After two months of not posting anything to our blog I wanted to write a quick post to say we are still around. To say the last couple of months has been challenging would be an understatement. Life always presents challenges, and for us this has involved a parent that needs significant care due to terminal cancer. Needless to say the blog and many other things in our life had to be put on hold while dealing with this issue. I hope to catch up on all of my net worth updates soon, and at some point will continue posting regularly once I get caught up on a few other items that have been neglected.
While December technically does not end for one more day, I decided to go ahead and complete our monthly update since we have no additional spending planned for the 31st, and the markets are closed. I also wanted to finish our monthly update so I could focus on writing up a yearly update in the next few days. To be honest I thought about just writing an update based on the whole year, but I wanted to be able to go back and look at it on a monthly basis in the future, so I decided to do both.
So in addition to this update, I expect in the next several days to post an update on our first year focused on our Financial Independence project, as well as our goals for 2017. With that in mind I will keep this post short and focused.
Here is how we did on our goals we set for 2016 for December:
The spring semester at my university is finally over and I wanted to share some interesting observations about some of my students.My primary research and teaching area specialty is centered around learning theories and cognition (both human and machine), but because I am currently at a teaching university, I teach a wide range of courses. One of the courses I taught this past semester was a course in designing online learning. The course is divided into two parts, the first focused on research and learning in an online environment and the second on designing online instructional units using a variety of software platforms. This is the second time I have taught this course and I will typically choose a couple of different projects that students need to complete that demonstrates both their instructional design skills (focused on learning) and online course development skills (focused on the creation of the online materials). This semester I decided that one of the modules they would create would be focused on personal finance. I figured it would be a way to expose the students to this type of content while at the same time meeting the objectives of the course. As is typical with many instructional designers, they do not have to be content experts (subject matter experts) to create effective online instruction. Typically they will work with a subject matter expert and be provided all the content so their job is simply to focus on learning and design. I thought I would share a few things I observed during this process, especially related to the students knowledge and concepts regarding personal finance issues….
Open enrollment time has started at my job which means it is time to determine what changes I need to make to my benefits for the upcoming year. When my wife left her job to start her own business last year I moved everyone to my health insurance plan through my job by signing up for the “family plan”. The nice thing about this is that once you are on the family plan it doesn’t matter how many dependents you have, the cost is still the same. That means when we have our new arrival in a few months there will be no cost increase to the premiums I pay.
I plan to add a dependent child care account to my plan to cover some of the costs of child care with pre-tax money. In the past we used one of these accounts through my wife’s job, but now we will be moving it to mine. The reality of our current situation is that with my job and my wife’s business we need a certain amount of child care to allow us to work, so we might as well take advantage of using pre-tax money to pay for it.
This year I also plan to contribute the maximum amount of money ($2,500) to a flexible spending account to cover medical expenses. With the birth of a new child coming up in a few months, we know we are going to have health care expenses, and my preference is to avoid spending anything out of our health savings accounts, but yet still be able to benefit by using pre-tax money to pay for a significant portion of the costs.
That leaves me with one last decision to make for my open enrollment which is dental insurance. I have spent the last several days calculating costs, looking over benefits, and doing research on dental insurance plans. The outcome of this is that I just can not make sense of how this is anything other than a money losing proposition.…