After tallying up everything we spent to have a baby on Obamacare last year, I really need a financial pick-me-up. What do the stars, and my hard work, have in store for me with this month’s net worth update? Do they have the numbers boost that I so desperately need right now?
Change: +$4,818 or +15.95%
January Net Worth TOTAL: $35,020
Oh thank goodness! This is a new all-time high for my net worth – bringing me back up above where I was right before I started my unpaid maternity leave.
So what happened to give me such a drastic upswing this month?
The government taketh away… but not as much as I thought! Since my husband and I were both freelancers for all of 2016, we were putting away 30% or more of what our businesses made for taxes, just to be safe. Now that the year is done, I’ve dumped all of our tax info into TurboTax, and voilà: a much lower tax burden for 2016 than what we put aside.
Side note: Mint users can get up to $20 off TurboTax products. And Mint is free. So log in or make an account, and check the “Advice” section for the link! I love TurboTax for doing my taxes, they make it so simple and easy, even when being self-employed would normally make them much more complicated.
That said, I’m also going to try out Credit Karma’s new free tax prep service when I have all the paperwork, just to see if it’s up to snuff compared to TurboTax. So look out for a review of this new free service from me soon!
This shows up in my net worth already because I always track my tax burden for freelance work as a liability in my net worth calculations. So now that I have a more accurate number, I can adjust that liability way down. (I haven’t actually filed our taxes yet, because I’m still waiting on paperwork from one of our clients, but I’m confident in the numbers based on invoices and payments received.)
And what shall we do with all of this money we saved for taxes that we no longer need for taxes? Why, we’ll be putting it all into our Traditional IRAs & Health Savings Account (HSA) and lowering our tax burden even further, of course! I did the math in TurboTax last night, and putting that money into our IRAs & HSA will let us keep an extra $2,857 (vs. not putting anything else into our 2016 IRAs or HSA)!
At 7% interest, that little $2,857 will grow to $21,748.21 over the next 30 years!
Starting to sound like a broken record mentioning this every month, but it certainly helped again this time. Despite the fact that I had to take out an additional $2647 from our HSA to pay the last of the medical bills from giving birth in November, our investments were only down $940. That means that there was enough growth in the investments to absorb 64% of the medical bills in January. Yowza!
Now, this is not something to be counting on, month-to-month. The stock market is way too volatile for that. In fact, I’m not even hoping for stock market growth right now. Since I’m still contributing (see above re: what we’re doing with our self-created “tax return”), I would actually want stock prices to go down and be on sale! But, obviously there’s an upside to them going up in the month when I had to sell off some of the investments in my HSA.
Getting Back to Work
I’m a W2 employee again! One of my clients has decided to bump me up from 1099 contractor to W2 employee, and still let me keep my set-my-own-schedule and work-from-home-as-able flexibility. No benefits as of yet (it’s a small, new company, so they’re working on one thing at a time), but it will help with tax stuffs. I set my withholding really high (low number of exemptions) so that maybe, just maybe, I can stop paying quarterly estimated taxes for my other still-freelance work.
This month, my husband and I started experimenting with all sorts of ways to get me back to work. We’ve tried having me work while the baby naps, as well as having me go into the workshop on the weekend. One plan we’re going to try involves getting a really good pair of noise-cancelling headphones to wear while working at home (with my husband taking care of the baby). So I’m very much in need of noise-cancelling headphone recommendations! Looking for super-comfortable (to be worn for 4+ hours at a time) and really, really good at filtering out baby cries. If you have a recommendation, please tell me about it in the comments below!
If you’d like to see how I stack up against other personal finance bloggers, be sure to check out The Ultimate List of Blogger Net Worths over on Rockstar Finance!
I have these: https://www.amazon.com/Bose-QuietComfort-Acoustic-Cancelling-Headphones/dp/B00X9KV0HU and I love them! I love that they’re earbuds instead of those bulky over the ear headphones, they’re magical and much easier to carry around. I don’t know if they filter out baby cries, but if you’re looking for earbuds, I definitely recommend them!
Thanks for the rec, BabyShark! You find them comfortable? I’ve never had a pair of earbuds that didn’t get uncomfortable after a short while… but then again, I’ve never had a pair that weren’t just cheap earbuds!
I’m thinking that over-the-ear headphones might be better at blocking out baby cries, though. I’m not too worried about portability because these will just be for wearing at my desktop computer at home. But still, I’ll put these on the list to compare!
Yup, super comfortable. They come with like three different sized ear pieces so you can try out the ones that fit you best. They’re the only headphones I use for anything, including working out.
Over the ear will likely be the best option for baby cries, I agree.
I like the Bose in-ear buds. I’ve had both their regular versions and the noise-canceling. I don’t like a lot of earphones that put pressure on the inside of my ears, but I find the Bose really comfortable. They don’t depend on expansion for a seal. Over ear phones might provide additional passive noise style blocking, though.
I don’t know about baby cries. You might want to try a bit of web searching for that particular characteristic. Different active noise canceling phones can be better at some noises than others.
Thanks Tamara! It’s really good to know that Bose are more comfortable. One solution that’s been suggested a few times (off the blog here) has been to get earbuds and then put construction-style ear protection on over those. So that’s something I’m looking into now. 🙂
You probably know this, but you’re definitely looking for noise-isolating rather than noise-cancelling headphones. Noise cancelling are really good at steady noise- the hum of a shopping center or the sound of airplane engines- but really bad at sudden noises- like baby cries. Noise isolating put you in a bubble where other sounds just do not get in. Passive noise isolation requires no extra power, so no extra batteries, and no extra drain on your computer’s battery, either.
Gaming headsets are probably the way to go, since they’re designed to be worn for hours at a time. Depending on your budget, I’d go with the Logitech G430 (~$40) or the HyperX Cloud (~$80) (or HyperX Cloud II, ~$100, depending on what connections you have available on your computer). The G430 isn’t specifically designed for noise isolation, but does a pretty good job of it.
The Cloud IS designed for noise isolation and has been super comfortable for several hours on end- and comes with a couple different ear pads so you can choose whichever is more comfortable for long-term wear for you.
I’ve used both of these headsets for several hours, and found that the Cloud is generally better built and more sturdy, which is valuable to me as a clumsy person. I use a slightly fancier, but same cup design logitech headset at my open-floorplan office currently and am constantly startled by people walking up behind me. I use the Cloud in the loud gaming cafe we have on campus and don’t notice the external noise when I’ve got any kind of in-game noise going on.
Ping me if you have questions! I can get you details on the Logitech set I use at work as well if you’re interested.
Suuuuuuuper helpful as always, Chloe! You’d think I’d know the difference between noise-cancelling and noise-isolating. (I’m sure I knew it in theory, just didn’t remember the names of the term off-hand.) As you can imagine, I asked the electronics buyer at our mutual previous employer for his opinion, as well. 😉
I’ll take a look at the Cloud II, but ideally I’d get something that works with either the laptop or the desktop, so I’ll have to check out those connections to be sure!
OMG the top review for the Cloud II on Amazon:
These may just be the headphones I need! O_O
That’s some serious praise!
That’s some serious business noise cancelling!
Fabi I says
It’s great to see your process! I hope you can find some good headphones and start working again 🙂
I have the Beats Solo HD but they only work when listening to music. However, I’m not sure if that is an option 😉
Thanks Fabi! Yes, I’d be listening to music while I work, so those might work! I tend to listen to soundtracks of movies and video games while I write – especially if I’m writing for the one client where I’m writing about movies and video games. It helps me to write about, say, Harry Potter products if I’m listening to the Harry Potter soundtracks!