Week In The Wallet: Summer’s Calling Edition

A little update on how my life, financial and otherwise, has been going. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Saturday

I start the morning off with food that I prepped the previous night: sautéed oyster mushrooms, tossed greens salads, salmon, zucchini with onion and parmesan, and marinara sauce. (Note: you can assume that most of my meals came from my prep session unless otherwise stated.)

As the first nice weather day in weeks, I decide to go to the park, lay under a towering tree, and read the Henry James novella Daisy Miller.

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I then go on a nice long meandering walk downtown. I intend to use up my $50 Amex Platinum credit for Saks, but realize that’d only cover about half the cost of a tee shirt. I instead head to Eataly, where I grab a late lunch of roasted chicken, zucchini drowning in olive oil, and the most buttery polenta I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. After, I grab a small cup of banana sorbet atop a bed of my favorite olive-oil based chocolate sauce. Nom! $19.94

 

After lunch, I head back home to the opposite side of the river. On the way I stop by Supercuts to get my hair trimmed. It looks somewhat cleaner, but the change is almost imperceptible. I am excited for our wedding to be over, so I can just cut my hair short. $28.95

In the evening I try again to spend my Saks credit by browsing their website offerings. I learn that $50 is just enough to buy one bottle of Aesop shampoo. (Note: After actually trying the shampoo, I don’t really understand the appeal of Aesop. It’s fine enough shampoo, I guess, but definitely too expensive for what it is.)

Sunday

I head to the gym for some morning exercise, running a couple miles and climbing a few bouldering routes. In spite of climbing on and off for six years, I continue to be really bad at it. I consistently fail at doing V2’s and can only sometimes barely do V1’s. For reference, V0 is the easiest level. Maybe if I practiced more often I would get better? As it is, I only climb once every week or so and it always makes me feel super achy in my neck and shoulders the next day. I could also stand to be more strategic about my climbing, too.

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In the afternoon, I practice Pimsleur Mandarin, which I borrowed from the library. I have been really interested in improving my Chinese after seeing Crazy Rich Asians (particularly been mired in the you’re not Chinese enough feels). I like that Pimsleur is a completely aural program. I always had a lot harder time with speaking than writing when my parents put me into Chinese school as a kid. I have no ear for tones.

Going through the full Pimsleur series would be pretty expensive in the $400-500 range. I decide if I want to proceed with it, what I’ll do is get a month-long free Audible trial to get through Unit 1, then borrow Units 2-3 from my library (which has a lot less demand than the Unit 1 sections). I might then go back and pay for Audible to complete Units 4-5, or by that point switch to another learning method if I feel comfortable with overall feel of pronunciation.

Feeling exhausted from my weekend of ambling and physical exertion, I go to bed super early at 8:30. Goodbye weekend.

Monday

I start the day by filling out paperwork to finish off the 401k rollover for my old employer’s plan, specifically to get my post-tax traditional 401k contributions rolled into my Roth IRA (Mega Backdoor Roth for the win!). Luckily my new employer has their own Roth 401k, so I should be able to throw in lots of after-tax money in this year.

Time for work. Mondays are always a rush. I have back to back meetings until 2 PM, at which point I grab a container full of Indian buffet take-out for lunch. It’s pricey, but some of the best Indian food in the area, and it’s enough to leave me feeling full for the rest of the day. $14.00

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I decide to walk home at the end of the day in order to take advantage of the nice weather before the next 90+ degree heat wave hits. I live fairly close to my office, just a two-mile walk, but I take the long route which adds an extra mile. It gives me time to digest.

In the evening I chill out by watching the season and possibly series finale for Trial and Error which is probably the best comedy on television that nobody’s heard of after Steven Universe. So good. After that I start Henry James’ The American, which I read on my Kobo from my library’s e-book stash.

Tuesday

More Indian buffet take-out for lunch. $15.00

The rest of my afternoon at work is consumed by one client I’m working with. As soon as I took on the account, colleagues started walking up to me with a pitying look that said, “Yeah, they’re very demanding. Sucks for you.” The client is very disorganized and there are a lot of internal politics going on that spills over into their requests for our team. It’s messy and I always feel on edge trying to meet their overwhelming demands. Bah.

After work I head to the gym for a one-hour core class, my Tuesday evening ritual. I really enjoy the trainer’s music and exercise selection, doing a full hour of ab work every week has done wonders for sculpting that six pack I’ve been going for (I need to do a major cut to make it show, though) and also for improving my posture.

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In the evening I’m still feeling a bit on edge from work and do some window shopping on Poshmark and Garmentory. I buy a Vince color block shirt on Poshmark, which is $10 off with an Amex credit. $22.49

Wednesday

My fiancé Alex and I have regular board game nights with his friends Mitt, Tara, and Ingrid. Usually we take turns paying for takeout and this week it’s Mitt’s turn to tank. We end up playing Codenames and a funny Mafia-style game Alex found on the internet called Elon Musk’s iPod Submarine. From it I learn that apparently I think like a tech bro, sigh.

A couple weeks back, I lost Alex’s adaptor that he uses to charge his iPad in the car. After his friends leave, Alex tells me that the replacement adaptor I had gotten for him was Thunderbolt to USB-C instead of to regular USB like he needed. Whoops. I order him a new one and, for some reason, Apple refunds the overnight shipping costs. Sweet. $20.75

Thursday

One of my good friends Matthew is being hospitalized for a month. I have been taking care of his plants but notice that his apartment could also use a thorough cleaning. I mention this to my friend Anna; after work, she and her husband Simon join me in a multi-hour cleaning frenzy. Much vacuum, very Lysol.

After we’re satisfied with the state of things, we head over to a nearby Szechuan place where we share tea smoked duck, basil eggplant, and gobs of rice. $21.50

Friday

In the evening, I head to Anna’s house where we make lemon bars and rainbow cookies for our weekend trip to visit Matthew. And by “we” I mostly mean Anna and Simon who are amazing cooks, though I do help with a decent amount of the prep work. They order in Thai food, which they share with me.

While baking, I get to let off some steam about my job. Anna and Simon are both in tech, so it’s nice bouncing thoughts off them. They also have introduced me to various folks they know who I also consult as mentors when I’m hitting a brick wall.

I don’t like to think of my friends as “valuable resources”, but they really are. It feels nice to feel understood and that we care for each other. I like having them in my life. ❤

Weekly Total

Saturday $48.89
Sunday $0
Monday $14.00
Tuesday $37.49
Wednesday $20.75
Thursday $21.50
Friday $0

Total $142.63

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Financial Update – August 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.

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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).

aug 2018 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I have been overwhelmed with stress lately. Between work, the wedding, a close friend in the hospital, I am barely getting by. Hopefully by mid-October things will have settled down.

I shelled out a lot on food this month, but that’s nothing new. Otherwise, I think I did decently. On investments, it looks like the stock market has been gangbusters. Honestly, that worries me a lot. Not really sure what to do though except keep plowing in.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • Showing up when it mattered for a friend in need

How were your finances in August?

Financial Update – July 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.

July 2018.png

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).

July 2018 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I had a whole thing here and then WordPress ate my entire post. Grumble grumble.

Anyway, this month I did okay in spending. The biggest overages were hotel reservations for our honeymoon and ordering various group deliveries for our hosted game nights and the like.

I’ve been in the progress of doing a lot of little financial moves to get our money in order before we get married. I’ve had to call so many customer service lines and I hate it every time. Bleh. Hopefully I’ll get most of the rest done in August so I don’t have to deal with it between our trip and the wedding.

In the non-financial department, life is kind of weird right now. I’m still kind of struggling at work and have yet to develop any sort of proto-friendships there. Meanwhile, there are some things going on in the background with regard to our friends and family that are out of our control but still kind of concerning. And, you know, the world is crumbling apart and our country is still actively abusing migrant children. I feel pretty saturated with despair and worry and sometimes hope. Very, very exhausted.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • First month at the new job
  • Picked berries for the first time and learned how to make fresh raviolis with friends
  • Went to the Cape for a quick summer vacation

How were your finances in July?

Financial Update – June 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.

June 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).

June 18 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I spent a lot of money and my net worth went down due to lack of income. Oh well. No big deal. There are things I’m way more anxious about than money right now.

Summer is finally here which means it’s time for travel! I visited my brother in Chicago for his graduation and I got really lazy about taking public transportation so I spent approximately $200 just on taxis alone.

I also booked our flights to Dublin for our honeymoon this fall, so that took up another $600 or so after using up our Amex points. I’m kind of annoyed by the personalized pricing mechanisms that make ticket prices escalate between searches for the same itineraries. I usually can just clear my cookies or use a VPN to see base level prices but it is a hassle.

Credit card related pro tip, though: If you want to liquidate your Amex points for 1 cent/point, just book some travel and ask for a refund within 24 hours. The refund comes back in the form of cash instead of points.

Other overages came in the form of food (obviously), thrice annual water bill, and a new scanner so I could use some of my free time to finally digitize all the papers I’d been storing for years. I also had to shell out $100 to pay for my SDIRA that houses my Lending Club account. Just one more way that my P2P investing experiment has been super disappointing.

Notable things that happened this month include:

How were your finances in June?

Should I Think Less About FIRE?

My funemployment, as I suspected, has been far too short.

One of the surprising things I’ve found is this time has been how little I have been interested in money lately.

On an average day, I can spend my time reading books, going on walks, traveling to nearby towns I haven’t visited before and wouldn’t normally venture to. I have been singing a lot lately, something I haven’t done in years, and feel enthusiastic again about learning new things.

Without the obligation of employment hanging over my head, I am fully capable of letting go of my money anxieties. I’ve started to remember the core-YAPFB, the one that I haven’t really known since I graduated college. Core-YAPFB is super chill, not particularly ambitious, but is a pretty happy gal that likes good food, good friends, and good stories. I really like core-YAPFB. Rarely does core-YAPFB compulsively check Personal Capital, project out her FI/RE date, optimize her money-making and money-saving ventures, or even really care about running up her $ numbers.

That is, except when thinking about going back to work.

When I start thinking about work, my FIRE-obsessed brain goes into overdrive. If I let myself ruminate on it, the prospect of what has to be done, getting in the good graces of my colleagues, etc. is stressful. I’ve trained the pathway in my brain to go from the thought of work to the thought of work stress to the though of “oh my gawd I can’t do this for forty years” to FIRE.

But clearly, since I haven’t even started my job yet, work itself is not the issue. Rather, it is my method for dealing with low-level anxiety, i.e. obsessing about FIRE, that is the problem.

I find that when I am fully invested in my work, I am actually very good about both keeping my spending down and not even really thinking about FIRE. FIRE is something that instead occupies my mind during periods of high (often self-imposed) stress and ennui. Rather than directing my energies toward productive activities– getting what work I need to do or improving myself in non-financial ways– FIRE takes over what spare cycles I have, and often to a somewhat detrimental effect.

Given that I have the rough structures in place for FIRE– automatic retirement and investment contributions, rough outline of a budget, and the like– it really is a waste how much I think about FIRE when I could be focusing on literally anything else.

So I am going to add a new goal to my list for 2018: No more thinking about money unless (a) it is part of necessary maintenance to keep financial systems going or (b) relates to building a system in earnest for a specific and well-defined financial issue. No more idly beating myself up for spending too much on food. No more browsing /r/financialindependence out of boredom. Either decide to really adopt a system to fix already identified problems or move on. And if my anxiety brings me back to thinking about PF and FIRE? Use that energy elsewhere for something more important. Start building that life I want to live now.

Do you get overwhelmed by FIRE or PF-obsession? 

 

Financial Update – May 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.

May 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).

May 2018 spending.png

Monthly Summary

I’m free!

I expect June to be pretty wan in comparison to the accelerated financial progress I’ve experienced the last few months. I don’t feel any different yet for being unemployed, in part because I did some thinking, planning, etc. for my likely new job over the weekend. However, I am now forcing myself to disengage. This is my funemployment and I’ll play Civ V as much as I want to!

Because I spent May trying to tie up all the loose ends, I was pretty engaged with work. I think this is part of the reason why my spending overall was pretty decent since I tend to overspend when I am stressed and anxious about work, but not when I’m focused and busy.

I spent a lot on taxis this month, first going to jury duty (which was inaccessible by public transit) and then frantically rushing to interviews so as not to be late. With the exception of that and food– always with the food— I was pretty low key.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • Went to jury duty for first time
  • Last full month at old job; did the hustle for a new one
  • Attended fiancé’s cousin’s first communion
  • Finished my last full month of work at my old company
  • Got job offer I think I’m going to take (after some negotiation, of course)

How were your finances in May?

Will Changing Careers Destroy My Dreams of FIRE?

My interview last week went really well. There’s a very good chance I’ll be getting an offer from the company, I think, based on the conversations I had with the hiring manager. This role is a good opportunity to get my foot in the door in an industry I’ve been wanting to transition to for a while. And the company itself, while it’s early days yet and I’m sure in time I’ll find it doesn’t hit all my criteria, seems to be a pretty good one with low turnover and good growth. At the very least my commute would be significantly easier, and for that alone the transition might be worth it.

The biggest hesitation I’ve had making this leap has been, obviously about the money. As part of this career change, I’ll be taking a big pay cut. Probably 20% of my pay if I’m lucky. Also, as a smaller company, they are missing a lot of benefits I’ve gotten very accustomed to in the corporate world like retirement plans with matching and maternity leave, etc.

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Using rough estimates of what the company will offer based on my discussions with the hiring manager, the average pay for this role in the market, and the maximum I’m willing to take in terms of a pay cut, I expect our household savings rate will drop significantly from 64% to 55%. If I manage to negotiate up the cash compensation to just a “mere” 20% pay cut, our savings rate will only drop to 60%.

Luckily fiancé recently started working again after a six month period of unemployment, so in a sense it won’t feel like our financial progress will be changing that much at all since I never really got “used to” a 64% savings rate. However, the new set up requires that both of us be working in order to maintain a >50% savings rate. Once we have kids, for instance, if we do day care or if fiancé becomes a stay at home father, we’ll be hovering 30-40% savings rate territory. Not terrible by any means, but a huge difference if our goal is FIRE. Like, a ten year difference.

So long and short of it: Am I giving up FIRE to pursue this career change? Yes and no. For just a little while, I want to prioritize the now-me versus the future-me. If I angle this thing right, I should be back on a good career and income trajectory in 1-2 years. Sure, I may not hit all the dates on my FIRE plan. But really this stuff is all about flexibility and optimizing happiness along the way. Hopefully, I’ll be doing just that.

Is it worth it to take a pay cut in order to change careers? Any tips on how to negotiate maximum possible pay while still resigning to a pay cut in this sort of scenario?