2015 Recap! ($72,307)

So I’ve already posted something close to a final loan payoff figure for the year, but I do need to provide the final amount).

In 2015, I paid off (approximately) $20,671 in student loan principal!

(Puzzle still to come — I’ll be honest, it would have only been 4 more pieces from the last post,so close to a quarter of the way there–the math is like 4.92 puzzle pieces or something–but not quite)

But wait, that’s not all. There are a few other financial milestones I’ve made this year, that I haven’t given their proper due all year.

401(k) Contributions

This year, I contributed $10,574 to my company 401(k).  Because I just became partially vested in some of my company’s matching and other contributions, I also became entitled to another (approximately) $2,000.  My total amount vested as of today is $19,610.

Roth IRA

I opened a Roth IRA earlier this year, and tried to put about $200 a month into it. Once things are more settled in 2016, I might see if there is a way to direct deposit into this account, instead of having to do a transfer (which gives me the opportunity to transfer it elsewhere).  But for now, my balance is $2,843.

HSA Contributions

With the baby coming and Mike’s eye surgery, I actually spent a huge chunk out of my HSA this year, and have almost met my deductible for the year (I might actually hit this once I get all of this year’s bills). But I contributed the maximum of $6,050 this year (plus $600 coming from my employer), and ended the year (as of now) with $3,761 in the account.  Up from $2,638 last year.

Mortgage Payments

I round my monthly payments up to the nearest $100 and send the extra to principal.  This is around an extra $40 a month.  Doing this for the last year and a half has cut three months off of my payment schedule. Doesn’t seem like much, but every time I do it, it helps more and more.  Total we’ve paid $3,085 in loan principal this year.  I’d estimate our equity in the house to be about $14,000, which assumes the house is worth exactly what we paid for it–I feel pretty confident that with the minor improvements we’ve made, and the housing market generally, it’s probably worth more than what we paid, so I think this is pretty conservative.

When I’m able to calculate my net worth through Mint, it doesn’t include any of these items.  Total they add up to $40,214 that I should conceivably be including in my net worth (though I prefer to see the more conservative number).  If I had included these, my net worth would be ($32,093).*  This number might be even be positive in a year.

(*caveat: I don’t include my hubby’s separate accounts here, again to be conservative, and because I don’t like to think of his money as accessible, even when it is. With that said, the money in the house account is as much his as it is mine, and ditto for the equity in the house.)

That’s not so bad.  I was feeling pretty down today about my ever-dwindling savings, but this helps me see how much progress I’ve made over the past year (and last couple years). Doesn’t mean I don’t have a LOT of budgeting work to do, but I need to not be so hard on myself.

The Most Un-Romantic Blog Post You Will Ever Read ($93,724)

I got married last Friday.  That was our plan BEFORE we got engaged — hence my extreme surprise when a ring was presented to me.  My boyfriend/fiance/hubby (I’m never really sure what to call him) is currently a student, and we bought our two-family house together.  I wanted to ensure that I could put him on my benefits, because I wasn’t sure if his having an income would affect his insurance eligibility, and I’d rather not have to scramble if he were to find out that he now has to pay a huge amount.

But insurance benefits aren’t the main reason we got married this year.  Tax benefits are.  Getting married this year instead of next year means about $6,000 less in tax liability.  That’s a lot of money when you’re planning a wedding/bought a house/paying off debt.  So we got legally married for about $150 in marriage license and officiant costs.  We don’t really consider ourselves married for any purpose other than taxes and benefits, and we purposely planned to do it on the same day as our wedding celebration next year (only one anniversary to remember).

While updating my benefits, I also updated a few more things.  I decided to change my withholding to married, which will lower my tax refund, but will mean more money in my pocket now.  Offsetting this, I increased my HSA contribution.  I’m hoping that I am able to make a lump sum contribution to the HSA around bonus time next year, so that we can get LASIK for my man–I had it about six years ago (is it really possible that it was that long ago?!) and it was some of the best money I ever spent. I mean, I financed it, and that wasn’t wise, but otherwise it was definitely worth the cost.

I also increased my 401(k) a percentage point.  I’m now contributing 8% of my salary.  I would like to do more, and I have it set up to automatically increase a percentage point each year, around what I think is raise time.  Ideally I’d like to be contributing 15% (or really the annual maximum) to make up for the amount of time I contributed nothing towards retirement. The lovely website recommends saving 10-15% of salary each year, which I assume is geared toward helping you maintain your existing level of comfort in retirement.  The good news is, I certainly don’t spend money (on housing, food, etc.) like someone who makes my salary–because I’m sending $1,000 a month in student loans.  So really, I’m living like someone who makes at least $15,000 less annually.  This makes me feel a little bit better, but as soon as those loans are paid off, I want to ensure I’m contributing at least 15%.  Hopefully it doesn’t take me 15 years to get there.