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Where's the (retirement) beef?

April 21st, 2011 at 01:06 pm

Don't look now, but stocks are up. In fact, this week, which started out as quite the roller coaster ride, has been awesome for investors.

First, there was the downer S&P news about the U.S. and its deficit issues (though I'm not sure where the S&P folks have been hanging out for the past decade). And then, the surge on tech stocks such as Apple and Intel quickly erased the sour mood hovering around Monday.

Sadly, a look at my retirement balances today has stripped away any euphoria resulting from the strong market. Since my last two posts detailed my debt and budget standings, I figured it was time to finish the trilogy with a post on my nest egg.

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My current monetary assets
401k balance (wife and I): $45,457.79
Savings (emergency/sinking funds): $1,182.77

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I suppose, considering my debts, that I should feel proud about having put something away while spending like a fool in my 20's. But the variety of articles I've found online discussing the recommended investment amounts per age group would beg to differ. It seems that I'm short somewhere between $25,000-50,000 for a 30-35 year old!

Right now, I am contributing 2% of my income to my 401k while my wife contributes 4%. Yep, those are the cutoffs for what our employers will match 100%. I'd love to kick in more, but my debts throw me the shifty eyes whenever I start to consider it. Almost wish I could fast-forward the next two years ... almost.

April 2011 financial snapshot

April 19th, 2011 at 09:49 am

Since I already introduced myself in my previous post (thank you to those who read it), I'm going to jump right into my current financial situation. I know a lot of people here are familiar with Dave Ramsey's baby steps, so I'll format our progress with them in mind.

Baby step 1: $1,000 emergency fund

We completed this step in May 2010. In addition, we started some sinking fund savings accounts for gifts, irregular bills, and auto/home repairs.

Baby step 2: Pay off debt by snowballing

We originally began paying down debt by starting with the lowest balance. However, I found my motivation level increased by arranging them by interest rate instead (excluding mortgage debt for now).

Current debt: balance -- min. payment -- interest rate

Auto loan: $4,477.22 -- $272.99 -- 6.29%
Credit card: $12,358.42 -- $175.00 -- 3.86%
Student loan: $7,719.61 -- $128.00 -- 3.25%
2nd mortgage: $31,783.48 -- $245.08 -- 8.00%
1st mortgage: $129,638.37 -- $944.59 -- 5.50%

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Since we started paying down our debts last May, we have paid off $16,047.98 (including a credit card and medical bill that are now paid in full). If our income does not change (for better or worse) in the near future, our projected consumer debt-free date should be March or April of 2013.

So there it is. My plan is to tackle the monthly budget in my next post. I'll feel ecstatic for any tips or suggestions on how to accelerate this whole process and start building our net worth.