Attempts to Be Responsible with Bonus Money… ($90,455)

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I wrote this post Friday morning on train into work.  I planned on posting last night-ish, after cleaning it up and adding a picture or two (because who wants to look at just words?)  Buuuut I was told my bonus number at work on Friday, so they’ll be a post to follow on that next month.  But until then, here’s some ramblings on retirement:

We had to make our 401k and HSA elections for our bonuses. The thing is, I have no idea how much said bonus is, so I’m not really sure how I should be electing.

My idea was to put my estimated maximum into my HSA (assuming I move to a better plan in September, which would mean I would only be able to contribute the pro-rated maximum for the year), and nothing into my 401k. I have since realized the my company matches 3% of compensation, and not 3% of salary…so I assume this means a match on the bonus too? I might lower my 401k contributions for the rest of the year (or at least until September) to balance it out, as I was planning on saving “the rest” to pay for the wedding. Whatever “the rest” might be. Hopefully I’ll find that out next week. And, even more so, hopefully it’s a big number.

As much as I was planning to use all this money for the wedding, I can’t say no to the match, right? I try to calculate approximately what it might be, and I think, “a 3% match isn’t that much…” But I’m 31 now, and didn’t start contributing to retirement AT ALL until 2014. I need all the compounding I can get. I’m not yet contributing 15% to retirement because of all my bills (including my desire to pay off student loans), but I think at last check I’m at 9% into my 401k, 1% into a savings (to be put into my newly opened Roth IRA), and my company puts in 2% into my 401k per year, on top of the match. So, assuming it all gets vested, at least 15% will go towards retirement.

Realizing I’m starting late, I want to make sure that we have a comfortable retirement. As in, not just making sure we have enough to live on, but enough to travel. Including going south for the winter. I can’t handle all this snow (though the man may take some convincing on this point). I’m not going to be one of those people who retires really early–it’s a little late for that–but could 55 be doable? Maybe?

Can you see the two feet of snow?  Do you understand why I want to be a snowbird?  And I obviously was not going outside to take this picture…
photo-4

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Better than Yesterday ($91,446.48)

Ugh!

I know I shouldn’t be saying “Ugh” with a title of better than yesterday, but I just realized something that annoys me.  I made my $700 payment today from the joint (house) account.  As a result, this transaction will not show up as a Student Loan Principal transaction, though the reduction in principal clearly shows in my net worth calculation (hence the title of “Better Than Yesterday”).  I’m thinking I might be able to add a dummy transaction, which I will look to do after the close of the month — I don’t want to show up as way over budget for the month because this transaction isn’t out of my usual accounts.  It’s annoying having so many damn accounts.

That will take care of tracking my 2015 Goal (I had a really hard time not typing 2014 there — weird).  As to the overall student loan repayment goal (as in Paid. Off. Completely.) I’ve decided to do another type of visual. I’m a huge dork, and I love jigsaw puzzles.  So I bought a $500 piece puzzle, and am hoping to periodically post my progress by way of puzzle.  To be clear, my original loan balance was around $130,000, and is now a lot closer to $100,000.  I’m just going to go with $100,000 as my base to be mathematically easy.  So for every $200 that is paid off, I will add a puzzle piece.*  I started it off with 18 pieces, and I’ll be adding 2 to 3 pieces most months I don’t make the extra $700 payment from our rent income, about 6 pieces on months that I do, and hopefully there will be months with a lot more.

That’s all I have for today.  I’m hoping to actually post a picture of the puzzle around the 31st when I see what my end of month balances are.  Because my payments aren’t $200 (in principal…or just generally) at a time, I think the best plan of action will be to see what my balances are, see what the total reduction from $100,000 is, and then make sure the total number of puzzle pieces matches.  I’m also not posting the current picture because I’m too damn lazy to get off the couch right now.

* Wouldn’t a 1000 piece puzzle, with each piece representing $100 be a lot more mathematically easy?  Heck yeah, but I DO NOT have the patience to do a 1,000 piece puzzle over the course of three years, and the puzzle I picked is visually very easy to do a little at a time…I’m not going to pull my hair out looking for a new piece every time I pay $100.

Not Much to Report ($91,944.27)

As the subject says, I don’t have much to report. I just had five days in a row off of work, and that was awesome. I had kind of a rough day yesterday, and I’m still kind of down about things, but they’re completely non-financial. Whatever.

On two positive notes, I should start seeing retirement contributions from my company in my paycheck on Friday. I won’t be vested in any of this for another year, but I’ve never worked anywhere where I’ve gotten so much as a 401k match before this. The amount is a percent of my salary, and isn’t at all contingent on my contributing my own funds.

The other positive point is that we received our rent check from our tenant earlier this month (rent is due on the 15th–he’s always early). We just did a mobile deposit, so once it clears I’ll be sending that $700 to UG4, bringing the balance to right about $2,000. I’m not planning on making a similar payment next month–we used up $1,200 from the account to pay a contractor for something we needed to take care of for the house, and I’d like to replenish the account a bit. Ideally, I’d like to keep a balance of at least $5,000 in the account, but I think I’m going to keep alternating rent checks in the account, until we get to the $5,000, and use the others for student loans.

One thing I’ve found frustrating, is that I haven’t been able to set up a goal in Mint on paying off student loans. But I did realize that I can at least view the total amount of payments in a given category for this year. I’m at a mere $600ish this month, for a two reasons: 1) my big payment went through two days later than normal, because the normal payment date fell on a Saturday, so two more days of interest accrued and were paid, 2) I only paid $150 on my UG loans, instead of the usual $225 because of the hangover from December. Hopefully this chart will look a whole lot better in a week (and more so a month) from now!

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$10,000! ($91,992)

That’s the current balance in my 401(k).  I just started investing in a 401(k) in 2014, at age 30, but what’s done is done.  This also includes vested and unvested balances–I’m hoping I stay with the company long enough to be fully vested, and I’m finding that time is flying by working there.  One of my coworkers in particular emphasizes the need to max out my contributions ($17,500 last year, $18,000 this year — without accounting for matching contributions), but I’m just not there in my life yet.  I’m hoping we can look seriously into adding to this, once hubby is working come (hopefully) next fall.  Hopefully he’ll also have some pension benefits and better health insurance than what we currently have under my plan.

This, the equity in the house and our house fund puts my net worth closer to ($80,000) in reality, but I like showing the conservative number. Hopefully it will act as a better incentive to keep working to get out of the red.