Financial Update – April 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.

april 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).

april 2018 spend.png

Monthly Summary

Second to last month of upward net worth trajectory, woohoo! I managed to squeak in some extra money into my Mega Backdoor Roth IRA this month and will be adding more aggressively during the next. Right now my income has been helping me keep up with the slow-rolling bear market, but soon that will no longer be true.

The crunch continues at work and should be going until middle of May. I’ll be so glad when this slew of deadlines is finished and I can finally start transitioning my ongoing responsibilities to my coworkers. I’m so ready to be done.

In terms of spending, I feel like I did okay this month. I don’t know, for some reason I was under the illusion when I started blogging my monthly spending I’d be closer to my “Bare Bones” numbers? Austere I am not, obviously.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • The sun finally came out for spring. Unfortunately, so did my allergies.
  • Revamped my resume in earnest and started applying for new positions.
  • Work, work, work toward the finish line.
  • Took Little Sis for some pool/air hockey/bowling for her birthday.
  • Attended a joke science conference with fiancé.
  • Made significant progress on wedding planning, including caterer booking and selecting outfits (or at least patterns, fabric) for the big day.

How were your finances in April?

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Financial Update – March 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.

march2018

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).

march 18.png

Money Summary

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?

Financial Update – February 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.

feb18

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).

feb18spend

Money Summary

Oh hey look, I was too busy and tired to spend money this month. Except food, always the food.

Seriously, though, February was b-u-s-y. Lots of business travel and new (actually interesting!) projects going online at work. My social life recently has been limited to planned game nights with fiance’s friends and rock climbing at the gym with my own. To be honest, that feels like more than enough for me right now. Keeping my personal life simple helps during these crunch times.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • Took my Little Sis rock climbing for the first time.
  • Got a job offer, which I ultimately turned down. (post to come)
  • Went to multiple meet ups including one by my alma mater and a PF meet-up with Chief Mom Officer, Zen Cents, Countdown to Tranquility, and Mr. and Mrs. Seeking the Dividends.
  • Brought fiancé to see the lion dances for Chinese New Year. My hometown growing up had some small choreographed dancing, but nothing like they do out here with actual offerings and firecrackers going off on the street. It was chaotic and wonderful.
  • Sat in the most I just can’t even cab ride of my entire life, wherein a senior client berated our former refugee, now Green Card holder cab driver for not being sufficiently grateful for living in the US. Client paid for the ride but I ended up giving the driver all the cash I had in my pocket as tip (~$30) on my way out with a quick “oh my god, I’m so sorry.” I’d’ve tried steering the conversation away too, but I was waist deep in altitude-induced nausea at the time.

I think I’m going to stick with this “notable things” list each month in lieu of doing one exciting thing as I outlined in my resolutions for this year. That way, I’ll have a better accounting of my life in 2018. Plus, I tried wracking my brain for exciting things to do and it all felt very much like I was trying to force serendipity. Also, maybe I’m just boring? I’ll stay open for new opportunities and seek things out as they interest me and when I have more time.

On the money side, this month reflects a much truer accounting of what I contribute to my net worth, as opposed to previous months that have all been due to the market. In spite of my plan to be more conservative and start hoarding cash, I didn’t end up changing my 401k contributions in time to avoid the withholdings. Not a big deal— I’ve told my manager of my plan to leave and they haven’t fired me yet, so… at least for now I’m not worrying about being caught flat footed without cash.

I also had to pay taxes this month which was particularly annoying because I thought I’d be getting a refund this year. Turns out, I didn’t account for paying down my mortgage as much as I did. Reason #721 to let my low-rate mortgage just be instead of paying it off right away.

How were your finances in February?

Financial Update – January 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.

jan18

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).

january 2018.png

Money Summary

This month has been a train wreck. Not financially— in that respect January has been pretty dang good. But my job? Oh my goodness. It’s like the entire city’s economy emerged from its winter doldrums all at once. With frenetic energy, everyone has decided there are no more bomb cyclones to delay us: work needs be done. And it was all due yesterday.

In any case, my personal life is going swell. I’m making good progress on getting my core into shape as per my yearly goals. I’ve also managed to dredge up enough energy to work on some personal coding projects. With all this activity, though, I’ve fallen behind on blogging. I think, for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be posting less, though certainly not disappearing.

Finances, a.k.a. the theoretical topic of my blog and this post. What to say about those? Well, the stock market is bonkers. I know it’s bad to say this, but I kind of wish the market would have a minor to moderate correction (say, 15%+). Right now, because of bullish spirits in the financial markets, I feel like we’re being gaslit to believe in this weird parallel universe where everything’s just fine guys and what could go wrong? Anyhow, I have enough in my investments and the market is speeding forward so quickly that I’m seeing four-digit daily fluctuations in my net worth. I know I should be celebrating, but more than anything I find it deeply concerning. That said, maybe the dip last few days are an indication that we’re finally in a period of downturn. Which is good, I think. 

Since it’s the beginning of the year I’m back to maxing out my traditional 401k. If my projections are right on our incomes— there is some uncertainty regarding by bonuses and fiancé’s job prospects— we should be able to max out our Roth IRAs. Because I’m contributing so much pre-tax, at least nominally my net worth progress is rocketing, nearly twice as much in January as it’d be in a normal month. This should more or less continue through April, though unlike most years it seems I owe taxes for 2017. So no refund to look forward to. Womp, womp.

As far as spending goes, my food was high for any reasonable person but normal for me. We had really high utility bills this month due to the devastating cold. I’ve also added a line item for wedding expenses, which I’ll total up after we have the actual ceremony. On the whole, though, January has been alright on the spending front. I’ve been too busy to even think of buying things.

How were your finances in January?

Financial Update – December 2017

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. dec 17 fin

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).

dec17.png

Money Summary

In spite of some big end-of year charitable contributions, I managed to just barely stay in the green this month. Mostly because the stock market has been crazy. I’m sure to pay for the progress in due time.

While I was high on the spending front, there are a few ameliorating factors.

For one, since Fiancé has been out of work, I’ve taken over all the utilities, including our once-every-four-months water bill. This skews my individual numbers a bit, even though as a household we’re going along as expected. When we finish joining our financesour new budget will reflect our combined numbers more accurately.

Another big contributor to this month’s spending is the annual fee for my new Amex Platinum card. I will more than make up for the fee in points and benefits, with $450 in comped AA gift cards and Uber rides by the end of January. But, since I won’t be taking out the rewards in cash back (like for my Amex Blue Preferred), it makes sense to track the fee.

Other big purchases made just for the indulgence include my Kobo e-reader and a couple’s massage. Also some food delivery, in spite of my “spend less on food” challenge, because it is <10 F right now in New England and leaving my warm cozy bed covers let alone my house in search for food is hard.

How were your finances in December?

My Goals for 2018

This is going to be a big year. My fiancé and I will get married. If all goes well, the voters will upend our robotic overlords. Yeah, I’m optimistic 2018 will be a good one.

This is also the last calendar year before my partner and I start trying for kids. Which means I want my goals to count. I know life and personal identity don’t stop when you have children, but there’s still a part of my brain that’s like: Embrace the YOLO while you still can.

With that in mind, here’s my first draft at goals for 2018:

  1. Marry and combine finances with my partner. If I hit only this goal, I’ll consider this year to be a win. The hardest part, by far, will be planning the wedding.
  2. Increase net worth 3 units. According to my calculations, I should be able to increase our net worth 2.5 units on my income alone. If my partner finds work by Jan 1, we’ll be looking at something closer to 3.25 units. If we hit the 3-unit mark, that’ll set us up to hit our “financial equilibrium” by first half of 2019. It’ll also mean that our non-house assets will be greater than our mortgage.
  3. Generate another stream of income, separate from my job. Right now I’m able to supplement my income with churning and proceeds from our roof of solar panels (expect a detailed post in a couple months). It’d be nice if I can find another light-weight way to make a couple thousand a year, just to pad our expenses.
  4. Chisel my way to six-pack abs. Pure whimsy and vanity. I’ve never been the rippling muscle type: my muscles are 90% jelly and I don’t think I could do a pull up to save my life. But I have been going to core classes the last couple months to good effect– you can now see the faint outlines of a couple abs right under my rib cage. I feel like if I put work into it, I’ll be able to get myself a six-pack. And this feels like my last opportunity since I imagine I shouldn’t try this while pregnant.
  5. Visit Ireland and Amsterdam. Combination honeymoon and trip to visit our friends while they work abroad. Fiancé will get to connect with his Irish ancestry, plus it’ll be his first time traveling internationally.
  6. Get involved in 2018 governor’s race. It’ll be an uphill slog to get rid of our elephant-in-the-room governor, so I want to help out where I can.
  7. Do one “interesting” thing per month. This is an idea I took from Chris Hutchins who was recently interviewed on the Mad Fientist podcast. In my updates, I will plan out my “interesting thing” for the next month. I’m hoping having a collection of 12 memorable moments by the end of the year will help me feel like I’m living to the fullest in 2018.

Then there’s my “keep on keeping on” list:

  1. Maintain body weight, regular diet and exercise. Due to my CSA, I have been eating healthier this year than I ever have before. I’ve also been pretty diligent about putting in 2-3 exercise sessions per week. I’d like to maintain that trend and keep my body feeling strong.
  2. Continue volunteering and donating 10% of my income. I’d like to continue fostering my relationship with my Little Sis and help her navigate the terrible time that is early teenager-dom. Also, charity.
  3. Read at least one book a month. Stay curious, keep reading.

Looking at this list, I don’t feel like I’m really setting “goals” for myself. “Goals” entail growth. This is more just itemizing the things on my schedule for 2018. Nothing here is terribly outside of my comfort zone, with the notable exception of political canvassing. That one’s going to hurt. Everything else, though, feels like the natural extension of the person that I already am.

Should I get more weird and creative goals? Or I’m just putting too much pressure on myself to live it up in my last moments of unmarried, childless freedom? I think this is likely just a blip of new-years inspiration-envy FOMO, which too shall pass.

What are your goals for 2018?

Financial Update – November 2017

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.

nov net worth

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).

november.png

Money Summary

Let’s start with the good news: I cut my food spending substantially from last month, by about a third! I’ll write up a follow up post on this in the coming weeks— and may be looking to cut this even lower if I can.

As I mentioned in my second clothing purchases post I ended up spending a lot more than I intended/should have/can conceivably justify? I will be taking a break from clothes however, until at least springtime 2018. That coupled with my declining food spending will hopefully mean I can get my non-house spending to ~$1k/month, maybe?

Other than that, the biggest spends for the month were for roller blinds, a $60 charge from the Trim app (expect a post on that soon), and three tickets to see In The Heights by a local theater troupe. The show, by the way, was amazing. All the actors were fantastic and the lead sounded just like Lin Manuel Miranda. Fiancé and I brought my Little Sis along who also loved that the characters spoke in Spanish and English “just like her!” This was my favorite song of the show— which, judging from how long I obsessed about the Hamilton soundtrack, I might be shower singing for a good long time:

How were your finances in November?