Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When it comes to early retirement, there’s a new game in town


I can’t believe it was almost two years ago, but back in August 2013 I blogged about my ‘game plan’ for early retirement: “How I plan to win at the game of Yloponom”.

I was just reading it again, and I’m surprised at how I thought I had things all figured out. Little did I know of what was to come.

1. I said I’d have to stay at my current job until age 55 (to avoid a 10% penalty on early 401K withdrawals).

Well, that sure didn’t happen! I assumed I’d be working in 2016, never dreaming I’d leave my company almost 2 years earlier than planned. But I also learned something in the interim, regarding that “55 Rule”; the Federal gov’t doesn’t impose a 10% penalty on 401K withdrawals if you work to age 55, but that’s no guarantee your company will go along with your plan.  I was counting on small withdrawals, once a year.   My company couldn’t guarantee that, but they could offer (penalty-free, at age 55) a lump-sum payout. The tax bill would’ve been enormous.

2. Those annual 401K withdrawals were only to meet the minimum income requirements for Obamacare—I didn’t need to withdraw much, right?  Wrong

Since that earlier blog, Pennsylvania expanded their Medicaid program. What this means is, for someone like me who wants to buy health insurance, I now have to report a higher income ($5000 more than I anticipated) to qualify for Obamacare.

hc2Minimum income requirements for 2015 to get Obamacare (for states with & without expanded Medicaid).

I’ll need to report a higher MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) of at least $16,243.00 on my 2015 taxes now

To play it safe, I gave Obamacare an income estimate of around $18,000 for 2015. 

(Of course, that “minimum income required” is bound to go up every year too.)

3. Since I left my job before age 55, if I take money from my 401K I’m going to have to pay that 10% penalty, right?  Not if I can help it

Here’s the thing:  I DON’T NEED MY 401K TO LIVE ON (just yet).  I only want to withdraw the least amount necessary (and pay taxes on it) to report taxable income.  Here’s what I have to do before the end of the year:

  1. Open a Traditional IRA. (Done)
  2. Rollover my company’s 401K to that IRA. (Done)
  3. Open a Roth IRA.  (Done)
  4. Move at least $13,000 from my Traditional IRA to the Roth; I can’t spend it for 5 years, but doing this lets me pay taxes on that 13K now—and report it on my 2015 income tax.
  5. Wait, don’t I need to report at least $16.243? Yes but my personal investments will earn about $3-4,000 in dividends for 2015.

4. That takes care of having affordable health insurance (hopefully until I’m eligible for Medicare); but what do I live on?

That’s where my personal investments come in.  At the start of the New Year, I’m going to look at the balances of my investments, both personal and retirement, and withdraw 4-4.5% of the combined total from my personal portfolio to live on. 

And frankly, that’s the part that worries me here more than anything.  I know how much I need to live on.  I’ll want that, and hopefully a few thousand more to blow at the racetrack (heh, just kidding).  But if we were to have another stock market crash like in 2008, or even a large downturn anytime soon… things would get dicey.  

The only thing I know for sure at this point is—I don’t want to go back to work anytime soon, and I aim to keep it that way.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You’re not a toy Kal-El, you’re a statue—but you’ll fit in with the rest of them

A couple nights ago while flipping thru the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, I came across a blurb about Supergirl coming to television this fall. Wait, really? I jumped on the ol’ internet to see if I could find anything more, and yowza! The good folks at CBS have committed to a full series.

That wasn’t good enough though, I needed to know more—so I began searching through some comic & sci-fi message boards (I once frequented) for anything super-related, and that’s when I stumbled upon this discussion:

  • Does anyone know where I can get the Superman statue ‘Departure from Krypton’? It was issued around 15 years ago and features Jor-El and Lara preparing to send baby Kal-El to Earth.
  • Dude that one’s pretty rare. Plenty of other Superman statues though!
  • There’s one on Ebay right now for $600 MIB
  • A guy in Italy has one for 350.00 but without the box.
  • I don’t want it without the box.

I googled his statue, and right away thought I remember buying something similar to this many years ago… I then spent 15 minutes tearing my closets apart looking for it, but all I came up with was a Star Trek model kit I’d bought back in 2002 and never put together and a classic Batmobile that’s been sitting on my top shelf for the last 10 years. Still, I know I had a couple nerd-toys from some years back, packed away in my storage locker in the basement.

I hopped down there, but aside from a couple bags of Christmas decorations, old textbooks & a very dusty suitcase, everything else was in a dozen or so taped cardboard boxes. With no recollection of their contents, I had no choice but to bring those cartons upstairs for a better look.

  • Trendmasters Jupiter 2 spaceship from ‘Lost in Space’ (with lights & sound)
  • Spindrift spaceship model kit from ‘Land of the Giants’
  • Captain Kirk 9” resin figure model kit
  • Jupiter 2 model kit from the 1998 movie ‘Lost in Space’
  • Medicom Rocketeer V2.0
  • Superman ‘Departure from Krypton’ cold-cast porcelain statue
  • “Classic” Jupiter 2 model kit from the 1960s tv show ‘Lost in Space’
  • ELITE 1966 Batmobile from Hot Wheels
  • Scorpion spaceship model kit from ‘Star Trek Nemesis’
  • Batmobile model kit from Johnny Lightning

First of all, I couldn’t believe I owned half these damn toys; it’s been years since I bought any of this stuff.  Intrigued that I had that “quite rare” Superman statue after all (and MIB—mint in box), I thought I’d look up the rest of these items on Ebay & see if they’re worth anything too.

It turns out they’re all listed on Ebay, most of them for unremarkable prices and pretty much what I paid for them “back in the day”—give or take a little more. But along with that pricey Superman statue, I was surprised to see the asking amounts on these 3 items (that I own mint):

This Trendmaster Jupiter 2 from the mid-1990s is considered a rare item, and is listed from $400-$600.00; one guy is selling a used one for $525.00. I got mine for $40.00 in 1995

A Limited-Edition Medicom Rocketeer from Japan, Version 2.0 sells from $438-$575.00. Version 1 sits in my bedroom on my bookcase; I’ve got Version 2 still mint in box!

Hot Wheels issued a Limited-Edition 1:18 Batmobile based on the tv show some years back—I bought mine for around $40.00, they now sell from $150.00-200.00. I really want to open this bad boy up!

Okay, so now what—do I wrap these treasures back up and pack ‘em away again? Declare myself too old for these nerdy toys and list them on Ebay? Or do I say ‘to hell with everything’ and start ripping open some fifteen year old goodies?

And one more thing; as I was sitting here, looking at this pile of gold, it hit me—I ALSO OWN LIMITED EDITION PLANET OF THE APES FIGURES, so where are they?!  My teepee is only so big, they’ve gotta be here somewhere Smile