Celebrating Financial Milestones

At the beginning of the year, my husband and I reached a big asset milestone and, by the end of this month, we’re on track to reach a nice round number in terms of our net worth as well (albeit, lower than our assets because of the mortgage).

We’re definitely in the phase of our financial journey where it feels like we’re sneaking onto the other side of the inflection point (which I peg as near our “financial freedom” number). Our money seems to be putting in a lot of hard work on its own so we don’t really have to. That’s kind of cool and, surprisingly, less nerve wracking than I thought it would be in times of high volatility in the stock market.

So, coming upon this number and the bonus I’ll be getting, we decided to treat ourselves a little bit to a fancy dinner date just the two of us. Not that I am a miser when it comes to food spending, but we usually don’t go the both of us to somewhere nice unless it’s a special occasion.

To a degree it seems a little perverse to celebrate saving money by spending it. Shouldn’t I want to fuel the fire even faster? And, yet, it’s nice to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Part of me wants to just live it up in the next year, before the reality of child-rearing sets in. But in the interest of prudence, letting off a little steam in the form of a memorable meal with my favorite person seems like a reasonable compromise too.

How do you celebrate financial milestones?

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Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease

Another entry in the never-ending saga of YAPFB baffled by working in corporate America.

Today my boss, chatting with me in our normal weekly one on ones, told me he had some good news. I was getting a surprise $10k bonus, in part because the company hit a big milestone that I had absolutely nothing to do with and in part because the senior management had asked that some people to get extra cash based on performance. Note this is the second time this has happened since I started work here, the first being when I got a surprise $10k raise toward the end of the year, six months into my tenure.

On the one hand, I am very grateful that management has demonstrated that they appreciate what I am contributing in the universally understood language of more money please. Plus my job has gotten a lot more enjoyable in the past couple weeks after I moved a lot of the projects I dislike off my plate. On the other hand, I am still looking for other jobs, though I’ll admit the recent changes have made the urgency… less.

It reminds me a bit of a moment in my last company. We were acquired by a larger entity and within a few months everyone’s pay (including mine) got cut 10-15%. I remember complaining to the new management about it, but they were adamant that that’s the way it’d be– sorry, kid. Fast forward a few months and I just kept getting bonuses and raises, for my “performance” nominally, but mostly I think because (1) I had a lot of useful institutional knowledge and (2) because I had complained. I know the latter was important because there were others just as important to the organization as me who got none of the same benefits. It’s like I was getting paid to complain. Is that what self-advocacy is supposed to mean?

So, yeah, I think it was a good call for me to negotiate hard on my initial offer with this group. I think it set the tone of what I wanted (i.e. money) and it’s just kind of come on its own since? I don’t know. The politics of working are weird.

Are you a squeaky wheel at work? Has that been beneficial to you?

Things I’m Proud Of

I’ve been a bit down on myself lately, what with the job and other things going on in my life. In the past, I’d often relied on watching shows like Girls or trashy reality television like Millionaire Matchmaker to boost my waning confidence. “I’m not perfect,” I’d think to myself, “but at least I’m not that bad.” And yet, as I get older, the comparisons seem to be wearing thin. A self-esteem built on comparison is a fragile one, to say the least.

So instead of tearing others down, I want to list the things I’m genuinely proud of to build myself up. Alright, here it goes:

  • I willed myself into getting into a well-ranked college and graduating, thus securing for myself a base level of economic comfort.
  • I deprogrammed myself from the toxic behaviors I learned in my childhood and have found a core set of genuinely good people that I love having in my life.
  • I have taken forced myself to take risks, like buying and renovating this condo and quitting my job even before I had anything lined up, which have forced me to grow and realize most people don’t (and probably can’t) have everything figured out before moving forward.
  • I have consistently stuck to an exercise regime which has helped me to feel strong and healthy in a way that I wouldn’t have expected for myself just a few years ago.
  • I have maintained strong financial discipline which will likely mean I can retire decades early and allow me to spend the bulk of my kids’ childhoods really focusing on our time as a family.
  • Meanwhile, I have also been able to be generous with my money and my time in a way that makes me feel I am making a difference.
  • I have grown the capacity to appreciate and care for people who are very different from me.

What are you proud of?

Financial Update – January 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.

jan 2019

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).

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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.

january 2019

Monthly Summary

Huh, I guess stocks bounced back. Cool.

I bought insoles and sneakers on our joint, per earlier musings and a conversation with my husband. We also tried floating in sensory deprivation tanks for our anniversary which was super uncomfortable at the time but left my muscles super relaxed thereafter. I’m kind of interested in trying another round, but I’d want to do it multiple times in a week to see whether it’d help my terrible office-worker back.

In other news, I’m looking for new a job. I guess I should probably try to stay for a year, at least so I can hit my one year cliff. But, yeah, it’s not going that well. I’ve done a few interviews so far and I’m realizing that this role is inherently pretty stressful and political. Not sure what to do yet. 😦

Keeping on keeping on.

Notable things that happened in January include:

  • Floating!

How were your finances in January?

Goal: Stop Eating Out

Look, I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog kvetching about how much I spend on food. Well, this year, I’m going to do something about it. My two step plan is as follows:

  1. Stop going to restaurants that aren’t worth the price. You can see in the below chart I have mapped every local area restaurant I’ve gone to in the past six months in terms of price/quality and, upon reflection, I’ve found some of my most frequent haunts (“Chinese delivery”) don’t actually make the cut. This causes me to continue craving a “nice” meal later in the week, perpetuating the eating out cycle.
  2. Limit the number of restaurant trips I make in each price bracket. I typically have too many $20-30 meals which gets me in trouble. Knowing how many of those I can have in a month will hopefully help me ration it out a little better.

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Based on these numbers, I’ll be able to go out to eat between 2-3x each week. That’s less than I’m used to, but not terrible. If you sum everything up, there’s a good chance I’ll still be spending ~$300/month on eating out if I go somewhere fancy every month or have a board game night where we order in (there’s always at least one). While certainly not frugal especially for a FIRE blogger, is a number I can definitely live with.

Is eating out consistently “worth it” to you? 

On My Wishlist Lately

For better or worse, I can’t seem to bring myself to spend less on food and allocate more of my personal allowance on, well, anything else. So I want to document this list of unattained wants in a visual way which will, hopefully, spur myself to be a little more disciplined with the eating out.

Anker Soundcore Space NC

$100

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Like many tech workers, I sit in an open office, which means I am constantly overhearing other people’s conversations less than five feet away from me. While I have a pair of headphones I already keep at my desk which do work, they are super old and incredibly cheap. The sound isn’t great and, most importantly, I have to turn it up pretty loud in order to drown out the people around me. Sometimes, all I want is just quiet– no music even. While I’d love to have something akin to the Bose QC 35s, I can’t bring myself to shell out $300 for a pair.

Symphonized Wood Earbuds With Fabric Cable

$25

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This is my go-to earbud. I’m going to be honest, they are not the top of the line. But I am HARSH on my earbuds. Nothing ever lasts more than a year so why pay $100+ for something that’ll just get broken? I like these because the in-ear pads are extremely comfortable and the braided fabric cable tends to prevent snags and frayed wires more than just the plastic-sheathed cables.

Superfeet Black Insoles

$40

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I bought a few pairs of these a couple years ago and they have been pivotal in keeping my flat feet comfortable day in and day out. Sadly, though, I’ve run through all the pairs I had and now it’s time for some replacements, at least for my daily shoe.

Mizuno Wave Paradox 3

$50

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It’s about time (honestly, probably even slightly past time) for me to get replacement running shoes. I’ve always like the Mizuno’s Wave Paradox line, so why mess with a good thing? Opting for the v3 instead of the v4 because it’ll save me about $70 and, honestly, I’ve never cared about being the early adopter type.

Leather Repairs

$40

coach jacket

My leather jacket has gotten a very small tear in the shoulder, so I’d like to take it to get it repaired. I’ve been avoiding wearing it in the meantime since I don’t want to make it worse, which is a shame because I love wearing this piece. Not sure what the actual cost will be to fix, but I feel like $40 is a decently conservative estimate.

Watch Repairs

$250

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I got a couple nice family heirloom watches as gifts during my wedding. They’re old and haven’t been used in decades, so they definitely need battery replacements and some amount of cleaning/tuning I imagine in order to be worn. There’s a part of me considering just selling them or holding on to them unused so that my children can inherit them, but on the other hand, I feel like vintage watches/jewelry/etc. lose their value more quickly these days in the age of online shopping, remakes, etc. Should I really just let it gather dust in the hopes it might be worth something later? I don’t expect I’ll wear them all that often, probably only when meeting with business contacts, so I probably only need to get one repaired at most and hide the other for safe keeping I suppose.

Shorter Haircut

$35

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My hair is in an okay place right now– it’s healthy and decently kept. But it’s at a length that I don’t love and, now that the wedding is over, I’m pretty eager to chop it off to look like the above picture (minus the dye).

Alighieri La Collisione Necklace

$260

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I’ve been crushing on this piece for a long time. I really like it because it’s mixed metal, which I’m thinking/hoping will help me wear my silver wedding ring (actually I think it’s either tungsten or titanium, but it’s silver colored) along with some other gold pieces I received from family.

Custom Leather Chelsea Boots

$245

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A new shoe store opened up a few minutes away from my house. Their pieces are absolutely gorgeous and are custom-tailored to your foot. They take the measurements locally but the manufacturing actually takes place in Guatemala. They claim to pay their cobblers well and have individual biopics of each on their website, but Everlane and other clothing brands have ruined the “ethical clothing” label for me. It is very clear, though, that they know what they’re doing when it comes to shoes.

What’s on your wishlist?

Staying At A Job For Less Than A Year

I’ve been at my job a little more than six months. I tried something new, somewhere new. I worked really hard, putting in 50-60 hour weeks on the regular. I got a nice raise for my performance. I did my best.

And now I’m looking for something new.

There are a lot of reasons for me not to quit. In the abstract, this position is my dream job. I get to work on interesting problems with smart, motivated people. A lot of what I do I really really love. And based on my not-so-expert opinion of the company’s trajectory, I would be well-positioned financially if I stayed, even just long enough to hit my one year cliff. Let alone the three-month paid maternity leave.

But I just can’t do it anymore.

There were things that I was uncertain about when I started this position, that I now see as clear as day. Yes, that coworker that I have to interact with as part of my role does think I’m incompetent, is mansplaining and negging me on the regular, and generally being a jerk. Yes, when the founder said “I have no tolerance for politics” I should have seen it as a red flag that there are a lot of politics because the higher ups have failed to create any sort of process. Yes, the enterprise has been severely understaffed and there’s a lot of fun technical debt nobody has been dealing with. Yes, they are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to hiring.

I have been a really bad partner lately and a really bad friend. I haven’t been making time for the people and things that are most important to me. Every night all I think about is work. When I dream all I dream about is work. Today I got home and all I could do was squat on a half empty shoebox, rest my weary face in my palms, and stare blankly at the lines on my hand. Because I’ve given all my energy, patience, and care into something that’s never going to give anything back.

I feel a blinding rage on the daily. I have started burning bridges out of anger and burnout. Not to most, but to some (really just the aforementioned coworker). The people I like and would want to work with in the future would understand if I left why I left. On an emotional level, it’d be nothing but wins.

I’ve brushed up my resume, putting in some stuff that I’ve worked on in this role. (I also helped a lot with hiring the past few months. True fact: resumes are terrible and useless indicators of applicant quality.) Writing it down I realized I was doing the jobs of three people. I am partly proud, partly anxious at being that person who quits at the drop of a hat, but mostly very exhausted.

I’m reaching out again into my network. I’ve gotten a few recruiter emails, but the roles haven’t been a good fit. I need to move somewhere I can stick with for a long while.

Wish me luck.

Have you ever quit a job you’ve worked at for less than a year? How do you deal when you have to work with someone who is constantly disrespectful towards you?