Tag Archives: goals

2014 Budget: Getting Serious

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 12.10.59 PM 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

Somewhat Aggressive Financial Goal Setting

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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

January Budget & Goals

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.

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2013 in Review: $253k Networth

Wow, it’s already 3 days into 2014. I’ve continued my OCD spreadsheeting of my investments, liquid savings and total networth that began in 2007 (yes, each year has it’s own sheet in one document, where at least once a month I record the exact amount of each account and stock/ETF/fund I own. And I’ve been doing this for 5 full years now.)

The past year has been successful in terms of hitting my networth goals. I closed out the year at $253k, not counting some additional funds that I should be receiving back in 2014 (though that may be balanced out with taxes owed, we’ll see.) Having a stable job for the year that has paid me more than any year prior (with bonus I earned something like $120k for the year) has helped in achieving my goals, as has staying in my shared apartment with $650 rent vs giving in to the temptation to move in with my boyfriend and pay at least $950 per person for a reasonable 1br space.

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I’m also focused on kicking off my 2014 investments by maxing out my 401k right away. I am slightly concerned about the stability of my job and thus am focusing on taking advantage of having a 401k now and putting in the full $17500 if possible, in case I do not have access to one later in the year. I read recently that putting in a larger amount up front is a bad idea — but that’s only if your employer matches a percent of each month’s investment — and I’ve never met (or had) an employer who actually matches on the 401k contributions.

So the reason I have so much cash sitting in my bank account (see below) is not because I’ve suddenly decided on having an emergency fund (I don’t see the point as a single person without kids, as long as I can sell my stocks relatively quickly and they are in taxable accounts), but because I’m investing 90% of my pre-tax salary into my 401k starting my first paycheck of 2014. Assuming all goes as planned, by April 1 I should have my 401k maxed out for the year.

This also forces me to live frugally for at least January to March, given that I have to survive mostly on the cash in my bank account and not extra income.  I started to do this last year but ended up spreading out my 401k investments as I was confident I was going to keep my job all year. Given I’m a little concerned my role will be made redundant, I’m going all in. Plus, the pre-tax investment boost helps push me towards my $300k-$325k networth target for this year. The only thing negative about doing this is if the stock market dives later in the year I haven’t dollar cost averaged, but I’ll end up investing more in taxable accounts later anyway (plus my IRA) so it’s not that big of a deal (says the person who doesn’t understand investment math well enough to advise anyone else to do this… I take my own non-calculated risks.)




Seeking Happiness and/or Success

One thing I love dearly about my boyfriend is how his values are the antithesis  of everything I thought were my own values. Given that happiness was somehow absent from my youth in exchange for too many shopping trips to the mall and my father shoving my mother across the room declaring her worthless, I grew up not knowing what to want out of life. The only experience that I could identify with that came close to happiness was something between accumulating money and chaos. Love, outside of anxiety-ridden over-worrying and over-parenting, also didn’t exist.

So I went away to college with no concept of what I want. Now, many 17 year olds have no idea what they want, but they seem to have some sort of greater purpose. They want to be a doctor. Or they want to be an engineer. Or they want to just make a lot of money. They want to get married. They want a life like the one they grew up in…

What did want? I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to live a life void of love. But I didn’t know what love was. I wanted to escape worry and anxiety but growing up in an environment like that makes it very challenging to avoid that without many costly years of therapy (…and even then.) I often wondered what it would be like to have a clear vision of some sort of grand goal for life. I just knew I had to figure out how to pay the rent so I wouldn’t have to move back to my home state. I just knew I had to keep running.

My instincts, growing up in a chaotic environment, were to chase after fame. I had, and still do, some vague fantasy about being loved by everyone simply for being me. Not just the me that sits at home and stares at the wall, but somehow adding value as an entertainer. A comedian. An actress. Something big, bright lights worthy.

Maybe that’s what I was “meant” to be, but a mix of a lack of talent, reality, and being too afraid to fail kept me from chasing after that deluded dream. Still, I went to school for theater, not acting, and sat silently jealous of the actors who didn’t know I existed, who exhibited talent of varying degrees, who were so free in their bodies and not afraid to do crazy and sometimes potentially harmful things like sleeping around or snorting coke. Yes, I was jealous of that lifestyle. My excitement was limited to a few drunken nights where I end up crying in a bathtub alone – the most exciting being the night my then-boyfriend walked out on me crying in said tub with my glasses in his pocket, and I spent an hour the next morning crawling around my room blind as a bat wondering where they went.

This isn’t a sob story, it’s just the story of my life. I knew I needed to make money. But I had no ambition. Or, more so, I had no direction. I just couldn’t look back. I was a decent writer, not by academic means, but somehow prose came naturally do me after spending my adolescence blogging away my angst. And that got me a job as an editorial assistant, which turned into a reporting position, which turned into various marketing roles and so on. Somehow, that turned into 30. Unmarried. Living with roommates. Making over $100k. But feeling like I don’t deserve it. And knowing it isn’t enough to afford the life I think I want. 30.

So the dream of fame has virtually dissipated. I still fantasize, now, about one day writing a novel or memoir that makes my name known for something before I die. That said, I’m mostly over fame. I’m trying to find my motivation. Is it money? Is it love? Is it silence?

My boyfriend grew up in a vary different environment than mine. While my parents were married and probably never should be, his parents never tied the knot. There was still some chaos in his life, in different ways, but he was never held down on a bed and beaten with a belt by a man who seemed more outrageously angry than would be justified for refusal to clean up a room.

Meanwhile, my bf’s chaos fell more to the side of neglect. Where I had nearly everything I wanted from a material point of view, he had nothing. He had clothes from thrift shops and the living room couch as his bedroom. It’s not that his parents couldn’t afford to give him a better life. They just didn’t think it mattered. My parents, on the other hand, thought that buying a nice house in the suburbs and paying for summer camp was the definition of good parenting. Neither of us experiencing a caring, loving childhood. That’s probably why we get along so well.

Ultimately, what we both want is pretty simple. We just want love. We want to escape the chaos that has defined our lives and experience a life of stability and kindness. I’m terribly messed up from my childhood and occasionally dive off the deep end, starting a fight because the calm is unsettling, craving the madness where I’m most at home. But I know that isn’t what I want. And I’m so grateful that he understands that isn’t who I am, it’s just who I sometimes become, when I’m afraid, when I can’t handle the silence.

If I can have the calm at home, and nurture that, then that leaves room to nurture some sort of productive chaos in my professional life. It’s why I’m drawn to startups. I’m motivated by having to fight amidst the impossible. I spent my childhood feeling never good enough as my father, intelligent as he was, would tell me I wasn’t trying hard enough when I struggled with math or failed to focus and do well on my tests. I like not feeling good enough because it gives me motivation to prove everyone wrong. That’s when I do my best work. That’s when I make my magic.

But that isn’t healthy either. And as I look into the future of my 30s, the 3650 minus some-odd days until my 40th birthday, I am terrified by the hypothetical timeline that lies before me. Marriage? Kid? House? Kid..s? Is that all what I want? There are days I fantasize about running away somewhere… getting in my car, driving to New Mexico… Santa Fe… becoming a waitress with another name, never heard from again, staring at rich sunsets quickly changing from purples to pinks, leaving town once people start to know my name. Being an anonymous nomad. Living off little. Not having to worry about falling into a depression and not having enough money to pay the bills for my kids, or the mortgage on a house, or a roof over my head (worst case, I’ll sleep in my car, on my own, if I’m on my own…)

But that’s a silly fantasy of disappearing. That isn’t reality and it’s not what I want either. Maybe what I want is a somewhat nice house. A somewhat nice — will cost me $1.4 million in Silicon Valley — house with a little backyard and change to travel the world at my leisure in two or three star hotels. Kids? Maybe. A husband who doesn’t care if I’m CEO making $500k per year or assistant making $30. Love. That’s what love is. It is about helping each other, others, get through life. Get through it and stop to smell the roses. It’s cuddling when the weather is cold and making dinner for each other and surprises which deliver unexpected smiles. That’s all priceless. That is, it seems, what I want. Not fame, no, that’s what society made me think I want, that’s what 18 years of only being appreciated for doing something “special” made me want. I don’t want to be special anymore. I just want to be me. And more than anything else, I want to love.








Emo Post of the Week: She Sat on Her Therapist’s Couch Balling Her Eyes Out

It’s a good thing therapy costs so much, because otherwise I don’t know how my therapist would afford to replace her tissues after each one of my sessions. Depression is expensive for both therapist and thera-pee, and the costs just keep adding up. But therapy is a necessary evil right now. I’m teetering on almost suicidal, though not really, not quite. It’s one of those things I could never do. But I do want to get in a car, drive, change my identity, become a waitress in Santa Fe or something, and never be heard from again. I get myself into this negative thinking spiral down into oblivion and it takes a certified professional to dig me out.

I’ve realized that I get most depressed when I feel stuck. The older I get, the more stuck I feel. Once you get yourself on a professional path it’s hard to halt and change face. The thought of going from a six-figure income back to under $50k to build up a new career, or even spend $100k to get a graduate degree, makes me physically ill. And yet I know I want to shift directions and the only way to do this is to backtrack a bit before moving ahead. Now is the time to do that… BEFORE I get married and have kids. But do I really have it in me to make the change? How do I know that shifting direction won’t just have me walking off a different, distant cliff? Continue reading

10 Financial/Personal Goals for My Life

It’s time to get serious about these personal financial goals, beyond “try to save $5M for retirement and fail because that’s near to impossible on $100k a year.” Below, I’ve prioritized my top 10 goals in life, tied to personal finance. It’s good to make one of these lists every five years are so to make sure you have your personal priorities in order before making any life decisions.

  1. Contribute to a series of successful startups or projects from the ground up.
  2. Found my own company/product that helps people (potentially a health or finance product) or own a brick & mortar business.
  3. Understand that business well and make a few million dollars off of that business or product.
  4. Have a large circle of friends with a small number of close ones that I see frequently and can travel with.
  5. Travel around the world – there is so much I haven’t seen yet. I want to live a long life and when I’m on my deathbed, smile at the memories of all the places I’ve been.
  6. Rent or own a property where I can feel like it is my “home” and decorate accordingly.
  7. Have enough money where I can start to give freely instead of being an inconsistent miser.
  8. Raise a family of healthy, well adjusted children who have great self confidence without being pretentious. Potentially take time off when my kids are young.
  9. Nurture a successful and happy marriage – till death do us part. Love relentlessly. Compromise. Stay young and laugh together always.
  10. Have enough money for early retirement so when I get to 50/55 if I want to I can stop working and travel the world painting *or* I can found another company without the risk of going broke.

Ok, so how do I frame my life and my investment portfolio to meet these goals?

Mid Month-ish Budget Check In

The race is on. With only 5 months left to the end of 2012 (wow) and my goal to exceed $200k in networth AND buy a new (used) car this year, I must watch my budget closely to get close to my goal. I always want to go *over* my networth goal (helps me hit next years goal and makes me feel comfortable that I can survive a few months if something, god forbid, happens to my job.)

Current Networth: $192,431 (remaining to save $7569 + $10k for 2013 cushion)

$3513 per month average savings is required to meet my goal.


Expected Liquid Income: $4200
401k Automatic Contribution: $2080

$1433 Avg monthly savings required from Liquid Income.

Rent: $660
Shopping: $575
Health & Fitness: $452 (Yr Supply contacts)
Fees & Charges: $50
Auto & Transport: $777 (paid off $600 of my $1800 DUI fine this month, plus insurance hike from $44/month to $125/month for next 3 years, sigh)
Food & Dining: $269
Travel $300
$3083 ($1117) 

So I already spent too much this month to hit the $210k goal. If I buy a car, my goals might be shot. Then again, I could theoretically make up for this next year, as it will be my first full year with a six-figure salary, and I can try to be frugal for the first six months to play catch up. I never like to assume I will have a job from one month to the next, though, so it’s troubling to purchase a car now and know this will keep me from my $200k goal (unless the stock market performs extremely well…)




2012 Self Operating Plan to save $50k for $200k Networth

This is a big year in my networth saving. I hope to have $200k in all of my accounts by Dec 31, 2012. This will have me on track to $250k by 30; and $500k by 35. Somewhere between 30 and 35 I plan to get married and start having kids, so that will change the story a bit, but I don’t want to get married and even think about having children until I have $250k across my various savings and investing accounts.

Since graduating college in 2005, I’ve increased my networth from $10k to $145k. On average over the last six years, I’ve saved (or earned interest on my savings) an average of $22.5k per year (my income for the past 6 years has been $15k, $25k, $35k, $55k, $65k, $85k, and now $90k.) My goal these days is to save $50k per year, but that remains a difficult feat on my $90k salary. Lately I have been eligible for a bonus of up to $20k, and I hope to hit my objectives in order to achieve a $110k per year salary including a bonus.

In order to reach my $200k goal in 2012, I will have to be very strict with my spending. I’m not sure that amount of saving is even possible (unless the stock market rebounds) but my plan of income vs spending below will need to be followed spotlessly if I am going to achieve my goal in 2012. Continue reading

12 Goals for 2012

1. Networth = $200k (by 29, $250k by 30).
This is going to be difficult given I’m making $90k per year, and my current networth is $145k. With any luck the economy will recover a bit and my stocks will see me up to $200k, but I’m also going to make 2012 a super frugal year. Still, saving $2500 a month is only $30,000. Either I need some side income or a serious raise next year to hit this goal. I need to save $4166 a month to save $50k in one year, and after taxes I only make about $4200, so that’s not going to work.

2. Write and publish a (really good) business book
I already have a signed contract, so in theory, this one shouldn’t be so hard. Then again, I have 300 pages to write outside of a more than full-time job, in six months, and it needs to be really good. For it to be really good I need to interview a lot of people and that is what I don’t have time for… but if I can successfully achieve this goal of writing and publishing a book, I will, for once in my life, be proud of myself.

3. Lose 40lbs
My weight has become a huge issue in my life, and I haven’t had time to deal with it. I can’t believe I’m up to 170lbs (and I’m short at 5’3). This is going to probably be the hardest goal of all, but I need to do it if I’m ever going to be a healthy and happy person. Continue reading