Our retirement investing is on auto pilot. My husband saves 10% of his base pay (this is pay that does not include our housing allowance). We also each max out our Roth IRAs for a total of $11,000 a year. Our total retirement investment for 2016 was $20,032.04.
The total balance in our retirement accounts at the end of 2015 was $330,739.99. We ended 2016 with a total balance of $392,814.02. A difference of $62,074.03. More than two thirds of that increase was growth!
I wish the market had done well enough for us to see $400K. We were really close at one point, but the market fluctuates. We will get there!
Our retirement savings rate is 17.45% of our income. I often bump this up every year by 1%. I'm pretty sure I will do it again this year, too. I'm also contemplating changing from Roth IRAs to Traditional. We are in the 15% tax bracket so the savings would be $1650 in taxes. I guess I figure this is money we could put toward college expenses that are happening now. I have a little over two weeks to decide (the auto investment happens around the 18th of the month for our Roth IRAs).
Are you increasing your retirement savings in 2017?
Viewing the 'saving' Category
Our retirement investing is on auto pilot. My husband saves 10% of his base pay (this is pay that does not include our housing allowance). We also each max out our Roth IRAs for a total of $11,000 a year. Our total retirement investment for 2016 was $20,032.04.
Every month, I always want more interest on our money. This month is no exception. However, I feel blessed that our money is earning us money without ANY effort on our part. Passive income, love it!!
Our December total interest is $78.12.
My wish for 2017 is more interest than 2016!
Our cat Riley has cancer. I was actually told this on Saturday, but because of the veterinarian's thick accent, I didn't hear that part. We spoke to him again today in person to get it all cleared up. She is drinking and using the litter box. Her desire to eat is very low. And unfortunately she is vomiting some of it up once a day. I think I mentioned before that she weighs less than she did three months ago.
Our vet costs this month have amounted to $829. We aren't going to do much more for her. She is 9. We will keep her comfortable, until it's time. She still has some energy to play a bit, and gets up to change where she sleeps and use the litter box.
We are traveling for a few days coming up. I'm attempting to find boarding, but expect my neighbor may end up helping instead. She is actually willing to deal with an ill cat! I feel blessed.
In other news...we finally exchanged our more expensive cable box for a digital adapter. This saves us $10 a month, and provided a $6 credit on our next bill. I think the smaller adapters use less energy too, so we might see a little savings.
And finally, today we went shopping. So unlike me the day after Christmas! My younger daughter needed jeans, a pair of khaki pants and pajama pants. It had been two years since she had purchased some of these things so it was time. We were able to get everything in two stops. I spent $79 at Kohl's and $20 at Target for 7 items.
I may not check in here until around the new year. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of 2016.
I'm calling it a year with the credit card rewards. I didn't track well at all this year. My snowflake spreadsheet ended in March, so I had to go looking through all of our credit card accounts.
The final (slightly estimated tally) is $2,595!
The best new reward was from Marriott (we earned $87K points by opening their Rewards card and spending $3K). Those are worth about $612. We have not redeemed all of them yet. In fact, we may have only redeemed one or two nights so far for 25K points. I noticed we also earned another 10K points, so a total of 97K points for the year. This card does have an annual fee. That fee covers one free night the following year.
Southwest Rewards. We earned just over 19K miles. With miles from the previous year, we were able to redeem miles for my daughter's flight home this month. That ticket would have cost me $600 out of pocket. I also upgraded from the Plus card to the Premier card and received a $25 statement credit. Total $625.
The next best reward was for another card we opened. The American Express Premier Gold card. We earned 50K points after spending just $1000. Those 50K+ points earned us over $500 in gift cards. We have already cancelled this card as it had a large annual fee.
Here is the breakdown of other cards we have and the rewards we have earned on them. I do a lot of switching around thus, the small amounts on some of them.
American Express Blue Everyday (CCF) $235
American Express Blue Everyday (DH) $199
US Bank $140 (a 5% saving off our cell phone bills)
Citi ThankYou Preferred $58 (cancelled this card)
Chase Freedom $40.60
Target $40 (from 5% savings)
I can't complain. That is decent savings! And we paid zero interest on our cards by paying balances in full each month!
The stock market has been up in the last couple weeks. I think it helps the election is over. The S&P is now up 8.63% for the year.
Our retirement accounts are up over $50K for the year. That does include the cash we invested. The actual amount is $386,448. I'd love to see $400K, but I think that may be pushing it considering we only have another $1600 to invest before year end. I will watch to see how it plays out.
I saw a billboard at the airport this weekend that said "No one ever wishes they waited to start investing for retirement." That may not be an exact quote, but you get the idea. It is NEVER to late to start saving for retirement. Something saved will be better than nothing saved. I think the same thing is true for college savings.
We save $50 a month towards Christmas spending. Before November I had $500 already set aside. I'm about to add another $50 on payday tomorrow.
I've already started buying gifts! So far that spending is about $140. I expect I will be done buying gifts before I fund the Christmas account for December. I'm going to try to keep the spending to $550 just for this reason.
I think in years past I used found money, or snowflakes to help fund Christmas. I probably blogged about it here on the blog. I'm still getting some snowflakes but I just put them in our general savings account. They end up being applied to college expenses for the most part.
Some recent snowflakes:
$5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks
$5.72 from Ebates
$3 from Pinecone
$22 eBay sale
$25 flute lesson refund (hurricane related)
I think there may be some other snowflakes I could list, but they are not coming to mind right now. I haven't been as good at tracking them this year!
How do you save for Christmas?
Today, I came across an article where someone is doing a No Spend Month in November! And I see that Mrs. Frugalista is doing one also. I never thought that it would be possible to do in November. I'm not sure I can convince my husband, but it may be worth the try.
I made a credit card payment for our airline tickets that I charged last week. I had all but $200 of the cost set aside in our vacation fund. Between that purchase and the cost of my daughter's Europe trip, we earned 7500 Southwest Airline miles. I wouldn't count this as spending though for November, primarily because I did do it in October and it is essential to get home for a holiday when the money is available!
I just did our budget and basically after paying required bills, I was able allocate $1000 for spending through Nov 15. We could likely spend far less than that if we are super careful, but that amount is average for us. I also put $500 aside that will go towards paying the Europe trip. I'm going to see what else I can come up with next pay period before I make another payment.
I went grocery shopping on Sunday as usual. My parents were here visiting, so I didn't make a great menu plan and just told myself I could go back to the store later. I'm going to do my best to make it through Sunday without going to the store. I know I have soups frozen that I can thaw, and items to make pizza. We have lots of eggs to make breakfast for dinner. I believe there is rice and beans (and salsa). I think I bought some frozen burritos too. I bet we can make it! And that will help the budget quite a bit.
Do you think you could keep your spending down to just the essentials in November? Again not sure if I can, but I just might try it. I'll let you know how it goes.
Even after our recent van air conditioning repair (just under $200), we put away $1800 in our emergency fund this month. That is assuming we can stay within the budget we planned in YNAB, of course.
And realistically, that money is spent. I need to put it towards the Europe trip. I expect to do just that very soon. That will put the balance of that payoff at $2895. And that is a number so much easier on the eyes!
There are two more paydays before the full payment is due on the credit card I charged it on. It would be great if I could come up with another $1800 by then. Fingers crossed!!
A little more spending today, primarily snacks and alcohol. Neither were needs. But we are down to $166 left through payday on Saturday.
I've already worked on October's budget. I've allocated the money for rent, flute lessons, water and electricity. I've funded money for groceries, fuel, entertainment and spending money among others. The latter categories were funded to the tune of $1,125.And that is for about half the month.
The good news is I added $730 to savings.
Turns out we may end up letting our daughter go to Europe this summer for a World War II trip. We knew about the trip last year, but hesitated signing up and then had some concerns about the safety of international travel. So we thought the option to go was gone. Turns out it isn't. Still need to get more details, but she was told it is $4600 for a 14 day trip plus spending money and the cost of a passport.
I posted a few days ago that we had $300 left in our budget until payday on October 1. We do have other cash, but we are saving that money! This is the money we can spend if needed.
Today my husband filled his truck with fuel for $34.45. I made a $25 donation to a charity. I paid the university for a book my daughter charged to her account for $28.73. I also asked my husband to pick up coffee at the commissary on post. He spent $23.38, which must be for more than coffee, but he's not home yet so not sure on that charge.
We are down to $193 and change left our budget for the next two days. I expect a couple more small expenses, but nothing major.
My daughter's flute lesson was cancelled so that will mean a credit of $25 on my account for next month. As a result of not driving to the lesson, it means I didn't get a chance to go into Kohl's looking for anything to buy with my $10 rewards coupon. So for now I have saved some money!
How much cash do you have left until your next payday? And when is your next payday?
Just five more days left in the month of September. The year is going by really fast!
We have just over $300 that was originally budgeted for the month of September expenses. If we can spend half of that amount or less I will be very pleased. I expect gas and maybe a couple personal needs expenses.
I will send the extra funds to savings!
For a brief moment in time, we have zero charges on any of our credit cards! I paid them all off yesterday. There were no pending charges and we haven't used them since. That feels pretty good. We rarely have more than $1000 in charges at any one time, and we always pay them off before any interest would accrue. Technically, we pay them off twice a month when we are paid. Easy!
We put $1100 into savings. I need to build that back up after paying tuition earlier in the month. I also funded car repairs, auto insurance/registration, birthday and Christmas gift categories. Oh and set aside another $200 for plane tickets. We tend to do most of our savings in the second half of the month.
I also paid our vehicle registrations. The cost has dropped about $100 since last year since our vehicles are getting older. I think we will be at the current rate one more year and then the fee to register is just $50 each per year. Some advantages to older vehicles! I should recalculate how much I set aside to pay this each month to account for the difference.
I put in a sell order today, which will happen tomorrow because of the holiday. I'm selling shares of my daughter's Educational Savings account. We have been using the money primarily for housing, because the tuition portion is easy for us to pay out of pocket.
The housing portion for the fall semester is $5,641. I sold enough shares to cover $4750 worth of housing. The remaining $891 will come from our pocket. I likely can save that much this month anyway, so might as well apply it to that bill.
The other portion of tuition and fees (after scholarships) is $3,288. We are paying this out of pocket too. Our savings account has built up over the last several months, so not a big drain at all.
I've come to realize that not having any debt of our own, and thus any payments we are obligated to, helps so much in being able to pay for college out of pocket. I know people with two car payments which are easily in the $450 range each. If one could avoid those payments that is $900 a month one could apply to paying tuition...that's 10,800 a year!
We had been saving $2000 a year for our daughter in this Educational Savings account. One cannot contribute to them after the beneficiary turns 18. After those contributions stopped, I still saved the money. I haven't actually made it a line item in the budget, but I'm starting to think that I will so I can see the money available and set aside specifically for college.
I also noticed that we spend less on groceries when our daughter doesn't live with us. It's hard to tell exactly how much, maybe $50 a week or $200 a month. We give her $100 each month for miscellaneous expenses right now, so we may have another $100 we can set aside each month. There may be other impacts of expenses without her living here, such as a few dollars saved when we go out to eat, or pay admission to the movies.
The act of saving something every month for college all these years did add up. But continuing to save has definitely helped limit the burden of needing to take out loans as we enter year two of college. And wow, not having any car payments or other loans sure helps too!
If you are in the thinking about how to pay for college. I would definitely consider that they money can come from savings, student's income, current cash flow (at the time of college), scholarships and then loans if needed. The money doesn't have to all come from the same source!
I think I mentioned in a past post recently, that we had likely accumulated $1500 in snowflakes this year so far. I haven't kept exact track so that is a rough estimate. I could have been making a point to set it all specifically aside for college. So think side gigs along with the other sources I mentioned above.
I've sold a few more items on eBay. I netted less than $15, but that is money in and stuff out, so I'm happy. I have eight more items listed. I'm not sure they will all sell, but if they end without interest, then they will get donated.
I haven't had a Pinecone survey lately. Although, I know I've done some of the household questions. I decided to log on to their website. I found I had $3 that I could cash in. Nice surprise!
I'm transferring more money from our money market account to Navy Federal Credit Union. We had a certificate mature and they now have an offer of 2% for 20 months, up to $20,000. I decided that 2% is better than .95%, so I'm going to maximize the amount we can invest.
My daughter did get marching band changed to zero credit. The other one credit needs to stay as it is. She has 13 credits officially, we will pay about $3300 out of pocket, after scholarships for the tuition and fees. Total for books and supplies will be known shortly. She has to order a specific dress for choir, not sure yet on it's cost.
My daughter is in marching band at her university. She has to enroll in this as a class. Last year she took it for credit. This year there is really no point in taking it for credit as only one time with marching band can count towards her degree. So we are saving over $700 since she is taking it for zero credit. Yes, it could count as an elective, if she did pay for it and take it for credit. And that $700 is for one credit hour at the non resident rate. She has a scholarship that covers about 10 hours at the non resident rate. We pay out of pocket for the amount over that currently.
My daughter is enrolled for 13 credits now that she changed marching band to zero credit. She thinks there is one other class that she may be able to switch to zero credit as well. She will get that all firmed up on Monday.
I sold another item on eBay. Net profit $6.74. Less stuff, more money! I will put this in savings.
I've been motivated by my daughter going back to school to sell some things, just to help offset costs. In no way does it cover the cost, but every little bit helps!
I need to get on the ball and get more listed. Tuition and housing are due September 12. I have yet to calculate total bill, but I'm thinking at least $9K for the semester.
Interesting, just as one of our CDs at NFCU is expiring there's another decent offer, although not as good rate wise. The current rate on the CD has been 3.5% for the last 15 months. We have $7,000 in the certificate.
This new offer is a 20 month CD, with a maximum investment of $20,000 at 2% APR. We have other cash that we would definitely move over to get the full benefit of the rate. Of course, I would really like more interest, but I feel glad we have the option to take advantage of higher than average rates.
What is the best interest rate you are earning on any certificates of deposits?
Last year around this time, I submitted a claim to be part of a antitrust settlement regarding our purchase of potatoes. As usual, I don't remember the requirements. But today we received a check in the mail for $30.49!! That's a big amount.
Just for kicks I went back in our records and found we have received $202.28 from class action settlements since the beginning of the year! Nice snowflakes hanging out in our savings account.
I believe I have become aware of all of these from this website. I don't fill out any that I don't legitimately have claim to.
We've met another milestone with our retirement accounts. We now have $370,000. If the market appreciates another 6% I might be able to meet the $400K milestone. That would require our additional contributions to be included as well. I would be shocked if the market earns another 6%, but one never knows for sure. We will just keep moving forward!
This probably won't be a well thought out post, but I just need to write out some thoughts. We have seven years until my husband can retire from the Army with a paycheck starting immediately. He will be 54. I will be 51.
According to military retirement calculators his retirement pay before taxes would be $4,572 per month or $54,863 per year. So, theoretically, our goal should be to have expenses less than $4,572 per month. At least if we didn't want to pull any money from our retirement savings. I'm pretty sure we could live on less than this, even while doing some traveling.
If he can get into a particular position in the next two years, he may be willing to continue to work until 60 for the Army. Which gee, at that point, isn't really early retirement! I'm not sure he cares, he does like to be busy. The retirement check would be $8746 per month or $104,959 per year. That's less than he makes now, but not by much.
One issue for me in thinking about retirement is our living situation. We have around $40K that came from selling two homes. Thus enough for 20% down on a $200,000 home. I would be fine buying a home in that price range or less. We are currently renting, so we are not building any equity. I can tell our savings has increased in the last six months, by around $7K. I think this is better than if we owned a home.
Honestly, I'd love to buy a house with cash at the time we retire. Of course, that feels overwhelming to think about when we only have $40K specifically set aside as house money. If I were to make that happen, I need to be much more diligent about saving cash to make it happen. It's not that I'm unwilling, I'm just not sure what I'm aiming for. I think we would move back to the midwest, which is where family is and likely both of our daughter's will be (although one never knows on that for sure).
We are currently in the middle of paying for college for our daughter's. We have some savings. Scholarships have been helpful so far. And we have the Post 911 GI bill that I expect will cover half the cost of each of them to attend college. The best case scenario is that they leave college with zero loans. Worse case is they leave college with one years worth of loans. Our oldest is going to be a sophomore this year in college. Our youngest is going to be a junior in high school. Thus they should both be out of college at the time my husband would retire at the earliest.
I feel we are currently living in a home with too much space for our needs and we are paying too much as a result. The home is 2800 sq ft, four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two living areas, two dining areas, a kitchen, screened in porch, and very large yard. We pay $1800 per month in rent, which is the going rate for this size property. We are not overpaying for the property itself, but probably paying more because we have a home larger than our needs. Most of the time it's just three of us living here, with two cats. We could probably move elsewhere in the area, but I know that is disruptive to our daughter. It also costs some money to move, even in town.
Another thought I have, that may or may not be related to retiring early is buying rental property. Specifically, thinking about buying a home in the college town our daughter lives in so that she could live there rather than a dorm. Not sure if this would involve roommates or not. We wouldn't be living in that town thus as owners, that could be an issue. Although, our daughter would likely learn some things about home ownership through the process.
We max out our Roth IRAs, and put 10% in the tax deferred TSP. We would save 15% on taxes if we put that Roth money into IRAs instead, yet, I'm not sure that is really smart if we would want to use that money in early retirement. That would be $1650 in our pockets each that could go towards the saving for a home. I know we could easily save $1000 a month, which is $12,000 a year. In 7 years time, that would be at least $84K, preferably more if invested.
Again...random thoughts. I would really like to simplify overall and have some clear financial goals going forward. We save what we can for retirement and college, but I've been lazy about the plan for the next seven years. If I want to make something happen we need to start making it a focus. I don't want to only have $40K set aside in seven years for a home.
Feel free to chime in with thoughts or questions. I don't have all the answers yet.
I've written about our Ooma home phone before. It works over the internet and costs under $5 a month, varying by local tax laws. At the point we don't have kids at home, I expect we'll get rid of it, but it sure beats paying $30-40 a month for!
The current offer is here. Thanks for checking it out. I do get $50 credit if you buy. Today is the last day for the offer so act fast!
We have a $7,500 CD maturing next month. It's been earning 3.5% for the last 14 months. I'm thinking of rolling it into a 1.05% 12 month CD, but if I could find something better I would jump on it.
I noticed I have an offer on my American Express account to open a Gold card. Spend $2000, get 50K reward points. We did this for my husband earlier this year. We haven't even redeemed the points yet! I will probably open it, but I've been wanting to reduce cards, so this flies in the face of that idea!
I purchased THREE 27 roll packages in March for $15.99 a piece with a $15 coupon involved. We ran out of this huge stock pile of toilet paper more than two weeks ago. We bought a 12 pack and it felt like we quickly ran out again. I realized I really like being stocked up on toilet paper!
So I went looking for toilet paper to stock up on. I will admit that I was specifically looking for Scott's 1000 toilet paper. I found a deal at Boxed.com. I hadn't known of this company before. They were selling 36 count rolls of Scott's 1000 toilet paper for $23.99 with free shipping. I could get 15% off my first order. I decided to order four packages! My total was $81.57 after the discount.
Even better, I found out I could use my American Express card and get $20 off if my total was $50 or more. In the end I got 144 rolls of toilet paper for $61.57 delivered. That is $0.43 a roll. I think this will last us at least half a year. Although originally when I ordered I thought it would be a full years worth, but looking back at my notes for the last purchase, I think 6 months is more likely.
Boxed.com does have lot of items that one could stock up on. And there is some sort of point system, although I haven't figured out how great that is or isn't yet. If you want to place your own order for $10 off your first order, please use my promo code QV6LX.
I'm tempted to order another four more packages using my husband's American Express to get another $20 off and count us as stocked for the full year. I do have the storage in the garage, so that isn't an issue.
What do you like to be stocked up on?
Since the market was high again, I made a point to transfer the full amount of my oldest daughter's educational savings account to a money market account. We are likely to use most of the funds for this upcoming school year. I should have taken the money out much sooner, but it was difficult to pull it all when I knew the market was down. It's now safe from market swings.
We still have our younger daughter's ESA invested in the market, but she still has two years before college, and since we don't know what scholarship she will receive we will leave it for now.
So, I'm really, really considering Ting for our family. Our contract with Verizon was up in May. Our bill has been lowered now that we aren't paying for the phones. A couple of us have started having small issues with our phones, likely needing an upgrade in the near future.
We currently pay around $140 with Verizon for four phones. The last time I checked with Ting based on our usage we would pay between $75-$85 a month. We do a pretty good job of limiting data since we use WiFi at home.
I think the hard part will be making the actual switch! My first thought is to get SIM cards and keep our current phones and numbers which I believe can be ported over from Verizon.
After that I think we would slowly switch each of us over as it becomes clear our phones are really dying. So far, all the issues have resolved themselves usually with restarting the phone a time or two.
My main concern is the actual switch. Will our ability to get service change that much? We will be getting service through the same towers we currently do right? In some ways we are only changing the billing method.
At one time, I understood that Ting used Sprint towers. I hesitated to switch as Sprint towers in our previous town were horrible according to users and Sprints own map. I think now if we use GSM SIM cards we will be on Verizon towers (not sure this makes sense, but it's how I understand it).
Also once I have the SIM cards in hand and insert into our phones, how long until they are active? Less than a day? This is actually a good time of year to switch as we are home a lot more and not using our phones as much.
I'm sure I can find some more information on Ting's website, and I will start looking. I'm just hoping one of you Ting users can encourage me and answer some of my questions.
Thank you in advance!
Our total interest earned in June was $78.55. It sure helps that some of our cash is earning around 3% interest in CDs. These are are all with Navy Federal Credit Union. I think one ends in August, but hopefully there will be something new around that same time.
We also put $25 into our NFCU savings account from my husband's pay. This is part of the agreement to earn the 3% interest. I think I'm going to increase it to $100. I don't think we'll miss putting more into savings! And if needed we can always take it out.
It's been a bit since I've posted here, although I've been reading and commenting. I don't have any real exciting updates as of late. No new snowflake money to report. We haven't spent any major money. We are still saving what we don't invest or spend.
The market drop because of Brexit is a bit hard to take. I haven't actually looked at our balances because I know I won't like them! At least the market had an up day again today.
We have decided not to go to Washington DC this summer. Our youngest daughter is taking an online German class this summer. It started a week ago Monday. It goes through the first two weeks of August. We were hoping the course work would be light enough to work ahead. Unfortunately it doesn't seem that will be the case. We could shorten our trip to three days, but we feel that wouldn't be enough time to do what we were hoping to do. My husband is also in a class for work and has deadlines every week in July as well. He said he was relieved that we had changed our plans.
The vacation fund has $1100 in it. We were going to drive and use Marriott Rewards points for the hotel nights. This money would have been for transportation, food, souvenirs and any other admission fees. I think for now I will leave it there, as I know we will also have some plane tickets coming up in the next six months.
June has been unusually inexpensive. Not as cheap as our No Spend Month in February, but definitely closer. I like when we have less spendy months!!
I'm loving watermelon right now!! So good for you and tasty.
My youngest daughter is out of school for the summer, but starts band camp next week, and then her online German class! She is going to be busy...hopefully not too busy, so we can still get to Washington DC in July.
I got a class action claim check in the mail from Tom's of Maine for $30.59! Wow, I sure wasn't expecting that! But I did know just what to do with it. I deposited into our savings account right away!
My husband's tablet (Samsung Galaxy)stopped responding to touch commands a few weeks ago. We decided to research if it was a part we could buy and replace ourselves. The answer is yes! We actually bought two screen digitizers at $21.99 each. The second one works!! The first screen digitizer was just a bit hard to reattach and after we did it didn't work quite right. And then to top it off we cracked the screen. But those errors did help us get it just perfect the second time. So for less than $44 we were able to fix something that would have cost us around $400 to replace new. My husband is super happy to have it back!!
It seems that class action claim check helped cover some of our costs! I like that.
I recorded the balances in our retirement accounts as this past Friday, June 3. We have surpassed the $350K mark for the first time! It's taken us 21 long months to increase our accounts from the last milestone of $300K. I was sure that we would hit $350K in 2015, but that just never happened. We made it to $330K at the end of 2015.
We have contributed 8K this year, so even though the market is somewhat flat, we have had market gains. I haven't thought about where I would like us to be by year end. The only part I can control without leaving the market entirely is what we contribute, so we'll keep doing that.
How are you doing with your retirement plans and goals?
I received credit for a Pinecone survey yesterday. I think I'm due for another one today. At least $3, but maybe $6.
My husband was also refunded for some conference fees, not sure why exactly. The amount was $32, and was sent to my Paypal account, since after 60 days the government can't send it back to the credit card account...or something dumb like that. Turns out better since he doesn't use that card much and currently has a zero balance.
I'm putting these snowflakes in our savings account. Savings feels good!
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