Monday, December 11, 2017

Financial Planning 2018- Charitable Giving

I have been working on my financial goals for 2018 and I plan on increasing (as I do every year) my charitable contributions.  I generally give to a legal aid charity and my law school.  This year I also donated to the victims of Hurricane Harvey through the American Bar Association.  I also often donate clothes and household items to Goodwill.  

Looking forward to 2018 I think I would like to add the American Cancer Society and St. Jude's to my list.  I also want to donate my time to help others.  Do you have any favorite charities that you like to donate to every year?  Are there any charities that I should stay away from? 

Monday, December 4, 2017

How I bought my house

I bought my house in 2013 for $247,000 on a conventional mortgage for 3.375%.  I put down 5% ($12,350) and ther fore my mortgage was for $234,650.  Today my mortgage balance is $209, 645. 

In 2012 I started saving pretty aggressive for a mortgage.  I had started a new job in 2011 making $70,000 (up from my previous salary of $62,500).  By the end of 2011 I had paid off my car, all credit card debt and a student loan.  For Christmas that year, we received a bonus of approximately $2000. I saved the majority of that bonus for a down payment on a house. By the beginning of 2012, the only debt that I had left was student loans.  I stopped making big extra payments on my student loans and started saving every dime that I could towards a down payment. We received a few small bonuses throughout the year (less than $400) and I saved those towards my down payment.  Also, I was careful not to spend all of my allotted spending categories and all of the extra went towards my down payment fund.  I already had several thousand dollars saved by the time that I started saving for my down payment.  I wish I could provide more detail, but I did not keep records of the exact amount that I had saved. 

In approximately November of 2012, my boss announced that I would receive a raise beginning in 2013.  In December of 2012, we received another $2000 Christmas bonus.  I saved the majority of that bonus towards my down payment fund.  I ended up having approximately $14,000 saved by the end of 2012. 

In January 2013 I received a 10% raise which brought my salary up to $77,000.  I saved all of the extra towards my down payment fund.  In March, I decided to start looking at houses.  I found a house I liked and put an offer that was accepted in April.  By that time I had approximately $19,000 saved for the mortgage.  We closed by the end of May and I was so sad to see my down payment fund dwindle to basically nothing.  I had separate amounts of money saved for moving expenses and a small budget for cleaning and minor improvements.  After I got into the new house, I again aggressively saved to beef up my EF savings.  Of course, that meant the many of the bigger projects did not get taken care of as the majority of my savings went to building my EF Fund.  We received another $2000 bonus for Christmas of 2013 and the majority of that went to savings. 

I basically scrimped and saved to make sure that I could afford a down payment.  I also cleaned up my credit score in 2011 by paying off debts and in 2012 by keeping my accounts current.  If I could do it differently, I probably would have waited to buy the house and saved more money for a down payment to avoid PMI. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Retirement Savings...Again

I wrote a post a few months ago about retirement savings.  The gist of the post was how much to save for retirement and whether I was on track.  Since then I have read a bunch about retirement savings on various personal finance blogs and various articles, etc about retirement savings. I noted that many of the articles that I read focused on saving a particular percentage of your income for retirement.  Some indicate 10-15% should be saved for retirement.  Dave Ramsey indicates that %15 should be saved for retirement. I saved $9,500 for retirement this year.  That was 11.7% of my gross income income (before my raise) and 15.6% of my net income (again before the raise). When I started saving for retirement I decided to start with approximately 15% of my net and try to work up to 15% of my gross income. 

However, at 35, I only have approximately $20,900 saved for retirement. Over the holiday break I was working on my goals for 2018 and I wondered if I should increase my retirement saving percentage since I have so little saved.  The increase would be short lived (a year or 2) and only to make up for the lack of savings in my 20s. 

Previously, I had convinced myself that I would make up any shortage by simply increasing my retirement contributions each year until I retire.  I still like that plan, but I feel a bit concerned about that lack of savings right now.

What do you think?  Do you think percentages are the appropriate measure for retirement savings?  Should I save more now and not focus on other financial goals? Or should I just be patient and increase my retirement savings each year? 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick pop in to say that I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving (US readers)! I had a great time with family and I am looking forward to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Future Goals

I guess because its getting close to the end of the year, I have been thinking a lot lately about the future. There are several things I want to do over the next 5 years.  So this is almost a bucket list of things to do before I hit 40:

1. Have retirement savings of over $100,000 by the time I turn 40 (or at least sometime that year).
2. Have the outside of the house pressure washed and painted.
3. Have the inside of the house painted
4. Remodel the kitchen
5. Remodel the master bathroom.
6. Buy a new laptop.
7. Purchase bedroom furniture, including a nice new mattress to replace my 14 year old mattress.
8. Buy a new car.
9. Pay down the mortgage significantly to at least a balance of $150,000. 

I was going over my yearly budget for next year and I wonder where I will find the money to accomplish all of these goals over the next five years.   Do you have any major financial goals that you would like to accomplish over the next 5 years?  What are they? How will you accomplish them?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Struggle Continues...

Friday morning I went into the garage to go to work and my car wouldn't start.  My sister had not yet left for work and was able to jump my car.  I drove my car to the shop and told the guy I brought my car in exactly a week ago for an oil change (literally exactly one week).  I also told him that when I got my car back from that oil change I had to reset all of the clocks in my car because for some reason the mechanic had disconnected by battery.  I also made sure that he knew that I had paid for a brand new alternator and battery this summer.  (Gotta love 11 going on 12 year old cars!)  Anyways after a couple of hours my car was ready.  It was allegedly a bad battery.  (I'm not so sure that I believe that, especially since just last week they allegedly checked my battery and said it was just fine).  I didn't have to pay anything as every thing was covered under the warranty, but it was inconvenient. 

My new neighbors' dogs continue to bark incessantly.  It has been a bit cool here at night (in the 40s) and they leave their dogs out all night.  The dogs bark and growl all night long.  The other night they barked continuously from 1:30a.m. until 2:30a.m. 

My boss gave me a big project at work (really something he should be doing) and now continues to intervene every 5 minutes to provide some advice about what needs to be done.  Happily, I can state that I have held my tongue and just ignored him.  Normally, I would have sent and email telling him he could head the project himself or provide a complete list of instructions and parameters for the project. 

My other boss called and gave me another project that she had given to the associate attorney in her office.  She did not like the results that he produced. I'm certain his research is correct and I hate being put in that position to redo a co-worker's work.  What if I find something he didn't?

I think I should start doing a post about the good each week too to balance things out. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Travel Reimbursement Saga...kind of?

Another short post for this morning. So I submitted all of my travel reimbursement forms from my recent trip up north.  The total reimbursements owed to me were about $1,500.  I specifically asked that the amount be promptly reimbursed because I didn't want to carry airfare and hotel expenses on my credit card.  The bookkeeper agreed to pay those with my next paycheck. While I still have travel reimbursements outstanding since August and October totaling about $800 at least I will be getting the big portion of the money owed to me before the end of the month. I going to count this one as a win! I don't have to switch money around to cover the $1,500 in work expenses.  I will work next month on my other travel reimbursements.