Home > Page: 2

Viewing the 'Personal Finance' Category

Vanguard account milestone

January 2nd, 2021 at 01:35 am

I forgot one thing in my previous post.

As of market close on 12/31/20, our Vanguard account topped $700,000 for the first time.

We actually have more than that there as that only includes my rollover IRA, my Roth IRA, and our joint brokerage account. My wife also has a rollover IRA and a Roth IRA which hold another $123,000. But the figure that I see when I log into my account doesn't include those.

As always, it's really just another number and doesn't particularly mean anything, but we all like to see those milestone numbers.

2020 Year End Portfolio and Spending

January 1st, 2021 at 03:11 pm

2020 was another fantastic year financially speaking.

Portfolio Value

12/31/19: $1,329,432.03

12/31/20: $1,624,972.12

Increase of $295,540.09 or 22.23%


This doesn't capture everything as it doesn't include things paid by cash and check, but it's an accurate comparison of identical spending year to year.

2019: $6,657/month

2020: $5,966/month

Clearly, the pandemic saved us a considerable amount of money, primarily from lack of travel and dining out.

If I subtract out spending for which we got reimbursed, the actual number drops to $5,325/month. I don't have the corresponding figure for 2019 so I can't compare that. However, just playing with that number - $5,325/month - and using the rule of thumb that you need 25 times annual expenses to retire, that would work out to $1,597,500. We're a bit over that so that's exciting. I realize our spending will creep back up once the pandemic ends, whenever that is, but theoretically if we could maintain the lifestyle we've had in 2020, we are right around where we would need to be to retire. Our actual target is more like $2.2 million but that's not so far off realistically.


Happy New Year to all. Have a great 2021.

Sold one losing stock

December 24th, 2020 at 04:12 pm

I figured with the end of the year looming, it was time to unload one loser in our portfolio: ARLP.

I bought it in 2019 for an average of $14.76/share.

I sold it for $4.46.

Yes, I should have dumped it sooner but it was a very small position so I kind of ignored it. It had dropped as low as $2.30 a few months ago and at least crept back up a bit. But selling it now will let us take that loss to offset some of our 2020 gains so that's useful.

Rolling over wife's 401(k)

December 22nd, 2020 at 08:18 pm

We took care of the 403(b) so it was time to do the 401(k). I downloaded the transfer form and filled it all out. I had a couple of questions that I was pretty sure I knew the answers to but wanted to be 100% sure so we called them this morning. Then she signed the form, I made copies of everything, and I have it ready to mail, but I'm going to wait until after Christmas since the post office is such a mess right now.

I'm hoping that by the end of January, both the 403(b) and 401(k) accounts will be history with the assets of both moving into her Vanguard rollover IRA. That will definitely simplify record keeping and simplify drawing from that money when the time comes.

Rolled over wife's 403(b)

December 16th, 2020 at 08:04 pm

I've procrastinated on making a couple of financial moves for way too long but I'm finally making some progress.

DW and I called her 403(b) company yesterday to find out what we needed to do to rollover her account. She already has an existing rollover IRA from a prior job so the 403(b) funds can go into there.

We downloaded the form needed and filled it out. Today we got her old employer to sign it, as required, and I'll mail it tomorrow (assuming we're not snowed in).

Next up is rolling over her 401k. I downloaded the form for that but I have a question about something so we need to give them a call to clarify that.

I'll be glad to have two fewer accounts to deal with and keep track of. It will make retirement a bit easier when it comes time to start taking distributions from the accounts.

11-month spending update

December 3rd, 2020 at 01:04 am

2020 is nearly over - finally. As I've posted before, our spending has been down quite a bit thanks to Covid. The two biggest areas of savings continue to be travel and dining out. Travel has been zero. Dining out still happens though almost entirely take out especially now that the weather is getting too cold for outdoor dining. Yeah, I know they have heaters but when it's in the 30s and windy that only helps so much. I don't suspect we'll be braving that much if at all.

Year to date as of November 30, our average monthly spending has been $5,965. For 2019, our average was $6,657 so down about $700 before making any adjustments to that number.

When I subtract spending for which we got reimbursed, the average drops to $5,541. (The 2019 number is not adjusted for reimbursed expenses.)

Although we do miss traveling a great deal and miss dining out as well, my wife and I both agree that we've been perfectly happy with quarantine life for the most part. I know that reduced level of spending won't continue, of course. The pandemic will end in the coming months and we'll resume traveling. We have trips planned for late March (which may or may not happen) and October (which probably will happen). And if the world is relatively safe again, I'm sure there will be other trips in 2021.

Our saving YTD stands at $94,857. My goal for the year is $100,000. I have two more paychecks from which at least $2,376 will go to savings. That will leave us just $2,767 from the goal which we should be able to manage, especially since December is a 3 paycheck month. Most or all of that final paycheck will go to savings.

I think I do have at least one per diem shift scheduled this month and may pick up another if I feel like it. A lot of my coworkers are looking to give away shifts to use up their PTO. I haven't decided if I'd take any more but if I do, that extra income all goes to savings as well.

Overall, a very successful year financially speaking despite the craziness in the world. And as of today, our portfolio is up over $245,000 for the year. As long as the market behaves this month, we should end on a strong note.

A little portfolio rebalancing

August 23rd, 2020 at 04:58 pm

I realized a while back that our cash allocation had grown rather large - larger than I really want it to be.

I finally sat down and did something about it today. I had a bunch of cash in both my traditional IRA and my Roth, so two places with no tax implications to moving money around.

I put in a buy order for something in the traditional IRA. Then I put in an order to move money into the settlement account in my Roth. I know I could do the buy orders I want right away but I always get nervous by the "there are insufficient funds in your settlement account for this transaction" warning that pops up. So I'll wait a day or two until the money is actually there and then place the buy orders.

The end result will be our cash allocation dropping and our stock allocation rising by about 2.7% which will put us back right about where I want our asset allocation to be.

Wrapping up July

July 29th, 2020 at 08:26 pm

Another month has passed, just about.

July was fairly calm all around. I was off for most of the first week because I was supposed to be in St. Louis for a conference that didn't happen.

We celebrated our 28th anniversary on the 12th with dinner at a local Italian place we like. They had 2-person tables set up along the sidewalk out front which was nice. Well spaced and the sidewalk is covered. Plus it faces east so by dinner time, it has been in the shade for a while so not terribly hot.

Work has been picking up slightly but still low compared to normal. Not too many COVID suspects but still a handful every week.

Financially, all is well. I just paid 3rd quarter property taxes. I get paid tomorrow and my take home jumped $500 because I maxed out the SS tax for the year. I wasn't expecting that so it was a nice little surprise.

Nothing else too exciting to report. I hope everyone is doing well, staying cool, and staying safe.

Minor portfolio milestone

July 15th, 2020 at 12:28 am

I'm on a conference call and decided to take a look at our portfolio. As of market close today, we hit $1.4 million for the first time. Barely, but we hit it. And it could drop back below that mark tomorrow given the volatility of the market these days, but I'll take it for the moment.

Mid-year check in

June 27th, 2020 at 07:22 pm

June is just about over so I updated our portfolio spreadsheet today.

Year to date, we are up $29,687 which is about 2.23%. Back in April when everything was crashing, we were down a lot so there's been a nice recovery.

When you factor in new contributions, however, we are still down. We've invested $53,890 in new money so we're really down $24,203 when you count that.

Still, all things considered, that really isn't too bad. Plus, the market has been so outrageously volatile that our total can change by 10-20K in one day if the market has a big move up or down.

Hopefully, the second half of the year will bring some recovery to the economy.

Spending update, COVID savings

May 25th, 2020 at 12:13 am

I posted last month that our spending was down significantly year to date at least in part due to the COVID shutdown and not being able to go anywhere or do anything.

As May is nearly over, I took another look and the savings continue to grow.

I compared our total credit card charges from January through May 2019 to the same period for 2020.

2019: $20,931.71
2020: $15,460.73

So YTD we've spent $5,470.98 less than last year.

Not all of that is COVID-related because our January and February spending was also lower this year, and that was before the shutdown, so we have just been spending less in general, but still we've spent an average of almost $1,100/month less than in 2019. I'll take it.

COVID-related savings

April 29th, 2020 at 01:57 am

I know I'm not the only one experiencing this but we've actually saved a significant amount of money as a result of the world shutting down.

For March, which we only lost half of, our spending was down by $500 compared to March 2019.

For April, which we've lost all of, our spending was down by $1,000 compared to April 2019.

I'm not incredibly surprised but I didn't expect the savings to be quite that high. It really makes me wonder about things going forward.

I think I will take a look at the actual charges last March and April to see where most of that savings has come from. I'm quite sure that dining out will be the single biggest factor. That's actually the thing I miss most about the whole quarantine thing. I know we aren't going to stop eating out (once we are able to do it again) but I will definitely be more aware of how much we're spending in the process.

How about all of you? Have you noticed a drop in spending?

Checking in

April 9th, 2020 at 02:45 pm

It's been 2 weeks since I posted. Things are going reasonably well. Work remains slow but also very stressful. I'm having dreams about work pretty much every night. Several of my coworkers have said the same. Constantly working with the threat of catching COVID from our patients is really taking its toll mentally on all of us.

As part of the Emergency Operations Plan, they have all of us urgent care providers getting oriented in the hospital so that when the surge hits, they can send us there as additional help if needed. I haven't done any inpatient care for just over 20 years so I'm not sure how much help I can be. I did a little orientation yesterday so I at least have a general concept of where things are and what the workflow looks like. But if I actually have to start working there, I'll need a great deal of help and support.

Passover was essentially cancelled thanks to COVID. We always host the seder at our house which obviously didn't happen. My cousins in NYC did a Zoom seder but none of us really felt like participating.

I'm trying my best to exercise regularly which is hard with the gym closed. I have gotten out to walk/jog several times and I've been doing some floor exercises at home with what limited equipment we have. I figure it's all good and better than nothing but I look forward to being able to go to the gym again whenever that happens.

Financially, things are pretty normal since I'm still working full time. Our daughter has been out of work since 3/13 and filed for unemployment. She got the debit card a couple of days ago but hasn't actually gotten her first payment yet. We're hoping that her place is able to reopen and doesn't go out of business. She'll be devastated if it does.

Not much else happening since the world is pretty much all closed. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at home and being super careful when you must go out.

Just an update

March 26th, 2020 at 12:11 am

I realized I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. Heck, I haven't even been reading anybody else's blog. Obviously, it's been a crazy time, and being a healthcare worker, I'm not on lockdown like so many others including my wife and daughter. I've still got to go to work every day and that's been a whole new level of crazy with the rules and guidelines and policies and procedures changing pretty much daily.

On the plus side, patient volume at urgent care has plummeted. My theory is that with schools closed and so many people working from home, there just isn't that much routine illness going around. Also, with all sports and activities suspended, gyms closed, etc., we're not seeing all of the sports injuries we typically get. So we've been quite slow.

On the other hand, we're on the front lines of the COVID-19 stuff. We are seeing plenty of patients with respiratory symptoms so every person who walks through the door is a potential case and we need to act accordingly. That is quite stressful for all of us.

In addition, because of the decreased volumes overall, we're starting to worry about our jobs. They have already stopped urgent care services at 2 or our 8 sites and reassigned providers to the remaining 6. But we wonder how long that is sustainable when we're seeing about 1/3 of our normal volume. Colleagues across the country are reporting their urgent care clinics are cutting back operating hours or closing sites entirely. Some providers have even been laid off. So obviously that's a huge concern for me.

The "good" thing is that I work for a large hospital system, not an independent urgent care company. If the situation reaches a point where they really feel they don't need some of us in urgent care, they may reassign us to other clinical duties, especially if the hospitals start getting overwhelmed with COVID patients and/or a lot of providers are out because they are infected or at least quarantined due to exposure. So at least right at this moment, I think my job is safe, but I know that could change at any moment.

My daughter's job shut down a week ago Saturday and they were officially laid off a few days later, making her eligible to file for unemployment. She was upset about that and is hoping that her job opens again whenever appropriate. Her manager told her they definitely want her back but there is always that chance that they might trim staff or simply fold if they can't financially stay afloat.

My wife is managing pretty well with the whole situation. She doesn't work outside the home so her routine isn't quite as disrupted as ours, though it's still affected. Other than us taking a couple of family walks, I don't think she's left the house for well over a week. She normally does a weekly volunteer gig packing home meals for the elderly, plays Mah Jong every week, and does another monthly volunteer thing for a blind support group. All of that is gone for now. I know she's also really worried about me, afraid that I'll catch the virus at work.

And of course, we can't ignore the financial impact this whole mess is having. Last time I checked, our portfolio was down about $230,000. I'm sure it recovered a bit yesterday and today but that's still a huge loss on paper. I did do some buying over the last couple of weeks so I'm hoping that will help when the recovery ultimately happens. I got some stuff at pretty rock bottom prices (I hope) so that will goose the returns some when things start going back up.

I guess that's long enough of a post for now. I hope everyone else is holding up okay through all of this. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And STAY HOME!

Taxes done

February 21st, 2020 at 11:13 pm

I met with our CPA today to do our taxes. They aren't actually done. He and his crew need to actually do the work and then get back to us with the results. That will take a week or so, but my end is done. He has all of the data he needs.

I'm super organized when I go there, which he greatly appreciates, so we zip through the actual tax part of the meeting pretty quickly. We then move on to the discussion portion: How much do we have saved for retirement? Do I have a retirement age in mind? Have I thought about when to claim Social Security? What's our daughter's situation and to what extent will we need to continue to subsidize her? Do we plan to stay in our current house?

I brought up the inheritance issue I posted about on the forums and we talked about how that will play into everything. For those who don't read the forums, I have a terminally ill relative from whom I am in line to inherit somewhere in the 700K-$1 million range, possibly within the next year or two unfortunately. We talked about what that could mean as far as when I retire.

We talked about selling taxable investments and buying tax-exempt ones. We talked about converting traditional IRAs to Roths.

I love the free form flow of ideas I have with him each year, and he loves it too because most of his clients don't have the financial knowledge that I have and he has to explain every concept to them in great detail. With me, he can just think out loud and throw out ideas and we can discuss them.

As for our taxes, I expect that we'll get a small refund, a few hundred dollars, from the state and that we'll owe under $2,000 on Federal. So net cost of around $1,500 is what I'm guessing. We'll see when they're done preparing our return.

We've raised our daughter well

February 15th, 2020 at 05:45 pm

Text I just got from my daughter (she's 24). She is at the bank waiting to have a form notarized.

Her: Lady in the waiting area on her phone, "I always check my account balance on the app and it said $168". It was normal for me to have more money than other college kids but this lady is 50 or 60. I mean she could have more money in other places but still.

Me: Surveys show that most people can't cover an unexpected $400 expense.

Her: People need to get their stuff together because that's crazy.

Me: Just keep being abnormal and you'll be fine.

Her: Sometimes it's good to be different.

February savings and investment done

February 2nd, 2020 at 05:57 pm

Every month, I put money in our Ally account and money in our taxable Vanguard account. Last month I bumped up the amounts from $1,500 each to $1,600 each. I made the February deposits yesterday.

That's rarely all we put in but we always put in at least those amounts. Last month I actually put $5,000 into Ally.

Paid our property taxes

January 15th, 2020 at 12:34 am

I realized yesterday that we have not yet gotten the property tax bill. I was sure the payment is due February 1 so it seems awfully late to have not received it yet.

I posted a question in our town's Facebook group today and others confirmed that the bills haven't gone out yet. Someone mentioned that there is a 10-day grace period so you really don't have to pay until 2/11, but I don't play those games. I pay before the stated due date, and typically when I get the bill so it doesn't actually get misplaced or forgotten.

Someone also mentioned that you could pay online and that the bills were already posted. I figured there'd be some convenience fee for online payment that I wouldn't want to pay, but I checked anyway. Turns out that the e-check fee is only $0.99. Since a stamp is $0.55, that means it would only cost an extra 44 cents to pay online and be done with it, not to have to write a check, and have immediate confirmation that my payment was processed. No chance of it getting lost in the mail or anything like that. So I went ahead just now and made the payment. Yes, I paid 2 weeks before I had to, but it's done and I no longer have to think about it - until April.

I'm glad they made the convenience fee so reasonable. It's worth 44 cents to me for sure.

Worked an extra shift today

January 10th, 2020 at 11:43 pm

Last year, I pretty regularly picked up an extra shift, maybe once or twice a month. But I haven't done that for at least a few months. We hired a lot of new people so there haven't been nearly as many open shifts, and I was just kind of burnt out and didn't feel like working any more than I needed to.

Recently, I've been paying attention to the openings again. Two or three times in the past few weeks, we've gotten a text or e-mail saying they needed help last minute but every time I've either already been working or had personal plans. Yesterday we got a message that they needed help at one site from 1-5pm today. I was free, double checked with my wife, and took that shift.

I hadn't been to that site for ages, probably close to 2 years, so it was nice to go there and see everyone. It wasn't terribly busy which was also nice. And the other doc on with me is pretty new. We've met at meetings but I never really had any time to talk and get to know her.

And, of course, we get paid $140/hour for weekday per diem shifts so I made an extra $560 for giving up my afternoon. Not a bad deal all around.

Ten Years of Finances

January 3rd, 2020 at 02:59 pm

CCF suggested this idea and I thought it would be fun. Post a comparison of where you were 10 years ago and where you are now, and talk about what happened in the interim. So here goes.

12/31/09: Total financial assets (not including home)

12/31/19: Total financial assets (not including home)

12/31/09 Mortgage balance: $92,285.99
12/31/19 Mortgage balance: $0.00

So our net worth went up by $1,026,044.29.

Major financial events of the last 10 years, and I'm probably forgetting some

Bought my car in 2012, paid off in 2013
Bought my wife's van in 2013, paid off in 2016

Daughter attended college 2014-2018, all loans by her and us have been repaid

Paid off mortgage in 2019; now totally debt-free

Began a job transition in April 2016 that was completed in November 2017 and now earn more than double what I made at the old job

I think those are the real biggies. Obviously, lots of smaller things, car repairs, home repairs, travel, medical expenses, and all of the other normal stuff. It's pretty powerful to look back like that.