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Archive for March, 2008

Disappointed with Quicken for Investment Tracking

March 7th, 2008 at 11:59 am

I finally puchased Quicken Home & Business, with the plan of using it to analyze my investments. I won't track budget and spending in it, for that I use YNAB. I was debating about spending the extra $20 to get Home & Business instead of Premier, then realized that if I use it to track invoices I can writeoff the cost of the software as a business expense. Smile

Anyway, I've got all our brokerage accounts set up, and entered "placeholder" values for the basis information -- there's no way I'm going to go back and enter 25 years worth of transactions! (My dad started my first mutual fund when I was 12, and I've still got it today!) I was disappointed that I had to enter that manually -- probably some deficiency in what the brokerage provides to Quicken, as they do show my basis in my statements.

Quicken does show a pie chart for my current asset allocation, which is good. However, I'm thinking I would like to invest maybe 5-10% in REIT's after the lending crisis settles down, and I don't see a way to list a REIT as a separate asset class. (My thinking is that REIT's represent an asset class that may not have close correlation with stocks.)

I also noticed that although the stock purchased through my husband's ESPP was deposited into its own account at Etrade, I can't seem to access that account from Quicken. So there's $8k of stock that isn't showing up.

The other area where I'm disappointed is the performance analysis. The "Average Annual Return" list for my mutual funds appears to be my personal return since I downloaded everything in Feb -- and everything shows N/A* (*Placeholder entries used for missing transactions.) I can't seem to get it to look up and display the published 3,5, and 10 year stats for all the funds I own. I wanted to be able to pull all those and look at them in a single table.

I've tried to set up a portfolio view on Morningstar's site, and use x-ray on it, but I can't seem to save it and end up having to reenter everything every time. My hope was that Quicken would solve this for me.

So far I don't really see how Quicken is going to be of any help in monitoring my investments.

Where does the second income go?

March 2nd, 2008 at 02:33 pm

As I was tracking our budget in YNAB, I grew concerned that we seemed to be spending all of the $2,000 net that I'm bringing in each month. We hope to have another child, and I plan to stay home full time again for a year or two, so it's important to me that the extra money goes to things that can be cut out later.

It was really bothering me -- why wasn't there a big surplus in the budget -- until I realized that because my income looked pretty steady we decided to increase my husband's 401k contribution from 6% to 10%, and to contibute another 10% to the employee stock purchase plan (which if you sell the shares immediately is a guaranteed 15% return.)

So about $1600 is really going to savings, and the other $400+ is funding vacations, trips to visit family overseas, and the ever-present Misc line of the budget.

Impact of a second income

March 1st, 2008 at 02:50 pm

Since my husband and I are both in a highly-paid profession (engineering), when we are both working we get hit at taxtime by the marriage penalty and the phaseout rules. I took some time off to be a SAHM during 2006 and half of 2007, then started doing contracting for 20 hours a week. I thought it would be really interesting to see the impact that the second income had on our taxes this year, so I saved a "what if" file in TurboTax and deleted all my business income.

I worked for 6 months, and earned $23,735. I can shelter $4363 of this in a SEP-IRA.

Our AGI increased by $17,477, our deductions decreased by $240, our federal tax increased by $7,877, and our state tax increased by $1625. This makes the marginal tax rate on my income 41%. The other big impact is that we are no longer eligible to contribute to the ROTH IRA.

I paid $1963 to a babysitter for 3 months at 10 hr/wk. (I increased her hours to 20 hr/wk in January).

So altogether our net income from my working was $12,030 -- an extra $2,000 per month. Let me tell you, an extra $2k makes the budget feel a lot looser!