Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I enjoyed sometime off of work and time with family.  I ate too much and did not get a chance to relax, but I sincerely enjoyed my time off work.  I hope to post soon about my goals for 2018.  Stay tuned!

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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tree Trimming Costs

Just a short post this morning.  I called about a week and a half ago (11/3) to have someone come out and provide an estimate for trimming the trees in my backyard.  He came out that same day and quoted $950 (for about 8 trees).  Just a few days later (11/8) he was out here with his crew trimming the trees.  They did a great job! They removed all of the branches that needed to be removed and cleaned up all of the debris from the backyard.  Not one single branch was left.  I wasn't home at the time (but my sister was) and she gave them cold water and snacks.  I didn't know which day they were coming so I didn't leave her with my checkbook or cash (For tips).  Anyways, I spoke to the guy the next day and got the final amount ($950) and wrote him a check for $1,050 (the $950,plus a $100 tip).  I was never so happy to pay someone for a service! He even called yesterday, advised me that he received the check and thanked me for the prompt payment and the tip!  It's hard to find great service like that nowadays!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The mortgage numbers

I purchased my home in 2013 for $247,000 on a 30 year mortgage.  The mortgage was for $234,650, meaning I put down just 5% in order to purchase the home.  I am trying desperately to get rid of the PMI on my mortgage which is $115  per month.  I have been paying an extra $290 per month on the principal since approximately August or September of this year when I got my $5,000 raise.  Prior to that I was only paying an extra $150 per month on the mortgage.

 A sort of secret goal that I had for this year was to pay more in principal than I did in interest on the mortgage.  As of this month (maybe last month, I didn't do the math) I have accomplished that goal.  That is mostly thanks to the raise that I received (half of the net amount of the raise has been going to the mortgage).
Year-to-Date Totals

The current balance of the mortgage is $210,382.  I should easily make my goal of getting the mortgage under $210,000 by the end of the year.  My goal is to get rid of the PMI by the end of next year.  However, if I can get just get the mortgage under $200,000 I will still be quite pleased. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Money, money and the Struggle.

I have had a lot of travel expenses for work these last few months.  I have already submitted over $700 in travel expenses for August, September and October.  Yesterday evening I came back from a trip up North and I have already documented over $1,200 in travel expenses (airfare, hotel, etc.).  I think there are few more expenses I am missing (i.e. checked bag costs and meals).

I am worn out from all the travel and cannot wait until Friday (Veteran's Day Observed), a day off.  However, I will be taking my car in for an oil change on that day. That's more $$$ that I will be spending.  (I wonder how people can travel so much and not be tired). 

I am also hoping to get some trees trimmed in the back yard to the tune of $950.

A mini "The Struggle this Week"
1. I need my travel expenses reimbursed prior to the Holidays. I don't think that will happen. It usually takes about 3 months.  That will be next year.
2. I have at least 2 more work trips before the end of the year and I already incurred approximately $2,000 in outstanding travel expenses.
3. The partner in the South Florida office keeps giving me new cases/projects. My boss doesn't do anything, why doesn't she give him work?
4. I keep getting cases that are outside my area of practice.  My boss is not helpful and provides no guidance. It makes things a lot harder to litigate. I feel slow and uncertain and I hate that feeling.  However, I do like learning new areas of the law.
5. My boss continues not to do his work and drops it on me at the last minute. It's very frustrating.
6. I'm stressed for so many reasons: work, not enough time to do anything, my toxic former friend, etc.
7. I want to spend money mindlessly to soothe myself. 
8. I wonder if I need to be on anti-depressants? I hate taking medication, but I wonder if it will help.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Third Quarter Goals Update

Third Quarter Update - Goals 2017

1. Increase emergency fund from $15,000 to $17,500.-IN PROGRESS
I have $16,005 in my EF currently.  less than 3 months to get this where it should be.

2. Add $9,500 to my retirement with an overall goal of having $20,000 in retirement savings by the end of the year.--COMPLETE
I have contributed $9,500 to retirement this year.  I believe between my roth and taxable I have approximately $20,500 for retirement.  

3. Pay an extra $100 a month on the mortgage, with an end goal of having the balance under $210,000 by the end of the year.- IN PROGRESS.  I have paid at least $100 extra on each mortgage payment so far this year. The last few months I have put $290 extra on my mortgage. 

4. Save an additional $2,500 into car replacement fund with the end goal of having $5,000 in the car replacement fund by the end of the year. IN PROGRESS
I have over $4,547 saved towards a new car.

5. Pay off furniture I bought before expiration of 0% financing period. --DONE

I paid this off in approximately 2 months- no interest paid!!!

6. Read 12 books- FAIL
I have only completed 2 books this year.  So much reading of various books.  Can't seem to finish one!

7. Write a book- FAIL
Lots of ideas- no actual writing

8. Lose 10 lbs- FAIL
no progress, but no weight gain either!

9. Donate $200 to charity- DONE
I have donated $200 this year. I donated $50 to my law school, $50 to legal services for the poor and $100 to a legal fund designed to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

10.  Get more life insurance- FAIL
Was hoping to lose weight first.

11. Build a separate car maintenance fund. - IN PROGRESS
I have $100 in this fund. 

12. Look into and focus on career options.- IN PROGRESS

I have been looking into other careers outside of the practice of law.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Struggle This Week

It's only Tuesday and it's already been a rough week with more to come. Here's the struggle so far:

1. My boss is a gigantic pain.  He keeps emailing me and asking me for things that I prepared and sent him ages ago.  Most recent, a document he insisted that I prepare right that second.  I had prepared it and emailed it to him exactly 1 month ago. Also, it was a document he could have written himself.

2.  My boss is lazy.  Clients keep calling and emailing me for updates because they know I will respond quickly. These are cases that he is lead on and I am only assisting.  I have my own cases for which I am the lead attorney.

3. An attorney (opposing counsel) I don't know and have never worked with before was rude to me.  Without being too specific, he was mad because he did something wrong and I pointed it out.  However, I did not point it out in the way he wanted me to. He went out of his way to send a rude email. 

4. My long term toxic friend is still mad at me. We have known each other for 16 years.  He won't speak to me.  I don't really want him to speak to me, but I also feel bad.  I wish things had ended better. I'm not pushing him, but I feel guilty. 

5. I have a hearing next week that I'm worried about arguing.  It is not a area of the law I have ever practiced in previously.  My boss is no help and wants me to do it anyways. 

6.  I have an expensive work trip coming up.  Like $2,000 with flights and hotels.  It will probably be January before I am reimbursed.  I only keep a max of $1,000 in my work travel fund.

7.  I've been having a lot of joint pain lately.  I have no idea why.  Both parents suffer/suffered from arthritis.  It's very bothersome in my hands and hurts to type.  I'm only 35.

8.  An attorney (opposing counsel) is attempting to bully me in order to get what he wants even though he is doing it wrong.  There is an established procedure.  Why not follow it???

9. I'm worried about my mother.  Her blood pressure has been so high this week.  She takes her meds and works out a little everyday. Not sure what the problem is.

10. I can't afford to retire.

11.  My new neighbors dogs continue to bark incessantly.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Retirement Savings 2017 Complete!

This year, despite my unreasonable and ridiculous spending, I have completed my retirement savings for the year.  My goal was to put $9,500 into retirement for the year and I have accomplished that goal!  Where did all that money go? $2,000 into my 2016 Roth, $5,500 into my 2017 Roth and $2,000 into a taxable account. The contributions and dates are listed below:

1/18/17 - $1,000
4/4/17- $600
4/12/17- $400
4/14/17- $1,004
5/15/17- $1000
6/15/17- $1,000
8/15/17- $1,118
8/17/17- $695
9/15/17 -$508
10/16/16 - $797

My retirement account is worth approximately $20,600 as of today. This is great as my goal was to have $20,000 saved for retirement by the end of this year. I finished my retirement savings in November of last year and in October this year.

Looking into the future for 2018, I plan to increase my contributions to $10,500.  That will mean $5,500 into my Roth and $5,000 into my taxable account. My goal will be to have $33,000 saved for retirement by the end of next year.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mortgage Updates

Welcome to Tuesday! Monday actually went by so quickly and that actually was nice.  I know I often complain about time flying, but a Monday going by quickly was pleasant. 

On to the important things! As I have previously blogged I have been making extra principal payments on the mortgage this year.  Finally, as of the end of September/beginning of October, I have paid more in principal payments than in interest payments! The numbers are as follows:
 Principal $5,549.78
Interest $5,425.01

Yay!! It sucks that so much has gone towards interest, but I keep thinking of all of the interest I am saving by paying extra on the principal. I have to keep this post short as a I have to get on the road (the travel never ends!).  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's Monday...again

Weekends fly by so quickly compared to the work week and it's now Monday...again.  I have been feeling a little under the weather the last several days, but I wanted to work on clearing some clutter from the house.  I forced myself to work on filing some paperwork in the office in order to clear the overflowing filing bin.  I now have a huge box of papers to shred.  I will save those for my mother since she likes to have tasks to do when she spends time at my house (she will be here next week).  I  cleaned off the desk and threw away a bunch of clutter obscuring the work space.  I managed to find a cabinet for about $80 at home depot that worked for the office.  It's almost 6 feet tall and I was able to clear a couple of boxes of office supplies that were sitting on the ground.  It's nice and organized now.  I just need to get rid of an armchair that is way too big for the small room.  Also, I need to purchase a bookshelf so I can unload a couple of boxes of books that are still in the closet from when I moved into the house. Maybe I can also get my Mother to work on organizing that closet when she comes next week!

After I get the office together, I plan to work on the guest room. Then I need to work on my room It never ends and everything always costs money!

Last week was a hard week for me.  I turn towards organizing, decluttering and cleaning when I am feeling down.  Being busy distracts me from the sad feelings.  I won't go into it on the blog, but I was trying to end a long term toxic relationship without hurting feelings. Well, I did the exact opposite (so much for tact).  So now there are hurt feelings and I feel guilty. Now I feel compelled to try and soothe the bad feelings without getting back into the toxic relationship (guilt complex much?).  Humans are complicated beings. 

Anyways, on to some financial good news!  Last year I earned a total of about $52 in interest on my savings account.  This year as of the end of September I have already earned $57!  I should earn approximately $80 in interest this year!! Now that is some motivation to go to work and earn money so that compounding interest can do its thing! Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Time is Not on My Side

I don't know how time keeps slipping by me.  It's October already.  I only put up one post in September. This has been one heck of a year and it seems to be going by so fast.  Maybe even faster than years past.  Maybe it's because I am older? Anyways on to updates. 

I'm sure everyone has heard about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, again I am late to the discussion.  How disheartening to hear these stories.  The only light in these repeated stories is the kindness of strangers helping strangers.

Financially things are going okay.  I have been overspending a lot lately and I can't seem to stop that.  It's definitely been a theme this year.  I have not been able to figure out why I am overspending so much this year.  However, I have been making progress on my goals so I will take that over nothing at all. 

I had some goals for September- those did not go well!
1. Finish out my retirement contributions for the year- just $1,305 more to go- DID NOT COMPLETE.  I have $797 left to contribute to retirement for the year. The remainder of the cash I had budgeted went to hurricane supplies.  Sigh! However, I am pleased to be more prepared for the next one.

2. Read a book- any book, maybe 2- DID NOT COMPLETE.  I did read, a lot, I just haven't finished anything.  Someone, please help me finish another book this year.

3. Exercise every week- 3 times a week PASS!! I did manage to exercise every week- at least 3 times a week!!

4. Review my budget, long term goals and short term goals. NOPE- didn't even crack a pad of paper or pen  (or computer or spreadsheet) to analyze these issues.

Now on to  October goals.
1. Finish out retirement contributions for the year
2. Work on decor for bedroom (finally after 4+ years)
3. Exercise every week for 3 times a week.
4. Add money to Emergency Fund
5. Blog more than once a month!
6. Purge possessions
7. Review budget, long term goals and short term goals. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Hey Everyone it's been a very busy couple of weeks!  We were so blessed and got through Hurricane Irma with little to no damage (some branches down in the backyard, power out for about 12 hours and some small branches down in the front yard).  I hope everyone else fared as well as we did.

I did spent quite a bit of money preparing for Hurricane Irma- including an $800 generator.  For the last Hurricane we were without electricity for about 2 days and Irma was expected to be much worse.  I was not interested in being without utilities for about 4 to 5 days so I went ahead and got a small generator to help us through the storm.  I also bought several jugs and bottles of water, batteries, flashlights, non-perishables, battery powered cell phone charges, etc.   I have not added it all up yet, but I'm certain I spent over $1,000 in preparation for the storm.  This will likely cause me not to finish my retirement contributions this month as originally predicted, but I'm okay with that because I feel much more prepared for a storm.

Our office was closed for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week so that the roads could be cleared, the server could be put back together (it was taken down for the storm) and utilities could be restored across the city.  It was very nice to only have to work 2 days last week and Friday was payday!

Anyways, I need to pay off my credit card, make arrangements for my eye appointment next month and re-figure my budget so I can be sure to get my retirement contributions completed for the year.  Have a great Monday.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

It's Almost Labor Day & Goals

Today is the last day of August, boy time does fly when you get older.  It seemed like it was just the beginning of the year and now we are almost in the last quarter. I feel the need to get motivated and get started on some goals.

I have some goals for September:
1. Finish out my retirement contributions for the year- just $1,305 more to go
2. Read a book- any book, maybe 2
3. Exercise every week- 3 times a week
4. Review my budget, long term goals and short term goals.

As for labor day, I plan to spend the weekend with family.  Nothing special, maybe some bbq, walks and naps.  Anyone else doing anything fun or exciting?

As for the money front there is nothing exciting going on- had a dentist appointment earlier this week and that will cost be about $42 out of pocket after insurance and a credit I had on my account.  I should have just enough in my medical sinking fund to cover this expense once I get the bill.  I'm kind of excited to see how big I can grow my medical expense sinking fund. 

Also, I am putting an extra $290 on my mortgage payment this month.  I'm excited because, hopefully, by the end of next year I will have my mortgage paid down low enough to drop the PMI payment.  That will be an extra $115 that will go towards principal!

On the downside, the property taxes are probably going up this year due to increased property values and a proposed increase in the millage rate.  Increased property taxes will result in an increased escrow payment which results in a larger mortgage payment.  Boo.  I might just make an additional escrow payment at the end of the year so I can see if I can avoid a larger payment. 

As for the life front, I have new neighbors that have barking dogs.  They usually start barking at about 5:45 a.m. After work they start barking from about 6:30 until about 7:30 or 8:00. 

Lastly, I would like to do something to help the victims of hurricane Harvey.  I haven't decided whether to just donate to the redcross or do something else.  What kind of assistance are you providing?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Net Worth

Here's where the numbers stand.

 $10,905 Emergency Fund
 $9,038 Online Savings Account/$3,747 of that amount is for my Car Replacement Fund
  $17,639 Retirement- Roth IRA
$695 Taxable Brokerage (Retirement)

$311 Travel Fund (Work)
$357 pet fund 
$34 medical fund
$413 furniture fund
$81 Slush fund 
$280 Savings

$292,687-per zillow

                  Total (not including home): $39,753
                  Total (including home): $332,440

Mortgage $212,577

                   Total (not including mortgage): 0
                    Total (including mortgage): -$212,577

                                     Total Net Worth(not including mortgage): $39,753                                             Total Net Worth(including mortgage): $119,863

Net worth, not including mortgage, increased by $3,757 from July(last net worth update)
Net worth, including mortgage, increased by $12,481 from July(last net worth update)

Things are moving in the right direction, slowly, but surely.  My net worth should be up over $125,000 but the end of the year (Hopefully). 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017 Roth Maxed

 I have maxed out my 2017 Roth!  I have been tracking my contributions all year and they are as follows:

4/14/17- $1,004
5/15/17- $1000
6/15/17- $1,000
8/15/17- $1,118

So now I will work on getting another $2,000 into a taxable brokerage account.  This morning I transferred $695 into my taxable account. My hope is to contribute $9,500 into retirement for the year.  I did $2,000 into my 2016 Roth, $5,500 into my 2017 Roth and hope to get $2,000 into a taxable account.

Next year, I plan to contribute $10,000 towards retirement and I plan to add $500 a year to that total each year until the number becomes completely unrealistic. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I am saving enough fast enough.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mortgage Payments

Thanks for all of your helpful posts on retirement savings.  It provides some comfort to know that most people feel that if you just keep saving it will work out in the end!

In other news, I am excited to announce that for the first time since I obtained a mortgage I paid more in principal payments than I did in escrow payments (without counting my normal extra $150 payment to principal only)! My principal payment was $437.85 ($587.85 including my additional $150 principal payment), my escrow payment was $437.21. Additionally, my interest payment fell to below $600.  I "only" paid $599.53 in interest this month!

My real goal for the year is to pay more into principal (including extra payments) than interest for the year.  My year to date totals are as follows:

Principal $4,087.89
Interest $4,231.32

I'm getting so close!  I suspect I will have to make a slightly larger, principal only payment at the end of the year to make sure that I pay more in principal than interest, 



Friday, July 28, 2017

Retirement Update- How much to Save????

I tried to draft this from my kindle, but gave up because the text displays oddly when you are typing.  Anyways, I wanted to give you all an update on my retirement savings for the year.

Early in 2017 I contributed $2,000 to my 2016 Roth in order to max out my 2016 contributions.  

So far this year, I have contributed $4,382 to my Roth.  I should be able to max out my 2017 contributions next month ($1,118 left to go!).  My contributions for my 2017 Roth are below:

4/14/17- $1,004
5/15/17- $1000
6/15/17- $1,000

I plan to add $2,000 into a taxable account after I max out my Roth. 

My Roth as of today is valued at about $16,931.  A few days ago it was worth over $17,000! I hope today is a great day in the market, it would be a nice psychological boost going into the weekend.  

Also, I have been those using those silly retirement calculators a lot and reading about how much money you should have saved for retirement by each age.  I am supposed to have $171,000 saved for retirement by now.  I have less than $17,000.  Five years from now I am supposed to have $257,550 saved. I am already worried about making sure I have enough for retirement, but there is no way that I will reach those numbers.  How much did you have saved for retirement at 35? 40?  Are you worried that you won't have enough?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I got a raise!!

It was completely out of the blue and unexpected.  I received a $5,000 a year raise which will take place next pay period.  I've already done the math and this will amount to $140 more each pay period. 

I don't know why my bosses decided to give me a raise.  Wait, well let me clarify.  I work very hard, take on extra responsibilities at work and work more than 40 hours a week.  I often end up doing the work of others as well.  However, that type of work ethic, generally, is not rewarded at the firm.  For example, my boss's assistant has been given almost $30,000 in raises over the course of 7 years of employment.  She is rarely at work and because my boss does not work she often does not have much to do.  Even when she is given work, she sometimes doesn't do it.  My boss asked me to ask her (yes, I know- we were all literally in the same building on the same floor) to prepare a list of cases.  Six weeks later, she finally did it.  After, apparently, some prodding by my boss to get it done. The list couldn't have take more than 10 minutes to prepare.

Regardless, I am pleased to be included in the smallish pool of employees that were given raises.  This is my third raise in 6 years.  My first raise was about $7,000, my second was about $3,850 and this, my third, was $5,000.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vehicle Repair

So about 2 weeks ago, after work, I went to pick up some Chinese food for dinner. As I was pulling into the parking lot my battery light on my car dashboard lit up and then went out.  Then it came on and stayed on.  I pulled into a parking spot and pulled out my manual and it said something to the effect of pull over immediately and call for help.  Well, I am stubborn.  I first picked up the food I ordered and then drove 25 minutes home in rush hour traffic.  It was a stressful, nail biting experience, but I made it home. 

Once I got home I started googling the battery dashboard indicator light in Toyotas.  I found that it mostly likely meant that my alternator had gone bad.  I deduced this because for about 2 months I had been hearing a whirring noise after long drives.  I had googled the whirring noise, but didn't find anything significant and it wasn't too annoying.  Well, FYI, a battery light and a whirring noise means your alternator has gone bad.  The whirring noise was the first indicator of the failing alternator. (I never had any problems with a dead battery or anything like that).

Well, my car is about to be 11 years old (in about 3 months) and I never had the alternator replaced on the car.  So, I guess it was about time to get a new one.  It cost (along with an oil change, rotation, etc,) approximately $863.  That was after I talked the service advisor into giving me a discount of about $50.  

Right after I had the repair done I received a travel voucher reimbursement for $539 so I used that to cover part of the repair.  I used another $324 from my work travel fund to cover the remainder of the repair.  I could have used my emergency fund, but I just didn't want to!  I have about $600 in outstanding travel vouchers right now so once I receive those- in August- my work travel fund will be back up to about $1,000. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Second Quarter Update - Goals 2017

1. Increase emergency fund from $15,000 to $17,500.-IN PROGRESS
I have $15,905 in my EF currently.  6 months to get this where it should be.

2. Add $9,500 to my retirement with an overall goal of having $20,000 in retirement savings by the end of the year.--IN PROGRESS
I have contributed $5,004 to retirement this year. I believe my ROTH is at approximately $15,300. 

3. Pay an extra $100 a month on the mortgage, with an end goal of having the balance under $210,000 by the end of the year.- SO FAR SO GOOD.
I have paid at least $100 extra on each mortgage payment so far this year. This goal may change- more on this later.

4. Save an additional $2,500 into car replacement fund with the end goal of having $5,000 in the car replacement fund by the end of the year. IN PROGRESS
I have over $3,747 saved towards a new car.

5. Pay off furniture I bought before expiration of 0% financing period. --DONE

I paid this off in approximately 2 months- no interest paid!!!

6. Read 12 books- FAIL
I have only completed 2 books this year. 

7. Write a book- FAIL
Lots of ideas- no actual writing

8. Lose 10 lbs- FAIL
no progress

9. Donate $200 to charity- IN PROGRESS
I have donated $100 this year. 

10.  Get more life insurance- FAIL
Was hoping to lose weight first.

11. Build a separate car maintenance fund. - IN PROGRESS
I have $25 in this fund. 

12. Look into and focus on career options.- IN PROGRESS

I have been looking into other careers outside of the practice of law.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Net Worth- June 2017

Happy Fourth of July!!

Here's where the numbers stand.

 $10,905 Emergency Fund
 $8,831 Online Savings Account/$3,747 of that amount is for my Car Replacement Fund
  $15,358 Retirement- Roth IRA

$735 Travel Fund (Work)
$360 pet fund 
$25 medical fund
$25 furniture fund
$81 Slush fund 

$284,551-per zillow

                  Total (not including home): $36,320
                  Total (including home): $320,871

Mortgage $213,165
credit card $324 (remainder of balance from car repair)
                   Total (not including mortgage): -324
                    Total (including mortgage): -$213,489

                                     Total Net Worth(not including mortgage): $35,996                                             Total Net Worth(including mortgage): $107,382

Net worth, not including mortgage, increased by $2,320 from May (last net worth update)
Net worth, including mortgage, increased by $5,527 from May (last net worth update)

Things are moving in the right direction, slowly, but surely.  My net worth should be up over $110,000 but the end of the year (Hopefully). 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The struggle this week

It seems right now that I am just struggling with everything possible. I am frustrated and tired.  Nothing, so far, as been a major deal.  I think I am so tired and frustrated that every little thing sends me into complete and total exasperation.  Here is a list of my current frustrations:

1.My battery light came on in my car on Wednesday and I needed a new alternator, an $800 repair.  (More on this later.)
2. My shower is draining slowly and I can't find my auger.  I don't any drano on hand.
3. My toilet is leaking.  I tried to fix it and now it won't stop running (e.g. I made it worse).
4. At work, I am working on a type of case that I have never worked on before with absolutely no support from the higher ups.
5. My sister's birthday is coming up and I haven't done anything or made any plans.
6. My room is a mess.  Well the whole house is.
7. The lawn needs to be cut, but it won't stop raining.
8.  I'm behind at work.
9. My assistant left on Friday without finishing a project that is due on Monday and she won't be in on Monday.
10.  My boss' assistant seems to have an agenda to keep my boss from communicating with me.  I don't know why.  (More on this later). 
11.  I worked a 12.5 hour day on Monday
12. I worked a 15 hour day on Tuesday. 
13. I'm tired.
14. I don't have enough money to retire today. :)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lawyers and suicide

A few weeks ago, a well known litigator in Florida allegedly committed suicide.  His face had blessed the cover of magazines and he was touted as a successful lawyer in Florida.  He had many multi-million dollar verdicts and seemed to be the epitome of success.  I did not know the man personally, but I recall seeing his trial tips and story in a magazine.  

This man's alleged suicide was shocking to me.  He seemed to fit into the legal culture and was successful.  That is not me at all.  I don't like going to the local attorney meetings or participating in the local bar events.  I do not fit into the culture of practicing law in my area.  For example, I have gone to many a hearing on a case and I was the only female, the only minority in the room and the only one under 50 years old.  No one was unkind to me and the hearings have gone well.  However, there is a lingering feeling, within me, that I just don't fit in.  I also don't make a lot of money  as a lawyer.  I replaced an older white male attorney and I am paid at least $40,000 a year less than he was making (I started out making $50,000 a year less than he did.).  I've seen his old timesheets- I do more work than he did and I have more firm-wide day-to-day responsibilities than he did- yet there is a disparity in pay.  Is is due to my age, my race, my gender or experience?  I always have those lingering questions.  I don't like practicing law, it is just a stressful job to me. A job that I hope I will be able to transition out of and into something else.

Nevertheless, the practice of law is stressful and it can be depressing.  There are often feelings that you are not good enough. There is a lot of embarrassment,shame, anger if you lose a hearing/case/trial.  About 10 years ago an local attorney in a nearby town committed suicide.  I had interacted with him on several cases.   I recall thinking, "I wonder why he chose to end his life?"  He was a partner in a law firm, had just recently lost and lot of weight and seemed to have all the confidence in the world. 

I encourage everyone, not just lawyers, to get help for mental health issues.  I also would like to point out that many people suffer from mental issues. People who you never would suspect suffer from mental health issues. It is important to focus on kindness in your interactions with others. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Roth Update

Yesterday was payday and I contributed another $1,000 to my Roth.  My Roth is now worth over $15,000!  $15,358 to be exact!  Building up assets in a Roth IRA is slow going, but finally hitting the $15,000 milestone is so exciting.  My next goal is $20,000, but that probably won't happen until next year as I can only contribute $2,496 more for 2017.  Keep your fingers crossed for more growth! I really hope that by the end of the year my Roth will be worth close to $19,000.  However, I realize that at the market is unpredictable and anything can happen.

My 2017 Roth contributions are below:

4/14/17- $1,004
5/15/17- $1000
6/15/17- $1,000

I just like to track things so later when I look back at my blog I can see what I did and how far I have come over the years.  Outside of my Roth I intend to contribute another $2,000 towards retirement into a taxable account for 2017. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Welcome to June!

Welcome to June everyone!  I know I'm a bit late, but at least we are only 4 days in.  I ended up earning over $6 on my savings account this month.  Slowly, but surely I am creeping up.  I can't wait until I am earning over $100 a year in interest.

I contemplated opening a CD with some of my EF, but the rates are so low right, I don't think I will bother.  I would get to tie up my money for 91 days to earn approximately $1.  The 1 year and 2 year rates are not much better.  I may reconsider later, as earning something (even just $1) is better than nothing.  I keep hoping that the savings interest rated will rise and make it worth putting money into CDs. 

I ended the month with over $14,300 in my Roth.  That is exciting as I am creeping up on $15,000 in retirement savings.  I should make that in June....well depending on the market.  I should get one of those fancy progress bars for my blog.

I am expecting some big expenses soon: appliances are wearing out and making noises, my car will be 11 years old this year and my laptop seems to be dying (it is about 6 years old). 

I still haven't received my travel reimbursements from March so I will need to follow up with that- it's about $800- tomorrow.  I hate having to involve my boss, but I will not act as a credit card company for the firm.  I am being extremely generous by waiting 2 months for reimbursement.

I paid the mortgage payment right before the long weekend.  I made an extra $150 payment (the usual),  and the balance is down to $213,753.  Houses in my neighborhood have been being listed for $325,000 (I paid around $250,000 4 years ago). If the real estate market stays hot, I may consider selling in a few years.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend (US readers) and I am so grateful to all those who have served and given their life for our freedom.

I had a busy and somewhat productive weekend that went by way too fast.  I am not looking forward to getting back to work this week, but I try to remember that each day I am employed is another dollar that I can use to pave the way to financial independence. 

I should be receiving a travel voucher reimbursement this week and I will use that to (finally) repay the money I took out of my emergency fund to fund some work travel for earlier this year.  There's no use complaining, it's going to take two months, at least, for each travel voucher to be repaid.  I hate, however, that I had to take money from my year end bonus to pay for work expenses. 

That being said, work is still crazy and I will do a separate post on that later.  Sometimes venting on here helps me feel better about the insanity at work. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Net Worth Update.

Here's where the numbers stand.

 $10,500 Emergency Fund
$8,418 Online Savings Account/$3,347 of that amount is for my Car Replacement Fund
$13,972 Retirement- Roth IRA

$810 Travel Fund (Work)
$300 pet fund 

$282,193-per zillow

                  Total (not including home): $34,000
                  Total (including home): $316,193

Mortgage $214,338
                   Total (not including mortgage): 0
                    Total (including mortgage): -$214,338

                                     Total Net Worth(not including mortgage): $34,000 
                                     Total Net Worth(including mortgage): $101,855

Net worth, not including mortgage, increased by $4,219 from last November (last net worth update)
Net worth, including mortgage, increased by $16,891 from last November (last net worth update)

Not much growth net worth wise, but that is due to the fact that I spent the over $3,000 I had saved up for my house on new living room furniture.  Once I get my retirement accounts funded for the year I will start saving for new bedroom furniture.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Busy days and finances.

Once again life has gotten crazy busy.  It's been over a month since I have blogged and that's just terrible.  I will do better. 

This will be a short post as I am exhausted and I want to lay down in my own bed and rest.  I added another $1,000 to my retirement account this last payday (yesterday) for 2017.  I have $3,496 to add to my Roth before the end of the year.  My Roth currently sits at $14,087. 

I own 3 mutual funds and 1 ETF.  I can't wait until my retirement account is sitting at $20,000 as that is my next goal.  I still feel so far behind in retirement savings, but at least I am trying and making progress. According to at least one study I read, I should have $160,000 saved for retirement by now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Roth 2016 Maxed!

I maxed out my 2016 Roth contributions just before the deadline. Below are the contributions and the dates for my 2016 Roth.

2016 Roth Contributions

8/15/16- $550
9/16/16- $1,281
10/18/16- $1,389
11/15/16- $280
1/18/17 - $1,000
4/4/17- $600
4/12/17- $400

I know I'm a nerd, I love tracking my progress and making charts and lists!! Anyways 2016 Roth is done and now I am on my way to maxing out my 2017 Roth.  After that I will focus on building my emergency to $17,500 (right now I am at 15,500). 

2017 Roth Contributions
4/14/17- $1,004

 Gotta run!

Happy Easter to those that celebrate the holiday!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First Quarter Update- Financial Goals 2017

1. Increase emergency fund from $15,000 to $17,500.-IN PROGRESS
I have increased this by $500 (It was actually $1,000, but I had to borrow $500 for my work travel due to the extremely slow and awful reimbursement process).

2. Add $9,500 to my retirement with an overall goal of having $20,000 in retirement savings by the end of the year.--IN PROGRESS
I have contributed $1,600 to retirement this year. I believe my ROTH is at approximately $11,400. 

3. Pay an extra $100 a month on the mortgage, with an end goal of having the balance under $210,000 by the end of the year.- SO FAR SO GOOD.
I have paid at least $100 extra on each mortgage payment so far this year.

4. Save $2,500 into car replacement fund with the end goal of having $5,000 in the car replacement fund by the end of the year. IN PROGRESS
I have over $3,000 saved towards a new car.

5. Pay off furniture I bought before expiration of 0% financing period.  Will blog about this later in a separate post. --DONE

I paid this off in approximately 2 months- no interest paid!!!

6. Read 12 books- FAIL
I have not completed one book this year yet. 

7. Write a book- FAIL
Lots of ideas- no actual writing

8. Lose 10 lbs- FAIL
no progress

9. Donate $200 to charity- FAIL
I have not selected a charity yet.

10.  Get more life insurance- FAIL
Was hoping to lose weight first.

11. Build a separate car maintenance fund. - FAIL
Waiting on travel vouchers.

12. Look into and focus on career options.- IN PROGRESS

I have been looking into other careers outside of the practice of law.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Retirement Goal Status

I was able to put $600 towards my retirement goal in March! That means I only have $400 left to put in my Roth for 2016, which I should be able to to with my next paycheck on 4/13.  Then my Roth for 2016 will be maxed out!  Next, I can start the battle against my Roth IRA contributions for 2017.  I don't know how everyone else feels, but, to me, it feels so hard to actually build up a lot of cash for retirement.  The fact that I can only put $5,500 per year into my Roth sucks.  I really wish they would raise the contribution limits.  I haven't bought anything this year because the market has been pretty crazy, "financial experts" are forecasting a market correction and I haven't had enough money to buy a new mutual fund ($3,000 minimum for vanguard). Anyways, only $7,900 more (out of $9,500) to put away for retirement in 2017.

Hopefully my next post will be a quarterly update on my yearly goals as-if you can believe it- it's already April!! I don't understand how time flies to fast now.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

$0 Balance

The furniture bill is paid in full!!!! I am debt free (except for my mortgage) once again. Not a dime of interest was paid and I am now the proud owner of a sofa, chair, ottoman, etc.  Happy Tuesday!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Getting Close!!!

Yesterday was payday and I was able to put $1,903 on the furniture bill.  I now only owe $1,316. It's so close to being paid off!!

As a reminder this is the 0% interest furniture financing that I did at the end of last year.  I have until January of 2018 to pay off the balance in order to not incur interest charges.  My tax refund will be $1,484 so I should have enough money to pay off the furniture.  Also, my sister (We live together) has agreed to give me some money to pay on the furniture.  She wants to give me $1,000, but I am thinking maybe $700 would be sufficient as it would leave me with a good amount of money left over to put into my retirement account.

I can't wait until that balance is at 0 and I can get back to focusing on my retirement account. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Road Warrior 2017

I have been traveling so much for work over the last 2 months.  I have 3 more trips before the end of March and I think I currently have over $1,200 in travel reimbursements pending.  I will definitely have over $2,500 by the end of the month (which is approximately 1/2 of a month's take home pay for me).

I really hate having travel reimbursements as it has been an ongoing struggle to get them paid in a timely manner.  Additionally, when the reimbursements are paid, it is in a piecemeal fashion. (I may get 1 or 2 after about 60 to 90 days.  Then another 1 or 2, etc, etc.)  The whole process sucks.  I'm trying to get out of a trip on Monday, but I will see what I can do.  I think my assistant is irritated with me for failing to ask her to set up a telephonic appearance earlier, but I do what I can.  At least she had a week to coordinate it.

Due to the slow reimbursement process I had to temporarily pull $500 out of my emergency fund to fund my upcoming trips throughout the end of the month. Arghh!! I hate doing that.  I like my money to stay where I put it.

On a positive note, with my tax return I should be able to pay off the balance of the furniture sometime this month and that makes me so happy as I will not have to pay a penny of interest and I received 20% off of the whole purchase!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Weekend Goals Final Update and Taxes

1. Complete taxes- DONE
2. Balance my checkbook
3. Finish staining that dang fence-DONE
4. Trim around the driveway
5. Treat the house for termites and other pests- DONE
6. Spray the weeds in the sidewalk cracks- DONE
7. Relax and read a book
8. Clean bathroom-DONE
9. Clean room-PARTIALLY DONE
10.Go into work-DONE

I did most of the things on my list.  I will balance my checkbook today because payday is tomorrow and I need to make sure everything is where it should be.  I could not trim the driveway as my sister loaned our trimmer to a friend. Hopefully, I will get to that one day this week. I will be out of town a few days this week so I may have to wait until this weekend.  But when do I have free time to relax and read my book?!!!

I am getting a refund this year on my taxes to the tune of $1,484.  All of that will go towards paying off that furniture I purchased and hopefully in April I can start focusing on funding my retirement accounts for the year (only $8,500 left to go).  

The mortgage interest deduction is the only reason that I have received refunds the past few years.  I have considered adjusting my withholding so that I don't get a refund, but I think I will just leave things alone for now as I hope to really start making huge payments on my mortgage and soon enough the interest won't be enough to deduct anyways. 

Happy Tuesday and Happy Budgeting people!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekend Update

I made a few goals earlier this week, for this weekend.  Here is the current status:

1. Complete taxes- I have started, just never finished.
2. Balance my checkbook
3. Finish staining that dang fence
4. Trim around the driveway
5. Treat the house for termites and other pests- DONE
6. Spray the weeds in the sidewalk cracks- DONE
7. Relax and read a book

It's only Sunday morning so, hopefully I will get a few more checked off the list before the end of the weekend.  I think I will add the following items:

8. Clean bathroom
9. Clean room
10.Go into work

I spent most of Saturday helping my mom at her house.  Getting her mailbox painted, pulling weeds in her rock garden, pulling the rocks away from the foundation of the house, going to look at storage sheds for her backyard, fixing a few boards on her deck, running to the store to buy a new rug pad, cleaning the living room so that we could put down a new rug, etc. 

Wish me luck guys!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Not Much Going on Here

Just popping in to say hello and good morning! There is not much going on here, I have just been traveling for work.  I need to spend some time cleaning my house and getting my finances in order.  Hopefully I will get all of that done this weekend.  It's only Wednesday and I am already dreaming of the weekend.  

Here are my weekend goals:
1. Complete taxes- I have started, just never finished.
2. Balance my checkbook
3. Finish staining that dang fence
4. Trim around the driveway
5. Treat the house for termites and other pests
6. Spray the weeds in the sidewalk cracks
7. Relax and read a book

Okay, that's all. Gotta head to work.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Work update

I haven't posted a work update in quite some time.  This is, basically, because I try not to think about work when I am not at work.  It's just too stressful.

Work is the same as it has been for years.  I continue to look for a good quality job to apply for, the problem is I can't find one that will pay the same amount of money that I am making now (or more) in my town.  Unfortunately, the largest employer in my city is the State. The State has wonderful benefits, but the pay is generally subpar. I am also very wary of private law firms only because the 3 I have worked for have been awful.  I hear horror stories from my cohorts regarding firms they have worked for in town.  That's why I am generally considering positions where my law degree would come in handy, but would be different from the day to day practice of law.   I just haven't figure out what that position is, but hopefully I will. 

For those of you who don't know, my boss is beyond strange.  Seriously, there is something wrong with him, I'm not kidding. I can't even begin to explain what is wrong with him. He is exhausting. His medications (which he speaks of often) do not work.  His counseling, does not work.  However, he has been at work more this year and that seems to slightly help the timeliness issues.  It also seems to help his assistant come to work more. Previously, neither my boss nor his assistant came to work very much and all of the extra fell on me.  He wouldn't get stuff out on time and I would end up staying late and working weekends to get things done. I was tasked with answering the phone and doing other clerical tasks when his assistant wouldn't come to work.  It's slightly better now, but really I think it's because the South Florida office has complained to both partners about not timely getting feedback about firm matters because of the absence of my boss and his assistant.

Now my boss's assistant has received quite a bit of negative attention about her absences from the office.  Nothing has happened to her, but people keep making mention of her lack of attendance and her false timesheets.  However, no disciplinary action has been taken and I think she is very lucky.  At it's peak, her absences could span a 3 week period of time. 1 week of vacation, 3 (work days) pre-vacation to prepare, and 1 week post-vacation to recover from illnesses acquired during her vacation.  Additionally, she, generally, would take (at least) one day off a day every 2 weeks.

I hope this trend continues, of my boss and his assistant coming to work more often, as it really has taken a burden off of me. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March Goals

In February I made several goals and I don't think I accomplished many, if any of them.

1.Get taxes done- FAIL
2. read 1 book - FAIL
3. lose 2lbs- haven't weighed
4. figure out what needs to be organized=- FAIL
5.try to stick to budget- PASSISH
6. plan 2 social events - FAIL
7. feel less depressed about life. - PASSISH

Although a short month, February was a rough month.  I'm so glad it is over.  I'm ready for Spring, yard work and less traveling for work.  However, I have to get through March, then the travel should slow down for awhile.  I won't go through all the detail, but most of you know about my plight with travel voucher reimbursements (having to wait 2-3 months for reimbursement).  One co-worker actually told me she had $5,000 outstanding at any one time. That is simply an amount of money that I cannot afford to have outstanding for months and month. 

I am hopeful that March will be a better month for me goal-wise. So here are my March goals

1. Finish staining/sealing repaired portion of fence
2. Repair other side of the fence
3. read 1 book
4. lose 2 lbs
5. Pay off furniture loan
6. Get taxes done and filed
7. Work on career options

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Extra mortgage payment

I was able to put an extra $195 principal payment on the mortgage for my March payment!  My mortgage balance is now down to $215, 503 (from $216, 127)!   My goal is to have the balance into the $214,000s with my end of March payment (for the first of April).

I am slowly but surely chipping away at the mortgage.  I can't wait until the balance falls down into the $100,000s.  I'm pretty sure this house is not my forever home, but I want to make a nice profit when I sell (instead of writing a check).

I can get rid of the PMI when the balance is down to approximately $197,000 so I have quite a long way to go.  I pay off approximately $6,000 of principal a year, so I have about 3 years to go (roughly).   I think I can get the balance down to $197,000 in about 2 years from now because I intend to dump as much extra as I can onto the mortgage this year.

I received a comment via email  (I rarely check my email guys, I'm sorry) from Emily about ways to get rid of the PMI.  Emily suggested refinancing in order to get rid of the PMI if the value of my house had increased enough.  While I hate paying PMI, I don't think refinancing is a good option in my case right now.  I have a very low interest rate and I don't want to lose that just to get rid of PMI. I also think zillow has over inflated the value of my home by about $15,000.  Nevertheless, I wanted to put Emily's suggestion out there, just in case anyone is looking for suggestions about how to get rid of PMI prematurely.

Happy first day of March! It will be Spring soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Busy weekends

I have been super busy the past few weekends working on home improvement projects.  My sister and I replaced a 2 X4 and all of the pickets on the fence on one side of the house.  We have not had a chance to get the other side done yet. I also stained and sealed the newly repaired portion of the fence.  It needed to be repaired badly, anytime you opened the door, the fence would pull apart.  It was very frustrating.

I also replaced the dryer vent cap as the previous one was plastic and had cracked and had become weather worn. 

We weeded the front flower beds, put down fresh pine straw and trimmed the trees and hedges.

Lastly, we fertilized the front lawn,put down pesticide and cut the grass.  First lawn mowing of the year!

Well of course all of these projects cost tons of money.  I never budget enough money for spring home improvements and I had to dip into my house/furniture fund.  I'm pretty sure I spent over $400 for everything, but I have not yet closed out February and totaled up all the expenses. I think the mental health boost was well worth the cost.  I was out in the sunshine getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors.

My back porch is now a total wreck as that's where everything has been stored for my outdoor projects and I will now have to concentrate on cleaning up that mess.  I also need to tend to my much ignored inside of my house and get all of those chores done. 

Gotta get ready for work.  Have a great day everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Debt update....

The mortgage is down to $216,127 and with my next payment it should fall down into the $215,000s! I'm trying so hard to get this beast down to a level that I feel more comfortable with seeing.

My furniture debt is down to $3,219 (originally $6,909).  With my most recent paycheck (on 2/15) I made a payment of $2,537.  This is excellent, the first payment was not made until January and I am already down in the $3,000s.  If you will recall this is the furniture I financed (interest free for 1 year) to get a 20% discount on the price as the store would not offer such a large discount if I paid cash. One of my February goals is to get my taxes completed and I should get around $1,200 back.  That $1,200 will go towards the furniture and I also have $930 still saved specifically for the furniture (I split the money I saved into increments to make sure I could make the required payments in case of catastrophe.).  I will put the tax refund and the $930 on the furniture in March, probably.  I should be able to pay off the rest of the furniture from my mid- March paycheck.  

That should leave me plenty of time to get the last $1,000 into my Roth IRA (for 2016) before the April deadline. 

Okay off the races.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Motivation and February Goals

I'm finding it hard to stay motivated lately.  I feel completely overwhelmed at work and in my personal life.  I wonder how people with spouses, kids, jobs and a full social life make it work.  It's a struggle to budget, stick to the budget, keep the house clean and go to work.  I feel like I don't have time to work out, socialize or read.  I feel like I am wasting my 24 hours a day.  I have trouble staying focused and motivated on my life goals.

So I have decided to plan and get more organized in order to make the most of my 24 hours a day.  I find I do the best when I only get about 6 hours of sleep a night.  So I plan to try to be in bed around 10:00pm and up at 4:00a.m.  Then I can wake up and exercise for an hour before I have to shower and get ready to go to work.  I also plan to try to read for an hour every night before bed. I need to take my time back.  I have so much to do and I 'm not making the best use of my time. 

In line with my February goal to get my taxes done, I have printed off my 1099 for my savings account and my 1098 for my mortgage in an effort to collect the information needed for my taxes.

My February goals (expanded) include: getting taxes done, read 1 book, lose 2lbs, figure out what needs to be organized, try to stick to budget, plan 2 social events and feel less depressed about life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

End of January Financials

It's a new month.  I feel like I did not accomplish anything in January and I am very stressed.  January was a hard month, I had trouble staying on budget and seemed to be constantly over spending or adjusting my budget.  This was partly due to an ill family member and work concerns. 

I did earn $5.40 on my savings account in January- that is the highest amount that I have earned since I have opened it.  I currently have $7,801 tucked away in my savings account.  Additionally, I have $11,000 in my emergency fund/bank account.

Also, I am still up in my retirement account as compared against December 31, 2016.  That was surprising despite the turbulent stock market lately. Many of the news articles that I have read indicate that there may be a stock market sell off in February- I hope I have enough cash to get some great sales if that does happen.  I need to get to work on my mid- February budget.

My mortgage is down to $216,172.  I really wanted to get it down into the $215,000s, but just couldn't squeeze the money from anywhere else in the budget.  I really need to come up with a plan to get this darn thing down.  When I sell in a few years I really want to have quite a bit of equity so I can avoid pmi on my next house.  Right now I am paying an extra $100 a month on the mortgage.  It just seems like there are so many competing concerns for my little paychecks!

My goal for February will be to get my taxes done.  I just received by W2 and I need to collect all of the other paper needed.  Any tax return will likely go towards paying off that furniture bill.  Oh speaking of that I did put an extra $152 payment on that in January- was hoping to make a bigger payment than that but $1,152 for one month's payment is still pretty good.  I imagine my tax return will be pretty similar.

Okay, I gotta get to work.  Have a wonderful day! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Escrow Shortage

Once again Wells Fargo has decided that I have an escrow shortage.  Not only do I have an escrow shortage, but my mortgage payment is also going up by $5 a month even if I pay the shortage.  (I already paid the $79.40 shortage).  Having a mortgage sucks. 

I would really like to have enough money to pay off the entire mortgage, however, for now all I can go is pay an extra $110 a month on the principal. I have a 87.7% loan to value ratio.  My PMI is scheduled to drop off on 9/1/20.  I hoping to get under 80% by sometime next year. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

In debt again...

Well that didn't last long did it... :(  Fortunately, this isn't thousands of dollars like my student loan debt.  This is $6,909 for furniture.  Did anyone ever tell you that furniture is expensive?  It's pretty crazy expensive.  I have been saving up for new furniture and I have about $3,000 saved.

Now let me tell you why I am in debt.  I went to look at furniture around Thanksgiving to take advantage of the early Black Friday sales..  I saw a few pieces that I liked so I asked the sales associate to give me an estimate of the cost for all of the pieces that I liked. It was over $8,000.  I told her I could pay in cash and asked what kind of discount I could get.  I believe she quoted me 5%.  I said that wasn't much and she immediately responded that if I agreed to do 1 year interest free financing I could get a 20% discount.  I asked if I could have the 20% discount if I paid in cash and she stated "no" her manager would not approve that. I opted not to continue to haggle and decided instead to do the 1 year interest free financing.  My furniture was delivered right before Christmas, and, as a result I am now $6,909. Well technically, I am $5,909 in debt because I made a $1000 payment a few days ago when the amount finally showed up in my new debt account.

I have until January 2018 to pay off the full amount to avoid the interest charges. Interestingly, my minimum payment was only $222.  I plan to have the entire balance paid off no later than April of this year.  This is simply to allow me to finish off my 2016 contributions to my Roth before April without having to pull money out of savings

So I will temporarily have some debt for the next few months for the convenience of getting a 20% discount on furniture and holding on to some cash for the time being. 

I realize this is a result of the research that financing companies, etc have conducted which show that most people will not pay off the debt within 1 year and the company will make way more than the 20% discount that was initially given.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Unexpected Bonus

Last year at work was rough, to say the least.  However, at the very end of the year my firm issued bonuses! I received a $1000 bonus- after taxes.  After a little wavering, I finally decided to put the money into my emergency fund. (I first considered putting the money into my Roth IRA- but decided the extra cash on hand would be the better option).

While this bonus was much less than what we have received in the past, it was very much appreciated! Now I only have to put $1,500 in my Emergency Fund to reach my goal of raising it up to $17,500 by the end of the year.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Retirement Savings 2016

I started 2016 with $0 in retirement savings.  I contributed $9,000 to my Roth IRA in 2016: $5,500 prior to April 15, 2016 for my 2015 contribution and $3,500 for my 2016 contribution.  At the end of the year my account was worth $9,491.  I had growth of $491 for the year which equates to about 5%. 

My goal is to get my retirement savings up to $20,000 by the end of 2017.  I plan to contribute $7,500 to my Roth IRA ($2,000 for 2016 and $5,500 for 2017) and $2,000 to a taxable brokerage account.  That means I will only need growth of about $1,000 for the year to make my goal.  I hope the markets are good to all of us investors this year!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First post of 2017! Fourth Quarter Checkin.

At the beginning of the year I made several goals.  Let's see how I did.

1. Pay off student loan-DONE

I paid off my final student loan in January!!

2. Increase emergency fund to $15,000- DONE

I increased my emergency fund to $15,000 in Mid- February, however later I pulled money out to fund my Roth for 2015.  Last check in I had about, $14,000.  I am back up to $15,000 right now.

3. Save $2,000 towards a new vehicle-DONE
I saved $2,360 towards my new car.

4. Begin retirement contributions and save $5,500 towards retirement- DONE
I modified this goal to save $9,000 a year towards retirement. - DONE

5. Begin investing in mutual funds- FAIL
I haven't started investing yet.  I modified this goal.  I decided to put $9,000 towards retirement this year.  $5,500 went towards my ROTH for 2015 and $3,500 will go towards my 2016 ROTH.  Next year will I put the amount over and above that which I can put into a ROTH into a mutual fund.

6. Maintain a $1,000 (work) travel fund- DONE-ISH
  This ebbs and flows though because I travel for work and it takes 2 to 3 months for reimbursements. 

7. Build a $1,000 car maintenance fund- FAIL
I have been focusing on the Roth and saving money for new furniture. 

8. Build a $500 home maintenance fund- DONE
I have been focusing on the Roth and saving money for new furniture.  I tend to think of my new furniture fund as a home maintenance fund.  I have approximately $3,000 saved for household expenses.

9. Build a $750 medical fund- FAIL
I have been focusing on the Roth and saving money for new furniture.

10. Build a $500 pet fund- FAIL
I have been focusing on the Roth and saving money for new furniture. I have $120 saved in this fund.

11. Lose 30lbs!!!!- FAIL
I have lost 6 lbs. 

12. Read 24 books- FAIL
I only read 12 books this year.

13. Travel somewhere cool!- FAIL
Total fail. No money and no time. Too many family emergencies.