Monday, December 3, 2012

Net Worth Nov 2012

My TSP has broken the 90k mark.  It's taken a while, especially with putting in nearly 15% of my paycheck to it.  The market has been very volatile, with fear of the "fiscal cliff" and the ending of the bush tax cuts.  It's interesting, very interesting time of year.

Spending has been on cruise control, meaning I have been mostly hands off.  This has been one of those years where I have loosen the reins.  We shall see how we are at year's end.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Net Worth Oct 2012

Running up to the election and earnings season, we had some weak numbers, but overall we are doing ok.

Had some discussion with people.  What should I do with extra cash and investments?  Should I move to real estate or remain in cash or remain in equities?  I guess going back to that chart where each year a different asset class is king reminds me I need to be diversified. (good advice)

In any case, we had a good halloween and enjoyed the company of neighbors and old friends.  Hope all is well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Net Worth September 2012

Looking at our accounts recently showed me that just like any free market economy, competition is good for all.  However, I'll just leave it at that.  Elections are coming up, QE3, jobs report and other factors have pushed our house property values up, stock prices have increased a bunch, silver/gold prices have gone up.  Are we getting to a point of increased inflation to the detriment of the dollar again?  A weaker dollar would be good for exports.  Who knows.  In any case, I'm working hard to make that bonus at the end of the Fiscal Year.

Hope I get it.  Supervisor probably wasn't thrilled that I saved all that work for the last bi-week.

Here is the latest standings. Judging from our current net worth, we are up 50% from last year.  That's an incredible jump, largely from many houses in our community being sold 30-40% higher than they were last year including our neighbor's house.  We're hoping he doesn't move, but it would definitely help push housing prices up.

My next financial move: refinance to 15 year loan, current interest rate 2.75%.

Next Question: Should I get HELOC and start investing in the stock market as well?  I'm feeling a bit greedy recently due to all this free money floating around.

Well, until next time, I hope to update more regularly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Net Worth August 2012

It's been a while since my last update.  Well, here goes.  Looks like stocks are picking back up.  Our investments have grown a bit since the last update. 

Investments are up about $10k and value of our house has increased as well (about $30k depending on who is looking).  Many of our neighbors are trying to sell around $280k-300k.  We bought in around $215k and our principle is down to $168k.  It'll be quite a bit of income if we sell this place.  But we shall see.  Not sure what our next steps are for our living condition.

Alrighty, meant to update sooner, but life happens.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Net Worth April 2012

This has been a good month.  Our investments continue to go up.  The baby came last month and we are continuing to be growing. 

What to do with extra money? 

I have decided to put 15% of my income into TSP (since it is tax deferred, I'll get some of that money back now rather than later), we'll try to maintain $15k in savings fund for the year, and then fully fund our IRAs, and try to deposit $100 per child in their 529.  Okay.  That's the goal... and any extra money will go towards paying down mortgage.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Are you rich?

Richer than I think.  Why people think they're poor is beyond me... but that's the way the world works.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Net Worth 2012 Mar

Here we go again.  2012 has been a very good year so far.  Everything we have put our hands on has increased.

New baby boy. S&P has new highs.  Portfolio increase.

I'm asking my dad for advice... Roth or Traditional?

When it comes to retirement, I need a lot more help.  My dad knows, since he retired at age 55 (or earlier... can't remember).  In any case, I'm hoping to be financially secure by age 45.  How much would that be?  We'll have to see.  My dad said once he hit $1M mark, he would be ready to retire.  I'm sure he's got a lot more than that. 

We lost nearly $30k last year due to bad investments.  So that set us back. Greed is a big part of human psychology.  Contentment, regular savings, and hard work are the keys for a happy life.  I saw the greed in everyone's eyes... including my own when it came to the $500+ million lotto jackpot.  People were salivating over it.  I did not buy a ticket, but secretly probably wanted to.  

In any case, I knew that I didn't even know how to manage $100k.  How in the world could I manage something 5000 times that amount?  I need to be faithful and learn how to manage the smaller things, then I will be ready to manage larger accounts.  So $1M here I come.  But first, be content with the $100k, and nearing the $200k. 

Finished taxes yesterday.  Got a refund.  A much larger one since I will be funding my traditional IRA rather than my roth.  Did the future calculations and it's not worth putting my money in ROTH...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Next 10 years

In just a blink of an eye, we are going to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this coming October. We will have three kids.  More might be on its way.  I don't know.

We are considering homeschooling.  Spending a lot of time now deciding how to go about it.  We've researched various methods and found one that fits our lifestyle.  We are implementing a little at a time with our kids.  Our oldest is five, second is three and newest addition coming in April.

I'm currently finishing up my second masters, working my way at my job and spending an inordinate amount of time volunteering at church (two at the moment).

So what's the plan?

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you don't have a plan, you will float through life.  My 20's are gone.  My only regret is that I hadn't started earlier.  I loved that I quit my engineering job to travel China. I loved that I got my first masters. I loved that I got married.  I loved that we had kids. I loved that I am working at a place that allows me to work from home.  Everything I have done or am doing is moving in a general direction.  Hindsight is 20/20.

Short Term Goals:
-I am currently finishing up my second masters focused more in the Christian/non-profit industry.
-We hope to begin homeschooling
-Increase savings
-Begin small trips overseas including: Asia:China, Europe: Switzerland, Italy, others?
-Continue helping out at churches through bible study, teaching and other means
-Help in community development - mainly through financial and education means
- Help my wife to raise our kids, teaching them... playing soccer again...

Where do I want to be in 10 years?
- I will be married to my wife for nearly 17 years.  We've had lots of opportunities already to counsel teens and college students concerning dating and relationships.  I hope this will be a continued "ministry" we have together.  It's fun preparing/mentoring college students for their next steps in life.
- My kids will be 15, 13, and 10.  Starting high school and well in their teen years.  Hopefully we will have a good community where the kids are encouraged to learn and grow.  I want them to grow in knowledge (book smart), wisdom (street smart), relationships (EQ), communication (toast master?), language (multiple languages), sports/music other skills I hope my kids will excel at.
- Financial wise, I definitely hope to have at least $500k in the bank.  This will definitely be on the way to financial freedom and a slower lifestyle where we can focus on relationships and not so much on career.
- As for career, I hope to start/manage a non-profit of some sort.  With all my experience working in the church and other Christian non-profit, as well as the MAR, I hope to be involved in a specific ministry probably dealing with Christian/education/community development.  I need to learn leadership and management.
Anyways, seeing this helps me to focus my attentions to specific areas of life so as to not be distracted by other goals that seem good to me.

Year 5 Birthday

I was just going through some calculations.  Our girls are growing up fast.  We just had our b-day party yesterday.

We invited a load of people and if it was up to my wife, she'd have invited more.  But all in all, we did it on a Wednesday night where it was cheap-skate night.  We had a great time.  Cost were $2 for entrance and then $4+ for skate rentals.  Not bad considering how many people came.  PLUS the two exorbitant pizzas, we did move the party over to the Chik-Fil-A afterwards.  They let us eat our cake there and the food was more reasonably priced.

But my calculations:

I am 35 years old.  My kids are 5, 3, 0
In 5 years, we will be 40, E1 will be 10, E2 will be 8 and E3 will be 5.
In 10 years, we will be 45, E1 will be 15, E2 will be 13 and E3 will be 10.
In 15 years, we will be 50, E1 will be 20, E2 will be 18 and E3 will be 15.

It's only a blink of an eye.  What will you do in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

Not just birthday parties, but career-wise, family-wise, health-wise, finance, where do you want to be?

Having a goal in mind helps you to plan step by step.  If you don't have a goal in mind, you'll just float through your next 5, 10, 15 years.  So what is it going to be?

I'll follow up with another post as to where we are headed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

living to 100 needs an extra $3.5 million

Just read this article in yahoo Finance that says living to 100 needs about $3.5 million.

The average American who lives to the ripe old age of 100 will spend $3.5 million in his or her lifetime, according to an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A good chunk of that bill, more than $1.5 million, will have been racked by your 50th birthday. The next 30 or so years -- the average 50-year-old today can expect to live until 81 -- will run another $1.4 million. And the lucky few who make it to 100 will need an additional $630,000. Experts say these high costs of living often come as a shock to retirees, many of whom expect to dramatically cut back on their living expenses as they get older and stick to a fixed budget. "A lot of time people actually end up spending more money in retirement than they may have spent when they were working," says Heidi Schmidt, a wealth manager in Dallas with USAA.
So $1.5million at age 50, 1.4 million for the next 30 years, and another $630k for next 20 years if you are so lucky as to live to 100.

We're currently spending on average $4000 a month which means $48k/year.  If we continue living at this rate, we will spend $720k for the next 15 years until we are 50.

How much should we save for retirement?  We will probably not have a house cost ($1500/month savings), our food bill should be lower ($100-200/month lower), and our utilities should be lower ($100/month). So just with those savings, our current $4000 expense could be nearly halved.  Around $2k/month or $24k/year.  If we live out a modest lifestyle for the remainder of our lives and hopefully relatively little medical expenses cuz we are taking care of ourselves, the next 30 years would cost about another $720k.

So if I have a minimum retirement amount it would be around $720k, although I'm hoping to have enough investments set up that I won't have to worry about retirement.  In any case, if it does  run out sooner,  I have family to fall back on.   God will provide, even in retirement.

How much are you saving for retirement? What is your goal?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Regrets. Values. and Life.

What are your values? Last night after bible study, I asked a friend, what were your regrets in your 20's? Since we are nearing mid-late 30s, this was a very relevant question plus there were younger people that can learn from our mistakes.

I thought about what I could have done differently, probably be more patient with investing, probably chosen a different major (more related to business/finance), probably been smarter about dating/marriage, probably bought a house sooner, but even as I went through all those choices I could have done... I knew I wouldn't have done them any sooner or different because I just didn't have the foreknowledge.

I did most of those things thinking I was doing the right thing AT THE TIME. How do you plan for something? I learned a lot through the mistakes and I think those mistakes are probably the best teacher I will ever have.

I could have stayed in teaching, but I took a path that paid a lot more. I could have started my graduate school earlier, instead of struggling now with a wife, two kids (a third one coming), house payments, a job, etc. But hindsight is definitely 20/20.

What will I tell the next generation? Probably figure out what your values are. Do you want to have financial security? Do you want to pursue a particular field? Do you want freedom to travel? Do you want a family? Whatever you decide on a macro-level, you can then adjust your life to fit it, whether it is through large scale job change, or small scale volunteering, networking, part-time gigs, whatever. I don't know the secret to anything, I do know that if you don't try, you won't change.

Your career, your life is not a comparison to the world. You will fail and succeed in life, whether you try or not. You will look dumb or stupid compared to some people and you will look like a hotshot compared to others. But you do not live your life comparing yourself to what some other person in their mid to late 30s. No. You compare yourself 5, 10, 15 years ago to your present. You see what you have accomplished, you see what areas you have grown in... but you also see those areas you want to improve and are still weak. Those are the areas you should work on. This requires failing. This requires trying over and over and practicing over and over again. For this is the only way to grow.

If you stick only to the tried and true, you won't grow. The tried and true works for you because you know this system and you will grow complacent in this system. Same with your fitness workouts. You need muscle confusion. Same with your life. You need body confusion, spirit confusion... in order to grow in your life.

Probably my dumbest career move was quit a nice paying engineering gig to spend two years in China.  My dad said it was dumb, I couldn't find any work after I got back to the states.  I loafed around for another 3-4 years before landing my current job.  But in terms of personal growth, it was the most I had grown in a long time.  I traveled the world, I spoke another language, I met interesting people, I found out who I was and who I wasn't, started figuring out what I valued and what I don't value.
So. What do you value? Let that be your guide to more intense growth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Net Worth (Jan 2012)

It's been a great start to 2012.  Everything seems to be up.  We'll see what happens when the elections are nearer.

Credit cards are at an extremely high (at least for us) due to tuition costs and various other expenses in January.  Property values have gone down actually due to a couple foreclosures in our neighborhood.  We even considered purchasing one, but owning a rental didn't make any sense... at least at the moment.

In any case, I started a Car fund in mint.  We reached our goal for $15k savings which is good for us.  My TSP is around $71k which is a new high for us as well, breaking the 70k mark.  Alrighty, making up for last year's losses... My two gambles of the year, buying call options for NFLX and CSTR... both of which has soared because of good earnings numbers, unfortunately I sold them right before they soared.  So I'm kinda sore right now.

In any case, leaving money on the table seems to be my recurring habit of the new year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Expense Report: Final Report + Bonus 2012 Goals

If there was one word to describe 2011, it would be GROWTH.

We are expecting another child.

We are growing as a family. We're learning as a family.

I got a promotion.

I'm growing in responsibilities.

But you came here to hear about our budget... so here it is: We spent a lot last year.

Our biggest expense is HOUSING. With the refinance, we were paying almost $1100 a month, saving us nearly $300 each month on PMI and Interest payments.

Next up is our Giving. Giving dropped a few thousand from 2010. Not sure really, just got a little bit lazy. We did start supporting a staff worker with Campus Crusade, Church tithing, china missions and a 14 year-old boy through Compassion International.

Food Expense is always on our mind. This year we hosted a bible study every Thursday which included dinner, including a "Fatted Calf" Night - in which we had steaks all around. We also had various other gatherings that I think added to the higher grocery bill than 2010. Eating out at restaurants were higher than 2010, but fast foods were slightly lower, I think due to my health conscious attitude. Who knows.

Bills and Utilities - fairly consistent, a couple differences due to different cell phone service provider, and internet provider raising their prices after the 1 year introductory offer. Gas and Electric were nearly equal.

For another year, we did not have any major auto repairs or accidents. Praise the Lord for that. We did however drive a lot and as a result fuel bills were larger than 2010. That's also including the trip we took in the end of 2010, so that means we drove a lot this year... Kind of strange, since I worked from home. But that probably was one of the reasons. Every other category was lower in the auto group except fuel.

For Travel: we took one major trip in early 2011 to attend my wife's friends wedding. We took another vacation to visit my college buddy Solomon's Island MD during the summer and then another trip to OBX in October. These beach trips were easy on the budget. So overall, besides flying my mother-in-law into town to help out my wife, our travel expense was lower than 2010.

For Education, I took the Spring semester off and took a 2 credit class in the Fall. I wish I had taken more... would have kept me out of trouble. I'm realizing now that for school, it's probably best you try to finish as quickly as you can because you never know what's gonna happen to you. In my case, expecting child#3 may throw me for another loop.

And finally I'll include Misc Shopping. This year I actually went clothes shopping. I know, strange right? My wife's brother actually donated A LOT of clothes to me and I've been sharing them around. I've been guest speaking to a bunch a youth group at another church once a month, so in order to be "presentable" and look somewhat "hip" my wife decided I needed improve my wardrobe. No more tattered pants or wholly underwear... Major electronic purchases for 2011: Olympus Camera off craigslist ($300); Logos Bible Software ($440); Small flatscreen TV for living room ($200) Major electronic purchase for 2010: Macbook ($500) + PC upgrade ($100)

That does it for 2011.

I'm thinking of selling my 1999 Ford Ranger and contemplating getting another mini-van. Our 1999 Nissan Quest is being used a lot, almost every day, so we might need another van to off-set... especially with child#3 coming.

Goals for 2012:

 - Fully fund emergency fund 6-months (Currently around $12k)
 - Increase giving by $2-3k
 - Up retirement savings to 15%
 - Continue to invest in college funds
 - Sell 1999 Ford Ranger ($2-3k) + Buy used mini-van (around $6-7k range)

 - Take 2-3 week long vacations this year
 - Prepare Child#1 for school
 - Continue reading and playing with Child#2
 - Read 2-3 books with wife including "Meaning of Marriage" and "Shepherding a Child's Heart" 

 - Take 3-4 classes this year
 - Lose 5-10lbs. Need to stay in shape and eat better.
 - Get my wife to workout with me (especially after the baby is born)

 - Improve in preaching and teaching
 - Continue to host bible study at our house
 - Read bible in a year
 - Maintain a vibrant prayer life

Career: 2011 I have attained the GS-13 level at my current work.  It will take me some time to attain the next level due to much stricter requirements.  I will press on.
 - Maintain 115% Production
 - Keep good relationship with supervisor and other co-workers especially while I telecommute.
 - Increase efficiency and quality of work.