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Money Matters: Two Quarters Retrospective

August 2, 2011

I’ve decided to do a little personal finance bit occasionally since it’s something that interests me. I probably could have been as happily employed as an accountant (if any of them are even getting jobs now) as I am as an engineer. I guess I made the call that blowing stuff up is generally pretty awesome. But then I tend to think my own money is pretty awesome as well.

The first part of 2011 was pretty good on my 401k. Schwab informs me my personal cumulative rate of return is 4.3%. However, overall and including contributions I’ve increased my retirement account by 16.8% since January. That’s not bad.

Personal savings also did pretty well this year. For the first time since buying our home several years ago it’s starting to recover. Leaving my federal tax return untouched helped a lot and getting a nice, fat and long overdue raise has also helped. We’ll need this advantage in the months to come as the financial situation is likely to get very dicey in the next 6-8 months.

In the spirit of enjoying it while it lasts, my debt to income ratio is at an all time low of 2.3. Debt to assets at a more sustainable 4.4.

I have a tendency to monitor a lot of this rather closely. My grip on financial security sometimes causes me undue pride and sometimes makes me feel like I’m climbing without a rope and it could all slip away instantly. How do people cope with the uncertainty? I’m not exactly one paycheck away from financial ruin. But I’m also not near some magical level where I could survive sans my labor income. It’s a point of privilege certainly, but what it must feel like for much of the middle class who worries less about being able to climb into the upper class and more about falling down.

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