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Archive for March, 2016

Balance Wheel Redeux

March 27th, 2016 at 10:55 am

I am finally starting to do some long-delayed decluttering. In the process, I came across a little balance wheel exercise I had done almost exactly five years ago (3/29/2011).

A balance wheel is an exercise used by life coaches, etc, that has you rate yourself on a series of life domains. You put your ratings on a circle that is divided up into a series of pie slices (You can see one at http://www.innernorth.com/links-resources/life-balance-wheel/). Then fill in the pie slices to the depth that corresponds with your rating. That is, if you have rated "Family" a 10 out of 10, you would fill in the entire pie slice, but if you rated it only 5 out of 10, you would draw a line horizontally midway along the spoke and color in a slice that filled up half of the slice. (There's a completed example here: http://www.innernorth.com/links-resources/life-balance-wheel/).

So, having come across this from five years ago, I had to re-do the exercise and compare.

Results:
Domain, 2016, 2011, change
Physical Environment, 3, 7, -4
Career, 8, 2, +6
Finances: 5, 2, +3
Health: 6, 5, +1
Friends & Family: 6, 7, -1
Sig. Other: 0, 4, -4
Personal/Spiritual Growth: 3, 6, -3
Fun & Recreation: 6, 6, 0

Gains in Career (+6), Finances (+3), and Health (+1); Losses in Physical Environment (-4), Romance (-4), Spirituality (-3), and Friends & Family (-1).

Overall net rating change: -2.

Just goes to show that things balance out. Five years ago, I was at the start of what proved to be an arduous career change and was only employed part-time at a temp job, my mother was dying, but I had more time and energy to spend on personal reading and with friends. Now, I've found a full-time job that satisfies me, but I have let a lot of things in my personal life go as I make the transition. This year I am focused on getting the CFP certification, but after that is done, I think I need to focus more time and energy on my personal life again.

OK, back to decluttering--maybe I can move that Physical Environment rating from 3 to 4 today and back to 7 before summer.

Health Care Marketplace Escalations and Frustrations

March 24th, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I had my health insurance through the Health Care Marketplace during 2014, since I had a seasonal job from January thru mid-April, then was unemployed mid-April through mid-November. I could have had employer paid insurance for December, but I had already paid my December premium and there was no way to cancel my December coverage and get my money back. So I had my employer coverage start on 1/1/2015 and called the marketplace in December to make sure that my policy was cancelled for 2015.

Despite the cancellation, I kept on receiving bills from the insurer for the first several months of the year. There was nothing the insurer could do about it; the cancellation had to come through the marketplace. After several phone calls, I finally got them to do an "escalation," and I received notice in May that the policy had been cancelled effecteive January 1.

Imagine my surprise then when I received a 1095-A form indicating that not only had I had insurance through the marketplace all year in 2015, but that I had also supposedly received a Premium Tax Credit (subsidy) for it (which I *had* had during 2014). If it were just the coverage, it wouldn't have been a problem, but the credit would mean extra taxes on my return for a benefit I never received.

So I called in mid-February when I discovered the problem, received assurance of another "escalation" and was told to expect a corrected 1095-A within 30 days. It never arrived. I finally had to call again, spoke to someone one level higher in the hierarchy, and found that, even though they had documentation in their files of all of the above, they had not yet started the process that would result in my receiving a corrected form. I received yet ANOTHER escalation, and the 30-day clock started all over again, although this person indicated that it would probably be less than 30 days. I hope so, since I would love to file my taxes before the April 18th deadline, rather than have to file an extension. In the meantime, my tax return sits there waiting to go, and my two thousand dollar refund remains unclaimed.

I will be really glad when I am done with the Health Care Marketplace for good!

One million in sight

March 20th, 2016 at 05:54 pm

In total lifetime earnings, that is. Not savings, not by a long shot! I just went on Social Security.gov and downloaded my lifetime earnings. Adding to that this year's salary and I finally will reach one million earned so far in this lifetime in 2016. That's what comes of delaying my earning years pretty much until age 30 (29, actually), by virtue of the better part of a decade of grad school and post-doc work.

It will still take me another 2 years or so to get to half a million net worth, and if I want to have a million in the kitty when I retire, I'll have to work until 70 and have reasonable luck with the markets. Hoping I can maintain the good health to keep working another 15 years!

And yet again (debt reduction planning)

March 12th, 2016 at 06:48 am

Last year, having found stable employment after several years of instability, I decided to stop rolling debt from one balance transfer credit card to another. So first I got a personal loan, then later in the year, a home equity line of credit. I already had a small loan against my 403b account, so since November, I've been paying three loans plus a mortgage. I had incurred some additional expenses during the year, so I wasn't able to use the HELOC to fully pay down the more costly personal loan, only partially. With one more payment, that personal loan will be down to half the original balance. At that point, I'm going to take out another 403b loan at less than half the rate of the personal loan. Then I'll be back to two loans plus a mortgage. The 403b loan doesn't decrease my 403b balance, just possibly affects the balance in the annuity portion I have in the account. It's only 10k against a much larger diversified balance, so I'm ok doing that. I'll reduce my monthly debt payments and give myself back a little liquidity, decrease the interest rate on that 10k, and only add a year to eliminating the non-mortgage debt totally: 2019 rather than 2018, which still works in terms of my plan to pay off the mortgage and be completely debt free by 2024. I've been feeling a little pinched even with higher income because I have been aggressive about paying down debt. Time for a little more liquidity at the cost of an additional year.

On another money front, today I'm sending in a check to finish fully funding my HSA for the year. Means less into the Roth, but since I can pay my long term care insurance premiums in a tax-advantaged way this way, it helps on the taxes since I no longer qualify for a traditional IRA deduction.