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Archive for December, 2019: Fiscal Fitness
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Archive for December, 2019

Win, Lose, and Draw

December 31st, 2019 at 01:52 am

Wins
-Kitties are both still here and happy, if not healthy.
-Completed 1.5+ CFP courses—and 1.5 to go.
-Was somewhat more active in 2019 than in 2018—about 10% more steps.
-Increased savings to more than 20% of income between 401k, HSA, and emergency fund.
-Did not increase debt despite unexpected ~10k in veterinary medical expenses and accelerating a 5k roofing project into 2019 rather than 2020.
-Work has generally gone well.
-Managed to tackle some deferred home maintenance projects.
-I managed to maintain a sufficient social life despite working long hours.

(Upcoming) Losses
Kitties now both have been diagnosed with what the vet terms their “life-limiting conditions.”

My vet appointment with Buffy last week was distressing. Whatever it is that blocked her biliary tract back in June is growing again. Without opening her up we don’t know if it is cancer or merely an “inflammatory process.” Surgery would cost 6-7k and Buffy turns 15 in March, which is the average lifespan for an indoor cat. If she were 5 years younger, I would go for the surgery, but I had a hard talk with myself and decided that it isn’t worth spending that much money on a cat whose likelihood of living more than another year is not high in any case. What I *am* doing now is that we added a third medication, one to keep her blood sugar in control, and I am treating her as if she is actively diabetic. She has been a diabetic-in-remission for four years. The prednisolone that helps her biliary tract/inflammation issues causes her diabetes to become active again, so we added a medication (not insulin but glipizide) that helps bring her blood sugar under control, but this means that I have to measure her blood glucose to make sure that I’m also not causing her to become hypoglycemic. We are both getting used to this new routine. My goal is to keep her going as long as possible without the trauma and expense of surgery. At some point, inevitably, though, the “thing” will block her biliary tract again and I will have to have her put down, and it could happen quite suddenly. So I am cherishing every moment with her.

Bridget, my other kitty, was diagnosed in the early stages of kidney failure. It’s early stages yet, so I’m not as worried. I’ve changed her diet and am looking into supplements, and will have her monitored more frequently. The last cat I had with kidney failure I kept going for 2.5 years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, Bridget doesn’t have the mellow temperament that that cat or Buffy have, and I fear that the stress of daily subcutaneous fluids would be more than she could tolerate and put me at risk of getting bitten. So I’m just praying that I don’t lose them both this coming year.

Draws
Thyroid issue holding stable, knock on wood—next ultrasound January 24.

Goals for 2020
1. Finish CFP coursework.
2. Regular exercise routine.
3. Do as much as I can realistically do for the kitties.
4. Continue to save 20% of earnings while reducing debt. Note that my company changed the timing of our annual bonus from 12/31 to 2/28 starting this year. If I were getting a bonus tomorrow, then the debt would be down to what I was hoping for, but that will be delayed. I am still feeling pretty confident that I will be able to meet my goal of being debt-free by at least a couple of years before retirement (which will give me a chance to spend a couple of years building up a bigger cash reserve).

Quick near year-end financial update

December 18th, 2019 at 11:50 pm

I've been updating the net worth spreadsheet I've kept for the past decade today, so it's time for a quick update, although the year is not over yet.

In terms of finances for 2019, there's still one paycheck to go, and one more vet appointment, which should be the biggest expense left this year. (That's tomorrow--please wish my kitty luck! After six months, I am hoping that we have finally gotten the medication balanced out to both keep her biliary tract illness from progressing too fast while at the same time preventing her diabetes, which is currently in remission, from becoming active again.)

In general terms:

Assets are up about 10%;

Debts are down about 2% (despite the big increase in veterinary expenses and accelerating a major home maintenance issue from next year into this year);

and Net Worth is up about 12%. That's the second-best year this decade that is due to my own efforts (I've had bigger increases but due to inheritance).

The only big financial changes were a large raise early in the year and the fact that both of my cats were diagnosed this year with what the vet refers to as their 'probable life-limiting conditions." Despite the diagnoses, both kitties' illnesses seem well under control for the moment with medication and diet changes, but because of the meds and the prescription diet and for the one cat, much more frequent vet visits, my pet care expenses have grown quite a bit compared to previous years. Both cats seem happy and are doing well and they give me a huge boost of happiness so the expense is worth it. The increase in costs is about equal to what the pay increase is, so in terms of my day-to-day living, it's just been a minor budget adjustment.

Overall I am satisfied. Yes, I would like the debts to be going down faster than they are, but I am making progress even in the face of some large unexpected expenses.

At the beginning of the decade, my "debt to equity" ratio was about 60% (right after the double whammy of leaving my former profession and losing that income at the same time that my mother was dying and I had a lot of travel expenses) and now it is 15.5%. I look forward to getting it under 10% but I feel confident that I will get there in the next handful of years--still feeling on target to have the debts paid off completely sometime between 2025 and 2027. That paves the way to have the freedom to retire (not actually likely at that point, unless something changes) or (more likely) to scale back on work.