Week In The Wallet: Summer is Finally Here Edition

Monday

I was feeling lazy this weekend and didn’t exercise. So I decide to do a one hour core workout to hopefully release some of the tension I’ve been keeping.

I find my husband doing his PT exercises in the living room. His knees have been hurting him, especially as he’s started running to get into shape. I’ve long been concerned for his health– we’re in kid-nesting mode and I want him to have energy to spend time with our babies– so I’m really happy he’s been making it a priority lately.

After my workout I take a quick shower and pack my lunch for the day: salmon, broccolini, and roasted sweet corn. I walk to the subway. It’s sunny and beautiful. Can’t I just lay out on the lawn in front of the library and read all day? Still, I’m glad for the nice weather.

Work work work.

I decide to go for some cold uni soba for dinner, with a side of gyoza and some hot green tea. ($35) The weather is just perfect so I take a nice leisurely walk home to digest my meal.

Daily total: $35

Tuesday

Working from home so I can take my morning 9 AM call from the comfort of my own bed. Everything I’m working on is on auto-pilot so there’s not much for me to do this morning. I lazily double-check sprint planning while checking out the real estate listings for our area. The market dipped last year, same as the rest of the US due to rising interest rates and the changes in the tax code, so there’s a triple-decker near where we are that is a really good deal as an owner-occupied investment. Not great timing, seeing as I’ll be leaving my job, etc. Still, one can dream…

I take a recruiter call during lunchtime for a job that I would be competent at and would get me in the door at FAANG. We set up a time for me to meet with the hiring manager on Friday. Job searching, wheee.

I meet my friend for lunch in a bougie strip mall nearby. I get a tuna poke bowl from the fish monger for lunch and a pound of fresh salmon for later. ($36.38) The brown rice in the poke bowl is undercooked, which is disappointing for the cost.

Finish up work in the afternoon and head to the gym for my usual, weekly one-hour core class. I’m still a little sore from Monday, so this week feels intense.

After the gym, I’m not feeling terribly hungry, so I make myself a smoothie from blueberry, spinach, avocado, frozen banana, cashew milk, and flax seeds. I also slice up some of the fresh salmon and eat it sashimi style with some sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce dip. That plus sparkling lemon water (yay SodaStream) fills me up, weirdly.

My husband and I watch The Perfection. I’m expecting something like Get Out but with cellos. It is… not that. Not really. I feel like Netflix original content can be so hit or miss. This one, for me, was definitely the latter.

Very tired, sleep early. ZZzzzzz.

Daily total: $36.38

Wednesday

I mix a salad for lunch of sweet corn, avocado, tomato, and raw salmon.

Meetings meetings meetings.

I am planning to hang out with some friends in the evening, but they’re not home from work yet so I hang out in the square near their house. I am super hungry, so I stop by the crepe shop and get a a dessert crepe with Belgian chocolate and bananas. Nom. The cashier offers me free rooibos tea. ($5.27)

I meet my friends at their house, where we eat some Thai takeout. I get the pork belly grapow with fried egg on top. ($12.50) After dinner we take a long stroll with their dog, stopping for soy chocolate ice cream. ($8.56) The cool night breeze is perfect.

Daily total: $26.33

Thursday

Bad sleep last night. Feel like I’ve just been hit by a truck.

Light enough day at the office. For lunch I get a carnitas burrito. ($10)

Dinner is some frozen gnocchi with pesto sauce. I eat it while losing myself in internet videos on real estate investing. I am annoyingly fixated on the idea of buying a triple decker out here and house hacking it, but when I bring it up with my husband a look of sheer terror creeps unto his face.

I know why: we want children now, that’s the priority. I need to find a job that I can stick with so that we can do that. Why am I bringing up this whole other enterprise when babies should be my focus. Do I not want to have kids? (I do.) Is it because of concerns around pregnancy because we could adopt? (No it’s around work because I need to make enough to support us both in this HCOL area while also not keeling over from stress and I want to try to have biological kids first, thank you. Please stop saying those things it makes me feel terrible and I’m already really stressed as it is.) We don’t have this whole conversation out loud now (just the “well we could adopt” part), but we’ve had bits and pieces of it all a few times over the past year, so it’s easy for me to fill in the parts we skipped.

I feel awful and go to sleep.

Daily total: $10

Friday

Friday. Finally. Thank God.

Lunch is ox tail rice and beans and plantains from the nearby Jamaican place. ($13) I contemplate: when was it I began to think $13 was reasonable for a lunch? Everything feels so expensive nowadays. Or maybe my lifestyle has inflated. I don’t know.

In the afternoon I pop over to the FAANG company’s office nearby for an informational interview. After talking with the hiring manager for a bit, I realize that while I could probably do this job, I would absolutely hate it. So, that’s that then. I reach out to a recruiter at a mid-size private business that’s hiring. One day, one application at a time.

In the evening I go climbing with my friends. I have a membership, so it’s no no cost for me to go, plus it covers gear which is lucky because I forgot my shoes today. My friend who doesn’t have a membership misses my text that they can use one of my free guest passes and instead shells out $36 for a day pass. Yowza!

When I get home, I pop down to the basement. There was a storm last night, so I want to check the level of water seepage. We have a fieldstone foundation and are on a hill, so some water coming in is normal. I notice some rot around our main wooden beam that holds up the house. It’s not a lot, and some of it was definitely historical before we bought the property, but we thought we’d gotten rid of the source of damage before moving in, but it’s pretty clear some of the rot is new. It’s not a lot, and the structure is still fine, but it’s gotta be taken care of. Not tonight though, tonight is for rest.

Apparently my brain rebels by not wanting any of the perfectly good food I have in my fridge, so I order a Moroccan lamb burger for dinner. It’s a lot more cilantro than I anticipated, and I immediately regret not just eating down the fridge. ($22.52)

Daily total: $35.52

Saturday

My husband asks me if I want to go for a jog with him. It’s early, and I haven’t eaten anything yet, but I’m willing if it helps motivate him to exercise. We take one of my usual routes, which starts with a couple of steep hills. By the time we’ve gone a half mile, he’s feeling tuckered out, so we make our way back, my head a little woozy from the lack of energy.

I tell my husband about the issue in the basement and he agrees to take on the job of getting contractors out and scheduling the work. After all the renovations we did before moving into this place (99% of which fell onto me since we weren’t married at the time), I’ve felt pretty comfortable giving him house tasks since to balance the load. Plus, then I don’t have to deal with the sexist contractors who don’t even listen to me anyway. Because, frankly, I don’t have the patience for that right now. Not one bit.

I eat a piece of baklava which came with the lamb burger from last night and set out for a long walk. The weather is tragically beautiful and I want to be outside in the sun for as long as I can. I walk a mile to my preferred hole-in-the-wall Chinese place and order a plate of steamed fish with ginger and scallions with white rice. ($20) Mmm, tastes like childhood.

I make my way to the library. On its vast lawn, I read under an old, mature tree Open Secrets by Alice Munro. This is idyllic.

On my way home I stop by the local butcher for some pork belly, spinach, apple, and Brussel sprouts. ($22.23) I also swing by Whole Foods for avocado, bananas, mozzarella, frozen blueberries, biodegradable scouring pads and brushes, hand soap, and a toffee bread pudding.($48.68)

I make myself a blueberry banana smoothie, which is more than enough to tide my over for the evening.

I’m in need for some summer clothes, so I browse linen items on Poshmark. I end up buying a Vince tee with a striped abstract print and another heathered emerald top by Eileen Fisher.($47.78) I also reach out to an Etsy shop about whether they could customize the length for their linen pants. This will be a very wrinkly summer.

Daily total: $138.69

Sunday

After putzing around the house, I realize I’m twenty minutes late for a mentoring call. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

Ever since taking my current role, I’ve gotten a steady trickle of folks– usually young women– reaching out to me about my career path, how they could do the same, etc. I manage to connect with today’s– a woman who graduated five years after me at my alma mater– apologizing profusely for my lateness. I give her some advice on how to make the career switch: some books she should read, the job coach I use, how to sell herself in her resume, etc.

She thanks me and I feel like I have given her useful information, but I still feel terrible about being late to our call. Ughhhhh. I lay in bed, disproportionately angry at myself, for hours before I drag myself out to do some meal prep.

I cook some roasted carrots a la Smitten Kitchen, paprika and garlic Brussel spouts. and rest of my salmon. While cooking, I make myself some caprese using leftover tomato in the fridge and some basil sitting in my living room window. That plus the bits and pieces of food while cooking, as well as some more salmon, corn, and a blueberry banana smoothie fill me up for most of the day. I decide not to make the pork belly yet. That can wait for midweek. I still have some Taiwanese buns in the freezer, so I can make bao when I’m feeling up to it.

Evening is more chores (hellooooo laundry) and reading lazily in bed. I heat up my toffee bread pudding and serve it with a few dollops of unsweetened greek yogurt. That hits the spot.

Daily total: $0

Summary

Weekly total: $281.90

The ups and downs this week led to a lot more emotional spending than I would have liked. But still, I’m well within acceptable limits and hopefully when I leave my current employer in a month, I will feel a little more control over things.

Having it be summer has been really nice though. I’m definitely better mentally when the sun is out than in the dreary winters. I was able to read and focus. I was able to take long walks. I spent a lot of time with friends. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either.

How was your week? Any tips for keeping the motivation up while job searching? Any meal prep recommendations? Summer’s out and I’m looking for some bright, fresh recipes to go with it.

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Financial Update – May 2019

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.

may 19

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).

may 19 joint.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. 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.

may 19 ind.png

Monthly Summary

Relatively spendy month. Our fridge died, so we had to buy a new one. We also had our condo deep-cleaned which was stupidly expensive. Let’s just say it was a similar order of magnitude as the fridge, but they managed to scrape all the burnt bits off the stove so I feel pretty satisfied by the whole thing. Also, I ended up flying to the west coast for a milestone birthday party for my grandmother, so that was a pretty penny too.

I’m kind of sad how much our net worth dipped this month. Between the spending, stock market slump (only 1.5 more years of bear market to go!), and a few thousand in charitable donations (not in the spending summary above but does count toward our yearly 10% of income threshold), we definitely backslid a bit. I plan to quit my job in six weeks, and would like to build up a little cash cushion in advance, but I’m afraid that I’ll need to money to exercise my options instead. So yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

How were your finances in May?

Financial Update – April 2019

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.

april 19

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).

april 19 spend.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. 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.

april 19 single

Monthly Summary

Lots of financial updates this month. For one, I finally finished our taxes, woohoo! I don’t know whether it was because of the 401(k) over-contribution, getting married, the new tax law, or all of the above, but filing this year felt twenty times more complicated than usual. Long story short, I thought we’d be getting a refund, but apparently my 401(k) contributions last year were traditional and not Roth, so we actually owed, like a couple thousand dollars. I’m just glad that’s over.

In other news, apparently someone stole our joint credit card number? I was doing my usual mid-month financial check-in and noticed about $300 worth of sketchy transactions that occurred in $20-50 increments over the course of like 5 days. My husband and I were puzzled by where those came from, but given the merchant was a portmanteau of two real, but completely unrelated company names, it seemed clear pretty quickly that it was fraud. Luckily, the overall damage was quite small and our credit card company reversed all the charges. We now have our new credit cards in hand, all with relatively little hassle. Super bizarre though.

Lastly, I got charged a $27 late payment fee because my personal bank switched my account number with about zero warning, causing my credit card’s auto-pay to be declined. That was annoying.

Notable things that happened in April include:

  • Maybe I should just get rid of this section. -_-

How were your finances in April?

Financial Update – March 2019

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.

mar 19 joint

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).

feb joint19.png

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. 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.

mar 19

Monthly Summary

Lots of money towards travel to Copenhagen to see my friend get married this summer. In other news, got my money refunded from my 401(k) over-contribution, but still waiting on my amended W2 to file my taxes (due for a few thousand dollars refund). All in all, things are going fine money-wise.

Notable things that happened in March include:

  • Sigh, nothing. Again.

How were your finances in March?

Spreading the FIRE

I have always been pretty open with my close friends about finances. It’s helped that we all have professional jobs, some performing the same roles at the same company, so I never felt awkward telling them how much I make or saved. I don’t know that we’ve ever really gotten into the hard numbers, except when swapping salary information, but they all know full well my plans of FIRE, or as I like to call it “hoarding gold like a dragon and then quitting work to sleep all day.”

Anyway, for years I would get skeptical looks. Sure, sure YAPFB we get it. You don’t like working. But this pipe dream of yours seems a little much, don’t you think? Why I don’t know what I would do without the structure of work in my life.

Well, after seven years of proselytizing, I finally have my first FIRE convert!

It all started a couple weeks ago when my best friend, who has both a full-time job and a contracting business on the side, mentioned trying to figure out budgeting and taxes for her and her husband for the last year. I mentioned, oh hey, you might be interested in Mint and Personal Capital then and we started talking about tax optimization and before you know it, several Mad Fientist posts later, she’s singing the tune of financial independence.

If we get our expenses down to $X, we could probably retire in six years. Which would put her ahead of us in the FIRE timeline. Which is both jealousy-inducing but also exciting that I might have people to actually hang out with in my FIRE stage. We always talk as a community about what you’ll be retiring to but never the who you’ll be retiring with. We’ve long talked about raising kids, going on travel adventures, and starting companies together, and if they can make the finances work for them, we may all have the time to actually make these things happen!

Have you ever convinced friends/family to get on the FIRE or personal finance train? With whom do you plan to spend time in retirement?

Week In The Wallet: Hitting the Nadir Edition

Monday

Apparently we got 10 inches of snow overnight, so I decide to stay home and work from the comfort and warmth of my couch. I still have a few meetings to attend so I can’t be completely asocial, but it is far less than my 4-5 hour daily average.

Luckily for me, I did a bunch of food prep over the weekend, which means I already have lots of food to eat. I end up having salmon, roasted Brussel sprouts, and schmancy mediterranean-inspired cauliflower (read: roasted cauliflower tossed in a sauce of mixed tahini, honey, rose water, and olive oil) for both lunch and dinner.

After I finish up my work for the day, I decompress by rewatching old episodes of Game of Thrones. It is unfortunate, really, the decline in quality with regard to dialogue from season 5 to season 6 (and yet worse in season 7), but gosh darn it, I’ve invested this much time into it, I’m invested to seeing the series end.

At some point, I muster up enough energy to visit the gym and run a couple miles on the treadmill. Then I sleep.

Daily spend: $0

Tuesday

I head to the office early and crunch through my to do list before the daily onslaught of meetings.

For lunch, I visit my favorite burrito joint nearby. The one thing I miss about living in the Southwest is the Tex Mex, the food here just doesn’t compare. But I’m hankering for a burrito and this one is pretty good. ($10)

In the afternoon, a couple very minor victories happen at work, so I decide to celebrate by stress eating two bags of BBQ potato chips. Wait, what? (Looks down at the BBQ dust on my keyboard.) Whoops.

After work I go to my weekly core class. I’m pretty happy with having stuck to this routine as long as I have. My core is nicely defined at this point, though I’m pretty resigned to the fact you’ll probably never actually see a six-pack or anything of the like. But it’s there… under the layers of potato chips. I promise.

Once core is over, I take a quick shower and heat up some more salmon, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower for dinner and sign up for an evening call with Australia. I then draft a couple blog posts and finish the night with too many videos on the internet. Look, I’m not proud of this behavior, but can you tell me this Julie Andrews-esque 7 rings parody isn’t worth it?

Best comment: How do you solve a problem like Maria? Money.

Ugh, before falling asleep I get sucked into a former coworker’s media presence. They’re a professional writer now, and a good one at that! What am I doing with my life? Why does any of this matter when global warming is just going to wipe away humanity anyway? (Climate change-induced existential crises are my cure to go to bed, by the way.)

Daily spend: $10

Wednesday

Thank God it’s Friday. Wait. Dammit.

I have a bunch of meetings over the next couple days, I often average between 15-20 hours a week, some days far worse than others. I feel like with each new thing I learn about our existing product, I have opened Pandora’s box, unleashing a fresh new hell unto my life. Note to self: be less curious and detail-oriented for your own sanity.

I grab Indian buffet for lunch, which should fill me up for the rest of the day. ($15)

I learn that a customer decided not to use our product because of something I said in a meeting with them. The meeting was totally amicable, I thought, but they had about twenty users and some unrealistic expectations about our offering that would have required us to bend over backwards to meet at the expense of much more important projects. For comparison, everyone is working really hard to meet the needs of multiple customers launching this year, each with users in the hundreds of thousands to millions.

I am secretly relieved they’ve decided to go in another direction since it means we can actually focus on our strategic customers launching soon, until the CTO calls me into an hour-long meeting at five to figure out how they lost this account. After about the twentieth time they’re like “I am not saying it is your fault” and “don’t worry I’ll fix it” I start to realize, no actually, he is saying it is my fault and that we really are going to make this big of a deal over this negative-ROI account.

I cry in front of my CTO and grand-boss. I go home and cry some more. My night is pretty much just sobs.

I am frustrated and angry for so many reasons- that we made these promises in the first place, that I didn’t get to talk with customer until two weeks before they launched, that now we’re going to be forced to do a bunch of work for this teeny tiny non-strategic account when there are other big regulatory things that need to get done oh my god. I am also angry at myself- for not being cut out for this job, for crying, for taking this seriously at all.

I can’t. Can’t what? I don’t know. Brain broken. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I feel so fucking wrecked.

Daily spend: $15

Thursday

I am still upset when I wake up the next morning. I look for more jobs to apply to, but I know I don’t have enough experience yet to be a good candidate. Maybe I can go back to my old job. I know things are dark when I start thinking like that. I was miserable there. I am miserable now. You know when I am not miserable? When I am not working. I check my balances. Seven years to go, if I’m lucky.

I get to the office. I do work. It is fine. For lunch I eat leftover Indian food, salmon, and Brussel sprouts.

In the evening, my husband and I play a legacy style board game with some of our friends. It is horror themed. I die pretty quickly in the game, so I spend most of the evening sitting on the couch catching up on work.

We usually rotate who pays for our takeout order, person who pays gets to choose the restaurant. Not my turn this week. Indian food? I end up with shahi paneer and peshwari naan.

Daily spend: $0

Friday

Smooth morning at work, which is nice. Eat leftover Indian food for lunch.

Dentist appointment in the afternoon. I Lyft my way there. ($9.36) I get my teeth cleaned and the dentist convinces me I should buy a custom retainer to wear at night for my grinding. Sometimes I wake up with a lot of jaw pain and I do worry what all the stress is doing to my teeth. The hygienist is a newbie though, so it takes her a few tries to get a mold. ($275)

Another legacy board game in the evening with a different set of friends (this one is space themed!). Again, not my turn to tank. We order from a mediocre sushi place our friends seem to really like. I get a caterpillar roll and gyoza.

Daily spend: $284.36

Saturday

I wake up too early and spend my morning mental energy to catch up on work until noon. I then proceed to like in bed until four, which is when I get hungry enough that I feel like I have to eat something. Some leftover Indian food will do as a snack.

My husband and I have tickets to see Endlings by Celine Song. We drive nearby about an hour and a half before the show to see if one of the nice restaurants nearby will take us. It is six, so pretty early yet. I check the wait while my husband parks the car. I find out the wait is 45 minutes and text my husband to ask if he has a plan B. Meanwhile, he gets in a fender bender.

After my husband exchanges license plates with the other car’s owner, he manages to find a spot and we eat at a cheap, good enough burger joint. ($13) He tells me about the accident. Luckily nobody got hurt and the damage on both their vehicles was just cosmetic. But this also means our insurance is probably going to go up again (he had another at-fault accident about four years ago).

I ask if he got the other driver’s phone number. I’d rather pay cash for the cosmetic damage than the pricey insurance forever. He didn’t, sadly, and feels bad. I don’t want this to ruin our night, so I remind him that I am glad that nobody got hurt and this is why we save up money, so that situations like this don’t matter so much.

I am, underneath the comforting facade, extremely annoyed by his driving behavior though– not just this accident or the last one, but the parking tickets and the default to using his car at all when we go to really bad areas of the city to drive in when it would be so easy to just rideshare over. But I keep it all inside because, again, I just want a nice evening. He seems to feel better after a bit of coddling. We go to the show.

The show itself is splendid and really resonates with me as a second-generation American. The story is ostensibly about three free-diving women in South Korea. But, more than that, it’s about the writer’s own immigration to America: her cultural assimilation, lacking the feelings of ownership over her native culture, a contemplation of where the ambition that made your parents immigrant for your sake manifests in you, how to do better for your child once you’ve hit the global lottery.

Just, yeah, so good.

Daily spend: $13

Sunday

I snuggle into bed with my laptop and watch a couple episodes of Manhattan Love Story. It is okay. ($3.97)

I walk over to a newer actually reasonably priced grocery store that’s opened up about a half mile from my house. The meat and dairy there is all humanely-raised local stuff and the produce, while not all organic, seems to be sourced well enough that it is all fresh without the usual issue of under- or over-ripeness I frequently experience at the big chain supermarkets. I get bananas, blueberries, avocado, spinach, Cabot cheddar, and white corn tortillas. ($19.03)

I head to the crunchy part of my food shopping experience and pick up fresh pierogis at a nearby shop ($8) and fresh sushi-grade salmon at the fish market ($16.66). Finally I pick up a couple slices of apple crunch pie that I get for a 50% discount through the Food for All app. The general premise is that restaurants want to offload their leftover items at the end of day that they’d otherwise throw away, so they’re willing to give steep discounts on them. They’re in NYC too, so highly recommend you check it out and see if it fits your lifestyle/preferred food choices. ($4.97)

After so much walking, I’m starting to feel like myself again.

Before I start cooking, I cut up and toss some of the salmon I just bought with sesame oil, aji mirin, and soy sauce. So good! I also snack on some leftover cubed gouda sitting in the fridge and boil the pierogis I just got, which I pair with leftover greek yogurt and sauerkraut. Nom nom nom.

For the rest of the week, I pan fry the rest of the salmon, make soboro beef from a block of ground beef sitting in the freezer, and oven roast snap peas with carrots and onion. Really, I’m just trying to eat down my fridge this week.

After I cook, my husband and I rewatch an episode of the OA to prepare for season 2. We each eat a slice of pie and, suddenly, my body hits an energy wall and I fall asleep on my husband on the couch. He lovingly lays approximately seventy blankets on top of me and I take a three hour nap that I desperately needed.

By the time I wake up, I’m not feeling capable of eating a full meal, so I blend a smoothie from  banana, blueberry, spinach, avocado, and greek yogurt. I end the evening with an hour-long core circuit then go to bed.

Daily spend: $48.66

Summary

Total spending: $371.02

I am not really proud of how I handled this week. I am not being resilient to setbacks and I have been stubbornly clinging to my anger instead of doing the things I know divorces my mind from the stresses of work like cooking and exercise and reading (my brain, it is mush now). It’s like I’m addicted to feeling bad and I don’t like the effect it is having on my outlook. I felt like a mean and cynical version of myself by the time the weekend hit and I don’t like being that person.

I think writing things down this week was helpful, though, in alerting me to the fact that I am not living well right now and that I need to make systemic changes to feeling good. I cut out vague internet time in January and I think that was good. I may need to do that ago to help myself refocus my energies and get my brain to stop craving immediate feedback and emotional highs.

How was your week? How do you decompress after a long day? Do you find that routine effective in decreasing your overall stress?

Financial Update – February 2019

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.

feb joint

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).

feb 19

Here is my own personal discretionary spending for the month. 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 feb 19

Monthly Summary

Life marches on. I’m having trouble being pithy about it.

In any case, I have some financial updates this month.

Good news: got a nice bonus from my employer. I doubt we’re going to see the same level of growth as these past couple months going into the near future, but we should be able to hit our financial inflection point by fall/winter, which is nice.

Bad news: I screwed up our taxes. Or, rather, I over-contributed to my 401(k). Pro tip, the annual $18,500 limit from 2018 is based on total employee contributions per person. I thought it was per plan, which meant I maxed out at my previous employer and at my new one too. Whoops. (But somehow your employer can contribute and you can put in after-tax dollars up to $50-something thousand dollars and that number is per plan? Another LPT: The tax system is broken and for wealthy people.)

At least my over-contributions were Roth dollars, so shouldn’t effect my refund that much. Working now in getting that fixed, but it’s another headache I don’t really feel like I need right now. Plus my husband and I are missing tax forms from our health insurance, which is annoying and necessary for our state returns. Bah, humbug.

Notable things that happened in February include:

  • Nothing. 😦

How were your finances in February?