January 22, 2018

2018 Money Moves: Building a CD ladder

This is old hat for old hands in the PF blogging world but in direct contrast to my move toward simplification in our investment holdings, I’ve finally decided to “complicate” our cash savings and set up a proper ladder. A CD ladder!

All of 2017, I’ve been fiddling with our cash reserves because it feels foolish to hold so much cash but it also feels foolish to invest when stocks are at all-time highs. Conflict!

On January 1 2017 I rashly threw a huge amount of cash into long term (5 year) CDs at Ally. I had no plans for this cash so why not? Then the neighbor happened. Dammit. When you break a 5 year CD early, you lose 6 months of interest, so I scraped cash together every other way I could before July 1 to pay for the house reno to avoid cashing out my CDs for less than the principal I put in. I knew those terms going in but on Jan 1st, it sure didn’t SEEM like there was any reason to need that money in less than a year. Fool.


January 15, 2018

Cutting off my father: update 2

Quick recapIt was time to cut off my father who I’ve supported for nearly 20 years. I grieved, then started the process.

For several days, I ignored that manipulative email convincing me to keep helping. After closing my bank account that he had deposit-access to, so that he can’t deposit any cash in an attempt to twist my arm into writing more checks for him, I found calmness in my soul again.

With that protection, I responded to that email with a faux-contrite decline to provide further funds saying that I couldn’t come up with anything extra.

That’s not precisely true, when I have to, I can usually find a way to scrape money together but I’m simply not willing to take a second job to support him again. I phrased that as “I can’t”.

We are truthfully groaning under the weight of our current obligations: a five digit annual bill for property tax, a five digit annual bill for daycare with two increases expected this year, a merely terrifying mortgage, and corresponding insurances but all that aside, he doesn’t need, or get, to know the true state of our finances when he doesn’t care about our well-being. In a world where my Dad loved me, he would have expressed concern for us when I described our faux financial distress even if there was nothing he could do about it. In reality, he didn’t reply for weeks.


January 10, 2018

A smattering of numbers

Like Military Dollar, sometimes I have a collection of thoughts that aren’t full-post worthy.

I scored 10 out of 15 on J. Money’s 15 things to do to be above average. That’s a failing grade by normal standards, but I don’t feel bad about it.

  • Build a starter emergency fund of $1,000: 1 point.
  • Organize your important financial information in a binder or eFile: 0.5 point, this is mostly done but needs more organization.
  • Develop a monthly budget habit: 0 point, we track spending but stopped budgeting traditionally.
  • Pay off all of your debts: negative points! well, 0. Damn you, new mortgage!
  • Build a mid-level emergency fund of $10,000: 1 point. I require at least a year of liquid reserves.
  • Be aware of your credit score: 1 point, I don’t check this regularly but we just applied for a mortgage so we’re in the 800s.
  • Earn extra income: 1 point, I do a bit extra but I don’t necessarily agree this should be on the list. Sometimes your primary incomes are just fine.
  • Read the top personal finance books: 0, I don’t read PF books, I read blogs.
  • Automate your savings: 1 point, YES! I DO THIS.
  • Automate your bills: 1/2 point, I automate the ones that make sense.
  • Automate investing: 1 point, retirement and 529 investing is automated, brokerage investing takes more work.
  • Write a 5 year financial plan: 0 point right now, I used to do 5 year plans but I need a new financial plan with details!
  • Start maxing out your retirement account every year: 1 point, I finally got this together.
  • Complete your emergency fund so you have at least 6 months’ expenses saved: 1 point, yes, as above, we need a year for me not to grow Baby Ulcer.


December 25, 2017

2017 Money Moves: Setting up for the new year

2017 Money Move: preparing for the new year Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, Happy nearly end of the year to everyone else!

I’m feeling pretty good about all the work I’ve put into getting our money wrapped up in 2017 and ready for 2018.

This series has been monumentally helpful to keeping me on track because my other constant feeling is being on edge with our current administration. Politics aside, the people we have in office are utterly abhorrent human beings who only believe women exist in a binary state of “would have sex with her / wouldn’t have sex with her” and it’s appalling. Then there’s all the egregiousness of Naziism and white supremacy gaining a public facing foothold, revelations of abuse of women and children over the years … it’s way too much for …

Wait. I was talking about money, wasn’t I? Sorry, got a bit off track there. Oh right, that’s because I started thinking about the tax code and all of THOSE implications. Right, back to my original train of thought here:


December 18, 2017

2017 Money Move: reviewing our tax strategy

2017 Money Move: adjusting our tax strategy Last month, I had a brief conversation with our tax person to run some numbers for our 2017 taxes, but we didn’t come up with much more we could do to become more tax efficient other than more charitable giving. Then along came Nicole and Maggie with a reminder that I hadn’t considered bunching our property taxes and I’m so glad they did.

If we don’t bunch them, our 2017 property taxes will be $8,500, $10,780 in 2018, and $10,420 in 2019.
If we do bunch them, they will be $14,020 in 2017, $5,210 in 2018, and $15,630 in 2019.

Our other relevant assumptions:

1. Expected mortgage interest for 2017: $19,865.43, approx expected morgage interest for 2018: $26,506.08
2. Drop Dad from list of dependents starting 2017
3. Drop Brother from list of dependents starting 2018
4. My W-2 income will probably be static for another year since I got a raise this year, PiC’s will probably go up about 3-5%. Stupid small companies *grouse* (more…)

December 11, 2017

2017 Money Move: Maxing out annual contributions

Filling up our savings: IRA and 529The second (missing) IRA

It’s a touch mortifying to admit that until now, I have failed utterly to start contributing to PiC’s IRA – we started to get on that, and …. I dropped the ball. I got distracted!

Plus I let myself get hung up on where his money should go. His work uses Fidelity but I use Vanguard and we all know I’m right! But for some reason, that argument holds no sway with his company. Philistines.

He had a teeny IRA somewhere long ago that we rolled over into a money market account until we had time to make a decision. Er, until I had a time to make a decision. (more…)

November 29, 2017

Cutting off my father: update 1

Stepping back from familial obligations: update 1 I knew this would be a multi-step process but who knew it’d require a Trello board of its own. I’m assuming there will be more updates after this.

My first step was to tell Dad that the support has to stop. I legitimately tried to call and speak to him like a decent human but when he didn’t pick up, I took that as a sign to just leave him a message and emotionally shift the burden. That night, I also emailed to make sure that if the voicemail wasn’t heard for some reason, he had the email, I know he checks that.

He didn’t respond for a day but I wasn’t waiting around for a confirmation.

On to step two, realizing that the move has turned our lives upside down and this was collateral damage – I can’t find my car title anywhere. ARGH. After several fruitless searches, and annoyingly finding a digital copy of the title but not the physical copy, I sent off to the DMV for a duplicate title. Waiting for it is torture but it’s given me time to strategize. (That thing is going to turn up when the duplicate arrives, I just know it.)

Third step, stop making the same mistakes. (more…)

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