Net Worth Update (-0.3%)

Click here to see my current net worth.  After a fantastic July, the market had its worst month since May of 2012.  Overall, my net worth decreased by $4,369 since my last update early August.

The major drivers of the decrease were:

  • Investment losses in the broader market

Most of the decrease this month can be attributed again to stock market losses.  For the month of August, the S&P 500 was down almost 3.50%.  I was able to cushion some of this loss, by continuing to have 50% of my assets in the market and the rest in more stable investments (cash, real estate).

How did you do in the month of August?

New Obamacare Taxes in 2013

Being a 1 percenter, I am now starting to see the effects of the new Obamacare taxes for high earners.  In addition to these new taxes, there are other taxes not available to people like me.  I’ve outlined them in a previous post.

The two new taxes this year in 2013 are the

  1. 3.8% additional tax in investment income
  2. 0.9% additional in Medicare tax

Both of them hit individuals earning more than $200,000 or married couples earning more than $250,000.  That said, we are that point in time of the year where these additional taxes are hitting us.  I knew these taxes were coming, but I honestly forgot about them until recently.  Just this morning, I opened up my paystub and noticed that is was $50 less than what I normally receive.  As I dug deeper, I noticed the Medicare tax was higher than usual.
That got me thinking how much more in taxes we will pay this year on top of what we normally would have paid.  Since the investment income tax also applies to rental income and dividends, we will end up paying thousands more in taxes.  Here is the breakdown.

  • Rental income – additional $1,500 in investment income taxes
  • Dividend income – additional $50 in investment income taxes
  • Wages – additional $1,800 in Medicare taxes

Total additional taxes in 2013 will be $3,350.  I know, some of you may say “well, you can afford it” or “who cares, you’re worth over a million dollars”.  And you’re right in both cases, but in my opinion that doesn’t matter.  No one spends money more efficiently than the person who earned it.  If this trend continues, where the government feels they can keep skimming off the top, then what will happen is my wife and I will look at each other and say “why are we working so hard.”  Its called the law of decreasing marginal returns.  You will then come to a point where no one works too hard because the high earners and the low earners will have no incentive to produce.


Net Worth Update (+4.4%)

Click here to see my current net worth.  After a disastrous June, the market made up for the losses in July.  Overall, my net worth increased by $62,865 since my last update early July.

The major drivers of the decrease were:

  • Investment increases in the broader market

Most of the increases this month can be attributed again to stock market gains.  For the month of July, the S&P 500 was up almost 5.00%.  Our liabilities continue to trend downwards as we pay off our mortgages and other loans.

How did you do this month?

How Much I’ve Spent To Maintain My Car

I own a 2006 Lexus IS250 sedan.  I bought it new in 2006.  I know, I know…never buy new.  However, this was before I got into personal finance and I just wanted a nice car.  Regardless, I’ve paid off the car and still own it 7 years and 135,000 miles later.

I recently took my car to the shop to have a standard synthetic oil change when the mechanic showed me how worn down my brake pads and rotors were.  Needless to say, I had them replaced which was a cost that I didn’t expect to pay.  It got me thinking about how much I’ve spent on my car over the years.  Since I’m pretty organized, I went back and looked at how much I’ve spend over 7 years.  In total, I’ve spent $7,242 on maintenance alone.  This includes everything from brakes, oil changes, tires, fluid changes, etc.  Here is the breakdown of expenses:

Tires $2,251
Oil changes $2,154
Rear Brakes $551
Spark Plugs $536
Tax $329
Change brake fluid $230
Differential Fluid $190
Cabin Air Filter $154
Induction System Service $136
Fuel Injection Service $136
Throttle Body Service $106
Coolant Flush $97
Battery $95
Engine Air Filter $88
Shop Supplies $76
Wiper Blades $72
Flat Repair $41
Front Brakes $0
Total $7,242

It seems the maintenance to the car is reasonable, but not sure about the costs.  Keep in mind that I did go to the dealer for the first 60,000 miles before I realized that I was just flushing money down the toilet.  I’m hoping to keep this car for a while longer and anticipate the costs to rise a bit since it has high mileage.  But for now, the car runs great!

Recovering from career rejection, Abe Lincoln style

Many people may not know this, but Abraham Lincoln ran and lost many state legislature, U.S. congress and vice presidential races before becoming president of the United States. Here is a list of some of the failures and successes of Abraham Lincoln:

  • 1831 – Lost his job
  • 1832 – Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 – Failed in business
  • 1834 – Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
  • 1835 – Sweetheart died
  • 1836 – Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 – Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 – Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 – Elected to Congress (success)
  • 1848 – Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 – Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 – Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 – Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 – Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 – Elected President (success)

My career thus far in the health care industry has been running a similar track, though not to the same degree nor with the same end goal as Lincoln (I don’t plan on becoming President of the United States). Believe me, I’m not equating my career to Lincoln’s, but the key takeaway from Lincoln’s career path is that he never quit pursuing his goals and aspirations.

How I’ve Made $2,700 Selling Old Junk

Below are transactions on my Amazon Sellers account from 2009.  Over the course of the past 4 years, I’ve gone through several cell phones, printers, routers, cordless phones, game systems, toys, calculators, and books.  Rather than just letting them collect dust in a closet, or attempting to sell them in a yard sale, I took my supply to a place where I can maximize the highest demand for those goods.

As you can see, 2012 was a slow year, but I came across a bunch of old electronics this year.  Some of the items I list are old products that we don’t use anymore.  Some are corporate gifts that I’ll never use.  Others are old textbooks and other items from business school.

I find that it is relatively easy to sell electronics on-line as long as you’re completely honest about the condition of the product and ship the item as soon as it is sold.

Also, the longer you wait to sell electronics, the less you’ll get for it.  Take for instance the HP iPAQ Pocket PC I sold in 2009.  I’d be lucky if I were able to sell it today.  Same goes for my old Palm Pilot and old smartphones.

If you’re on the sidelines, you’re missing out on some serious cash.

Net Worth Update (-0.6%)

Click here to see my current net worth.  Overall, a decrease in net worth of $8,417 since my last update early June.

The major drivers of the decrease were:

  • Investment losses in the broader market

Most of the decrease this month can be attributed again to stock market losses.  For the month of June, the DOW Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.36% so my loss is not as bad as it could have been.  Our liabilities continue to trend downwards.

Today marks the official start of the second half of the year.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things don’t go south!

How did you do this month?

Net Worth Update (+2.0%)

Click here to see my current net worth.  Overall, an increase in net worth of $28,752 since my last update early May.  Tracking back to where we were a year ago, our net worth has increased $396,326.  I’m obviously pleased with the results, but wondering if that is reasonable for a family with our income level.

The major drivers of the increase were:

  • Investment gains in the market

Most of the increase this month can be attributed again to stock market gains.  Liabilities continue to trend downwards while assets continue to climb.  I paid a small chunk down on the mortgage balance.  Additionally, we went on vacation last month which reduced our gains.

How did you do this month?

Like Most People, I Reduced My Comcast Bill

Let me start off by saying that I hate the fact that I have no cable options in my area.  Verizon Fios is not available in my area, and I am not sure about using the Dish.

That said, I received my most recent Comcast bill and noticed a jump in the monthly fee for service.  I suppose my promotional rate had just expired, so I decided to give Comcast a call to reduce the rate.  There are many success stories online about how people can easily reduce their Comcast bill.  My rate went from $114.99 to $141.99 for the triple play.  My goal was to maintain my level of service get it down to the new subscriber rate of $99.  So, I called Comcast and immediately was transferred to the retention department.

Here’s how the conversation went down:

Me:  Hi, I would like to cancel my cable and phone service.

Comcast:  I’m sorry to hear that you want to cancel your service.  May I ask why you are making this choice?

Me:  Yes, the cost is too high.  I don’t watch much live TV and everything I do watch is available online.  Also, I only use my phone as a fax machine and that service is also available through other means. (FYI, I do watch live TV and do use the phone for more than faxing)

Comcast:  Would you like to look services with less options to see if we can bring the cost down?

Me:  No, I don’t want less options.  I just want to cancel the service.

Comcast:  Let me see if there is anything we can do for you…(long pause)….ok, I can give you the same package for $99.

Me:  That is better, but I don’t know if I want to pay that much for something I don’t use often.  Also, I don’t want to have to worry about a price increase again.

Comcast:  We can give you this rate for 1 year and we will throw in some premium channels for that time.

Me:  That works…thank you!

Not bad for a 2 minute conversation.  I probably could have pushed them a bit more about the length of the rate or even attempt to get the rate even lower, but I was pleased that I was able to shave off $42/month for the next year or about $500 over the next year.