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General update

July 3rd, 2019 at 05:30 pm

It's been almost a month since my last post so I thought I'd update.

We got back from a week in Dallas the other night. First time in Texas for my wife and I. Our daughter had been there once before for a youth group convention in high school. We had a great time and did some fun and interesting things like visiting the 6th Floor Museum from which Oswald shot JFK, the Dallas World Aquarium, the Reunion Tower observation deck, the National Video Game Museum, and more.

Next up is our Disney World trip in less than 5 weeks.

Need to get my wife's van in for routine service. There was also a recall for the airbag. I have to get that done soon as that's the car we drive to Florida.

I had originally thought we'd pay off our mortgage with the August payment but the past couple of months were particularly expensive due mostly to travel-related expenses so I didn't pay as much extra as I had thought I would. I'm pretty sure now we can make the final payment in September. That will drop our monthly expenses by about $700 going forward which will be very nice. It will mostly go to pad the retirement savings but I'm sure we'll spend some too.

Nothing else major going on that I can think of at the moment.

Costly few months coming up, but all good

May 21st, 2019 at 11:07 am

We are very close to paying off our mortgage. I was actually thinking about splitting the remainder into two and paying half as the June payment and half as the July payment.

However, I thought about it more and realized that we are going on vacation for a week in June. Airfare is already paid for but the hotel, rental car, and all spending money is not. We are also going on vacation for two weeks in August. We're renting a house in Florida and have paid a deposit but the balance will be due in July. We also have to buy theme park tickets, meals, travel expenses, and such.

So I probably will ease back on the mortgage and pay it off over 3 months instead of 2. That was the original plan.

Ultimately, we actually have the money to pay it off today and still do all the other stuff but I hate taking money out of savings. I prefer to pay everything out of current income. We're paying very little interest on the mortgage at this point so accelerating the last couple of payments doesn't really save us much.

Charity and community support

April 29th, 2019 at 04:10 pm

One thing that both my wife and I have been talking about is upping our game as far as charitable donations and support of community and cultural causes. Honestly, we haven't been as good with that as we could have been in recent years.

We used to have a subscription to an area theater company but dropped that a couple of years ago. We want to get back to either that group or another one in the area. There's actually a theater company very close to home that we might join.

Many years ago, we had a membership to Longwood Gardens in PA and we went several times during the year. We might sign up for that again.

As far as straight out donations, I always donate to my college's annual fund but will probably up the amount this year. I think the older I get, the more I appreciate how I got to where I am in life. It's time to do a little more giving back.

First new paycheck

April 24th, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Pay day is tomorrow so I got my stub yesterday. This is the first check since my raise went into effect. I was estimating my take home would go up by about $900 and that was accurate. This check included some per diem hours so I don't have an exact number but it comes in right around $916. That works out to $1,985/month.

We already run a monthly surplus of nearly $4,000 so this bumps that up closer to $6,000. And as soon as the mortgage is paid off, another $700 gets added to that surplus. That's about $80,000/year that can pretty much all go to savings in addition to the 25K that goes into my 401K (plus the company match). I'm still kind of shocked that within a few months, we're going to be saving 100K/year or more. Just 3 years ago at my old job, I was only earning about 120K/year so this is a pretty major change for us.

Huge update on my raise!

April 10th, 2019 at 07:35 am

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I unexpectedly got a new contract at work that included a substantial raise. I thought the numbers needed to be adjusted based on my hours. I was finally able to confirm that the numbers I got were actually correct.

I thought my raise would be $15,833.
My actual raise is $40,493!!!
I am shocked and obviously very pleased.

It will be a couple of weeks before I get the first new paycheck to see how my take home changes but it should be around 2K/month. I have to sit down and figure out what we're going to do with the added income but what a nice problem to have.

Got our state tax refund

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:06 pm

We got our state tax refund yesterday. When I subtract what we owed on our Federal return plus what we paid our accountant, we came out about $1,300 ahead which will probably all go to the mortgage. We are on track to pay it off in August but that would speed it up even more.

Forgot the sewer bill - oops

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:02 pm

I was going through some papers just now and found the sewer bill mixed in. I don't even remember getting it. Clearly I must have thought it was junk mail when it arrived as it was with some other junk. It was due 4/1. I normally pay by check since there's no charge for that (other than a stamp) but I went and paid it online. There's a $.99 fee for doing that but a stamp is $.55 anyway so really only an extra $.44 and it's done. I doubt there will be any sort of late fee for 2 days but if there is, it'll be my own fault so I can't complain.

Odds and ends

March 20th, 2019 at 03:55 pm

I said I'd try to blog more regularly so figured I actually need to post every couple of weeks.

I made our latest mortgage payment which brought our principal under the $10,000 mark. The end is near. I expect to pay it off in August most likely so that's exciting.

I haven't picked up any extra shifts at work the past week or two. I need to take a look at the schedule and pick up something in the coming weeks.

My wife and I are doing an overnight getaway this weekend. We're just going across the river into the city. There's a whiskey bar we've been wanting to try (we are big bourbon and whiskey fans). We didn't really care for their dinner menu so we're eating at a different place in the next block and planning to then go to the bar for drinks and dessert. The only problem with that is that we couldn't reserve a table just for that so we'll have to wait for space at the bar on a Saturday night. Hopefully around 6:30-7:00 it won't be too crazy yet. We're using a free hotel voucher for our stay. Just have to pay for parking.

Haven't done any decluttering lately. I'm hoping spring brings a nice weekend soon when I'm off and can start attacking the garage.

Need to start working on plans for our June trip to Dallas. The hotel was booked months ago but I haven't bought airfare yet. DW has been browsing the tourist sites looking for things to see and do when we're there.

I can't think of anything else of significance from the past couple of weeks so I'll stop there.

Happy Spring!

Results of our taxes

March 4th, 2019 at 04:07 pm

I heard back from our accountant today. As expected, the Trump tax changes impacted us but not as badly as I had feared. For the first time in many years, we owe for our Federal return but only $453. Still, in previous years we've always gotten at least a small refund.

The good news is we're getting $2,458 back from the state which offsets that making our net refund just over $2,000.

Our accountant had warned us months ago that the Trump stuff would be bad so I was happy that it wasn't any worse than that. And I must admit filing was so much easier because I didn't have to compile everything for itemizing deductions since we weren't able to deduct all of that stuff anymore.

I think I'm done with ebay

March 2nd, 2019 at 05:57 pm

I've been selling collectibles since 1986 and selling on ebay since 1997, not long after it started. There was even a brief time in 2000 when I sold collectibles full time when I was between jobs. In recent years, I've gone through spurts where I would list things for a few weeks and then get tired of it all and stop.

Lately, I've just felt more and more like it isn't worth my time. I got a new job 2 years ago and I'm making a whole lot more money than I used to. Not only that, but there are always opportunities for me to pick up extra hours and earn even more. It's that part that has really made me think it's time to pack in the sales thing.

Selling on ebay isn't difficult but it does take time. I have to photograph and list the items and then pack and ship them which sometimes involves a trip to the post office. I sell mostly low priced items, like under $40, so after fees it's not like I'm making a ton. But my job pays really well. I can make more in a 4 hour shift as I would make selling on ebay in a month.

As much as I actually enjoy the sales thing, there are only so many hours in a day and do I really want to spend them doing all that work just to make a few dollars? Years ago, I did it for the money. Now, I just don't need it.

I still have a lot of stuff in stock that was bought to sell. I've donated a bunch of it over the past couple of years. I'm going to start seeing what else I can donate and work on clearing it all out.

Portfolio up 110K YTD

February 23rd, 2019 at 07:00 pm

I spent some time tonight updating our portfolio spreadsheet and adding a few lines to make it easier to track things. I used to have some accounts like my wife's 401k listed as a single item even though that account holds 2 different funds. Now every fund is listed separately which makes updating easier and also makes tracking asset allocation easier.

Anyway, once I was finished doing all of that, the bottom line was that the total as of today is up by just under $110,000 since 12/31/18. Considering how awful December was, it's very nice to see how quickly things recovered. I feel bad for anyone who sold in a panic 2 months ago. Had I done that, I'd be $110,000 poorer right now.

Saw the accountant today; "new" printer

February 20th, 2019 at 05:39 pm

I met with our accountant today to do our taxes. I don't know the outcome yet but everything is submitted except for a couple of forgotten items I sent over tonight. I should know in a week or so how we made out.

A few weeks ago when I went to print something, my printer made an awful grinding noise. It did ultimately print but each time I tried after that, same noise. The printer was over 8 years old so I wasn't terribly upset, and it wasn't an expensive item to begin with.

The only thing I was annoyed about was that I bought a set of ink cartridges for it not long before that. I knew if I bought a new printer, those would go to waste.

So I checked the box for the cartridge for a list of compatible printers and then searched on ebay for the newest of those models. I lucked out and found someone selling the newest one for $15 plus $17 shipping. I was happy to spend $32 to get an upgraded printer and not waste about $60 worth of ink cartridges. It arrived yesterday and I just set it up tonight. It seems to be working just fine so I'm back in business for a pretty modest expenditure.

Mortgage payment, decluttering, and date night

February 18th, 2019 at 01:04 pm

There are 3 savings things that I do manually each month. I send $1,000 to our Ally savings account, $1,000 to our taxable Vanguard account, and $1,000 extra to our mortgage. I don't usually do them all at once but it worked out that way this time. I just did the Ally and Vanguard transfers.

When I went to do the mortgage payment, I discovered a notice that the annual escrow review showed a shortage (doesn't it always?) of $114.89. So I had to pay that. I also had already decided to up the extra going to principal from $1,000 to $1,500. So I did all of that and made that payment. I can't wait until the mortgage is gone in a few months.

If you really want to follow our decluttering process, I'd head over to the forums: https://www.savingadvice.com/forums/forum/financial-chit-chat/general-discussion/700407-2019-decluttering-thread. We just went through all of our sheets and mattress covers and are getting rid of a whole trash bag full that will go to Goodwill. Some worn out stuff is also going in the trash.

I didn't realize it but my wife and I have a "date night" tonight. Our daughter is heading back to her college for a fraternity event and will be gone from about 4:30 until after 11:00. I think we're going to cook dinner together and then rent a movie on one of the online services and relax with a couple of drinks. Not sure what we'll see but maybe A Star is Born.

Update and an attempt at blogging more

February 15th, 2019 at 07:01 pm

I've never been that active over here on the blogging part of the site although I'm very active on the forums. I'm going to attempt to change that. I like answering questions and helping people there but I'd also like a place to share more of my own (our own) journey.

Let me start by re-introducing myself here. I'm Steve. I'm 54, married for 26 years, one daughter age 23. I'm a family practice physician who spent 24 years in private practice. Starting in April 2016, I gradually transitioned to working in urgent care, first going per diem, then part time, and finally full time in November 2017.

The result of that job transition has been a dramatic change in our financial situation. I went from earning about 120K to earning about 210K. The new position also has much better benefits including cheaper and better health coverage, a 401k with match, and more.

Another big change in the past year was our daughter graduating college. We paid for the 1st 2 years with the 529 money we had saved since she was little. We paid the 2nd 2 years mostly out of pocket so that was a bit tight as we were spending about $3,000/month for that. Once she graduated, our disposable income jumped up basically overnight.

The next big change will happen in a few months when we pay off our mortgage. I'm not exactly sure when that will be but no later than the November 1, 2019 payment. I expect to do it before that though. That will free up a total of about $1,700/month. I'm still debating what to do with that money going forward.

One thing that has been on our future list forever is buying a house in Florida and potentially moving there. As I am very happy in my job now, which wasn't the case previously, I'm actually finding that the drive to move isn't really there, but I do like the idea of getting a place of our own down there for vacations. We rent a condo or townhouse every time we go down, almost always in the same development. Last time we were there in November, I started looking at the real estate listings and we can definitely afford to buy one of those homes as a second home once our house is paid off. We haven't seriously talked about it or looked into it in great detail but I know that we can swing it if we decide to. I know a cou