February was a nice turnaround from the woes of January. We kept our expenses much lower and paid off the short term debt we had on our credit card balances due to the high expenses from mid-December through mid-January. As a result we’re in a much more comfortable position now and can look forward to building our cash cushion back up in the next few months.
For background on the methodology and definitions, see Net Worth: September 2013 Progress.
This month I’m combining the numbers into a single table, rather than breaking out last month versus this month. It should make comparisons a little easier. Eventually I may also give further back comparisons (two months back, or against previous quarters or years) to see the long-term trend.
|Category||Jan 2014||Feb 2014||Difference|
|Net Worth||$576,276.16||$599,369.15||+ $23,092.99||+ 4.01%|
|Assets||$974,298.33||$991,155.25||+ $16,856.92||+ 1.73%|
|— Real Estate||$601,147.00||$602,416.00||+ $1,269.00||+ 0.21%|
|— Investments||$338,278.52||$355,474.61||+ $17,196.39||+ 5.08%|
|— Cash||$9,872.81||$8,264.64||– $1,608.17||– 16.3%|
|Liabilities||$398,022.17||$391,786.10||– $6,236.07||– 1.57%|
|— Mortgages||$365,914.12||$364,726.50||– $1,187.62||– 0.32%|
|— Auto Loan||$25,725.70||$25,311.63||– $414.07||– 1.6%|
|— Credit Card||$6,382.35||$1,747.97||– $4,634.38||– 72.6%|
Thankfully, the stock market recovered in February. That helped push the investment balance up to it’s highest amount yet – erasing our losses from January and improving on the balance from December. I’m maxing out my 401k contributions, so across the year so far that’s roughly $3,000 from contributions – after accounting for that we’re not up by too much from December.
In addition, we managed to pay off that large ~$5,500 credit card bill on the due date, avoiding any interest or charges. That payment covered some high spending and a $3,000 bill for a rebuilt transmission on our 2008 Nissan Altima. It definitely had me worried about our cash flow, causing me to work out a spreadsheet to project future cash flow and ensure we had enough to cover bills. Looking at it now, we seem to have gotten out of the cash crunch safely. As always, I pay off all credit card balances by their due dates to avoid any charges, so the credit card balance is more of a trailing indicator of our expenses. And that low number makes me very happy about our spending recently. More remarkable is that we actually took a vacation to Florida and managed to keep the balance fairly low. It was a cheaper vacation for us since we visited my parents and stayed with them for most of the trip; and our air travel and some of the hotel costs were pre-paid, which is another reason why the costs were low. But some of the costs will be reflected in next month’s numbers as they just didn’t “clear” yet – such as costs for boarding our dog and some dining out.
“Off the books” is a remaining balance on a promotional purchase for the bathroom remodel supplies. That balance carries no interest until April, so long as we pay it off in full by then. The remainder is roughly $1,500, but I plan to pay that off in the next month or two now that I feel confident our cash flow issues are behind us. That balance has been “off books” since around October/November, mainly as an artifact of Mint’s inability to connect to the GE Capital site for the card.
This time of year is also the beginning of tax season – hopefully you guys out there don’t wait until the deadline to file! I finally got my last documents in mid-February (18th), so I’ve gathered up everything to file. I use a CPA to file my taxes and have ever since I bought the first duplex, since I was unfamiliar with the vagaries of filing with investment properties. I’m not thrilled about paying for tax preparation, but looking back at the past few years’ worth of filings I’m glad I do since they are now complex enough to be beyond my abilities. (I actually miss the days of filing my 1040 where I spent a little while with a No. 2 pencil, took the standard deduction and did some simple math!) Every year things have changed pretty dramatically with my divorce, then filing single, then remarried, another investment property, new house and now new baby (and a much scaled down work schedule for my wife)! So to be quite honest the end result of whether I’ll owe or get a refund is going to be a big surprise for me. It’s been hard to track from year to year and often the end result is conflicting – for example, last year I got a pretty hefty return for Federal taxes but owed enough in NY state taxes that I was required to pay quarterly estimated tax installments throughout 2013. It typically ends up that I get a refund for Federal, while NY never seems to take enough out of my paycheck despite using the same withholdings.