what it is).

One quickie note: I just got the monthly report from the 457 plan provider, and I see the yearly numbers for the two small-cap funds that have probably 40% of my overall 457 funds had returns for the year of 18% and 27%. I think I see now why my 457 numbers were so great for the year!

As for 2017 I already put in my Roth IRA money ($6500). Also got my first paycheck with my 457 money taken out. Now my paycheck is less than half of what it was in December (yikes!). Oh well, with the higher amount I will almost be done with my yearly contributions by the end of July so I should be happy about that.

As for the year coming up, I need to invest my cash in the IRA & brokerage in something, question is which stock.

On a frugal note (I figure I should include one) I got a backup shaver at the Goodwill outlet two weeks ago (by weight it cost maybe $1.50?). Its an expensive Norelco and a twin to what I currently have. It only needed new blade heads, so online I found I could get a new set for $9. But for another $7 I could get a second set, so I am upgrading both shavers to give me a like new shave for $17.50 for two shavers (costs about $70 for a new shaver). So lets hear it for the GW outlet. (PS: Why do I have two shavers? I keep one in my car to use on the drive in each work day, as I have a car adapter for it!)

Hey, lets have a great year everyone!

Year End Analysis (* Early December Edition)

December 11th, 2016 at 03:14 pm

I was reading different forum posts discussing how their investments / savings / net worth was doing this year. And with some time available at work to put together my numbers.... well... I figured, hey why not put something together now as my other financial items to blog about here are just same old / nothing new. So with that intro I have here my....

[ALERT: Boring Analysis Follows]

*** 2016 Year End Financial Analysis (pre end of year edition) ****

OK, so where do I start? First these numbers are rounded to get approximate performance. Ok, so how about looking at my different savings vehicles and see how they performed? OK, lets start there...

*My 457 plan (401k equivalent): Started the year at $373k now, and is now $460k. I put in $24k, that leaves $63k growth - almost 17% growth after backing out contributions. Overall that is a 23% increase.

* My ROTH IRA: Started the year at $94k, now its over $113k. I put in $6k, leaving growth of $13k. That's almost 14% growth and an overall 20% increase.

* My Brokerage: I Started the year at $38400, now $57500. I put in $12,500, leaving growth of $6600 - 17% growth, and overall 49% increase.

So maybe a ~16% growth year to date? And overall a 25% increase. (Yes, I didn't work out my DRIP numbers as I don't have numbers for them, plus I wasn't adding anything to them this year - except for my trash DRIP). I really need to get stock certificates from them so I can transfer them to my brokerage (or sell them - not sure which makes sense).

Sooo.... how about my savings rate? OK, I am going to give percentage numbers here versus my gross...
Payroll taxes are 25%. Property taxes are 3.5% How much did I contribute to 457/Roth/Pension/Brokerage? Those contributions were close to 50% of my gross. Insurance costs (health/house/car) + child support was another 9% of my gross.

My savings account is right what it was at the beginning of the year, so that means I am living off of what is left over. That would be... 100% - 50% - 25% - 3.5% - 9% = 12.5%

So I am able to live off of 13% of my income (with a nice subsidized health insurance - lets not kid myself otherwise). While I am happy living at this rate, I know its not sustainable. I will need to upgrade the car in the coming years (hopefully not for a while), do some work on the house ($$$), and who knows what else could come up. Still, not too shabby.

Last interesting note... what I live on versus what my savings earned... I could live for a numbers of years on what my investment earnings were this year. If only I knew what my future expenses would be... sigh.


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