FIRE Progress Report through April 2020

Progress Report (Pandemic Edition, Part 2)

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

We decided to become DoorDash drivers in our spare time. We’ve got a lot of that lately and needed something to do. We’ve been using the extra money we’re making from that to put towards a new car. I’d honestly suggest it if you’re looking for a way to make some extra cash and get out and see new places. We figure we’re making about $15 to $25 an hour as long as you decide to deliver during reasonably busy times. If you’re interested in checking it out, feel free to use my referral link: https://drd.sh/5rVLhP/ (I haven’t seen that I get anything if you were to use it.)

Our expenses continue to level off or decrease slightly. A lot of that can be attributed to not being able to really do anything.

This past month we ended up having to do a major car repair to our 2006 Prius. Turns out it needed some fixes to the brakes and the rear struts needed replaced after we went over a small bump and one corner of the car looked like it just gave up.

We also purchased a new lawn mower after our mower of 10+ years rusted through. We decided that will never happen again, so we went with a Toro with an aluminum deck.

Finally, we got our daughter a new phone for her birthday. When you can’t go anywhere, there aren’t really a lot of options. We figured that she’s using it a lot to stay connected, so it made sense. It wasn’t a fancy iPhone or anything.

Finally, my life insurance came due this month, so that got paid.

How did this affect us?

If things changed quickly in March, they changed just as quickly in April. You’ll see that most numbers have rebounded back to where they were a couple of months ago. Some have even improved from where they were a couple of months ago and the markets haven’t even fully recovered. Some of that may have to do with the fact that we kept investing as things were declining, so we got an extra boost when they went back up.

As for the expenses we had this month:

  • Daughter’s Phone – $250
  • Life Insurance – $440
  • Car Repairs – $800
  • Lawn Mower – $532

The Money Related Numbers

29.83% to target number (previously 26.10%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

99 months (previously 100)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

89.43 months (previously 97.44)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

9.01 times annual spending (previously 7.88)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

36.03% to minimum FIRE (previously 31.52%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

30.20 times annual spending at goal number (previously 30.19)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

35.95% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

44.67% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

39.94% of Gross Income Invested with Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

49.63% of Net Income Invested With Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

FIRE Progress Report through March 2020

Progress Report (Pandemic Edition)

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

Wow, what a month it has been! If I had 10 guesses, a pandemic or stay-at-home orders would not have been on that list. I know this is a scary time for a lot of people and many people have lost their jobs. I’m fortunate to work for a company that will be impacted, but will weather this storm without any job loss.

If you’re struggling right now, I know it’s easy to think “if I would have done this or that, this would be easier”. Unfortunately, I think it’s our nature to go back to business-as-usual once things recover. If you’re stressed right now from a financial perspective, you may want to consider writing down how you feel. Then write down what you’re going to do when everything starts to return to normal. One example may be to build an emergency fund large enough to get through something like this. Put that note somewhere you won’t forget about it. Look at it in 6-12 months and start to do those items when you’re able.

How did this affect us?

This past month, we’ve pretty much done everything as we normally have. Some larger expenses this month include taxes, building a custom closet (which was cheaper doing it ourselves), and I paid for a year’s worth of haircuts ahead of time. I had learned about doing this through the ChooseFI podcast. Essentially, find those things that you’re going to use when you’re no longer stuck at home. Then offer to pay for those products and services in advance to support those businesses or individuals through difficult times.

You’ll notice that all of the numbers this month except one went in a negative direction. That number was “X times annual spending at goal number”. This month saw our largest drop in expenses year over year! A lot of that has to do with the fact that we didn’t do a spring break trip and our tax bill was lower this year. Overall this is a positive thing as our expenses continue to be tracked more accurately. Now that we have a full year of tracking our expenses more accurately, our year over year monthly numbers are accurate. However, our rolling 12 month averages still have another 9 months to become fully accurate.

If you’re able to save and invest right now, you have a great opportunity to really springboard ahead. This is not the time to shy away from saving because you see the markets drop. The stock market is on sale!

All that sounds great if you’re able, but if you’re not, that’s okay! The most important thing is to stay safe and healthy!

The Money Related Numbers

26.10% to target number (previously 29.79%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

100 months (previously 101)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

97.44 months (previously 88.28)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

7.88 times annual spending (previously 8.51)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

31.52% to minimum FIRE (previously 34.03%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

30.19 times annual spending at goal number (previously 28.55)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

35.40% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

43.99% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

39.39% of Gross Income Invested with Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

48.95% of Net Income Invested With Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

FIRE Progress Report through February 2020

It’s been quite a month and the markets have been on a wild ride. Let’s see how that impact things.

The Money Related Numbers

29.79% (previously 30.78%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

101 months (previously 102)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

88.28 months (previously 88.97)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.51 times annual spending (previously 8.81)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

34.03% to minimum FIRE (previously 35.25%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

28.55 times annual spending at goal number (previously 28.63)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

61.87% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

76.88% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

65.86% of Gross Income Invested with Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

81.84% of Net Income Invested With Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

This month’s contribution numbers look really high, but that’s only because I invested some extra income from the business. You’ll notice that most numbers are relatively flat or down a little. Towards the end of February, we saw the markets drop pretty dramatically because of the coronavirus. I know it has impacted a lot of people. However, I think the markets are overreacting to something they probably don’t fully understand.

This is definitely a buying opportunity for people who are looking to retire in the future. Imagine you walk into a store and your favorite jeans are 10-20% off. Normally, they would never be on sale. Do you think “I shouldn’t buy those, but I should probably sell all my jeans at home?” Of course not. Instead of thinking “I’m losing money”, think “stocks are on sale.”

Nothing too unusual this month from an expense standpoint. Our monthly expenses only increased about 6% from last year. February is our lowest expense month. March was our second highest expense month last year, so we’ll see how we do in next month’s reports.

FIRE Progress Report through January 2020

Hopefully you had a Merry Christmas and are off to a great start in 2020.

The Money Related Numbers

30.78% (previously 29.32%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

102 months (previously 103)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

88.97 months (previously 93.88)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.81 times annual spending (previously 8.17)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

35.25% to minimum FIRE (previously 32.68%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

28.63 times annual spending at goal number (previously 27.87)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

30.63% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

38.55% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

34.62% of Gross Income Invested with Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

43.58% of Net Income Invested With Employer Contributions

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

I realized this month that I wasn’t counting money saved in our HSA towards How Much We Invested. That is a change that I will start taking into account this month. Nothing is perfect, all I can do is tweak it over time. For what it’s worth, when I make money on other side projects, I include them in the amount we invest for the month, but don’t change the “amount earned” that I divide that number by. I always keep the “amount earned” based on my W2 income. Again, not a perfect way of calculating the number, but it’s purely an indicator for us to know how we’re doing.

For what it’s worth, this was a 3 paycheck month. We also had to pay property taxes, which is a normal January expense. We’re now paying our auto insurance once a year, which would have normally been in January. On the plus side our expenses for January were a little over $1400 less than January of 2019.

FIRE Progress Report through December 2019

fire

Hopefully you had a Merry Christmas and are off to a great start in 2020.

The Money Related Numbers

29.32% (previously 28.25%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

103 months (previously 104)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

93.88 months (previously 95.18)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.17 times annual spending (previously 8.10)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

32.68% to minimum FIRE (previously 32.29%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

27.87 times annual spending at goal number (previously 28.66)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

29.92% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

36.91% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

33.91% of Gross Income Invested with Employer

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

41.83% of Net Income Invested With Employee

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

In November, we bought new carpet, so our expenses were quite a bit higher than usual in that month. This month, we bought Christmas gifts and new couches, so expenses continued on an upward trend.

This rounds out a full year of tracking our expenses more accurately. From this point forward, we will hopefully see most of the expense related numbers level off. They may even improve assuming the markets continue on their current course. This year also saw a number of expenses that we normally wouldn’t have, such as carpet, furniture, and trips. Overall, I think this is a good starting point and should give us a good indicator of what we’ll be spending in the future. If we can save up enough to more than cover our expenses with investment returns, we should be in good shape well into the future.

It’s been a while since a market downturn or correction. If one does occur, we’ll continue our investment strategy to keep buying mutual fund shares at a discount.

Here’s to a great 2020!

FIRE Progress Report through November 2019

fire

Let’s dive right into the numbers for November.

The Money Related Numbers

28.25% (previously 26.84%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

104 months (previously 105)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

95.18 months (previously 96.44)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.10 times annual spending (previously 8.42)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

32.39% to minimum FIRE (previously 33.67%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

28.66 times annual spending at goal number (previously 31.36)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

39.78% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

48.71% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

43.77% of Gross Income Invested with Employer

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

53.59% of Net Income Invested With Employee

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

We should now have a full 12 month picture of our expenses for the year. All expense related numbers should be a bit more accurate going forward.

This month’s expenses include a weekend trip to Nashville and putting in some tile and new carpet downstairs. These were pretty large expenses, the carpet being much larger. It’s been something we’ve been putting off for quite some time, but we’re glad we did.

As for new income this month, the employee stock purchase program did it’s semi-annual stock purchase. This added a nice boost to this month’s income. The next time this will happen will in May.

FIRE Progress Report through October 2019

fire

Let’s dive right into the numbers for October.

The Money Related Numbers

26.84% (previously 25.84%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

105 months (previously 106)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

96.44 months (previously 98.75)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.42 times annual spending (previously 8.26)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

33.67% to minimum FIRE (previously 33.02%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

31.36 times annual spending at goal number (previously 31.94)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

31.03% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

37.99% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

35.03% of Gross Income Invested with Employer

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

42.89% of Net Income Invested With Employee

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

We’re still ramping up towards getting a full picture of our yearly expenses. Only a couple months away and we’ll have a full year of adjusted expenses.

This month’s unexpected expenses include a new 12V battery for the Prius and paying for our AirBnB for our trip to Nashville. It wasn’t a crazy amount, but were still expenses we wouldn’t normally have.

Most of our numbers improved this month because the market had a nice little run towards the end of the month. Next month, the Employee Stock Purchase Program will doing it’s semi-annual stock purchase, which will allow me to reinvest those dollars with a guaranteed return on the money I put into the program.

FIRE Progress Report through September 2019

fire

Let’s dive right into the numbers for September.

The Money Related Numbers

25.84% (previously 25.40%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

106 months (previously 107)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

98.75 months (previously 101.41)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.26 times annual spending (previously 8.34)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

33.02% to minimum FIRE (previously 33.35%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

31.94 times annual spending at goal number (previously 32.82)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

49.43% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

60.52% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

53.42% of Gross Income Invested with Employer

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

65.40% of Net Income Invested With Employee

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

The How Much We Invested numbers look great this month. However, that’s because I got paid for some side work and I don’t include that in my income side of the calculations. If you have a skill that you enjoy using and someone is willing to pay you for, use it. This will accelerate you debt pay down, investing, or simply meeting other financial goals.

Our expenses continue to climb every month. I’m optimistic that by the end of this year, they’ll begin to level off. As of December, we’ll have been tracking our expenses more accurately for a full year.

Finally, this month, I’d like to mention some expenses that we don’t normally have every month. First, I got my wife a new phone. She had used her old one for almost two and a half years. The battery still held a great charge, but it just couldn’t keep up anymore. We found a great deal on a new Moto Z3 Play direct from Motorola. Granted it’s last years model, but at a significant discount and comes with a full warranty.

We also purchased some plants to finish our landscaping. We had ripped out some old plants that had outgrown their space, moved all of the stone, and laid new weed barrier. It took several weekends but looks much better and the plants won’t look overgrown anymore.

Last but not least, winter is on its way. That means it was time to get the furnace and A/C tuned up. We generally do this every couple of years. It’s always a good sign when the technician opens it up and says “this looks brand new”.

I hope your autumn is off to a good start. My wife has picked up a seasonal job to raise enough money that we can replaces our downstairs carpet. It’s long overdue and one of the last remaining projects the house needs to feel “complete”.

FIRE Progress Report through August 2019

bonfire

Don’t worry, you’re not experiencing déjà vu. This is a new post. Starting this month, I’m changing the naming so that it coincides with how I track things. When I keep track of the numbers to report here, I always keep track of them with the month they occurred. For example, if I put $100 away on August 10, it goes torwards the month of August. However, I’ve been putting these posts out using the month I’m telling you the numbers, not the month the numbers actually occurred. Obviously, that gets confusing for me, and might confuse you when I mention Christmas in the January report. Going forward, the title of the post and the numbers will match to when things actually happened.

The Money Related Numbers

25.40% (previously 25.65%)

This is our invested assets/target number. Our invested assets span across a variety of investment vehicles such as 401k, HSA, IRA, Roth IRA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program) and standard taxable mutual funds.

107 months (previously 108)

The number of months until my 45th birthday and our finish date.

101.41 months (previously 102.62)

The number of expected months until we reach our target number based on our current expected monthly contributions, assuming a 10% annual return.

The Expense Related Numbers

8.34 times annual spending (previously 8.66)

This is how many multiples of our annual spending we have saved up towards our goal. For example, if this value was 9.1 and we spent $10,000 annually, we would have $91,000 saved up.

33.35% to minimum FIRE (previously 34.63%)

The minimum number to achieve FIRE is 25 times our annual spending. This number shows how close we are to the absolute minimum.

32.82 times annual spending at goal number (previously 33.75)

We have a goal amount that we’d like to reach. Given our current annual spending, this is how many times our annual spending we’ll have saved when we reach our goal number.

How Much We Invested

29.38% of Gross Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

35.74% of Net Income Invested

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

33.38% of Gross Income Invested with Employer

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment.

40.60% of Net Income Invested With Employee

This is the amount we invested in things like 401k including employer contributions, Roth IRA, taxable accounts, and Employee Stock Purchase Program divided by income from our main employment, but with taxes subtracted.

What’s Happened and What’s Happening

August was another 3 month paycheck, which means we automatically put away more this month. Our expenses continue to climb until they will eventually level off in December due to the the fact that I started counting them more accurately last December.

I’ve changed the How Much We Saved section to be How Much We Invested and I started tracking new numbers. I’ve saved off the numbers I was publishing in previous months and I’m now using those to track future progress based on how much we’ve invested on average over the last 6 months. In the past, I came up with an estimated number and used that for future projects. This should be more accurate over time.

You’ll notice that the How Much We Invested are now percentages. I thought that posting actual numbers may not be as encouraging when people are looking at them and might be thinking “I could never save that much”. However, when it’s all relative (such as a percentage of income), it potentially becomes more achievable. The other goal numbers that I’ve been posting have always been relative to either our target numbers or our expenses, so now I’m simply making that consistent across the board.

Saving Money On Medical Expenses

This entire post is born out of a recent frustrating experience we had with ProMedica, one of our local health systems. We had to go to a specialist and in the process he suggested we get 3 different tests done to eliminate possibilities. The tests were scheduled and we had a idea of the cost of them in our mind (and from doing some research). One of the tests was to be done at the office of a different specialist. While at the other specialists office, they did an additional test that we weren’t aware they would be doing. It’s their standard practice to perform the test on new patients.

When we received the bill later, there was a huge charge with a general description (it literally said “General” with the name of the department in the title). Turns out it was for this additional test they do for new patients. Before insurance, the test would have cost over $4600, and after insurance it still cost $2100.

We’ve went back and forth with them for a couple of months now, trying to explain the craziness of this situation, especially when the same procedure could have been done other places had we known we needed it, for a fraction of the cost. I’ve talked to multiple different people at ProMedica – some of them call you back, others you have to keep following up with and sometimes you still don’t receive a call back.

What I’ve Learned

Ask What Will Be Done

When scheduling the appointment, ask what they will be doing as part of the appointment. This will give you an idea of the procedures involved which will help with the next tip. If they can give you the procedure codes, it may make looking them up easier too.

If you’re talking to a scheduling person, they may not know the procedures that will be done. In which case, talk to someone in the office, perhaps even their billing person.

Ask About the Cost

I know, this may feel uncomfortable. You may say, “but the doctor said I need this, if I ask how much it costs, does that mean I don’t care about my or my loved one’s health?” No! Look at it this way. If you ask how much it’s because you’re budget conscious. If you need multiple procedures or tests, wouldn’t you rather spend less so you can get ALL of the ones you need done instead of only a few because you’ve spent too much on the first ones?

If the person you’re talking to can’t tell you the cost, then ask to talk to the person who can. I’d even suggest getting it in writing.

Shop Around

Insurance providers sometimes provide a cost tool that tells you all the providers in the area that can do the procedure or test and how much it costs to go to them. Find a lower cost provider, check their ratings on various sites, and then go there if it checks out.

If you can’t get pricing information from your insurance provider, then do a search online for other providers and call them to see what they charge.

Ask Again

When you arrive for the appointment, be sure to ask again what they will be doing and how much it will cost. I know this sounds crazy, but the best time to make sure you get the best price is before they charge you for it. You may even need to do what you would do when negotiating a large purchase, and walk away. I know that seems extreme, but it’s incredibly difficult to get them to do anything after the procedure is done. They have all the power at that point, and absolutely no reason to negotiate it afterwards.

Conclusion

An informed consumer, is a dangerous consumer – dangerous for those selling the goods and services. Healthcare is no longer competitive because we tend to believe that “if it’s for my health, how can I say no?” However, it’s that kind of thinking that causes us to overpay and not question it, which allows healthcare systems to build bigger hospitals, fancier office buildings, while neglecting customer service.