Getting Back to Basics

We all have been there.  When time goes by and sometimes you cannot grasp everything that is happening or everything that is happening is out of your control.  You begin down a spiraling path of not taking care of “the house” and end up jumping from one event/task/fire to the next, while running out of time to take care of what was needed.  The last 6 months have been amazing and Lord knows how life-filled that time period was.  However, I may not have been as diligent as I could have been and 2019 is about getting back to basics.


It all starts with the noise.  The volume was on full blast the last 6 months.  However, I am not referring to the Wedding and changing my career in July.  It’s everything else that came with it.  It’s exhausting and it was due to how i handled situations and my time.  When it came to switching careers, my own-self determination would not allow to not be me absolute best.  I wanted to transition and make it smooth for my new employer.  I wanted to be a straight value-add to their company.  This obviously puts you down on a path of being extremely involved.  I care, and I know that’s a huge part of it.  I love basket and I even joined a league because I was asked and thought it would be a great way to build comradery, as well as to enjoy the game.  I said, “Sure, sign me up, sounds great!” (only to find out it’s 15 minutes from where, I work, 35 minutes from home and games can vary from 7:30PM to 10:10 PM).

Further, instead of knowing that our wedding was in October and being selfish with our time for that, we would still continue to go to each and every event, week and weekend nights.  Then, there were the Holidays, and of course – family comes first for us.  Then we go and do the impossible by jam-packing 5 different homes in less than 24 hours, including me working Christmas Eve and the day after.  I am a very logistical, analytical, time-senstive person and even maximizing all of those abilities, still led me down a difficult time orchestrating everything.  These past 6 months made me fully realize that I need to care about my wife, myself and this journey that I have worked so hard for, more.  Everything is important, I am not down playing that, but I have to see what is more important than others.


Though I was tracking my expenses, as I normally do, it wasn’t with as much “gusto”, where I usually am eyeing the ending amount of income for the month I had left, in order to make the transfer to my investment portfolio.  The “gusto” (you’re loving this word, right?) was reduced more than likely due to wedding expenses, replacement of tires on two cars, buying a dryer and home cosmetics.  This caused me to be hesitant on being aggressive to move cash to the investment account.  That ends now.  It’s time to get back and MAKE EVERY DOLLAR COUNT and be aggressive.  In fact, I JUST made a transfer of $1,000.00 from my checking at a large back to my Ally Investment profile.  In addition, we are simplifying finances a bit, as I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership, as she had one ($128 of savings) and am in process of canceling my gym membership ($435 savings) – as I am able to be a guest at her gym and her company pays for her membership (Win-Win baby!).

Making Every Dollar Count

Speaking of making every dollar count, I need to make sure I even maximize idle cash in every way possible (1).  An example of this, which is similar to what Bert performed, back in December I did a Health Savings Account trustee-to-trustee transfer from MyBenefitWallet to Lively.Me – to be able to invest for free, no monthly fees and any cash (if any is ever sitting there, as my plan is to not have any) will receive a better rate than where it was.  This will increase the compounding ability even more.  I was able to perform this transfer, due to leaving my former employer.

In addition, we have moved my wife’s money market account to her other online savings account, reducing 1 more bank and increasing idle cash income by 10%, by making the switch, just due to higher interest rates.  Expect more of this.  We are also establishing, with her current employer, the investment arm of her Health Savings Account, as it’s a time consuming/not a do it yourself process.  She has to personally meet with an adviser to actually begin to turn her cash, that is earning a measly 0.15%, into an equity investment.  This should be up and running by February.  If it ends up not being a great product/process, we will move her assets to Lively.

Further, the 401(k) is back in action for me… finally.  After a 6 month+ hiatus, due to switching employers, I now, starting on 2/8/19, will have ~$800 going to a Vanguard, low-expense mutual fund option on a bi-weekly basis.  Therefore, this ensures continuous investment without predicting the market, as well as reduces my tax liability for 2019.  My wife will be doing the same this year, which equates to $38,000 of pre-tax investment dollars hard at work.  You have more than likely noticed, as well, that I still do maximize my Roth IRA ($6,000) and I simplified things for me, by investing into Vanguard’s High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM).  Expect more of that in 2019, as I still have $4,500 to contribute for the year.  My wife will also be maximizing her retirement account.

Getting Back to Basics

Getting back to basics is the most incredible goal.  How funny is that?  I am not here to over complicate this year or my life.  Getting back to basics, in short, is taking care of the most important things in my life.  It means saving and investing as much as I can, in the most basic format (Income Less Expenses = Save it and invest it).  Getting back to basics means making the easy decision on how to maximize each dollar used (i.e. do you want to save money each month by cancelling the Gym but still being able to workout? YES.  Do you want to stop incurring $6/month fees from your HSA and be able to increase your dividend income?  Yes.  Do you want one less bank to manage and increase your interest income potentially?  Yes.).  This will lead to a prosperous 2019 year, which will set the stage for many years to come.

Do you feel like you need to have a re-start button and take a deep breath, to really energize your year?  What are you doing in 2019 to straighten your finances out and to make things more automatic, than not?  What are you doing for simplification?  Thanks everyone and cheers to 2019 and to… getting back to basics.


13 thoughts on “Getting Back to Basics

  1. Not sure about anybody else here but this speaks to me most definitely! I am in the middle of transitioning between employers and through this, we have had expenses pop up that needed to be taken care of us. LIke $2k rental property repair. $2k of unpaid rent form the previous tenants. The car that has 287k miles on the verge of breaking (BTW this is my old college care and have owned it since 2007 :).

    We are looking for ways to cut back on spends as well. We are pulling more strict about our grocery budget as we haven’t been before. For example, if we have $60 left for the month, we go in thinking we only have $60 dollars to spend here, not a penny more. We have also started to unplug un-used electronics from the outlets. We are working on finishing our projects that we have started rather than starting new ones. Which is satisfying and savings friendly.

    Great post as always~

    • ExecV –

      Thank you for the comment. Transitioning is difficult, in terms of just starting over from scratch but with experience. I hope the car is doing okay.

      Groceries are great to cut back on. Doing the unplug/getting rid of the ghost drain of plugged in items in the house is AMAZING, something I have done for almost 10 years.

      Keep us post ExecV and make every dollar count.


  2. Saving money = more money to invest.
    Getting back to the basics is important too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the idea of every dollar counts. If every dollar can turn in 10 dollars (in many, many years) then every dollar is worth it for sure.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lanny,
    Its funny how we can save lots of money by changing small habits. My wife and I have started to cloth diaper the kid a few days a week, I already see a little bit of savings after about a month. Small changes add up, and the more investments made the more that change is magnified.
    As a country song my wife likes goes “pennies make dimes, and dimes make dollars…” (which of course in the song those dollars buy gas and beer, but for us its stocks and freedom).
    – Gremlin

  4. Lanny,
    Great article. My Fiance and I just bought a house last year, and everything has been hectic. Little things here and there that pop up, and being so busy all the time. It is draining. It’s always nice to be able to step back, and really plan moving forward. Also, investing in a Roth IRA spoke to me personally. I have for a few years had Primerica as my Roth IRA provider and one of my investment accounts. While I am grateful for them having gotten me started, and the investing has saved me a few times, I have learned more about investing, and will be moving to a Vanguard Roth IRA soon (hopefully in the next few weeks) to save from the huge front-load costs.
    Keep pushing forward!

    • New2D –

      Right there – buying a house is a new wave of life that you can’t anticipate much for, but play a little defense when you can. There you go – MOVE your assets to reduce cost and simplify your investments. It’s just business, nothing personal, you know? Pumped for you.


  5. Whew, just reading about everything that you had going on last year made me tired! It sounds like you’re making some nice moves with the consolidation of accounts, and focusing on the basics is a great way to tighten things up as sometimes we let the easy things slide and it costs us in more ways than one.

    Also, it must be in the air or something as I too am working on consolidating my HSA accounts to the provider that is used by my new company as they don’t charge anything to invest. I’m looking forward to seeing your year progress as I sense a new fire burning in you!

    • Divvy D –

      Thank you and it made me tired, too – haha, both physically, mentally and emotionally. It all comes down to exhaling and getting back to what worked for so long, what made you sleep at night and… what made your path to financial freedom that much sweeter. LET’S FRICKEN GET IT AND CONTROL OUR DESTINY DD!


  6. Hey Lanny,
    I was at a healthcare conference on Friday and heard a pretty cool acronym for “WIN” during one of the talks:
    The idea being to continuously ask yourself what the next best thing to do is (it was a military strategy discussion) as a heuristic, in absence of more formal time to develop goals (SMART, etc.). Either way, I think taking time to ask yourself what’s most important and then devoting your resources to that—rather than spreading yourself too thin—leads to longer term WINs.
    As you mentioned, just getting idle cash working at higher interest rates is one of the simplest things most of us could do better with; banks make a ton of money based on the lethargy of the populace to simply move money around a tiny bit more efficiently.
    I’m taking two weeks off over the Christmas holidays, same as I’ve done the past two years, just to press “reset” and have time to sit down and think about what I want out of the next year—along with reflecting on the one that is closing out.
    Take care,

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love the plan to simplify and get back to basics.
    At this moment I’m thinking of selling all my mutual funds and buy etfs with the money
    But I will loose some dividend income with this action. And does this match up with less expensed? I don’t know yet

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