Apr 25 2012

Our plan for maxing out our IRAs this year


We don’t have any huge financial goals right now, so we thought we’d set one: maxing out both of our IRAs. We’re already contributing to retirement, but we figure more is better while we’re young and don’t have other pressing needs. We skipped out on IRA contributions for most of 2011, so we’d like to catch up.

We’re putting a little bit extra toward our mortgage (since even small contributions make a big impact) and we’re contributing some to our kids’ 529 college plans.

For our age, we can each contribute $5,000 to our IRAs. We’ll have until tax day in April 2013 to make all of our 2012 contributions.

We set up automatic transfers from our bank to our IRAs at Vanguard, to occur a few days after each payday.

Until recently, we were contributing $116/each biweekly ($3,016/year).

The other day, I adjusted our automatic contribution to $125/each biweekly. Bumping it by just $9 means an extra $234 per account, or $3,250.

Even increasing our contribution by $4 on a biweekly basis would add $104 more per year.

Shane was blessed to receive a cost-of-living raise effective in his most recent paycheck. We took most of the increased amount and set up an automatic bi-weekly transfer to go to a new sub-account at our bank at ING Direct. The sub-account is labeled “IRA.”

Bi-weekly, $50 will go to the IRA sub-account. In a year’s time, we’ll have $1,300 there plus a few dollars in interest.

Why not put that $50 in our IRAs at Vanguard from the get-go?

Well, I’d like to have a little bit of a buffer. If the tax laws and credits change this year, it would be nice to have some additional money in savings so we can pay our taxes if we need to. Or, we could use the money for another purpose (like a medical deductible). If nothing comes up between now and then, we’ll put $650 in each IRA.

That brings us to a hypothetical $3,900 in each IRA. “Just” $1,100 each to go.

It sounds like a lot of extra money to scrape together, especially when we’re already doing our darnedest to save.

Before I calculated the exact dollar amount, it was so vague that it wasn’t even a goal. Now, we know we need to come up with an extra $2,200 somewhere, total.

Shane will have a third paycheck in June and again in November. After all the other bills and savings goals are accounted for in those months, we should have a few hundred dollars available to put in the IRA (or IRA savings fund, whichever).

Second, he is supposed to receive a bonus twice per year. Assuming that goes as scheduled, we’ll be able to tap some of the bonus money for the IRA. If the bonus goes away, well…we weren’t counting on it for something critical so it’ll be ok. We’ll be disappointed, but we’ll be ok. :)

Other income sources to fund the remaining $2,200:

  • My blog earnings. It’s drying up fast over here, though and I think it has to do with the “big G’s” search changes. Ugh.
  • Selling unwanted things on eBay, as always
  • Our tax refund from 2011, assuming we don’t spend it all elsewhere we’re replacing our kitchen countertops and doing some things to the yard) and then our medical expenses from a few days ago.
I think we can do it. And if not, well, we’re no worse off than before.
[This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance #359 and the Carnival of Retirement #17]

Apr 23 2012

An unexpected medical expense


Oh! My poor little Johnny. He fell and hit his head last night and clearly needed stitches. We had paramedics come out and dress the wound and tell us what to do, and then we drove to the ER. They stitched him up and he did so great!

He actually fell asleep during the stitches part, and before that he was content to just chill out and play games on my iPod. I’m considering it a miracle, because what 3-year-old goes to sleep on his own for that?! Later, I asked him about it and he said he was just closing his eyes for a minute.

No. He was snoozing. Woke up a few minutes after they were done, a little disoriented and wanting to know if it was time to go home yet. Yes!

He’ll be alright and I’m optimistic the scar will heal well.

I called our health insurance this morning to find out how far we were from reaching our deductible, and what the damage will be financially.

Our health insurance has a $4k deductible, which we have to reach before they start paying 90% of the balance from $4-8k. After $8k, they pay all of it. I hope we don’t ever have a medical year like that.

Shane’s employer contributes $2k to a health savings account, which is the first $2k used out of that $4k. And, we didn’t use all of those funds from 2011, so that rolled over.

Since Shane only worked at his company for part of the year in 2011, they gave us a pro-rated amount.

Looks like we’ll have about $900 or so out of pocket before we hit that $4k deductible.

The health insurance company couldn’t narrow it down further, since they need to wait for bills from the hospital and our follow-up visit from the family doc. I know ER visits are super-expensive for even the most mundane of things, so I’m betting we’ll have to pay enough to hit the deductible and possibly more beyond that.

We haven’t spent or allocated our income tax refund yet, so we’ll pay our medical bill from that.

I am just counting my blessings here. First, Johnny is going to be fine. It was scary, but it could have been much worse. I’m so thankful that he behaved well throughout (though his sister was a bit of a … toddler about it). I’m also thankful that we have health insurance, and that we will be able to pay our bill without it causing us hardship.

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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