It’s three months into 2013, and I’m feeling more financially secure than I have my entire life. However, I’m feeling quite unhappy at work and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep it up. Trying to find a job in another field has been tough because starting over would mean quite a significant sacrifice in pay, which remains a huge obstacle for me since I live in an expensive part of the United States. Going back to school to train for another high-paying field means debt, and I’m not sure I’m prepared (or want to) go into debt. Plus, I don’t even have a clear idea of what I would want to do. I guess I’ll have to do some serious thinking.
At the start of the year, I put my family on a regimented savings program which is building up our emergency fund and our retirement investments quite quickly. It’s been quite satisfying watching most of our paychecks go into savings accounts instead of debt. In fact, we’re now saving 25% of our gross pay. I think that’s pretty nice, but I’d actually like to get it closer to 35% – 40%. Most early retirement gurus would probably urge more than 50%, but I just don’t think the balance I want between living well now and living well later would accommodate that huge of a lifestyle change.
What’s Happened So Far
- My wife and I contributed the maximum amount, $5,500 each, to a traditional IRA in January and immediately converted to our existing Roth IRA’s.
- I’m maxing out my 457 plan at work through regular bi-weekly pretax payroll contributions at a fixed amount.
- My wife is contributing 15% of her pay to her company’s 401(k) through regular bi-weekly pretax payroll contributions. Since her contribution can’t be a fixed amount, she may max out just before the end of the year.
- I finished balancing our retirement investment portfolio using all Vanguard low cost index funds. I’m very happy to finally solidify a permanent long-term strategy.
- My daughter received a small sum for Lunar New Year. All of it was invested in her 529 college savings plan.
- We’re still working on building our emergency fund. It can currently cover a little more than two months of regular spending. Deposits will continue until we reach the goal of six months of spending and expenses.
- I’m expecting a small tax refund from both state and federal entities. I’ll use some that money to open a taxable investing account at Fidelity. Then, I’ll be able to link my Fidelity American Express Rewards Card to start growing the cash back I receive in a mutual fund.
- We still have to go through our accounts and life insurance policies to update our beneficiaries. I missed my self imposed deadline which was the end of February.
- I wrote a guest post for Penny Pinchin’ Mom on How To Save For College. I promised her that I’d write a follow-up article on selecting and investing in a 529 plan, but have been a bit busy dealing with family issues. Look forward to that soon.
- I attempted to make regular posts out of my best financial blog post series, but it fizzled out after I got a bit disenchanted with the financial blogger community. The problem is that I see something written about, and then immediately see a lot of other writers posting about the exact same topic with their own spin on it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just gets a little boring to read. There’s also a slew of financial bloggers that are no longer dispensing good stories or advice and are just pimping products or writing about online marketing and how to make money online. So, again I had to re-evaluate where I’m spending my limited time and I’d just rather write then worry about filtering the thin selection of good articles to read.
- Sometimes I get bored writing solely about finance. With the desire to explore a greater freedom of expression, I started a blog that’s more personal so I could write about whatever I wanted to write about. Plus, I get to post about my one true love – food.