Net Worth Update: May 2016

Happy May!  I hope April treated you well and tax day didn’t crush you like it crushed me!  Even though taxes came due, our net worth still went up $6,379.32!! I’ll take a $6K jump every month…

April Financial Breakdown

House: $383,728 – $321,484 $62,244.  I’m just using zillow.com as the baseline here.  They give their estimate for how much they think you’re home is worth.  I’m not saying it’s accurate but it’s a decent way to keep track without bringing an appraiser in every month to help you track your net worth. This month it said the value of my home went up $4,197.00.

My 401k: $18,689.37.  Right now 5% of my salary is going into my 401k via my employer. Nothing crazy here.  According to my account at personal capital, my portfolio only increased 1.79% over the course of April.

Pension Fund: $8,215.40.  I’m one of the few remaining workers in America that contribute to an employee pension fund and if I decide to stay with my employer and retire 24 years from now I will receive a pension.  I DO NOT PLAN ON DOING THIS!  I’m all about early retirement!!!

My Old 401k: $8,497.11.  This 401k is from an old employer.  I need to roll this over into a Roth IRA.  Hopefully I get to this very soon…


Wifey 401k: $4,682.47. Same situation as my 401k.  5% match from her employer.

Wifey Old 401k: $3,300. Also in the same situation as my old 401k.  We also need to roll this over to a Roth IRA very soon.

Car: $13,174.00.  Well, I don’t know what to say on this one.  According to kbb.com, the value of my car actually increased by $174 over the past month.  I won’t expect an increase on a vehicle ever again but it’s a nice surprise.

Jeep: $10,763.00.

Emergency Fund: $8,016.98.  The emergency fund took a hit this past month due to taxes.  I owed over $3k and was able to cash flow over $2k of it, but I had to dip into the emergency fund for just over $1,000 of it.

TOTAL NET WORTH: $137,582.33 (+$6,379.32)

So 2nd post of my net worth in the books.  I’m not expecting to see gains of over $6,000 for a while, especially since over $4,000 of it was due to gains on the value of my home.

Keep in mind, the first few years of beginning to build your net worth are slow but once you get some momentum it’ll shoot up faster than you can imagine!

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Is The Millionaire Next Door Dead?

If you watch the news these days, you may notice that a whole lot of people seem to believe that the American dream is dead. No one can get ahead and the notion of “the millionaire next door” is no longer attainable. Well, fortunately for everyone, you can still become a millionaire. The American dream is still alive and you can achieve anything you set out to achieve.  But you have to WORK hard!  No one said it was easy to be successful.  No one said you can become financially free without sacrifice.  And you sure as hell can’t rely on the government to help you out.  It’s all on you to achieve what it is you want and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So How Do Rich People Handle Money?

millionaire lifestyle
The majority of millionaires do not live like this.

There has been study after study done on how millionaires handle money and one of the most extensive studies I’ve seen, was done by Dr. Thomas Stanley.

As Dr. Thomas Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Next Door” points out, one of the most popular chapters in his book (among millionaires) is Chapter 2, Frugal, Frugal, Frugal. This chapter details the frugal lifestyle of millionaires in terms of the modest prices paid for clothing, shoes, watches, motor vehicles, etc.  Check out the book, it’s one of my personal favorites.

Chapter 2, is essentially the most important takeaway of the entire book and it says that millionaires budget, avoid debt at all costs, and invest a lot of money.  But, they are frugal because they are content with what they have.


So How Can You Do It?

Obviously, becoming a millionaire or being financially free is not an easy feat. It takes a lot of work! It takes a lot of discipline! But it is still a possibility…look at all of my fellow personal finance bloggers, they know it can be done and they’re documenting exactly how they’re doing it! So, why not find a person you may look up to, who is successful with money and find out how they handle their money? If you handle money the same way they do, I can probably come to a conclusion that you will also be successful with money.

You can also find a financial plan that works for you and stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be difficult.  I actually prefer that it’s simple to understand because that means that it’ll be simple to follow.  My recommendations are:

  1. Create a Budget
  2. Pay off all Debt (except for your mortgage)
  3. Build up an emergency fund worth 6 months of expenses
  4. Invest in Retirement
  5. Pay Off Your House
  6. Build wealth and achieve Financial FREEDOM!!!

Why Aren’t More People Free?

Are you happy with what you have?  The answer to this question is important in knowing if you will become rich or not.  Most millionaires are content with their $20-$30 pair of jeans, used car, and modest homes.  They dont feel the need to try to impress anyone and they don’t care about what a stranger at a stoplight thinks about their car.

So, maybe the reason that people feel like getting ahead financially is a pipe dream is because they spend their days finding ways to buy convenience and focus on how they can keep up with the Jones’ instead of focusing on building wealth and increasing their net worth.  The size of your income doesn’t matter if you’re making more money AND spending more money.

90% of millionaires are first generation rich, meaning that they are self-made millionaires.  They didn’t receive inheritances.  They worked their butts off, had a plan, were disciplined with their money, avoided debt, and invested month after month, year after year.

They did it, and you can too!


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How To Reduce Your Tax Bill?

I can’t stand tax season.  I know taxes are necessary to keep the country running but the last few years I’ve owed over $2,000 every April, which got me looking for ways to knock this down to $0.  While taking a look around I’ve come to the conclusion that I can either take a job that pays much less money or I could find a way to legally reduce my taxable income.  I chose the latter for obvious reasons…

So How Do I Reduce My Taxable Income?

PayYourTaxes

You have to itemize your deductions rather than take the standard deductions in order to take advantage of these write-offs:

  • Retirement Savings: Contributions made to a 401k are tax deferred contributions which means that your taxable income will be reduced by the amount you contribute (the limit is $18,000 for 2016). You can also deduct up to $5,500 in contributions to a traditional IRA ($6,500 if you’re 50 or over. And, if you’re self-employed, you can deduct up to $52,000 (or 25% of compensation) in SEP IRA contributions for 2014.
  • Flexible Spending Account: A FSA allows an employee to set aside a portion of earnings to pay for qualified expenses as established in the employers cafeteria plan, most commonly for medical expenses but often for dependent care or other expenses. Money deducted from an employee’s pay into a FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in substantial payroll tax savings.
  • Paying for dependent care: According to IRS.gov. The dollar limit on the amount of the expenses you can use to figure the credit is $3,000 for the care of one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. The amount of your credit is between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage you use depends on the amount of your adjusted gross income.
  • If you’ve made certain energy-efficient home improvements: Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property. Credits are worth up to 30% of the cost, with no cap. This will expire in 2016.

  • Paying for college: The American Opportunity Credit takes up to $2,500 off your tax bill per year for four years if you’ve paid eligible costs towards a post-secondary degree program.
  • Student loans: You can deduct up to $2,500 in interest, though benefits begin to phase out for joint filers with modified adjusted gross income over $120,000 ($60,000 for singles).
  • Save for your kid’s college education:  You can save up to $2,000 tax-free every year through an ESA (Education Savings Account).  This can reduce your taxable income by up to $2,000.
  • Health savings account as part of a high-deductible health insurance plan: Families with qualified plans can deduct up to $6,500 ($3,300 for singles) in contributions made to HSAs. The money can be rolled over to other years and used for a range of qualified expenses.
  • Expenses related to moving or a job search: If you moved more than 50 miles for a job within a year of starting a new job, you can deduct expenses related to the move, including mileage, lodging, moving services and supplies.
  • Mortgage Interest: You can deduct interest on your primary residence and a second home that is used primarily for personal use.
  • Points on a mortgage: If you can deduct all of the interest on your mortgage, you may be able to deduct all of the points paid on the mortgage. If your acquisition debt exceeds $1 million or your home equity debt exceeds $100,000, you cannot deduct all the interest on your mortgage and you cannot deduct all your points.
  • If you paid taxes: Odd as it seems, you can deduct certain taxes, including property tax on your primary residence, vehicles (depending on the state), and state and local income taxes.
  • If you gave money to charity: You can deduct your charitable contributions every year but make sure you save the documentation proving that you donated to a charity and how much you donated.  For those of you that tithe to a church, it also counts.

What are some ways you use to lower your tax bill?


*These are just some ideas to help you reduce your taxable income and get the most out of your deductibles.  I’d like to point out that I’m NOT a tax professional or tax attorney so please consult with one if you have any questions related to taxes.

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How much house can you truly afford?

If you’re like me and you’re on a mission to retire early, you need to know that the choices you make always affect your timeframe for when you’ll reach early retirement.  It can shorten how long it is until you reach your goal or it can push it back further and further into the future.  How much of a house you buy will be one of the most crucial financial decisions you’ll make.

extravagant home
Why have a home like this if you have to worry about paying the mortgage for the next 30 years?

Like everything in the world, there are many different opinions when it comes to how much you should spend on housing.  There are many people who think that their house is an investment and it’s ok if they have a ridiculous mortgage payment on an extravagant home.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s a large movement of individuals who lean towards keeping there expenses down to nothing which has in turn created a housing market for “tiny” houses.  Personally, I pretty much stand right in the middle.  I like to keep my expenses low but with a wife, 2 kids, and 2 dogs I can’t really force them to spend the rest of their lives in 300 square foot house.

I’ve never really liked to think of my house as an investment but I can acknowledge the fact that houses do appreciate over time.  At 3% appreciation over 30 years, a $235,000 house becomes worth $485,000.  Not too shabby, but it isn’t guaranteed and shouldn’t be relied on.


How Much Should I Spend On A House?

When figuring out how much you want to spend on a house, you want to avoid any advice from the banks.  Banks will allow you buy a house where the mortgage will be around 50% of your take home pay (and they wonder why there was a housing crisis).  If you’re spending 50% of your monthly take home pay on a house, you’re house poor ladies and gentlemen.  Personally, I’d like to see everyone keep their house payment around 25% of their take home pay when financed with a fixed rate 15 year mortgage.  At 25%, you have the ability to buy a decent house, pay off that house earlyinvest a lot of money, and have a little bit of a life.

House-PoorWouldn’t it be great if you owned a home that you could afford AND pay off early?  Doing it this way will allow you to not only invest more money in retirement but you’ll also have a possible appreciating asset ready to sell if you desire.  If it doesn’t appreciate?  You won’t have to worry about it because you don’t owe a dime on it.  I’ve never seen a bank foreclose on a house that doesn’t have a mortgage!

Most of house poor America is barely able to pay their mortgage because they received terrible advice from somewhere and significantly overpaid.  They invest less than 5% of their income, drive cars with car payments, eat out constantly, and spend every dime they receive.  Please don’t be like everyone else!  Don’t mess up the biggest financial decision you’ll make by over paying for a house.  It’s easy to get house fever while you’re walking around with a real estate agent.  Be patient, be disciplined, and remember to sleep on any decision you’re thinking about.  Your financial freedom is depending on it!

Remember, 25% of your take home pay on a fixed rate, 15 year mortgage!

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