Category Archives: Networth

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

The baby (singular or plural) may – or may not – happen. But, I’m turning 34 NEXT FUCKING WEEK and I feel like I need to have some new goals in my life. Some new goals that involve not living like a just-graduated-from-college person for the rest of my life.

I was absolutely fine living my 20s in shared living situations to save money, and my early 30s were completely acceptable sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with my husband. But – as I’ve taken home $160k+ per year, minus taxes, for the last 3 years – I wonder what on earth am I doing this for if I can’t have some semblance of the adult life I want.

All the east coast dreams of the grande house with the huge backyard are gone. I’ve downsized my objectives – but I still have them. I’d like to own a house on not-the-crappiest street. I’d like to be able to take time off in the future (in health or in sickness) and not worrying about running out of money. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go.

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The plan (with flat stocks):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $600k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $685k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $770k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $885k

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $625k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $740k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $862k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $990k

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This all assumes I can perform well in my current job for the next four years, age 34-38, and not take significant time off, all while (hopefully) having two children.

My goal has always been to have $500k in the bank before having children. I have obtained that goal. My next goal is to have $1M in the bank before 40. Ideally well before 40. I’d like $1M in the back as my emergency fund and retirement fund and the fund which I do not touch. Over this same time, my husband will be doing what he does and not investing his money because he’s very risk averse. This is fine, because he will be saving up for the down payment on our (not in this part of the country) house.

Assuming I have one child in 2018/19 (age 34-35); and one in 2020/21 (36-37); by the time I have achieved this plan, I have one child who is ~3 and one who is ~1. This will enable us to, before we have to think about putting the kids into school, move to a part of the country where housing is more affordable. My husband can continue his career as a teacher in a region it is more cost effective, and I can perhaps pursue an entirely new career – or take time to spend at home with the kids.

I realize $1M is NOT “early retirement.” This is step two in my… however many step, not very well thought out plan…

Step 1: $500k before having children (age 30-35)
Step 2: $1M before 40 / + $200k cash downpayment (husband)
Step 3: $2M before 50 / + home 33% paid off (or more)
Step 4: $3M before 60 / + home 66% paid off
Step 5: $4M before 70 / + home 100% paid off / retirement

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. So far steps 1 was achieved (woohoo) and step 2 seems like it might be achievable, if I can hold on to this job for the full four years. I am going to hold on to it with all my might. The having kids things definitely may throw a wrench in this plan regardless, but I’m hopeful I can take minimal time off for my kids when they’re really young (and/or work remote and still do my job, which might be possible)… then, after four years, we leave. We have to leave. We will never be able to afford a house here. I don’t know why that’s so important to me – I realize homeownership is a horrible financial decision – but it is. I can’t shake it. I want to design my own bathroom and kitchen… I’d like a backyard I can sit in and enjoy the sun without feeling the prying eyes of others all over me. I want a place for my children to grow up and a home to know.

So, that’s the plan. It suddenly seems all so very short term. I feel quite old. 34 is no joke. 34 is just a few years away from 40. And 40 is no longer fake adulthood. It’s serious, full-on, you’re an adult – and you’re only going to get MORE adult until you’re PAST that… and, I’m trying not to freak out about that, because I know life is so very short, and I need to just enjoy the moments and try to achieve some semblance of both freedom and control before I’m too old to enjoy it.

 

October Networth & Spend Report: $519k

Despite not having a job for four solid months this year (and spending $20k on travel during that time), with the stock market’s latest performance my net worth is still up significantly. I realize what goes up must come down, but for now I’m enjoying seeing a higher net worth than I expected given how the job situation has gone down this year, and my not-so-frugal global travels.

It’s a little upsetting that if I hadn’t taken the trips and if I was able to obtain a job sooner, my net worth would be much higher — but my goal was always to close 2017 with $500k in net worth, and I’m really happy that I likely will accomplish that, barring any crazy stock market crash.

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I do owe my husband a lot of money (we keep our accounts separate) but he’s a good lender with really great rates (no interest, just hugs.) 🙂

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October spending definitely was high, given all the traveling. But I’m hoping for Nov and December expenses will be significantly reduced. I am taking one weekend trip but otherwise it should be a relatively cheap month. Here’s how October played out:

*note – believe it or not, this is my portion of monthly spend only. My husband has a separate budget, including his portion of the rent.

  • TOTAL SPEND: $7640
  • Home – $1400 (rent)
  • Auto & Transport – $621 (car detailing, new battery, gas)
  • Bills & Utilities – $331 (accidentally had international call for $75)
  • Entertainment – $154 (concert, netflix, etc)
  • Food & Dining – $583 (only half of month when not traveling)
  • Health & Fitness – $930 (infertility treatment, glasses)
  • Shopping – $1280 (new clothes for job, prob returning some)
  • Travel – $2234 (last part of honeymoon)
  • Other – $107

Obviously, I can’t spend $7640 each month!

Spend Goals for November:

  • TOTAL SPEND: $4400
  • Home – $1400 (rent)
  • Auto & Transport – $300 (gas)
  • Bills & Utilities – $200
  • Entertainment – $200
  • Food & Dining – $800
  • Health & Fitness – $1000 (infertility treatment costs)
  • Shopping – $200
  • Travel – $200
  • Other – $100
  • (Not included – investments ~$3000)

 

Quick Update: Personal Finance this Fall

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been heads down focused on finding a new job and figuring out my life, all while trying not too dip too much into my savings. Fortunately, it seems all as worked out, for now.

My net worth this month hit $509k, which feels really good given my goal for the year was $500k and I haven’t had a job since June (though that doesn’t feel good.) I’m finally getting caught up on all of my money issues (hired an accountant to do our 2016 taxes so those will be turned in on time…) and mostly have old medical bills reimbursed properly after my COBRA election turned into a bit of an administrative nightmare.

This is all really good because I’m starting a new job NEXT WEEK! That’s right, I finally have a new job. I am really trying to be optimistic about this opportunity because, while it isn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, it’s one I think I might actually be able to succeed in. Without going into too many details, it’s a role still in tech, but it’s in a larger company where I’ll get to focus on what I’m good at (writing, mostly) instead of trying to do way too much and running an entire department in a smaller company. I had a few offers for the “run it all” in a small company but I turned them down because I know that’s a recipe for disaster.

While this role was a considerable pay cut in base salary from my last few positions, it more than makes up for that in potential bonus and stock. I’m pretty stoked about the RSUs, since I’ve never had them and they actually are worth something if you stay at the company for a year – versus stock options where you have the privilege of buying them for “lower than their worth” (even though you can’t sell them and they’re really worth $0) and then paying taxes on what they’re supposedly worth based on a whole lot of lies (I’m not bitter. Am I bitter? Ok, I’m bitter.) Meanwhile, RSUs are basically a promise that you’ll be given a certain number of shares if you keep your job each year, and you can immediately sell those shares for cash. Yes, the taxes on RSUs are high, but they’re worth something – and if the company performs well they can be worth a lot. I’m very fortunate that the company I’m joining has a lot of room to grow, and seems to be in a really great spot, so all signs are pointing towards this being the right move.

As I’ve been out of work for four months, I’m REALLY ready to get back into the swing of things. The forced sabbatical has been nice, but it’s time to have a day job again. Consulting didn’t work out this time around — my one client couldn’t raise money and only gave me a small project, and I’m not great at drumming up business. Maybe one day in the future I’ll have a good enough reputation to land me projects with the full time security, but for now — my main focus is figuring out how to and if I can have kids, which means I need good health insurance, a stable income, and a role that doesn’t require me to be on a plane every week. And that’s what I’ve got. Woohoo. More on all of this later… but I wanted to check in since I haven’t written anything since August!

10th Anniversary of Her Every Cent Counts and Exciting News

10 years ago, I wrote my first post on Her Every Cent Counts. Well, I missed the exact anniversary date, but it was on May 29, 2007 when I started writing, noting that my networth at the time was $27,000 and that my income was $35,000 a year.

Over the last 10 years, as I started to save money each year, investing in retirement and taxable accounts, I got this crazy idea that I wanted to save $500,000 before having my first child. Given I had less than $100k to my name when this idea popped into my head, it seemed to be an impossible quest.

I ran my networth numbers on June 1 and discovered that due to growth in my portfolio and other savings, I have achieved my goal of $500,000 in networth (before having kids.) It feels kind of surreal – on one hand, it feels like a huge accomplishment, to have saved $500k before my 34th birthday — on the other, as I confront the realities of unemployment and consider changing careers, I wonder if I should fight through life in a role that isn’t suited for me in order to move on to my next goal of $1M by 40 – or, do I find peace with living a simple life, find a job I can actually be good at, and not touch the $500k (outside of educational funds) so it can blossom into a substantial retirement account to enjoy later in life?

There is no one in my real life to be able to celebrate this moment with — so I’m celebrating it here with you, my anonymous and semi-anonymous readers. Thanks to you, I have kept up savings for the last 10 years – have turned down opportunities to live closer to work and in nicer housing, have generally been more frugal than my income would enable me to be, esp in the last few years, and have been heads down on achieving this arbitrary goal that nonetheless is incredibly rewarding to achieve. With 32 years left to retirement, not touching the $ and it growing an average of 5% YoY gets me to my retirement savings goal of >$2M. The trick, now, is not touching that money, and still managing to make enough to live a decent life.

Happy 10th Anniversary HECC, and to all of you who read my blog regularly or occasionally or are brand-new readers, thank you for inspiring me to be a good saver, and for making it possible to achieve this major life goal.

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When You Come Home from Work Shaking With Anxiety…

There are plenty of signs that my current job is on its last legs, and soon it will be time to move on. Although I can potentially obtain another role with the same or even a higher salary, at this point there is the logical side of me that says “stay just another month” as each month is coming to an end, just to save up for my future, just to get to a point in life where I won’t need to be stressed so much about finances, where I can focus on living instead of worrying every day.

My objective in life is to be in my 50s and to be able to take my children and friends out to dinner and get the check, without worrying if I can pay my rent. I imagine I need $2M by my 50s in order to afford this lifestyle. That seems rather impossible, but with my current savings if I can earn 10% YoY for the next 17 years, I’d have over $2M. The 10% annual growth is unlikely, though, so bringing it down to a much more likely 5%, that only gets me to $1M at 50. This doesn’t include any additional contributions between now and then, so it’s still possible… I need to save about $40k annually for the next 17 years in order to hit my goal.

Today, with my current lifestyle and savings, I’m able to save ~$6k a month or more. To be conservative, I would easily save $72k a year at the moment. If I can sustain that for the next 17 years, I will clearly hit my goal (unless all hell breaks loose in the economy, of course.) However, I know I cannot maintain this career for 17 more years. I also don’t want to — I don’t want to get to 50 and look back on my life and see that I didn’t create anything significant or impact the world in a positive way. Yes, I can “start” my life at 50… assuming I have kids soon, they’ll be in high school then, and I can go back to school or change careers at that point with $2M in the bank as a safety net, but that seems sad to me… I cannot imagine spending my children’s entire childhoods and adolescence working a job that requires me to rarely be home… missing out on important life events and just being there for my kids. I really don’t want that.

Of course, if I can’t have kids, this is a moot point… if I end up not able to have children, then two things happen – I can stay employed in this type of role for longer, saving more money, and I don’t have kids, so clearly I would be not spending as much either. Regardless, I still want children, and I’m still going to try to have them.

If I do get pregnant and have kids, I know my life has to change, as does my expectations for the future. I don’t think I’ll be able to continuously save $40k+ a year – some years, I’ll be lucky if I can max out my 401k. If I want to change my career, I’ll likely need to go back to school and invest in that and start at a lower wage for many years. I’m not going to do that until I know for sure what I want to be when I grow up… which may never happen. But this career isn’t right. This career is going to cause me to have a heart attack before I even make it to 50.

There is other $ variables at play, that I don’t consider when planning my future, as they’re all “extras” and “nice to haves” but cannot be counted on. My husband makes a living as well, and although his salary is much lower than mine, he still is able to save something each year, and eventually he can earn more as well. Then we have our parents who may pass down something to us one day, but planning for a life with a potential inheritance seems both futile and deeply morbid. Neither of our parents are well off, but there’s a chance we’ll get a few hundred thousand dollars or more one day down the line. That alone could pay for our retirements. So, the reality is I’m in a good place… the $500k mark in my networth will be a sigh of a relief, a moment to celebrate maybe a glimmer of financial freedom… the opportunity to take a few more risks… to start to find out what really matters to me in this very short life, versus just working for works sake.

I have a new boss. New boss is great in the sense that new boss is really good at her job. New boss is everything someone in a senior leadership role in this career should be. New boss is, in many ways, the opposite of me. New Boss (I’ll call boss “B” for the sake of simplicity) is a tiger. B doesn’t take shit from anyone and knows what she wants and she gets it done. B knows what to do and how to navigate the political waters of the workplace with ease. B is on the ball, all the time, and doesn’t let emotions get in the way of decisions.  B is not someone I can aspire to be like — my entire being cannot be that person. I can’t fake it. I can’t just wake up every morning and put my “B” cap on and suddenly be this great senior executive. B will never be me.

In the meantime, if I want to stay, I have to impress B. I am already starting from far behind as B was clearly told things about me in the interview process that were far from flattering, and B has visibility into my salary and knows that it’s high for my current role (it was high but fair for my prior role where I was running the department, not so much for my smaller and smaller role, which is shrinking by the day.) At some point the numbers just won’t work. At some point either they would give me a pay cut or let me go.

B is very strategic. B knows there is a large amount of change required and will make those changes in an organized manner, getting the most value out of me as possible before I am removed from the organization. If I continue to provide value, I don’t think I’ll be fired immediately. I could be wrong, but the organization seems to have a policy around being fair, and if I’m doing the job requested of me and fulfilling the role, I do not see being tossed out as long as the company is doing well and isn’t going through any formal layoffs. In the case of formal layoff it is clear I’d be one of the first to go. But as long as we’re doing well and I’m doing my job and getting things done on time and at a quality expected of me, I should get to stay.

Yet I’m not sure I’m capable of getting the things done that are required of me on time and at the level of quality expected. I’m determine to try – focusing on doing my very best and giving it my all for ~3 months is not a bad objective, even if my future tenure is limited. That’s 90 days, $18k+ in savings, and ideally a good reference to walk with based on the fact that I really did try my best and, as the song goes, I guess my best wasn’t good enough.

According to my latest networthIQ entry, my networth today is $468k. With that $18k additional, that gets me to about $486k, within an arm’s reach from my $500k goal.

Or, I get another job that pays less, and is more sustainable, and I get to $500k sometime later this year — which is the goal anyway and theoretically I could work through the end of May, get to $486k, take my PTO dollars and some of my savings, take 3 months off and travel the world, come back with $475k in the bank, get a job that pays less than my current one (say $7k take home per month after tax vs $10k), save $4k a month, save $16k for the rest of the year, get to around $491k by the end of the year (and that’s WITH taking 3 months off and taking a job that pays much less when I get back.) So even if I take a ~$3k paycut and take 3 months off, I should still be within striking distance of my goals.

OR, I just suck it up, work in this role through the rest of the year by giving it my all and somehow being “not firable” … save $70k more, get to around $538k, get pregnant sometime this summer, stay at work for the 9 months of my pregnancy, say 5 more months in 2018, save another $35k, get to ~$575k then freelance for a few years earning a lot less, but living off the money I was able to save fighting through this job for … 15 more months. That seems like a very long time and between now and then we could easily have a mass layoff which I’d be caught up in anyway, but logically staying 15 more months gives me +2 years in my current job (good for the resume), and the amount I’d save is almost worth it. With interest, I could have $600k saved up when I leave work for a more flexible lifestyle for a few years when my kids are young. My objective, then, would be to not tap that $600k… to make enough money to pay rent/mortgage/taxes, for food and any vacations/entertainment travel with whatever I earn (and what my husband earns.)

In that reality, with $600k untouched for 10 years growing at 5-6% YoY I get to $900k-$1M by 44. That’s not the $2M by 50, but it’s still rather exciting that this seems possible — better if I stay in my current role for 15 months (or obtain another role that pays the same or more that I can successfully stay in for 15 months!) … or I just say fuck it, stick this out for 3 more months, take a few months off, then come back and get a lower paying job that I can sustain throughout being pregnant and the early years of parenting.

At least, thanks to savings a substantial amount in my 20s, I have options.

 

 

2016 Spending

Although I saved a substantial sum in 2016, I definitely overspent in many areas. It was the year of my wedding so even though my parents contributed a sizable sum to the event, I splurged and spent too much on it outside of their contribution. We did a small “mini moon” which also cost something, but in 2017 we will splurge on a bigger international honeymoon. Here is a quick overview of how my spending went into 2016…

Income (after tax and 401k): $112.4k
Spending: $81.2k
(remaining / savings: $31.2k + $18k  (401k) = $49.2k saved)

Auto & Transport: $5.1k
Bills & Utilities: $1.5k
Education: $2.2k
Entertainment: $1.37k
Fees: $443
Food: $11.7k (yikes)
Gifts: $1.67k
Health: $5.4k (not counting insurance)
Home (rent and home things): $17.3k
Personal Care: $4k
Shopping: $14.8k
Wedding: $9.6k
Travel: $6.2k Continue reading

2016 Networth Checkin: $416,583

Incredibly, 2016 has come to a close. My networth goal for 2016 was  somewhere between $400k and $500k from last year’s $352k finish. I didn’t get (anywhere near) $500k, but I still feel accomplished given my mental health and spending more than I wanted to on my wedding this year. I’ve concluded 2016 with $416,583 in networth, including:

  • $14k in cash
  • $188k in taxable investment accounts
  • $204k in retirement accounts
  • $9.9k in college 529 (for grad school or future kids)

My goals for 2017 are:

  • $15k in cash
  • $250k in taxable investment accounts
  • $225k in retirement accounts
  • $10k+in college 529

TOTAL: $500,000

It will be tough, but this goal should be do-able if I either stay in my current job or find another one that pays close to this one. Even if I reduce my current salary by $20k I should be able to still hit this goal. I must save $84,000 in the next 12 months, or $7000 per month. This is definitely do-able with my current job (I make about $10k after taxes per month), but if I reduce that to $9k per month I can manage to save enough. Any less than that it would be challenging with my current rent and other recurring fees.

I am worried about the costs of infertility treatments (that will definitely ruin my networth goal for the year) but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Even though my mental health is poor right now I know I will feel a huge sense of relief when achieving $500k in networth. It has been a dream of mine since forever ago to achieve half a million in networth prior to giving birth. Well, as I’m not pregnant yet I have AT LEAST nine months before I need to get to $500k. At this rate I’ll have more than nine months to get there.

Joining J. Money’s Million Dollar Club

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Today, I’m taking a pledge and – being one of the last to the party – to join J. Money’s Million Dollar Club. I’ve already unofficially been a member since I’m working towards $1M (well, $2M is my financial freedom money goal) but this makes it all more official. Plus, hopefully he’ll add me to his fancy list. I like lists.

I would like to become a millionaire by the time I’m 45 (or sooner) independent of any wealth my husband is accumulating. This puts me well on my way towards $2M+ in individual networth AND means that when my (hypothetical) children are in their pre-teen and teen years I can be more flexible with my career and actually see my kids before they’re out of the house, married off, and spending time with kids of their own (tear. boy do they grow up fast.)

In order for me, Her Every Cent Counts, to become a millionaire by 45, I pledge to do the following:

1. Invest an average of $5000 per month for the next 10 years (between taxable accounts and retirement accounts)

2. Max out my 401k each year for the next 10 years (or every year I have access to a retirement plan through work) even without match (because let’s face it I’ll never work for a company that offers a match.

3. Live in my 1 bedroom rented apartment with Mr. HECC for as long as possible (i.e. until our first child is two) even though I would much prefer to live in a 2-3 bedroom house. Only buy a house after I have $750k-$1M saved for retirement that I don’t need to touch, so it can grow to $2M by the time I retire.

4. Continue to drive my used 2011 car until it dies (but invest the appropriate amount into keeping it in good shape.) Never buy new cars.

5. When possible, increase my monthly savings beyond $5000 (for instance, I can save up to $7000 right now per month if I’m extremely frugal) but don’t let being “ahead” of my net worth goal at any moment in time change my savings rates.

6. Put aside any additional income (bonuses, tax refunds, extra income) into my investment accounts.

7. Find a career that enables me to consistently save $5000 per month for the next 10 years (which means that I can’t go back to grad school unfortunately so I likely have to stay in my current career and just learn to suck it up.)

8. Gain skills and keep up to date with latest skills to become highly valuable as a consultant in my industry so I can potentially earn more money working for myself and enjoy my life more.

9. If needed, move to an area of the country with a lower cost of living (but only if I can continue saving $5000 consistently per month for the next 10 years)

10. Invest in experiences only, especially travel before kids and family vacations after kids. Rotate cheap vacations (camping) with fancier ones (Hawaii). Any additional income (if income increases) should be split between savings, “life experience” fund and housing fund.

 

 

 

2016 Home Stretch: Networth Goals and New Directions

My 2016 goal was to hit between $400k and $450k in networth. While I’m not going to get anywhere near the top of that range, there is still a chance I can make it to $400k.

On January 1, 2016 my networth was $339.5k. As of November 15, 2016, my networth is $391.4k, a $51.9k increase.  To hit my objective of $400k networth minimum, the stock market needs to hold out and I must save around $9k more between now and the end of the year. That should be doable but it will be close.

Next year is theoretically the big $500k year. With very poor job stability right now I’m guessing that goal is going to have to be adjusted down significantly – I won’t actually get to $500k before I have a baby (since I’ll probably have to spend $50k to even get pregnant!) In any case, despite the shakiness at work, I’m feeling good about getting closer to achieving my goals for the year.

I’m very seriously considering moving to a lower cost of living area to have a family and taking on a lower paid career – I just want to cross that $500k mark before I do. Having $500k in the bank means $1M-$2M in retirement as long as the markets don’t completely crash and go up at a reasonable rate, as long as I don’t touch the $500k basis. I will feel very successful once I get to $500k, and as I’m at $391 now it isn’t that far out. It’s definitely possible.