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 Post subject: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:58 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
My husband and I didn't really start saving until four years ago. I was just out of grad school, he was still active duty army. We had saved money before but only in a savings account and we used that money for vacations and things around the house. There was never really an emergency fund or retirement savings. Then I got a real job, we moved to the same state again, sold the starter home and bought a more "forever" home. Since its hard to discuss finance with friends or family (especially family!), I thought it would be great to start a journal here and welcome any comments or advice.

Me: 30- $66k/year (just got a raise and a promotion! Yay!)
DH: 30 $37k taxable, $9.7k untaxed (active duty military)

Debt: $105k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%- hoping to have paid off in 2 years (unsolicited family monetary gift)
HELOC: $5,300 @ 4.49%- pay $500 at least each month. Paid off DH car loan and some home improvement work

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $3,300
Investment: $32,000 in mutual funds
Retirement Roth IRAs: $32,000
TSP, old 401k: $4,000 (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k
1 paid off car

Goals: Build up the e-fund to 6 months expenses ~ $16,500. Automatically deposit $435 monthly
Deposit money monthly into insurance/tax savings: Currently @ $350. Depositing $200/month

Continue maxing out Roth yearly
Increase contribution to DH TSP- Increased to 20% of base salary this month
Start a short term savings account for travel- Currently at $1,300

I'm still trying to figure everything out, but we're getting close to having no mortgage and I want to be prepared to pay things like taxes and home insurance with a check from a dedicated savings account when that happens. I'm so used to escrow. So, I've started an insurance/tax savings account. I also feel like we're behind the 8 ball on retirement savings since I don't have access to a 401k at my job (really small company) and we've only recently started contributing to DH's TSP. I'm still trying to figure out how liquid we should be for both financial and emotional well-being. I figure that increasing the emergency fund to the teens will make me more secure in our financial position.

I'm in charge of all of the financial decisions, including DH's retirement. I like being in control, but I would really like to have the DH included more in the decision making process. Right now, I try to give quarterly financial updates (I'm a dork) but I don't really think he cares like I want him to. We have enough money in the bank for him to be comfortable with the amounts so he leaves it up to me. But I'm the one reading financial planning books at night trying to figure out what rebalancing our portfolio means and when I'm supposed to do it (still confused on that one!). Is there actually a way to get him more involved? I guess I just don't understand why he doesn't care to the same degree that I do.

I'd like to strike a better balance between savings and living too. DH has always wanted a 1945 Jeep and we have a bunch of house projects that should be done that I've been putting off, like finishing the kitchen remodel, updating the floors on the 1st floor and maybe installing a second bathroom. We're not scrimping by and I'm not not doing things because they cost money, but I'd like to take a nice vacation next year and a roadtrip this fall without derailing our savings goals to make that happen.

In my 20s, I was just concerned with saving. As long as I saved, I felt on the right track. Now that the 30s are here, I'm trying to focus a little better on what I'm saving for (is it retirement? Long term goals? Short Term Goals?), where the savings is going, and little things like taxes. Wish me luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:24 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1095
I think you're in pretty good shape. I'd agree with bumping up the EF. Welocme to the forum.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:18 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Well, I sold all of my USAA mutual funds (expense ratios between 1.25-1.66%) for 3 Vanguard index funds. Taking the tax hit now, but the ratios are more than 10x less so that's ok. Also bumped up the DH's TSP to 20% base pay and didn't really notice in checking, so that's good.

Both Roth IRA's will be funding the first week of October, which leaves $2k for Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping/planning. Also decided to deposit money for our godson instead of getting him a gift. He's one. He won't remember anyhow. :D

Our basement has been flooding pretty badly due to the 5+ inches of rain we've been getting in the NE, so I may have to tap the HELOC to bring someone in. My mother is coming in from MI this weekend to help me out and we'll try some more inexpensive fixes (fixing the grading, removing plants from around the foundation, painting on Dri-lock) before I hire a contractor. Thank goodness for handy mothers that taught their daughters how to use tools!


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:16 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating my financial journal for the month. :)

Debt: $102k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $4,200 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $4,600
Investment: $32,000 in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $33,000
TSP, old 401k: $5,500 (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k
1 paid off car

Fully funded the Roth IRA's for the year last month, which makes this month and next a little easier in terms of cash flow and Christmas shopping. We'll be really close to $100k on the mortgage, which is a big step. HELOC is decreasing by about $500 a month, but I'm hoping to actually get some of our projects done sometime soon, so that might go back up again. Need to wait for spring probably though, so we'll see what happens. Might be getting a bonus at work (waiting to hear) and trying to decide if I just want to finish the EF or invest or use it to work on the house or take a trip. Not thinking about it much though until it actually happens. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:15 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating my financial journal for the month. :)

Debt: $99k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $5,400 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $5,088
Investment: $32,000 in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $33,000
TSP: $4,330 (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k
1 paid off car

Fully funded the Roth IRA's for the year in October. I accidentally paid our mortgage twice this month which is why the HELOC increased. I took $1,500 from it to cover my mistake so I'm not freaking out. I know what happened, but I'm not sure how it happened. I changed the date of payment in my online bill pay menu so that it wasn't taken out before I actually got paid but instead of making it January 2nd, I made it December 2nd. Luckily, it counts as my January payment not just toward principal, so I won't have a mortgage payment at the end of the month. So, the good news from that: We owe less than $100,000 on our mortgage!!!!!

Investments haven't really increased much since last month, but it's a marathon not a sprint, so I'm ok with all that. I'm not as happy as I thought I would be with our year-end financial place, but I think that's because I've been putting more towards our EF than into regular savings so I don't count it as money (weird, I know) so I don't have as much comfort with it as I'd like. I'd like a larger cushion in general savings accounts (not listed in the journal. I have one set up to act as an escrow account once the mortgage is paid off and another one for short term savings. Total value ~2,500), but not sure why.

I must say that I'm excited that we can fully fund our Roth's, provide a small account for our godson ($20/month + the money we would've spent on presents. Currently $360 for our 15 month old godson. Not too shabby), and can put away 10% of my earnings into an EF and 20% of husband's base pay into his TSP and still be fine. At the end of the month, I think I'll put together some 2012 financial goals.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:42 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating my financial journal for the new year.

Debt: $59k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $3,950 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $5,525
Investment: $32,600 in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $34,000
TSP: $5k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k
1 paid off car

I think we're starting off the year pretty well. Thanks to a monetary gift from the in-laws into our mortgage, we're on track to pay the house off next year! It's a pinch me kind of moment. They say they do it because we don't ask or expect help. I'm feeling like I'm getting past the feelings of guilt for receiving the money that I haven't done anything to deserve, but it's their money and they can do whatever they want with it. So, I smile, say thank you, and do a happy dance that we'll have our house paid in full by 32.

Financial goals for the year are a little scaled back. I want to fully fund the IRAs, keep the TSP where it is, and continue with 10% of my paycheck into the EF. I plan on trying to cut back on frivolous spending but going on at least trip abroad and actually enjoying our money a little. I work between 50-60 hours a week for my salary, so I should do something to enjoy it a little. Plus, the hubby still works away during the week so it'll be nice to spend some time together without distractions, house projects, etc. We're thinking about jumping on a military transport and heading to Europe on Space A travel. I love a good adventure. :)

Another goal, stop using the cc so much. I've actually been hit with a finance charge. I don't get paper bills and I usually schedule early in the billing cycle and misread the full balance. Boo. No big deal, but because of the hubby using our cc for reimbursable travel that he still hasn't been reimbursed on (grr), the bills have been much higher than normal so even though it was only $40, I hadn't paid a finance charge in like 8 years.

Last goal, finally pay someone to start working on the house. While I know interest rates won't stay low forever, we should really start using the HELOC to make the house better. We need new floors on the first floor, a lot of plaster work done, and we'd really like to add a bathroom to the master bedroom to make a master suite. Especially since once the house is paid off next year, we can pay $1,500 a month to pay it off or refinance again and roll it into another 15 year to get a lower interest rate. I'd have to run numbers...


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:47 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating the financial journal for March.

Debt: $57.5k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $2,923 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $6,775
Investment: $34,650 in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $40,000
TSP: $6k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k
1 paid off car

Received a bonus at work so 10% went into the EF and I used another $2000 to go into our IRAs to get a jump on getting them maxed for the year. In March, I have $6,000 left for the two of us for the year. Since I put $1,000 in a month ($500 each), I'll have the IRA's maxed by August-ish, which will make the last few months of the year pretty sweet.

I am currently trying to decide if I want to "branch out" with our investments. My employer is currently looking at a new rental space (office and warehouses) because our landlord sucks and we've outgrown the space. I'm looking into buying the right space and becoming the company's landlord, either just my husband and I, or as an LLC with the owner of the company. Spaces range from $310k to $399k and I think that we could swing that without much issue. Talking to our mortgage guy this afternoon to see what we could do. I'm kind of excited because I've been wanting to get into investment property, but never thought I would. Already having a tenant set up and getting the mortgage paid off by the company I work for would be pretty amazing...

So, the plan for the next month is to see about the feasibility of investment office space, trying to cut back on random expenses this month because I know we're not being as good as we could be, and try to figure out when the hubby and I can actually take a vacation!!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating the financial journal for April.

Debt: $56k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $2,950 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $7,250
Short term savings (travel, maintenance, etc): $3k
Investment: $35k in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $43k ($5k left for the year)
TSP: $7k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k

Did ok last month, though for some reason I'm feeling a little pinched. I think it's because we had a larger than normal CC bill due to a $750 car repair bill, travel to FL for work that hasn't been reimbursed yet, and just above average stress at work that trickles into my personal life. We're still on track with getting the Roth IRA fully funded for the year and a more fully funded EF.

We're looking into the possibility of getting a second house this week. My husband is military and works/lives at a base almost 2 hours from our house here. We have no plans of selling our house here as we'd be ok retiring in it, we love it so much. The houses near his base go for under $175k for a 3 bed/ 2 bath house. Thinking about probably cashing in some of the investments for the 20% down-payment. A mortgage in the area is less than most of the rents and its hard to find good rentals in the neighborhood so seems like a win-win. Knowing how fast we move on this stuff sometimes, I wouldn't be shocked if we have a second mortgage by mid-summer. I think it will stress me out to have another mortgage, but at the same time, it will make the hubby happier in the long run and even if the property value doesn't increase significantly, it'll be better than living in one room and sharing a bathroom, like he's been doing in the barracks... He's been doing that for over a year and a half and I know that's part of why he doesn't have a good time during the week there.

In April, I have an extra $700 taken out because of taxes owed, another $1000 CC bill which has the hubby's rent on it, but it shouldn't be too big of a deal. I've scheduled payments around paychecks to minimize the effect. If they're taken out when we're paid, I don't account for the loss and just spend less. Not the best of budgeting tools, but it works for us...

Hope everyone's April is going well.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:22 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Haven't updated in a long time, so here's my update for June.

Debt: $53k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $2,200 @ 4.49%

No CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $8,100
Short term savings (travel, maintenance, etc): $2k
Investment: $33.5k in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)- down due to market
Retirement Roth IRAs: $40k ($3k left for the year)
TSP: $8k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $275k

Since I posted last, we went on vacation and used some of the short term savings for that. Continued saving in the Roth IRA so we each have $1,500 left for the year, making us on track to max out the IRA contribution in September. We've scrapped the second house idea for right now, because the husband's work schedule is a bit crazy and he wouldn't even be living in it until September. So why purchase now? Plus, I'm not sure if it makes as much sense as it did in my head. We'll see. We have the money, but do we want a second mortgage payment right now? Maybe when the mortgage is actually paid off.

We've finally started to move forward with some home improvement projects and I have contractors coming this week to give me some numbers on flooring. Excited to finally start moving forward with needed projects that will increase the value and enjoyment of the house. :) So, the HELOC balance will probably increase soon, but I keep telling myself that's a good thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Updating my on-line journal because I've been feeling behind in savings this past year and wanted a reality check. I think I'm going to run a "state of the household" meeting next time the hubby is home.

Debt: $44k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%
HELOC: $23,500 @ 4.49%

No carrying CC debt or student loans

Emergency Fund: $11,400
Short term savings (travel, maintenance, etc): $2.5k
Investment: $36.5k in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs: $50k (maxed both ours for 2012)
TSP: $13.5k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $300k

In 6 months, we've paid off $9k of our mortgage (just standard payments), but increased our HELOC by $20k... Replaced all the floors on the first floor, replaced some flooring affected by a very active termite infestation, plus refinished the master bedroom floors. Added $10k to our Roth IRAs, $5k to the TSP, and saw a $3k gain in the market on our investments. Emergency fund is about 3-4 months of real expenses at this point. So, it's not as bad as it feels sometimes.

We've been spending a little out of control for the past few months with trips, holidays, etc. but we're trying to reign it in so we can start contributing to our Roth IRAs again. I saw that the limit has been raised to $5,500 this year, so I'm looking forward to adding a little more. I've been stressed by our spending though.

We're also talking about selling the house and moving north of where we are so that the hubby and I can actually see each other during the week, instead of only 2 or 3 weekends a month. The stress of that is weighing on me, but I'll be happier once we're together all the time, so I think it's a better plan. Plus, I'm starting to really feel the financial difference of living apart.

We should be receiving the last financial gift from the family this month towards our mortgage. It should be ~$32k, leaving us approximately $12k left. We should be mortgage free on our current house (if we stay) by the end of the year, leaving only the HELOC left. I've been toying with the idea of using part of the emergency fund to pay down either the mortgage to get rid of the payment ($1550 in principal and interest that could go towards something else) or towards the HELOC because it's stressing me out having it out there. Part of me is looking forward to selling and then re-buying so we only have one payment (or none!) left, leaving us officially out of debt and able to start saving a little more aggressively so that once the job gets overwhelming, I can start something new.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:25 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 174
Your mortgage amount is so low that I don't think you should worry too much about the HELOC. Sounds like moving to be closer to your husband would make you happier. Hope you figure out what will work best for you. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:34 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
I think you're right. I've been looking at living options closer to the hubby so that we'd actually be able to see each other nightly. Been living in two places for almost 2 years now and I think that I focus on the finances because it gives me something else to worry about. Because the HELOC isn't my primary mortgage, my brain seems to think of it as bad debt, even though logically I know it isn't. So, even though our commutes might get longer, I think it's better emotionally to be closer to each other and moving north of where we are. And then maybe I won't have this psychological craziness anymore. The blog post of today almost describes me to a T...


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:07 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Did a state of the finances meeting with the hubby. It was wonderful. It's good to have both of us on the same page, financially speaking. He asked questions about our accounts, where things were, etc, which was encouraging. AND I gave him a list of our accounts, what's in them like ING has our e-fund, usernames and passwords for everything in case anything were to happen to me, he'd be able to find our money. He took it to work, made an encrypted file (military, so no one should be able to hack into that), so now he knows what accounts we have. I'll be giving my mother a sealed envelope with them as well that she can put into her safety deposit box in case anything were to happen to both of us.

Debt:
Mortgage: $0k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%!!! Paid off!
HELOC: $35,500 @ 4.49%

Not carrying CC debt

Emergency Fund: $10,400
Short term savings (travel, maintenance, etc): $2.5k
Investment: $37.8k in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs (both of ours): $52.5k
TSP: $14.3k (No match)
Money Market: $38k
House: Appraised for $300k

I used the HELOC to pay off our mortgage so we only have one debt payment a month (besides the rotating cc). I have an account that acts as an escrow already and once I get the balance of the escrow account from the mortgage company, that will go in there. I'm continuing to put aside the escrow amount into that account each month. I'm trying to curb the hubby's CC use, but most of this month's expenses were reimbursable things. We're using his savings account for something he wants to bridge the expense so that he also has motivation to put in all of his paperwork quickly.

We also have access to the $38k money market now. Yay! I'm trying to decide what I'd like to do with it. I don't want to spend any of it, I just want to move it into something that actually pays interest. Even a traditional savings account would give me a better return. Trying to decide if I'd like to go with a "safer" investment option (lower risk) or distribute it into my normal investment plan, higher risk with some bonds because we don't need the money for a long time. OR do I keep it in the money market in case we find a house we love and need a down payment before our house is sold? Looking for advice on that one.


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:50 am 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 2:23 pm
Posts: 810
You seem to be doing great. You may want to look into something like Penfed's Home equity loan which has about half the interest rate of what your HELOC has.

https://www.penfed.org/home-equity-loan/?intcid=ad-HomeEquityLoans-PenFedORG-Ticker-10312012

As far as what do with your MM fund, it is hard to say without a real goal in mind. A few ideas:

-be done with any debt regarding your home
-CD's
-ibonds
-Roth IRA contributions
-increase your e-fund
-Start a tax account and invest in tax-efficient fund (like a total stock market index fund)
-go on a vacation
-lay low until you figure it out

It isn't either/or, as you can do as many or little of things as you would like. The important thing is, have a purpose for the money before you do anything.

_________________
Bichon Frise

"If you only have 1 year to live, move to Penn...as it will seem like an eternity."


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 Post subject: Re: Entering my 30s with a goal in mind
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:25 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:53 am
Posts: 23
Haven't done this in a little while, so I thought it would be a good idea to update. We're basically debt free at this point in our lives. All we have in the CC that we pay in full every month. Our finances have changed a bit for the time being. The hubby's best friend from the army is staying with us for the foreseeable future due to a bad breakup and bad job situation in Missouri. I've been giving him a stipend and paying for food until he gets a job. Hopefully that will be soon. Even though we can afford an extra mouth, it'd be nice to have him feel independent and so I could save a little $ by not paying for everything...

Debt:
Mortgage: $0k mortgage - 15 year @ 4.75%!!! Paid off!
HELOC: $0 @ 4.49%- to be paid off this week! Just transferred the $35k to pay it off completely.

Not carrying CC debt

Emergency Fund: $8,800
Short term savings (travel, maintenance, "escrow", etc): $4k
Investment: $39.5k in index and bond funds (2/3 index, 1/3 intermediate bond)
Retirement Roth IRAs (both of ours): $60k
TSP: $16.2k (No match)
Money Market: $3k
House: Appraised for $300k

Now that we're completely in the black, I'm going to bump up the TSP contribution to 40% (from 20%) and re-evaluate the savings and spending strategy. Our expenses are very, very low, but our emergency fund should probably be bulked up a little bit just in case. The hubby and I have very stable jobs, but I'd still like to have a little more in reserves for anything weird that might come up. We'd still have access to the HELOC for emergencies, but I don't want to ever have to use it again.

Goals for the rest of the year is to max out the IRAs for the year, bump up the TSP, and bump up general savings because we have a couple of trips this year that I'd like to pay cash for.


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