Longing to Hike
I’m going to ramble over a couple of topics again this Friday. Cabin fever does that to a person.
In case you haven’t heard, the southeast has been having a wildfire problem the last couple of weeks. I was really hoping to get out and hit some trails over the holidays but the air quality in most of the region is terrible right now due to the smoke. We need rain!
The weather is almost perfect Fall weather. Cool in the morning and evening, but not cold. Warm during the day but not hot. It would be really nice to be able to get outside.
Yesterday I got a pleasant little surprise based on a couple of threads in the Rockstar Finance Forums. One of the discussions is on the topic of savings rate. I’ve talked about mine in several of my progress updates and goals, but someone brought up something I hadn’t considered. Should I count my 401k Employer match as savings?
It occurred to me that I wasn’t even tracking that as part of my cash flow spreadsheet! I had been blindly taking the information that comes on my pay statements and copy/pasting into the sheet. I quickly went to the 401k login and parsed through the statements to get each months match amount. I had saved almost twice what I thought I had in the 401k. Bonus!
(I do realize the money was there all along, it’s just nice to actually see it)
Now, after adding in a row for this and adjusting the values, I noticed that my savings percentage went down for the year. Wait, what?! It turns out, that I had an error in my spreadsheet where I tallied the Investment column and the formula started one row lower than it should have. I haven’t been counting my 401k as part of my savings total since I started the sheet last year! Doh! Double Bonus.
With the addition of employer match and the correction in the sheet formula, I am now happliy sitting on a savings rate over 20% for the year so far. That’s up from the 13% that I had previously calculated.
I’m going to go back and re-factor the 2015 results as well as re-visiting the retirement calculator.
At the beginning of December, I will be getting the second to last distribution from my signing bonus RSU grant. The last bit will come in June of next year which basically means that I will be taking a small pay cut next year unless something new comes in to replace it.
It’s not a very large grant, but since I am still basically new to building wealth the shares would represent about 2.5% of my overall investment portfolio. The plan is to sell them at vesting and re-allocate the capital in other areas like so:
- 20% to Savings Account
- 20% to my IRA
- 20% to Mrs. CB3’s IRA
- 20% to 529 plan
- 20% to Charitable donations
Considering that I am currently on track to beat my financial goals for the year, I think it’s important to give back. Yes, I could accelerate my plans a smidge more and gain an extra percentage point toward a goal but in light of recent events I believe there are organizations that can use all the help we can give.
Here are the candidates that I am considering for support:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Planned Parenthood
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- The Nature Conservancy
I’m sure we’ll think of more, but those are my top five right now. I’m also going to see if there’s a way to do it through my employer to get a matching gift.
Also, like I mentioned previously, we will get the kids involved in this. I want to have them research what charities are available based on their interests and see which one they would like to support.
It seems like this time of year I always start to get the feeling that I’m ready to take it easy for a bit at home while I have the time. Since I travel some for work, the idea of not having anywhere to be is really appealing.
Of course, with two children in tow this never really works out the way I hope. There are grandparents and extended family to consider and all of those family events that are ‘tradition’. <Sigh>.
Thanksgiving is pretty well locked in with no major road trips. My brother is coming into town so that will be good. Christmas on the other hand always ends up with us loading the car after lunch and heading off for a two hour drive and several days away.
Don’t get me wrong, it will be enjoyable once it’s happening and I know the children will be creating memories. One of these days everyone is coming to us!
Speaking of Christmas, we’ve been putting some thought into gifts again this year. I really like the idea of reducing the amount of stuff that the children receive. We’ve never really gone crazy, but with three separate grandparent units and a gift exchange at the large family dinner it can add up.
Something you want, something you need, something you wear, and something you read…
This appeals to me. I think for parental gifts this will do nicely. I’ve already talked to my parents and they are on board to make contributions to the children’s 529 savings. I still need to have conversations with the others.
I, myself, would just really like about a week worth of sleep at a cabin in the mountains with no connectivity. Yeah, that’d do.
Lastly, I want to talk a bit about food. I may go off the rails a bit for Thanksgiving (Heretic! But seriously, the oldest child won’t even touch turkey). It’s true that we cook a pretty mean turkey around here but this year I’m craving a dish that I had while I was in Ireland this time last year.
That’s right, lamb shank. This was probably the most amazing meal I had while I was there. Many thanks to the Blair’s Inn. I emailed them earlier in the week and they were gracious enough to send me some tips on preparing this dish. I’m really looking forward to it (and a few pints)!
I hope that everyone gets to have a good meal with family or close friends at the table over the holidays. I also hope that we can all put recent politics aside for a bit while we have that meal. If you have to talk about something, bring up money!
I’ll be back next week with another spreadsheet post (relevant since I just fixed one).