Tuesday, November 15, 2016


The husband's job is going well. There's not much to report, really. His employer still pitches 5% of his salary into his "pension" (it's a defined-contribution plan), and we put in 3%. We are still working on maxing out his 457 plan. Next year we will do the pension, 457, and 403b. We can't do the 403b this year because we have already filled the TSP. Anyway, now that the election is behind us, the stock market has turned around a bit, and our balances are increasing again.

The husband still has not gotten his disability determination from the VA. We expect it will be at least several more weeks. Our local facility takes on average, 135 days to make a final determination, and so far, it has been only two months. So we wait! And wait, and wait some more.

Thanksgiving is coming up next week. We'll be driving to my in-law's house which is just a few hours from here. My family situation is at best, "complicated," so fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) we won't be traveling to them over the holidays.

Our overall net worth was down at the end of October, but I think November may show a small increase, which would be great. It helps keep us motivated. We've had a lot of expenses with regard to getting the house fixed up, so we aren't saving as much as we usual right now.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's been over a month since my last post, and life is moving along as it always does. The husband is working through appointments for his VA disability claim. We don't know yet what percentage he will be awarded, or even if he will be awarded anything at all. I suspect it will be several months before he receives word. The great thing is that in a few days he will be finished with the military. His contract is up within the week!

We've received our insurance information from his new job. I found out we can't participate in an HSA and have him using VA healthcare, so for now, we are using the "regular" health insurance plan: low deductible, but costs more. If for some reason he receives no disability care from the VA, we can always switch to the HDHP/HSA but I doubt that would be beneficial. The cost of his appointments and medications would likely exceed the savings in premiums.

After nearly two months, his SUSORP plan is up and running and has received its first contribution. Yay! I was worried they had messed up the paperwork, but the contributions finally showed up after this past paycheck. It will be great having his employer toss in 5% of his wages into this fund. We put in 3%. This year we are also maxing a 457 plan. We can't do a 403b until 2017, because the TSP was already maxed for the year. I'm waiting until we file our taxes to see whether we should contribute to our Roth or Traditional IRAs this year.

On top of all that, now that we "own" our house, we are building up equity. I say "own" in quotations because we have a mortgage. In the last few months our balance has decreased by about $2,000. That's not much, but it's something. I will focus on paying down our mortgage after cash flow isn't tight. As of now, a very large portion of his salary is going to retirement accounts. Eventually, he'll get raises and things will loosen up. It just hasn't happened yet!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Settling into life...

We've been in Florida for about a month now, and had a chance to do a few outings. First, we took the little bugger to the Lego store on the south side of Orlando. He had fun. Other than an extremely over priced lunch that went along with this outing, it was a good way to get out of the house and see things. Bugger has also decided he likes the beach. We've made two trips to the coast, and although he likes playing in the sand, he won't stick a toe in the water. With all the jelly fish on the beach, this could be a good thing.

This winter or should I say, "winter," I would like for us to get out a bit more. We'll use up some of the husband's vacation time doing a camping trip. Maybe we will do a run down to the keys. It'll be great being able to take our time on these trips and explore a bit.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

We've moved!

We're in Florida now, and life is going great. The husband's job is fairly low-stress, and isn't overly time consuming.

On the financial front, things are doing OK too. As a government employee, the husband now has access to a 403b, and a 457 plan, in addition to a separate retirement system the government contributes to. He also has access to an HSA, but due to some prescription medications he takes, we are not using a HDHP right now, and are going the traditional health insurance route.

We are trying to separate our life from the military as much as possible, but it hasn't happened quite yet. The husband has submitted his disability claim to the VA, and we are waiting to see what percentage he is awarded. From what I can tell, the amount will be between $100-$3,000/month. It's a big difference. I have no idea how long it will be before we hear anything, but I'm going to count myself lucky if we get anything from them at all before Thanksgiving.
I managed to get the TSP maxed for the year. Yay! But, now that the new job has started, we are trying to squeeze in another $18,000 of savings for the year. The 457 plan is great for early retirees as there are no early withdrawal penalties. We can take the money out as we need it. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Retirement savings for 2016

I mentioned that I had planned to shut off the TSP for a while. Well, now it's back on. Due to our increased income this year, we will be using only the traditional side. From what I understand, the TSP can be rolled to his new job's 457 plan. Due to our early retirement plans, having money in the 457 will be a huge advantage. It can be withdrawn without penalty after leaving your job (no penalty for being under 59 1/2). So, I'm getting the TSP stocked as well as I can before the husband separates.

Last month we put in a little over $3,500. This month it will be more because he gets a raise (because of his time in service). Since we don't know exactly when his last day will be, I'm not sure if we will get the TSP "filled" for this year or not. We will see.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We're in debt!

We closed on our house. As I said before, we are electing to use a VA loan and were able to get a rate of 3.375%.

Right now, I don't have plans to pay this down aggressively. We definitely need to let the dust settle as we get moved into the new place and get our life started in Florida.

More to come!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

House Closing

After a lot of paperwork, it's looking like we will close on the house in the next ten days.

We are purchasing our home using a VA loan. In order to decrease the funding fee, we are putting 5% down. With the closing costs, fees, and down payment we will be writing a check for just over $16,000. If you have a disability rating from the VA, you are exempt from paying the funding fee. I've seen a few bits of information suggesting you can get the funding fee back if you have made a disability claim prior to closing and your claim is approved. The husband will likely get some sort of disability, so I will investigate whether we are eligible for a refund.

We looked at doing VA, FHA and conventional loans, but we determined that VA would be the best deal. Even after the funding fee, the interest rate was lower, and we wouldn't have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). We locked in a rate of 3.375% for 30 years.

Now, we'd like to have our mortgage paid off before we quit working (about 10 years from now, possibly less). We decided to go with the 30 year because it gives us flexibility right now. I would like to invest our income in mutual funds rather than paying extra on our mortgage. I've decided we will utilize all our tax sheltered accounts before paying extra on our mortgage. Even though the hubs makes a good salary, after maxing a 403b, 457, HSA, and two IRAs, things are going to be tight--for now anyway. He will eventually make more, and that's probably when we'll start paying extra on the mortgage. I haven't decided yet. But for now, we need to separate ourselves from military life, get moved, and move into the new house.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Still in Limbo

The husband finished his job last month, but that doesn't mean the military is cutting him loose. Right now, he goes to PT formation and comes home--often for the day. There aren't enough jobs for the number of people in the military. Some people are currently doing nothing. We're trying to figure out if there's some way for the military to cut the husband loose, but we've come up empty handed. Most people have no clue what to do. I'm mentally prepared to wait the full time until his terminal leave begins (in July), but it would certainly be great if we were able to leave earlier. The waiting is boring, but at least we are getting our money's worth with our Netflix subscription.

We are supposed to close on our house in a little over two weeks. I've worked out to do the closing by mail, so fortunately I don't have to return to Florida right now.

The house we're buying needs a bit of work. Mainly, it needs a new roof, and it needs one right away. I have someone lined up to do the work, but we don't have a date set yet. The roof is going to cost us $10,000--not huge money, but I need to make sure we have cash on hand to cover it. We will eventually do other work, but the roof is the most pressing item.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Retirement savings going forward

Since the husband is leaving the military, he will no longer be able to contribute to the TSP. His new job is with a state university, which comes with some great savings options.

First, there is a 403b plan--just like the 401k plan. And they offer really good investment options. There's also a 457 plan, which you can contribute to in addition to the 403b. So that's $36,000 of tax advantaged savings alone. They also have a HDHP with an HSA. For 2016, a family can contribute $6,750. Add on two IRAs at $5,500 each, and we can put $53,750 into tax advantaged accounts during 2016. And, I'm also considering going back to work--meaning that $53,750 could increase to $71,750! That seems crazy good! We just have to keep up our frugal lifestyle in order to make it happen. If we manage to get through several years without a wrench being thrown in our plan, retirement could come sooner than later.

As I mentioned, we're buying a house. Ideally, this house would be mostly, if not completely paid off before we pull the plug. Our income is not going to be high enough right now to make significant progress on our mortgage, but that may change if one of us gets a promotion or raise.

Big update!

In the last few months, lots has happened. The husband has gotten a great job down in Florida. It's still a few months before he leaves the military and starts the job, but we are looking forward to it.

We looked at renting an apartment or a house near his job, but that didn't appear to be cost effective. Buying a house was a better option, financially. So, given that, we've found a house and are in the process of buying it.

I'm really looking forward to this change. Mainly, that we're "settled." We don't have to move again next year. That fact alone makes it awesome. It's been fun moving around, but I'm tired!