Small change and large

Small Change
I just finished rolling about $40 in quarters and $20 in dimes for the next time I go to New York. Commerce Bank has free machines to get money for your change and the last time I went to the branch in Astoria, I brought about $100 in change. I’ve also got a desk drawer full of change at work that needs to be rolled at some point.

Large Change
I received my quarterly statement for my 403(b) (a non-profit equivalent of a 401(k)) today and in reviewing it, I noticed something very interesting. To understand this, however, you need a little background. First, my company contributes a certain percentage of my salary each pay period towards my retirement. This is my “retirement plan” and it doesn’t come out of my pocket. In addition to this, I contribute money from my paycheck. Since about 2000, I have steadily added to my contribution. I’ve done this by taking every raise I’ve gotten in the last 6 years and adding that amount to my retirement. The benefit is that I don’t pay taxes on it. The downside is that my net paycheck hasn’t changed much in 6 years, but I’m used to it.

My statement shows how much money was contributed for the last quarter. It also shows any investment gains or losses. An investment gain is an increase in the values because of increases in the market (stock prices go up, etc.). A loss is a decrease in market value (stock prices go down).

This most recent statement that I received today is the first one I have ever received where the investment gains were greater than the total amount of money contributed by me and my company for this quarter. This is pretty cool. It’s like doubling the money contributed each quarter for free and it is a great illustration of the power “dollar-cost-average” investing. I believe this is a kind of water mark. From now on, I think the “interest” or “investment” gain each quarter will always be greater than my own contribution. Pretty cool eh?

Between that and my loose change, I should be able to retire comfortably. Someday.