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Progress

February 4th, 2017 at 04:14 pm

I have switched recently from tracking my net worth on networthiq.com (where I have been tracking monthly since June 2006, the same time I started here on SA) to networtshare.com, which is kept more up to date. It took networthiq until the end of January to all 2017 entries. I input my yearly values for the past decade onto the new site, but I won't spend the time to enter the monthly data.

I'm hoping that I have reached a tipping point: if you look at my sidebar, you'll see that my debt is the lowest and my net worth the highest since I began tracking. The lowest my debt has been prior to this was the month before I left my teaching career, and back then it was 100% mortgage.

The urge to spend is still high--only by regular posting here can I keep on track.

Work is going well, very busy--in January and February, we have to get out letters to clients with tax info for the year, telling them who to expect official tax documents from, what our fees for the year were, whether they have made IRA contributions or taken IRA distributions, etc. It's an extra 30-40 hours of work over the two months, when the regular workload doesn't slack at all. And it is taking me longer because I'm new and don't yet know the whole client base yet, do I have to check on everything. Next year, when I know the clients better, a lot of the information I am having to look up on s case by case basis will be stored in memory, which should make the task faster.

It's Restaurant Week here, so I am taking myself to an early lunch at a Tapas Bar and then going in to work for a few hours to make more progress on the darn things.

Net Worth Change 2016

December 31st, 2016 at 08:28 pm

Overall, my net worth is up $17,213 (3.79%) for the year, from 454,015 at the bginning of the year to 471,228 at year end. The change is due approximately to a 7K increase in assets and a 10K decrease in liabilities.

I'd set a goal of 92.5K total debt in my sidebar near the beginning of the year, and I'm ending the year with 94.4, so that's somewhat close to my goal and a significant decrease in any case (9.86%)

My retirement balance increased even though I used some of my beneficiary RMD to pay down debt rather than just taking it, paying the tax, and contributing to a Roth, which is what you would *ideally* do with with that kind of account. But it's what helps get the debt down.

I still have $28.628 in non-mortgage debt, which I estimate will take me until January 2019 to pay off, if I take part of the RMD and put it to debt reduction at the beginning of eatch year. But the amount that requires grows steadily less, so after this next draw, I'll be able to roll part of the RMDs over to a Roth.

(And if the company does well and I get a full bonus next year, I might even be able to use the bonus rather than the RMD to reduce the debt.)

I was able to add over 10K to my retirement accounts (about 8K on my own and 2K employer match). That helps balance out the RMDs, though the draws still exceed the contributions. It's net growth, though, because of income generated by the assets in the account. I like to look ahead to the point in a couple of years where I'll just be able to roll the beneficary RMDs to a Roth and it will be all contributions--that will definitely help my retirement balance--as long as I manage to still stay employed, knock wood!

American Blue Cash Preferred

June 4th, 2016 at 11:44 pm

I saw a pop-up ad on this site for the above-mentioned card when reading some entries about debt and clicked through to the offer. 6% back on groceries (based on up to $6,000 of spending, which is close to my grocery budget for the year), as well as 3% on gas and select department stores, 1% on everything else and 1% on everything after the $6,000 spending limit is reached. That's quite good, and NerdWallet had a postive review. My credit score has rebounded back to 814 after dipping down below 800 when I opened the HELOC six months ago, so this seemed worth it--even though there IS a $75 annual fee. There's also a $250 joining bonus if you get the right click-through ad AND spend $1,000 on the card within the first three months. No problem for me to spend $1,000 on groceries over 3 months, unfortunately--my average for the past year is $380 per month, or $1,140 over 3 months. Even if I just use it for groceries, with the 6% cash back and minus the $75 fee, that's net positive $200 over the course of a year, PLUS the $250 signing bonus if earned. So we'll see. Still waiting on approval--although the site says a 30-second decision, I received a screen asking for me to call in at the end of my application--and then, because I called in after 4:30 pm on Saturday, I'm stuck waiting until Monday for the decision.

I find that more and more I'm segregating spending for certain items onto certain cards: I have a debit card linked to a checking account that I keep at a low balance (and not linked to my main checking account, given the potential limits on debit card reimbursements if the card is stolen) which I use to give myself an eating and entertainment budget. Then, if approved, the AmEx will be used for groceries. I buy at least half my clothing at LLBean and I use their Visa card for that, in order to earn the $10 coupons. (The LLBean card also had great 0% balance transfer offers back during the few years I was using those heavily.) The rest of my CC spending--my monthly gym fee, gasoline, professional association dues, my monthly phone and cable bill, and shopping, goes on a Visa card through my main bank and give me a $25 credit towards my mortgage for every $2,500 I spend on that card. So I'll probably earn $50 less in mortgage credit by moving the grocery card spending to the AmEx account, but I'll definitely be using the cash bonus to pay down debt so it's all to my new benefit.

Down to 5 figures debt

May 18th, 2016 at 08:44 pm

After having had my debt spike back up to the low 6 figures after my 7 month period of unemployment back in 2014, I am pleased to announce that I am finally back down to 5-figure debt ($99,195). This includes my mortgage.

For part of the time that my debt spiked, I was moving things around from 0% balance transfer credit card to new 0% balance credit card when the old term expired. Then a year ago, I decided that the debt would be easier to get rid of--at least psychologically--if I had a steady schedule of debt repayments which I then could try to exceed. So one year ago next week, I took out a 20K personal loan from Discover Bank, technically at 10.99%.

I paid it off yesterday and today, the account has even disappeared from my login page. Over the year, I ended up paying a total of $21,757.04 on the loan, making the effective rate actually 8.79% because of early and extra payments.

Some of that amount is a real decrease in my loan balance, but the rest has been transfered to lower rate loans collateralized in part by my house and by another financial account, so at lower rates (3.67% and 4.44%).

I prefer loans to zero percent credit card balance transfers because there is a predictable schedule to the loan payoff, which I can make a game of beating. Currently, I believe that can have the non-mortgage debt ($32,045) paid off by the end of 2019, and the mortgage ($67,150) paid off by the end of 2024. Technically, I could take longer to pay off the non-mortgage debt, but there's no point to that. My required minimum payments are now lower, giving me a bit more liquidity in the case of short term needs.

Slow and Steady

May 1st, 2016 at 05:28 pm

Cutting away at the debt...over 3k down so far this year. I'll be moving some debt around this month, paying off the personal loan I took out with Discover a year ago but will take out another loan at 4.44% (rather than 10.99%) to do so (and the loan balance will be 10k, not 20k!!) I still have north of 30k non- mortgage debt and north of 101k total debt, but by mid -year, I expect to be down on both. Debt reduction is still the main focus here, but I think by next year, I might be able to think about increasing the savings as well. I'm currently saving 10% per pay to retirement and I'd like to increase that to 12% and ultimately 15%, but with the debt load, I'm not there yet.

Debt ratio back under 20%, and this & that

April 1st, 2016 at 10:18 pm

I do a monthly net worth calculation. Last year, my debt crept up a bit the last quarter when I spent more of the money from the HELOC I took out than I had originally planned to spend. As of this morning, my debt ratio (liabilities to assets) is back down under 20% (19% to be exact); a month ago, it was at 23%. That will go down further when the April mortgage and loan payments hit the accounts this weekend. The big goal for this month is to get the 20K loan I took out last May down to 10K (it's under 12K at the moment) and then use another loan from my 403b at a much lower interest rate (4.58% rather than 10.99%) to transfer that debt. I'll then lower the payments slightly to build up the emergency savings fund a bit and give myself more liquidity. I'm still feeling confident that I'll have the non-mortgage debt paid off by 2019 and the mortgage paid off by 2024, well in advance of retirement sometime between 2027 and 2030.

The weather was almost balmy today--high of 76, and I went home for lunch. Tomorrow it starts dropping and the lows early next week are back in the 20s with the arrival of another polar vortex. Hopefully no snow, however!

Tomorrow I'll stop at the annual Home Show--I need a bit of landscaping done once I finally can get my taxes filed and get my refund (see my Health care marketplace entry for why I haven't filed yet).

And Sunday there are a couple of activities at my congregation I will attend, and a friend from there will bring me an electric mower that his neighbor gave him that he doesn't need. Just in time as the last lawn mower I was gifted seems to have some problems and I was getting ready to take it into the shop!

I've lived in my house a decade and this will be my third hand-me-down mower. Haven't had to buy one myself yet!

Very glad that Friday is here this week. Going home now to go to bed early--never really felt awake all day.

Debt reduction...reversing the trend

January 25th, 2015 at 03:48 pm

The past five years were financially a struggle, as I was either under- or un-employed, and I lost my mother and three pets during that time. I went from a position of having no debt except the mortgage to having nearly (gulp!) $30,000 of non-mortgage debt (most of it on 0% or very low interest loans, but STILL...

Finally with my new job, I can whittle away at this. Or, actually, carve this year and whittle over the next few. This year, for the last time (I also did this last year), I took the RMD (required minimum distribution) from my inherited IRA and used it to pay off some of that debt. Plus about half of my January pay is going to debt reduction. I won't be able to keep that pace up all year, but by month's end, the non-mortgage debt will be under $24K, and I aim to halve that by year end, while also contributing 10% of pay to my retirement. At year end, I'll re-consider my plan for paying off the rest of that while also increasing savings.

Meanwhile, I did re-finance my house during that time to a shorter term and lower interest, so I feel confident that I'll have the house paid off before I retire.

5 year recap

December 19th, 2011 at 04:23 am

Here's a summary. First the pictures, then the words; first the past four years and then the current one.


A look at the past four years shows that both my assets and my debts climbed (with the exception of the year when the recession hit, when my assets fell). On this balance sheet graph, which gives a sense of overall context. the debts line actually looks relatively stable, but the actual amount of debt increase was significant and scary. That comes through better on the income statement graph below.

The debt ratio, by the way, is total debt relative to total assets, and shows an increase for the first four years of the period. Currently it is at about 25%, down from a high of close to 40%. My goal for the next year is to bring this down below 20%, ideally to 18%.



On this graph, you can see that, for most of the time during this period, my expenses outpaced my income, due to a 2.5 year period of unemployment combined with unusual, large expenses.

No amount of emergency fund planning that I might have done prior to this period would have been sufficient, and the financial planning literature I've read tends to significantly underestimate emergency needs as people, pets, homes, and durable goods age. Of course, I haven't read much financial planning stuff the past two years as I've been focused on finishing the CPA. The literature that I'm familiar with is from before the recession and overestimates expected retirement returns and underestimates expenses. I'm hoping that the recent literature is more realistic. (Not unduly pessimistic--realistic.)

The profit margin is net income (income less expenses) divided by income; here I just include "operating" income, i.e., salary, unemployment, and gifts, but not the investment income that accrues in my retirement accounts. As you can see, I had losses rather than income for most of the period.

As for the past year, you can note a turn-around on both graphs. This reflects a "bad" (sad) reason and a good one. The big increase in my assets is because my mother died and I had a bit of an inheritance; the recent increase in net income is because I worked a full tax season (lots of hours) back last winter and because I landed a full-time job with benefits this fall.

Hopefully the next time I do a five-year assessment, I'll be able to show annual profits (ideally, 10% for this next year and 15-20% thereafter) and a big reduction in debt.

March roundup

March 29th, 2008 at 09:08 pm

Well, March was a spendy month; I spent about double what I spent in February (gulp). Much of the addtional spending was justified but still I hate to see so much variability--and I *really* hate it when my spending for the month surpasses my income for the month, even with the tax refund.

Extra spending was as follows:

$600 another expensive vet trip for Henry and his allergies
$165 getting a broken tooth fixed at the dentist
$500 buying the beginnings of a new professional wardrobe as I prepare to transition from academia into the corporate world
$200 in professional expenses (books, software)
$100 stocking up on wine, beer, sodas and extra food for a party
another $200 in extra food expenses--not that the food was wasted, but that it was eaten out or bought prepared, thus unnecessarily expensive
$82 to buy 200 "forever" stamps before the price increases on May 12
$132 prepaying an extra month early on my home gas bill--they changed the date the bill was due and refused to change it back, and I really like to pay my bill immediately after my monthly paycheck arrives and not a week before it arrives, so I decided to get a month ahead to avoid any late fees.
$90 extra prepayment on the mortgage to get it down to 89K.

As so often happens, financial and weight control go together--I slacked off a lot on exercise during March, and gained back 2 pounds. Still down about 7 from the end of last year, but I can feel those two pounds.

So the goal for April is another personal "challenge" month to see how close I can keep my monthly total spending to about $2000. No "extras" this month (unless I get a job interview, in which case I still need a professional pair of shoes), and I need to start back shopping more at Aldi's and Giant, much as I hate them, rather than at my beloved Wegmans. And I pulled out the pricebook I put together two years ago--time to update it since the last time I used it was in 2006. Should be interesting to see how food prices have changed in that time.

And it's a challenge month for health, too--I've joined an online "April Boot Camp" challenge on Leslie Sansone's walk club board, the goal of which is to lose 8 pounds during April. So I'll tighten up and refocus on fitness, too. I just started another round of "First Strides," the local women's walking/running program (that was another $40 out the door); those two workouts a week with other people (in addition to the two mornings a week I walk with my friend Anne) should help keep me from slacking off).

Dido's Year End Recap of Income, Expenses, and Changes in Net Worth

December 26th, 2007 at 08:19 pm



Income after deductions for taxes, health insurance contribution, & retirement contribution: $44,473 (38,210 from my full-time job, 3718 from part-time work, 1244 income tax return, 1000 gifts from Mom, 301 in survey income and rebates. I need to do better planning to get less of an income tax return; I’m a relatively new home owner, so I’m still having to adjust my tax planning for the extra deduction I get for mortgage interest payments.

Expenses:

Mortgage & PITI (property insurance & property taxes):
$9240. This includes $575 in mortgage prepayments.

Food (Groceries & Eating Out): The books say 7616 (5963+1653), but it’s surely less—as much as 1500 less (2006 food expenses were 6152). The problem in my record-keeping this year is that my detailed records were lost when my last computer died in mid-July. I had to reconstruct my file from bank statements rather than receipts, and since I did a lot of buying at a warehouse store, toiletries, household supplies, clothing and even books got lumped in here—since I had no way to estimate actual expenses, I just categorized everything as groceries, the biggest expense at the warehouse store. Also, when I do ATM withdrawals, I also tend to list those as dining out expenses initially and go back and recategorize as I spend money, but all of those recategorizations got listed as food for January through July. All of that said, my food expenses are way too high.

Pets: $4032, most of that on Henry the Pricey & Priceless Hound, who suffers from several chronic illnesses and is on prescription food and several prescription meds for life, plus who requires about half a dozen vet visits per year. The two cats, Phoebe and Teddy, cost little in comparison—one vet visit per year, and food, kitty litter, and the occasional toy or treat. Between the two of them, there’s only ever been one vet visit for illness—knock on wood, as I hope it remains so. I also include money for bird food in here—I maintain two feeders by the windows for the amusement of myself and the kitties, and that costs about $5/week during the months when the plants are dormant.

Utilities: 3915 (gas heat 1841, electricity 462, phone, internet service, (basic) cable TV (package deal at 76/month for the three), water/sewer 315, trash 385)

Car: 2684 (about 600 on insurance and a thousand each on gasoline and maintenance & repairs, plus my first moving violation ticket ever, for running a stop sign I didn’t see.)

Business Expenses: 2616 (a new laptop computer and software for it (Office 2007, etc), lots of money trying to repair the last laptop, plus the usual array of books and videotapes I use in teaching, and some office supplies and postage.

Personal Care Expenses:2270 (clothing 1304, gym 445, toiletries, vitamins & supplements,521). I spent more than usual on clothing this year, as the only clothing I bought last year was a single pair of athletic shoes, and clothes were beginning to look raggedy and shoes to wear out, plus I gained 15 pounds (which I hope soon to lose) and some items did not fit.

Household: 1691. This includes handyman repairs, items for DIY repairs (that the boyfriend handles), small home appliances, furniture, gardening items, and supplies such as paper towels, light bulbs, and salt for the walks.

Entertainment (385), Gifts (266) & Charity (296): 947.

Health co-pays and disability insurance: 919 (there’s also 104/month health insurance contribution that gets taken out of my pay each month that I haven’t included here.)

Total Spending: $36,430 (compared to $38,653 in 2006. Biggest changes compared to last year are more in savings, less in taxes, more on food, less on pets (no major veterinary emergencies this year, thank god!), a bit more on utilities, clothing, and household; and this year, I didn’t have education expenses because those were picked up by the college.

Change in Net Worth in 2007: +8261 in short-term savings, +8739 in retirement accounts, -1796 decrease in home mortgage principal balance, -1000 loan from mom settled = +19,796 (plus the estimate of my home valuation on Zillow.com is up about 15,912, which I know is not a great estimate, but it’s what I have.)

My goal for next year is to cut down food expenses down to 5800. This is always a “spendy” category for me, as I buy a lot of food that is either pre-made or has a high labor margin—e.g., I buy a lot of pre-chopped veggies, and this past year, I bought a lot of pre-cooked chicken breasts—since that seems to make the difference between my cooking at home or not. Working a full-time job, a part-time job, AND going to school part-time, I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to cook, but I’m going to try to do a bit more so in 2008. I also expect business expenses to be lower, since the big one was buying a new computer this year. Ideally these two cuts will give me an additional 5% to put towards savings.

Third Quarter Net Worth

October 5th, 2007 at 03:25 am

I'm up 20% for the year so far--partly due to increases in my retirement accounts and partly due to the fact that my home is still appreciating (I'm lucky to live in an area where the housing bust hasn't hit quite as hard.)

To celebrate, I made an extra $300 payment towards my mortgage, bringing it under $90,000 for the first time.

Nice to see progress Smile

Spending, July 8-14

July 14th, 2007 at 07:56 pm

July 8: kayaking trip, $15
lunch, 7.90 + ice cream, 3.29
(all unnec)

July 9: grocery, 31.30

July 10-12: no spend days

July 13: 20.29 household
2.92 iced cappucino (unnec)
52.86 grocery

July 14: gas: 31.72, grocery: 28.44, household (flower baskets on sale, unnec, replacement fan for one that broke, 20% off): 52.98


Total weekly spending: 214.98
proportion unnecessary/"fun": 13.5%

A little bit over my 10% "fun" limit, but if I recategorize the flowers for the front as household rather than a pure "fun" expense, I'm still under 10% frivolous expenses.

Flowers are frivolous, but they also feed the soul!

Second Quarter Net Worth

June 30th, 2007 at 05:59 pm

I'm up 15.5% so far for the year according to the updates I do on NetworthIQ.com.

The biggest source of the increase is (presumed) home valuation, as judged by zillow.com. The area where I live has *not* been enduring the nationwide housing slump--things are definitely slower than they were in 2005, but still expanding. My retirement accounts are also up 5.5%, and my emergency fund, which I'd pretty much decimated last fall with all of Henry's medical problems is back up to over $4200.

End of First Quarter Net worth report

March 31st, 2007 at 04:07 pm

Net Worth 12/31/06 $153,979
Net Worth 3/31/07 $169.871
Difference $15,892

Looks great, but most of the increase is from the estimate of my house's price on Zillow.com, which took a big hit a few months ago and is just rebounding.

Retirement accounts are up $1743, of which $180 is my contribution and the rest is interest.

Retirement contributions are low because I have been focusing on rebuilding my emergency savings, which I wiped out when Henry had his surgery last October. That is now up to $2213, an increase of $1478 over the end of last year.

Debts are down $1416--$1000 of that being loan forgiveness from my mom, which I'll take.

Free Computer Tax Program and a good last-minute Charitable Donation

December 31st, 2006 at 10:14 pm

I downloaded the TaxAct program (basic) for free from their website and used it and the information from my December paychecks and statements to run-through a draft of my 2006 taxes. Looks like I'll be getting about $1450 back, which will make a nice boost to the Emergency Fund (which desperately needs it).

I also made a last-minute donation to one of my favorite charities, Co-Op America. They actively support sustainable and socially just businesses, and I think that making in-roads on the environment and social justice concerns by supporting corporations that act in favorable ways is a tremendously smart move. Until midnight tonight, Co-Op America has a donor grant that will MATCH any contribution you make, making your gift twice as effective. (Of course, that doubles the money that Co-Op America gets, NOT the amount you can deduct on your taxes.) But since this is one of the groups that I most consistently support, I made an extra $30 contribution (I'll get $13 of it back when I file my taxes, according to the calculations I did with TaxAct.)

Other than that, today has been a "no spend" day--in fact, other than taking the dog for a short walk, it wasn't even a "leave the house" day.

Year End Net Worth

December 30th, 2006 at 07:50 pm



The picture shows a big drop in the last month, but that's due to my home value. I use the zillow.com appraisal in order to use a consistent methodology, and that sometimes has big changes without clear rhyme or reason. It shows my home value plummeting 10% this month, while my boyfriend's house mysteriously rises over 200% in value! If you follow the zillow prices over time, you see that there are occasional odd blips, and the thing to do is to look at the overall trends. So I can't know whether these changes are temporary blips or part of a more enduring pattern. Also, my town was awarded a casino license Dec. 20th, which will surely impact housing prices, and I doubt the zillow data incorporates any of that impact yet. I didn't want the casino but I'm still praying that the impact on property values (and quality of life) is for the better.

Probably a better comparison than the changes over the past 6 months is a comparison with my end of 2005 data.

Net Worth 12/31/2005, 149,279

Net Worth 12/31/2006, 153,979

Change: +3%--This is due to a 2% increase in assets (mostly retirement funds) and a 1% decrease in liabilities (mostly mortgage).

Taking the year-long view, 2006 wasn't a great year but at least my net worth still rose.

Money in, money out

December 21st, 2006 at 01:52 am

Paycheck came today and I immediately transferred $1000 to pay off some of the accrued credit card debt. That still leaves about $370 left to pay on the CC, but the latest car repair expense hasn't yet been posted, nor have I done my holiday shopping (limited tho that will be), so I'll pay the rest of the CC off after Christmas. That still will leave $1000 that I owe my mom that I was supposed to pay off by year's end--but (with her permission), I'm delaying that another month, given the $955 worth of unexpected car repair and veterinary expenses this month.

Finally did the last of the end-of-semester chores today so I am officially closing my books on the Fall semester. Relieved to be done. Mostly tired and not very much in the holiday/celebratory spirit. Not trying to be, either. I live in the "Christmas City" and maybe I'll take a walk downtown tomorrow and try and feel a little "holidayish." But we also learned today that we got one of the state's coveted slots licenses, so that the casino will indeed be built on the old steel mill, and for me, that's definitely NOT cause for celebrating--I worry about the crime and traffic that will soon begin to befoul my beloved historical city.

$800 towards the credit card

December 11th, 2006 at 09:15 pm

Well, the goal in moving $1000 out of my ING account back into my checking account over the weekend was to pay off the credit card bill. But not quite. First there was the $150 in emergency car repairs on Friday that got added to the credit card bill. Then I forgot about last weekend's $95 gym fee...by paying $95 once up front, my monthly fee is reduced to $19 for life--something I should be able to afford regardless. Doesn't save me much the first year but is a good deal thereafter, and Gold's Gym has been around long enough that I'm not worried that they're going to fold anytime soon. Then there were my two impulse buys: $113 on two accounting textbooks for a class that is required at one school but not at another. I'm working on an accounting certificate through the community college (generally cheaper) but can take a class through the college where I work this term, so I thought I'd familiarize myself with the material from the prerequisite class at my college that's missing from the community college curriculum. The "real" impulse purchase was a pair of speakers for my mp3 player that I got on sale for $37 including S&H (retail price $99). So with all of that extra spending and the $800 payment, the credit card bill is now down to $380. I also owe my mom $1000 to be paid this month. Things will be tight but I think I can squeeze $1380 out of my Dec 20th paycheck and be out of debt (late edit: other than the mortgage) by year's end. That's the plan, anyhow.

Net Worth

November 25th, 2006 at 09:07 pm

I started keeping track of my net worth on NetworthIQ around the same time as I started keeping this blog. It's good to see that things are moving in a positive direction. Increases are mostly a result of increases in the estimated worth of my house (I use Zillow.com for the estimate for my house, and also Kelly blue book for an estimate on the worth of my car) and the rising value of my retirement accounts, since what with the unexpected $5000 in veterinary expenses I've had over the past few months, I've actually spent a little more than I've brought in in income during the past 5 months.