Smart FI Ranch: Week 5

How can summer be halfway over but just getting started? Because it is vacation time. Woohoo! Things are really starting to look up around The Smart FI Ranch.

The weather seems to have finally turned the corner in the Maritime Northwest. The 10-day forecast, on my barely broken in iPhone, shows sun and upper 70’s for as far as that 5.8-inch screen can see.

Smart FI Ranch: Week 5

Did you miss last week’s Smart FI Ranch? Catch up here.

Summer Pay-Off

I work my tail off during the Winter trying to capture all the overtime my tired mind and aging body can tolerate. Overtime is my side hustle. For me personally, working overtime is far more lucrative than driving for Uber or charging Lime Scooters in my off-hours.

My pay-off for those long stretches of overtime in the winter is long stretches of days off during the warm, dry, summer months. Honestly, I haven’t worked an extra shift in over 2 months. To top it off, this week I start a 21-day vacation. That is the pay-off. I will enjoy every minute.

403(b) Limit

For the 4th year in a row, I have maxed out my 403(b). In 2019 the limit was raised to $19,000, which in my mind, seems like a challenge from the IRS. Almost as if they said, “I don’t think you can save that much!”  I graciously accepted that challenge. Over the past 7 months, I have admiringly watched as my bucket of 403(b) money has filled up.  Incidentally, much of my 2019 contribution was from working overtime.

*Note: A 401(k) and a 403(b) are very similar. 403(b)’s are generally offered at non-profit employers. 

The easiest money I save all year is with my 403(b). It does not get any easier than payroll deductions. The money I save is swept away by my employer before it ever gets a chance to be taxed or land in my checking account.

If you struggle with saving or have difficulty with budgeting. Your employer 401(k) or 403(b) is where you should focus. If you have a pay raise or bonus coming your way, login to your account and increase your contribution limit by 1%. Capture some of those earnings and put them to work in the stock market where they will work as hard as you do. You likely won’t miss that money, I promise.

Hair Cut Day

Earlier this week, my two boys and I were having a lazy morning. I had recently noticed that their hair was beginning to resemble that of a shaggy dog. I popped the question to both boys, “You guys want your hair cut?” The answer was a resounding yes.

Ove the next hour, I trimmed off enough red hair from two boys to fill a quarter of a kitchen garbage can. Did you catch that? Yes, my two boys, from two brown-haired parents, have red hair. I’m not sure how it happened.

I have been cutting their hair since they were toddlers. At ages 10 and 13 they still don’t mind if dad cuts their hair. Although my younger son went through a period where he would only let a barber cut his hair but he has fortunately grown out of that phase. Thank god, because his last pro haircut was $30 after buying the hair product they used to style his hair. Yikes!

I figure I save at least $15 dollars per child (overpriced hair product excluded) when you included in the cost of the haircut and tip. I actually enjoy cutting their hair, both because it is frugal but also it’s a bit like art. I sculpt and shape their hair into something they like. Sometimes it turns out perfect and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, hair is very forgiving because it grows back as if to say, “go ahead, have another crack at it.”

I have a $25 set of clippers from Costco that came with all the tools including scissors and comb.  I have used this kit for years, easily saving me a couple hundred dollars.

Youtube is your friend here. There are hundreds of videos on men, women and children’s hair cuts. Spend some time watching a few videos and then get to work on your kid’s hair. Although I have never cut girls hair, I’m sure there is a Youtube video for that too.

Equifax Credit Breach

Are you one of the 147 million people affected by the Equifax Credit Breach. This week a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission was reached. The settlement allows for those affected to receive free credit monitoring for 4 years or consumers can waive the credit monitoring and opt for a $125 per person settlement.

Without admitting guilt, Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million in damages.

Here is a tool from Equifax to see if your credit was affected. Be sure to check for every person in your home.

Smart FI Ranch: Week 5

Vacation, credit breach, 401k, and haircuts, that was an eclectic week. If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive future Smart FI Ranch updates. Be sure to get on the email list in the blue box above. Thanks for reading.

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