All posts by Joy

Just a bit terrified of making decisions…

I wish my husband and I could have a straightforward conversation about why I feel uncomfortable with buying a house with gift money from his mother, and then with her living there as well (in an in-law unit.) Financially it is not a horrible idea (as long as we never get divorced) but emotionally it’s really weighing on me. It isn’t even the living with her that is making me uncomfortable, I just don’t want to merge our finances.

His mother also is being put in a bad situation, even though in her nativity she may not know it. What if she gives us $1M and a few years down the road my husband is hit by a bus, and I want to sell the house and move closer to my family across the country? Even if I wanted to give her back the $1M at that point after selling the property, I couldn’t do this without having to pay taxes on this. There’s no clean way to give her the money back. So then I’d be stuck.

Now hopefully my husband won’t die… and all of the other 10,000 equally awful scenarios won’t actually come to fruition (i.e. I get a brain tumor and go batshit, or get in a car accident that is my fault and creditors come after our house and take it away, etc etc.) There are just SO many things that could go wrong and my husband is all like THIS IS FINE it’s NOT A BIG DEAL. It is a big deal. It’s a very big deal and a very big amount of money and maybe I’d be more comfortable with it if he treated the situation as such. I’m reaching out to lawyers to make sure that if we’re going to move forward we have everything clearly in writing regarding the what ifs. He gets upset at me for being concerned. It’s frustrating.

He also is really having 2000 sq ft house envy, which is partially my fault as we’ve been house shopping for over a year now and I’ve shown him some bigger homes in the area so that the ones we can (barely) afford(?) that are 1200 square feet seem too tiny to consider. I get it. I want a house with big rooms and space to grow and just space overall. But without his mother’s money, we should be spending no more than $1.5M on a house and really less than that (if you want to go for the 2x income, we should be spending $500k-$600k on a house, but that will not get us a studio apartment out here.)

I’m starting to lean towards buying something in a “lower cost” area — San Bruno, Pacifica, South San Francisco, Daly City — maybe even Hayward. I’ve also finally accepted that what we buy today may very well not be our forever home, and if it is then we’ll learn to love it (yes, it’s hard to be willing to compromise so much when still spending $1.3M-$1.5M, but that’s the reality of life in the Bay Area.)

I knew going into my marriage that my husband and I don’t see eye-to-eye financially. He’s perfectly happy making $90k 1099 per year, never asking for raises, working in the same non profit for the last 10+ years. I was also making $90k at some point, but that was a long time ago as I’ve moved jobs and received raises and bonuses and such. I do believe that marrying him was the right thing to do–we love each other and that’s what matters. We also both entered the marriage with no debt, which helped. We pay for our used cars in cash. We still save more than we spend. We’re not from totally different planets when it comes to money management.

But looking forward over the next 10 years, I want to have 1 to 2 more kids, and I just don’t see how it all works…

As some of my readers have suggested, we could and probably should continue renting, get a bigger place as a rental and we’ll still be better off than buying. But my husband now is opposed to renting a bigger place! He really wants to buy. With his mom. He doesn’t want to deal with moving and having to move again (and again and again.) I get it. But right now, maybe it’s not the right time to buy. Or maybe it is — mortgage rates are low, we have $1M in net worth, we’re both employed, we have one 1 year old and may have another or two in the next 2-3 years…

I am sad that I don’t have a husband who I can talk to about my concerns and be heard. I wish we could be in this together but it doesn’t feel like we are. He will pay up to $2500 a month in mortgage so my only option is to find a house I can personally afford where the rest of the mortgage is on me. I haven’t figured out how to make that work, especially given my job stability is always non existent and my mental health continues to be a train wreck.

In better news, I finally applied for term life insurance and submitted all my tests/paperwork… (guess what, my husband is putting off submitting his!) — anyway, that’s the subject for another post. I’ll find out if I’m accepted at all and what my rates will be next week. Until then…

How to Help My Mother NOT go Broke

They paid for college and a relatively lavish wedding and a lifestyle we apparently never could afford. They made a lot of bad money moves along the way–constantly adding on to and updating a house that was already the most expensive on the block, buying worthless art and “collectables” to clutter the house, taking money out of the markets around 2008 and missing out on the potential returns. Oh, and the kicker is that in 2015 and 2016 my father took a ton of money out of his IRA to buy a condo in florida and pay for my wedding without paying nearly enough in taxes to support those withdrawals, not to mention apparently not filing at all those two years, leaving my mother with $60k in tax debt and fines. For a man who made a career out of planning financial risk, he sure did a horrible job of planning for his and my mother’s retirement.

Dealing with his pretty traumatic death (a week after my NICU son was born last year) was hard enough–but not having to help my mother somehow NOT GO BROKE is going to, well, break me.

Now, I realize they paid for my college AND my wedding and I do feel a responsibility to 1. help her not go broke and 2. pay her back a reasonable amount for some of these expenditures. On one hand, had I known how bad the financial situation was, I might have made a different decision on where to go to college (public vs private school, which was an option) and I would have been less reckless with my spending at the time (when I didn’t understand budgeting or the value of money, sad to say.) But I did save on interest on student loans and I feel like I owe it to my mother to pay her back for at least some of my college education.

…The wedding was a beast of an event–but for my father dying of cancer it was as much his party as it was mine and for what it’s worth I saw him enjoy it perhaps more (much more) than I did with his family and friends. I had offered to pay for it up front so he wouldn’t have to withdraw from his IRA and he flat out refused, but I didn’t have a clue that ALL the money was in the IRA and the wedding plus their condo purchase just killed them tax wise those years. I can’t really blame myself for that as he told me “$50k for the wedding” and I went with that budget. He was too proud to admit that really he didn’t have the $50k for my wedding (and supposed $50k for my sister’s wedding that hasn’t happened yet) — maybe he thought he did. Maybe he was in denial. I don’t know. We shouldn’t have spent that money in 2016. I should have eloped.

I guess until tonight I hadn’t come to terms with just how bad the situation is. It doesn’t HAVE to be as there is a decent pension and social security, but my mother refuses to adjust her spending beyond perhaps not buying 4 matching pants to go with the 8 shirts on sale she just has to have. She’ll buy 2.

After interviewing a ton of CFPs (mostly fee only) I just felt like they weren’t going to add enough value to be worth their 1% annual management fees. It’s not that they wouldn’t tell her the right things she needed to hear, it’s that she would hear it and it would go in one ear and out the other. She’s just so far off from OK, I’m not sure WHERE to start. Scratch that, I know we should be selling her tri-state home IMMEDIATELY to start saving along the lines of $30,000+ a year — BUT, even that just scratches the surface of the issue. Even if I paid her back for the wedding and my entire college education, I’m not sure that gets her where she needs to be.

After all the CFP interviews I set up an appointment for her with Vanguard personal advisory services which is “just” .03% of her portfolio (really not that bad since her portfolio is just $400k in IRA at the moment, but also I get the sense that its’ about .03% of a real CFP service. What I like about it is that it’s .03% split out per month and you can get out at any time, so we can get some advice for cheap from a real CFP (or team of people who work with CFPs) and get some sense for what to do before investing in a private CFP. For free, they ran a basic plan for her… which was just depressing… and had me revisiting her spending and income and, well, the picture isn’t pretty. The picture has oozing wounds and horse shit that’s been festering for centuries covered in maggots.

And she’s doing BETTER than most people in America right now. She has $70k in fixed income (taxable, but still), $400k in the IRA and a home probably worth about $250k cash after it’s sold. But that’s nothing. She’s 65 and she’ll be broke by 70 at this rate.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get her to take this seriously. She is in LALA land. I don’t want to give her $25k or $50k or more UNLESS she can actually learn to budget properly and makes plans to help smooth this all out, somehow. Instead of saying that she CAN’T sell the house next year, she realizes that she HAS to sell it next year (sadly) and really she should sell it THIS YEAR. She CAN’T get a storage unit to keep all her random things and she HAS to sell what she can and move to her condo full time as soon as possible – even if that means not going to her condo this winter and staying in the cold weather to pack (but, as she says, she would have to buy a whole new winter wardrobe, which would cost a lot, so she should not stay there to pack up the house this winter.)

My thought on helping her out financially is that I need to get my ducks in order first (i.e. buy a house, pay off said house, have a stable career for next 10 years, invest my money) and if in 10 years she has been spending smartly then I can help pay for things like buy her a vacation package or even pay the basic bills if needed, up to a certain point, especially to ensure she’s comfortable in old age when she needs to have help.

It just all feels so unsurmountable I’m erring on the side of just being delusional like my mother and letting her run out of money at 70, go into credit card debt, and then… then what? She has an HOA to pay (her condo was “cheap” but it’s not cheap on a fixed income, and who the hell knows what special assessments will come up over time?)

Any advice on what I should do, other than send my mother a check for $50k and run the hell away from this?

 

The Job Downward Spiral: There’s a Physics to my Employment

Either I’ve done a better job overall this time around or things just move slower in public companies. I think it’s a mix of both. But now a year-and-a-half in and it’s clear I’m past the phase of newcomers victories and excitement and well into the phase of “I suck at this.”

I’ve been assigned a few larger projects to manage and after failing at one or two my boss was really hoping I could pull off the latest and greatest, but nope, I fell right on my face. Looking back I see a few areas where I could have improved, but overall I just feel lost. I don’t know how to help drive collaboration when I’m unsure what the expectations are. I did uncover these expectations along the way (and feel I could do a much better job managing a project like this next time) but the problem is I seem to keep missing the obvious and not getting what I’m supposed to be doing… which at my level, as my boss points out, is not acceptable. She used nicer words, but that’s what she meant.

The good(?) news is that I’ve been assigned a slew of projects that I HAVE been successful at. Unfortunately, these projects are one-off “do not make any sense on a future resume” type of projects. Maybe it’s time I stop caring so much about said future resume and just try to do what I do best–which is run with the punches and take on creative projects that no one else would have the foggiest how to manage versus trying to become a manager of cut-and-dry processes and failing time and again.

At 35, it’s no longer cute to fail or figure shit out. I should have it figured out by now and it’s clear I don’t. I’m scared because without resume-building projects I have no where to go after this. It’s hard to have that conversation with your boss because you aren’t supposed to be thinking about “after this.” And it’s less about moving up at this point and more about maintaining some semblance of a living wage once this job is no more. Maybe I’ll stay in this role until I retire with inflation-based raises, but that’s unlikely. I know my boss sees that I can do SOME things well (otherwise I’d be OUT already) but is that enough? I don’t want to be the easy to cut person in the organization and without adding clear value I’ll be cut sooner or later.

I just wish the last project didn’t end up the mess it was. I really don’t know how I could have done it all better. I still am not sure I could really do it better if I started over, which is the scary part. I don’t know how to get teams inspired to do great work, or to collaborate. Everyone seems to think I go off and come up with ideas on my own and decide everything without consulting others, but I keep asking everyone else what they want and I’m not getting any answers. I guess I’m not asking them in the right way. Or… they just hate me and don’t want to collaborate. I don’t know. My one co-lead on the project was super nice, but he also ended up driving things down a path that made it all more complicated and took away my control–which, funny enough, is what my boss wanted me to have… control to make the project great, but then also be collaborative and get everyone else’s input, but to lead. At the end of the day, I’m a shitty leader. But I’m not going to stay in a senior-level role without BEING a leader in my field. Independent contributor is not worth much and I’m way overpaid to be one right now. Good problem to have? I guess. It makes me feel like crap every day. I can’t even look my colleagues in the eye anymore.

I’ve set 7 time-based goals for myself to stay in the company and just try to survive. And by survive I mean do great work that keeps me employed, but also do not try to move up or gain resume-building experience… just do whatever my boss(es) want me to do and stop trying to do the things that would help me move up but do not come naturally to me. That’s 7 dates across 33 months that I need to survive and then, as long as there isn’t a major recession, I’ll have some sort of flexibility to figure out my next steps… I mean, not a ton of flexibility because if I have a mortgage and another kid, flexibility is out the window unless my husband is willing to move to a lower cost of living area and he isn’t.

It is just all so suffocating… I’m so fortunate for all I have and I know I’m in a much better spot than many others in this country, but I just can’t breathe. I don’t want to get caught in this self pity crap but I also don’t know how to be better. Once I start thinking this way it’s hard to focus and be productive. Every little thing I do I self doubt so much that I slow down my output and my output gets worse and worse until I inevitably get let go. Fired. Whatever. That’s what I do. It’s not funny. It’s not poetic. It’s just my life.

But with a toddler and wanting another child, it CAN’T be my life. I’m really fucking scared right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever see the day I have a. job where I’m not worried about getting fired. This is the best situation yet as the head of the department likes my work and has given me the opportunity to do projects seen by our senior leadership team, but that still doesn’t make me professionally immortal. And I know even if I can hold on for dear life these next 33 months, there’s still after that… if my resume has nothing on it other than weird projects that make no sense at another company, or would be comparable to what a much more junior person would do with a much lower salary, I don’t know what I’ll do —

I was talking to my husband and we agreed that our mortgage should be no more than $5000 with his father adding another $2000  in rent (basically $2500 for each of us per month plus $2000 for his father.) My husband really wants his mother to go in with us on the property but I’d prefer to buy separately and just have his father rent from us (his parents aren’t married, it’s complicated, but I am comfortable living with his dad if he is renting from us and it’s clean cut like that.) So we can put down $300k on a $1.5M property which is about $7k a month. That might be doable even if I lose my job, but it will be hard to maintain 30 years of a career that can support $2500 a month. And it’s going to be very hard if not impossible to find a place that costs $1.5M that has a good place for his father to live.

Ugh. When will my life not be a mess?

Another post on the impossible goal of buying a home in the Bay Area

When I drive from point A to point B I’m often calculating various life possibilities in my head. As of late, my math is focused on determining what kind of mortgage REALLY makes sense for my family. I figured $8000 a month DOESN’T make sense, but given prices of housing here are ridiculously high, I was hoping to at least get a number that felt somewhat doable.

Even though our household income should be over $400,000 this year (as long as I maintain my employment), there is absolutely no way to guarantee we’ll come close to this every year for the 30 years ahead. With my husband making $90k 1099 (I consider that $60,000 salary equivalent since it has no benefits and is taxed at a higher rate), and my income ranging in the past 10 years from $150,000 to $400,000 (total compensation), I feel fairly comfortable committing to $200k total family income for next 30 years–a combination of my husband staying in his job OR getting a job with benefits with a $60k salary minimum, and my having a job making at least $150k a year on average (which seems reasonable based on the various offers I’ve received in the past.) Theoretically our income would go up with inflation and more experience, but my husband has never asked for a raise and is not inspired to take on more clients beyond his one client, and I am fairly confident I’ll have to take a pay cut over and over again to remain gainfully employed, not to mention that I’ll likely take some time off to have kid #2 (and #3?) Plus, I figured out recently that we spend about $3500-$4000 a month not including housing on our lifestyle. Sure, we could be more frugal BUT I don’t want our housing to get in the way of being able to travel to see my family, see the world, send kids to summer camp, etc. I don’t think our lifestyle costs will go down that much as our kids get older–we’ll cut in some places and add to others.

So $200k a year in salary is $16k a month. If we max out our IRA/401k, that’s about $3k a month, leaving us with $13k pre tax, or about $8k after tax.

I think planning our next 30 years based on $8k after tax income makes a lot of sense. It still feels aggressive and scary to commit to anything based on it, but it’s not unreasonable.

If we make $8k in after tax income and our monthly expenses are $3500-$4000 a month, then we have $4000 left for a mortgage OR rent. Of course a mortgage is fixed while rent can go up over time… but let’s ignore that for now and just say that we can afford a $4000/month mortgage (including taxes, etc, esp since there are no meaningful tax deductions for real estate anymore.)

If my math is correct, IF we can put $600,000 down (50%) we can afford a $1.2M home.

But we don’t have $600k to put down, and the opportunity cost on putting that much of our life savings down will basically kill our retirement. We can put down less but then our monthly costs go up, which would significantly impact our lifestyle.

Even if we got our living costs under $2500 a month, that leaves $5.5k for a mortgage, taxes, etc MAX. That seems like better math… a $1.2M home with $300k down (more reasonable at 25% down) would be about $5.5k a month. BUT I don’t think we can find a house for that in this area — if we buy a condo, then condo fees would be on top of the mortgage, meaning we could afford less in a condo than in a house (sort of… maintenance costs in a house would eat up the HOA fees and then some.)

I keep running the numbers and I just don’t understand how anyone can afford a house here. I’m terrified of being stupid about this and buying something far from perfect for way too much money because I really want to own a house. It just doesn’t make sense.

I wish I could have a rational conversation with my husband about this. He just wants his mother to gift him the money and then we’ll live with his parents for the rest of forever. I want to find a place WE can afford on our salary without his parents living with us. He isn’t willing to consider getting a job that pays more and I can’t commit to earning more than $150k a year for the next 30 years.

My thought is that our best strategy right now is to rent a 2br/2ba and stay there for a few years and wait to see if our savings increases or what happens, but he’s pretty adamant about not renting. He makes me feel pretty crappy about not wanting to commingle my savings with his mother’s money (even if she is “gifting” it to him.) It’s beyond a matter of pride, though that’s part of it. I just want to have flexibility and once we buy with his parents we’re stuck for the next 30 years.

We could rent a 2br/2ba for $4000-$5000 a month now.

We could stay in our 1br for another year (or two, depending on when I get pregnant) — for $2500 a month and continue to save. Once we hit $3M in net worth, I can see putting $600k down on a house as we’re still diversified. But $600k on $1M in networth is too much.

That said, we’ll probably have a recession in the next year or two and our $1M will be worth a lot less. So selling stock now to buy could be a good move… or will housing prices come down with a recession? I wish I had a crystal ball.

 

Why I want to be rich

When I was younger, being “rich” equated to buying stuff. Now that I’m older and wiser, I still want to be rich, but for different reasons. Sure, I still want to buy things, but the things I want to buy have changed substantially.

Having just hit the $1M milestone with my husband (with almost 90% of it being my savings), I am not rich yet, but feel finally on our way. Rich, to me, is having $10M in assets. This is what I would do if I was rich:

  • own a home outright and be able to comfortably afford taxes and maintenance on investments/interest (i.e. in Bay Area a $2M home)
  • easily afford college for all kids in full and leftover $ to help them get started out (but not to the point where they become lazy)
  • pass down some wealth to my children–enough to help them but not enough so they do not know the value of a dollar
  • “treat” friends and family to meals out, buy them nice gifts, even take them on vacations and pay for the trip
  • donate to causes that matter and/or put $ into trust for later donation after it grows to more substantial amount.
  • take time off to spend with family and travel
  • afford IVF if needed to have 2nd + 3rd kid
  • pay for kid’s extracurriculars, camps, pre college programs, etc, without worrying about $
  • have enough financial stability to start my own business (or non-profit) and it not impacting long term financial goals
  • not worry about retirement or long-term care or unexpected disability
  • hire household help to cook healthy meals, clean, personal trainer, etc, esp while working
  • buy my mother a home and make sure her financial future is stable
  • help future grandkids out as needed
  • take classes in art and photography, focus some time on my hobbies and see if I can get any better at them
  • write books or at least have the time to write them

I don’t think I’ll be “rich” ever but if I do get to $10M it will be after many years of working and I’ll likely be on my deathbed! But it’s good to have goals!

The Ups and Downs of a Lifetime of Weight Battles

A month before my wedding, I couldn’t believe my eyes — my scale read out 140lbs (I think even 139lbs) at the very end of my diet bet… 6+ months of exercising with a personal trainer 3x a week, healthy eating, and making sure I stuck to it with the risk of losing $1000 if I didn’t hit my goal. That was the ONLY time in my life when I was consistent enough in my diet and exercise to crossover into healthy weight territory.

Three years and one baby later, I’m back up to around 180. While I give myself a little leeway for the whole having a baby thing, I’m now at the point where I had dropped to 175 after baby (215 being highest while pregnant) and then bumped back up again. It isn’t a surprise I gained the weight either… I’ve been living off a diet of, well, candy and junk from work and maybe a semi healthy dinner every once in a while that just has too many calories.

In addition to wanting to be healthy, feel better, live longer, yada yada, I’m also trying to get my weight down to get better rates on life insurance. I don’t want to wait too long to buy life insurance but at this point I’m in the obese category and that may disqualify me from getting life insurance to begin with (if my history of depression and anxiety doesn’t already keep me from being considered for a policy.)

So I’ve decided to bite the bullet and try a well-known diet program–weightwatchers, at the advice of my friend who recently lost 30 pounds in the last 5 months. I don’t love the idea of paying $20 a month for an app to keep me in check–but if it works, it’s worth that $240 a year. Sure, last time I lost weight using free calorie counting on myfitnesspal – but that was a pain in the ass and really I’m liking weightwatchers points system as it generally offers the same diet I was following but makes it somewhat easier to track everything. I also like not being so focused on calories and instead feeling rewarded for eating healthier food (ie foods with less sugars are lower points) while still being allowed to eat very small portions of non super healthy food (I’ve avoided that thus far since I know I’m a binge eater and I can’t stop at just one bite of a candy bar!)

Well, I’m less than a week into the program and I already had one major mess up day… July 4th… but I’m now back on track. My goal is to lose 50-60lbs by next July 1. I need to figure out a way to add exercise into my life. With work it’s hard to find the time but really I just need the motivation to go the gym and walk/run for 30 minutes for now. Once I get down to 160lbs then I need to start adding in more weights and such, but at the moment I just have to get my stamina back. It seems like a very very long uphill climb but at least I know I’ve done this before so it helps as a reminder I should be able to do it again.

I’m headed to the east coast to see family for a few weeks and I know this can go either way health wise. I’m going to try to cook food for myself and my mother for 3 weeks… it may be we can both lose 5lbs over those 3 weeks if we stick to my healthy cooking. That would be very exciting! I have no excuses on being healthy since I will be on break and have time to do things like cook and go for walks etc.

That 140lb mark was exciting a few years ago and then I totally blew it and was up to 170 before I got pregnant a year later. But it’s time to prove to myself that I CAN be healthy long term. Yes, I’d like to look good but also just feeling healthy makes everything else in life so much better and easier. And that’s definitely worth $240 a year for a silly app that helps me track what I’m eating.

Will this be my $1M year? One million is just the start.

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 8.51.32 AM

It’s crazy how one turn of good luck (or perhaps a series of turns) can make such a huge difference in your net worth. As you can see from the chart above, my net worth has been gaining steadily since 2007 — but suddenly in the last year it has jumped from $625k in Dec 2018 to $884k in July 2019. That’s kind of insane.

How did my networth increase $259k in 6 months?

Well, it’s mostly paper gains at this point — and given we’re likely headed to a recession, I see the blip up evening out over time. Still, $259k in 6 months — seems impossible, except I have the data to prove it actually happened.

Between the stock market doing well overall and my company stock doing even better, I’m achieving some major milestones faster than I ever though I would. My goal of reaching $1M by 40 now seems like it might be achieved THIS YEAR. It’s possible, depending on when a recession hits. I estimate by the end of the year, I should have another $100k in my various workplace stock plans, which, if the market doesn’t drop, gets me to $984k. That’s close enough that I could hit $1M by the end of 2019 or even before my 36th birthday.

If you add in my husband’s accounts, our overall networth looks even better. Currently, our total net worth (we do not own real estate so this is cash/stocks/bonds only) is 130k (his) + 884k (mine) = $1.01M!!!

So, while I don’t count my husband’s $ in my net worth, if I did, this actually IS the month we crossed the $1M threshold. I feel like I should celebrate or something. I wish my husband was as excited as I am.

It’s funny because when I was 21, I thought $1M was completely unachievable. I also haven’t increased my lifestyle that much. After all, I’m still living in a one bedroom apartment with my husband and 1 year old.

Once my own networth hits $1M, I think I might be willing to move into a larger space. I’d like to get to $1.5M (doable in the next 3 years) before I purchase property. This way if I own a home worth $1.8M, I know I have the $ to pay it off (mostly) if I had to… that’s what financial security is to me. I don’t mind debt, as long as I have the money to cover it available and the debt has very low interest rates. Or, maybe we’ll buy sooner. I think once I get pregnant with #2 it will speed up the process. For now, we like our apartment a lot, and it’s hard to think about moving. Maybe an extra room would give us more quality of life, but it probably would just become a storage room (however, I would like if my husband moved his office/gaming computer out of our bedroom!)

Anyway, I’m celebrating our $1M here because my husband doesn’t care and it’s a pretty big deal. I certainly don’t feel rich at all, but I feel like we’ve achieved the first major milestone to wealth. Wealth to me is not buying things you don’t need or designer crap, but it is being able to spend freely on your friends and family without worrying about running out of money now or in retirement. I think about $10M is the amount needed for true wealth based on what I could ever want to spend in life (assuming its invested and about $2M of it is in a home and another $1M or so is paying for my mother’s home and life, since I do want to pay her back for all my parents gave me in my life and hoping I can do this before she gets too old!)

Well, we’re a long way off from $10M, but I finally feel like we’re on our way.

Another Sunday, Another 20 $2M houses

They range in price from $1.4M to $2.2M — that is, houses that in any other part of the country would range in price from $200k-$600k, but in the Bay Area are priced beyond comprehension. I took a solo day of open house touring to check out a few on the “lower” end of the range that I thought might work for myself, my husband, my son, my future child(ren), my husband’s dad and my husband’s mom. You know — a 1500 square foot 3br/2ba on a lot at least 6000 square feet with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that we could all live in together as one big happy family…

I even started, in previous weekends, exploring further south (as in San Jose) – but prices aren’t much better there. You get a bit more for your money space wise, but you’re still spending $1.5M+. For a 2 hour commute to SF, you can possibly find something for $1.2M. It’s just extremely depressing and every day it weighs on me. I constantly text my husband “let’s move to NY” and I’m partially serious but he’s very serious he doesn’t want to leave. He’s right that with his mother and father we can afford something here. And I do want to stay but it’s just too much pressure if he’s going to continue to make $90k freelance income per year without asking for a raise or seeking additional projects –though his flexibility is helpful with childcare, but not so much with home buying.

I know, I know – we should keep renting. We’re fine in our 1 bedroom right now (which at 800 square feet and $2500 rent controlled to inflation is a STEAL!) When I have kid #2, we can move to a 2/2, which will likely be $4500/mo, but that is going to be in at least 21 more months. (hopefully) as I don’t plan to get pregnant again until May. That’s nearly two years of saving $$$ living in a one bedroom if we can survive it.

But I’m still just a train wreck over the whole “so this is it” mentality I have now… this is it… I’ve “made it” – heck, this year I may bring home over $350k in total income – and yet there is no way I can buy a house as my career won’t consistently deliver $350k / yr in income. I’ll be back to $150k in a few years probably and we can’t afford to buy on $240k income. I don’t know how anyone does it.

I’m trying to just let it go… to stop wanting so much because I know that’s what makes me unhappy, and outside of feeling a little distraught by the state of my bedroom (because it includes my husbands office and looks like a college dorm room in terms of furnishings), I’m pretty happy where we are now. I wish my son had an outdoor space to run around in,  because we don’t get to the park often enough and our balcony isn’t safe for him – but he has the entire living room floor as his toy room. There are no stairs (inside our home anyway) for him to hurt himself on. We have a pool in the apartment complex I’ll definitely be enjoying with my son this summer. So it’s not all that bad.

I just don’t see how I go from where I am now to that next step. Buying a home is probably the wrong move financially. So we wait. We wait and probably get more and more priced out of the area until we have to move. Maybe that’s the strategy now. I wish it didn’t have to be. But these $2M houses make me spit out my water and laugh so hard… $2M should buy you luxury and I don’t think I’ll get over that to buy a home in that price range, nor can I get over spending $1.5M to buy a fixer upper on a not-so-great street. So, yea, for now, for-ever?- we rent.

Q1 P&L Report

Better late than never.

This post is a P&L report on my Q1 profit and “loss.” It does not include my husband’s income or spending. (We split household expenses 50/50.)

Key Notes:

  • Maxed our 401k (so overall take home higher since $19k of it was pre-tax)
  • Includes one quarter of RSU vesting (on incredible, fairly life-altering vesting schedule for 3 years if I keep my job and my company keeps performing as well as it has.)
  • I also did not pay enough tax yet but my husband’s income is much lower so it might balance it all out. Making 2x last year at least so we will at least be safe harbor tax wise. Keeping a substantial amount in cash to pay taxes next April.
  • We have about $20k in my son’s 529 plan so have delayed monthly investing more in that, and considering skipping 529 going forward as its tax benefits in CA are not that great, and just keeping my investments in taxable accounts.

Q1 Profit Analysis

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Loss Analysis (Spending)

Notes

  • Household expenses generally split 50/50 – below notes my 50% of household spending + personal spending (i.e. 1/2 rent, food is not included here. Yes, we spend too much on food.)
  • I pay for any travel to visit my family out of my income
  • I pay $1200/month for “childcare” to my husband that he will put into a Solo 401k for his retirement (this includes that amount – since his father watches our son, I “pay” my husband 50% of what daycare would cost, plus $200 a month for doing my laundry… which hasn’t really happened yet. 🙂 )

Spending by Category

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Spending vs Saving

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Monthly P&L

  • Jan: +$29,215 (*includes annual bonus)
  • Feb: +$4,571
  • Mar: +$30,457 (*includes quarterly stock vesting)
  • Q1: +$64,243 

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As noted above, this does not include enough taxes being taken out, so my annual report will be more accurate. I am going to meet with my CPA because we now have the very nice to have problem of having no idea how much in taxes we will owe for the year, since it is all dependent on my quarterly stock vesting amounts. I can estimate but it’s really impossible to know what our stock will be doing in a week at this point, let alone December.

By tracking quarterly, I hope to achieve my goal of $1M in networth by 2020.

Networth Report ($833,655 Q1)

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Target networth rest of year:

Q2: $850,000
Q3: $875,000
Q4: $900,000
2020: $1M Year!!!

How many kids do you want? Two… and an accident.

EVERYONE seems to think it’s completely ok to ask a new mom of a 9 month old the question “so, how many do you want?” My favorite is when colleagues ask me this out. loud in a public area where my boss can hear… of course I’m going to respond “I want 8 kids in the next 2 years” so she can flip out.

I don’t actually want 8 in the next two years – but I do want at least one more and I’ve always wanted to have 3 kids, even though rational brain says NO YOU DON’T. So, my answer when friends ask me – how many kids do you want – is “two. And an accident.” My answer to colleagues is… “I’m not sure. Maybe I’m done.”

But my heart says I’m definitely not done. Even though being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (especially being a working mom), I absolutely love it. I no longer am searching for this greater purpose in life — I’ve found it in my son. I love being a mom. I don’t see how I can afford 3 kids but f it, who can? I can afford 3 kids better than most people with 3 kids…

Since I’ll be 36 in November, I don’t have a ton of time to have two more kids. It’s possible it’s already too late. At the same time, I have 2.5 more months of vesting my stock at my company, and while I am focused on doing my absolute best at work, it would be safer to be pregnant during some of this time. They COULD still fire me, but it’s less likely as long as I’m doing my work and the company is doing ok if they know I’m pregnant (**there are no legal protections for a woman who is pregnant outside of not being able to get fired because you are pregnant.) However, in order to get fired while you are pregnant you need to be doing a bad job, versus be doing an ok job but not an amazing job.

I won’t suddenly stop working as hard once I notify work that I’m pregnant (I didn’t last time either) – it will just be a bit of a relief knowing that for a year (9+3 months) they’re slightly less likely to fire me in that time. So I have about 30 months left of survival here… 15 months “pure survival” (12 months until May, get pregnant, 3 months until notifying company – or maybe I’d tell them early?) then 12 months of slightly more security, which gets me to 27, then I just need to make it 6 more months until… some form of freedom. It’s not that long to make this all happen… so if I play my cards right, I can, in the next 2.5 years, have one more child, and hit $1.5M in net worth (which then opens me up to IVF for my final child at 39/40 and my husband would be a lot more open to having a third if I have $1.5M accumulated in the bank/stock market.)

I know I am a bit crazy about my planning but it seems to work decently to have goals and to go for them. After hitting this goal, I want to loosen up a bit. That $1.5M will be a huge milestone, as will having $1M before giving birth to #2. I think it’s very doable as long as I keep this job. That on its own is the single biggest challenge I have. I’m doing better than in past roles, but not perfectly at all. My MO has been staying up all night to get a lot of stuff done always and that doesn’t work anymore being a mom, so I need to figure out new ways to be productive during daytime hours. I already am in a bit of a low this year after a few communication fuck ups so I’m digging myself out one day at a time. I know I have a lot of room for improvement and I’m just hoping that my team sees I’m not only making an effort but actually being ON in hitting all my deliverables and communicating the right amount with clarity and purpose.

Now, in reality – do I think I will last at this company 2.5 more years? Probably not. Being as there’s already a bit of a record on my poor communication skills and missing a few deadlines, as soon as someone better comes along they can get rid of me. It’s just hard to find a replacement for me because I do all the crazy projects that don’t really fit a set job description… you could hire 3 different people to take over for the work I do, because the work I do requires 3 different skillsets, at least. Do I do all of these “jobs” perfectly? No. But when. you can’t hire 3 people, sometimes you settle for one person who tries her best and gets it all done. As I’ve learned as a manager and in my years in business, sometimes it’s better to keep on people who are loyal and who won’t be leaving any time soon by choice, versus hiring someone who constantly has one foot out the door. I’m sure my boss sees me as a bit of a necessary evil–which is NOT what I want to be, but it is better job security than I’ve had in a while. My goal is to, in the next year, really make sure the whole team appreciates my contributions. I think I have a path to get there but there’s a long road ahead. So I have one year in which to really kick ass (as much as someone with such horrible human skills as myself can kick) and then head into my second pregnancy as a worker that’s valued in the organization–not on a PIP or worse.

It could definitely go either way. I just need to get my act together… which is so so so hard on this little sleep. But… I can look at the next 12 months–the next 4 quarters–and within those 4 quarters figure out how I can make sure in each quarter I’ve delivered a few major high-value projects, and also didn’t totally fuck up any internal communication. If I can become the best project manager in the company that would be amazing but let’s be real – that’s not going to happen. I can, however, start setting realistic deadlines, and do my best to get everyone’s feedback on time on projects so we can hit them.

I’m definitely worried this is all going to go downhill fast, but keeping this “12 months of greatest” in my head feels more achievable than the 2.5 years of survival. I have no idea what I’ll do after those 2.5 years, but the more money I can save, the more doors that will open–whether that’s freelancing part time and staying home with my kids, getting a job at a startup that’s really helping the world somehow, or – who knows. There are a zillion things I could do… I just need the money to feel stable enough to take that leap. I’m so fortunate to be in the place right now where I have a winning lottery ticket in my pocket and all I need to do is just KEEP MY JOB.

For someone who has been fired 8 times in her career, though, that’s easier said than done.