As my long-time readers know, my “impossible” goal of hitting $500,000 in individual net worth before I have my first child is somehow within sight. It’s still seemingly impossible, but I always aim high and see how far I can get. I’m not pregnant yet, so that gives me at least nine months to get there. Below, I’m going to detail my budget plan to take me from where I am today to where I want to be before my first child is born.
On 7/15/16, my networth calculations = $379,412.
This leaves $120,588 to save prior to having children.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about finances on this blog, and since it’s somehow half way through the year it’s time to do a quick check in. So, the first half of this year has not been as profitable as it should have been given my high income, but the wedding just wiped out most of my gains. My stock has been performing ok so I haven’t lost money on paper, but I could be doing much better right now had I not gone crazy on my wedding. I don’t regret it, though, and it just inspires me to tighten my wallet for the rest of the year to hit my goals.
My goal WAS $500k before having kids and it still kind of is — I’m not pregnant yet and I’m at $373k in net worth right now… leaving $127k left to achieve my goal before I have my first child. Even if I got pregnant tomorrow, that leaves me nine months to accumulate $127k, which is $14k a month… not exactly doable (I figure being frugal with my current income I can save about $6k a month) but this is all on the hypothetical if I get pregnant tomorrow which likely won’t happen. More likely it will take me at least a year to get pregnant (and we aren’t going to really start trying until after our actual honeymoon next spring) so that buys me an extra 9 months at least… getting me to $7k a month savings/interest needed to hit my goal. While it will be tough the goal actually seems POSSIBLE to hit. It all depends on when I get pregnant and if I can keep my job – both serious up in the air variables – but if I’m not quite at $500k when I have a kid it won’t be the end of the world. It’s just a random goal keeping me on track to $2M+ in retirement.
(See first half of year being kind of bleh below:)
I’m counting wedding gifts towards my total which I guess I should split in half with my husband, but he/his family didn’t pay for much of the wedding, so I’m currently keeping them toward my net worth (it still doesn’t cover all of what I spent on the wedding.) I’ll have to write another post on married finances because that’s worth a post (at least) but for now I’m still tracking my net worth independently. I think I will until I get to $500k because what fun would it be to merge our finances and get there by cheating and adding his small savings into mine. I want to get to $500k so I can move on to my next goal of $750k and then the big $1M. I think $1M by 40 is achievable but I might not go for that… I might aim for $1M by 45 or 50 and slow my career down a bit and seek out a better career that brings more happiness and creative fulfillment. Once I get to $500k I don’t want to go under it by much, I feel that’s a good amount for financial freedom when I still want to work full time.
2016 networth goal $500k – aborted. I’ll be lucky if I break even this year. It’s my own fault. I’m making a really solid income I’m just spending way too much on my wedding. I mean – wayyyyy too much. I’m torn on how bad I feel about it. On one hand, financial blogger self feels nauseous about how much this wedding costs – and how I failed to manage to keep the budget within my very generous parent’s contribution that at first seemed impossible to exceed. Well, it seemed impossible to exceed before I fully understood the difference between $2000 and $6000 wedding dresses and how the higher petal count of garden roses makes them just so much more elegant than a standard rose and that DJs really aren’t our style and venues which rush you out because another couple is getting married an hour after your celebration ends make the whole day feel so unfortunately rushed and unromantic.
Ok. I went overboard. Way overboard. You can see how overboard in my networth chart for the year to date:
It’s going to look flat for the next few months. I’ve paid off the entirety of my dress and alterations, as well as deposits on the florist and photographer and videographer. I still don’t understand how despite how much we’re spending on this shindig it still feels I have to cut corners all over the place.
I’ve revamped my networth goal this year to $400k. It’s $100k under where I was hoping to be at this point but then again it doesn’t look like I’m having a kid anytime soon — and the real goal is $500k before my first child is born. If I add in my future husband’s savings and count it in my networth we’ll be close to $500k by that point. I’m still going to account my own networth separately going forward though – I don’t really think we should merge our bank accounts. We’re doing just fine splitting rent and food at this point. When we have kids or buy a house I guess we’ll have to figure it out.
So… I don’t think I’ll be able to save any money until after the wedding. I’m still maxing out my 401k this year… about half way there so far… but the rest of the wedding expenses will wipe out my sizable take-home income for the next few months. We haven’t even planned a honeymoon because that will be too expensive and there’s no time… though I’d like to take one. In any case, I figure July will be the first month this year I can start saving something. I have a zillion weddings to go to this year as well which are across the country, so I’ll be spending a lot even after my wedding is done. I’ll somehow make it work.
If I break even by July 1 — say, $360k — I have $40k to make up in the next six months of the year… or $6.6k per month. Fortunately with my income that’s doable but I really cannot buy anything other than gifts for my friend’s weddings and plane tickets (you know, and food and rent and such.) I just really really really need to keep my job. Odds are looking ok on that but not great. If I lose my job all bets are off. I’ve been struggling to manage wedding planning and job together so once that’s over I can get back to focusing 100% on work… hopefully I’ll last that long.
Farewell $500k goal… on my way to $400k this year. Next year I think $500k is really possible with interest and such or at least getting closer to it. 2017 will be my half million year, I hope.
Last year I increased by net worth from $309,894 in January of 2015 to $352,066 in January of 2016 (increase of $42,112 or 13% YoY increase.) This is not accounting for the last week of declines, which may or may not hinder 2016 growth. With a total net worth of $352k to start this year, I’m focused on my goal of hitting $400k by the end of 2016. Although this isn’t my original goal of $500k by the end of 2016, I think $400k is still a very aggressive and challenging goal for this year.
In 2015, my stock portfolio increased from $144k to $171k. My retirement portfolio increased from $152k to $171k. Thus, the year concluded with approximately $342k in active investments (mostly stocks.) This is why when the market dips my portfolio significantly decreases. Since I have a substantial amount of funds in the stock market I tend to wait now a bit before putting large sums into play beyond what is already invested.
Goals for 2016:
Stocks: $200k, including $15k additional in Vanguard admiral healthcare fund, which has a $50k minimum. This would = $29k in net new investment, or ~$2.5k per month. If the market drops lower than monthly investments will have to increase to make up the difference.
- $1250 / month — Vanguard Healthcare Fund (to get to $50k admiral minimum)
- $400 / month — loyal3 fee-free partial stock investing
- $850 / month — Vanguard fund TBD to get to $10k admiral (might reinvest in the dividend growth fund I sold for losses after a month or so. We’ll see.)
Retirement: $190k (max out 401k and IRA for 2016 — $23.5k additional investment, or $2k per month)
- $18k = 401k max
- $5.5k = vanguard IRA (post tax)
Cash: $10k – I’d like to close out the year with a $10k emergency fund.
This = a total monthly investment of approximately $4.5k per month, up to $6.5k if the market drops further. $6.5k is fairly impossible w/ my general monthly expenses plus the wedding, so I think the $4.5k goal (esp with some of it in pre-tax dollars) is a reasonable objective. If the market sucks this year then I probably won’t get to $400k, but I’ll still be buying discount stocks which will hopefully go up at some point in the next 10 years to make up for any losses.
If I can do this then and maintain my job I should be able to close the year out with $400k net worth. This would be a very exciting achievement for this year, as I’d still be on target to hit $500k prior to 35 (2018.)
I’ll admit it, 2015 was rough. With my long commute to and from work, my sanity and health sank to perhaps an all-time low. Although I achieved networth growth over the year, it wasn’t nearly as much as I had targeted. In fact, in the year when I made significantly more than I had ever made before, I ended up saving less than I had in the past (including interest.) I closed out the year with $344k in total assets with the exception of my car (I don’t count that in my networth calculations, though, I guess I suppose I should.) I wanted to be at $400k in networth, but between some bad investments, general stock market blahs, and being unemployed for a brief while, I just didn’t get anywhere near that.
What I try to remind myself is that $344k at 32 is not too shabby. If I don’t touch that, don’t add anything else, and it manages to grow at 5% YoY that’s $1.3M by the time I’m 60. Ok, so I want to get to $4M by 60 (which requires about a 10% YoY annual return with my current principal and no annual additions), but even if I get to $1.3M by 60 I think I could remain working and manage to grow that another 5 years, which gets me to $1.7M and that isn’t counting any savings from future Mr. HECC.
The plan was to hit $500k net worth, have a kid and save for a house while living in an apartment with young kid, and then over the next five years save enough for a 20% downpayment ($300k) on top of the $500k plus annual interest that I wouldn’t touch. That goal is looking rather unlikely right now, and I’m actually ok with that. I’ve gotten to this point where I’ve accepted that the life I am going to lead as an adult is going to be at a lower class level than the one I was used to as a child. While I grew up in an upper-middle class household, my family will be squarely in the middle class (for my region of the country), and we’ll be fine. We’ll still be doing much better than the majority of households in the country, even if we can’t afford a house for a long time, if ever.
Right now, my focus must be 100% on excelling in my job. With my current salary and responsibilities, I have the opportunity to set myself up for a very successful next 20 years of my career. I also am very seriously confronting the reality that if this doesn’t work out for any reason, if this is a failure, then it means a significant shift my career trajectory and networth projections. I very well might return to school – which I’ve been talking bout for a while but haven’t seriously pursued – to study to become a psychologist or design researcher with a psychological focus. But I don’t want to think about that right now, I’m heads down, fully in the game, trying to relax and thrive despite the many challenges at hand. In other words, I refuse to mess this up.
Beyond work, this year is just a huge year of major life changes. I get married in a few months (tax bill goes up next year, woohoo), and I also likely start trying to have kids, confronting the soon-to-be-proven fact that conceiving doesn’t come so naturally to me (thanks PCOS.) I’m hyper-focused on losing weight, eating healthy and exercise right now. My weight fluctuates significantly — in 2012 I was at 180lbs (my highest ever, which is very heavy for a woman who is 5’3), to 155lbs a year later, to 176lbs a year later than that, dropping and holding steady at 170 through 2014 and most of 2015, ending 2015 at 160lbs. I hired a personal trainer 3x a week ($50 a session which is a really good deal for this area) so we’re working on getting my weight down to about 130 in the next couple of months (5 pounds a month is my goal to lose, which is a good, achievable goal.) It’s mostly so I can feel happy with how I look in my wedding pictures, but it’s also just something I need to do in order to save myself from premature aging. Plus, I just feel mentally more clear and balanced when I’m eating healthy and exercising. It’s good to have such short-term goal so I am focused the entire way through, no matter how hard it gets.
This year, my goals are going to be a little less intense on the networth side. I’d like to get to $400k in networth, including $23.5k in new retirement savings (401k & IRA). That leaves $31.5k to make up for in interest and other savings, or about $2.6k per month. I’m planning to try to save an additional $2k per month on average, and hopefully the rest (~$7200) will come from interest on, say, $250k of invested, interest-earning assets, which is about a 3% gain on those investments. I’d prefer to go well over this, but trying to be realistic with the goals, especially with the wedding spending. I don’t think this is going to be a hugely profitable year but I could be wrong.
2016 Goal Summary
1) $400k networth – including $23.5k in retirement savings, $24k in taxable investments, and about $7k in interest.
2) Be 130lbs by summer
3) Thrive at my job (and be gainfully employed and loved by my colleagues when Jan 1, 2017 rolls around)
4) Get pregnant before I’m 33!?!
Well, here’s to kicking off what is sure to be a crazy year. Fingers crossed it’s a good one. I think it will be. I hope it will be. Oh god, it better be. 🙂
With the state of the world these days, it feels extra strange to be hyper-focused on planning a rather lavish wedding where my budget is the only thing that is shot. Nonetheless, I have a wedding six months away and I’m furiously meeting with vendors who charge market rates for their services that add up to holy shit this is a lot of money.
I wish I came from a family that didn’t care about things like weddings, but I really had two choices here – go big or go home, literally. I opted for the big east coast wedding for a few reasons – 1, I worry I’d regret not having one; 2, my dad is ill and won’t be around much longer and he really wants a big wedding; 3, I’m out of my mind to think this was a good idea.
The reality is that weddings are expensive, no matter what type of wedding you have, unless you elope. Even $10,000 weddings are expensive for the people who have them. I’ve completely gone off the rocker and completely fell for the wedding industry. I said I wasn’t going to, and here I am, looking at killing my net worth goal over one day. Don’t ask me how much I spent on my dress. That was a fiasco that ended up in me making some very bad decisions. I like my dress, but if I could do it all over again, I’d not allow myself to purchase an outfit that cost almost as much as my first (used) car.
Then again, I tell myself that I should let myself splurge a little and enjoy this day. I’m not frugal by any means, but with most of the country having barely any savings, even my current – $328k in net worth (yes after wedding purchases and unemployment for a brief while and stock market performing poorly it’s down significantly) is something I can be proud of and dip into a little bit to treat myself. My parents are paying for a huge chunk of the wedding (and if they weren’t I WOULD be having a $10k wedding!) so I figure if I spend $10k above and beyond what my parents are paying on it, that’s, well, reasonable isn’t the right word – but it’s not completely crazy.
Still, if I could do this all over again I’d take a long hard look at a realistic budget and 1, book a cheaper venue and 2, buy a cheaper dress. Other than that there aren’t really a lot of places to save money at this point. Even DIY adds up. Flowers are $3k, video is $4k, photography is $6k, music is $1k – $6k depending if you want a DJ or a band (my dad said it’s my choice then continues to whisper behind my back how disappointed he’ll be if I get a DJ.)
I know I’m extremely fortunate to have parents who want to throw money at me for this wedding. But I also think it gets more stressful the more money you have to work with. I’ve discovered that the true “get whatever you want” wedding really costs $100k. That sounds crazy, but it isn’t. Anything less than $100k and you have to make compromises. I’m not advocating $100k weddings, just putting things into perspective for people who look at the wedding industry and roll their eyes.
Hopefully a wedding (day/weekend) is an experience I’ll remember and cherish for the rest of my life. It’s a one-time production bringing family and friends together. There are hundreds of photos taken from every angle and, selfishly, I want to look good. Everyone wants photos with the bride. I could have looked good in a cheaper dress, but that story which I’ll tell one day equaled me making a very very dumb decision on that front. Beyond the extravagent dress (which, btw, doesn’t look extravagant, it’s just a designer gown with amazing embroidery so it’s classy and understated by also double my initial dress budget, oy), though, it’s really a fairly standard east coast wedding. It’s even on a Sunday to save costs.
When spending this much money on something, I become super OCD. I don’t want things to just be ok, I want them to be as close to perfect as possible. Which isn’t possible, but I’ll try. And trying to please everyone is also impossible. Ie right now hiring a DJ would make way more sense financially than hiring a band. But dad is paying for huge chunk of wedding and dad wants a band – I should get a band. Logic brain says get a damn DJ. My fiancé doesn’t even like to dance.
Anyway, the wedding is happening… and I’m starting a new job… and I’m just mildly stressed, but trying to get amped up about both. It’s so important that I go into all of this with a positive attitude. I am excited about the new job. I’m mildly enthusiastic about the wedding. I’m more so excited about finally getting married so I can move on with my life and start a family. That’s all that really matters.
Now that I am “in between incomes,” so to speak, I am re-focusing my objectives for total assets this year, and beginning planning for 2016 based on my potential earnings at my new opportunities.
As a reminder, my goal was to close out 2015 with $400,000 in net worth. That figure was always a stretch, but it isn’t going to happen this year. My new goal is to wrap up the year with at least $350,000 in net worth, which is about a 15% increase in my nest egg – not bad but not great either. My goal is to give birth to my first child in the summer of 2017, when I’m about to turn 34 (yikes.) That means getting pregnant in the fall of 2016 or soon after would be ideal. That means that I still want to aim for $500k in net worth by the time I have my first kid (let’s call that July of 2017.) This is about 19 months to increase my net worth by $150k.
Let’s start with where I am today — according to www.networthIQ.com my current net worth is $380,783. I will subtract my car ($8000) and stock options that will soon be worth nothing from that ($16,000) to what is my “actual” net worth — so about $356k. I’m also losing money now since unemployment doesn’t cover my monthly expenditures, so assuming the stock market does decently this month and I land a new job for December start (which is looking quite likely) I should be able to close out the year about $350k. A reminder, in January of 2009 I had about $5k to my name (see graph below.)
In order to hit my goal of saving $150k in 18 months (assuming ending 2015 with $350k), I need to “save” $8333 per month. How is THAT going to happen?
If I (knock on wood) increase my income levels in my next job to $190k (which is super exciting and feels like too much yet if the market will pay that for my services, I’ll take it!), that is a take-home of about $9400 a month (which is a lot and really starts making this dream possible – this is where it gets exciting!) Even with my average spending of about $3500 a month, I will have $5900 per month to put away. But this also, theoretically, is two years of 401k investment, which I can max out each year. So that’s $36,000 of the total $150k right there (assuming I can keep my job and do well at it!) Ok, so one opportunity has a 3% match of your salary on that, which is awesome (I’ve NEVER had a 401k match in my entire career!) That means each year I’d make an extra ~$5700 just for putting the money in my 401k (if I’m understanding the match thing correctly.) So that is $11,400 on top of the $36k. Ok, so that takes care of $47,400 of the $150,000, and leaves a slightly more realistic $102.6k left to save over 18 months, or, $5700 per month. Income is reduced a bit with the 401k investment, of course, by $18000 a year – but that’s all pre-tax. But with bonus, etc, it should balance out to still taking home somewhere around $9k a month, or maybe a little less. That’s still a lot for the short-term goal.
Now, let’s assume my stock portfolio / the market increases by an average of 5% each year. It could be less and it could be more, but let’s say 2% – 5%. That is somewhere between $7000 and $17500 for year one, and a max of $20.9k in year two (at 5%), minimum of $8368 (for the entire year, but I’ll count that in these numbers since even if I’m not working my portfolio will continue to gain interest.) Ok, so on the more conservative end with just a 2% year-over-year gain, I’ll have another $15,368 covered by investment interest…
$36,000 = 401k investment
$11,400 = 401k match @ 3% of income
$15,368 = portfolio interest at 2% YoY
$87,232 to save in 18 months, or,
$4846 per month
This is very doable, as long as I select a job where I can stay a minimum of 18 months. One opportunity does not have 401k match, so I am leaning toward the one that does, since this clearly helps substantially in reaching my long-standing goal of $500k by childbirth.
Once I have kids, I am expecting to work part-time and see my annual savings levels decrease. Of course, I’ll have a husband who is also working, but he doesn’t earn as much as I do or invest his savings beyond a Roth IRA (which he’ll no longer be eligible for once we’re married – yeay marriage.) We’re not really combining incomes when we’re married – just continuing to split major household expenses. We’ll probably start to split a little more… right now we just split rent (I pay more since I make more) and food (we spend way too much on food for two people) — but in the future when we’re married I can see us splitting healthcare expenses, and maybe things like gas/transit. When we have a kid all those expenses will be split too. Luckily I have a penchant for household accounting. What a great hobby!
Seriously, though, if I can get to $500k before I have a kid, this frees me up so much from this looming fear of the future I have. It’s not exactly a nest egg that will make me rich, but it’s a very good start to be at $500k by 34. The goal was by 30 but so what… goals are meant to be hard to reach, but they keep you focused on getting to where you need to be.
With $500k, if I can manage to not touch that money until I’m 65, at an annual return of 5%, that gets me to about $2M in retirement (not counting any future earnings or my husband’s earnings/savings. At a 10% YoY return that’s about $8.7M in retirement. Heck, if that grows at 10% YoY in 20 years once hitting $500k, that will be worth $3.3M – not exactly placing me in the .01%, but certainly providing enough income for early retirement / starting my own business / doing what I want when I’m 55 years old. I know a lot of women in their early 50s and I can see this age being a good time to have that flexibility. You’re still healthy enough to trade and have fun, your kids are old enough to appreciate spending time with you (hopefully) and overall if you’ve been smart about saving over the years, you can take a moment to actually enjoy life.
So when people read this blog and comment about how this $500k goal is so silly, well, it really isn’t.
The MOST important thing right now for all of this is picking a job where I can stay stable at for the next 19 months, at a minimum. That’s a long time and I’m going to take it month by month and focus on being so productive my employer couldn’t even dream of replacing me. 18 months is just 6 quarters, and that will go fast, especially if I’m pregnant for half of them!
I really hope I can do it. I’ve come so far. This seems within reach. Having my first kid at 33/34 is not ideal, I’m going to have to have my second at 36 and if I want a third, well, that’s going to have to be pretty much right away after that. This leaves me little time to keep earning at the same rate, especially in my field, where having kids doesn’t seem to align with the amount of hours required to work. I have to make the money now, so I can leave the options open for the future.
I’m a bit obsessive about my networth. Ok, a lot obsessive. It’s this game I play which helps me weather the storm of the everyday ups and downs of life. I know you’re not supposed to monitor your stocks on a daily basis, but I do, because that’s what I do. It’s certainly thrilling when they go up. Not so much when they go… down… and down some more.
Today the stock market had its 9th biggest decline in history so – when I looked at my Mint account and my jaw dropped to the floor with little birdies flying around my head – well, that was not an overreaction. It’s pretty painful to see all this money you’ve been saving for the year just poof disappear, at least on digital paper. It could come back tomorrow, or more could disappear. Who knows. China is making everyone freak out. My Apple stock is tanking, but so is the rest of the market.
I am not going to sell. I am not going to sell. I am not going to sell.
My entry into the stock market was interestingly timed. I got in right before the great recession. I had enough money in to feel the pain of losing almost half of it, but I was making so little at the time that the amount I was able to invest wasn’t really significant enough to cause serious long-term damage. Then, as the market recovered, I obtained jobs where I made more money, and more money. And I didn’t really like to spend all that money at Sephora, so I invested it each month. As the stock market went up, so did my networth. It was incredible to be investing in the market at that time. It clearly wasn’t going to last forever…
Today the market is overvalued. It’s due for a few major corrections. The trick of corrections is to A) not sell and B) buy more each time your heart jumps to your throat when you check your life savings, but not too much more in case the market continues to drop, which it probably will do.
Think Long Term and Forget About the Short-Term Fluctuations
Today I bought $1000 worth of Vanguard funds and $500-ish of Tesla stock. I’m fighting my stock market fears by throwing money at it whenever it surprises me with a swift downturn. Hopefully that will pay off in the end. It’s not rocket science, but it seems to have worked thus far.
I’m holding my breath right now as I have a feeling 2015-2016 is going to be a majorly bumpy ride. Are you in buy mode right now? How much do you think the market will correct itself before it stabilizes? Do you have any favorite funds that perform well when China implodes on itself for its overvalued currency?
Oh, and forget about my $400k networth goal this year… now I think $350k networth is a much more reasonable goal to close out the year with. That’s still $50k more than I closed out last year, but given my salary increase I thought this year would be a lot stronger. The whole $500k before kids goal is seeming more and more unlikely — though if I can maintain my income level… my plan is to get pregnant in June/July 2016, and then have a kid in March/April 2017… that’s still about a year-and-a-half from now, so I could be somewhere in the $425k range at that point, which isn’t HORRIBLE. $425k growing at an average of 5% per year after 30 years, if I don’t touch it, will =$1.8M, just shy of my $2M retirement goal. But if it grows at 10% over 30 years then that’s $7.4M. So all I need to do is not touch that future basis and hope that the economy doesn’t entirely crash for a long term depression. $400k-$500k before I have a kid is the NEW goal.
As many of you know, one of my favorite budgeting tools is Mint.com – so I was a little giddy when their PR team reached out to me to include me in their “Expert Interview” series. I went to town answering questions on my networth goals, progress, ups and downs.
I’ll post the introduction to the article below, and then if you’re interested you can read the rest of the Q&A here. I am actually very proud of this Q&A because the answers really reflect the personal finance advice I would give to anyone at this point in my life!
Imagine retiring with $2 million in the bank. Now stop imagining that goal and make it a reality.
With Her Every Cent Counts, readers get all kinds of tips and encourage to start building a net worth they can be proud of. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of hard work involved. In fact, the woman who started the site (who prefers to be anonymous) had a net worth of $250,000 by the time she was 30. She plans to grow that number to $2 million by the time she retires.
Her net worth tracker can be found on her website where readers can track her progress. This serves as an inspiration and real-life glimpse into what is possible when saving money.
To learn more about reaching your own financial goals, take a look at the helpful information in the interview [here.]