Get What’s Yours When it’s Time for Social Security

Social Security isn’t talked about much in the FIRE community, and even Millennials/Gen Xers who plan to retire at a traditional age generally distrust the notion that it will even exist to provide benefits when they retire.

But even if you think your benefit will be small, you should be informed about the program to ensure you get any and all benefits owed to you.

I also have a personal interest in this, as my mom is approaching an age where she needs to shore up her strategy for taking benefits.  It’s essential for her to make the right decision as Social Security will be a significant part of her retirement income.

I recently read the book Get What’s Yours to better inform myself about Social Security.  Here are some of the biggest takeaways.

Only 1 to 3 percent of people wait until age 70 to take their Social Security benefit.  For most (but not all) retirees, waiting until age 70 generates the largest benefit.  The age 70 benefit is 76% larger than at 62 and 32% larger than at 66.  Delayed retirement credits of 8% are added to your benefit for every year you wait to take benefits past your full retirement age (FRA).  For reference, people starting to take benefits now generally have a FRA around 66.  Delaying benefits from a FRA of 66 to age 70 in this case results in a guaranteed 8% annual return for 4 years!

Interestingly enough, a recent study by Stanford economists suggests that most of the rich do what everyone else does – take their benefits as soon as they get them.

Social Security benefits are based on your top 35 earnings years.  Earnings up to age 60 are indexed to reflect the rise in average wages each year.   In other words, that $20,000 salary you made 35 years ago, after being indexed, would look more like $50,000 – 60,000 in current dollars.

For early retirees with less than 35 years of earnings, the remaining years would clock in at zero.  So while an early retiree’s benefit would be lower, they WILL still see a benefit.

The benefit formula is progressive.  Social Security provides a higher income replacement percentage for lower income earners.  In 2016, the ‘bend curves’ were as follows:

  • 90% of first $856 of monthly earnings base
  • 32% for monthly earnings from $856 to $5,157, and
  • 15% of the monthly earnings base over $5,157

So in a simplified example, someone with an average annual income of $40,000 could expect to get a monthly benefit of $1563 (a 47% income replacement ratio), while a person with average annual earnings of $80,000 could expect a monthly benefit of $2373 (a 36% replacement ratio).

Social Security provides a wide array of benefits.  You may be able to get benefits that aren’t based on your own earnings record.  Benefits may be available to spouses, ex-spouses (if married 10 years or more), children, surviving spouses, and divorced surviving spouses.  Your parents may even be eligible for a survivors benefit, should they be your dependents at the time of your death.

Social Security also pays out benefits to qualified workers who have been determined to be disabled.  A disabled individual taking Social Security may also be eligible for benefits for his or her family.

Deeming is no longer allowed.  Some Social Security rules were changed in 2015.  If you are eligible to take both your own benefit and a spousal benefit, if you now take your spousal benefit you are also “deemed” to be taking your own retirement benefit.  Social Security will pay out the larger of the two values; unless you were grandfathered in, you can’t take a spousal benefit and let your own benefit grow.  This does not apply to survivor or divorced survivor benefits.  (This is the strategy my mom plans to use – she will take her survivor benefit and let her own benefit grow until age 70).

A portion of your benefit may be taxable, if your combined income exceeds certain thresholds.  The thresholds are not very high, so many retirees are paying taxes on at least a portion of their benefit.  However, you will never pay federal income tax on more than 85% of your benefit.

Protect yourself from mistakes.  When filing for your benefit, the authors recommend putting notes in the Remarks section of the application to indicate the specific date you want to have your benefit begin and which benefit you are taking.  If you don’t specify, and you are filing after FRA, they will automatically provide you with retroactive benefits up to 6 months, which could impact your delayed retirement credits (and thus the amount of your benefit).  Make sure to get a copy of the signed and dated application.

Social Security will still be there for Millennials.  Even the most pessimistic forecast indicates that at least 75% of the benefit should still be available.

Statements can be found online.  Social Security stopped mailing annual statements in 2011.  You can create an account at http://socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  Check your earnings history to make sure it’s accurate!

What are your thoughts on Social Security?  Is it part of your retirement plan?  Or are you excluding it from your retirement planning considerations?

It’s the Unexpected Stuff that Gets You

We are coming up on almost 7 weeks of unemployment for my husband.*  (I can’t believe it’s already been that long!)

From a financial perspective, we are doing OK.  I’ve left my 401(k) and our daughter’s 529 contributions at the same rates for now.  Did you know that Vanguard has a feature where you can skip investment contributions for a set period of time?  I used this feature for my IRA and brokerage accounts – contributions have been suspended for a few months.  I also cut back savings and canceled my employee stock purchase contributions (which probably needed to be done anyway).

Mr. FIREDup is getting unemployment right now, which helps too.  In our state the max unemployment is a little over $300 a week.  It’s not much, but it’s enough to at least subsidize day care expenses.

Due to unemployment, timing of the husband’s last check, and June being a 3-paycheck month for me, we haven’t had to dip into emergency savings yet.  But I question how much longer that will last.  Because we’ve had some unexpected expenses – and those are the ones that eat away at the financial bottom line.

We aren’t the only ones who have these unexpected expenses, right?  Usually there is surplus money at the end of the month to cover them, but we don’t have a lot of surplus right now.  (Finance experts would say you should have a budget category for these miscellaneous things…)

Some recent examples:

  • Vet expenses.  We have a 12 1/2 year old pug.  I got her when she was a puppy.  She’s been with me through switching companies/jobs, getting divorced, moving, getting married, and having a child.  She is, in fact, my first furry kid.  But age is starting to take its toll on her health.  In December she had an incident of vestibular disease.  If you’ve never seen it in a dog before, it’s scary – I thought she was dying!  Luckily she recovered quickly.  But last week she was again showing signs that something wasn’t right.  Friday we found out she has diabetes.  It’s easy to treat – two insulin shots a day.  But the office visit, blood work, insulin, and syringes added up to an ugly total vet bill.  There will also be an ongoing cost for the insulin and supplies.
  • Busted windshield.  A rock bounced out of a truck on the highway and cracked the windshield in my Forester.  Of course it was too big of a crack to be patched and the replacement windshield cost is just a little less than my insurance deductible. 🙁

These are just two examples of the random expenses that seem to pop up regularly for us.  It’s easy to cover these things when you have plenty of cash inflow, but it’s more difficult when budgets are tighter.  I think this is probably what keeps a lot of families from getting ahead.  If I skip that one latte a week I might have otherwise had, that’s going to break even with paying my vet bill in…oh, about a YEAR AND A HALF.

Do you have random expenses like these in your household?  How do you budget and/or pay for them?

 

*Editorial note:  Mr. FIREDup found out that another person from his former team was let go about a week ago.  There are many more things that could be said about this but I’ll just leave it here for now.

Friday’s Frugal Five

Happy Friday!  Here’s a few of my fun frugal stories from the past week.

  1.  Toddlers are interesting little humans.  I’m still amazed that I already have a kid that’s old enough to have opinions.  My daughter has been wearing a pair of hand-me-down sandals since the hot weather started.  Unfortunately, the Velcro on them has worn out and they kept coming undone.  A couple of times we’ve tried to get her to wear some other hand-me-down sandals, and we’ve even tried on new sandals at the store a few times.  She wasn’t having it!  Luckily we found a way to salvage her beloved sandals.  We purchased a 3M Velcro strip kit for $2.99 at Target last weekend.  My husband cut the strips to a smaller size, used the adhesive to attach them to the worn-out existing Velcro areas, and then stapled the new Velcro on for good measure.  It’s been almost a full week of daycare, and they seem to still be working well!
  2. I used our local Buy Nothing Group for the first time!  My daughter stopped taking bottles months ago, but the bottle drying rack has still been taking up valuable counter top space.  The bottles we used also still had plenty of useful life, and I even had some bottles sitting in the closet that I’d never even used. The thing about being an older mom is that it’s harder to find friends to give things away to when you no longer need them.  I could have taken the bottles and drying rack to Goodwill, but I felt like that wasn’t a very direct way to give the items to someone who might really need them.  So I posted them on our local Buy Nothing Facebook group.  It’s not a very active group, but luckily someone responded pretty quickly that she was interested.  She came by to pick up the items yesterday.  Not only did I remove some clutter from my house, I was also able to find a good home for some very useful items.   (Seriously, that bottle drying rack was amazing.  So well designed!)
  3. Yesterday when I was getting ready for work I noticed some old sandals I hadn’t worn for quite a while.  I decided to wear them to work.  I have had them so long that I’m not even sure how old they are!  My best guess is that they were purchased in 2006 or 2007.  Because I hadn’t worn them for so long, I was able to trick myself into feeling like I was wearing something new.
  4. I’ve had a no-spend work week with food and drinks.  One day I used a cash back gift card to eat at Chipotle.  My friend took me out for a belated birthday lunch yesterday. (Thanks MP!)  I used a rewards card to pick up a free Starbucks on Wednesday.  And the other three days this week lunch has consisted of some form of leftover taco meat combined with toppings plus random other sides.
  5. This week I worked out at our work fitness center twice.  I often forget how lucky I am to have access to a free fitness center at work.  Yes, the equipment is kind of old.  But, there is a variety of equipment, and they have GREAT programming.  They also do fun activities and challenges.  For example, on Wednesday they were doing a drawing for Global Running Day for anyone who ran that day.  Today I did one of the many workout classes they offer.

Have you ever received or given away something through a Buy Nothing Group or Freecycle?  What were your frugal wins for the week? 

Friday’s Frugal Five – A Holiday and a Birthday

With the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, my birthday yesterday, and my husband currently between jobs, I decided to take this week off work.  Here’s what we’ve been up to, and how we’ve kept it frugal:

  1. Last Friday we drove 2 1/2 hours to my mom’s house.  She lives on a farm in the country, so we never spend much money when we visit; there just isn’t much to spend money on!  Despite the very HOT weather, I went for one long gravel road run on Saturday morning.  In the afternoons our daughter played under the trees in the shade and blew bubbles, splashed in the kiddie pool, and played in a sandbox.  Mr. FIREDup also enjoyed taking outdoor photos during our visit.  Unfortunately my daughter and I have both been battling colds, but other than that it was a really nice time.  We came back home on Tuesday morning.
  2. Since it was already a short week, we took advantage of one of our daycare’s policies.  If your child is out the full week, they only charge half price tuition.  Given how much our daycare costs, this was a nice little amount we were able to save this week, and we also got to spend the whole week with our daughter.
  3. Yesterday was my birthday!  We didn’t do anything too exciting.  We did go out to lunch and used a BOGO (buy one get one free) coupon for Philly cheese steak sandwiches, so our total bill for the three of us was only $10.95.  Then we stopped by the Starbucks two doors down and I took advantage of my free birthday drink coupon.  I decided to try out the Nitro cold brew with sweet cream.  It was pretty tasty, and since I wouldn’t buy it that often given the price point, it was a nice treat.
  4. Yesterday also marked our daughter’s first library visit.  Where we live has both a city library system and a suburban library system.  I’ve been using the city library system for the last several years, mostly to check out e-books.  It’s been several years since I used our suburban library system, so Mr. FIREDup and I both signed up for new cards and checked some books out for our daughter.  I also picked up a booklet that outlined all the programs going on in the library.  I was absolutely blown away by the number of things they have to offer.  There are summer reading programs for small kids, school age kids, AND adults, in addition to tons of free programming for both kids and adults (including several entrepreneurial related topics).
  5. I took advantage of a couple of gift cards this week too.  My mother-in-law sent me a gift card for my birthday that I used to offset the cost of a couple of new items for my wardrobe.  We recently got a new dishwasher, and as a part of the deal they were running at the time, they were offering a rebate for the installation cost.  We got the rebate in the mail recently and I used it to pay for a lunch that we purchased while we were out exploring the city this morning with our daughter.

How is your summer starting off?  What fun, frugal things have you found to do so far?

The Mindset of Up-and-Coming Millionaires

Happy holiday weekend Friday!

Did I capture your attention with the title of this post?  It was actually the catchy title of a webinar I listened to earlier this week.  The webinar was put on by Fidelity, who manages the 401(k) for my employer.

Here are a few fun takeaways from the webinar:

24% savings rate

Based on a Fidelity analysis of 133,000 participants with 401(k) balances of $1 million or greater, 24% is the average total savings rate for individuals who have hit the million dollar milestone.  This is comprised of 15% of their own pay and another 9% in matching contributions or profit sharing from the employer.

Does anyone out there get that much match or profit sharing?  Because my employer’s is MUCH less than that.

HSA Shout-Out

The Health Savings Account (HSA) has been a darling of the FIRE community for a while now.  It also got a shout-out in the webinar!  HSA contributions are made pre-tax, grow tax-free, and are not taxed when withdrawn for qualified medical expenses.

Unfortunately, my employer does not offer an HSA.  But if yours does, consider contributing – it is a great way to shield current income from taxes or simply just help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses before your deductible kicks in.

Unlike FSA contributions, HSA contributions are ALWAYS yours, even if you leave an employer.  Mr. FIREDup still has some money in his HSA from the job he just left, which we can tap into for medical expenses if needed.

Compounding is Key

Millionaire status is within the reach of more than just high earners.  The key is to invest early and often.  Check out this scenario from the recap:

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This hypothetical example uses a conservative rate of return of 4.7% and annual salary growth of 1.5%.

$1M in 40 years won’t have the same purchasing power as it does today, but it’s still impressive!  The key is to start the habit and make it automatic.

Do you have any tips for up-and-coming millionaires?

3 Weeks In: The Effects of Losing an Income

It’s been three weeks since Mr. FIREDup lost his job.  Here’s an update on how things are going so far.

Summer Fun

A noticeable effect has been that we have more fun family time!  Mr. FIREDup can now do weekend chores during the week.  We aren’t spending Saturday morning at the grocery store, and he can mow our fast-growing spring lawn any weekday the weather cooperates.

You know those pesky little tasks around the house that never seem to get done when you’re working all the time?  We’ve got a list of those, and he can usually complete a couple things a day.

It’s really nice that his time off coincided with the weather improving significantly.  We’ve had more time to go to the park and enjoy other outdoor family activities the past few weekends.   He has also had time to indulge in one of his newer hobbies – photography.   That photo at the top of this post?  He took that on Monday while hiking in a nature area near our house.

The weeknight after-work dinner hustle has also calmed.  Mr. FIREDup is a great chef and now dinner prep is well underway by the time I get home with our daughter!

Excitement…but Uncertainty

I’m very excited to see what new opportunities might open up for my husband.  His particular work is a narrow niche, and there aren’t a tremendous number of opportunities in our local market.  I think this makes him feel a little uncertain about his prospects.  However, it’s also exciting because he can find something he really enjoys doing.  There have been a couple of promising leads, but nothing formal has materialized yet.

Gratitude

I’m extremely grateful that we came into this situation in good financial shape.  My solid salary and our generally good saving habits mean that this switch to a single-income household hasn’t derailed our finances.  In all honesty, if we were willing to tighten up our financial habits a bit, I think we could live on this income and still save for FI…it  would just be at a much slower pace.

Financial Freedom = Flexibility for Lifestyle Design

This pause in the rat race of having two full-time working adults in our household has made me think a lot about financial freedom and the trade-off between time and money.  Can we design a lifestyle with more flexibility, even if it slows down our savings?

What if my husband takes a part-time job that allows him to get home earlier to make dinner every night, or which gives him a day off every week to take care of household chores?  What if he takes on freelance work (something that is very common in his niche) rather than another traditional 9-to-5?  What if he finds a new full-time job, and that allows me to look for a part-time opportunity?  What if both of us could work part-time?

It’s exciting to think about how we can design our future lifestyle so that we have enough money to live comfortably but also have more control over how we spend our time.

Have you made trade-offs between time and money?  What mix of work works best for your (or your family’s) situation?

Almost Everyone is One Bad Boss Away from Getting Fired

We’re two weeks out from my husband’s job loss.  Since that time, I’ve relayed the story of what happened to him to a few friends.  When you talk about something slightly taboo, it often encourages people to share stories of their own.  Here are two such stories.

  • I’ve kept one of my good friends at work in the loop on the crazy things going on at Mr. FIREDup’s company.  Ironically, her own sister (who I’ll call E), who also works at our company, is going through a similar situation of her own.  E is a high achiever who has been successful in her career.  She came to our company as an executive and has been promoted since joining.  Somehow E has gotten on the bad side of one of her current executives, an intimidating woman who has worked at the company for nearly 30 years.  An incident from last week confirmed that her executive has a vendetta against her.  It’s not clear why.  It’s likely that she will either be asked to leave or need to find another job outside the company.
  • Another friend, a former work teammate, confided that she, too, has been through what my husband experienced.  She was asked to leave her previous employer because she was not performing in her job.  In fact, she had never shared this story with anyone at our company until telling me, which is understandable.  It feels shameful and demoralizing to go through this kind of experience, even though I know from firsthand experience that she is a conscientious, hardworking employee.

So what gives?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  I think the majority of the time, companies operate logically, and that people are fired for legitimate reasons.  But companies are made up of people, and people are flawed.  We have different personalities and different expectations.  Sometimes people are persecuted/forced out for reasons that don’t appear legitimate.  And when you work for someone else, you put yourself at the mercy of someone else’s whims.

Essentially, if you work for someone else, you are one bad boss away from getting fired. 

How does this relate to personal finance?

  • Build up an F-U fund.  Save or invest it however you want; the important part is making sure you can pay your bills if you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed.
  • Keep your skills sharp.  You never know when a good work situation can turn bad.  Today’s great boss could move on to the next thing, leaving you with a new boss that you clash with constantly.  Or the company that’s performing like gangbusters today could hit a slump tomorrow, leading to layoffs.
  • Consider other income streams.  There’s a reason the personal finance world talks a lot about side hustles.  Multiple streams of income = diversification.
  • Work hard, but remember work isn’t everything.  You are replaceable in your job.  Really.  You are.  If you lost your job today, would you lose your entire sense of identity?  If so, it may be time to reacquaint yourself with your friends, family, and hobbies.

Any other suggestions on how to weather the ups and downs of crazy employment situations?

I’ve Always Saved for a Rainy Day. Time to Break Out the Umbrella

The Backstory

Corporate machinations have been in full swing at Mr. FIREDup’s workplace for several months.  Senior leadership changed at the end of last year.  His director left as a result, and in January of this year a perky, up-and-coming new director was hired from another company.

He was excited to see what perspective the new director would bring.  Unfortunately things quickly went sideways.  The new director was displeased with the work he was producing.  It’s not clear to me exactly what went wrong.  Did the new director’s creative direction not align with my husband’s?  (The creative world is more nebulous than my world of numbers and spreadsheets).  Did his personality rub her the wrong way?  Did someone at a higher level have it out for him?  Was he a pawn in a power struggle?  Whatever the cause, my husband was coming out on the losing end.  He was miserable.

It got bad enough that one day in February I told him, “It’s okay if you have to walk out one day and not come back.”  (This is a pretty out of character thing for me to say.)  By the end of that month, we knew there was a realistic probability that he might be asked to leave.

A Blessing in Disguise

Things had gotten better recently.  Until yesterday, when I got a text from my husband saying he had been fired.

A range of feelings consumed me:

  • Anger.  Not because he was fired, but because he had not been treated with  decency and respect by his employer.
  • Empathy.  This type of experience takes an emotional toll.  I was worried how my husband was feeling about all of it.
  • Relief.  This feeling came to me later in the evening.  This job was never a great fit for my husband.  It’s probably a blessing in disguise that he was asked to leave, because I truly believe there is something out there that is a better fit for his talents and skills.
  • Gratitude.  I am thankful that we have had the means to save for a rainy day.  I wasn’t consumed with financial worry when I heard the news.  Because we have been living below our means for a long time, we have adequate emergency funds we can tap into if needed.  For the short term, few financial adjustments will need to be made.

But I also don’t want to be tied to a job because it pays a lot, or have to work on someone else’s schedule for the next 25 years.  Companies get acquired, managers move on, job responsibilities shift, and sometimes great jobs become stifling or downright horrific.  Financial freedom means that either I or my husband can choose to quit a job if one of us lands in a bad work situation; or that we can weather the storm if one of us gets laid off.  Working towards a financial freedom goal also means that we will have the flexibility to shift careers, work part-time, take a sabbatical from paid work, or start a business.

Contingency Planning

Because we knew this situation could be happening to us, I had already done some contingency planning in my head.  What financial moves do we we make now and down the road, until new employment is found?

  • My husband will file for unemployment.  (Spoiler: it’s not a lot, basically enough to cover daycare.)
  • I will add my husband to my health insurance.
  • We can tap the emergency funds if needed.
  • If necessary, we can reduce my retirement savings to the minimum required to get the company match, freeing up much more of my paycheck to flow to the bottom line.  (This is not a change I am planning to make immediately.)
  • My husband can pick up freelance work.
  • We can take our daughter out of daycare.  My husband could become a semi-permanent stay-at-home parent if necessary.  Dropping the monthly daycare expense would free up a ton of cash flow.  We love our daycare, so this is not something we would consider until other options had been exhausted.

I have always been the primary breadwinner in our family, so luckily this job loss doesn’t equate to us losing half (or more!) of our household income.  And honestly, if we can’t figure out a way to live on my income for a while, then someone should probably revoke my financial blogger status; even with just my income, we still make more than the median income for our area.

Conclusion

The pursuit of financial independence isn’t just about being able to retire early.  It’s about being able to weather the storms that life rains down on you along the way.

Would you be prepared if someone in your household lost their job?  What other financial moves should we be making in the meantime?

 

 

Friday Gratitude

Today’s theme: Work and Money!

We just got done with the performance review cycle I’m a part of at work.  Reviews are always interesting.  Some people are happy, some people are upset, some people are excited about their raises and others are pissed off.   (One of my coworkers refused to look at the company-wide communication about executive promotions, knowing it would just make her mad.)

This was a pretty middling year for me.  No promotion, no outstanding performance rating, a standard meager raise.  But I’m focusing on gratitude as this week comes to a close, for several reasons:

  • I have some things up in the air in terms of the future of my job, and I think that’s been causing some underlying stress for a while.  I brought up the uncertainty in my review, and received some assurances that my time will be redeployed to other projects if business needs change.  There are, of course, no guarantees in the corporate world, but it did allay some fears.  I am grateful for a good boss who recognizes my skill and understands where I can provide value.
  • Though my raise was one of the smallest ones I’ve received at this company, guess what?  It’s still a raise!  And since I make more than I did early in my career, that smaller percentage is still a larger dollar value than many raises received in years past.  So I am grateful for a slightly larger paycheck.  I don’t want to take for granted the add to our household’s bottom line.
  • Laurie’s post came across my Twitter feed at exactly the right time this week – it reminded me to bank my raise!  I immediately increased the portion of my paycheck directed to savings and also set up a (VERY) small monthly transfer to our brokerage account.  I am grateful to have discretionary income to save and invest.
  • It’s really easy at review time to get caught up in how we compare to others. Did I get a better review? Did I get a better raise?  Does everyone else make more than me?  Comparison is the thief of joy.  If I step back for a minute, I am reminded that I make a pretty good salary, AND I have a very good work-life balance to go along with it.

What are you grateful for this weekend?

Q1 Goals Update!

At the end of last year I set some goals for 2018.  Here’s where things stand as of the end of Q1!

Financial

Max out 401(k).  On track!  I adjusted the % of each paycheck I put towards my 401(k) at the beginning of the year to tie to the 2018 limit.

Make 2017 IRA contribution (amount TBD).  Done!  I made a contribution in February as I was completing our tax return for the year.

Finalize will. Not yet complete.  We were supposed to sign the paperwork earlier this month, but got derailed by having to stay at home with a sick kiddo.  This should happen in April.

Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  I put part of our tax refund in our brokerage account, so as of today we’ve funded 23% of the financial freedom goal for non-retirement accounts.  I’m pretty happy with this percentage, given the ups and downs we’ve had in the markets recently.

Minimalism/Simplicity

12 Items in 2018.  I wrote a post in February about limiting my clothing related purchases to 12 or less items this year.  As of today, I’ve purchased one item – a pair of jeans.  I work in a business casual environment and wear jeans about 95% of the time.

Blogging

Average one post per week.  This is on track year-to-date, but it may be difficult to maintain for the full year.  Work is getting busier, and I’ve got a maniac toddler running around.  Also, my experience of blogging thus far is that inspiration doesn’t come on a regular schedule.  I don’t want to feel forced into writing something if I don’t feel interested or inspired about the idea.  Hobbies are supposed to be FUN, right?!

Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.  

Here’s where things stand as of today.  We are a whopping 1% CLOSER to our goal compared to when I wrote the original post in December!  I guess with the swings in the overall market (and my company’s stock price – I own some shares in my 401k/employee stock purchase plan) I should be happy that any progress has been made.
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Stretch Goals

Attend FINCON 2018.  This is unlikely to happen this year, but I’m not going to take it off the list yet.

Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  I realllllly hate this loan.  I’m throwing a few extra dollars at it every month, but there are too many other places that our money is going right now to make this a priority this year.  I’m hoping maybe I can throw a few bigger chunks of money at it as the year goes on.

How are you doing against your goals for the year?

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