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Quarterly Goals Review 2009 Q4

December 12th, 2009 at 07:49 pm

Quarterly Goals Review 2009 Q4
Items marked ? are ones I hope to finish before the end of December.
Items marked X* are finished, but occurred later than the designated quarter.

Q1 Goals 2009
[X*] Call will and trust lawyers friends have recommended, pick one.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[X] Do taxes with TurboTax
[ ] Fund 2008 IRAs -- approx $10k
[X] Transfer money to SEP-IRA -- $19k
[X*] Review 529 funding, establish goal.
[ ] Review current portfolio and write down why we own each fund.
[ ] Create format for quarterly investment review
[?] Recalculate TPG (target portfolio goal) and TSG (annual target savings goal) for retirement


Q2 Goals 2009
[X*] Have initial appointment with will and trust laywer.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[ ] Schedule annual review with stockbroker.
[ ] Perform quarterly investment review
[X] Pay fed and state 2008 taxes due
[X] Pay 2009 Q2 estimated taxes

Q3 Goals 2009
[X* ] Move house and investments into trust.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP.
[ ] Perform quarterly investment review
[X] Pay 2009 Q3 estimated taxes

Q4 Goals 2009
[X] Will and trust complete.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[?] Perform quarterly investment review
[?] Review estimated tax payments in light of reduced income.

2009 Goals for the whole year
[X] Update will and trust
[X] Save 20% of our income -- 15% to retirement, 5% to investing
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $16,500
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[ ] Traditional IRA contribution: $10k
[?] SEP-IRA contribution: 20% of contracting income
[?] Move $10k into 529 plan.
[ ] Meet TSG (annual target savings goal) of TBD
[ ] Follow up on stockbroker recommendations.

The biggest accomplishment for the year was getting our will and trust done. The house has been moved into it, but I still need to fill out the paperwork to move our investment accounts in. I also need update the beneficiaries on the retirement accounts to add the girls.

I took a quick look at our numbers for 2009 taxes. TurboTax is estimating about $31k will be owed, so we may be looking at a big refund even if I don't send in the Q4 estimated tax payment -- depends on the capital gains, I guess. (Our income is down at least $30k from last year due to maternity leave and smaller bonuses.)

It looks like our wages will come in at $161k. No idea yet how much investment income to expect -- maybe $6k dividends and $10k capital gains? We'll contribute about $16.5k to 401k and about $8.6k to SEP-IRA, so that's 15.5% of salary to retirement. Our money market fund that holds our emergency fund went up by $14k from DH selling his ESPP shares, so I guess we can say we saved 8% in addition to retirement.

I have not yet moved any money into DS's 529 plan. I'm waiting for the girls' social security numbers to arrive to open 529 plans for them. My dad generously set up DS's fund with $20k when he was born. He has not yet mentioned doing anything for the girls. While I can't imagine that he wouldn't treat all the grandkids equally, it's a bit awkward to ask him about it.

I still haven't figured out what I want to do for a quarterly investment review, beyond adding up the accounts to get our current net worth. There are so many funds and the total is substantial -- I get kind of paralyzed when I sit down to look at it. So the investment side is where I tend to fall down on the plan.

The twins have arrived!

November 26th, 2009 at 10:11 am



Our twins were born by c-section just over a week ago.

Baby girl A was born at 2:10pm, 6 lb 0 oz, 19.3 in
Baby girl B was born at 2:11pm, 5 lb 3 oz, 18.9 in



Not sure what to call them here -- DDa and DDb? DTa and DTb (for dear twin)?

We had a harrowing couple of weeks. DS came down with a severe case of pneumonia and was hospitalized a week before my scheduled c-section date. (The doctor recommended a repeat section for twins, and baby B was breech until the last minute anyway.) He ended up having surgery to insert a chest tube the day before my delivery. I was heartbroken to not be able to stay by his side for the rest of the week.

DH came with me to a different hospital for the birth. Afterward DH and my mother alternated 24 hour shifts with DS, then visited me for a few hours, then went home to sleep. My dad offered to pay for a nurse, so we hired a post-partum doula to stay with me for 12 hours each night in the hospital. She was wonderful, and Dad has offered to keep having her come to our house a few nights a week so we can catch up on our sleep.

DS and I ended up being discharged on the same day. The girls are healthy and DS is steadily regaining his strength. Our little family has so much to be thankful for today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quarterly Goals Review 2009 Q3

September 21st, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Quarterly Goals Review 2009 Q3
I wrote up this list of Goals for 2009 in February. Looks like I forgot to do my quarterly goals review in March and June! Now that it's September, let's see how we're doing. Items marked X* are finished, but occurred later than the designated quarter.

Q1 Goals 2009
[X*] Call will and trust lawyers friends have recommended, pick one.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[X] Do taxes with TurboTax
[ ] Fund 2008 IRAs -- approx $10k
[X] Transfer money to SEP-IRA -- $19k
[X*] Review 529 funding, establish goal.
[ ] Review current portfolio and write down why we own each fund.
[ ] Create format for quarterly investment review
[ ] Recalculate TPG (target portfolio goal) and TSG (annual target savings goal) for retirement


Q2 Goals 2009
[X*] Have initial appointment with will and trust laywer.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[ ] Schedule annual review with stockbroker.
[ ] Perform quarterly investment review
[X] Pay fed and state 2008 taxes due
[X] Pay 2009 Q2 estimated taxes

Q3 Goals 2009
[ ] Move house and investments into trust.
[X] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[X] 10% of DH's income to ESPP.
[ ] Perform quarterly investment review
[X] Pay 2009 Q3 estimated taxes

Q4 Goals 2009
[ ] Will and trust complete.
[ ] Fully fund 401(k): $4,125 per quarter
[ ] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[ ] Perform quarterly investment review
[ ] Review estimated tax payments in light of reduced income.

2009 Goals for the whole year -- items marked * are on track.
[*] Update will and trust
[ ] Save 20% of our income -- 15% to retirement, 5% to investing
[*] Fully fund 401(k): $16,500
[*] 10% of DH's income to ESPP, to be added to his investment account
[ ] Traditional IRA contribution: $10k
[*] SEP-IRA contribution: 20% of contracting income
[ ] Move $10k into 529 plan.
[ ] Meet TSG (annual target savings goal) of TBD
[ ] Follow up on stockbroker recommendations.

With the twins coming, I will stop working on Oct 2. We will still contribute to DH's ESPP, but not all the funds from the sale of the shares will go into his stock-trading account -- we will need some of that money to replace my income while I am a SAHM.
Since our annual income will also be significantly lower than last year (DH got large bonuses in 2008, and the company probably won't give much out this year), we'll need to re-estimate our 4th quarter tax payment to avoid having a large refund.

I've decided I want to add $10k to DS's 529 plan.

It's a control thing...

September 20th, 2009 at 04:07 am

I try to download all our transactions and update our YNAB budget twice a month. I'm not rigorous about it by any means and sometimes do it just once a month. Just by luck, I happened to update it on Friday, and discovered a fraudulent charge that occurred on Thursday -- $255.42 for RYANAIR. I had no idea what that company was, and neither did DH, so I called the credit card company to ask. Turns out it's a British airline, so we've cancelled the card and are waiting for the replacement. Now DH thinks I'm brilliant for catching it so quickly. Smile

I do all of the bill paying and financial tracking for our family. I also try to track our investments (outside of DH's stock trading account) but still don't have the confidence to make any major moves. I mentioned what a PITA it is to close the credit card, becuase there are several items that automatically get billed to it, and I have to make sure to remember what they all are and get them changed when we get the new card. DH offered that he should help out more to "take the burden off you". Shudder. I can't think of anything worse than each of us trying to do part of the financial housekeeping. We'd be stepping all over each other, and neither would have the full picture of what was going on with the bills.

Then DH said well maybe he could take it over entirely. Double shudder. It's not that I don't trust him. The bills would all get paid and we'd be fine financially. He just wouldn't do it MY way. There would be no budget, it would all be his intuition based on the current checking and savings account balance. I would have no idea where all the money is going every month. We have a running joke that every time we go to make a major purchase (new car, kitchen remodel, etc.) I have a minor panic attack and have to go triple-run the numbers to make sure we can really afford it. He just looks at the account balances and has been right every time. I'm not sure that he would do any long-term planning, looking at 401k and 529 and so forth. He's had $20k in his stock trading account for many months now, and wants to add more, but hasn't researched any stock or made any trades in a long time.

And the paper clutter...he tends to open the mail and just leave it piled on the counter, envelopes and junk flyers included. I immediately throw the excess into recycling and place the billing statements into an accordian folder. (Well, to be honest, I do have a "to file" pile of bills that sits ON TOP of the accordion folder...)

I have to admit, I have a bit of a control streak in my nature. I can't stand the idea of not being the one to manage the money. I get that DH feels out of touch with our finances, and have promised to sit down and go over everything with him -- all the accounts, passwords, automatic billing, etc. I've tried to get him to sit down with me and go over the budget every two weeks after I update it, but I can never seem to catch him when he's in the mood to look at it, so I don't know when it will actually happen. But hand over the financial duties entirely? No way...

We do have the management of investments split. I manage the money in my IRA's and taxable investment account, and DS's 529 account (a gift from my dad). He manages the money in his 401k, IRA's, ESPP/stock option account, and a stock trading account. We have a joint money market that holds our emergency fund and joint checking and savings accouts. My investment accounts are worth about twice of his because I started my 401k earlier and contributed more, and bought a house before we married that almost doubled in value. His 401k should eventually catch up to my IRA's due to the years that I am either not working or am working part-time. He's chosen more specialized funds in his IRAs (emerging markets, Asia, etc.)to balance out the more conservative/mainstream mutual funds that I have in my accounts.

Finally got the wills started!

September 12th, 2009 at 07:35 am

When I started my blog 2.5 years ago, one of the first goals I listed was to get our wills updated. Talk about procrastination! We finally met with a lawyer yesterday, and should have everything signed in a month. I had set up a will and trust before we married, and DH had never set anything up. At one point I bought Quicken Will & Trust and we went through the whole program, but didn't actually sign anything. I later saw some details about A&B trusts either here or somewhere else online that made me realize that it was likely I was making some mistakes that would have big tax consequences.

The lawyer was recommended by a friend, and charged $2,000 to do both wills, a living trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive.

I learned a few interesting things from meeting with the lawyer. The current tax law that doesn't tax estates under $3.5M is due to expire after 2010, and is likely to go back to taxing estates over $1M. Since our net worth is right at $1M I hadn't worried about it. It turns out that any insurance payouts are included in your estate, and the full value of your home is taxed, not just the balance after the mortgage is paid. This brings our estate up to $2.6M!

If we hadn't done anything and both DH and I were killed in a car crash, roughly $600k of our estate would go to taxes! With the trust he is setting up, that will go down to about $200k. It's funny, I don't get too upset at the idea that when my parents pass away the government will take some of my inheritance, but when looking at my assets, it feels like they're planning to take food out of my minor chilren's mouths!

There's another quirk about life insurance that I need to look into further. Apparently if you have individual term life insurance there is a way to shelter it within the "B" part of a trust so it won't be taxed. Group life insurance that you get through your employer can't be sheltered this way. DH gets $400k from his employer, and then we each have $500k of "group term life" from IEEE (a professional organization for engineers.) The rates we're getting for the IEEE insurance are really cheap, something like $150 every six months for $1M in coverage. But I think it may be the same type as what an employer offers. It may make sense to pay more for individual term insurance that can then be sheltered and reduce the tax burden of the estate.

Earning interest on cash

August 29th, 2009 at 08:29 am

After tracking our spending for August, I took a glance at the various accounts we have at E*Trade. We sure have a lot sitting in cash, and getting lousy interest rates:

Money Market: $33k @ .4%
DH investment: $20k @ .4%
Savings: $17k @ .8%
Checking: $ 7k @ .4%

I like having everything in one place so I want to stay with E*Trade, but I think it's time to look at some better options for how we are holding the cash.

The money market holds our emergency fund ($19k) and the proceeds from a recent sale of ESPP stock and stock options ($14k). I'm thinking perhaps we should move the emergency fund into CD's -- it's only to be touched in a major emergency like a job loss.

DH has his own account for stock trading. He just hasn't been active lately and is letting it sit in cash. That's fine, his choice. I just wonder if there are more money market options where it could sit and earn more interest until he spots a stock he wants to buy...

The savings account currently holds money for the following:
* $4k money accruing for the semi-annual bills (property tax, insurance, etc.)
* $4k money accruing for estimated tax payments
* $3k reserve to cover minor emergencies (car repair, home repair, medical deductibles)
* $6k short-term savings (Christmas, birthdays, vacation fund, etc.)

The balance in the savings account has fluctuated between $7k - $33k in the last year. I don't want to tie it up in anything where I have to remember to transfer balances around when big bills come due...

The checking is of course just a holding place for all our monthly spending. Paychecks come in, a portion gets sent to savings, and the rest flows out to pay bills. Any interest earned here is just a bonus.

Just checked the E*Trade CD rates -- not very promising:
Term Length 3-month 6-month 1-year 1.5-year 2-year 3-year 5-year
APY1
3 month: 0.15%
6 month: 0.20%
1.0 year: 0.45%
1.5 year: 0.55%
2.0 year: 0.65%
3.0 year: 0.75%
5.0 year: 1.40%

Any suggestions?

Passing on a sweet house

August 15th, 2009 at 06:27 am

I love our current location. DH works 5 minutes away, and we're in a little sweet spot that is a reverse commute from most areas of the city. We're on a canyon, and get breezes that come in from the ocean keep our house cool enough that we almost never run the A/C. The beach is a 10 minute drive, and my mother lives one street away, making free babysitting readily available.

The only real downside is the school district. I've been told our elementary school is ok, but to avoid the middle and high schools. The district is very large and does have a lottery to transfer to other schools within the district, so I'll be looking into that.

With DS here and the twins coming, and my working from home, I'd really like to have one more bedroom. We have 4 bedrooms, 1900 sq ft, so it won't be crowded or anything, but my ideal would be to have one more room.

Anyway, a house went on sale two doors down from my mother. I hadn't seen that floor plan in our subdivision, so I went through the open house out of curiosity. It would be perfect for us! Well, other than the school district and convincing my DH to live two doors away from his mother-in-law!

The house had all the things on my wish-we-had list: 2300 sq ft, 4 bedrooms + separate office, separate spots for kitchen and dining room tables, small pool in the backyard with safety fencing, grass area with a swingset, room for a vegetable garden, and a hillside where you could plant a bunch of fruit trees. For this area it has a really big lot, and the front yard had been landscaped with low-water plants.

It was listed for $890k. Our house would probably sell for $600k, so the difference would put this house out of reach. Plus I'm planning on taking a year or two off once the twins are born. So it's not the right time. But if this house had come on the market when the twins were 5 and I was working again and we'd won the school district lottery...a girl can dream!

Great return on ESPP

August 4th, 2009 at 03:06 am

DH invests 12% of his salary into the company employee stock purchase plan (ESPP). Every six months, the plan purchases shares. My understanding is that they look at the market prices on the first and last day of the plan period, and then take an additional 15% off the lesser price.

The latest period closed on 7/31, and was one of the best periods we've seen. The ESPP purchase price was $29.99, and the current market price is $46.97. This period, DH put in $7827, and if he sells now will realize a gain of $4432. 56%return for a six month investment!

Of course this isn't typical, but in general we can count on a 15% return, although there is always the risk with stocks that a very sharp downturn could turn it into a loss in the few days between purchase and when the shares reach our account.

The one wrinkle is taxes. We could hold it for two years, and then only have to pay long-term capital gains tax. Since it's a high-tech stock, this is kind of a risky move. If we sell it within a year, we'll pay income tax on the 15% discount, and short-term captial gains on the rest.

It does make it a little more complicated when we go down to one income, since I need that $1300/mo to make our budget work. If we sell immediately, I'll set aside $7800 and treat it for budget purposes like $1300/mo income. If we don't sell immediately, I'll "borrow" the money from the emergency fund and repay it when we sell.

DH and I need to talk about what do do with the $4400 gain. After setting aside some for taxes, the rest could either go into his stock-trading account, or into our vacation fund. He wants to take a big trip (possibly a Mediterranean cruise) when we turn 40 next year, but I don't currently have funds allocated toward that, nor room in the budget to save the amount we'd need.

Other good news -- with the stock market recovery, our net worth just topped 1 million again.

Not impressed with the farmer's markets

August 3rd, 2009 at 12:18 am

A new farmer's market recently started on Tuesday afternoons near my son's preschool, and I decided to check it out. I was not impressed to say the least. First of all, half of the market wasn't even food -- just junky impulse purchase stuff, tupperware, etc. The next quarter was food booths -- gyros, crepes, etc. Only the last quarter had actual produce, and it didn't appear to me to be much cheaper than the supermarket, nor was the quality noticibly better. I picked up some tomatoes, but they certainly didn't match the home-grown taste I was hoping for.

This is the 4th farmers market I've checked out, and they all seem pretty much the same. Maybe I live just too deep in surburbia to get really good quality stuff at a market.