A super-late update on my super-boring finances, how fun is that

I last talked about my boring finances waaay back in 2010.  Since then I have:  gotten tenure, quit my job, gotten engaged, moved across the country from Hell to Paradise, planned a wedding, gotten married, and gotten a new job… and gosh, a lot has happened in five years.

So, you may be wondering, how has all of this affected my boring finances?

student loans:  These were due to be paid off in 2018.  I got rid of them in 2013 mostly because of the loan servicer changing to one whose interface SUXXORED.

Wedding/Honeymoon: Thank every one of the gods and goddesses that the planning is over.  The wedding was a blast!  Everything was great.  The pictures came out wonderfully, the food was tasty, there was some laughter, nobody killed each other [despite the swordplay].  When I look at the photos of that day, all I see is love.

We paid for the honeymoon (and the wedding) ourselves, thanks to our savings and a windfall from my partner’s job.  Thanks also to both sets of parents who gave us cash gifts they could afford, thus freeing anybody from arguing about loans or who got to make decisions.  We <3 you, parents.  Cash is always appropriate.

We went far away on our honeymoon, and because it was our one-and-only honeymoon, we sprang for business class on the long-haul flight (both ways).  We haven’t done this before, and it was really worth it. Business class really cuts down on the amount of pain we’re in after a long flight (although it doesn’t completely eliminate that phase of the flight where every part of your body hurts, but it does make it shorter and less severe!).  By ‘long’ flight I mean over ten hours.

We ate everything, we stayed at nice hotels, we did touristy stuff, we loved it.

Car: I had to buy one when I moved to Hell in 2008.  Paid it all off on my junior professor salary.  It’s slightly the worse for wear at the moment, but still going quite strong.

house down payment:  Nope.  Since we moved to Paradise, we can’t afford a house.  I am just as happy renting in a place that I love, and I’m glad I didn’t try to buy in Blasted Wasteland.  Because now I would own a house in Blasted Wasteland.  Ugh.  Or I would have had to unload it on some other poor sap of a junior faculty person and then they’d be stuck there.

retirement:  After some time off between jobs, my retirement account is a bit anemic for my age.  Yipes!  But now that I’m employed full time with benefits again, I’m going to try to make up for lost time.  (I know that compound interest means I can’t, really, but I can only work on the future.)  Starting in Jan., I’ll be putting THE MAX you can put in each year.  It’s kind of a scary-large amount of money.  But it seems like the right choice.  My overall retirement amount is very small so far….

How our joint finances work:  Big changes here, due to my unemployment and then re-employment, us moving, my partner changing jobs, and getting legally married.

We’ve got a joint account for savings for our next life adventure, whatever that may be.  We’ve already had a wedding and we’re priced out of real estate.  Maybe my partner will make a career change?  We also each have individual checking and savings.  My partner pays all the bills and occasionally I chuck some money his way.  He’s paying more than half, since his salary is about 2.3 times mine.  I’m on his health insurance, which is way nicer than the one at my work, and turns out to be the same price or cheaper for much better service.  We are each other’s beneficiaries on stuff like retirement accounts and life insurance (free through work).

We used to have method one of sharing finances, but these days we have no spreadsheet at all.  One big thing that has changed is that with legally tying the knot, all our finances are legally “ours” instead of his-n-hers.  We still use them mostly as his-n-hers, which is fine, but our thinking is much closer to “enh, it’s your money too” than we used to be.  But now we’ll be doing taxes as married-filing-jointly, and my lower income will help offset his higher tax burden.  Because we had some complex tax things go on, I leave the taxes up to him, because his job had a bunch of wacky tax implications with stock options and things I do not understand.  Maybe in 2016 our taxes will be simpler and I will go back to understanding them.

So, uh, yeah?  How are your finances?  Any changes in the last 5 years or so?

22 Responses to “A super-late update on my super-boring finances, how fun is that”

  1. Leigh Says:

    To be fair, the stock market hasn’t been that great – my retirement accounts have been growing slower than I have put money in the last two years. But yes catching up on retirement sounds good :) I love the idea of paying for first class flights on your honeymoon!

    Oh gosh so much has happened in five years. I think I’ve increased my net worth about 11x. Retirement is on track. I bought a condo. I changed jobs and started grad school part-time. My now-boyfriend (of 2.5! years) moved in. I feel reasonably confident we may settle in our current city for the next 5-10 years. I definitely didn’t have that feeling five years ago. Life is good. Minus the ponderings on how long I’ll stay in my career.

  2. Debbie M Says:

    Yea, I love these super-boring finances because it really means super awesome finances! You can afford lots of great things in a low stress way!

    I have nice boring finances too, though there have been changes over the past five years.

    I retired this year! Also paid off the house a couple of years ago.

    So now I’m on a mostly-fixed income with skyrocketing property taxes because of gentrification. Fun times! I expected to be adding to savings for a while until inflation made that harder, but I’m currently using all my extra to support my severely underemployed boyfriend.

    Mostly my finances are the same, though. I have a few more frugal ways (such as LED lightbulbs and darkening window film). And there’s now a good thrift store (maybe even my second favorite?) in walking distance. Oh, yes.

    Still keeping our eye out for places to move if our current location starts stinking too much. (I think we’re safe from rising ocean levels, but there’s rising property values, corrupt politicians, scarce water, evil bastard politicians, Google luring my friends to California, and who knows what else?) Still don’t have one. I kind of like Oklahoma City (less corruption, still kind of warm), but Oklahoma’s getting fracked to death. I also like Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia, but do they want me? Still need to learn about Portland, Oregon, and the triangle in North Carolina. And maybe San Marcos and New Braunfels (Texas). And maybe Costa Rica or Uruguay. We’re finding out about Barcelona this summer. I already know I’m not interested in moving to Waco (Texas) or Burlington, Vermont, or Seattle or Phoenix or Albuquerque or Switzerland or super cold places (Chicago, Boston, Canada). I don’t even want to move to a medium cold place.

    Also, not sure what I want to do if I get old and broken but still happy. I’m a big fan of helpful devices (walkers, wheelchairs, glasses) even if they make me look old or whatever, but what if those aren’t enough? I’ve heard living in NYC is cool because you can get everything delivered, but that won’t be happening.

  3. Leah Says:

    I got married too (tho 4 years ago). We still haven’t figured out how we want to share our finances, so we have separate accounts but still consider everything joint. So, it’s a wash, I suppose. It would likely be easier to have the same accounts and do everything jointly, but we have some inertia to overcome before that point.

  4. Susan Says:

    I wrote a question that you (or #2) answered a while back about what to do with a big chunk of money that came from selling my condo. So here is my update:

    The money initially went into a 1% savings, while I maxxed my 403b contribution. The idea was that we’d use the savings as a buffer for the decreased cash inflow.

    Then my partner got a good remote software job (similar to one of you, I think), so his income precluded use of the savings money, and money started piling up in addition. That spurred me into action on figuring out my portfolio, which was a mix of gifted stocks and mutual funds, and what I didn’t even know was a traditional IRA, both held at an advisor. Not ideal (some expensive, front-loaded funds), but not horrible.

    … some bogleheads wiki reading later, I rolled that tIRA into my 403b, to enable me to do backdoor Roth in the future. I sold the losing stocks. I created a taxable account at Vanguard to hold the rest of the stocks, and put some of the RE-return money into low-cost index funds. Houston, we have an AA.

    Then we too went and got married this summer. I ‘made’ my now-husband increase his 401k contributions, mean wife that I am, and I think that between that change and some tax loss harvesting, we might squeak under the Roth contribution limit this year.

    Next up: straightening out his side of things. We have similar approaches: live below your means, set it and forget it. We both had a bit of a mess in the ‘forget’ side, and his mess is rollover IRAs in various places, one big chunk that was in cash funds …. since 2011 (argh). The hard thing is to try to smooth out the income; this is a high year, but followed a bunch of low years, and working for a startup, I’m sure low years will happen again (at which point we’ll harvest gains, sell off original stocks, and/or convert his tIRAs to Roth, not necessarily in that order).

    Oh, and we bought a house in there, so we’re locked in to a good 30-yr rate. But in the first place, I’m just so glad not to be a long-distance landlord anymore, because that was some serious financial paralysis while it lasted.

    But thanks for your financial posts, and pointing me towards bogleheads.

  5. the frugal ecologist Says:

    What a difference 5 years makes – my story is a bit similar – 2010 me was in my first year as asst prof, didn’t own a car since we had just moved from NE city with good transit, and we had just purchased a house. 2015 me has quit faculty job, moved to paradise, now has 3 (!) Kids, working part time in a plum position but would like a full time job, own two cars paid for with cash, back to renting because real estate in paradise is $$$. No loans, chunk of change in an account waiting to be a down payment, retirement accts are good, although contributions are lower these days.
    It’s been interesting to go from primary breadwinner to not, but I’ve maintained my role as family cfo. We do talk about moving somewhere with lower cost of living (western Washington, Idaho!) But I think we are probably here for the long haul.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      “We do talk about moving somewhere with lower cost of living (western Washington, Idaho!)”

      DON’T DO IT. STAY IN PARADISE. –This message brought to you by both grumpies.

      • chacha1 Says:

        STAY IN PARADISE, and rent. If you are making enough to save serious dough, save it, don’t spend it on an overpriced house that will stress you out for the rest of your lives.

        This message brought to you by someone who is still renting at 50 and damned glad of it.

    • Becca Says:

      My Aunt and Uncle summer in Sandpoint Idaho and winter in Palm Springs. It’s not nearly as expensive as I would have imagined, though they bought the palm Springs condo years ago and rented it out, which helped pay the mortgage down.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    My finances would be super-boring if I could just get the husband to save. (Essentially the same as five years ago.) When I get our tax-prep bookkeeping done this year, if he has not seriously reduced his debt, we are going to have a very unpleasant conversation.

  7. Linda Says:

    I’ve had a lot change in 5 years. In 2010 I was living in Chicago in a house with a mortgage. It was one year after my divorce, and I was still trying to rebuild my savings, so I was renting out two bedrooms in the house.

    In the intervening years I was successful in building up a nice savings cushion while still being able to afford some lovely vacations. Bought a four-year-old car with cash. Stopped renting rooms and had the boyfriend move in and pay the same amount in rent. Then had the BF go into a spiral of despair and loss (including job loss) and stop paying me anything at all for rent and utilities. I still managed to save money, though, and rented out a room through Airbnb for a year to bring in more income.

    In 2014 I sold the house and moved to Paradise where I’m currently renting. I walked away from the sale with a bunch of cash and put a chunk of it into my Vanguard Variable Annuity. I’ve still been maxing out my Roth 401(k) every year, and with that chunk of money now in my annuity I can make much smaller annual contributions to keep on track with the financial plan I worked out a few years ago. If I had doubled the chunk of money I would be completely free of any annuity contributions, but I wasn’t sure if wanted to try to invest in real estate this year, so I held some back. I guess I could still put another chunk in the annuity, but I’m waiting for bit because there are health distractions right now.

    At this point I really have too much cash in the bank, but I’m also glad that it is so easy to access now. My medical expenses are going to be a bitch over the next few months with two surgeries happening in short order. Even with good insurance, the co-pays, prescriptions, labs, and hospitalization this year is going to total around 5K, most likely. (I’m wishing I had withheld the full amount to my FSA this year, but I didn’t. Wah!) And since I am pretty highly compensated, I won’t be able to deduct any of it from my taxes, which leaves me thinking both “Ugh!” and “Yay me for getting paid well!” Next year, I get to spend even more money on eye surgery, but at least I was smart enough to withhold the max for the FSA next year so it will be tax advantaged.

  8. How do you communicate with your spouse about money? | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] He does joint taxes for us both.  We tell each other after we’ve made charitable contributions, usually.  But mostly we’re responsible with our own stuff and have these systems with our joint stuff. […]


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