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June ’08 Net Worth Monthly Review

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Wow, June was a little rough. Net worth fell approximately 5.0% on account of two major reasons: quarterly estimated tax payments and retirement accounts. Outside of those two, which really consists of not much else, everything is progressing as expected. Neither income nor expenses, outside of the roof, had drastically changed. We don’t track our expenses as closely as we probably should but we have, at least qualitatively, gone out to eat less.

Eating Out

We’ve gone out to eat at restaurants less frequently for numerous reasons. First, gas prices have increased the cost of my wife’s commute, which is mitigated by my commute. Second, it’s far healthier to eat home on all accounts. You eat less and what you eat is healthier for you. Third, we need to learn how to cook better which only comes with practice. Eventually, whenever we have kids, eating out will no longer be an option (again, from the health and cost perspective) so it’s better to learn how to cook now than learn under the gun.

Estimated Taxes

Estimated taxes are paid quarterly, for the most part, and so the month in which those payments come due will be times when my net worth will see an “artificial” drop. Technically, that’s not accurate, it’s the other months that are artificially inflated, but you know what I mean. This is one of those cases where understanding the underlying cause explains away any concerns I might have, at least with this reason. Retirement is a totally different issue.

Retirement

Everyone knows that retirement accounts are long term. I know that when I log into my IRA’s, I can’t touch that money, unless I wish to pay a penalty, for another 40 years. However, it’s really difficult to look at the Dow drop 300+ points and not think about how one of our largest account balances is in an account pegged to that metric.

Retirement accounts took a 4.41% cut across the board, the largest single month change in my short adult life. I will do exactly nothing in response, though Todd Harrison, founder and CEO of Minyanville.com, who was a former trader at Galleon Group, Cramer Berkowitz, and Morgan Stanley, is in all cash. (there’s more to it but that’s the headline idea) A lot has happened in the last 10 years, there’s a lot more that will happen in the next 40.

The one thing I won’t be doing is adding to positions outside of the regularly scheduled retirement contributions. I think we already have enough invested in the stock market for our comfort level and unless we settle on our other long term investment goals (kids, college, home), we won’t be adding to our taxable brokerage account.

Actions from May

In May I listed three “action items,” I merely said it was looking towards the future, and I think it’s important to revisit them to see where we’re at. Think of it like my own little checklist of important things to do and where we’re at with them. I want to thank everyone who leaves comments with advice, suggestions, etc. because it definitely helps me out in many of these areas. I don’t have experience in a lot of these things and your insight, even if it’s what you did or what you’ve, is a tremendous help.

  • Jewelry Insurance: A year after first discussing it and a few weeks after putting it into a monthly review, I finally got jewelry insurance for my wife’s engagement ring. If you read the article when it first was posted, I invite you to go back and read the comment Tim left as it covers many points I missed or misunderstood.
  • Auto insurance: I mentioned earlier this week that being married doesn’t affect car insurance premiums and readers pointed out it was the multi-car discount, not the marriage aspect, that decreased premiums. The process will now be to get car insurance and register the car in Maryland, which includes paying the 5% tax. There may also be a penalty involved because you’re supposed to register a car within 60 days of moving to Maryland (you get a credit for taxes paid elsewhere), so we will see how that plays out.

    One interesting point, when I requested a quote, they lowered my six month premium from $282.60 to $203.30 even though it was a sample quote. This reflects something Dedicated said in a comment: “The discount comes from the wife expectance to drive a portion of the time on the mans vehicle. Thus, his rate goes down.” Cool! The addition of the new car only increased the six-month premium to $355.40. The insurance doesn’t include collision and comprehensive coverage.
  • Water heater, Roof: The roof replacement is complete and the charge is sitting on our Citi CashReturns card, due next month. We opted for the 1.2% cash back over the six months 0% financing. 1.2% cashback is $53.40, 6 months 0% financing in a high yield savings account earning 3.50% is about $56 – not worth the effort. Water heater is still pending… the prospect of a tankless option is more and more attractive as energy prices increase.

Looking to the future:

  • Further Consolidation: My wife and I still has some accounts floating around out there that have since outlived their usefulness. I made a big push to the last few months to consolidate as many accounts as I could, so we will have to keep plugging along. Consolidation sounds easy enough, they’re just activities that take longer than you expect.
  • Getting A Pet: Every once and a while my wife and I watch my parents-in-law’s two Scotties. They’re adorable, lots of fun, and they poop everywhere (most of the time outside). My wife thinks I need more companionship during the day, the SAHMs at the gym don’t count, and so we’ve discussed getting a dog. Right now we’re leaning towards adoption from a local pound because there are so many there, it makes no sense to look elsewhere. An added benefit is that often those dogs have had their shots and are current on everything. Before pulling the trigger, we think it’s important to look at the finances just to be sure.
  • Continuing Education: One of the longer term goals we have is for my wife to return to college and get her Masters or a Ph.D. Many programs offer tuition assistance or funding, but some don’t. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. This is one of those farther in the future type things, but one of the reasons why we bought those Series I bonds was because earnings are tax free when used for education. Just something to keep in the back of our minds.
  • Kids: Ahhh just kidding, not yet. :)
{ 4 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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4 Responses to “June ’08 Net Worth Monthly Review”

  1. Kevin says:

    While I love my 2 dogs and appreciate the companioship side of them, I would caution you in getting one. There are a million hidden costs: vet bills, food, boarding if on vacation, etc…

    Secondly, I friend was put in the position of having to choose between a 2500+ operation for the dog or putting it to sleep. Good Luck with that one if you have the pet and kids come along and get attached.

    Great blog.

  2. Llama Money says:

    X2 on the dogs. They are wonderful ( my wife talked me into 2 ) – great companions for sure. A blast to play with, always able to put a smile on your face. But they *always always always* cost way more than you expect. I’m not saying don’t get a dog, just be sure you’re OK with spending a ton on them. As long as you are, then by all means. The shelters are overflowing with dogs who need good homes.

  3. Laura says:

    Pets are wonderful indeed. Whatever cost you pay for them, is worth if x10 for the companionship and love you receive.

    I have cats – and one of them ended up costing me over $2000 in medical bills – before she was even 2 years old. However, the pure joy that I get from her and her sibling . . . are worth every single penny I have shelled out. Wonderful amazing companions. I hope you decide to get one.

    I mean . . .kids are expensive too. People don’t let the cost of raising one change their minds about having one. ;-)

  4. Kevin says:

    That’s because kids become tax right offs when they are young and support us when we are old. At least they better!!!:)


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