Net Worth and other stuff

Net worth

This was not a good year for our net worth.

Over the summer, we remodeled both of our bathrooms.  At the same time.

1 out of 10: Don’t recommend.

We love the bathrooms, but–as with any project–it went over budget.   Sucks to be us.

Then, towards the end of the year, we decided to push hard and pay off our mortgage in 2015.   Part of doing that meant paying the credit card off slower than we’d like.   It wasn’t the best long-term decision, but we’re mortgage-free now.

Those decision, coupled with a small slump in our investment accounts means we are worth $7650 going into 2016 than we were at the start of 2015.


I’m also disappointed that our credit card discipline slipped last year.

New plan:  No debt before tax day.   Every cent of Linda’s paycheck, every cent of my monthly bonus checks, and every cent of any extra money we make is going into the remaining credit card debt.   My math says that last debt will die on April 1st.

Then we get to talk about what to do with out money when there’s no debt.   But never fear, I have a plan.   A boring, boring plan.

  • We’re going to save for college at a rate we should have started 10 years ago.
  • We’re going to max out both of our retirement plans.
  • We’re going to take some nicer family vacations.
  • We’re going to buy a pony.

So not that boring.

And when our kids all decide to become certified sign-spinners, we’ll have a huge nest-egg in the college fund savings account to spend on lottery tickets.

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Get Age on your Side

Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the best ways in the early years of your career to provide for your long term future is to have a 401K for your retirement where your employer will match your own contributions up to a certain figure. Your contribution is pre-tax incidentally. Albert Einstein once said that compound interest was the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and it is compound interest that will help even small amounts to grow into a substantial figure on retirement if savings begin in your 20s.

It is worth illustrating this with real figures. A figure of $4,000 a year saved between the ages of 25 and 35 with no further contributions after that will produce a larger final figure at 65 than someone starting at 35 and contributing $4,000 per annum for 30 years. The latter has invested three times as much as well. The factors that decide this are time and compound interest. The whole total of former is working for him or her for 30 years. A fair amount of the second example is only ‘working’ positively for a limited time. Start early!

An Illustration

It is worth looking at examples to see what size of fund is realistic. 8% is not an unreasonable sum to put away on a salary of $40,000 a year, a salary that grows at 2% per annum for 20 years. If the employer pays 3% in addition and growth is a modest 7%, the fund at the end of 20 years would be around $210,000. If you can put 10% in instead, or if you extend the saving period to 30 years the fund rockets to over $500,000! It’s time and compound interest again because in the example over 20 years you will have only put in just under $80,000 yourself to have a fund two and a half times bigger.

A Couple of Observations

Can there be a bigger argument for saving from an early age than that? Surely not! The question is how to manage your money well enough so that you can start to save in the early years of your career. You may well have a student loan to begin to pay off. Probably two of the most important things to do with, or not to do depending how you look at it are:

  • Credit Cards. Avoid building up debts by buying things you cannot afford. The interest charged on outstanding balances is penal. If you have a balance, perhaps as a legacy of subsidizing your student life, take out a personal loan to clear it. It is much cheaper in terms of interest rate and repayable in monthly instalments over a fixed term
  • Resist the temptation of trying to impress with material things. Impress people by who you are and not a new car or the latest fashions.


There is no doubt that you may well have monthly expenditure you did not face before, especially if you have relocated to start work. Such expenditure is unavoidable but you should spend some time on researching whether you are getting the best deals. That applies to a number of significant things such as utilities, insurance and telephone. There are comparison websites that do a good deal of research for you and at least will provide you with a short list to look at further.

The aim is to create a regular surplus that can be transferred out of your checking account when your monthly pay comes in to work positively for you and your future. You will need to apply self-discipline to your finances but you can see from the example of ‘time and compound interest’ what they benefits are for being in control. It really is not much to sacrifice.

There will be times in the years to come when you have big financial decisions to make. Real estate comes to mind immediately and a long term mortgage can reasonably be regarded as positive debt because it should produce good growth over the term you have committed yourself to. With real estate often comes marriage and a family; and all the expense that involves. Yet that responsibility is yet another reason to start young in saving for the future, and your possible dependents.

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Making the Most from Your Home Theatre with Window Treatments

Home theater projection screen displaying a hi...

Home theater projection screen displaying a high-definition television image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time home theatres were only reserved for the rich and famous – the equipment and rooms necessary were just far too expensive for your Average Joe. Now, the landscape has changed and with projectors and all of the other core essentials being more affordable, home theatres are more popular than ever before.

Rather than pointing you in the direction of the latest equipment, we’re instead going to talk about another way that you can boost your home cinema experience. The windows in this room can make or break your movies, even though they are often left until the very end of a project. However, make a bad choice in this this regard and the whole expense associated with your home cinema will have been for nothing.

Your window treatment decisions should mainly revolve around your viewing preferences and the type of room that your system is located in. If we start with the latter, if your home cinema happens to be basking in glorious sunlight for most of the day, it goes without saying that you’re going to suffer from the dreaded screen glare. Right in the middle of the best scene in the film, you’ll be hit with a glare that means “part two” will have to follow the day after.

In the above instances, new blind technology is your best friend. Turn to something like a solar shade to eradicate the beaming rays that blind your screen and tune into your movie without any disruption at all.

The above solution assumes that you actually want a bit of natural daylight streaming into your home theatre. Of course, some people might not want to rely on this.

It’s these instances where a more traditional treatment enters the picture, like a blackout blind. As the name suggests, these are able to eradicate all natural light that would otherwise be flowing into the building, to leave your room blanketed in darkness. In other words, your home cinema has just mimicked the setting of the traditional high-street cinema. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Depending on the type of room that your system is based in, there are other options. For example, a lot of people decide to install their home cinemas in the basement, completely out of the way from the rest of the house. In these instances, where the room temperature tends to drop, it might be worth considering a blind that can retain some of the room’s thermal efficiency. Insulated shades are one of the best choices and do exactly as their name suggests.

Already, the window treatment options for your home cinema are starting to become endless. As you’ve probably been able to see, this is a room which relies heavily on its blinds or curtains and making the wrong choice can ruin your whole viewing experience. Just ask yourself what you actually want from the room, and what the room requires. Answer these two points and your home cinema will be the real deal.

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Real Estate Customer Life Cycle

Recently, my wife and I have been searching for new tenants for our rental property.   That’s an irritating customer cycle.   We’ve had more no-shows at the showings than we’ve had prospects show up.   Most people who call seem to think that the rent on a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house with a big yard and a 3 car garage 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis is going to match their little subsidized Section 8 apartment.

Not going to happen.

So we keep looking.  In the meantime, it’s interesting to look at how a real estate trainer breaks down the life cycle of a customer.


NEC Online Degrees

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