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?

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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?

 

Financial Update – October 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.

net oct 17

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).

spending oct 17

Money Summary

I finally ended up finding a suit that fits. In the process I also re-hauled my entire wardrobe. Whoops? I still have one or two pieces on my list, and I have some repairs and tailoring to get done. More posts to come on all that.

Food remains high. We’ll see if I can dial that back in November.

Other than clothes and food (i.e. “the usual”) the only one-off big ticket item was for our weekend vacation out to the Berkshires. Fiancé paid for gas and drove (so much time in a car…) so I covered the AirBnb, museum tickets, and food. We visited MASS MoCA since fiance is a big James Turrell fan and they put a new exhibition up of his this year. So good! There was lots of interesting, thought-provoking art there, but among my favorites was this sculpture by Louise Bourgeois.

IMG_20171022_141033

Part of my spendy-ness this month is probably because stress levels are high. Between work stress and fiance’s current unemployment situation I’m feeling a bit anxious. Unfortunately, his field seems to be undergoing some financial troubles with a lot of employers triggering hiring freezes. Ultimately, I know he’ll make it through. It’s just a question of when.

How were your finances in October?

Financial Update – September 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.

Goal Current Last Month Progress
Cash

1

1.18

1.15

0.03

After-tax investments

5

1.04

0.88

0.16

Retirement

5

3.41

3.36

0.05

Debt

8

8.36

8.37

0.01

Distance From Goal (units/months)

5.73

23

Total Progress (units)

0.25

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).

Bare Bones Actual Difference Notes
Home- Taxes, Insurance, and Repair

500.00

678.38

178.38

Home deep cleaning
Transportation

84.50

100.35

15.85

Monthly subway pass, one Lyft
Groceries & Dining

400.00

723.54

323.54

11 work lunches, 6 dinners, organic groceries (veggie CSA, pasture raised meats CSA, etc.)
Utilities and Phone

125.00

129.86

4.86

Gas, electric, internet, and phone (no split due to Fiancé unemployment)
Gym Membership

25.00

25.00

0.00

Minor injury suspended parkour membership
Household/Personal Care

50.00

58.79

8.79

Teak cutting board, ibuprofen refill, razors, hair ties
Other

200.00

457.81

257.81

Vermiculite, light jacket, athletic leggings, hosiery, freeze credit reports, three tv series, four movie rentals, theater ticket, Freedom app, theme park tickets
Total

1384.50

2173.73

789.23

Money Summary

Due to fit issues, I ended up returning my suit. The hunt continues. But I did buy quite a lot of other clothing including Lululemon tights that are so comfy during my workouts and nude hosiery.

Other big overages due to home cleaning, which for now we’re not making a recurring expense after all, theme park visit as an anniversary celebration with my Little Sis, and of course food, my eternal weakness. Between Fiancé and my visit to fancy restaurant for my birthday and lots of eating out, it all added up quickly. Someday I’ll figure out how to spend less on eating, maybe.

How were your finances in September?

 

Financial Update – August 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.

Goal Current Last Month Progress
Cash

1

1.15

1.15

0.00

After-tax investments

5

0.88

0.77

0.11

Retirement

5

3.36

3.33

0.03

Debt

8

8.37

8.44

0.07

Distance From Goal (units/months)

5.98

28

Total Progress (units)

0.21

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).

Bare Bones Actual Difference Notes
Home- Taxes, Insurance, and Repair

500.00

518.38

18.38

Minor masonry work
Transportation

84.50

84.50

0.00

Monthly subway pass
Groceries & Dining

400.00

428.49

28.49

Six take-out work lunches, five dinners, organic groceries (veggie CSA, pasture raised meats, etc.)
Utilities and Phone

125.00

103.85

-21.15

My share for gas, electric, internet, and phone
Gym Membership

25.00

120.00

95.00

Started up parkour, need to cancel YMCA membership
Household/Personal Care

50.00

79.97

29.97

Replacement water filters, LED bulbs, toiletries
Other

200.00

215.00

15.00

HBO, Hulu, gardening supplies, necklace, two dresses,  replacement lock for handbag
Total

1384.50

1550.19

165.69

Money Summary

This was a typical month spending-wise. My dining bills are usually higher, but since I was out of town visiting family for a week (who graciously paid for my food in that time), my food bill ended up slimmer than usual.

The only thing I regret spending on this month was one of the dresses I bought. I thought might make for a nice wedding dress but actually doesn’t fit me well at all. I’m looking to see if I can unload it at consignment and get some of the money I paid for it back.

Asset-wise, I tend to make slow but steady progress in the back half of the year, with a rapidly accelerated pace in February through April when bonuses and tax refunds hit my bank account.

Starting next month, my spending/asset creep may slow down as Fiancé puts in notice at his employer. He has some savings, but there’s a good chance I’ll be taking on a few of the household expenses (e.g. utilities) so he feels a little less stress during this transition period.

How were your finances in August?