Limited Unchanged

Yesterday, the IRS announced that the 401(k) contribution limit is staying put at $18,000. Earlier, they released that the IRA limit isn’t changing either. The 2017 limits are set.

I found out when my co-worker sent out an email (she works with benefits) alerting us. She threw in the offhand comment, “like that will ever happen” along with the new limits. I got a good chuckle from that.

I’m right here! Can’t you feel the savings?

Maggie could feel it.

After the chuckle, the reality of an unchanged goal amount started to sink in. The only emotion that came through was… Oh thank God!

It wasn’t until this point that I realized that I might be pushing too much to save.

I was striving to pay off my loans.

I immediately transitioned to plowing all that cash into saving for a house.

While doing that, I reach reach reached to get to Super Max.

For our little family, 2 401ks and 2 IRAs has been a lot to contribute so soon. Today, we are set to reach that. We have been for a few months.*

I’m so proud of us that we’ve gone from buckets of debt to Super Max in 3 years. Now that we’re maxing, I want to continue to max from now until forever more.

Having just reached this accomplishment, the thought of having to reach just a little bit further to a higher max as soon as January was an obstacle I was not ready to conquer just yet.

I want to settle in to our cash flow and I’m thankful that we’ll be able to do that.

* Due to Hubs’ late start to maxing this year, his per check contribution is more than what he’ll need to max, but he won’t max this year. Next year 🙂


Let’s talk about Net Worth Updates

One of my favorite things for the last year or so has been watching my net worth numbers climb. I’ve posted about it every month since I started tracking it. It has been incredibly motivating to see how far I’ve come each month and to look back on where I was 1, 2 and sometimes 3 years before hand.

With that said, I’m planning to stop posting them or at least significantly alter how I present the numbers.

Here are my reasons why.

I selectively track my accounts

I decided to start tracking and posting my net worth as I was nearing the end of my loans. I enjoyed tracking my student loan balance and I wanted to keep tracking something to keep going. The primary goal of my tracking was to see how I was doing now compared to how I was doing when I was knee deep in debt. To reflect the shift, I only tracked the accounts where my newly available money would go. Where did the money go? It mainly went to my 401k, IRA, and House Fund, so I track those accounts.

I threw in my car loan and car value because I am technically still in debt, but I have an asset to cover it. The car is a depreciating asset, but it’s depreciating slower that I am paying off the loan balance.  I also track a fund I created to pay for car expenses.

I have a taxable account and I wanted to be aware of what that account was doing, so I track that. I’m also building my HSA account, so I track that.

There are a lot of accounts missing from here. I don’t track my emergency fund or my travel fund. I intentionally chose not to track these accounts because they are planned spending accounts. I spend the travel fund frequently and I hope to never spend the emergency fund. I don’t want to feel punished with a lower net worth if and when I use these accounts.

I also don’t track my checking accounts. That money is there to be spent or to buffer. It seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth to keep an eye on those accounts. Sometimes I have more cash, sometimes I have less. With paychecks hitting at different times than autopay, the account balances don’t tell you anything.

These accounts aren’t the whole story

Hubs and I have joint finances. One thing that is glaringly missing from my net worth posts is anything about him. I track his accounts, but I don’t post anything about them here. Those are his numbers, not mine, and I don’t feel comfortable sharing them.

We only have one pool of money and things get complicated because he contributes to the House Fund.  Earlier in 2016, he significantly increased his 401k contributions after I canceled the race. By increasing his contributions, there is less money to go to the House Fund and my monthly tracked progress slowed.

My progress also slowed over the summer as I increased our travel fund contributions to pre-pay for our Australia trip.

By not tracking the whole story, and I don’t want to track the whole story, I feel like I’m posting an inaccurate albeit consistent report.

We’re on cruise control

My 401k and IRA are set to max. I contribute a set amount per month. The only thing that changes is if I throw in a little extra to max out my IRA early. Everything else is left to the market. If it’s a good market month, my accounts will be up. If it’s a bad market month, my monthly growth will diminish or eventually get wiped out by market fluctuations. Soon will come the days when the market moves my account more than my contributions!

My car loan only has a 1% interest rate. I’m committed to only paying the minimum until its done. That provides for a really exciting update. It’s either down $377 or $376. Maybe soon it will be down $378! My car fund goes up $50 each month. Every few months I add $1 to account for interest.

I don’t contribute to my Taxable account. I get dividends twice per year and a statement at that time to update my progress. The account does what it does.

My HSA goes up by a set amount each month, plus a tiny influx with the market. Any medical bills come out of it.

The only real mover or shaker is the House Fund. Sometimes it’s up $3000. Lately, I’ve only been able to contribute a few hundred bucks. (Stupid Koalas. Being so cute and luring me down under). Once we buy a house, what will I show you?

Do I want to put it all out there?

I hate to contribute to keeping finances under wraps, but I’m not sure that I want to contribute to the post it all online movement much longer. These are my real account balances and it gets a more and more unnerving to post them the larger the balances grow.

I’ve thought about shifting to a percentage base system or posts graphs without numbers, but those thoughts are still bouncing around in my head. I’m not quite sure how I would do that.

My purpose here was to show that you can tackle a big bucket of debt and use the momentum to build a strong financial foundation. I feel like I’ve done that. I don’t want this to be a brag fest and sometimes it feels that way, as much as I try for it to not be.

What do you think? Any  tips on where things should go from here?

September 2016 Update


I’ve been waiting for this month for a long time. For my golden birthday, for my 30s to officially start, for my student loans to originally be paid off. If there was a month of my life that I’ve given too much credence to, it would be this month. There was a lot of hype.

Like nearly all hype, September couldn’t live up to my unrealistic expectations. I’m sorry, September. Actually, I should be apologizing to myself. I put so much pressure on 30 being everything more than another year and much more than just another birthday. I’m not sure what I expected it to be. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. But I kept asking myself, “Is this all there is?”

My existential crisis turned into real depression. The thoughts started in early summer and robbed the joy from my life through my birthday. I shared a glimpse of it here when Hubs broke his phone. I pulled away from friends, family and life. I cried all the time. I stopped writing for the most part because my creative valve was shut off. I couldn’t even enjoy money. I love money!!, but it was hard to enjoy anything. I hate to blame it all on my birthday, but I’m going to.

Screw you 30.

The haze has lifted slightly, as I write this in early October. I’ve got an appointment with a professional in a few days to see how things are.

All this to say, Depression sucks and 30 means nothing.

Now back to the regularly scheduled programming.


September 2015: Hubs & I combined finances! Woo Adulthood! For the first time, I summed all of my investments and it changed my perspective on investing. I had 30k! That was on its way to being a lot!

September 2014: I started the month in Scotland (that beautiful country). I had $25,485 in student loans remaining. With this wonderful community’s support, I came out to Hubs as a blogger. I can’t believe I kept this from his for so long. To this day, no one else knows. {this is still true.}

September 2013: A whole lot of nothing. I turned 27 and had a law degree with no job to show for it. The dark depression days were starting. It was a bad time.

September 2016: 


Retirement: $47,784 (+2,003) This is all on auto pilot. So much so, that it doesn’t feel like my effort. That’s good though. These dollars can go forth and make me money while I tend to the other things in life. 

The big news here is my 401k account. On September 27, I noticed I was $28 short of having $25,000 in my 401k. Even though my combined retirement balances are higher, I really really wanted to get to $25,000 in my 401k, especially because I was so close. The market went up, then down, then up. It was a nail biter, but I MADE IT! I am the proud owner of $25,000 in my 401k. 

I had brief hopes that I would get to $50k by this month, but the market would have had to be fabulous to accomplish that and it wasn’t. October or November, I’ll get there. 

Taxable: $9,181 NC I’m back to waiting on this account until December. 

Auto Value: $11,469 (-150)  The depreciating asset keeps depreciating.

House Fund: $39,428 (+6,300) Hello House Fund! This surge is almost entirely due to my Grandpa money. I cashed out the whole life policy he opened for me and promptly deposited the money here. I actually had a pretty sizable taxable gain. (Well, as much as you can have for cashing out $5500 in cash value). I also took the time to calculate how much this money would be worth had it been invested in the market the whole time. I was expecting to be heartbroken, that it had been a huge waste of time and money. Nah. It annualized to just below 6%. Not bad at all!

HSA: $7,624 (+236) 2 contributions as scheduled and no medical bills. I also have $109 in a Limited Purpose FSA I have to use by the end of the year. LPFSA… never again. 

Car Fund: $828 (+50) Hubs punctured one of his tires with the longest nail I’ve ever seen. It was probably bigger than my face. I only saw pictures and not the actual nail, so that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. The patch job was $20 and we took it out of normal cash flow. It’s going to take a lot for me to tap into this account. I’m still thinking it would be good for tires or to buy out Hubs’ car. 


Car Loan: $5,330 ($377)  The progress is slow and steady here. Nothing to report. This is the minimum payment on a cheap loan.


Net worth: $110,984. Up $8,816 from last month. 

Thanks Gramps for the big increase! What a delightful birthday gift. Last month I celebrated $100k and here I am already over $110k! Will next month bring $120k??  Doubt it. I don’t have a money tree in the backyard and so much of this is in cash. I can’t rely on the market for much movement!


How was your September? Do you have any wise advice as I enter 30? Other than, of course, to not put so much freaking pressure on myself?