Month: April 2014

A Major Retirement Milestone

Guess what!??

My 401(k) is now in the TRIPLE digits!!

Oh, yea. You read that right, this big saver now has more than 100 dollars in her 401(k) account. Gosh, I can almost see retirement from here!

I know. You’re impressed.

In all seriousness, I did do something pretty big this week.

First, a little backstory.

If you aren’t aware, the power of compound interest is pretty fantastic. Not only do you earn interest on the original principal amount, but you earn interest on the interest. The longer it compounds, the more amazing your money becomes. Dee over at Color Me Frugal posted a great table last week about how the magic can be harnessed for retirement savings by utilizing different contribution strategies. Check it out! You’ll probably increase your savings contribution.

When I was 15, a substitute teacher deviated from the lesson plan and gave a short but impressively persuasive lesson about this investment potential goodness. I’m not sure how many of my classmates “got it” but it sunk in with me. Shortly thereafter, I started my first investment account with a good chunk of my life savings.

Last August, I consolidated my checking and savings accounts to 2 banks, down from 4. One of the savings accounts I closed had almost exactly $5,500 in it. $5,500 just happens to be the maximum amount one can contribute to a Roth IRA.  After hearing so much about Roths, I felt this was a sign that now was the time to start my very own. In one deposit, it was fully funded.

And then I forgot about it.

I haven’t contributed to either account since the initial deposit. Nothing!

Zip! Zero! Zilch! Not a dime.

All the growth in both accounts is purely from the market. While it’s fun to look at the balances and see the clear line between my contribution and the current value, I’m not maximizing the potential of either account.

So this week, for the first time ever, I re-contributed.

It’s not much, but I added a cool $100 to my Roth IRA. Then I adjusted my budget to allow for a greater contribution in the future. After a month or two of budgeting success, I plan to set up an automatic transfer.

It felt so responsible and so good!

I’ll figure out how to access the other investment account another day. I can only handle so much excellence at once.

Have you neglected an investment account? 

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Update: Pre-Easter Challenge

Happy Easter! As my Momma (adorably and often) says, “He is Risen!”  I hope you had a very nice weekend. Easter was especially fun for me. I got to spend Sunday with my sisters and their new puppy, Pip! By new, I mean brand spankin’ new. They got him on Saturday. He’s so tiny and so cute. His older doggie brothers, however, were not impressed.

Now that Easter has come and gone, it’s time for me to post the results of my Lenten challenge! As you may recall, I gave up a convenience near and dear to my heart for Lent. For 40 days, I tried to go without lunch out at work. This meant tightening the reigns on my love for Chipotle.

I wish I could say I made it 100%, but alas, I did not. I fell victim to two lunches out.

The first was a bit of a perfect storm. I volunteer on Thursday evenings, and one night I didn’t get home until 10:00 p.m.! Then I got so excited that I had the money to pay off loan #4, that I stayed up until at least 1:00 a.m. fiddling around with my numbers. Then I overslept. And we were long overdue for grocery shopping. Ooof.

The second time was more lazy on my part. It was again a Friday morning. I was sleepy and running late. I didn’t want to get creative and make a lunch from what was left in the fridge. It was slim pickins’.

There was some good news! Cutting out lunch had a somewhat unexpected perk. Eliminating lunch also eliminated my Latte factor.  By not going out to lunch, I removed the thought of spending money while at work from my mindset. I did not have a single coffee shop coffee in all of the 40 days. My Starbucks factor was never out of control, but it was nice to save some extra dollars.

I expected to save $62.28 if I didn’t have any slip ups. Overall, I spent $15.36.  A $47 savings. 

Not bad.

The biggest thing I took away from this is that it really is not hard to bring lunch to work every day. Meal planning was a big help, but throwing something together last minute is pretty easy too. The only “failures” I had were when I didn’t set myself up for success. An empty fridge is easy to avoid. I just need to make it to the grocery store more often. I’d also probably set myself up for an easy win if I picked up a few freezer ready meals just in case.

Now that the challenge is over, I still plan to bring my lunch at least 4 days a week. I’ve formed a nice lunch group at work and I don’t want to abandon them!

Did you have a nice Easter weekend? Do you have any go-to lunch meals?

2014 Goals

Since we are officially into the second quarter of 2014, I think its long past time I define my goals for this year.

Some are debt related, others are life related. All in all, its good clean fun!

Money Goals

1. Say Goodnight to $19,000 of my Student Loans. In Q1, I paid off $7282 with my back up emergency fund and tax refund. To hit $19k, I’ll need to average just over $1300/month for the rest of the year. That amount would eliminate 3 of my loans and put a small debt in the fourth.

2. Quarter Max my Roth IRA ($1375). I maxed out my Roth IRA last year and would love to again this year, but Debt is priority one. While I say that, I don’t want to neglect my future self, so I’ve made this my stretch goal for this year.  I feel that $1375 is enough to feel like I’m building my retirement savings, but also not enough to feel like I’ve abandoned my whole hearted approach to debt repayment.

3. Build a $2000 Emergency Fund. Slow and steady to win this race.

Health Goals

1. Work out at least 12x per month. Since the new year and the gym rush, I’ve been slacking a lot on my fitness goals. While I haven’t gained, I also haven’t lost anything either. 12x should be enough to get me back on track. I also expect some serious outdoor walking time over the next 6 months.

2. Complete my First 5k! I’ve always wanted to be a runner and my body has always fought me kicking and screaming. I finally feel like I’m in shape enough to commit to a training plan and I would love this year to be the year. There is a race I’ve got my eye on in September. Time to get focused!

3. Eat Clean-er. I have a pretty nasty dairy intolerance and my eating could be much better. I’d love to avoid all dairy and eat as much non-processed foods as possible. For some reason, I tend to do really well with this from September to December and then I fall off the wagon. Its time to do better. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to track this one. I’m sure I’ll think of something 🙂

Random Goals

1. Take a pre-paid Road Trip. Husband and I have the travel bug really bad. To prevent it from completely taking over all of our thoughts where we impulsively book a trip to New Zealand, we are in the midst of planning a 10-day road trip around the Great Lakes. We have a lot of fun stuff in mind, the cost won’t be too high and it will all be saved and paid for before we leave.

2. Learn more about Canada. Love you USA, but you’ve done a horrible job teaching me about anything outside our borders. Sadly, my knowledge of Canada up to this point is limited to two short visits, Ice Road Truckers, Rob Ford and Trailer Park Boys. America’s Hat deserves better.

3. Read 10 books. 2013 was a big reading year for me. Probably my best ever. My initial plan for this year was much higher (16 I think?), but it’s April and I don’t even have 1 under my belt. Oh for shame! If I harness it, I have 40 minutes of reading time during my commute. If I can manage do to that, this should be easy peasy.

How are you doing with your goals? Are you making progress? Do you have any fun facts about Canada?