This is where a goals recap post is supposed to go, but I don't think I'll do one this month. The short story is that I'm a little more behind on savings than I was last month (the Boston Marathon trip was budgeted, but it was still expensive), and I've knocked off one marathon out of the three I had planned. The second is this weekend, and I'll be glad to see the end of the spring season. I hope this one helps make the horrible events in Boston recede a little.
The biggest progress I made towards goals this month was to do something really grown-up and completely overdue: I finally signed my revocable living trust, pourover will, advanced health directive, and power of attorney forms. The hangup on my trust was that my co-op's attorney has very specific requirements for incorporating my apartment into the trust. While the lawyers were wrangling it out, I came across an article in the New York Times Real Estate section stating that due to a change in the tax laws this year, co-ops that are owned by a trust instead of an individual are not eligible for STAR tax abatement, a plan that cuts me a small break on taxes. (My building issues a shareholder assessment in the same month to suck that money right back up, so there's no extra cash in my pocket. This is pretty common in New York City.) I checked it out with my lawyer, and he confirmed the change. As a result, I decided that because of the tax implications, it would make more sense not to put the apartment in the trust at this time. That made it easy to wrap up the paperwork.
The next part is to move assets into the trust. I can't put my 401(k) or IRA assets into the trust, so I've been making phone calls this week to find out what happens if I make the trust the beneficiary of the 401(k) and IRA's instead of my designated beneficiary. I found out a few important points:
--If my designated beneficiary is a spouse, the assets can be left in the existing accounts, or placed into an account in the beneficiary's name. The beneficiary can then take distributions at any time after age 59 1/2, or cash it out as preferred. The assets would not be subject to probate.
--If my designated beneficiary is a person but not a spouse, the assets can be rolled into an inherited IRA or cashed out within five years. The assets would not be subject to probate.
--If my designated beneficiary is a trust, the assets must be cashed out by the beneficiary of the trust within five years, or systematic withdrawls need to be initiated within a year. There is no option for an inherited IRA.
Since these assets don't go into probate and the options are more limited if a trust is the beneficiary, I'm leaving them as is. This weekend, I'm getting my checking and savings accounts moved into the trust, and then I'll do the same with my investment accounts. It's kind of a hassle, but not nearly as complicated as I expected. My co-op will not be in the trust (for now, anyway), but even though it means probate, the pourover will takes care of it.
The next big grown-up item on my list wasn't on my goals list, but it should have been: I need long-term care insurance. Out of curiosity, I recently got my genotype done through one of the companies that does DNA analysis for both medical and ancestry results. I learned quite a few surprising facts in both areas, but what made me the happiest was the fact that I actually have less risk than average of developing Parkinson's and a whole host of stomach and bowel cancers from genetic causes. Apparently, I'm also highly resistant to the most common strain of the cruise ship vomiting and diarrhea bug as well. I'm not planning to take a cruise (no interest), but for some reason, I'm weirdly proud of that.
While there was nothing horrible and scary in my results, they did have a fairly sobering element: My genetic risk factors for two medical issues with the potential to be quite serious are higher than average, significantly higher in one instance. There's still less than a 25% chance of getting one of these things from genetic causes and less than a 15% chance of getting the other from something inherent in my wiring, but it's enough for me to get the religion about long-term care insurance.
I'm sorry I'm not going into detail any further on these risks. I might come back to this topic after I get long term care insurance, but there is no legal protection against genetic discrimination for long term care insurance in the US, so I don't think it's wise to say more right now.
I should also add that I don't think genetic predisposition is predetermination. For many serious medical conditions, there are a variety of environmental factors that can raise or lower risks. As a lifelong athlete, I have a really good shot at reducing my risk factors significantly, and now I'm more motivated than ever to stay fit and active. Nevertheless, though, I guess thinking about these things is what you do when you're ambling towards middle age. It all seems so grown-up, which made me think of this one-hit wonder from my youth. Sorry about the sound quality, but enjoy the '80's hair!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
I can't stop thinking about the bombings in Boston. It's been nearly two weeks, and it's on my mind constantly. I'm sure the fact that I'm obsessively following the news (even though I don't have television) isn't helping.
I'm functioning just fine at work and sleeping all right. My relationship remains great, and in fact A. (love that guy) just landed a new job he really wanted today. I've had a terrible cold this past week, but that's pretty normal after a marathon. There were a few close calls among my friends (not me, not even remotely me; I was long past the finish and two blocks away from the blasts), but no one I know was injured. I just can't get it off of my mind: Every minute of every day, there it is.
I lived here in New York through the bombings on 9/11 too, and I don't think even that weighed on me as much as this does. The job stuff that's going on at the moment (waiting to find out whether my job will move out of state or not) should really be at the forefront of my mind, but it's not: I've been too innundated with work to give it much much attention, so I haven't been doing much on that front other than working every angle to give my team the best possible shot at not being forced to decide between moving and losing our jobs.
I'm not afraid to go back to Boston. I requalified for next year's marathon, so I already made hotel reservations at the same place we always stay. There are a lot of crazies out there, and what happened in Boston could happen anywhere. I just hate the fact that right now, I want to let it go and I can't.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Yup, I ran it today. Thank you so much for the emails/comments checking in to see if I'm all right. It was quite good as races go, and I crossed the finish line well before the explosions. I was walking on Clarendon Street back to my hotel at the time, and it was obvious right away what the noise and smell were.
Many of my friends and teammates were there, and everyone is safe and accounted for. Quite a few people I know are still there, but I managed to get home tonight with my SO and another friend I went up with.
It's been a horrible day.
Friday, March 29, 2013
The first quarter of 2013 is done and in the books, and it's been kind of a rough ride so far. Work has gone completely nuts, to the point where I was granted several emergency hires (two start next week, and the other two positions are still open), and I ended up having to cancel my vacation in order to put out fires. I haven't worked less than 65 hours per week in two months, and most of the time it's been much more than that.
Cancelling my vacation was a huge bummer. I was on the West Coast with my family celebrating my mom's 87th birthday, and I hardly saw her. Instead, I was taking conference calls at 3:30 a.m. and driving to Starbucks as soon as it opened so I could spend the whole day using their wifi. (They were very nice about it, though.)
Needless to say, none of this has helped my marathon training.
Also on the employment front, my organization is being impacted by major job offshoring and an in-country geographic move. I'm not worried about my team's jobs being offshored, but there is every chance that we will be asked to move to a flyover state I've visited once on business and in which I have no interest in ever residing. I've been working every angle to keep us all in place but after eighteen years with one employer, I'm facing the very real possibility of either having to move or lose my job.
I've been developing a new career path in hopes of moving to a different part of my company, but it's slow going and will take time. In the meantime, unless I do something horribly wrong or bad that gets me fired immediately (not likely), my job should be safe for about six months. After that, it's anybody's guess. As you might imagine, it's been horribly, horribly stressful. The boyfriend has been A+ supportive, but the whole thing has been really tough to deal with. Aside from the job factor, if I end up feeling I have no choice but to move, it's going to force us to make some decisions about our future that we are really not ready to make just yet.
On a more positive note, the stock market has totally rocked over the last three months, and my bottom line has benefited in a big way: In that time period, my net worth increased by over $82,000. $11,000 of that has been from paycheck money I dumped into IRA and investments, $4200 (I'm rounding) has been from Roth 401(k) contributions, and $4500 has been from deferred matching 401(k) contributions for 2012 from my employer. The remaining $62,000 has been from stock market growth, bringing my net worth excluding real estate to over $817,000.
I know it's not realistic to expect that level of growth to continue for the rest of the year, but as it stands, I have an off chance of hitting a million in investments and cash before the end of December. This is especially gratifying considering that I got spanked pretty hard in taxes after gritting my teeth and converting more than a few years' worth of non-Roth IRA's to Roth, which is a perfectly legal, backdoor way of funding a Roth IRA even if you don't meet the income restrictions.
Anyway, I can't control what happens in the stock market, just as I can't control what happens with the future of my job (although I'm not giving up trying to influence it). I'm trying to just stay the course and keep doing what works for me.
That brings me to the real reason for this post, an update on my 2013 goals.
I'm behind by $1000 now, up from $200. This is primarily from the nasty tax bite I had in late February, and also because my dental insurance company has been holding up a claim I paid up front due to lost paperwork. It's resolved now, and I'm awaiting payment. I'm not sure if I can make up the deficit, but I'm going to try.
Create a revocable living trust
I finally received the first draft from my lawyer last week, and it needed some revisions. I have the second draft to review this weekend. I also did a pourover will, an advanced health care directive, and a durable power of attorney. Once the trust is finally established, it'll take the rest of the year to move my assets into it.
Save for periodic expenses in advance
Yeah, haven't done a thing on that.
Don't buy any work dresses
I've been buckling down about buying anything in the way of clothes, and that includes work dresses. I did, however, buy a 2013 Boston Marathon jacket because they're so much nicer than usual.
Lose eight pounds in January, and
four nine thereafter
I did it. . . I lost seventeen pounds! I'm surviving the Sugar Challenge (no processed sugar) so far too, but I've had a few periods where I almost cracked. My weight is up about four pounds but the absolute worst of the non-location-related work chaos has receded, so I'm taking a break for a few days and then recommitting next week.
Work from home twice weekly
Still doing pretty well on this one, although I've had a few weeks where I've had to be in the office every day. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Working remotely has vastly improved my quality of life, especially when I'm working twelve to fourteen hours a day.
Run three marathons
Boston is two weeks from Monday. It may not be the race I was envisioning, but I'll get through it. I'm starting to feel the burnout, though, so I'm reassessing how realistic it is to hit my bucket list goal of twenty by the end of next year.
How did the first three months of the year treat you?
Friday, February 1, 2013
Yikes. Where did January go? Time to do a progress check on my 2013 goals. Here's how it's all going down so far:
I'm a little behind on this one, $200 so far. I pulled a little money out of savings to add to my regular investment money in order to max out my traditional IRA, so I did that and then converted it to a Roth the following day. I'm shoring up my savings again, but so far I'm $200 behind.
Why am I behind? Well, I spent money that I didn't need to spend, and I had a great time doing it. My s.o. (let's call him A) and I have thoroughly enjoyed Restaurant Week in New York and went to a few places we've been wanting to try. In addition, I lost weight and bought new clothes, but some will need to be returned (being short and finding jeans that don't drag on the floor, aren't mom jeans, and don't create horrific buttcrack is a real problem!) so I might recoup the $200 before too long.
I should add that the increase in payroll tax has reduced my net income by close to $200, which is slightly offset by the increase in pretax withholding for commuting expenses. I really don't like the idea of reducing my goal to accommodate this change, since I know I have plenty of discretionary spending that I could cut. I'll keep the savings target as it is for now, but perhaps revisit it in a few months.
Create a revocable living trust
I got this rolling, so it's in progress. At the moment, I need my co-op attorney to detail out the building's requirements for the trust, and then my estate attorney will put it together. The co-op attorney is on vacation for another week, so hopefully I'll get the document finalized by the end of February. It'll probably take the rest of the year to move all my assets into it, especially since I need a new proprietary lease issued by the co-op board in the name of the trust.
Save for periodic expenses in advance
Uh. . . . haven't done this yet (see the part about going shopping!). This is where my tax refund will be going, though.
Don't buy any work dresses
Technically I've succeeded on this one so far because I haven't bought any work dresses, but I think that's because the goal itself is too narrow. I missed this month's savings goal because I bought jeans, pants, and workout clothes. . . lots and lots of workout clothes. I might redefine this goal next month to expand it beyond work dresses because even though I'm following the letter of the goal, I'm absolutely finding ways around it.
Lose eight pounds in January, and four thereafter
Revised this goal from twelve pounds to lose to seventeen (sob). It was worse than I thought! That said, I've dropped thirteen pounds so far. I'm sure at least three to five were water weight, so I'm not concerned about how fast I've done it. Four left to go, and I am feeling better in every way.
A new sub-goal to come out of this is the revival of the Sugar Challenge. A little background: I have a serious sugar jones and no ability to exercise any sort of self-control or moderation with it. A few years ago, I went a full year without eating any sweets and almost no processed sugar. After an excruciating six weeks of withdrawl symptoms, I started feeling better and it made a huge difference in my energy level, blood sugar stability, ability to maintain my weight, and overall well-being. After a little over a year, I tried a cookie to see if I'd finally kicked my sugar demon, and it was like the whole prior year had never taken place: I quickly spiraled out of control and couldn't regain it.
For some reason, in the first week of January this year, I managed to go through a few days without processed sugar without any cravings. I decided to try a few more days, and then a few more . . . and now it's been just under a month and I still don't have any cravings. It seems to make sense to keep going, at least for the remainder of the year.
Work from home twice weekly
I'm doing pretty well on this one: I'm holding to two days per week at home, and most nights I'm actually getting to bed by 10 or 10:30. Along with the weight loss, the extra sleep is making me feel much, much better.
Run three marathons
The first one (Boston) comes up in 10 1/2 weeks, and the second is three weeks later. I've put in my first twenty-mile run of the season, and although I still have lingering injury pain (which can last up to two years with this type of injury), I'm running strong and getting faster. I'm taking a speed class once a week, and that's motivating me to really push myself.
All in all, it's not a bad start. How are your goals going?
By the way, I received a request from a longtime reader to remove the captcha feature on comments because it's creating difficulty for her in commenting. I did and immediately got spam-bombed, so I've put it back on. I'll look at alternative commenting systems when I get a chance (I know intensedebate is a popular one), but I appreciate your patience in the meantime!
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Apparently, the fiscal cliff deal included a provision to allow existing traditional 401(k) accounts to be converted to Roth 401(k)'s. Like the traditional IRA conversion, which allows people who exceed income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA directly to back-door fund Roth IRA's by contributing to traditional IRA plans and then converting them into a Roth IRA, taxes on the traditional IRA are paid up front, and then future growth is tax-free.
You can read the details here. As always, the caveat is that a Roth isn't appropriate for everyone: It makes sense primarily for individuals who expect their retirement incomes to be higher than their working incomes. In addition, the benefits are skewed towards the younger generation in that longer time horizons until the retirement mean more opportunity to take advantage of the power of compounding.
I've put this on the list for things to ask my accountant about at tax time. My employer has offered a Roth 401(k) for several years, and just under 50% of my 401(k) is already in Roth accounts. My traditional 401(k) has close to $200,000 in it and the tax bite will be a big one, certainly five figures. Before doing any kind of a conversion (which isn't available yet anyway), I need to be sure it makes sense. Hopefully the decision will be a lot clearer for other people!
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Living in a small space in New York, I do relatively well at keeping my clutter to a minimum. I have a few ongoing hot spots that need regular maintenance, (front closet; drawers with workout clothes), plus a couple of other spaces that I really don't touch as often as I should. On Friday, I decided to tackle the worst offenders in this last category, one of the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom medicine cabinet.