The first half of 2013 is in the books, and it's been decidedly mixed. In no particular order, here are a few highlights and lowlights that come to mind:
--Last night, I celebrated the close of June with a plumbing emergency that kept me up until 2:00 a.m. There was a blockage elsewhere in my building, but it caused my kitchen sink to erupt with really foul black water. The eruption became so bad that the water to all of the apartments in my line had to be shut down until an emergency crew came out to fix it. A. was fantastic: He bailed nastywater with me and then refused to leave until the plumber arrived, even though it was getting really late by that point.
--Work is still unstable. I really don't know how it's going to play out in terms of my job being relocated. Odds are increasingly high that we'll also end up with a massive reorganization and although I don't think I'd lose my job out of it, that's certainly something that will impact who I work for and what I do.
--I'm working a ridiculous amount, not less than sixty hours per week since February, and usually more. That said, I'm not leaving my employer voluntarily: I have too many years in the pension system, and that makes it a very expensive decision. There's one exception, though: If my job moves to another state, I'll take severance and be done with it. I'm pretty burned out, and I don't want to leave New York.
--My will and trust are set up and I moved all but about $1300 of my assets outside of real estate into the trust. (I'm leaving my apartment out for now both for tax reasons and because my co-op is incredibly difficult about this, but the rest should be done in the next few weeks.) I'm waiting to see what my employer offers in the way of long term care insurance during our next annual enrollment before I do anything further about that.
--I paid some stupid tax this year: I filed my taxes in March, and not only did I not get a refund, I ended up paying out of pocket for the taxes on the $12,000 I converted from a regular IRA to a Roth last year. That was painful enough, but I totally forgot one important piece of information when filing: I sold a dog of a mutual fund for a significant loss last year with the intention of offsetting my taxes for the IRA conversion, but guess what? I forgot all about it! I had to refile my taxes, and that was another $200 I paid to my accountant. I ended up getting $500 back from the IRS, but New York State still hasn't sent me a check for the nearly $400 the refile is supposed to bring. I'm still out of pocket on the conversion fees, but I keep reminding myself it'll pay off later, when I start cashing it in and don't owe taxes on the growth.
--I saw a web posting for a larger, sunnier apartment for sale in my building, and that gave me the upgrade bug. I agonized over it, but finally concluded that this isn't the time.
--I also have the renovation bug: There's a long, long list of mostly cosmetic changes I want to make to my apartment, but none of them are cheap. The question then becomes whether it makes sense to invest in an apartment that I don't think is going to be my lifetime home, or just plan on selling as is and upgrading when the time is right.
--Part of the reason I want to change my living environment is because A's coming up on the end of his lease, so the question of whether or not we move in together is going to come up again. It already did, briefly, and we agreed not to discuss it just yet. He's not crazy about my apartment, and I'm sure that my urge to change my living environment is driven in part by wanting a home where he wants to live with me.
I know that potentially furthering a romantic relationship is a TERRIBLE reason to make changes in a place that's totally paid for and one in which I've been really happy up until now. It would also result in putting myself at financial risk at a very bad time, given that I don't know what's going to happen with my job. I also suspect that A's not totally ready to take that step in our relationship, and truthfully, I go back and forth myself on whether it's really something I'm ready to do. We don't want kids, and at 44 and 46, there's really no compelling reason for us to ever think about marriage. We're each pretty set in our ways as well, and we both need a lot of emotional space. While moving in together (assuming we moved into my place) would be great for us financially, I'm not sure we'd be happier with each other or happier in general for it. That's potentially a big contrast to where we are now: We drive other nuts from time to time, but we're very much in love and the time we have together is precious. Stay tuned if you want to see how this shakes out, I guess.
Reviewing the financial aspect of the past six months, it's been an overwhelmingly good start to the year. Despite the nasty thump the stock market took in the last two weeks of June, my net worth is up considerably. I started the year at about $735,000 and ended it at $852,000, excluding real estate. Here's where the (rounded) $117,000 increase came from:
--Deferred 401(k) match: $4500
--Savings, including 401(k) and IRA: $30,500
--Investment returns: $82,000
The calculated return is a little over 11%, but since my net worth also includes cash and bonds, my actual return from the stock market alone is closer to 15%.
At the start of the year, I thought there was a very long-shot chance at hitting a million before the end of December. I still think it's a long shot, but perhaps not quite as long as it seemed six months ago.
Meanwhile, I'm about $2000 behind on my savings goal of $65,000. Part of that is the result of the tax event I triggered with my IRA conversion and subsequent idiocy about the loss I forgot to write off, but not being as careful as I should be about spending has a lot to do with it. I'm trying to buckle down harder on this one in the second half of the year, but I'm not as focused as I was when I had the really concrete goal of paying off my mortgage.
All in all, there's been more good this year so far than bad, and I'm slowly learning to live with uncertainty, which is a hard thing for a carefully calculated risk-taker to do.
I do believe that better days are coming. I have to.
How was the first half of your year?