Tag Archives: 401K

To Zillow or not to Zillow

One of the reasons I particularly love using Mint is the property value feature that shows the current value of my home and car.  The car value estimate is provided by KBB and the home value is provided by Zillow – known as a Zestimate.

I have been enjoying my Mint account for about 2 years now.  Every couple of months, I find new ways to learn about myself and my relationship with money through my spending and investing processes.  I am really grateful that this tool exists.

Until a couple of years ago, I had never known the value of my home.  Then I started watching the Zestimate on my Mint overview page.  And it was great to watch!

I didn’t care that the interweb naysayers talked about how artificially high or low the Zestimate was in relation to actual value. I had a number I could look at and hold on to.  Plus, my number was going up!  How could I not appreciate that? (I bought my home at the extreem high of the housing bubble and tumble like a house of cards immediately after.  It was only in the last 3 months that my house Zestimated at the amounted I paid for it – 10 years later!!!!)

Then last month happened.  In the last 30 days, I have lost $22,000 of the value of my Zestimate.  And  with the way the Zestimate is incorporated into Mint, it is actually a $22,000 decrease in my net worth.

Sigh.

I feel like I have been doing so many things right which would build up my net worth.  Yet, to have something upon which I have no influence come along and drag me down is a bummer. My home accounts for 1/3rd my net worth.

The truth is though, much like how my 401Ks rebounded in value after the very painful gutting during the recession, my home value may likely grow as well.  I just don’t like feeling teased.

Zillow – the frenemy.

What tool do you use to estimate your home’s value?  Zillow? Redfin? Another?

Thrifty Image

My Mint Account Reveals

Mint

I have been a Mint user for a little over a year now and I LOVE IT. I love it so much I wish, even now, that the moment I first heard Jean Chatzky mention it on an episode of Money Matters that I had gotten up off the sofa right then and created my account rather than waiting for as long as I did. I should have hopped up the moment she said it was FREE.

The love I have must be obvious because in one 2 minute conversation with my mom, I convinced her to try it and now, she LOVES IT, TOO. This is not to be taken lightly.  My mom doesn’t really have a lot of patience for sitting at a computer, gathering ALL of the account numbers, passwords, secret questions and the like. Plus, she has a healthy distrust of the internet and its ongoing security issues that get played out on the evening news.  Think Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison, etc. But if you were to ask her, she would admit to those 2-3 hours of setting up her account as the best investment of time she can remember.

It has been a game changer for me.

Before Mint, I would check my accounts regularly at different websites plus kept a general spreadsheet of my income and expenses but never, had I had the ability and desire to gather ALL of my accounts in one place on my own.  I think this largely had to do with not fully understanding the concept of net worth at the time.

With Mint, having almost all my accounts in one place takes allows me to know my net worth, my credit score, my due balances and most importantly, my financial trends. It is the TRENDS function that has me so excited right now.

I was playing around with the TRENDS function in a way I hadn’t before and was able to determine how I have been spending my money by category.  I was particularly interested in the area of Food and Dining – specifically the Groceries sub-category. With Mint, I can compare trends over time.  The options range among last seven days, last month 3 months, 12 months or the comparison can be customized for a particular investigating.

I beat myself up a lot because of the amount of money I spend on groceries each month. We are eaters in the Thrifty Image household. We like to eat, Mirror Image likes for me to cook and I take joy in our being able to come together over a delicious meal without the extra salt, fat or costs of eating out. But I really felt that the monthly costs were pretty high. So I took a look and compared my costs over the last 6 months with the previous six months then did the same with the year to date.

What a pleasant surprise!

I have spent approximately $1,000 less these last six months than I did in the previous six months on Groceries. And I know why. The Water Challenge in January and the current Meat Free March challenge. I have been perplexed by what has felt like excessive spending yet, the overall food category has gone done overall. Hurrah!

This is just one of the ways Mint helps me manage my money and gives me the tools to explore not just the money but better money management.  With all of the information in one place, it is so much easier to manage the money and understand the nuances. With Mint I see:

  • Cash (Savings) Account
  • Investment (403b, 401K, Roth IRA, Schwab One, Betterment)
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Housing Value (provide by Zillow)
  • Vehicle Value
  • Loans (Mortgage)

Accounts can be added (say you get a new credit card or open up a Betterment account) or they can be closed or deleted (perhaps your credit card number was stolen or your car was totaled and it doesn’t exist as an asset anymore). The only account I cannot currently see is Mirror Image’s Private College 529.  According to Mint, there needs to be a pent-up demand and I guess I am the only one with that account.  Another reason to transfer that account over to my State College Savings Plan!

Thrifty Image Mirror

No One Cares Like You Care

Scammed Picture

Last summer, I let Mirror Image go on a day trip with her Ministry group to a regional amusement park…without me.

The women that run the Ministry are lovely and love all the children so I felt assured of her safety and I had no doubts about letting her go.  And to be honest, with all of the roller coaster rides over the years, I didn’t mind the break. So I sent her off with prayer and this advice, “Mirror Image, these women love you and want the very best for you. But, no one loves you like I do and no one will protect you like I will. So, since I am not there, plan to take care of yourself like I would”.  Maybe those were big words and responsibilities for an 11 year-old.  Maybe not. But I stand by them.

No one wants more for you than you do. And no one will take care of you like you will.

Especially when it comes to your cash.

2 revelations have occurred in the last 2 weeks that is motivating me to be even more vigilant from a financial perspective.

I received a note from our payroll clerk last week informing me that the 11% deduction for my 401K didn’t happen for this pay period.  And since that didn’t happen, neither did my company match. For some reason, the deductions were on a schedule to stop on 12/31/15.  And stop they did. The payroll clerk is a great person and knows her job but didn’t catch this until too late.

It just goes to show me that although I could have never guessed that my deductions would suddenly stop, sometimes, setting aside some time just to review what is going on can forestall problems before they start.

I would have ultimately caught this because I check my accounts regularly on Mint (LOVE THEM!). But for now, I am down one investment.

What do you think I should do?  Invest the amount (with after tax dollars) directly with the 401K? Or invest the same amount into my Roth IRA since it is an after tax account anyway?

Then there was a attempted scam.

The second thing that happened was that I noticed 2 fraudulent charges on my IHG Rewards Club card by Chase.  First Monday with a Netflix charge for $8.66. And Tuesday with a MONJANG.COM charge for $26.65.  I discovered both of these when I reviewed my Mint account.

I currently have a free credit monitoring service as part of a settlement because of the Home Depot hack last year.  And maybe they would have flagged and warned me of those charges.  Maybe not.  What I know is that I caught them and took care of them with 24-48 hours of them posting. Cancelling the card and not having to pay the $50 liability charge.

It is my money and I have to take care of it.

No one will care about your money the way you will.  Believe me.

Thrifty Image Mirror

(BTW – The amusement park trip went well, Mirror Image came back safe and sound and I may never let her leave without me again Happy Face Wink)