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.
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.
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).
Lots of volatility in the market the last couple months, but my annual bonus erased my losses. I am kind of annoyed that I front-loaded all my 401k contributions into the first quarter this year especially if it turns out we’re in a prolonged bear market. I had been planning on waiting until the second quarter to max it out, but I didn’t manage to change my withholdings in time. Oh well, so it goes.
For the next couple months before my planned departure I’ll be stockpiling cash. I’m in negotiations right now with my employer to see if they’ll hire me on as a contractor to finish off my existing projects, but there’s a lot that can go south so I’m not holding my breath on that one.
I spent a lot of money in March. About half of the excess was comprised of planned one-off expenses; emergency supplies and career coaching came to about $550 on their own. A quarter was shopping for books (because, books) and replacement shoes as my Merrells fell apart from heavy wear. The last quarter was a function of stress spending. In particular: food spending.
When I’m feeling stressed out, particularly as I have been at work, I’ll get more delivery or “treat” myself with fancier foods. I realize part of this has to do with the way I use food, particularly the kind I couldn’t afford when I was younger, as an emotional crutch. Affording “good” food reminds me I’ve made it. I’ll admit it’s probably not the best habit, but it’s I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Something to keep an eye on and rein in, though, lest it get too out of hand.
Notable things that happened this month include:
- Endured seven bazillion snow storms.
- Tried selling my body to science and was in return informed that science doesn’t actually want me all that much.
- After six months of unemployment, fiancé finally got a job offer. Woohoo!
How were your finances in March?