Monthly Review: November 2016

Welcome to our monthly review! Every month or so I review the progress we’ve made on our goals and any frugal hacks I’m trying out. Older updates can be found here. The background on our money journey so far can be found here.

Goal Progress: The Emergency Fund

Balance on October 31: 13515.05

Balance on November 30: 15000

Change: 1484.95

We’re finally done! The PTO payout from my old job was more than enough to finish out this goal and begin to fund the next. Let’s celebrate with my favorite snake hips:

snakehips
$15,000 is a lot of cash to have on hand. We know we have certain expenses (e.g. new HVAC) that will arise in the next 5-10 years, not to mention surprise expenses. We have several priorities we want to accomplish before we start saving for those mid-term expenses. It’s good to know that in the worst case scenario, our family will be able to swing any emergency expenses in the meantime.

Note to self: Next time add the Hiddleston gif AFTER you’re done writing the blog… Mesmerizing.

The Next Goal

Now that our emergency fund is complete, the next immediate goal is to begin putting 10% of our income into Roth IRAs. (This is to go with the 4% we respectively contribute to our 401ks, which is doubly matched.) We want to go with Fidelity, where all of our other retirement savings now reside (see below). Unfortunately, the minimum investment for their total equity index fund is $2500. While my payout from the job switch is almost enough to open mine, we’ll have to save a few months to reach the investment minimum for Mr. Steward. We will singularly focus on saving for that until the account is opened, then dial the savings back to 10% to let us simultaneously pursue other goals.

Improvements

  • I rolled over my 403b from the old job. I wanted my investments to all live together and I didn’t feel enamored with my old plan, so I rolled my 403b over to a Fidelity traditional IRA. (My new employer is with Fidelity.) I am happy to have all of my investments living in one place for now. I have to admit, putting in purchase orders for the funds was much scarier than simply checking some boxes and adding percents in my old plan, but I’m happy with the outcome.

The Do-Betters

  • We need to make a decision about Christmas budgets. We spend like a typical American family at Christmas. This is a choice we make joyfully, because I love to give presents. I enjoy thinking about the person and trying to introduce things that remind me of them or that I think will make them happy into their life. Nonetheless, every January I tell myself that we will scale Christmas back, not because we can’t afford it, but out of my fledgling minimalist desires. So, I set our Christmas savings artificially low at the start of the year, then the amount we save climbs over the year as we get more excited. Next year, we need to simply decide in advance and stick to it. Cut back or don’t, but make the choice from the beginning.

That was our November in a nutshell. How did your November go?

9 Replies to “Monthly Review: November 2016”

  1. moneycorgi

    good report.

    I don’t think I’ve ever come across an emergency fund that big. most guides seem to suggest approx 3 months worth of expenses. Would you really go through $5k a month if you lost your job and had to survive off the fund?

    • Ms. Steward

      That’s 5-6 month’s expenses for us. Most guides I’ve read recommend 3-6 months of expenses, with the latter end for if you have small children (we do), and since we are both employed by the same employer, we wanted to be sure we had ample funding in the catastrophic event of both of us losing our jobs simultaneously.

  2. Steve Goodwin

    Nice report. As far as your reason why you want to scale back, I would go against that as it sounds like it’s one of your love languages! I would just plan on it, as it sounds like you are hitting your other goals quite well!

    I remember when we finished our emergency fund ($15k as well). Such a good feeling to have that money on hand if needed!

    Keep up the progress!

    • Ms. Steward

      I guess I never thought about gift giving as one of my love languages, because I didn’t score highly on it when I took the tests. I think part of that might be because, as much as I enjoy receiving gifts, I much more enjoy giving them, though. I’d rather have quality time/great conversation than a present coming to myself.

      Either way, I am leaning towards just planning for the expense better next year, as you suggest. I have tried for several years to change it and failed, which is telling, and it does bring me joy!

      Yes, it is a good feeling to be done with the fund! Towards the end, I was definitely ready to get it done so we could move on to other goals, so I guess I feel less security (although also that) but relief to be moving into the building wealth stages of our financial life.

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