My financial for March are finalized enough for me to publish the numbers. Although I like the reports I post every month to be as accurate as possible, there are often things I forget or haven’t been finalized, like income from additional sources or bills from vendors. Unfortunately, last month’s net worth has been revised downward, and this month’s number will probably be revised downward as well. Nevertheless, in general, the reports show me what I need to know about my finances.
I’ve been publishing these reports on Consumerism Commentary since July 2003, and tracking my personal finances was one of the original priorities of this website.
March was a typical month. My expenses were normal. I don’t post my expenses anymore, but perhaps I should start again. I’ve noticed my expenses for photography have been increasing a bit. I’ve been enjoying classes in photography and the occasional small gig as a photographer. Working on Consumerism Commentary leaves precious little time for other interests at the moment, and I may be at the limit of what I have time to do with photography for now.
The month coming up will be somewhat atypical. I will have a tax bill to pay, and my accountant has not been very helpful recently. Although I plan to file an extension for my business and my personal taxes, I’m still not sure how much money, if any, I will need to pay this month, and whether I’ve underestimated. Additionally, I will be traveling later in the month, so there will be some expenses related to that.
Here are the numbers for March.
I use Quicken 2011 to maintain my financial information and generate reports. I export a Net Worth report out of Quicken and run it through an Excel template to help me summarize the information.
1. Cash in banks. My cash continues to grow, and it’s unfortunately earning mot much interested even though it’s mostly deposited into high-yield online savings accounts. While this is not a good investment strategy, the liquidity is important until I decide to settle down somewhere, buy a house, and start a family.
2. Investment and retirement. This year, I’ve been making monthly contributions to a SEP IRA and an Individual 401(k), both at Vanguard. Both are invested in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund — Admiral shares for the SEP IRA and regular Investor shares for the 401(k).
I have not yet sold the shares I hold of my former employer in my company stock purchase plan. Some of the shares are now in the black and qualify as long-term gains, so I’ll be taking a closer look at this. Unfortunately, even with the 15% discount given to employees at the time of sale that looks back to the lowest price at either the beginning or end of the quarter, some purchases were at a price higher than the current price.
Although I understand that writing a loss on a stock can be a good tax strategy, lowering your tax bill, I’d rather earn a good return than sell at a loss. It could be many years before the shares recover, however.
On May 1, my former company will send my full pension check to Vanguard, and it will officially be rolled over into an IRA. I planned to do the same with my former employer’s 401(k) after the pension rollover was complete, but considering how long it’s taking for the first step, I might not wait much longer. One thing I will need to determine is whether I want to keep my investment mix similar or take the approach I’ve been using for my non-401(k) investments — put almost everything into a total stock market index fund.
3. Accounts receivable. March was a strong month in terms of income, and therefore this number is higher than usual. Most receivables are resolved within a month, and all are resolved in about 45 days.
4. Honda Civic. I continue to reduce the value of my car by $100 every month. Several times a year, I check this against the third party price in Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to make sure I’m on track. I purchased this car, a 2004 model, new in June 2004, and it has a little over 129,000 miles today.
5. Accounts payable. This line contains my credit card balances and any important business bills from March that have not yet been paid. My credit card balances are paid in full every month, and I haven’t had any interest charges since before I founded Consumerism Commentary. I pay business bills within thirty days of the invoice. Occasionally, a bill comes in after the end of the month, and I date it back to that month to record expenses when they occurred.
Although it snowed here in New Jersey just a few days ago, spring seems to be here. It’s a welcome change in weather despite even more precipitation. April is going to be a very busy month for me, for both business and travel, and I expect it will be May before I know it and before I’m ready.
What are your plans for April?
Published or updated April 4, 2011.