Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What to do with my old 401ks

Rolling over my 401k's

Rolling over my 401k's from my previous 2 employers has been on my to do list for longer than I want to admit to.

I've done some very limited research on this but just haven't been able to make a decision.  There are so many choices out there and so many different review sites that I'm having a hard time making a decision.  So I'm putting this post out there and giving myself a deadline of April 30 to make a decision on where to plop these funds.

I have an IRA through our bank but I don't know that we are getting the best return on those and I'm not sure on the fees that we are paying.  So, it's time for some research.

After some basic preliminary research, I am going to focus my time on evaluating Scottrade, Betterment, Fidelity, Vanguard and Charles Schwaab.

Why did I pick those? 

Well I googled Best IRA Investment Companies and found multiple lists of Top 5 or Top 10.  It was interesting to see that every list identified a different company as there "top" choice.

Betterment was listed on a couple sites as being the best for beginner investors or those that want to set it and forget it.  Yep, that sounds like me.  I also picked these just from name recognition and some of the positive reviews that I read.

I'll be back to report on what I find out.  In the meantime, do you have any experience with any of these companies?  If so, let me know.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Step to Meeting Financial Goals: Re-evaluate the Budget (Part 2)

In yesterday's post, I started evaluating our monthly budget to identify ways to tighten up on the spending and put more money each month to our goal of saving a $20,000 down payment.  Here are some additional ways we can save.

4. Extra Regular Income. My paycheck is the exact same every month but my husband is hourly so his pay is almost never the same.  When I prepare the budget, I go on his minimum pay amount if he was only to work exactly 40 hours a week.  His paychecks are almost always over that amount due to overtime.  So instead of using that money as an excuse to go out to eat, that money will now be put into the down payment fund right away.

5. Grocery Budget.  I was budgeting $500 per month for our family of four.  But we have tons of food on hand that we just aren't eating.  I've reduced our grocery budget to $460 per month.  My husband is great at grocery shopping on budget.  I tend to be the one that sees a good deal to stock up on and blows the budget.  That's sometimes a good thing but I tend to do this every time I go to the store.  And then half the time we don't use up the items I stocked up on in time and they get thrown out.

With these changes on top of what I had already been setting aside for a down payment, I think we should be able to save $500 per month.  This would give us over $10,000 by the end of 2018, or half of my goal.  

I have some ideas on ways to add additional funds to this but they require a little more thought before I'm ready to commit them to this particular goal.  I'll be back with more on this another day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Step to Meeting Financial Goals: Re-evaluate the Budget (Part 1)

Getting Back on Financial Track

Step 1: Re-evaluate the Budget 

It's not that I haven't been following a budget lately.  It's just that I make too many excuses to not stick to it.  And with my husband and I both just spending away on the credit cards, it's hard to keep track of all our expenditures.  I don't know what the solution is to this.  We keep our credit cards paid off so we aren't paying interest.  But I feel like way too much goes on the credit cards and we spend more than was budgeted.  My goal for April is to really document each expenditure and keep track of where money is going. 

Now as far as re-evaluating our budget, here are some changes I am making to be able to put more money each month to our goal of saving a $20,000 down payment.

1. Quit paying extra on my car.  I don't even remember what my actual car payment is I've been paying extra on it for so long.  I think it was in the $240 per month range.  Instead of paying anywhere from $300 to $400 per month, I am going to go back to paying only $250 per month.  It will be nice to pay this off early, but it won't save us any money by doing so.  And we already are way ahead, owing less than $8,000 on it the last time I checked.  We will still have this paid off a couple years earlier than planned.

2. Reducing our "Family Fun" money from $75 a month to $50 per month.

3. Over Budgeted Money. I over budget in categories like electric, the water bill and daycare expenses.  I like to have enough money in our budget for the most expensive months, but usually we come in under budget. The extra money from these categories after paying the bills will now go to the Down Payment Fund.  This could be anywhere from $0 to about $200 a month extra in savings.

I'm going to keep looking for ways to save in our budget and will be back with more tomorrow.