Savings

First to $100k wins! WE HAVE A WINNER!

A few years ago, I started a race with Hubs. It was a race to 100k.

The rule was the first to 100k in individual solo accounts, wins. He had been saving a while and had a bit of a head start, but I was eager. I had just finished paying off my student loans and I was hungry for retirement savings.

At first, I didn’t tell him about it. I was the underdog and it was my race, so I took whatever head start I could get!

I got to saving, then I told him, then we both got to saving.

Then I realized I was the biggest jerk in the world and canceled the race. Turns out its not a wise move to prioritize vacations over retirement saving. Lesson learned.

We maxed out all retirement accounts, saved for a house, saved for a vacation and moved on. With everything on auto-pilot, it was easy to think about other things. I still tracked our accounts on my handy spreadsheet every month, but then we bought a house and canceled our internet. With so many house projects and no ability to stare at my Vanguard account, I focused on other things.

I completely forgot about the race.

It wasn’t until one sleepy Saturday morning that I remembered. I was laying in bed, wishing I was still asleep, when Hubs called me into his office.

“Look.”

He pointed to the screen. Bright screen. Groggy eyes. What am I looking at?

He had his 401k account up on the screen. It read — $100,243.

Six Figures.

He did it!

He was so proud. I was so proud of him. He won the race!

It wasn’t until later that I remembered the real rules of the game. I opened my spreadsheet and realized he had won the official race a few months earlier, but this felt so much better than two accounts together. This was 6 figures in one account! It was an extra digit!

Later that day, while we were driving around running errands, the car got quiet. “I didn’t think I would get to 100k. I’m so proud of myself. I wish I could tell someone. …. This isn’t the kind of thing you tell people.”

Lucky for him, I happen to write about money on the internet. This is his celebratory post.

Happy 100k Hubs! Proud of you!

Here’s to 200k and beyond! You’ll be there before you know it!

🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

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Learning from New Barriers

I’ve been lucky when it comes to savings and investing. Lucky and without barriers. I didn’t realize how lucky until recently.

I’ve always been a saver. I’ve had role models in saving and frugality. I’ve also had incredible motivation. In high school, I only worked during the summer. I had to make my money last!

I opened my first savings account when I was very young. I stashed away any dollars I got my hands on, so the minimum opening balance was never a problem. Most banks are lenient with minimum balances for youngsters anyways.

After a few summers of working, I started my first investment account. The $3000 minimum wasn’t a problem. I was so good at making my money last through the years that it piled up. I had the cash sitting in my savings account. At least this would allow it to grow.

When I started my IRA, I was consolidating bank accounts. One happened to have exactly $5500. I had no other plans for the money. An IRA felt like destiny.

My 401k didn’t offer any barriers to entry either. I could put in 1% of my salary. I was just starting my student loan destruction journey and I wanted as much as possible going to my loans. 1% was the minimum I could invest without unenrolling from my 401k. Unenrolling felt like a barrier, so I did what I could to avoid it.

Now that is all well and good. I’m 30 and I’ve planted several solid investment seeds. Each of these accounts are easy now. I add to them when I want with an amount I want.

Starting my taxable investment account has been a different story.

We bought a house and that’s priority #1. It needs work. We knew that. I knew that. Taking care of the things we need to do has been expensive, much more expensive that I could have anticipated pre-move.

With that said, I don’t want to get behind on my goals. I’ve set and accomplished a major money goal each year for the last few years. Opening a taxable account is the next step. I don’t want to put it off. However, having nearly all of our money going to house projects has left little for investing.

I want to stay with Vanguard. $3000 is the minimum for most of their funds. I can’t come up with that right now. I’m staying true to my priorities, and there isn’t $3000 to spare after everything else. I lowered my hope to $1000.

I’m struggling to come up with $1000. My saving plan has me getting there in August. That’s what I’m comfortable setting aside. I don’t have the time, energy or resources (still no internet!) to hustle right now. That’s all I can spare.

I’ve never felt a barrier to saving or investing like this before. Most of it is artificially imposed, but I’m true to the jobs I’ve given my money. This isn’t an emergency. It is not a car. It is nothing I’d attempt to justify for the travel fund.

But what if this scarcity was reality?

What if the emergency fund was my rent money? My travel fund was all I had to buy groceries and my car fund had to cover gas until next payday? I can’t set aside any of that money because I need it. I can’t make it unavailable because it is my lifeline until the next payday.

I hate to admit that I’ve never really understood Dave Ramsey’s 1st Baby Step. Whenever someone calls into the show and says they are on BS 1, I didn’t get it. Really, it takes you awhile to set aside $1000? Stop going out to eat! Put down the Starbucks!

Until now, I’ve been blinded by my own privilege to never know what it feels like for it to take a few months to come up with $1000. This whole process of evaluating where I can squeeze out a few extra dollars has been a lesson in empathy.

I may not get it yet, but I’m a few steps closer to understanding.

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 🙂