As per usual, I have come down with something a few days after our visit to the ER, a nasty stomach bug. I am on the way back up, though, so fortunately it isn't going to be some long, drawn out thing. My food is staying down today and my head feels better, and I finally woke up feeling well-rested. My tummy is still a little tender, but I think by tomorrow I will be okay. I am supposed to be beta testing a finance thing for someone, but haven't been quite up to it yet. Maybe tomorrow.
We have five days to go until payday. This will be DH's first paycheck as a permanent employee and will have two weeks on it. I have set up my budget for August with two bi-weekly pay periods instead of weekly pay periods. The first week will have 15 hours of OT on it and the second week will have 6. DH was so tired after spending Thursday night in the ER with DD, so I told him if he was too tired to stick it out, not to. OT is nice, but not at the expense of his health.
From now on he is only authorized to get 10 hours of OT a week. He won't be able to set up the 401K until after he gets his first automatic deposit, so the paycheck on the 24th will start the 401K contributions. We have decided to start them even though we haven't paid off the debt yet. We both feel like we are already too far behind on retirement to wait, even though Dave Ramsey says to wait until the debt is gone. It is messing too much with my security issues not to start it up and DH also wants to do it.
I am having DH run the numbers for me on how much to contribute. We are debating 5% and 7%. 5% is how much the company matches. 7% is the break even point on taxes. I just need to see what the end numbers will be. Then we can make a decision and I can do the final tweaks to the budget. The August budget is going to be weird and not be able to follow the budget template, but from September on it'll be set for the rest of the year.
DH will be getting what amounts to a 12% raise, but it is because our insurance premiums will be so much lower in September. He is not getting an actual raise, although his boss did try and says he will try again in 6 months. It will feel like a raise. Also in 18 months another guy is going to retire and his boss says he wants DH to take over his position which would be a promotion and likely a raise with the increased responsibility.
We will not increase our level of spending, though. All extra money will be put in the 401K and to pay off this last debt. Once the debt is gone, then the debt money will go to an EF of 3 months of expenses. Once we hit 3 months expenses, we will split that portion in half. One half will continue to build the EF until we hit six months of expenses. The other half will go towards a down payment fund for a house.
Once the EF hits six months of expenses, we will adjust our retirement savings to 10% and the remainder will go into the down payment fund. We may be saving for some time as I don't want to have a mortgage of more than $200,000.00. I really would prefer $100,000.00 mortgage, but that is not practical where we live.
If MIL gives us the $13K a year, we will fund a spousal Roth IRA with some of it and the rest will go into either the EF if we are still building it and then the house down payment fund.
I probably should start a sinking fund for a vehicle replacement. Right now our vehicles are in excellent condition. The 2011 Sienna has only just hit 40,000 miles. The 2007 Tacoma has a lot more miles, but is in great repair, so I think we have many years to go. But when something does go, we will want to get something nice, a used car in the $20,000 range or less. I reckon the Sienna will last another 15 years, but the truck might not. With Toyotas, though, as long as you keep them up, they last a very, very long time. Both will need new paint jobs, the truck first, and then eventually the van.
I'd like to take a vacation at some point, too. We haven't been on one in several years. So that should likely be one of our sinking funds as well. Hopefully, we will be able to achieve all of these goals in the next six years or so. I would like to get out of here sooner, but I just don't think that is to be.
Viewing the 'Retirement' Category
As per usual, I have come down with something a few days after our visit to the ER, a nasty stomach bug. I am on the way back up, though, so fortunately it isn't going to be some long, drawn out thing. My food is staying down today and my head feels better, and I finally woke up feeling well-rested. My tummy is still a little tender, but I think by tomorrow I will be okay. I am supposed to be beta testing a finance thing for someone, but haven't been quite up to it yet. Maybe tomorrow.
So information about the new job is slowly trickling in. I'll start with the retirement information. They have two choices: a traditional 401K and a Roth 401K. I have only recently even learned of the existence of a Roth 401K. With the traditional 401K they will match 100% up to 5% of your income and of course it is pre-tax dollars. With the Roth 401K you put in after tax dollars, and they will again match 100% of what you put in up to 5% of your income. Their portion will be taxed upon withdrawal, but what you put in won't be since you have used after tax dollars.
My gut says the 401K Roth is probably a better choice, but I have done some reading and some have said that it might be better to use pre-tax dollars now when we are earning more to lower our effective tax rate, because when we retire we won't be pulling out as much as DH is currently earning per year, so our tax rate then will be lower than what it is now. Could some of our accountant/tax people weigh in on this issue?
They also may contribute an additional sum to the 401K called a performance contribution, which is divided among employees in proportion to their wages and based on how well the company does each year. Basically an end of year bonus, but to the 401K. It varies from year to year.
They have an ESOP or Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The company contributes stock to employees at the end of the year based on wages and a pro rata basis. They will start doing this once you have worked 1000 hours. It is fully vested after six years, vesting 1/6 per year. DH said currently one share of company stock is worth $16,000. Stock must be sold back to the company on retirement or quitting.
I am debating whether or not we should start whichever 401K we choose immediately (match is immediate) or wait until the debt is paid off. If we do it immediately it works out to $90 a week. That is $360 a month that should be going to debt payoff and we are hoping the debt is gone in the early part of next year, but that depends on overtime. I hate giving up the free $360 a month, but I know it would be for a short time. It bothers me that our retirement is so low, but the whole point of the Dave Ramsey plan is you cannot split your focus.
As soon as the debt is paid off, we plan to get the EF to three months of expenses and then hit retirement at 10% while getting the EF up to six months of expenses. Then once the EF is at six months, start saving for a large house down payment. I don't know that we can do the recommended 15% to retirement and still save for a house, though once DH starts getting raises we might.
We figure anything MIL gives us will go towards either the EF build or the down payment. In later years, we could put any gift money towards Roth IRA's or towards paying off the house early once we buy one. I guess in those years we would hit 15% of retirement if MIL gives like she has said she plans to. We can't count on that money, though.
We will have to use some of the money MIL gave us already to get through the job transition period. DH officially starts working for the company direct on the 21st. His last paycheck from the contracting company is on June 27th. Then he won't get paid again until the 10th and we will move on to a 2 week paycheck. So we need to get through the time when we would have had a check on the 3rd, but now won't.
Also, his old company has said that we can pay the August insurance payment out of that paycheck on the 27th, which means that paycheck will be quite short, even with OT on it. So some of the money will also have to go to cover what is taken out for the insurance. But starting on the 10th we will switch to biweekly budgeting instead of weekly budgeting and everything will be fine. The new insurance starts on September 1st. That will make life easy and we won't have to worry about dealing with COBRA at all. So, yay! I am just very grateful it is all playing out like this and that we have the money in savings to smooth out the bumps.
MIL gave us $5000 yesterday. I have a lot of mixed feelings about what to do with this money. The strongest emotion says to stick this right into the Emergency Fund. That would bring it to nearly two months of expenses. It has been very hard having it down so low. And we still don't know what the future holds job wise. His job with this company keeps getting extensions, but we are living 3 months at a time, it seems.
Another part of me feels like we should throw it at debt, we are supposed to be throwing everything there, but DH and I both feel weird about taking money from his mother to throw at the loan to my mother. Yet at the same time, we both want that debt gone. It has been hanging over us too long and prevents us from saving for our future. I also don't know how my mother would feel about taking that money if she found out where it came from, which I have no intention of telling her, but she's nosy and has a way of finding stuff out. We are not telling the kids about this money. So if we do decide to pay it to her we might stretch it out over a few months so it doesn't come in a big lump.
Another thing we could do is open a Roth IRA. Probably a spousal IRA since I have nothing saved for retirement at all and I'd feel better if some was in my name, too. If we were out of debt, that is likely what we would do with the majority of the money she is giving us, open a Roth for both of us. But we aren't. I know once we are out of debt we can really contribute, so it comes back to that. It always comes back to paying off the loan.
There are a few things we could really use the money for, like I need new glasses, and we need new rabbit cages, and DH would like a new laptop or at least to have the money available to get one when his laptop gives up the ghost, which it has been threatening to do for the last year or so. It would also be nice to get DS into a driver's class so he can actually learn how to drive. DH hasn't had the time to teach him and my brain hasn't been in the right place to do it, either.
But I know we can get by with the old cages and that we have started a fund for the laptop. We need to find the time to teach DS to drive even if DH has to do it on the weekends. The glasses I can probably afford to buy outright in another month out of our medical fund, but my eyes are really, really bugging me and my prescription has changed a lot so the temptation there is strong.
So maybe we put $4000 into the EF and I get my glasses, and the rest of that $1000 we put into the laptop fund. Then when we know for sure what the situation is long term with DH's job, maybe we can take the remainder to throw at debt.
I do know that MIL plans to give us another $7000 this year. She's given us $6000 so far. I am not sure when that will happen, though. At that point we will have to figure out what to do with that money all over again.
Maybe with the momentum we make on debt in these next several weeks with all the overtime, it'll hyper focus us on getting the loan gone, or maybe it'll make it easier to keep it in the Emergency Fund.
I really don't know how people manage to stay gazelle intense on debt payoff if they are worried about future employment. We've got to figure it out though, if we ever want to be done with this and save up for a house and contribute to retirement. Right now buying a house again seems so far out of reach.
I'm not sure what we are going to do. I think for now just let it sit in savings until we are more sure of what we should do and have had a chance to discuss it more.
What would you do, not knowing if you had a job past the end of August, but things seemed somewhat promising? Wait until September? That probably makes the most sense.
DH had 10 hours of overtime on this paycheck, which is great, plus I got my Youtube/Google AdSense pay deposited, so that will be reflected in the tithe amount. We didn't have a lot of bills. We don't generally since we run everything through the credit cards and then pay them off weekly or monthly depending on the card.
$1200.00 Citi Visa
__275.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
__100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
$1763.51 Total Money Out
I transferred my wages to savings. There is a small amount left in checking, just under $60. We run it close since we write so few checks anymore, but it is hooked to a savings account that will automatically feed the checking account for a $1 fee if for some reason my math was off and we went over. Good credit unions are nice that way. Right now that savings has over $800 in it, so I'd have to screw up in a really big way to not be protected there.
DH still hasn't signed up for the 401K. I'm trying to get him to do that this week. We will start with 2% and after DD's surgery is paid for we will increase it by 1% each month until it becomes too tight, until we hit 6%. We may do more, but I really have to feel what living with that amount taken out will be like.
Plus we have to build the EF back up. And I want to be able to purchase half a steer, 30 chickens, and half a hog again in the fall/winter, so the money does have to be available for that. It saves us so much money in the long run to do that. At the very least the beef.
Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.
The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.
The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.
It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.
The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.
Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.
DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.
They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.
So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.
We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.
I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.
I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.
Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.
I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.
At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.
This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.
We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.
Today was payday and included in the envelope with the paycheck stub, which they mail out, was a $100 Master Card for Christmas. I wasn't expecting any such thing as DH has only been working there for 3 months. It was a pleasant surprise. We will be using it to pay for gas, since we are changing storage facilities and will be spending the next two days getting as much moved as possible. The storage unit is still leaking even after they supposedly fixed the roof.
We are getting an 18 x 10 and a 10 x 10 at the new facility. Total monthly cost will be $250 as opposed to the current cost which is $484, a savings of $234 a month. I wanted a 12 x 30, but they didn't have any available. I am going to see if they will let us skip the insurance. With the stuff with the current insurance, I am not sure we will ever see a payout and quite frankly it will probably be easier just to eat the loss, considering there is a $200 deductible and they are just difficult to deal with. Calculatedly so, I presume.
Anyway, the payday report is pretty small. I just paid 2 things.
$1400.00 to Citi Visa (paid in full each month)
+_549.19 Medical Bill
$1949.19 Total out
Some of this was money I already had in the checking account. With overtime DH's check was $1739.90. I currently have $94.07 left in checking. Citi is higher because we put a large dental bill on it, so I will have to make a payment on it next week as well to get it paid in full before the 1/3/08 due date.
I realized that I wrote out the check to the chiropractor last week, but I forgot they were going on vacation and would not be back until the 8th, so our next month's family plan is not actually due until then. I will void that check and dump it back into the checking account. I will pay the tithe out of that and the rest can just sit there. I will pay that bill out of 1/5/18 paycheck. So that tithe will be $173.99.
Next week will be a large payment to Citi again, the life insurances, and tithe. I will need to scrape up some money for the oral surgeon in January so my daughter can get her implant. I don't know how much that will cost, but I imagine somewhere between $1000 and $2000. Hopefully closer to $1000. Even if we had insurance it wouldn't cover that. It may have to come right back out of the Emergency Fund.
I got my payment from youtube today, so that was nice. I'll dump it into savings with the rest of my earnings. They are earmarked to go into an IRA.
I did some looking and if we go with a facility that is about 15 minutes away, we can get a storage unit that is 12 x 30 for $200. At least if it is available. That means that we could drop to one unit. Right now we are paying $252 for the large unit that is 10 x 25 and $130 for the small unit which is 8 x 10, so a total of $382 a month. That would be a savings of $182 a month. Wow, I really wish I had got on the ball sooner.
Then we could work on winnowing down what we have and hopefully eventually get a 10 x 20 for $170 instead.
We might get a discount on the first month as well. I know that most storage units seem to have a move in special where you get one month free if you sign a six month lease. I still need to do a bit more looking, though. There might be something else that has better prices.
Our one year of special internet pricing expired. No more $71.82. They bumped it up to $120, but DH went in and talked to someone and got it down to $90. I am not pleased, but it is better than $120. I hate living in a town where there is only one company for fast internet. The others are slow and cause constant buffering.
I have still been quite happy with Ting. We have had a very reasonable bill each month since switching. I am so glad we took the plunge.
I earned a $53 commission for November from Thrive Life. That is quite a step up from the $13 commission from October. I am not sure when that will be deposited in my account, though. I didn't realize until last week that they did not have my direct deposit information. So hopefully that will show up soon. It will go into savings with the rest of my earnings for this year. I want to open an IRA with what I earned this year and put in every cent. It is not much, but I think I will end up with around $500 between them and my youtube channel.
I am really so glad that I got involved with Thrive Life. It has made my life so much easier to not have to peel and chop things every day for dinner. I know freeze dried foods are not for everyone, but I have been so pleased with the quality of the products. And if I only ever could buy one thing from them and nothing else, it would be the diced onions. No more crying when I cut onions, no more dealing with onions that go bad or sprout before I can use them, no more pain in my hands all night after cutting up several cups worth of onions. So worth it.
I think I mentioned in a previous entry that the 401K with this new job is amazing compared to what DH had previously, which was no matching at the last company and 50% up to 2% at the one before that. Company B provides 100% matching of the first 3% and 50% matching of the second 3%. So if we can contribute 6% we can get all of the matching they do. If we can contribute 7% it will substantially lower our taxes.
Unfortunately if we want to rebuild our Emergency Fund, pay back Mom, and save for the farm down payment, we cannot contribute that much money. We can swing 3%, though, and if DH gets raises in the future our goal will be to get that to 7% as soon as we can, even if we have to do it 1% at a time.
I had thought it had said that it would be 6 months before employer matching would start, but I reread it all today when I was actually more than half awake and I can't find that anywhere.
It's run through Fidelity. While I have heard the name before, I have no clue if they are a decent financial company or not. I'd prefer Vanguard, which we've had in the past, and has always struck me as the best. Charles Schwab was okay and who we had with Company A, but I still wasn't as happy with them as Vanguard. It's not like we get a choice in the matter, though. Does anyone know about Fidelity?
Meanwhile I am working on making up the new budget. DH ran all the numbers for me so we know what we will be getting as take home pay both before and after they start taking out medical and with 3% coming out for the 401K. Actually he ran them so I knew what it would be at 1% through 10%.
After the Emergency Fund is restored than maybe we can up the 401K as well. We are so far behind with retirement savings. Plus in the next 2 years I have to save some more in the College Fund for DS to go to the technical college for the 2 year welding program. He will be working to save for it as well soon enough.
And DH wants to start on his BS. He'll only be able to do one class at a time so we can cash flow it, but that is okay. Each class is accelerated and takes 7 weeks if I remember correctly. It may take a while, but we have a little over 4 years before Company B's contract is up with parent company. Hopefully he can get it done in that amount of time.
I had a chance to look through the benefits package for DH's new job that finally arrived yesterday. The 401K is going to be pretty darn good. He won't qualify for it until he's been with them for 6 months. When he does, they match the first 3% you contribute 100% and the second 3% you contribute at 50%.
So we will contribute the 3% for sure, but if there is any way we can contribute 6%, I want to. Although I'd prefer 7%, because that is when it'll make our taxes a wash. I think we might be able to do it, since we are used to living on so much less now, but we will also have the expenses of air line tickets plus paying our own medical for a while longer.
I'm not sure how much longer because of how they determine when you qualify for it in the paperwork is for normal 5 day a week 9 to 5 workers, not for slope workers. Maybe it'll just be if you put in 120 hours a month. Although that might be a problem on a 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off schedule since his work weeks are 84 hours, but if he only works 9 days in a month because of how it falls, that's only 108 hours the one month, while the other month could be 252 hours. The average of the two months would work out, but each month would not.
So DH will have to ask on that. It could be 60 days from when he starts, but it could also be 60 days plus the rest of the month he's currently in, since he is starting mid-month. So while he might qualify mid-June, it won't start until July, so that is us paying May and all of June, most likely. Once DH finds out, I'll do a post on the medical benefits, which are so good, quite frankly, they will make up for a lot of the past 10 years of nonsense we've dealt with.
I am so tired. I finished my last dose of prednisone today and it's been 5 or 6 days since I finished the antibiotics. I am really worried that the bronchitis and sinus infection are going to start coming back. I see the doctor on Tuesday for a follow up appointment, since he also was worried I would relapse again so wants to catch it early if it does.
On Monday I am going to the foot doctor to have surgery on one of my toes. I have a badly infected and ingrown toenail on one of the little toes and he's going to kill that part of the nail bed permanently. It feels like fire to walk on. Or like I am walking on bone. I wish I had not inherited my dad's crazy toenails.
On Thursday my son goes in for his CT scan. I'm not sure how long things will take after that. Since the office has its own machine and is a surgical suite as well, everything gets done onsite. So they might be able to read it right away or not. I really don't know.
On Friday I have physical therapy in the morning and an appointment with the sleep doctor in the afternoon. I am taking my machine in because I think a part of it is broken.
My FIL's cancer biopsy came back and it sounds like it is the most treatable sarcoma. He has had to take a medical leave of absence from work because his leg hurts so much. I'm not sure when he will have surgery, but it sounds like it will be soon.
I am debating whether or not to have DH bump his 401K rate up another 1% or not. Since we are saving so hard right now for our goals I'm not sure I want to see that money go down a black hole right now when it can go for something tangible like our down payment fund. Yet at the same time he's 46 and I'll be 46 and we really ought to start saving more.
It just doesn't feel like saving anything when the account just keeps going down and down. Just keeping money in savings right now is staying ahead of the 401K earnings. I know I'd rather own our future house outright than have a ginormous retirement fund. I've done the math and we can live on $2000 a month in retirement if we own our house and have no debt. That will cover all of our expenses with a $500 a month cushion. So whatever we end up with just needs to generate an income of $24,000 a year.
Some of that will be generated by the sale of eggs, chicks, ducklings, turkey poults, rabbits, and meat. Possibly kune kune pigs and Kinder goats as well. I might even do a CSA program if our future aquaponics goes well. We'll see.
Still I'm leaning towards bumping the 401K up anyway. I worry about having all of my eggs in one basket.
I made the most I have ever made on farm sales in a month this month.
$67.50 rabbit meat sales
+39.00 egg sales
+20.00 live rabbit sales
126.50 total farm sales
I am excited to see it doing so well. That was enough to cover a month of rabbit feed and a month of turkey feed and 1 bag of duck/chicken layer feed. That's not what I'm doing with it though. I have decided to take my farm sales money and my survey money and start investing in DRIPs.
I would like to end up with enough in drips that by the time I am 65 I can switch from reinvesting to getting the dividends paid and make enough income from it to provide about $2000 a month for retirement. I know that I'll have to add more money to it than what I can make with the farm and surveys, but I think we can manage that.
I've got a few things on the agenda for 2015 that I'd like to achieve. I'm not going to put sell the house on this list, because that is basically out of my hands, though I sure do hope it happens.
Our first priority is to contribute to the 401K. DH has started this process, and half the Christmas bonus will go into it, and after that 1% of income. We hope to raise it higher, but I have to see how it messes with our bottom line. With no raises in 4 years and more and more being taken out in medical each year, I'm not sure how much we can put in there without being squeezed tight. It should only be taking $125 a month out pretax.
Our second priority is to fund DH's Bachelors program. The sooner he gets through that, the sooner he can apply for jobs that will move him up in the company and give him a shot at higher wages.
Our third goal is to get the Emergency Fund to $15K, which would be our minimum 3 month's expenses. It would be super tight there for 3 months but it would be survivable. $18K is more like comfortable, but baby steps. There is a dedicated $1720 a year that goes to this with the weekly $10 deposits and the monthly $100 deposits. I'd have to come up with $3280 from elsewhere, like coin jar money, refund checks, and surveys or any overtime DH manages to swing.
Farm Goals I'd like to meet in 2015--
Raise ducklings for sale if our girls set any nests. I don't have an incubator and it is not in the budget for 2015, so it is either nature's way or not at all.
If George is mature enough, let Gina set on eggs and raise some turkey poults, some for sale and some for our own meat. This may take another year, but some heritage breed male turkeys do mature enough to fertilize their first year. If not we will buy and raise 3 poults for our holiday and a few chicks with them for meat birds.
Double the size of our organic garden and start it earlier in the year.
Purchase 2 dozen canning jars each month during the next year to increase my supply.
Sell some rabbit breeding stock and increase egg sales.
There are, of course, other things I'd like to accomplish, but with limited funds, I felt like I should stick with what seems to be reasonable.
I took 3 surveys from Pinecone this morning. I am not sure if they just really like me right now or if it is a holiday thing where they are trying to get stuff done before Thanksgiving when people will be too busy to take surveys.
I haven't cashed in at all since I started doing Pinecone. I just figured I'd have them send me a check when it got big enough to be worth bothering with. After I get the notification that these 3 are in my account I will cash out. Not sure how much I have, but I've been doing surveys at least once a week for the last several months. I just don't feel like looking it up. I'll find that out when I go to cash out.
I am making rabbit stock today from all 8 of the ribcages from the rabbits we butchered last week. I should end up with about 3 cups of rabbit meat to use in meals this week (probably enchiladas) once I pick off the bones and 6 to 8 quarts of stock to can. The chickens and ducks will get the used up vegetables.
I may make up soup base instead of just stock. To do that I half fill the jars with diced carrots, celery, potatoes, and rabbit meat and fill the rest of with the stock. Then when I want soup I just bring it to a boil and add noodles to cook. I'm not sure if I have enough extra energy to do that, though. I am feeling better, but am still sick, though it is becoming more of a functional sick.
I need to remember to take the turkey out of the freezer tomorrow for Thanksgiving. And to weigh it so we know how heavy it is for cooking time. We didn't weigh it when we butchered it and DH forgot to weigh it when he bagged it up for the freezer. I think it is about ten pounds, but we need to know for sure.
I also need to bake a couple of loaves of bread for making stuffing on Tuesday. I need to pick through the potatoes and make sure there are enough that haven't sprouted for that day, too. I need to make sure I have the right poultry seasoning on hand, one that actually has sage in it. We have plenty of butter on hand.
I need to find what I did with my recipe for making chocolate pudding so I can make a chocolate cream pie. I need to buy heavy cream to make whipping cream. I already have the safe brand of graham crackers for making the crust. I will probably make the pie on Wednesday and do the cream last minute on Thursday.
Our menu is pretty simple for the day. Roast turkey rubbed with butter and poultry seasoning, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, simple bread stuffing, and pie. Since it is just me, the kids, and my mother, that is all we want. We don't like cranberry sauce or yams. My son is the only one who likes pumpkin pie, but he is fine to wait until Christmas for that.
This will be the first time in 4 years (I think) that DH has not been home for Thanksgiving. I know for the past 3 years we have gone to his parents house. I didn't want to go this year without him. Anyway, I always end up doing most of the cooking when I go, so this year I am staying home and my mom will help with the cooking. Since I still don't feel great, I don't want to put myself through the drama that my SIL and her eldest daughter always bring to gatherings on that side of the family. When DH is not with me, I just don't have the patience for that. He keeps me centered.
We have decided to finally start contributing to the 401K at the new company. We weren't when we were paying off the credit cards or paying off the mortgage, but we have decided that it was time now to start. DH is going to find out when enrollment is and then as soon as we can, we will start with it. His company does no matching at all. We are going to start with 1% and see how it affects our bottom line. If it is bearable, we will up it to 2%. We will have to see how much our medical is going to go up this year. 1% may be all we can afford.
If he ends up getting enough overtime that we don't have to use the Christmas bonus to get through the time off, and assuming it is the same amount as last year, I'd like to put half of it into the 401K. That we can do regardless of an enrollment period. The rest of it would be split between starting DH on his Bachelor's program and the Emergency Fund. But who knows on the overtime. DH is still trying to chase down the final signature. His company can be very disorganized at times.
I got some swag from my credit union. A wall calendar, a purse calendar, and a very, very nice pen. I do like free stuff that I can actually use.
If my spouse were to max out his 401K and he grosses around $175K this year with overtime and bonuses, can he take out an IRA as well? Does his income have any bearing on whether or not I can take out a spousal IRA? His company does not contribute anything at all to the 401K so it won't grow as fast as someone whose company contributes on the first 6%, so I think we'll kind of need to make up for that somehow. We plan to do the catch up when DH turns 50, but that's a little over 6 years away.
I'm not sure what we would have done this year if we hadn't managed to get the credit cards paid off when we did. We have lost $600 every 4 weeks to the 2% rise in taxes. Previously that money was going to pay down debt. Our plan for this year had been to start contributing to the 401K. Now it's going to pay for a government retirement program that has no chance of even existing when we are old enough to get anything back. I feel like they are taking our retirement away from us twice. One by not allowing us to have the money to provide for our own retirement, and two, by feeding it into a system that will be bankrupt long before we ever see our 60's or 70's. It is frustrating.
Our 401K is not the greatest, it has NO matching at all. But it is a tax shelter. Just one we can't afford to contribute, too.
I am trying to rethink a lot right now. The idea of cashflowing college for the kids is still, maybe, within reach. It would be so much better if there were jobs available. If I knew they could save a couple hundred dollars a month towards college I wouldn't worry so much. Even my niece, who did manage to get a job last summer, only gets about 3 hours a week because retail is practically moving backwards right now.
So anyway, changes I will be making starting after March is to eliminate the vacation fund of $100 a month. This one is going to just have to last us for several years. And that's okay. It's a luxury and vacations were completely financed by us (no vacation benefits). If we hadn't been saving so long for this one and already had most of it taken care of, I'd seriously think about cancelling it.
I will be cutting the laptop fund down to $50 a month and I will be cutting the appliance fund down to $50 a month. Both were previously at $100 each. Once I know what the property tax is going to be this year I can make an adjustment on my property tax fund. It has been approximately $1060 per year for the last several and our tax assessment went down. They should send out the bill soon. Right now I am setting aside $100 a month, but when I know what it actually is, I will cut it accordingly.
Once mid-April arrives I can turn off the furnace at the old house, which will mean no propane costs. Propane has jumped dramatically this year. We keep the furnace on until there is no chance of the pipes freezing. Also once they are done with the repairs to the old house I can have the water/sewer shut off, saving me $72 a month.
The four person cell phone contract we are on expires this summer. With DS being homeschooled there is no reason for him to have a cell phone anymore. He is always with me or his father or his grandmother. The only person he ever texts he can IM as well. Honestly I wish there were an unlimited texting only plan, no phone calls, because that would be the best thing for our needs. DH and I use Skype when he's in Alaska.
I think when we do move I am going to up our laying hens and start selling eggs. Just one of those sign in the front yard things. If I can make enough to pay for feed for them and some broilers that would cut our food costs dramatically. Also starting to seriously research rabbits. I've talked about it off and on, but it's time to get down to the knitty gritty on it.
If eggs pay for feed I can cut our grocery budget by $200 a month. Then maybe we could handle college and retirement.
I keep trying to keep myself focused on the fact that we are out of credit card debt and we are comfortable. It is mostly luxuries I am looking to cut. It is not necessities. But we've only gotten to have luxuries recently so it is hard to have worked so hard to get here and then feel like the benefits we should have been reaping have been snatched away. We feel the loss of that $600 a month. But I imagine there are a lot of people out there that feel that 2% even deeper.
So here I go making a commitment to start blogging again and then I spend a day not actually doing anything. Well, I didn't spend money on my day of not actually doing anything, so I suppose that's something.
I have a cold, with a nasty throbbing stuffed up head, which curtailed me driving anywhere but to the school and back today. I had planned on going to the bank and getting money for the kids allowances, going to the chiropractor and paying for a month in advance on the family plan, maybe stopping by the grocery store, but that didn't work out at all. So, no spend day.
I transferred the $2000 from ING to my local credit union for the car payment and it should show up by Thursday which is when DH gets home and we go look at the Escape one more time. I think it's pretty much a given that we will buy it, but we didn't want to rush the decision.
DH is sending me the revised figures of the new take home pay so I can finish the budget and the new 401K access info. Our 401K changed from Vanguard to something else a few months ago. I wasn't happy with that. I like Vanguard. I trust Vanguard. I know nothing about this other group. But the fees are supposed to be lower which meant the company was willing to match an additional 1% at 50% on the dollar, so I can't complain too much. As long as it does a decent job. Just don't know yet.
So, it's been a little over two months since I last posted an entry. Things have really changed so much for us in that time period. DH was given yet another raise of $50 per day with the new contract. This puts our income at a level I never thought I'd see while we were still in our 30's.
The raise did not go into effect until this month, so we won't hit $117,000 for a yearly income this year, but that's what it'll be next year. I cannot even fathom this amount of money. I know there is a huge chunk of that going for taxes, but our liveable income has gone up so far in the last 8 months it's almost ridiculous.
The first thing we did was raise our 401K by 1%. I'd like to do more but we have to buy a new car and until I know what the payments will be I don't want to do anything more.
If all goes well, by the end of the week we will be the proud new owners of a fully loaded 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid with 21,000 miles on it. We have $2000 for a down payment and will be financing the rest.
I'm currently using my mother's car because I'm afraid to drive mine. Especially after an $805 car repair to my '92 Crown Vic that still didn't fix it all the way, I'm not putting anymore money into that car. And Blazer needs the transmission fixed and I just don't want to spend that kind of money on a '96.
We've made some large purchases so far this year. The first was a new couch that seats six and came with an ottoman for $1387.94 which included delivery. The old one has been moved into the playroom which never had one before and is horribly broken down and offers no support at all. It took us several months to save up for that.
Then last month we bought a new TV with my husband's yearly safety bonus. We spent a lot of money on that, but I figure it's a long-term investment for us since we don't go to movies or out to do anything much (besides eat) entertainmentwise. We just watch movies from Netflix. So we got a big screen HD plasma from Costco and it's fabulous. 50 inches. $1300.07.
Our entire tax return of just over $3600 went to pay down debt, which we still have far too much of. I'm currently working on making up a new budget to reflect the new income.
We will qualify for the entire tax refund coming out in May for two adults filing jointly with two children and when that check comes it's going straight into the emergency fund.
I really wish we had not gotten so far into debt in the past. I know that it was mostly medical debt but when I think that we'd have over $2000 a month from this point on now that wasn't allocated to something if we didn't have debt, it would be amazing. That's $24,000 of net income that could be going into retirement and stocks and vacation planning. Oh, how I wish.
I'm going to try to keep this blog going better now. I need to stay on top of the budget now with the new numbers and a new payment that will be coming into the mix. Other things, our 401K is still above $50,000 and our mortgage is almost down to $30,000, so progress is being made. Always a good thing.
I transferred $20 (two weekly auto deposits) to ING this morning and an additional $15 in ones I had in the coin jar from earlier in the week.
$2004.87 Old Balance in EF
+ 35.00 Deposit
$2039.87 New Balance in EF
I'll be depositing $23 in rolled coin into the safety net, hopefully today, as well, but I'll add that in after I do it.
I also got the 401K statement yesterday and since July 17 it has increased by $2455.58, bringing it to $50,250.89. I am quite happy that we have finally hit and gone over the $50K mark. That feels good. Obviously we still have a long way to go until retirement but this is a major milestone for us.
I got our 401K statement in the mail today. Our new ending balance is $47,795.31. The year to date increase is $5,481.11.
$42,312.20 Beginning Balance
+ 1,176.71 Employee Contribution
+ 949.41 Employer Contribution
+ 3,135.07 Market Gain
+ 319.53 Other Transactions
- 99.61 Fees
$47,795.31 Ending Balance
We have $2204.69 left to go to hit $50,000. I am hoping to hit that before December of this year.
Our 401K statement came in the mail today. The new balance is $47,276. This is an increase of $3,045 for the quarter. We are getting so close to the $50,000 mark, I can taste it. I don't know if that will happen this year or not, but I think it will definitely happen by this time next year. Depends on the ups and downs of the market, as everything else does.
Our 401K statement came in the mail today. The new balance is $44,231. This is an increase of $1918.80 since end of December's statement. Of course, statement ending date was February 26 and we all know what happened after that. We are buy and hold so I don't know if there is much point to going online to look and see what kind of a hit we took. Probably just depress me. Plus, we recovered well the last time this happened in the first quarter of 2006. I really just prefer the long-term approach.
Our 401K statement came in the mail today. Our new balance is $42,312.20.
This is an increase of $858.20 for the month of December. Not as much as usual but still decent, considering what the stock market did last month.
On Year to Date for 2006
$32,951.79 Beginning Balance
2,434.08 Employee Contribution
1,936.06 Employer Contribution
3,638.37 Market Gains
1,527.49 Other transactions
$9,362.41 Total increase in 401K for 2006
Not bad for only contributing 3% of our income. I wonder what would happen with 4%? Well, maybe we can up it later in the year and find out.
...that DH's 401K has more money in it than our mortgage has left to pay off. I've been watching the amounts come closer to meeting for awhile, but this last month just blew it right past it. It's a good feeling.
Since the last statement date in October, DH's 401K has increased by $2792.09, bringing the account to an ending balance of $41,454. The account has more than recovered from the 2nd quarter slump, it is barreling along. When DH gets the raise in January we will raise his contribution to the account. Right now it is only at 3% so I'd like to see it go up to 5% or 6% in the next year.
We received our 401K statement today for period 07-01-06 to 09-30-06.
Ending Balance $38,661.91
Changes from beginning of year: +$5,710.12
It has recovered nicely from the second quarter dive.
I opened my ING account today and sent $250.00 off to that, to qualify for the $25 bonus (thanks, Baselle for the referral link). Once everything is up and running I will most likely also open an Emigrant account. This was a very big step for me and I want to settle with it first, though.
Didn't make it to town today with enough time to deposit money as we had to go to the chiropractor and then drop DH off at the airport.
I will deposit it soon though, $10 cash, $5 surveyspot check, and the roll of nickels and roll of pennies I rolled today, $2.50, total deposit of $17.50.
Not too much excitement today. The autotdeposit was today so savings is $10 richer, putting me at $947.
We loaded $100 onto our Costco cash card and then used it to put $30.19 worth of gas into the car 2 today @ $2.58 a gallon, 4 cents less than a few days ago. It is weird seeing the gas tank on F, or even on the right side of the halfway point, really.
I had a doctor's appointment this morning, so $15 co-pay and $10 perscription. My kidney infection came back or else its a new one, so I'll be on antibiotics 3X a day for the next 14 days. Oh, joy. Big old capsules, too. Bought organic milk at the store my pharmacy is in so $5.29 for that.
I pulled all the meat off the rest of the turkey bones and seperated it into packages and froze it. I then threw all the bones and skin into the crockpot with 6 quarts of water, a head of crushed garlic, a chopped onion and salt and pepper and am making broth. I will have it going all night and it should be good and rich in the morning when I'll pour it through a seive and then I will make turkey noodle soup to have with supper tomorrow.
I am really into having soup right now. It is very comforting The weather turned on us this last week or so, went from mid to high 70's to wet, rainy, mid 50's to low 60's, and one night got down to 33! Yikes. It hasn't been that cold again, but we really have to drain the pool tomorrow before it happens again.
As for the soup, twice this week we've had homemade chicken noodle at dinner and tonight we had golden potato (DH's great grandmother's recipe), very rich and good, very satisfying and I notice it cuts my appetite for the heavier protein that follows. I still eat the same large amount of veggies as usual, though. But they are cheaper than protein, usually.
I may make a nice onion soup, possibly French onion, but I really don't know if I have the patience to be finicky. I like the ease of crockpot soup. It allows for a large degree of laziness. Which the lousy weather is encouraging. Just want to curl up with a good book under the covers. The current good book I am reading is "Smart Couples Finish Rich," by David Bach. It is very good and I am learning a lot. I had no idea the limits on spousal IRA's for a non-working spouse (when the working spouse has a 401K) had risen so much. Last time I checked, it was a lot lower. This book was written in 2001 and it was $2000 then, so it might be more now, even.
I will have to look into that. I'm not sure when I might be able to fund one, but I want something in my name for my own personal security. My DH is a solid man who I don't think would ever leave me for any reason and seems to think the sun rises and sets on me for some reason and I see no reason I would ever leave him, he is kind, good and a wonderful spouse and father and I kind of think the sun rises and sets on him also. But I still want something in my name. Security is my biggest issue. I want it no matter what else happens. The idea feels right.
Not much else today. Oh, DH took Tobias to soccer and they are having team pictures so that was $8. School photos were yesterday and today so that was $16 for both kids. We only get the 8X10 and scan it to make copies on the school ones, and the 5X7 team photo with the individual shot in the same photo for sports photos. Rose will have her team photo tomorrow, another $8. I wish these weren't all in the same week, but I guess this is a good week for it if it has to be all at once.
Okay, I think that's it then for today. Got in a very talky mood, I guess.
It looks like our 401K is starting to slowly recover from the plummet. Well, the balance is going up. The change since the end of July is a difference of $872.26. The total balance is at $37,250 now. Some of that is contributions but some of it is also dividends (not as much). It is good to see the number increase, the way it should be. I hope this trend continues. Faster would be good, too. LOL
Our quarterly 401K statement came today. It was nowhere near what last quarter was, but I figured it wouldn't be. I figured we'd see a correction and we certainly did.
Beginning Balance: $35,802.11
Personal contribution: $678.19
Work contribution: $535.92
Market Loss: -$728.19
Other transactions: $133.42
Ending Balance: $36,377.74
So the balance of the account rose by $575.63, but that was not even as high as the amount we put in ourselves and barely over what work put in.
Still, year to date earnings are: $3425.95, and long term thinking is where we have to be with something like this.
Hopefully things will turn around soon. I like to at least break even rather than lose more than I put in.
Our 401K statement came yesterday and I couldn't be more thrilled. When the economy tanked after the tragedy of 9/11 our 401K dropped from $18,000 to $10,000. We deterimined to hold the road and continue to have an aggressive fund and today our total is at $35,802.11. The last couple of years have really rebounded, but this last 12 months has been really zooming.
For the quarter we contributed $592.68, work contributed $475.24, dividends were $123.05, unrealized gain was a whopping $1702.18, minus a fee of $42.83. That is a total increase of $2850.32! In three months. Wow. Long term thinking can pay off and realy make things better.
My mood has improved immeasureably when I realized that our $401 K is almost $5000 more than our credit card debt. It makes paying off the credit card seem that much more possible.