Kosmo’s back with an update over the last year. I’m hoping to have mine for you early next year when I finish with the numbers. Have a great New Year!
I know what you’re thinking. Year in review? Isn’t that just a scam to get paid for writing the same content twice? Of course not.
COVID, COVID, and more COVID
COVID dominated the news cycle in 2020 and still hasn’t released its hold. I come from a large family (eight kids) and basically, all my siblings have had COVID affect their family to some extent. One sister had it about a year ago and is just finally hitting her stride again. Another sister had it recently and now randomly smells smoke when there is none.
My daughter tested positive about a week ago and is a few days away from being able to return to normal. At this point, mild symptoms.
After she tested positive, the rest of us got tested at a drive-through clinic a few minutes from the house. We arrived at our appointment time and were done within minutes. My son, wife, and I also had a subsequent self-test. We dropped it off at the state hygienic lab last night (also just a short drive away). We got the results this morning – still negative. Great testing process in both cases.
I’ve written many articles about my new job, and I won’t rehash all the details. The work has been very interesting. I’m on nine projects a the moment, with business partners that include analytical chemists, CPAs, and vice presidents. It’s rare that I don’t learn something in a meeting. I just got assigned a project this week that has the CEO’s son as the primary stakeholder.
I was in the office a handful of times between January and June before returning on a normal basis. Normal means two days in the office most weeks. I’m not a morning person, so rolling out of bed at 6 AM to drive fifty miles isn’t my idea of a fun time, but I discovered a McDonalds off the interstate that has great bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits and an efficient and friendly staff.
My biggest work failure of the year was an attempt to recruit a former colleague to come to work for my employer. The position interested her, and she would have been a great fit. In the end, she had to withdraw for personal reasons. I understand and respect her decision, but am disappointed that we weren’t able to add an employee of her caliber.
My kids spent the 2020-21 school year online. They did very well academically. This year, we decided to send them back. They’ve continued to do well academically, with my daughter improving from a 3.85 GPA in 7th grade to a 4.0 in the first trimester of this year.
My son (6th grade) had a bit of a rougher adjustment back into the social environment of school after a year off but is also excelling academically. He has plenty of brainpower, but I think we may have an uphill battle getting him to actually do all the work instead of just coasting.
We took an actual vacation this year, returning to Door County, Wisconsin. After another pleasant stay in the peninsula, we are taking tentative steps toward the possible purchase of a rental/vacation/retirement home. Financially, we’re in a position where we can handle a decent down payment and could even swallow a few years of losses, in a worst-case scenario. Realistically, we should be able to make a bit of money on a property, even though we’d need to hire someone to manage it. We’re not trying to build a real estate empire; we’re just trying to get other people (renters) to pay for our retirement home.
I’m a proud alumnus of Iowa State University. This year, the Cyclones were coming off a shockingly good 2020 football season in which they won the regular-season conference title outright. They ended this season with a disappointing 7-5 record, with a number of frustratingly close conference losses, plus a loss to the damn Hawkeyes. Star running back Breece Hall had another outstanding season and will forgo a year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.
The Cyclone basketball team won some games last year. Two, to be exact. After ending the season on an eighteen-game losing streak, the coach got fired. A new coach came in and took advantage of relaxed transfer rules to completely remake the team. They have emerged as a defensive juggernaut and have risen to #8 in the nation at the time I’m writing this. We do have some difficult games looming.
My main sport is baseball. There’s currently a work stoppage due to the collective bargaining agreement expiring. It’s not apparent to non-fans yet, since it’s the off-season. If the stoppage carries over into the season, it will be a dreary spring.
Our finances are, honestly, pretty boring. I’m 46 years old, and our home mortgage is roughly 25% of our home’s equity. Other than the possible purchase of a rental property, the largest expense looming on the horizon is college for the kids. They are in 8th and 6th grade, and we’ve been funding 529s for them since they were in diapers. Nonetheless, there’s the concern about exactly how much college will cost, and how much of the cost we should have them pay. It’s a more difficult question for us than it was for my parents. (Editor’s Note: see How Much Do I Need To Save For College) For my parents, the obvious answer (and the most fair to my siblings) was that I needed to figure out how to pay for college on my own.
Our retirement accounts are invested in fairly boring date-targeted funds, and we have some additional funds invested in an equally boring index fund. You’d fall asleep going through our finances, but we’re steadily adding to our net worth every year. This is partly due to boring investing and partly due to living well within our means.
I’m looking forward to seeing the end of COVID in 2022. It has been a rough two years for everyone – financially, emotionally, and physically. Omicron is on the rise as we head into Christmas, and the research has been unclear. It’s probably less serious than Delta. Maybe less serious? I’m hoping that we finally emerge from the other side, into a world that is more like 2019 was.
How was your 2021 – and what are you looking forward to in 2022?
It is wise to plan for college costs unless your income can cash flow them. However when the time comes really hit the scholarship trail hard. Your kids main job that junior and senior year of high school should be applying for scholarships. All three of our millennial kids got totally free rides for four year degrees, even room and board was covered, with millionaire parents no less. Many of our friends had the same experience with their kids. There are lots of scholarships that are not means tested at all, so even if you have lots of money your kids are still eligible. This works better for the already more affordable public state universities for in state students, but those are the best value schools anyway, even if you have to pay the full cost. And if they are going to be expected to pay for school themselves its just as important to go for scholarships, to avoid them starting life out with any student loans.
I think my kids will be well-positioned for scholarships.
I was a good student in high school, but didn’t have time for extra-curriculars, due to farm work. My kid are both very good students and also have some extra-curriculars – most notable, band.
More importantly, they’ll have parents who are familiar with the process. I was flying blind when I approached my college years, and it’s likely that it cost me scholarship opportunities.
Lazy Man says
Our 3rd grader has been getting rave reviews from his music teach for his drum playing ability. We decided to get him drum lessons and he starts Wednesday. Maybe he’ll get a scholarship with some band experience.