Net Worth Update (+2.2%)

Click here to see my current net worth.  The month of October ended up again due to broader stock market gains.  Overall, my net worth increased by $33,585 since my last update early October.

The major drivers of the increase were:

  • Investment gains in the broader market

You will notice that the balance in my liabilities didn’t move last month.  This is because of year-end planning as it relates to charitable contributions.  Earlier this year, I set aside money to put into our Charitable Gift fund and held it in a brokerage account.  Over the course of the year, that account grew by approximate $3,000 so I transferred the entire balance to our Fidelity Charitable Gift fund to avoid the capital gains tax.  Also our credit card balance barely moved because I charged our trip to Disney World on my credit card earlier in the month of October.

How did you do in the month of October?

Shopping Around for A New Landscaper

My wife and I have decided that its time to re-haul our entire property as it relates to our landscape.  We are sick of our current bushes, trees, and weeds.  Quite frankly, it looks like a mess.  We are interested in getting new landscaping that looks clean and organized.

I’ve asked my current landscaper to provide me with some thoughts, but we quickly realized that he had no clue as to what to suggest.  I think when it comes to landscape work (not lawn cutting), you can go one of 3 ways.

Cheapest (Basic Landscaper)

Find a landscaper who basically cuts lawns.  If you know you want, they can install it.  We didn’t go this way because we wanted someone to come back to us with suggestions.

Middle (Landscape Designer)

Though landscape designers did not go to school for this type of work, they have suggestions.  They may or may not come back to you with actual designs, but they have ideas that are aligned with your interests.

We had 3 landscape designers come out to our property for estimates.  Our 3 estimates for this option came out to $7,000, $10,000, and $12,000

Expensive (Landscape Architect)

Landscape architects are certified and have typically gone through formalized training.  They take a lot more into consideration when offering suggestions including the lay of the land, slope, drainage, sun exposure, and much more.  They will most likely come back to you with full designs drawn completely to scale.  They know a lot about the plants, trees they are proposing and you know the work will look great.

Our estimate for this option was $21,000

Needless to say, we went with the middle of the road option.  Unlike comparing roofing estimates, its hard to compare apples to apples since all landscapers come back with different suggestions.  However, we liked the options provided to us with the $7,000 estimate, got a good vibe from the landscaper.  We hope to get the work done quickly before the first frost.  I’ll post before and after pictures when the work is complete.

Net Worth Update (+4.1%)

I realize I’ve been absent over the past month.  Things are really kicking here at work and I’m also exploring/interviewing at other companies for some new and exciting opportunities.  I hope to be back soon, so please be sure to subscribe on the right to receive new posts via email!

Click here to see my current net worth.  The month of September started off strong, but lost steam near the end.  Overall, my net worth increased by $60,766 since my last update early September.

The major drivers of the increase were:

  • Investment gains in the broader market

Things that hindered a higher gain was that I had to pay the balance of our planned November trip to Disney.  This ate up about $3,000 in net worth gain.  I also paid down a chunk of the mortgage balance on one of my rental properties.

How did you do in the month of September?

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.