Net Worth & Goals Update – March 2010

Net Worth Chart 2010

Lack of Recent Updates
Up until last December, I had done regular monthly updates of our net worth for five consecutive years. However, recent personal events made me much less interested in detailed, analytic planning towards early retirement. As a result, I have barely checked any of my statements in the past few months, other than to make sure they weren’t negative. I think I made a few trades here and there, but for the most part haven’t bought or sold any stocks to maintain my asset allocation. I haven’t even converted my Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs like I had planned, or made any IRA contributions for 2010.

Instead, reading blogs and other financial news has simply been a recreational escape for me, and I think my blogging has reflected that. I still had fun learning about ways to save money here and there, and enjoy keeping track of other market changes and various offers out there.

However, it’s time to catch back up a bit! Here we go…

Credit Card Debt
In the past, I have taken money from credit cards at 0% APR and placed it into online savings accounts, bank CDs, or savings bonds that earn 4-5% interest (much less recently), and keeping the difference as profit. However, given the current lack of great no fee 0% APR balance transfer offers, I am currently not playing this “game”. My balances are simply monthly charges that I have not yet paid in full when due.

If you’re looking for a competitive offer, Citibank is offering 0% APR for 15 months with a 3% balance transfer fee.

We’re both still working, but will be taking some unpaid time off in April which will reduce income temporarily. Our monthly expenses are still much less than our (regular) income, so while we may eat into savings a bit, I expect to bounce back into the positive very quickly.

Retirement and Brokerage accounts
Near the end of last year, I had gradually moved $30,000 into a brokerage account at OptionsHouse to invest in ETFs due to their $3.95 trades. In my usual way, I then thought about switching instead to WellsTrade since I now had the $25,000 required to get 100 free trades per year. Stuff happened, the application process took too long, I got distracted, and the money is still sitting mostly non-invested. Grrr.

As stated above, besides our regular 401k contributions, we haven’t made any real moves in our retirement accounts either.

The stock market has done relatively well in the meantime, with the S&P 500 nearly hitting 1,200. Our total retirement portfolio is now $269,538 or on an estimated after-tax basis, $233,164. At a theoretical 4% withdrawal rate, this would provide $777 per month in after-tax retirement income, which brings me to 31% of my long-term goal of generating $2,500 per month.

Cash Savings and Emergency Funds
We continue to keep a year’s worth of expenses (conservatively set at $60,000) in our emergency fund. It’s still a nice warm safety blanket. I am thinking of moving a chunk of it into several separate 5-year CDs from Ally Bank, as they pay 1.60% APY (as of 10/25/13) and each would have a small early-withdrawal penalty of only 60 days interest.

Home Value
I am no longer using any internet home valuation tools to track home value. After using them for a year, I went back to simply taking a conservative estimate and focusing on mortgage payoff. After checking them again today, I am staying away. A house nearby sold recently for $500,000 but is listed at both Zillow and Coldwell Banker as being sold for $1,000,000. Needless to say, it is skewing my home value estimates!

It would seem that I am currently long on thoughts and short on action. Time to fix that.


  1. enoynmous says:

    money is nice but health matters more.

    take the time to make sure you and yours are ok first.

    the rest will always take care of itself.

    my thoughts are with you an your loved ones.

  2. Thank you! Code worked like a charm!

  3. You can find out how accurate zillow as been and in certain areas they are pretty decent. They aren’t very accurate to be within 5% of the sale value, but when you get to 10% of the sale value, some markets they have been fairly decent. As time goes on I’m sure their estimations are going to become more accurate. While other cities they are horrible

  4. Thank enonymous.

    @jbo – Thanks for the link! If I could sell my house for the Zestimate value, I’d do so in a heartbeat. Getting only 60% of houses within 20% of sales price isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement in my book. :) 20% is already a lot, and that means 40% is off by more than 20%?

  5. Regarding balance transfers; you can go to the trouble of getting a credit card with 0% interest for a year and then max it our with purchases of $1 coins from the US Mint. When the coins arrive you simply deposit them in your back account. You may get a funny look from the teller, but I’ve never had a problem.

  6. Awww Jonathan I am so sorry to hear that something is wrong. I wish you (and your family) all the best and I hope there is a silver lining somewhere.

    I wondered why you weren’t posting as much anymore. I really appreciate your intelligent insights, I have learned so much from your blog.

  7. I set up a Wells trade account all over the phone…while watching a movie…do it….100 free trades a year beats paying for them.

  8. Appreciate the authenticity of your latest post. Sometimes it is refreshing to hear that even folks that are on top of the ball sometimes get off of it because life happens. But glad to hear that you are getting back on track.

    Couple of quick thoughts:

    Is there a reason why you wouldn’t put your money at Schwab or Fidelity to take advantage of their free trades on ETF’s? (Schwab’s ETF options are pretty limiting I know.)

    Also, for my emergency fund I put about $50K at SmartyPig which gives me 2% APY. When I last checked that seemed better than the Ally Bank CD?

    Finally, how come not much progress on that 529 account?

    Would love to get some feedback on the above because I assume there is probably something that I’ve not considered in my own planning. Thanks!

  9. Hmmm…are you and your wife expecting a baby?

  10. Glad to see you’re back on the wagon. It’s pretty tough keeping on top of my own finances but you’ve been a great motivator over the years. Hope you and your family are well and thanks for having such a great site. Keep up the great work. I’m sure hundreds more feel the same way I do.

  11. Take care of yourself. While I appreciate what you do with this blog, I’d feel better knowing you are taking care necessary time out to care for yourself and/or others around you. Life’s short.

  12. Hope things are okay with you and the family. I appreciate all your advice but please keep things in perspective. Health and family #1.

    Thank you!

  13. Hi Jonathan. I just wanted to send some well wishes your way! I’ve been a big fan of your blog for a few years now, and some of your recent posts have me concerned about you. I hope everything turns out okay. I really enjoy your blog, and I will welcome your full-fledged return after you have taken care of your personal business. Take care of you & yours!

  14. I wonder if they are having a baby. My hope and vote is for baby.

  15. Anita Graf says:

    Just wanted to let you know that the Venture card by Capital One has at least a year of 0% AND zero balance transfer fee. Unfortunately, the card I need to transfer from is also Capital One, and they don’t make the offer for moving money from one of their other cards. Haven’t been able to find another not from C One.

  16. I don’t understand, with all that cash savings, you don’t just pay off the paltry $4500 on the credit cards. Why deal with the headache?

  17. Bobby –

    Are you sure those aren’t new charges?

  18. nice job bud….love the site, keep up the good work!

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