Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013 Savings Goals - August Update

(1) Max out 401k(s) -        $22,285 (64%)   (goal is $35,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) -         $9,020 (82%)    (goal is $11,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund -          $6,000 (60%)   (goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage -   $2,075 (42%)     (goal is $5,000)
(5) Trading account fund - $50  (1%)        (goal is $5,000)
(6) House projects -          $1,500 (50%)      (goal is $3,000)

Total:  $40,930 (59%)

We are about $300 behind on our 2013 goals.  And with Mr. Sam's lay off I expect that number to grow.  In July, I kind of kept up with most of our goals in that I continued to fund 2, 3, and 6.  But, all that money is sitting in my Capital One 360 (formerly know as ING) savings accounts, so I know that I can access that money if we need it.  I didn't put the $415 towards paying down our mortgage in July, since I'd rather have liquid assets available.

As for our 401ks, Mr. Sam can no longer contribute to his 401k this year, but with his match he has saved $15,676 for 2013.  While we don't normally count the match towards our savings goals, he is happy that he's not too far off our goal of maxing out his 401k.  In fact, with his match he is only short $1,824.

I would like to continue to fund my 401k during the lay off, although we've talked about whether it makes sense to scale back.  Frankly, I almost think it is more important to save towards our future during this time.  I still need to crunch the numbers and see if it is feasible.  And while I keep our 2013 IRAs money liquid, I'd like to be putting that into our IRA if we can (and we have until April 2014 to decide). 

Dreaming of Faraway Lands

I've been dreaming about a 10 day or two week trip to a particular country for more than 10 years.  While we keep a "travel" savings account that we add to each pay period, I've decided to start a travel savings account for this dream trip. 

It may seem odd to be thinking of a dream trip in the middle of dealing with Mr. Sam's layoff, his unemployment, and the uncertainty of our finances and future savings.  But, I've been thinking about this trip for a long, long time and I want to start planning for it.  Opening a savings account, which if necessary can be used for other expenses, is a way for me to do a little dreaming and planning without incurring any real costs. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unemployment Compensation

Mr. Sam has been working on applying for unemployment benefits.  Sadly, Florida makes it super difficult to apply and obtain benefits.  Florida puts up so many road blocks regarding the collection of benefits that they are being investigated by the Department of Labor.  Mr. Sam's application process took about three hours, which includes a very long application and a skills test.  Luckily Mr. Sam has access to internet, the only way one can apply, he speaks English and he is educated.  Even so, he remarked at how difficult the process was, which is probably why only 17% of Floridians who are eligible actually received these benefits. 

Florida also provides a maximum weekly benefit of $275, which is the fifth-lowest amount in the country.  Mr. Sam should qualify for the maximum benefit which means $1,100 per month for three months (benefits cut off after 12 weeks).  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Working Vacations

Even with Mr. Sam's work issues, we just returned from a long weekend.  While, we could have cancelled the trip, this preplanned long weekend will probably be our only vacation together this summer so I voted to move forward with our trip.  I do have an upcoming family trip which is not really a vacation and Mr. Sam will not attend.

And, even though Mr. Sam was not really excited about this trip, mostly because he is worried about finding a new job, we had a great time.  We spent time together, we relaxed, we spent time with friends, we had fun, etc.

But, like most professional Americans, I never really disconnected from my office.  My normal vacation/work protocol is to work, in a focused manner, during travel time.  I specifically bring work that is easier to tote or that is in .pdf form on my iPad so I can read or review materials while flying or driving (assuming that Mr. Sam does the driving).  Then when I arrive at our vacation destination, I generally stop working but I continue to attend to emails/deadlines and issues that may arise.  I try to limit how often I check emails to early morning, lunch and then mid-afternoon (before my assistant leaves for the day).

I would like to disconnect when I'm on vacation, but coming back to several days of unread emails almost ruins the point of vacation.  Today is my first day back in the office and I've spent nearly half the day reading all my emails even though I was keeping an eye on them and responding to important ones.  If I had disconnected altogether I'd lose even more time.

What do you do?  If your stay connected to the office during your vacations, how does that impact your ability to relax and recharge?  How does your spouse feel if you work during a family vacation?   

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Good News

Can there be any good news when it comes to a layoff?  I really don't know, but I do choose to see some positives.

First, Mr. Sam gets a decent number of weeks of severance.  We have not figured out our "lay off budget" yet but my tentative plan is to try and save the vast majority of that money.

Second, Mr. Sam' health benefits, which are good, generous and cheap, continue well into the fall.  I am also covered by his health benefits due to the good, generous and cheap nature of them.  We do have to pay the biweekly amount (the amount that was deducted from his pay for his portion) to maintain these benefits but it makes economical sense to do so since my benefits are good but cost 4 times (or more, still figuring this out) as much as his.

Third, we have a decent amount in our emergency fund.  This money was bookmarked for other purposes but it is there.

Fourth, Mr. Sam started preparing for this lay off last year by taking some certification courses so he has some additional skills and certifications to add to his resume.

Fifth, I have a good job.  Frankly, this is the most important item on this list.  I have a good, professional job for which I am fairly compensated.  While we have not figured out our "lay off budget", will work on that this weekend, I'm generally confident (since I am well versed in our monthly income and expenses) that my salary can cover our fixed and basic monthly expenses.  I also have opportunities for bonus monies and we need to think about whether I should up my output to make sure I am eligible for same (and at what level).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bad News

At I mentioned in my last post, the layoff we have been talking about and expecting for the last year and a half has finally showed its ugly face.  Mr. Sam has been laid off from his corporate job.

While it was no surprise, it is certainly a devastating blow to Mr. Sam and to us as a couple.  Financial and family plans are impacted.  Our day to day spending will be impacted.  Our 2013 savings goals are impacted.  Our long term financial goals are impacted. Etc.

We are in the process of sorting out his plan forward and our plan forward.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 Savings Goals - July Update

(1) Max out 401k(s) -        $21,611 (62%)   (goal is $35,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) -         $9,020 (82%)    (goal is $11,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund -          $5,200 (52%)   (goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage -   $2,075 (42%)     (goal is $5,000)
(5) Trading account fund - $50  (1%)        (goal is $5,000)
(6) House projects -          $1300 (43%)      (goal is $3,000)

Total:  $39,256 (57%)

It is July in South Florida, it is hot and wet and we are moving into hurricane season.  July is also the first month of the second half of the year and it is time to evaluate where we are on our savings goals.

The good news is that we are just about $2,000 ahead of where we should be.

The bad news, if you've been reading this site for the last year and half you'll probably guess.  Mr. Sam lost his job as of Monday (along with a 100 others).  We've been expecting this reduction in force for about a year and a half now and, unfortunately, the day finally came.  I'll be posting more on this next week, but obviously a job loss may mean that our goals for this year have to be updated.