Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Goal Update: End of September 2016

At the end of each month, I post an update of my goals, including a brief discussion of any notable events that might have occurred during the month. The latest month's figures can always be found under the Featured menu in the menu bar at the top of the blog.

Last updated: End of September, 2016
Current value: $25,527
Change from last month: +$526
Percent of Goal:  23.47%

Note that the funds in this account are invested in stock, so there will be fluctuations in value that are outside my control. I never withdraw money from this account, so any dips are purely due to stock price changes.

Events Of Note Last Month:

I saw a pretty nice increase of $526 in September. Net income this month from my online courses was $152.65. My hard money loan generated $133.33 in income. I received $4 from a class action lawsuit settlement.

As I mentioned during Side Hustle Week, I've started doing work at Amazon's Mechanical Turk. September was my first month really working this hustle and I'm happy to report that I earned $248.03 for the month! This surpasses my goal of $200 per month. It's even more impressive when you realize I didn't even start until around the second week of the month.

Unfortunately, I'm still going through the process of linking bank accounts and transferring those funds out of mTurk, so this figure did not make it into my savings account in time to be included in my gains this month. October's number should be nice though!

LifeHacker's September Money Challenge

LifeHacker's Two Cents blog posted their money challenge for September: Find a Cheaper Cell Phone Plan. I took the challenge. Well, I took the challenge in a half-assed sort of way. The challenge was to find a cheaper cell phone plan that offered the same level of service. I found a cheaper one that offered a lower lever of service, but that is still suitable for our needs. Yeah, I kinda cheated. Don't tell the teacher.

My family has three cell phones and we have a Verizon plan that gives us shared minutes and data. I suspected that I was paying for way more data than I needed. Our current plan gives us 10 GB of data each month. I keep one year's worth of bills, so I checked my statements for the past twelve months to see what our actual data usage was. For two of the last 12 months, we used 4.4 GB and 4.0 GB. All the other months were under 4 GB of usage. The Verizon plan type we have offers data tiers with 4 GB, 6 GB, 8 GB, or 10 GB of data. I opted to drop down to the 6 GB tier, saving us $8.30 per month, or almost $100 a year. (Surprisingly, the 8 GB tier was actually more than our current price for 10 GB.)

I could probably drop to the 4 GB plan, which would save us more than twice that - $240 a year - but we've got a trip to Germany coming up in a couple of months. I'm going to have to look at my international options for that, so I'll revisit this as that gets closer. I'm leery about using public WiFi spots in general, even more so in Europe. We'll be staying at two different Air BnB places which offer WiFi, but again, I'm not sure I want to use the provided WiFi. No telling what kind of packet sniffing software they might have on their networks. Yeah, I'm a bit paranoid - that comes from working in IT. I may use a VPN client to protect our data communications over WiFi, but I haven't looked into that yet. But the bottom line is, while we are in Germany, we'll likely be using more cellular data than normal.

Net Worth Update

Our net worth continues to grow, increasing by $13,371 from last month to a new total of $716,695.

August 2016September 2016
Note: categorizes our HELOC as a credit card debt, not a loan, hence the apparently high credit card balance.

Almost $12,000 of this month's increase was due to my adding a pension account to my asset list (which Mint allocates into the Property category). In the personal finance world, including pensions in a net worth calculation is something that there seems to be a fair amount of controversy about.

A pension plan provides for an income stream in the future, while your net worth is a snapshot of what you are worth at this moment. Therefore, as you might imagine, an argument could be made either for or against including it in a net worth calculation.

However, I am now fully vested in my pension plan and, if I leave the company before retiring, I am eligible for a lump sum payout, the value of which is calculated at the beginning of each year. In accordance with these guidelines given at, that lump sum amount is the figure I am including in my net worth calculation. Specifically, my lump sum payout, as of Jan 2016, is $11,980.

If you have any questions or suggestions for topics, please drop me a line!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting bit on the pension idea. I am enrolled in one (maybe two) but I never thought to include it in my net worth (since Personal Capital doesn't have that mechanism).
    Private Internet Access is one of the better ones for VPN's. Cheap, speedy with lots of exit nodes combined with a privacy focus (no logs and they burn servers/countries if they have issues (the recently killed all their Russian nodes)).