Selenid and I recently made some changes to our financial plan. We do not take this lightly. But you will remember that in our original financial plan, we implement a 3 month waiting period before any changes. And that is what we did in this case.
We’ve been talking about potential changes for over three months. And then the time came and we had a formal meeting. We sat for about 30 minutes, talked about the changes, and both agreed to officially make them.
And the first change is to divest our index funds and put it all in crypto.
I couldn’t resist. But making even minor changes to your long term financial plan is a big deal. So I’d like to transparently share them with you!
My 7 new financial plan changes
For reference, you can find our written financial plan in full here for comparison. And I’ll do a direct comparison further down in this post.
Change #1. Maximizing my 457b account moves up the priority list
If you look at our original list of financial priorities here, maximizing my 457b retirement account was priority #7.
In our new written financial plan, it moves all the way up to #5 jumping over real estate investing and contributing to our kids’ 529 accounts.
Well, Selenid and I have aggressively grown our real estate portfolio to 7 properties and 16 units with monthly cash flow of $10-12k. And as I write this, we are finding less great deals given the interest rate environment. We still find good deals. But we want great ones. And we don’t feel a need to rush given our current portfolio. We will still continue to look for deals and can fund them when great ones arise using our real estate profits and continued savings towards real estate.
But maximizing our tax advantaged investments feels more important to us given our already very well developed real estate portfolio (which has already served its purpose as a wealth accelerator and will continue to do so). So the 457b account moves up.
We also subscribe to the “save yourself, then your kids” financial philosophy. Because they can get loans for college in a worst case scenario. But we can’t get loans for our retirement. Regardless, we plan to pay from their college using a combination of rental income and savings (see exactly how in this post). This is on track so maximizing the 457 became more important.
End Result: I opened my governmental 457 and will contribute to maximize it in year 2023.
Change #2: Backdoor Roth IRAs move up the list as well!
I somewhat famously posted before about how Selenid and I have not yet contributed to backdoor Roth IRAs. You can find my 3 big reasons here.
However, in our new financial plan, contributing to a backdoor Roth and backdoor spousal Roth moved all the way from #10 to #6. That’s a big jump!
The reasons are pretty similar to those for the jump in our 457 priority. An added bonus with this is being able to diversify our retirement savings among tax deferred and tax free accounts. Before this, the majority of our investments were all tax deferred. Having some Roth savings gives us some nice advantages in terms of growing and being withdrawn tax free along with potentially being able to take the money out sooner.
End Result: We both opened up and maxed out a backdoor Roth with $6,500.
Change #3: We started to invest in a taxable brokerage account
Investing in a taxable account went from #11 on the previous priority list to #9. So not a huge jump. But the big change is that we are actually investing in it now.
The reason we felt comfortable doing this is that we realized we filled all the buckets preceding our taxable account on our priority list.
We were maximizing loan payments with an aggressive plan to get debt free, maxing our tax deferred and tax free retirement accounts available to us, we were happy with our real estate portfolio, and contributing to 529s.
So this was the natural next step. For us this was very cool to see happen.
End Result: We are not investing a ton here. Just $250/month that automatically goes from our checking to the Vanguard brokerage account. But it is something that will continue to build.
Change #4: Paying extra towards our mortgage
When we looked at our net worth, it became obvious that our home mortgage was one of our biggest liabilities. Not only that, it was the biggest liability that we really weren’t aggressively managing…since we have a plan for student debt pay down (more on that later).
So we decided to change that.
What we then did was look at a mortgage calculator like this one, and determined that an extra $1000/month to our principal would reduce our mortgage by over 9 years!
However, now that we were maximizing both our 403b and 457, contributing max to two backdoor Roths and adding to a taxable account, our waterfall stream was getting weaker.
End Result: So, we made a decision to take $1,000 of our real estate income every month and use that to pay off extra mortgage principal. It will slow our real estate growth slightly (since thus far we have re-invested all profits to buy more properties). But this is a worthwhile trade off for us.
Change #5: We altered our student loan pay off plan
Actually, if I’m being honest, I got bailed out. There’s no other way to put it.
In my 7 years of residency and fellowship, I was ignorant of my student debt. And scared of it. So each year, I closed my eyes and deferred it.
Doing that effectively eliminated my change of using PSLF to gain any debt forgiveness on federal loans since I had not made any income based payments (which would have been low since my income as a trainee was low). In contrast, if I had used the program, I would only be 3 years away from forgiveness when I graduated.Plus, using the program as an attending making much more money, my income based payments would be quite high and any forgiveness very low.
Bummer. But it was what it was. I devised a debt pay off plan with Selenid to aggressively pay off my private loans first and then my federal loans (which were and still remain in COVID forbearance).
But then, things changed. And I got lucky. Very lucky. The government enacted the Temporary Expanded PSLF program which allowed past deferred periods could count towards PSLF.
End Result: Now, I have only 15 more payments to make before forgiveness of my $280,000 of federal student debt. Even with income based payments with my income, this makes sense to implement. In the meantime I am still paying off aggressively the remaining $45,000 of private student debt I have.
This will accelerate my debt pay off and allows me to use more money to invest in other buckets…like my 457 and our backdoor Roth IRAs.
Change #6: Our asset allocation changed
I think this is a particularly good example of why written financial plans do need to be dynamic. Just not overly dynamic. Which is why a 3 month waiting period for changes is good.
Our initial overall asset allocation was 80% stocks and 20% bonds. We knew it was a bit conservative for a young couple with a high income and many years of aggressive saving ahead of us. But to start out it made sense. We had not invested before. We wanted to test the waters first.
That was 3 years ago.
Now, we feel more comfortable. We have seen our investments loss money. In fact almost exclusively given that we have largely invested only in a down market. It didn’t cost us sleep or make us want to sell.
We felt comfortable increasing our risk and therefore adjusted to a 90% stocks and 10% bonds asset allocation.
Here is a full guide to help you determine or confirm your goal asset allocation.
End Result: See below.
Change #7: We now use a two fund investment strategy
My 403b is invested like this.
That’s 6 funds to achieve our previous asset allocation of roughly 80% stocks and 20% bonds. It’s fine but a bit complicated.
And we were won over by the two fund for life strategy developed by Richard Buck and Paul Merriman. More on that here. So we started to invest using that strategy in our new accounts (457b, backdoor Roth IRAs, taxable).
End Result: Our 403b investments stayed the same. There are no good low cost target date funds or small value index funds (anymore) available. So that is staying in its 80/20 split. But our new investment accounts are all invested 90% in a target date fund with a current 90%/10% stock to bond allocation (which will decrease over time) and 10% in a small value index fund.
This gives us an overall asset allocation of roughly 90% stocks and 10% bonds across all of our investments. And thanks to the target date funds, this will automatically become more conservative as we get closer to retirement.
Summing up our financial plan changes
You can see above our original financial priority list on the left and the new one on the right. One the right you can also see our current progress with our priorities as of May 2023.
And lastly, the below provisions were amended to the “Equity Asset Allocation” portion of our original written financial plan:
- Maintain an 90/10 stock/bond allocation, decreasing progressively to at least 60/40 by retirement
- Our 403b will be in the asset allocation shown below to be rebalanced yearly
- Our 457, taxable, Roth IRA accounts with be using a 2 fund strategy with a TDF and small value index fund
Otherwise, all other components of our original written financial plan, which you can find in its complete form here, have stayed the same!
And if all of this seems a bit overwhelming, I recommend watching me break down all of these concepts into 12 simple steps in my Masterclass Webinar on The 12 Steps to Financial Freedom for Physicians here!
What do you think? Have you ever made changes to your financial plan? What were they? If not, will you ever? Let me know in the comments below!