Hey everyone, it’s been a minute…
First of all, I want to apologize for not keeping the site up to date. I really tried to get back into the swing of things by the end of 2020 but to be honest, it just wasn’t a huge priority. However, one of my New Year’s Resolutions (which I don’t really believe in, but am trying this year) is to start posting again with some degree of regularity. My plan is to ease back into things and maybe do one post a week, alternating on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Why Mondays and Wednesdays?
Well, my schedule used to be Thursday-Thursday. However, starting in 2021 (as of last week), I am now on a Tuesday-Tuesday schedule. As such, an alternating Monday/Wednesday schedule falls on the day before I start my shift and that day after I finish. As such, I am hoping to ease back into things on the days by writing posts on the days when I’m not working.
So Hindsight 2020?
2020 has been quite a year. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has pretty much dominated much of 2020. I will be the first to admit that I when the news first came out about the coronavirus that I was wary, but not over precautionary. At that time we were not aware of the just how contagious it was. As such, I only advocated the use of good hygiene and hand-washing. The use of a face mask was something I felt was necessary for frontline health workers. It was not something I thought would be needed on a nationwide basis. This was later proven to be untrue.
I wish we had known more sooner and consequently been more proactive earlier. However, as what happens in all things, hindsight in always 20/20.
I am hopeful that this vaccination effort will bare fruit. My wife and I are both “on the list” to get vaccinated.
Please get vaccinated when it is available to you.
So what else happened?
This year has seen a lot of changes for my family and I. I am working from home pretty much 100% of the time these days. My wife works from home about 60% of the time (except when on call). Kylie, my daughter just recently started to go back to school on a part time basis, 2 or 3 days a week with the class split in half. Lucas, my son is back in preschool 5 days a week, but their class is about half of normal size.
How are the kids?
Being cooped up in the house has been a challenge to say the least. I talked previously about “The New Normal.” Then, I posted again about the “New School Year.” It’s been pretty amazing to see how resilient my daughter and son have been during this challenging time. My daughter took to the online work like a fish to water. Luckily, she already was able to type reasonably well, and the advent of primarily virtual learning has acted a springboard to get her typing quickly and accurately. Additionally, she has begun to take responsibility for her own school work and making her own schedule, which is excellent for a seven year old. She is light years ahead of what I was doing at 7, I can tell you that.
Luckily, my son was able to make it back to preschool 5 days a week and the smaller class size has enabled him to get some more one on one attention that he needed as well. All in all, it’s been tough for them, but I’m trying to find the silver lining in all of this. I am hopeful they will take away new skills from this challenge.
Unfortunately, the Token Economy never quite got its revival. It’s hard for kids to see value in tokens that they can’t use. As such we’ve kind of come up with a system of earning TV time. It’s not very rigid, but I think the kids understand that if they want to earn TV time they need to do their schoolwork/homework and put their toys away. It’s not perfect but hey:
What about you and your wife?
For me, my job was primarily teleradiology in the first place, just from a central office. Shifting things to home didn’t really change much for me in terms of workflow/volume/speed/etc. The only thing that really changed was the lack of a drive to and from work, which is great. I think it has been good for the kids to see “more of me”, but they know when my office door is closed that I’m working and they need to knock first. There is something to be said for being “present”. When I used to work at the office my 2:30pm-12:30am shift, the kids wouldn’t see me a week at at time except on Sat/Sun mornings. Now they see me everyday, and even if I’m working, they know Dad is “home”. I don’t foresee going back to a central office on a regular basis anymore for the foreseeable future.
As for my wife, it’s been a little bit of a transition in her working from home 60% of the time. She’s been very good about seeing the patients who need to be seen in-person and following up with patients who prefer virtual appointments or phone appointments. If anything, I think the accessibility to care has really improved for her patients. My hope is that some version of telehealth continues after the coronavirus pandemic for the people that can make it work — however, for the administration, old habits are hard to break, so I am not too optimistic. I think the patient population may need to make their own push for wanting telehealth if anything is going to change at all
What about finances?
2020 has been a weird year. In general, my wife and I aren’t too spendy, as you can tell my posts about “Trimming the Fat“, its Part Two, and “Falling Off the Wagon.” However, the pandemic has really pushed us to levels of frugality that we didn’t know we had. We eat out even less than before. We don’t just go out on weekends to the mall or wherever and spend money. There were no vacations this year and I even gave up my time off this year because there was nowhere to go. Even Christmas this year we were very good about not overspending on toys for the kids. We tried to focus on quality not quantity.
That said, we did buy a 6 foot snowman to add to our Christmas Lights on the house to make Christmas a little more festive this year for the kids. I also bought my wife a nice stand alone freezer (without her permission!) to hold ice cream for her because our little freezer in the refrigerator wasn’t cutting it anymore. She didn’t show it really, but I think we she was really happy with it. Oh yea, I also bought a ton of Dodgers World Series Champions gear to wear around the house for the next 50 years of my life.
Overall, my wife and I were lucky in that we didn’t get furloughed. Fortunately, the demand was still there for our specialties and deemed essential. A combination of all of these things has really helped us with saving money in 2020.
Previously I talked about being “not uncomfortable” when it comes to finances. This hasn’t changed, but we have built up a very reasonable Emergency Fund whether it’s really needed or not. I think maybe after this pandemic people will look at the Emergency Fund a little more conservatively. I was leaning toward dropping our emergency fund down a bit more to like 3-4 months expenses instead of 6. However, now I’m glad we left it at 6. It’s not because we needed it. It was more of the peace of mind that we would be ok for a longer if something unexpected happened.
In case you guys need a reminder, it’s already 2021, so go ahead and do your Backdoor Roth IRA if you haven’t already.
What about Student Loans?
Ah yes, you may recall that my Attack on Student Loans started near the end of 2019 with hopes to make a major dent in things by the end of 2020. Then the pandemic came. This changed my plan of attack a bit since there was a pause on federal student loans. The original plan (and I quote) was:
The remainder of the loans, ranging between 2.5%-5%, we will begin attacking. My plan of attack is to completely pay down the 5% loans within the next year (2020). Then the 3-4% loans in the next 2 years (2021 and 2022), starting with the higher end 4% loans first.
Unfortunately, we weren’t quite able to get rid of all the 5% loans, yet. The major reason for this is because we are being ultra-conservative with regards to our Emergency Fund. Also, we are being cautiously optimistic in regards to the possibility of receiving some degree of loan forgiveness, whether it’s $10k, $50k, or somewhere in between. Also, it seems like President-Elect Biden has already planned to extend the pause the student loan repayment. According to Forbes:
“On January 20, 2021, Biden has said he will pause federal student loan payments beyond January 31, 2021. “
Just to be clear, we’re still paying our federal loans even with this pause. However, I think it’s probably prudent for some more clarity on what is going to happen before I go and pay down all my federal loans right now.
Yea. Stay safe out there and remember:
“No amount of money ever bought a second of time.”
– Tony Stark, quoting his father, to his father
The kids just rewatched Avengers: Endgame the other day so this quote is fresh in my head.
Hindsight 2020 from me.
Will try to post alternating Mondays and Wednesdays.
Please get vaccinated when available to you.
Do your Backdoor Roth IRA for 2021.
Stay safe out there.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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