December 2014 Net Worth Update (+$1,239)




Highlights for December

  • 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.
  • 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 November Zillow property estimates are: $205,750; $127,006; $296,989; and $227,259 (total: $857,004 vs $751,255 on balance sheet).
  • Our expenses were up significantly in December due to Christmas shopping and annual real estate tax payments for 2 of our rental properties. We ended the month with our net worth balance up slightly.
  • I switched from AT&T to Cricket Wireless for my cell phone this month. My contract recently ended and I was able to purchase a phone with a Cyber Monday deal. I paid $210 for a new phone (my current phone had become unreliable. I reduced my monthly bill from an average of $70/month to $35/month. The change increases the minutes and texts available to me, but throttles my data after 1G (vs 2G w/ ATT) and doesn't offer the same international connectivity. Its worth it to me to cut our monthly phone bill in 1/2. We expect to save $420 (annual savings $35 x12) - $210 (cost of phone) = $210 over the course of the first year.


November 2014 Net Worth Update (+$26,286)




Highlights for November

  • 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.
  • 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 November Zillow property estimates are: $205,750; $127,006; $296,989; and $227,259 (total: $857,004 vs $751,255 on balance sheet).
  • My former employer (IBM) paid our our annual 401k match in November after my business unit was sold to Lenovo. The match made for a healthy increase in our pre-tax retirement accounts this month.
  • Our balance sheet improved in November, but doing some quick number crunching I suspect I will be a bit surprised in the return on our portfolio we experienced in 2014, likely in the low single digits. More to come once we close out the year in January.
  • Other wise a very quiet month. I took a two week international business trip in November and added to some of our frequent flyer/guest accounts. Now I just need to find time to enjoy them w/ my family!


Free EPIX HD Online Trial till March 6


EPIX is offering a free trial until March 6 for their online movie streaming subscription. No credit card or existing cable account required to signup. I've signed up and used my account on an Android tablet and Chromecast. Per their website they also have apps for Apple, Roku, XBOX, PS3/4 devices.

What is EPIX? Its a cable movie channel and the service is similar to a netflix subscription with focus on movie content.

hat tip to slickdeals.net for the find.


October 2014 Net Worth Update (+$11,916)




Highlights for October

  • 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.
  • 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 October Zillow property estimates are: $204,473; $127,463; $296,877; and $226,616 (total: $855,429 vs $751,255 on balance sheet).
  • Our balance sheet appears pretty muted for October, regaining some of the ground lost in September.
  • My job feels all-consuming as I struggle to find better balance between work, family, and everything else. On the plus side I feel like if I can hang in there for 5-8 more years we will have likely reached our financial goals and feel comfortable perhaps making some unconventional lifestyle changes.
  • As I settle in at the new company we also get adjusted to our new benefits. After looking at the health care options is looks like the high-deductible health care plan may the lowest cost plan regardless of whether we have a lot or just a little health expenses. Guess we will give it a try!


GUL Cash Accumulation Fund

I have never spent much time studying life insurance. When prompted I've generally followed the common personal finance rule of thumb to buy term life insurance vs whole life, universal, etc.

However, given my chronic health condition (diabetes), I found it convenient and cheaper to utilize a Group Universal Life Insurance benefit at work where I could purchase a limited amount of life insurance for myself without having to go through insurance health questions. With my recent employment change I found myself enrolling with the new employer's GUL benefit and assessing the insurance policy's cash accumulation fund option.

I should also mention I think it key to keep assessments of your life insurance needs and investment options separate. When you start to co-mingle your evaluation of options it gets messy and less optimal financial decisions may result. For example - I first evaluated my life insurance needs and made the decision to enroll in the GUL from a cost/need perspective. Only after this point do I begin to consider the cash accumulation fund and whether its a worthy investment option for us.

So looking at the cash accumulation fund, the benefits highlighted include:

  • a tax deferred cash fund, taxes will be on any gains after contributions and life insurance costs are deducted
  • a minimum of 4% return with potential to be higher
  • funds can be withdrawn at any time for any reason, and for as little as $200

Whats the downside? It sounds appealing with the lack of appealing investment opportunities right now: if I lose my job or decide to cancel the life insurance, I may have to take an untimely gain on our investment.

With my view of the stock market being unattractive at current valuation and lack of alternative investment opportunities I've currently been focusing our monthly cash flow on reducing our mortgages and building cash. I think the cash accumulation fund may be more attractive than either. The cash accumulation fund has a guaranteed higher interest rate that our primary fixed mortgage - rather than paying down our mortgage Im thinking we should be directing the money into this fund and can always use the funds to pay down our mortgage at a later date if needed.

I'm going enroll in the cash accumulation fund and see if I like it. Please comment if you have use a life insurance cash accumulation fund and tell us about your experience.


Last 15 Personal Finance Entries


10/07/2014 | September 2014 Net Worth Update (-$14,957)
09/27/2014 | Free Museum Day 2014
09/05/2014 | August 2014 Cash Flow
09/03/2014 | August 2014 Net Worth Update (+$32,704)
08/03/2014 | July 2014 Net Worth Update (-$12,499)
07/20/2014 | Toyota Sienna 2014 Purchase Breakdown
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

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: $1,343,091

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