Free Museum Day 2014

The Smithsonian Magazine is holding Museum Day on 9/27/2014 (today!) which is a great opportunity to get 2 free tickets to any participating museum. You can sign up for free museum tickets here.

Also, it is National Public Lands Day and the Park Service is offering Free Entrance for Select US National Parks on 9/27 (today!).


August 2014 Cash Flow

Well its been nearly 2 years since I sat down and did a scrub of our monthly cash flow. I use to do this regularly w/ MS Money, but now I find it painful to do. Its a lot more complicated with all the puts/takes and I'm just not that happy with Mint's ability to help me bucketize expenses. Still I need to do this periodically as its useful to see how our hard earned money is being consumed.

The best way for me to use this is to compare to some of my previous monthly reports - the last one I have was from our November 2012 cash flow and August 2012 cash flow. Some things that caught my eye:

  • Income -- our earned income has pretty much flatlined in the most recent 2-3 years. Any minor pay increases I've received have been offset by higher benefit expenses and the loss of any part time income from my wife as she has her hands full as a stay at home mom.
  • Mortgage - We refinanced our primary home in Dec 2012 and I forgot how much of an impact it made on our monthly cash flow. Our new mortgage payment reduced our monthly required outflow by $286/mo.
  • Utilities - I'm feeling rather confident our work to improve the energy efficiency of our house is paying off. Of course it might be attributed to a milder winter/summer, but our monthly gas/electric bills are on average lower than 1-2 years ago.
  • We paid for a beach condo rental in September in August.
  • Children's Education/Activities - Our oldest entered Kindergarten in July which has reduced our monthly expense (no more preschool tuition). We invested $230 in the 529 plans this month.
  • Auto -In the past year we bought a new minivan w/ poorer mileage compared to the Nissan Sentra we sold, and I have shifted to working full time in the office vs working from home part time. These expenses have added up and are now seeing ~$400/mo in gas expenses for our family.


August 2014 Net Worth Update (+$32,704)




Highlights for August

  • Between my wife and I we have earned approx $3,000 (in gift cards, points, and miles) through 6 credit card signup bonuses this year. Our credit scores are still hovering around 800, but since we have no plans to utilize our credit for other financing anytime soon, we are making a little money off our credit scores by taking advantage of these promotional opportunities.We are not spending extra, but focusing our spending on these new cards to earn the bonuses and doing some round trip transactions via Amazon payments.
  • Our properties are listed on our balance sheet based on their cost basis, not current market value. We have done this during the the real estate market highs and lows. I believe real estate is too illiquid to list based on recent sale transactions. For those interested, our August Zillow property estimates are: $201,267; $146,934; $318,273; and $210,577 (total: $877,051 vs $751,255 on balance sheet).
  • Stock markets had significant gains this month and our paper gains were up significantly as a result. I continue to be cautious as I feel the market is over valued and Ive been increasing my cash position. I have approximately 25% of my 401k in cash right now waiting for a compelling investment opportunity.
  • I did a little back of the envelope math this week and convinced myself we are saving nearly 50% of our take home pay. As our finances have gotten more complex and our overall expenses have risen I suspected our saving rate has declined. But our core living expenses are generally tallying about 50% of our take home pay. The one big exception has been our new minivan purchase this year, which really throws everything out of whack.
  • We have a 2 bedroom condo rented in Myrtle Beach for a week in September. Looking forward to a break from work and *hopefully* a little time to recharge.


July 2014 Net Worth Update (-$12,499)




Highlights for July

  • I just signed up for our 4th and 5th new credit card promotion opportunity this year. Since we have no plans to utilize our credit for other financing anytime soon, we plan to make a little money off our credit scores by taking advantage of these promotional opportunities. We have already earned $1,600 in gift cards from 3 of these opportunities in 2014. We are not spending extra, but focusing our spending on these new cards to earn the bonuses and doing some round trip transactions via Amazon payments.
  • Our properties are listed on our balance sheet based on their cost basis, not current market value. We have done this during the the real estate market highs and lows. I believe real estate is too illiquid to list based on recent sale transactions. For those interested, our July Zillow property estimates are: $202,649; $148,207; $315,570; and $208,748 (total: $875,174 vs $751,255 on balance sheet).
  • Cash savings finally ticked up this month. After purchasing our minivan in March, we are finally seeing some progress in rebuilding our savings. I'd like to rebuild this to around $100k with $60k for our emergency fund (12 months of living expenses) and $40k for future investment opportunities.
  • Our oldest daughter started Kindergarten this month! Its hard to believe how fast time has flown by these past 5 years since she was born. It reminds me we need to crank up the 529 college savings. We have about $23k in various 529 college savings plans for our 2 children and contribute $220/mo to them.
  • Investments had a sharp downturn in the end July more than offsetting all our savings for the month. I'm pretty comfortable w/ our position as I've highlighted before I feel the market is currently overvalued.


Toyota Sienna 2014 Purchase Breakdown

Back at the end of March my wife and I purchased a new 2014 Toyota Sienna LE. I found it hard to get good benchmark prices online so wanted to share our cost breakdown.

We purchased a 2014 Toyota Sienna LE in North Carolina (I found pricing differs slightly based on locale) for $28,000 out the door. This included the LE model, 8 Passenger, Pre-Dawn Grey with 10 miles on odometer and floor mats. We visited 3 local dealers and contacted 4 dealers within a 5 hour drive of us. In the end we purchased from a dealer about 2 hours away (near family).

Here was the breakdown of our cost:

Sienna LE $26,536.00
License $28.00
RTA $5.00
Title Fee $40.00
Highway Use Tax $796.09
Administration Fee $594.91
Total $28,000.00

The MSRP on the window for the car was $32,044 + car floor mats $399.

Additional costs after the purchase:
County Property Tax $162.93
Car insurance premium for 10mos on policy: $404.10


We were able to get slightly better quotes on the same car up near Washington DC, but in the end decided it wasn't worth driving that far to get the vehicle especially with the risk of any bait and switch tactics by the dealer.

Any comparisons on minivan purchases to share?


Last 15 Personal Finance Entries


07/10/2014 | June Net Worth Update (+$19,776)
06/10/2014 | May 2014 Net Worth Update (+$17,335)
05/12/2014 | April 2014 Net Worth Update (-$5,069)
04/07/2014 | Car Purchasing Decision: Minivan or Not?
04/03/2014 | March 2014 Net Worth Update (+$14,117)
03/09/2014 | Chairmen Letters to Shareholders
03/04/2014 | February 2014 Net Worth Update (+$21,948)
02/23/2014 | Investment Performance January 2014 (-2.94%)
02/15/2014 | 2013 Net Worth Growth
02/09/2014 | January 2014 Net Worth Update (+$4,719)
02/02/2014 | Earning $1,000 in Credit Card Promotions
01/25/2014 | 2013 Passive Income: Dividends
01/19/2014 | Water Heater Timer Project
01/10/2014 | Investment Performance December 2013 (+2.20%)
01/05/2014 | December 2013 Net Worth Update (+$24,052)

About 2millionblog.com

A personal finance weblog of my journey to reach my goal of $2 million + the value of my primary residence.
Current Net Worth: $1,318,846

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