Financial Update – November 2018

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks joint net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for us) budget, keeping us accountable for additional expenses. I will also include my personal discretionary budget as well; I will not include my spouse’s discretionary spending, which I do not see.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. Our current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time we reach this goal we will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my husband hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my husband and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times our combined gross salaries without bonuses or equity.

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

november

Spending

We’ve created a joint budget which represents the average amount we can expect to spend each month. This is average amount we need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently mostly keep in line with our budget when amortized over the year, even though amounts may vary from month to month.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in our joint spending updates: our monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of our net income).

joint nov 18.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month of November. I try to spend $600 or less each month for my “fun money” since that’s the allowance that’s apportioned to me and my husband.

ind spend nov 17

Monthly Summary

Some of these numbers are still in flux since we’re not quite done combining everything. But we’re getting close. I can feel it.

October and November I really took a good at our joint finances (in part because we started putting an estate plan together) and boy howdy we spend a lot for the two of us. Yikes. Like, I knew this, but I didn’t really internalize it until I went through my husband’s auto insurance statements. Auto premiums in this city are bonkers.

The other big annoying thing for us is health care. Apparently, contrary to what I thought, my husband’s open enrollment period is exactly six months from my company’s open enrollment period. But we want him on our insurance long-term because of his recurring specialist sessions, which are covered on my insurance but not his. I’m super afraid that him being on two insurance is going to lead to a coordination of benefits nightmare in the meantime where we pay out the nose covering both deductibles before getting anything covered. Had we known his insurance would leave such a gap for his specialist sessions before or right after we had gotten married, we could have switched him over then. But we didn’t find out until two months after our nupitals. So. Whatever.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate health insurance in the US? It’s a really dumb and unintuitive system.

In any case, that means we’re going to be paying on the order of $500/month just for his medical care for six months, then that should go down to $300/month for him when his insurance switches over. Assuming all goes well, which, who knows! Medical billing is an endless nightmare!

Edit: adding my husband to my insurance maybcount as a qualifying event? Which is good is true, because then we won’t have to have him double-covered. Stay tuned as I continue to be flabbergasted by the rigamaroles of insurance. Wheeee.

Anyway, here are the minor steps we have taken / will take to hopefully chip away at these recurring numbers in the long term:

  1. Switch husband to my insurance (saving $200/month)
  2. Find cheaper auto insurance (unknown savings)
  3. Trade in my Google Fi for Mint Mobile (saving ~$40/month)
  4. Cancel Amazon Prime which I mostly used to watch Tokyo Girl (saving ~$13/month)
  5. Set up system to enforce submitting work reimbursements (~75/month, though won’t reduce line item in monthly reporting)

Things that will probably increase our spending:

  1. Putting an estate plan into place
  2. Getting life, disability, and umbrella insurance

We’re also not going to do any more clothes shopping on the joint account (husband really needed more basics for work so we got him a couple things at Uniqlo, but going forward we’ll both be using our discretionary account for those items).

As for my personal spending this month: food. What else is new?

Notable things that happened in October and November include:

  • Got married!
  • Surprise $10k raise at work
  • Went to my first cooking class with Little Sis

How were your finances in November?

Advertisements

All The Clothes I Bought In The Second Half of 2018

In the first half of the year, I mostly bought casual clothing and minor replacements in shoes and socks for my wardrobe. I kept up the same trend the last few months. Most of items I got were blue– easy, neutral, don’t want flashy right now. I doubt I’ll be buying anything in the next few weeks, mostly out of disinterest in anything except an Alighieri necklace, which I know I won’t be buying until next year at least.

Everything I Bought

Vince Color Block T Shirt – $33

vince4633263262_q5_1-0._UX357_QL90_

I needed some casual T-shirts for work. I wanted something without logo branding, but a little funkier than the plain crew-neck shirts I have already.

Eileen Fisher Silk Blend Crew Neck Sweater $27

eileen-fisher-silk-blend-crew-neck-sweater

For when I’m leaning hard into menocore. I’ve never been much into loose, flowy garments, but this this sweater is so damn cozy and I actually kind of like the crunchy granola look I have wearing this with my tortoise shell glasses.

J Brand Jeans – $35

1517522623523_6968442080361252716.1200w

The same as the jeans I bought during my wardrobe overhaul last year. I like the way those have held up, but I needed another pair so it wasn’t on rotation literally every day.

Vince Paneled Shirt – $22

m_5996950af09282d9e700fc4b

Another hip shirt with a wide waist and stomach, though less so than a tunic. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, though it feels like a good transitional item for when I’m pregnant (is that a thing I’m allowed to think about now?).

Total – $117

Grand Total for 2018 – $327

Summary

My goal at the beginning of the year was to stay under $350 for clothes, and I definitely did that! I’m not setting myself a budget for next year. Now that my husband and I have our monthly allowances, I feel less pressure to spend more/less in any particular budget category. Rather, as long as I stay in my range for total discretionary spending each month (~$600) then it’s fine.

Other than the La Collisione necklace from Alighieri, the only thing I have on my radar for next year is a summer shoe– something like TOMS canvas ones. And maternity clothing maybe? That’s still weird to say.

Oh, and I want to get a few pieces repaired early in the year. This includes my leather jacket, which somehow developed a small rip in the shoulder, cleaning my Merrells, replacing my insoles, and tuning up one of the old fancy watches I got as a wedding so I can wear it day to day.

What clothes did you buy in 2018? Do you have a budget for next year? What pieces do you have your eye on?

Week In The Wallet: Turkey Edition

Saturday

Wake up feeling like I have been hit by a truck. I can’t tell if it’s the weather or the work stress. Grumble grumble. In any case I spend a good part of the morning wrapped up in blankets and scrolling through Jameela Jamil’s Instagram for gems like:

At some point I get my weekly local food delivery. I changed over from my pseudo CSA to this service because it allowed me to get fish, dairy, grain, and veggies all in one go rather than just produce alone. I get pizza dough, apples, beets, butternut squash, salmon, cilantro, greek yogurt, spinach, and a bazillion red onions. ($59)

IMG_20181117_110111

While I cook, I eat some of my leftovers from last week: bok choy, roasted mix vegetables, and peanut pork pan fried noodles. From what was sitting in the fridge and the new delivery I make up some beet carrot salad, pan fried salmon, roasted butternut squash with leftover rosemary, chopped spinach, and caramelized onions to use for a pizza sauce later in the week.

As much as I dread going outside, I make a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up my new obsession: Spendrift cucumber water. I also get a trifecta of mozzarella, pecorino, and ricotta cheese for pizza and fancy oat and sea salt soap bars because apparently I am fully a millennial now and these little luxuries unironically #sparkjoy in my life. What have I become… ($24.13)

In the evening I visit my friends for board game night, bringing my beet carrot salad as a side dish offering. I forget to bring Lactaid pills and we’re eating spinach lasagna with bechamel  sauce so I run to the CVS to buy some ($12.21) We end up playing rummy cube and they feed us spinach ricotta lasagna and an almond torte. Nomnomnom.

Daily total: $95.34

Sunday

Laze around on the internet all morning, too cozy under my warm blanket to make myself breakfast. At some point I muster up enough energy to make pizza with my husband. The toppings include: caramelized onions sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino, gouda (leftover in the fridge), basil, and spinach. The crust could probably have used a wee bit more precooking but otherwise it is quite tasty.

After pizza and Jeopardy watching– apparently Netflix added the championship episodes from like three years ago– I go for a run at the gym. By the time all that’s done it’s only like six in the evening, but I’m feeling exhausted and potentially depressed from the perpetual overcast weather, so I do my evening prep early and head to bed.

Daily total: $0

Monday

I woke up with godawful fits and starts between midnight and two, but managed to sleep again through seven in the morning. I get ready and check my work email: 31 messages since Friday evening. Not terrible. Except three of them are actually tasks that I need to do “immediately” because the founder said so. Sigh.

I get to the office and realize I left my key card at home. Ugh. Our desk space requires a badge and is separate from the kitchen and bathrooms, which means I’m going to have an annoying and awkward time.

For lunch I eat peanut pork noodles, beet and carrot salad, and some chopped spinach.

I start to prep salmon for dinner and then drop the pan– fish, hot oil, and all– right on the floor. Today is just not my day. I end up eating what amounts to a carbon copy of my lunch.

My husband’s therapist sends us an email in the evening, letting us know that his insurance doesn’t cover their sessions, retroactive three months. So we owe her ~$1200. He really likes seeing her and it’s made a big difference for his wellbeing so we’re not going to drop it, but I find this notification long after the fact really annoying and unprofessional (like, you know, most medical billing). We can handle that sort of one-off expense without much trouble, but for a lot of people that’d be a real emergency. It looks like she’ll take my employer’s insurance, so we’ll probably switch him over to my plan going forward as part of open enrollment.

Daily total: $0

Tuesday

My morning, like most, is filled with back to back meetings. I take a quick break to load up on Indian buffet food before our organization-wide “Here’s the state of things” meeting. ($15) Surprise surprise, we have infinite prospects and work to do and are slow at hiring. Also we’re moving offices. In two weeks. Thanks for giving us a lot of heads up, management!

One of the mid-level folks from a perspective customer is in town for the holidays. I buy some a bunch of desserts from the patisserie downstairs to welcome her, which I’ll get reimbursed by my employer later. We chat a bit with one of my direct colleagues and one of our founders. It sounds like they’ll make a decision which way they’re going in a week or so. Given that she’s bothering to visit our office, it seems like good tidings for us? This would be a really big account with a lot of interesting work directly affecting my day to day, so I’m hopeful.

By the time dinner rolls around I’m still pretty full from my Indian food. More Jeopardy, cucumber Spendrift, and trying really hard to turn off my angry and addled brain.

Daily total: $15

Wednesday

Relatively slow day at the office because of the upcoming holiday weekend. Which means I can finally catch up on everything (or, well, some of the things).

My grand-boss invites me out to Au Bon Pain for lunch where I order a turkey sandwich. She pays. We chat about how my work is going, all the projects coming up, how short staffed we are, etc. We also talk about the banal personal stuff: kids, spouses, etc.

I head home early because the office is basically empty and most of my afternoon meetings have been cancelled. My in-laws are planning on ordering pizza for dinner. The combination of carbs, marinara, and cheese often gives me a stomach ache (which is why we made white pizza earlier in the week) so I let them know I’ll probably eat leftovers at our house before we drive over.

More noodles, salad, and cucumber water for dinner. I’m intent on NOT bringing my laptop to the in-laws’, so I try to finish everything up work-wise before my husband gets home. We then drive over and watch even more Jeopardy, this time with teen contestants.

My mother-in-law mentions to me how in retiring she’s worrying about money for the first time. I’ve worried for years that they weren’t saving enough, but had been told repeatedly that they had “more than enough.” From back of the envelope calculations, it sounds like she has her house paid off, about a half million in assets, and $4-5k a month coming in between Social Security and her pension. Plus she and her husband plan to do some part time work as well. So they should be in a pretty comfortable place, at least as long as their health stays good. But, man, it’s a far cry from what they’d made their savings out to be. It makes me frustrated in hindsight by how much they supplemented by husband’s lifestyle for so many years rather than prioritizing their own savings.

Daily total: $0

Thursday

I snack on olive oil crackers and Kerrygold cheddar for lunch. The holidays are delicious. My husband and I help with some Thanksgiving sides and keep his cousin’s children entertained with board games before dinner. The final spread includes: turkey, rolls, butternut squash, sweet potato casserole, Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, cookies, and pumpkin pie. Nom nom nom. A really nice, chill day.

Daily total: $0

Friday

I have the rest of the salmon and some leftover turkey for lunch, on top of salad and chopped spinach. Leftovers: a blessing and also– after a week of repeats– kind of a curse.

I don’t manage to drag myself away from reading and watching travel planning videos to Japan (we’re hoping to go next year as a last hurrah before babies) until three in the afternoon. I go to a nearby Japanese street food restaurant for some gyoza and croquette combination bowl. The meal is served with a side salad, but it’s only until I’ve snarfed down half of it that I realize I should ask what type of lettuce they used. It was green leaf, thankfully, and we (me, the shop owner, and the staff) had a good laugh at both my greedy eating and impotent worrying. Ha. ha. ha. ($17)

I feel like sitting at my favorite tea shop and read the rest of the evening away, but they’re full up. After checking a few of my favorite bakeries to find them closed for the weekend, I make a last stop at the one nearest home and pick up a tiny (fits in the palm of my hand) pumpkin loaf. ($5). Once I get home, I pan-toast it with butter and share with my husband for dessert. Nom.

The evening is spent chilling out, mostly reading Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee. It is fine, but much less of a compelling read than Pachinko. Also more videos about Japanese food, because apparently I am hungry forever.

Daily total: $22

Summary

Total spending: $132.34

Looking back on my diary, it’s clear I was really depressed this past week. Having grown up in the sunny Southwest, the overcast weather really does a number on me mentally. Also, I’ve been investing myself too much in my work, emotionally speaking. Taking my laptop home night after night is a huge red flag that I’m spiraling. Going forward I’m going to endeavor to avoid that behavior and, instead, add structure to my weekday evenings so they aren’t wasted away on television/other poor decompression methods.

How was your Thanksgiving? How much do you think is “enough” to retire regularly?

Dumb Money Moves

The past few weeks have been kind of a whirlwind. Thing I’ve learned about startup life: it can be all-consuming very quickly if you let it. That’s a whole post in and of itself.

As the effects of work have spilled over, I have found that my personal time has gotten frayed and I’ve started dropping things. This would normally not be an issue– our bills are mostly on autopay, checklists help us keep track and make sure all the other household items get done on time– but various life changes are putting a wrench into my plans.

Opening new joint accounts. Changing up the money flow between those accounts and our personal ones. Churning here, there, everywhere. Name changes. Estate planning trust junk. Blah blah blah blah blah. I don’t know which one did it, but the camel’s back is definitely broken.

Because of the various account movings, I managed to accidentally overdraw my checking account not once but TWICE in the past two months. Well, actually the first time I overdrew a series of transactions out of a recently-emptied account so that was annoying. I’ve probably paid around $100 in bounced fees at this point? Arggggh.

I’ve made silly costly mistakes in the past that have cost even more money (e.g. booking airline tickets for the wrong week and paying change fees), but somehow this one stings the most. And it’s not like I can be mad at the bank or anything– this all has been entirely my fault. It’s just a feeling of vague frustration on top of all the other feelings of vague frustration that I haven’t the time to process right now so let’s just throw money at the problem and forget about it for the moment, mmkay?

Of course we have the money that these sorts of issues just wind up being a carelessness tax. And I know that in itself is a blessing. And since they happen so rarely (on the order of once or twice a year on average) it really isn’t that big of a deal. Still, it stings. I’ve always thought myself pretty responsible with money, and I mostly still am. But maybe, for a while, I have to give myself slack for letting my focus shift elsewhere and live with things not always being p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

Have you made any dumb money moves lately? 

What Keeps You Up At Night?

There was a long time, when I was a child and young adult, when money would keep me awake. Or, at least, the lack of it. I’d worry for hours deep into the night whether we’d become homeless, whether I’d be able to afford college, whether I’d lose my job and be unemployable forever more. I traversed all these worries link by link for years until, relatively recently, I realized: money is no longer my problem.

I have been extremely lucky in this regard. High paying jobs and the principles of financial independence have led me to a place where I feel assured we will have enough money to live, to pay the bills, to take care of the kids, etc. We may not be retirement-ready rich, but it’d be silly of me to expect we’d ever be truly poor.

And with this, I felt free.

For a time.

Here’s the thing: chronic anxiety is a strange beast. When the object of the anxiety is gone, the anxiety itself doesn’t just magically disappear. It may seem that way, for a while. There’s a lull, a respite. But there’s always something around the corner or even an infinite number of things to fill the vacuum.

That terrible social faux pas I made last Tuesday, trying to meet my work goals, not being fulfilled by my labor, serious physical ailments befalling my family and friends, political turmoil, families still being separated at the border, the threat of autocracy, the threat of ethnic cleansing, climate change, whether it is amoral to have children in the current age, whether I’d feel if my life had meaning if I couldn’t have kids, the idea of death. The list goes on and on.

And the thing is: all these concerns, though of varying import, are all real and legitimate. But they are also suffocating. This anxiety, at times a useful tool to be harnessed to motivate personal process, can in the worst of times stifle my ability to even move.

This is the key idea that I want to start working through now that I see it clearly: there’s no amount of controlling my environment that will make all these problems disappear (though certainly I should work to help others). For my own sanity, I have to accept that there’s an entire world of problems out there for everyone to suffer through. But what’s keeping me awake at night isn’t the world. It’s me.

What keeps you up at night? How do you deal with anxiety?

How Much Did We Spend On Our Wedding?

wedding.png

Our wedding has come and gone. We are now married. (This, in my book, was always the minimum threshold of success.)

In terms of cost, I think we did pretty well. I talked with one of my coworkers before the event, astonishingly telling her “average wedding costs” per women’s magazines and the like ($30k+ in our area). As a part-time wedding hair stylist, she didn’t believe those numbers for a second. “It’s at least $80k out where I live on the Cape!” I think we run in very different circles.

As you can tell from the table above, we got a lot of help with wedding costs. His mother insisted on paying for the catering, which was by far the most expensive line item. It costs a lot to feed 60 people! That said, our caterers were excellent. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food; they did all the set-up, clean-up, and serving labor; plus they provided hot apple cider and coffee for our guests, and welcome end to the event on a cool fall day outdoors. And after the event they packed up all the extra food for us, which meant our diet was nothing but wedding leftovers for an entire week.

There were a couple things here and there that didn’t go quite as planned. Because our original musician ended up moving away for conservatory, we decided to go the “let’s play something on our computer” route. Unfortunately, our speakers just decided not to work? So that was kind of a bust.

But overall the event was fine to good. The weather was perfect and the trees in the park had just started turning their leaves, bits of red and orange flecks amongst the mostly-green topiary. I brought a dozen decks of playing cards for people to use during the reception and I think it really helped in keeping our guests entertained. I got to see some out-of-town friends, which was nice. And our families were on their best behavior– a welcome relief.

I might update this post with some wedding photos once our photographer sends us the final copies. Or I might not. If you can’t tell, I’m mostly just glad our wedding is behind us. I love my husband and enjoy being married. But, big orchestrated events? I can do without another one of those for a good, long time.

Did you enjoy your wedding? How much did you spend on “the big day”?

Financial Update – September 2018

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for me) “bare bones” budget, keeping me accountable for additional expenses.

For now, monthly updates include only my personal net worth and spending. As my fiancé and I combine our finances, updates will shift to cover going values instead.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. My current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time I reach this goal I will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my fiancé hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my fiancé and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times my gross salary without bonuses

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

sept 2018

Spending

I’ve created a “bare bones” budget which represents the average minimum amount I can expect to spend each month. This is the minimum amount I need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently go over my “bare bones” budget in a number of categories (here’s looking at you, “Groceries & Dining”), but I want to remain accountable to myself when I do so.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in my spending updates: my monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of my net income).

sept 18

Monthly Summary

Just so ready for this year to be over.

Notable things that happened this month include:

How were your finances in September?