2017 – how did you get here so quickly? Time continues to fly by, and although my bank account is looking healthier than it did a few years ago, I am still the same old person. 2017 already looks a bit shaky given our political climate (how on earth did Trump get elected president? So #unpresidented). Anyway, 2017, here are some things I want to accomplish in you — which sounds awkward but you are a year and therefore I’m not doing anything obscene by entering your cavernous orifices via January 1. Continue reading
Stealing this chart and breakdown from Leigh’s Financial Journey, because I adore how she tracks her networth (and man she’s doing amazing worth saving 80% of her income per month! Inspiring!)
Annual Networth Progress (Goal $400k)
|$ until FI ($2M)||$1.7M||$1.67M||$1.67M|
March didn’t look that great on paper, but really the market was just doing really well in February so a lot of those gains pulled back a bit. I haven’t been very heavily investing in the first quarter of the year as I’ve bene saving an emergency fund in case I lose this job. I’m expecting to be in the job until at least June 30 and likely until Oct/Nov, but that could easily change and be sooner. I need to be prepared.
Overall the year is going quite well. I’m still on track (though I had been hoping to be ahead of target since Feb concluded at my quarterly savings goal. My focus now is really on the next three months – saving as much as possible. If it turns out I get to the end of June and I’ve saved $50k, I can still feel good about that as typically my annual savings/interest goal is $50k. This is just the first year I’m trying to save $100k for the year — which is still somewhat do-able if I were to stay in the job until Dec 31. Honestly, the best thing would be to stay until February so I can max out next year’s 401k, and then figure out next steps. But that’s a long time from now and anything can happen.
I really want to see April end with $10k increase in my account, or $335k. This is possible if the stock market goes up since I’m also putting 80% of my paycheck in April into my 401k (I haven’t put anything into my 401k yet this year.) Furthermore, I just did my taxes and am actually getting $1k back this year. My stretch goal for April is getting to $340k, leaving just $60k for the remainder of the year to save – so this is a very important month. Wish me luck! 🙂
Every so often, the storm firing between my synapses leads me to seek an outside, expert opinion. I met a therapist in an online program, and it turned out that not only was her focus career guidance and work stress reduction, but she also lived locally enough where I could visit her in person. Realizing the online program wasn’t enough for my current needs, I signed off and signed on to her in-person services.
What I appreciate most about this woman is that she has a similar background working for technology companies in the communications field, so she understands some of the rewards and challenges that come with such a career choice. She is different from therapists I’ve seen before as she isn’t afraid to pay close attention to what I say and call me on where I’m getting in the way of my own happiness.
One trend she pointed out, which is 100% true, is that for the entirety of my career (and even college) I chose to be just-removed from what it is I actually want to do. For college, instead of majoring in acting, I majored in design — now, that may have been a good choice (my acting talent is limited to say the least), but it still is the first of many proof points of how I’ve been consistently too afraid to follow my dreams and self-selected to sit on the sidelines. When I had my heart set on directing, I secured a marketing internship at a theatre company, always longing to be in the rehearsals instead of promoting the end result. Then, as a journalist I loved writing human-interest stories for local communities, but I gave up on this in exchange for reporting on business news which had little heart or soul, only data and “scoops.” My work as a business journalist led me to what I thought I actually wanted to do – work in a startup company creating products (later I found out this role was titled “product manager” but I never got there, instead spending years building an impressive resume, on paper, as a career marketer.
What I’ve come to realize is that if you aren’t passionate about what you do on a day-to-day basis, especially if you are just one step removed from what it is you actually want to do, you find yourself in this professional limbo. You’re so close to doing something fulfilling and yet you sit from the sidelines watching others who are engaging in the work that drives them. Of course nothing is perfect, and everyone has their work stress no matter what the field, but I’m all for stress that ties to doing something meaningful. And while it’s important to be able to pay the bills and have savings, it’s time to stop thinking so short-term about my networth growth. Life is short enough, and there’s plenty of time to save.
As we got into what I really want to do with my life, a few different prospects came up. The one which I find most interesting is to become a therapist myself. I actually thinking I would enjoy this in many ways. I love to help people, and nothing fulfills me more than helping others in a one-on-one environment. There are many reasons I’m scared of a potential career in therapy – I know how hard it is, and how draining it can be. Your clients may be psychologically disturbed beyond the point you can help, they may be severely depressed, angry, or worse. As a therapist you hear horrible things and can’t talk to anyone about them due to confidentiality agreements. It sounds like a quite stressful job. But that’s the type of stress I could handle if I knew I was actually helping people on a daily basis.
I’ve always wanted to be known for something, but I know this is largely due to growing up with two narcissistic parents and not my actual inner intention. Well, in a way many people want to leave behind some sort of legacy – so this is just part of being human – but I don’t need to be famous in any way. That said, I believe if I follow my own path and become an expert in that which I am most interested in, I can easily become known for that via writing and sharing advice, should I chose to market myself.
I’m terrified of leaving the tech industry in pursuit of something entirely different – as much as this industry stresses me out I do enjoy being at the center of innovation. Walking out my door and seeing Google’s self-driving cars sweep down the street reminds me how I live here in the future; if New York was the place to be at the center of the future during the Mad Men era, well, that’s Silicon Valley today. When my genetically-altered grand children ask about life in the early 2000s, I can tell them about how before there were self-flying cars, there were self-driving ones that roamed the streets alongside cars that were, gasp, driven actually by people. Companies were only beginning to test drone delivery services, and this was outlawed by most of the country. We could 3D print human cells, but not the human mind yet, or full limbs, though we were rather close to this discovery…
There’s a dynamic pulse of life-changing innovation to living here that is one vibrant ingredient to the taste of the air here, from San Jose to San Francisco. As much as I miss what was a simpler time when I grew up in the 1980s, when one had to actually pause and rewind tapes in order to transcribe lyrics from their favorite songs, and had to pick up a phone connected to the wall should someone give them a call, and even had to write reports for school on a device that was fully mechanical, stamping ink letters onto paper as you thought what you would say versus printing all at once after a series of complex edits, I do love the world of change. Of leveraging technology to change the world for the better – to make processes more efficient, people more healthy, the world more connected…
It’s not to say I can’t be a therapist IN Silicon Valley (in fact, my therapist yesterday noted that she is filled to the brim with clients here, and has to turn down clients for certain days), but I fear not being part of the innovation, which I’ve come so close to tapping. Yet as a marketer my only innovation tapping is telling the stories of what other’s have created, and no say in what is created or how its user interface is rendered for human contact. I do know that I cannot spend the next 30+ years of my career telling stories of other’s creations. Either I find a way to get inside of this, to be the creator, or collaborator in such creation, or I accept that being on a product team is not my fate, and instead I appreciate rapid change from the outskirts of innovation, perhaps in my own maroon leather therapists chair, listening to the embers of innovation behind the privacy of a closed-door session.
Since 2007, I’ve been writing, on an off, for HerEveryCentCounts. I was reading another 20-something-year-old’s blog and was massively jealous of her networth that was around $250k. I thought about my massive savings account totaling $7k and how my part-time job and internship were not even making it possible to break even every month. I learned a lot about personal finance and got myself a Roth IRA account. I started investing. I pushed myself to increase my income year-over-year. I got to the point, a few years ago, where I made a goal for myself to hit $50k in networth growth, year over year.
What’s crazy is that, after a lifetime of never focusing on one thing long enough to achieve my goals, and even with my life consistently crumbling around me due to my bipolar depression, I managed to hit my fiscal goals time and again. Nothing else made me quite as happy as seeing my networth increase every month in my OCD spreadsheets. I didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to investing, but I kept on putting money into the stock market, especially when it went down, and I saw my networth grow.
At the end of last year when, on paper, I reached $300k in networth, it felt like the biggest accomplishment in my life. I’ve never run a marathon or won a competition. I’ve never really done anything impressive. Hitting $300k at age 30, which was the goal I had set out for myself when I was 22 – at the time when it seemed completely impossible – was achieved. All of the ups and downs over the years seemed to be, at that moment, worth it. $300k wasn’t enough to retire on, but it wasn’t chump change. Suddenly my also unreasonable goal of $500k in networth before having children seemed possible, if I could just hang in there for a bit longer.
My boyfriend does not share in my money-obsessed ways. He saves a bit here and there, but he hasn’t invested any of his money outside of a Roth I convinced him to open when he turned 31. Meanwhile I’m throwing most of my earnings into the stock market, which is maybe dumb, but so far it’s worked out. As of Feb 15, my networth is ahead of monthly target towards my annual goal of $400k (this is the first year I’m trying to achieve $100k networth growth vs $50k.) As of Feb 15, I have $319k in networth. The stock market has performed quite well for the past few weeks, so this upward trend probably won’t last, and there will be pullbacks, but I’m excited to see that 1.5 months into the year I’m already trending towards my goal.
All I know is that I have to work hard for the next two to three years until I have my first child. There is no way in hell I can do the job I have now with children. I may have to change careers at that point, or at the least, accept a lower-paying job in order to be the mother I want to be. I’m strongly considering leaving my state and moving somewhere where I can purchase a nice house with a backyard for $500k, not $1.5M. My boyfriend is open to moving as well. It would be tough because it takes me a while to meet people, and at the least we have a few friends in the area, but I know if we stay in our region I will have to maintain my level of work and simultaneously raise a family. It’s just not going to happen. I see my friends who are parents who are either not working or working from home part time, and I can’t imagine how I would be able to keep my current job, or something like it, and also take care of a young kid.
While saving money, investing, and seeing my networth grow is exhilarating, at the end of the day, it’s my own little semi-secret. My parents still see me as this ongoing series of failures, jumping from job to job every few years. My boyfriend doesn’t care about my savings, which is good, but I don’t get any sort of extrinsic reward from his acknowledgement of my success. I guess that’s why I keep this blog to begin with, because it feels good to impress someone somewhere with my little fiscal victories, month over month, year over year. When you’re an adult no one really gives a shit about the amount of money you saved every month. I guess that’s why people buy fancy cars and big houses – because then it’s easy to show off your success. I don’t need to show it off, I want to be renowned for being the millionaire next door – one day – for being a woman who, despite suffering from crippling mental illness, has saved enough to be able to take breaks from work when depression hits, or when she wants to spend time with her future children instead of spending 10 hours per day working.
Then, I also realize it’s really dumb to want any sort of recognition for saving. Everyone does it. And my own saving has been made possible due to my parents paying for my college diploma, and my graduating without any loans. I’m too scared to dip into my networth to go to grad school, even if it means finding a career that I would be more naturally suited for, so I just hold my breath and hope I can last long enough to see another paycheck come through. I am well aware that my income, strong as it is right now, is likely short-lived. All I can do is push hard and save as much as possible each month — climbing as quickly as possible to my $500k goal.
I know $500k is an arbitrary number. It’s a lot of money but it really isn’t a heck of a lot of money. What $500k means to me is the ability to take a $60k a year job that is meaningful in a state where costs of living are lower, let the $500k grow and use the $60k to cover basic day-to-day costs, along with the income my boyfriend makes. $500k growing at 5% rate over 30 years is $2.1M. So if I can not touch my principal or the interest income until I’m 65, I’d have $2.5M in retirement. That’s how much I think I need for a comfortable retirement. And if it happens to grow at 8% YoY by 65 I’d have $6.3M in retirement.
So that’s why $500k is the magical number to hit before I can start doing things I actually want to do in my life… like being a mother, working part time building my own business, or writing for a local newspaper, or attempting to write my first science fiction novel. I still need to earn an income that covers my annual expenses, but I believe $500k is my version of financial freedom. I would still have to work, because I couldn’t tap into that money until retirement, but I’d be pretty much set as long as my average rate of annual return was at least 5%.
The exciting part of this picture is that the $500k by 32 IS possible, if I can succeed at my job and maintain my current salary for at least two years. I may come out of that with a head of grey hair and a heart attack or two, but I’ll be able to be the mother I want to be.
Feb 1 Networth Progress:
Wow, I can’t believe it’s already December, well at least fiscally speaking. Markets closed at 1pm on Friday and the direct deposit paycheck is processing in my checking account. Despite two months of unemployment, this year has shaped up to be decent in terms of networth growth. I’m hoping next year will blow all of my previous year savings out of the water.
I’m toying with the idea of making a goal of hitting $400k networth by the end of 2016 (which is actually possible if I live frugally and manage to hit a sizable chunk of my bonus) but very much so a stretch. This year my stretch goal was $325k — which I’m not going to make — but my non-stretch goal of $50k growth to $300k is within reach (yes, I had gotten to $300k earlier this year and then dropped under it again, so you can say I did reach my goal even if I end up slightly under – but I base my success off of my Jan 1 networth. Actually, according to NetworthIQ I’m at $308k right now – but that includes $16k that is disappearing in my old company stock (probably will be lost in 2016) and $10k for my car which is always depreciating in value. Since both of those are still real live assests I’ll count them for now and have to make up the difference in 2015.
That said, I have one more month to kick ass and bring this year home. Looking forward to a frugalista December for the win. The more over $300k I can be Jan 1 the more likely I can achieve $400k in 2015, bringing it home with $500k networth in 2016 when I hope to be pregnant with my first child. Assuming $15k and $20k growth at .05% interest rate YoY that leaves $165k in actual savings each year to make up for, or $6875 per month. Let’s do this.
My networth calculations are a bit of a hot mess right now. I’m not sure exactly what to count and what not to count. Actual networth figures don’t matter that much (they change so dramatically each day due to fluctuations in the stock market once you have a couple of hundred thousand dollars in savings) but given my goal this year was to hit $300k with a $325k stretch goal, I was surprised this morning to find my spreadsheets telling me that I have actually already hit $300,000 in networth.
Of course with my unemployment period that isn’t going to last for long, but I’m going through and checking my calculations on this bold number which seems off. I must have made a numerical error somewhere, right? Well, let’s see…
|Credit Card Debt||-$333|
|Startup Co Stock * (this is likely worth $0 and a $16.4k loss)||$16,400|
|TOTAL PRE-TAX RETIREMENT||$103,524.30|
|Vanguard Roth IRA||$28,263.81|
|Sharebuilder Roth IRA||$12,228.92|
|TOTAL POST-TAX RETIREMENT||$40,492.73|
So. It does appear that my total networth reached $300k this month. Hurrah. It’s not “real” because it includes $16.4k in startup stock in one company that will likely go under and thus that will be a $16.4k loss — plus I don’t like including my car in my networth because that is going to go down in value in the coming years, however the Kelly Blue Book value for my car in good condition for a dealer trade in is $10,728, so I’m pricing it at $10,000 assuming I could sell to a private party for about this amount in a few years if I desperately needed the cash. I’m not counting what I estimate to be $1665 in frequent flier miles which, valued at a half cent each, I’m saving up for my big honeymoon trip. If I can get 2 cents per mile then they’re worth $6600. But, again, I’m not including those in my networth as they’re extras and will never be something I can get to spend if I ever run out of money.
As noted in my earlier post, while on unemployment I want to try to maintain my networth. A lot will depend how quickly I can get a new job, since my unemployment paycheck doesn’t even cover my full rent ($1800 unemployment taxed at 35% = $1170 and my rent is $1350, as I’ve noted previously.) If I can get a new job by Oct 1 I think I can recover and exit the year, based on these calculations, with $300k networth at a minimum, unless the stock market tanks. If I can’t get a job for months though my networth will start to drop. It’s not the end of the world assuming I can get another good job by end of the year, but I’d prefer to have one by Oct 1. I don’t think I can get to $325,000 networth which was my actual goal for this year, but I’ll be content exiting the year over $300k.
If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I try to save / earn interest on investments to increase my networth by a minimum of $50k per year. In my 30s I wanted to bump this to $75k per year until I have kids, at which point who knows what I’ll be able to save on an annual basis (ahh.) I really want to get to $500k before I have my first kid. Saving $75k per year would be a huge help because that means I just need 2.5 more years to hit this goal. However with $50k a year I need 4 years more. Given I’m going on 31 and want to have my first kid by the time I’m 33, I have to take this $75k annual savings goal very seriously. What this requires is landing a job that I love (enough) and a solid paycheck ($130k minimum, ideally $150k – $180k) and a semi-frugal lifestyle for the next 2-4 years.
Once $500k is obtained if I earn 5% on average that in one year that’s $25,000 in interest alone without compounding. Of course I will still want to work and make money (I won’t feel comfortable with my networth until it is $2,000,000) but the $500k sets me up for a quality life as a mother where I can opt to work full time or take some time off to spend with my kids. So I feel ok about where things stand right now — I just would really like to find a great new job, stat.
This past week, from making the collage on how I see myself in therapy, to traveling through NY for work and experiencing a moment which must have somehow spiked my lips with the bitterness of passing time and sweetness of nostalgia, I’ve decided I need to focus on what I actually want to get out of life. If I don’t have a series of constantly moving goals in life, I know I drop into a depression, but that isn’t good reason to chase after goals, which mean little to me.
- Sell my artwork to someone I don’t know
- Finish writing a 200+ page novel
- Ok, start a 200+ page novel
- Live in New York City for a year
- Spend a month in Italy
- Take a cruise to Alaska
- Go on a safari in Africa
- Feel healthy (physically)
- Feel healthy (mentally)
- Write one good song
- Write a play… that is performed in New York City
- Find my true singing voice (i.e. learn how to breathe)
- Figure out how to sing the right notes all the time
- Get cast in the lead role in a show specifically for my voice
- Learn how to cook meat and vegetables perfectly
- Have a group of friends to travel with
- Have my artwork shown in a recognized gallery
- Grow old gracefully
- Share my passion for honesty with the world
- Make people laugh. Everyday.
- Own one dress that makes me feel like a million bucks.
- Have somewhere to wear that dress that isn’t a Halloween party.
- Spend a week in Japan, a week in China, and a week in South Korea
- Help others get more confident managing their finances
- Develop and nurture a strong extended family
- Regularly volunteer and help others
- Run a mile without feeling winded
- Have my artwork appear in a national magazine
- Write a second novel.
- Perform stand-up comedy.
- Spend one week a year at some tropical beach.
- Read 12 fiction books per year, minimum.
- Hit $1M in networth at 40
- Quit my FT day job when I hit $1M networth at 40
- Spend way more time with my sister. Visit her 4+ times a year
- Have a too-hilarious tweet be tweeted by a verified twitter user
- Write blogs about the meaning of humanity that people enjoy reading
- Sing in a choir again. Travel through Europe with said choir.
- Learn how to tap dance
- Learn how to play the piano
- Learn how to play the piano and get good at it
- Get really good at giving speeches
- Stop caring what others think about me
- Cut processed sugar out of my life
- Get serious with my photography
- Have my photography displayed in a gallery
- Dance like nobody’s watching, even though they are
- Design a product’s UI
- Visit Yellowstone National Park
- Visit Maine
- Write an album of songs
- Have a kid or two.
- Teach them to love themselves
- Teach them to speak up for what they feel is right
- Teach them that adults don’t know what is right any more then they do
- Learn how to oil paint really well
- Draw the human form realistically
- Learn how to use a professional film camera
- See the northern lights
- Do one pull up. No, seriously.
- Perform at an open mic
- Keep a clean, organized, decluttered home.
- Learn to be happy with what I have, instead of wanting more.
- Be respected for what I have to uniquely contribute
- Have perfectly sculpted eyebrows
- Have a bikini-worthy stomach
- Fit a size 6
- Drive a Tesla
- Have a threesome, or a foursome. (I didn’t realize this was #69 until after I wrote that. I swear.)
- Or at least write some seriously hot erotica about this
- Publish a book of erotic short stories under a pseudonym
- Paint on a really large, museum-size canvas
- Stand up paddleboard
- Go beginner surfing in Hawaii
- $2M in networth before retirement, pref $5M
- Have my paintings shown in a major museum
- Write a third novel.
- Come up with the recipe for a signature drink.
- Consistently sleep 8 hours a night
- Make peace with my father
- Make peace with my mother
- Sit poolside on a hot, humid evening at least once a summer
- Become a hugger. (Of people, not trees.)
- Win an international art contest
- Attend a swingers party with non terrifying people and hide in the corner
- Write an incredibly erotic story about it afterwards
- Spend a week at an Orangutan refuge
- Volunteer for a week with Octopuses if such a thing exists
- Take a long cross-country road trip across the USA
- Learn how to ride my bike better and not be scared of it
- Do some sort of long bike ride down a coast somewhere
- Learn how to not lose every matching earring and sock.
- Visit Amsterdam
- Visit Paris with someone who can show me how locals live
- Experience a very fine wine so I understand why they are so expensive
- Fall in love with life every single day.
- Wake up in the morning and exercise as a routine.
- Design a beautiful, unique bathroom to come home to every night.
- Be a good friend to people who deserve a good friend.
- Don’t die. So I have time to do all of these things at least twice.
Based on my aggressive financial goals documented here ($500k by 1/1/18), and my 105% increase in monthly rent starting this month (le sigh), I need to stop my shopping trips to the mall and get serious about my budget. The time for fun comes when I obtain a larger percentage of my bonus or if the stock markets start to track faster to goal then planned. Right now, it’s time to be relatively frugal in the first-world-I-still-think-I-get-paid-too-much sense.
This chart documents my budget plan for May going forward. I don’t actually think it’s reasonable but in order to hit my goals I have to focus on sticking to plan. If I force myself I know I can, and my bf is on board with figuring out how to save each month and help me achieve my goals as well. We’re going to start cooking together so it will be interesting to see what sharing household costs 50/50 does for my budget.
This budget plan keeps me above water monthly while also enabling $3k to be invested into the stock market and $1.4k to go to – also stocks – in my 401k. It’s a little off balance because I’ve actually already maxed out my 401k this year, so in reality I’ll be putting $4.4kish into the stock market (Vanguard funds mostly, maybe 80% ($3500) Vanguard (split between dividend growth fund and international fund) and 20% not-too-risky individual stocks for the fun of it. I’d like to get to $10k in my Vanguard funds ASAP to get their lower cost ratios (just turned my mid-cap fund into admiral going from .26% expenses to .1%, woohoo.) Continue reading
Science tells us that when we set goals we’re more likely to accomplish them. It has been with the help of starting this blog that I’ve managed to grow my networth from less than $25k to over $250k. Now the stakes are raised.
My next big goal is $500k by 2018.
Fortunately, I’ve found myself in a career that pays reasonably well. I could be making more money, but I’ve also found that, as many of the finance gurus say, it’s not about how much you make but how much you keep. I’ll never claim to be a frugalista, but I’ve managed to control my spending to the point where my savings have grown into a sizeable nestegg for anyone who doesn’t live in such an expensive region of the world. Here, where average starter homes cost $1.2M, it’s slightly more than pocket change, but it’s a start.
Readjusting My Savings Goals for the Mid-Long Term
Previously in Mint I had three goals set up for the short term. I track my retirement accounts under one goal, my taxable investments and liquid cash under another, and then my college savings account (529 plan) in another (just because that’s an oddball I set up once in case I ever want to go back to school, but I’m not investing any more in at the moment.) Continue reading
The first few months of every year I remain gainfully employed, I have one goal and one goal alone: max out my 401k right away. In order to make this possible, I left a chunk of cash liquid in my checking account to help me “survive” the first three months of the year, while putting the maximum amount of my monthly pre-tax income (90%) directly into my 401k.
Thus, assuming 90% of my pre-tax income is $8250, it will take me approximately 2.1 months to max out my 401k. This also helps alleviate the concern that should I lose my job later in the year for any reason I’d be forced to miss out on the opportunity to save $17,500 pre-tax this year. Once I save the $17,500 the next check goes into maxing out $5000 of a Roth IRA (which might not make sense at my current income rate, I need to figure that out, but I always like the idea of continuing to put a portion of my savings into an account where I can tax out all the funds and interest on those funds tax free in retirement.