Tag: expenses (Page 1 of 5)

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

I know you’ve probably read a million posts on this topic lately since the future of healthcare in the United States is so uncertain, but healthcare is a big topic in the preparation for retirement, so let’s look at our situation:

Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimates

A recent Fidelity analysis estimates that healthcare will cost $275,000 per couple. This estimate only includes ages 65-88 at the latest. That averages out to $11,957 a year! Say you retire at 40 and live until 100 and spend the same amount of money annually, you’re looking at a whopping estimate of $717,420! Do I think this is reality? No idea. The answer is that we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what healthcare will look like in the United States until we die. That makes planning for it in calculations really, really hard.

Healthcare Matters

It’s my theory that by 35 or 40 everyone has some weird health thing they have to deal with. Health is up there with money in the “Don’t Talk About in Public” list of topics in our society. We need to talk about it. In our house, I’m the sick one. In February, doctors finally figured out that I have Supercolon (pretty cool diagnosis, amiright?). Basically, this means that I have one of the longest, twistiest colons of all time. Food gets caught in the folds and ferments and that leads to bloating. Painful, “are you pregnant?,” can’t stand up or walk type of bloating. I am lucky that I don’t have to put on work clothes and sit at a desk every day pretending I’m fine when I’m not. In fact, on one work trip, I couldn’t even make it 3 days sitting at a desk. I had to duck out early and go work from my hotel bed. Many, many people don’t have that option. They are stuck at work with any number of terrible symptoms and have to pretend they are fine.

When we talk about health insurance, sure we’re talking about the people that “did this to themselves,” but more importantly (and WAY more abundantly), we’re talking about your friends and relatives and co-workers that are struggling with IBS, fibromyalgia, cancer, supercolon, etc. When we talk about healthcare, we’re also talking about the family that just lost their daughter to juvenile cancer and now are faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars of healthcare bills. Instead of having time to grieve, they have to buck up and figure out how to bail themselves out financially from their daughter’s death.

Estimating Our Family’s Healthcare Costs

If Mr. T leaves his job (or gets laid-off), we would be out of his sweet, sweet employer-based healthcare plan and be left to fend for ourselves out in the uncertain healthcare world. Alaska is one of the 5 states that only has one insurer on the health insurance exchange. We also have 3 kids to cover. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance marketplace calculator, in the current Obamacare environment, we’re looking at $36,584 for a silver plan without subsidies. If the subsidies also remain, that plan would cost us $3,000-$11,000 per year for our family depending on income ($11,000 with current income, $3,000 if we cut our income in half). Also, keep in mind these are just insurance costs. Actual out-of-pocket healthcare costs will be added on top of this!

Now, if Obamacare goes away, we could be on the hook for that full $36,584. Even worse, we could have to start worrying about whether or not we could get insurance at all depending on what pre-existing conditions we have by then (supercolon? check. Others? undetermined).

Healthcare in Later Years

Now, adding to all that uncertainty is the uncertainty of healthcare as old people. Sure, the kids will be on their own for healthcare by that point, but Mr. T and I will be aging and that raises costs significantly. The future is so uncertain!

Honestly, healthcare is one of the main reasons Mr. T is sticking with his job. Leaving with 3 kids and having to navigate the uncertain healthcare waters with dependent children scares us. If this was no longer a fear, I think we would be working toward him leaving his job a whole lot sooner!

Coming Wednesday: Ways to Save Money on Healthcare now.

What are your healthcare calculations for the future?

July 2017 Alaska Plan Update

July 2017 Plan Update

Another July has come and gone. Isn’t summer glorious?

We caught 21 salmon despite there being very few fish in the water and we got rained on (inside our tent!). Full dipnetting adventure story coming in the fall. (I know, you can’t wait!).

Guess where we are right now! DisneyLand! I know. Living the magic. Seriously.

Also this month, my parents received a mission call to Leeds, England. They’ll be leaving in November for a year and a half, so we’re taking the kids to Europe next summer! I can’t explain how excited about this I am. Dream come true. For reals. I’ll be talking lots about our preparations come fall/winter.

The weekly email updates keep coming all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!


The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is currently at $41,800. I’d love to see this below $40,000 next month. I’m more chill about the mortgage this month… the benefit of taking a step back for a bit (also the benefit of being able to go to EUROPE next year with all 5 of us… that’ll take some dough).

Investments are back on the upswing. To be clear, we just haven’t prioritized the Roth IRAs this year. I’m not making excuses. I’d rather kill the mortgage and I can’t do it all. So… that’s gone by the wayside. This is why personal finance is personal. I realize contributing would be really awesome of us. But I just don’t feel it right now. And that’s the best answer I’ve got. Despite that, our total investments sit at $163,400 right now. It feels pretty good to see these climb by default (automatic savings from Mr. T’s paycheck).

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for July – 38%. For not really paying much attention to saving and buying some plane tickets, I think this is pretty decent.

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($17,902/$25,000) –  This was a pretty big month for me. I did quite a bit of freelancing and got the paycheck for my work trip in June for my regular job, so I’m looking pretty lucrative these days. 🙂
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $41,800 – $11,800 to go!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $37k-ish by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $28 – Cash price for award tickets from New York to London. I’ll piece together the other legs of next year’s trip later.
  • $204.30 – Travel backpacks for the girls. They’re going to be in charge of their own stuff. It’s going to be awesome.
  • $254.12 – All dipnetting costs (again, breakdown coming in September!)
  • $11.99 – A slingshot Mr. T purchased for a slingshot paintball game with some friends but we’ve all had a great time with in our own yard!
  • $21.99 – Melatonin – We usually go through about 2 bottles a summer. With the sun up all night, the kids need a little help shutting the brains off. #AlaskaLife
  • $49.98 – We bought a Kindle and a kid proof case for Lui on Prime Day in preparation of next year’s really really long flights. The girls already have their own.
  • $149 – A new phone. Because I broke mine a few months ago. Then I shattered the screen on my mother-in-law’s old phone I was using. Mr. T put packaging tape on it so the little shards wouldn’t get in my ear when I’m talking on the phone. I can’t have nice things.
  • $778.45 – Airplane tickets for FINCON! Everyone excited?! I’m so pumped!

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “My brother keeps saying, ‘ just start a blog and people will click on your links and you’ll make plenty of money,’ but he is thinking like an already-wealthy doctor. We need health insurance.”
  • “The problem with entrepreneurs is they don’t share all the little steps it took to get to where they made it. Sometimes they probably don’t even know which steps those were.”
  • “They have secretary day and office manager day. But they never have computer programmer day! And we always have to chip in for those parties or birthday parties and they don’t throw a party for everyone and then it causes all sorts of drama.”
June 2017 Plan Update

June 2017 Plan Update

June was awesome and a great leap into summer. It kicked off with our first vacation. We headed to Portland for a few days and dropped the kids off with my parents while Tom and I headed to Utah for a business trip. Though we both spent most of the trip working, we were able to see some sites and enjoy ourselves. As soon as we returned, I helped run a 4-day camp-out for 16 teenage girls from church. We camped by the bay, saw whales, fished all night, hiked to old World War II sites, cooked delicious food in dutch ovens, ate a million S’mores, found some awesome shells, avoided bears, and had absolutely perfect weather. Overall successful.

The second half of the month, we just enjoyed summer. I delivered lunch to the kiddos outside nearly every day it wasn’t raining. Mr. T finished planting a few more things in the garden (zucchini and pumpkins) and started replacing the countertop and backsplash in the master bathroom. Lui is working on figuring out his new balance bike (a free hand-me-down from a friend). It’s been a tremendous month.

The blog break has been good and while I’m super excited to return twice a week, I’m forcing myself to continue the break as promised through August, but will be back full-force in September. I’m using the time to catch up on some other projects including my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE! – and thanks to those of you that shared it on your personal Facebook pages!).

You may miss me weekly here on the blog, but my Saturday e-mails are heating up. I still send those out weekly and LOVE to interact off-blog.



(Something is wonky here. Just click “subscribe” and fill out the info there.)

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

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May 2017 plan update

May 2017 Plan Update

Man, 2017 isn’t even half over and it’s been a crazy year. There’s been so much happening. With this in mind, I’ve decided that I will only be doing monthly plan updates on the blog until the beginning of September and then I’ll be back full force. I will, however, be sharing exclusive content in my weekly email newsletter all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!



I’m also working on some stuff related to my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE!).

May was a great month for our family. School got out. We started our annual family bike rides (bike-to-work day and bike-to-school day are both very important holidays in our house!). Summer is glorious in Alaska and we’re definitely experiencing days where we are pretty sure we live in the greatest place in the world!

As for the numbers… it was pretty good. Not bad. See what you think:

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Every few months, I get so frustrated with our mortgage, I just want it to DIE. I realize we’re doing really well. We have made incredible progress. Right now, it sits at $45,450. Being so close to $45,000 is amazing, but it also seems like we’re SO CLOSE! In our current plan, we pay it off at the end of 2018, so we’re on track for that… but if we could kill it sooner, I would be very happy about that!

Our investments continue in an uphill climb. I keep expecting a giant tumble (which is why I ran some calculations this month based on our current savings rates and looking at a smaller savings rate to see how market returns impact totals), but I won’t complain as things go up! We had a minor dip mid-month, but we’re ending on a high again. Our investments currently sit at $154,000 which also means we’ve surpassed $500/month in investment income assuming a 4% withdrawal.

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for May – 50%. Anytime we break 50%, I’m thrilled! Yay us!

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($11,329/$25,000) – I picked up a one-time freelance research project that helped this month. I’m really enjoying the variety of work I’ve been doing this year (thanks, in part, to the pep talk I got from Revanche)!
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $45,450! $14,450 to go! On track… and ready for this mortgage to be DEAD!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $50k by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • FREE – Penny had two teeth extracted this month, so I took her for frosties as Wendys after the procedure. They made us wait at the counter for five minutes, so they just gave them to us for free.
  • $135.25 – The dental cost of the extractions.
  • $74 – A new bra at Nordstrom. Ladies, if you haven’t gone in to Nordstrom to be bra fitted, DO IT. I’ve never done this and I can tell you I’ve been wearing the total wrong size my entire life. $74 is a crazy expensive price for a bra, but the entire experience took TEN MINUTES. Worth it. Now I know my size and can shop much faster for other bras in the future.
  • $11.77 – Frozen Yogurt for myself and one of the teenage girls at Church that just broke up with her boyfriend.
  • $164 – CLOTHES! That’s right, after a HARROWING month of searching far and wide for some new clothes I like, I actually found some!
  • $42.21 – Edible Arrangement for Mr.T’s mom who just retired!
  • $48.99 – Date Night! We tried out Hard Rock Cafe downtown, saw a play (tickets purchased previously), and the finished splitting the Reese’s extreme blizzard at DQ (life-changing. That thing is amazing!).
  • $21.93 – Sharpies for an art project Mr. T is working on. (I can be talked into office supplies because that’s my Gazingus Pin. I love Sharpies.)

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “I took tomorrow off work so I could go up and start building my cabin. I rented a backhoe so I’ll be playing in the mud all weekend. The next four hours of work cannot go fast enough.”
  • From someone about to move to California: “Every time we sell something, I put the money in our Family DisneyLand tickets fund. Sold the couch. That’s one annual pass right there!”
Why is Personal Capital Free? The Catch!

Why is Personal Capital Free? The Catch!

I’m sure you’ve seen a number of these already, but here’s my Personal Capital Review. If you’re interested, you can sign up for Personal Capital here.

Why is Personal Capital Free?

Let’s start with the bad. Personal Capital is free because they want to actively manage your money (don’t let them!). When I signed up for Personal Capital over a year ago, the sidebar showed me a picture of a banker under the caption “Your Advisor.” Since then, they’ve heated up the hard-sell a bit more. I now get emails that say things like: “You’re not on track for retirement! Call your advisor today!” When I log in, I often have to click out of a pop-up showing me my advisor and asking me to give him a call. This is all annoying. And things may get worse (who knows?).

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April 2017 Plan Update

April 2017 Plan Update

It’s officially spring here in Alaska! Other than our two big snow piles on our lawn, all of the snow is gone! We’ve got seeds growing in our window (still risk of frost outside), the kids have been riding bikes outside after school every day, and they have less than a month left until summertime!

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (I assumed bloggers pushed this because of the affiliate income until I started using it myself… worth the FREE pricetag! And Seriously Amazing.)

Can I just say how much I love being a month ahead in finances? It’s only the first month, but it simplifies things so much! I know where my money is going! As for the investments, this market insanity can’t continue, can it? I mean, we’re up to $149,600. So close to $150,000! We’re starting to ramp up extra payments toward the mortgage again. This month was smaller than we hope to do the next few months, but we did manage to get it down to $48,100.

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Why I Don't Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

Why I Don’t Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

I hate shopping. Especially for clothes. Part of me wishes I was that person that could walk into a store and want ALL THE THINGS! Before moving to Alaska, thrift stores were my jam. Everything I owned was from a thrift store. It was my style, it was cheap, and if it got destroyed, I wasn’t that worried about it. Also, I could walk into the thrift store and look at my size on the rack. When the rack ended, I was done.

Now that I live in Alaska (where the thrift stores are both expensive and terrible), I’ve been forced into buying clothes from stores like regular people. It’s awful.

Clothes are Expensive!

I hear the argument that you should just buy really well made clothes and they’ll last forever. It’s a sane argument. But what if you have 3 crazy kids, you spend most of your year walking through snow, your shirts always manage to get holes in the front, and you are incapable of eating chocolate without having pieces melt into your shirt?* Well, then your argument is crazy. Then I put on said shirt and feel like I can’t live my life. I can’t accidentally rub up against my car (with its inch-thick dirt in the winter and spring). I can’t touch my children. I can’t go outside.

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March 2017 Plan Update

March 2017 Plan Update

March 2017 has been an awesome month! We traveled to Nebraska and Texas to see my sister and Mr. T’s brother and the kids got to play with cousins. We went to museums, parks, zoos, and just generally had a great time. A week after we got back from our trip, school was canceled here in Anchorage because we got nearly a foot of snow on top of all of the break-up ice (not even April Fooling you)!

We’re still discussing the best town to live in if you want to weigh in!

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (I assumed bloggers pushed this because of the affiliate income until I started using it myself… worth the FREE pricetag! And Seriously Amazing.)

I think we’re officially a month ahead in finances between some major hustling in March and our tax return! (but then we went on vacation and so my April paydates will be much lower, so we’ll see if we can maintain it!)

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What's Stopping You From Cutting That Budget Line Item?

What’s Stopping You From Cutting That Budget Line Item?

I am a big fan of making sure I get value from my money. Each month as I look over the month’s spending, I look at where I can improve and where I can optimize and where I’m happy with my spend. Each budget line item should have a purpose. So often, we get stuck with ones that don’t, so why do we avoid cutting them?

Things Change, So Should Your Spending

We used to cloth diaper, but with health problems after Lui’s birth, we stopped. Paying for diapers was worth the expense.

This week, we returned from a 2-week vacation to visit the kids’ cousins in Nebraska and Texas and I realized diapers are no longer worth the line item on our budget. Lui’s 3 now and is ready.

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Daily Spending and Saving in 2016

Daily Spending and Saving in 2016

Several people have suggested putting a certain amount of money in savings every single day, aim to spend less than a certain amount of money on any given day, etc. On a day to day basis, I don’t do well with that. I save in monthly spurts. But I liked the idea of tracking how much I spent and saved on a daily basis. Here are our 2016 expenses broken down into daily spending amounts in each category:

Daily Spending and Savings 2016

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