2016 Quarter 1 Financial Update

So far 2016 is off to a pretty good start. I’ve been working the whole time and am currently in the middle of the busy outage season.  Most of my large checks haven’t started rolling in yet, so I expect our income logged in quarter 2 to be a bit higher.  We had a few adjustments with our automatic investments (increasing them of course) and we also ran into a few roadblocks on our goal to a 50% savings rate.

Financial Update: Income:

Our total income for the quarter clocked it right at $23,700, which has us on par for hitting our $80,000 year target:

I finished up my night shift contract for facilities snow removal and transitioned back to the ice condenser project.  I left ice a few days before the end of the project to work another job. Right now I am working for my other employer on a nozzle dam job in New Jersey, which should last into May.

Mrs. C. has kept with her normal 2 days per week schedule and we are still receiving social security payments for our nephews.  We received a little over $2,500 in tax refunds, $500 from the state of Michigan and $2,000 from Federal.  I ended up overpaying Michigan because I failed to provide one of my employers with a Michigan withholding form, which means they withheld as if I was claiming 0. On the federal side of things  I ended up having to pay two Obamacare fines totaling over $1,000. This year I am set up to avoid both the lack of insurance fines and the overpayment of credit fines, thanks to the Obamacare spreadsheet I developed to track these items.


I received $700 in Per Diem for quarter 1.  I counted half this amount in the income above because this is the amount I was able to save over my actual work related expenses.  My primary employer pays us a $20 per diem to assist with extra expenses from the job (transportation/food).  My other employer covers hotel/rental car expenses and pays us a $50 a day per diem, this will be reflecting in the 2nd quarter update, as I haven’t started receiving checks from this job yet.

I am still claiming exempt on federal withholdings. This keeps me from loaning too much money to the IRS.  With having 4 kids and making large contributions to tax deffered accounts I expect zero tax liability.  I will most likely receive a refund of somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 for this tax year.


Financial Update: Savings Rate:

To calculate our savings rate we took our gross income, subtracted out income taxes paid, and added in tax returns received and 1/2 Per Diem. Social security income for our nephews is included in our gross income total.

  • Gross Income: $23,700
  • Payroll + State Taxes: – $1,700
  • Net Income: $22,000

Here is a breakdown of our total savings for the year

  • Monthly extra on house:            $600
  • HSA Contributions:                     $1,560
  • IRA Contributions:                      $1,950
  • Increases in Savings Balance:    $9,300
  • Taxable Account                          $300
  • TOTAL                                         $13,710

This works out to a 62% savings rate, which is about right.  Quarter 2 should be about the same and quarter 3 will show a much lower savings rate because that is our slow quarter. We took $1,300 out of our Health Savings Account during this quarter, which reduces our total savings to $12,410, dropping us to a savings rate of 56%.

I started a taxable Betterment account to start taking advantage of historically low Long Term Capital Gains tax and the instant diversification Betterment offers.  So far I have put in only $100 per month, but once the house is paid off I will be diverting all the extra money I was putting on the house into my Betterment account.

House Payoff:


Personal Capital Mortgage2So far this year I have only put $200 per month extra on the house.  At the end of the calendar year I will make a large payment on the mortgage like I did last year.  I love seeing that large drop on my Personal Capital Chart.  I’m planning on this years end of year extra house payment being at least twice the size of last years.


I’ve failed so far to properly track our expenses.  We haven’t had any major expenses come up so far this year.  Our oldest son had his braces consultation and he needs to wait for a couple more teeth to grow in.  We are going to go back in June.  It looks like we will be putting $2,000 down to start it and then paying a monthly fee over the course of the treatment, which will be 1 – 2 years.


Action Economics:


I will start to discuss this on a cash basis vs. accrual, so most of the dollars reported here were actually covered in my last financial update:

  • January $62.59
  • February: $94.73
  • March: $34.64

The majority of the earnings are from Amazon Associates. I made $20 from spreadsheet sales this quarter. My Google Adsense account has not reached $100 yet, so I have not received a check from them yet. Going forward it looks like I will be seeing right around $100 per month. Based on accrualed income we should be right around $100 per month for April, May, and June.


This quarter I published 13 articles with a total of 16,032 words.  I’m still on a one post per week schedule.  This quarter we had 23,200 page views and visits from 127 countries and are seeing significant month over month growth. Also, this is my 200th article!  When I first started this site I thought I would be running out of ideas to write about this far in, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. I have about a dozen complete articles waiting to be published, another dozen in production and a topic list with over 50 article ideas.

Our biggest article is still the one I wrote on Building A Monkey Bar Set This article accounts for just under 30% of our search traffic now. My post Living Large on $50,000 A Year: Why It’s not so hard for median earners to get ahead has risen sharply and now accounts for 25% of search traffic.

Goals For The Rest Of 2016:

Increase Earnings by 11% to an even $80,000: I’m on track for this and MAY exceed it. As long as Mrs. C. and I keep doing what we are doing we should be in good shape.

Increase Savings Rate to 50%: So far so good.  The major challenges to this are the 3 major expenses we have on the horizon for quarter 2.  We are planning on spending a few days at Universal Studios in June, which will cost around $2,500.  We are looking at paving the end of our driveway which may be another $2,000 and are very close to working out a deal for the railroad property that connects to the section we already have, which will give us a total of 1.1 miles.


That’s it for my first quarter, how has the first quarter of this year been for you?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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