Tag Archives: money

Never Enough Money But Always Too Much of It

Meeting with CFPs feels very adult and yet very depressing at the same time. Too much shit has gone on in the last few months to handle, and on top of all that I’m turning 35 next month which seems like a substantial age which no longer has the veneer of youth on it at all. Thirty-five is, if you live to 70, middle age.

I’ve spent the last decade-and-a-half obsessing over money in somewhat nonproductive ways. Twice a month I’ve typed my networth calculations into my trusted google spreadsheet that goes back to my early 20s when I had about $20,000 or less to my name (that’s now over $600,000.) I know I spend too much on things I don’t need still, but spending is the only thing that makes me feel in any control in this crazy world. Of course that sense of control is not real and fleeting.

My question du jour is if I should pay a CFP $5000 a year or ~1% of my portfolio ($6k and growing) to help manage my family’s finances, or if I can (and should) do this on my own. I feel like even though I’m probably much more fiscally literate than most people my age, I’ve gotten to the point it’s time to bring in the experts. No more randomly buying Vanguard funds and individual stocks… I don’t even know if I’ve beat or lost to the S&P 500. And I don’t have life insurance. Or a will. Or an estate plan. Or an open dialogue with my husband about money.

The keeping our finances separate plan works well until it doesn’t. I realize that right now as the person who makes more money he’s allowing me without guilt to spend as I wish with the money I earn–but one day the tables may turn and I may choose to or no longer be able to work… what then? Perhaps I can save enough to “early retire” but in reality that doesn’t seem possible. I mean–maybe, if his family really contributes $1M to our joint housing in the near future–and we find a cost-effective duplex for something like $1.5M, and I pay the mortgage off as quickly as possible so our fixed expenses are very low… then, perhaps my expertise in my industry can garner me a few freelance contracts a year that will cover maintaining my lifestyle and also getting my car fixed every once in a while.

I just hate this suffocating feeling of locking myself into anything financially. I called a loan agent at a bank to learn more about mortgages and get a sense what we’d qualify for. He went through some basic questions and when he got to the part about debt he didn’t believe me that we have no debts. He asked me about 10 times… “you sure you don’t have any debts” and he was shocked. I told him there’s about $1000 on the credit cards and that gets paid off monthly. We drive used cars, paid in cash. Our credit scores are 755 and 800+. I guess we’ve had the privilege to avoid debt and beyond that neither of us believes in spending more than we have.

So why, after 35 years of that working, change that now?

I’m not so sure. In theory, owning property and not having to pay for a chunk of it (since his mother WANTS to gift us that money and she’ll be living there as well) is smart financially. Even with her $1M in cash we can’t get a place for all of us… we’ll need to spend $1.5M to $2M. And the $1.5M options will likely require either a lot of work, a huge commute, or both.

I go back and forth on what to do. My latest and greatest idea is to rent a house or townhouse with his father that’s much closer to my work. We pay $2400 a month for our one bedroom and his father pays $1800 for his tiny apartment, so together we’d have $4200 without changing what we’re paying to rent a house. There isn’t much you can get for $4200 that would work for us, but bump that up to $5000 a month and there are some reasonably nice houses near my office that we can rent. The price will go up annually, and we’ll lose our rent control, but realistically how long can we last in our one bedroom apartment with a child anyway? The plan was one year…  but I’m starting to think six months, max.

I don’t know. I want someone to come in and provide all the answers. My father seemed like the type of person who would do that in my life, but we never talked about money. He didn’t understand how I managed my money, or why I chose to rent a small apartment, or perhaps he didn’t care. All he cared about was me getting married and having children… and not needing him to fund my life, I guess. I’d like to ask him what to do still, but he’s gone, and I know I never could ask him about finances because he’d make some snide comment and make me uncomfortable–either saying I’m rich and expect me to pay for everything and judge my semi frugal lifestyle choices, or he’d be concerned about my finances and offer to provide support even though, as I now know, he didn’t have the resources to provide at all. But, I wish I had a father who I could talk to about money, especially since that’s what he did for a living. I thought about telling him what I had in the bank… I wanted, more than anything, for him to be proud of how well I’ve saved, how smart I was with my money… but he’d just think I was a failure for not being able to afford a home, or a failure for being able to afford a home and choosing not to.

It doesn’t matter now since he’s gone, dead to cardiac arrest and a host of suspicious medical decisions and actions and non-actions that will haunt me and fill me with guilt until the day I die. One day I need to write all that out, but it’s much too painful right now, and I’m spent. I’m petrified of this horrid negotiation with HR and my boss about my maternity leave that has gone on far too long, I’m reeling in PPD-tinged grief and a lifetime of depression raging through my veins and causing daily meltdowns, gasping for air and unable to find any in a fully-oxygenated room.

And I try to tell myself, hey, dad lived to 67, that’s really good–that so many people lose their lives much younger. That tsunamis and mass shootings and disease take so many far too soon. He lived his life and made many decisions that led to his passing, though it’s unclear if he could have lived longer if the doctors didn’t completely mess up and fail to communicate or provide him proper care.. but how can one cry over 67 when so many fail to make it that far?

Still… I cry. I mourn the loss of my father, as confused and complicated as our relationship was, and how sad I was for him as he lived his life with so much anxiety and feeling like he could never fully provide for a wife and family that overspent left and right. I keep thinking this is just a nightmare and I’ll wake up and he’ll still be there, and we’ll still be figuring out how to navigate the healthcare system and get him the care he needs all while he makes it through one delirious episode after the next, and we wonder how far gone is his, but surely he’s not all gone.

He is. And that’s life. I sit in my rocking chair and stare at the little person I’ve created now 8 weeks old and am in awe of how fast he’s grown. I know the coming years will storm by and I’ll be left on the other side of them, wrinkled and grey, still wondering what happened. I can’t believe how slow childhood goes and how fast adulthood shoots by. I’m fighting my mind that wants time to disappear so everything hurt less and my heart that wants everything to slow down even if it hurts more.

So here I am, on extended disability leave and counting the days until I have to go back to work… to a job I don’t feel confident in (though I actually like, mostly)… to one I must keep in order to provide for my family. I understand what my father must have felt like as the breadwinner although as a woman and one who has a husband who has a job I’m not in this all alone–but still alone in being capable of earning enough income to create the life I want for my family (although to be fair my husband’s future inheritance is maybe worth equal or more than what I’m capable of earning in my lifetime.) Still, that’s a long time off and today I’m looking at this life and wondering what it is I want, because it’s becoming more clear with the passing of my father, the birth of my child, and my own aging officially to my mid 30s. I know I want a sizable family–2 to 3 kids–and a home large enough to accommodate us all, and the funds to travel on occasion to trips to local camping grounds and distant adventures. And I want time–which seems to contradict all of that–time to see my family and not have the years pass by and before I know it I’ve afforded a decent house and a few vacations and other than that I’ve never seen my kids (that’s what life was like for my dad… maybe he liked it that way… but I don’t want a life like that.)

I’m continuously terrified of trying to make this work. I am a mom now and that’s really all that matters. Time will disappear if I let it, or if I don’t, but maybe I can grasp it tightly and try to slow it down a bit–cherish every day, every moment, every baby freakout and future temper tantrum and teenage meltdown… and the sweet moments as well. I’ll try to avoid this crippling anxiety… the spinning in circles about every what if even if one may eventually be the what if that pans out. And, I’ll see what I can do about making the money situation be ok… enough ok that it won’t be a disaster for my family if I lose my job or just can’t work due to my mental state. I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I at least know the road I ought to take.

 

A World of Changes, Loss and Life

I haven’t written on this blog in quite some time because I’ve been very, very busy. I gave birth to my first child a little under two months ago, and shortly after that lost my father, and it’s been a whirlwind since. I have a ton to write about regarding finances, but just haven’t found the time.

Money is top of mind right now as a new mom and as a daughter trying to help her mother navigate her own finances as a widow, all while processing a massive amount of grief and joy in such a short time. I’m an emotional mess and trying to hold it together for my son.

One thing that helps me hold it together is having a somewhat stable financial situation for myself. My goal of having $500k in savings/investments before having a child was hit and then some… I made it to a little over $600k before giving birth. Even though I don’t feel financially secure, I still feel better than I would if I had no or very little savings. I’ve been able to pay for my mother to stay in hotel and visit us, and am paying for my sister to fly across the country to meet her nephew. I’m even paying for my mother to get therapy because she needs it right now and her access to liquid capital is quite limited — I can write a thousand posts on that situation and may at some point (or a book) but in the meantime, my own financial story is ever shifting.

We still live in a one bedroom apartment rented for now $2400 a month (split 50/50.) I’m close to obtaining my first year RSUs which means that this year I will earn by far the most I’ve ever earned in my life (over $300k plus my husband’s consulting income of $80k), which feels good, although not as great as it could. I still feel lost in terms of how to create a stable life for myself and get to the point where I’m not afraid to spend money on big important purchases like buying a house. I’m also feeling guilty in knowing that the only way we can afford to buy is to go in with my husband’s mother who has about $1M in cash saved up apparently — due to her frugality and hatred of capitalism. We’re starting to look for a duplex or single family home with in law unit, where we could all live together — my husband, myself, my son, his mother and his father. I’m forcing myself to get over this feeling that living with his parents (and accepting the money to make buying possible) is a sign of personal failure–that I can’t afford to provide for my own family. But then I look at what we could afford to buy if we were to just use our own volatile income and it doesn’t look pretty, so I give up. I’ll take the feeling of failure and the guilt in order to provide a stable life for my child(ren.)

Speaking of child(ren), I’ve decided I really want to have three. I always wanted three, but it seemed like a bad idea–but since my father passed away I realized how important it is for me to have a sizable family. I’ll focus on having my second in a year and see how that goes first, of course–and since that means I’l be giving birth to my second at 37 chances are I won’t be able to have a third anyway–but I think I want to try. I may get my embryos frozen next summer ($$$$) in order to make it possible to have a third (and potentially to ensure that I can have a second.) My age is really hitting me smack in the face as being 35 and having kids not only means my biological clock is ticking and running out, but also that my father ran out of time entirely and my mother is an older grandmother and when my kids are in their teens she’ll be in her 80s, if she lives that long. And I’ll be in my 50s(!) — someone should have smacked me in the face when I was 20 and shared the little secret that it’s nice to have everyone be younger when your kids are growing up. The guilt I have that my father will never get to spend time with his grandson will never leave me. On a more positive note, I feel very committed to ensuring my son gets to spend time with his remaining grandparents, even my annoying, neurotic mother, and that means putting money and time behind getting us to the east coast to see her and helping her afford to visit us in between her summers at the pool and winters in her Florida condo… at. the pool.

Life is just hitting me so hard right now and I’m struggling a lot. I’m on extended disability for PPD and find myself crying every day and having some suicidal thoughts, though I’ve been through depression enough to know they’ll pass. I love my son, and find joy and meaning in being a mother. I don’t know how long that will last as he grows up and decides he disagrees with everything I say–but for now, as he starts to realize I’m his mom, and as we get this breastfeeding thing down, I feel a deep sense of things being right as he sleeps across my chest, and an urge to make a good life for him, to provide him with a family of siblings, and to love him more than anything in the world.

I’m so scared of going back to work. I’m scared my boss will hate me and already does since I’ve taken an extended leave due to the PPD. I’m scared every moment I request more time off I’m entitled to (or should be) and I’m scared I’ll go back to work FT and not be able to keep up because even before I had a child I struggled with my role and career. Now I really need the money and I’m going to do my best to hold it together and survive the next 3.5 years at least until I’ve collected the income from my stock and perhaps have had my second child and succeeded at hitting $1M in networth. I don’t know what that means anymore, but it’s still a goal that seems good to have. I won’t be able to track my networth cleanly once we buy house with my husband’s parents–but I’m now considering our going household networth to be $750k, and still want to see us cross that $1M threshold by the time I’m 38. I think, too, if I can have kid #2 at 37 then when I turn 38 we can decide to try for a third child…

Goals:

Before Child #1 Born: $500k in stocks/savings (done)
Before Child #2 Born: $1M in stocks/savings
Before Child #3 Born: $1M+ in stocks/savings + own $1.7M-$2M home with husband’s parents

2018 – child #1 (age 34) – $700k networth
2019 – (age 35) – $800k networth
2020 – (age 36) – $900k networth
2021 – child #2 (age 37) – $1M networth
2022 – (age 38) – $1M networth + purchase home
2023 – (age 39) – move to part-time work, pregnant with child #3?
2024 – child #3?? (age 40) … family networth, including home = $2M

Of course, this plan assumes I would be pregnant at age 39 and giving birth to my third child at 40. I’m not sure that’s possible or a good idea. But in order to have three kids, this really is the only way it would work “safely” as I’m supposed to wait 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. I don’t have to, but it’s more risky if I don’t. My doctor said a year should be ok. So, I could try for the following…

(assuming I suddenly become very fertile — unlikely but this would be the best plan for actually having 3 kids…) 

2018 (August) – child #1 @ 34
2019 (August) – pregnant, child #2 @35
2020 (May) – child #2 @36
2021 (May) – pregnant, child #3 @37
2022 (Feb) – child #3 @38

But that plan would be very, very hard with my career and networth goals. I just don’t want to regret not having the family I want because I was too focused on money. Even if the above schedule pushes out until I’m giving birth at 39 for kid #3, that’s probably better than 40 (and I should be more likely to get pregnant when I’m 38) — it’s still hard to plan since with pregnancy esp at this age I’m at higher risk for all sorts of issues, miscarriage, defects, etc… who knows if I’ll even make it to having a second kid. I don’t want to feel rushed into having kid #2, but I do think I’m going to start officially trying for my second after my son turns 1 year old. If I happen to get pregnant right away, I’ll take that as a sign I’m meant to keep trying for a larger family. If not, I’ll keep going until hopefully I get pregnant with my second. Who knows how long it will take–if I got lucky this time (with fertility meds) or if I can get pregnant again pretty quickly. The one thing I know now is I want to focus on getting healthy in the next year to set myself up for the best pregnancy possible, and hopefully not gain as much weight next time.

In short, I feel old and overwhelmed, but that’s life and that’s what it’s like to turn 35…

Star Wars image

May the Force Be With You: Bringing a Child into this World

It has taken 34 years, but I’ve finally – almost – accepted that my parents will never be the loving, empathetic, caring people that I’ve always assume parental types should be. Like any human, they are flawed, but unlike many humans, they are extraordinarily self-centered,  giving only financially as a means to feel powerful and in control. Continue reading

Annuities are FUCKED UP… aren’t they?

As the resident personal financial advisor for my family (despite that I have no idea what I’m talking about half the time), I’ve jumped into understanding my parent’s financial situation (the good the bad and the ugly) as I will have to help my mother manage her finances for the rest of her her life once my father is gone. He may live longer than her but she is relatively healthy right now and he has terminal cancer, so it’s likely I will be the only person able to really help ensure her quality of life since she understands zilch about money.

My parents are doing ok financially – not great – not as good as they should be doing given how much my father earned throughout his life — but they overspent and now they’re left with about $300k in retirement funds and $400k in real estate, give or take a few hundred thousand since I can’t get a straight answer from my father (who unfortunately doesn’t like to talk about this stuff because his go-to answer about any important financial question longer than a few years out int he future is ‘i’ll be dead then’). Continue reading

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.

 

 

Didn’t Get the Job – Back to the Drawing Board

The hiring manager seemed to love me. Within two weeks of applying for the job via a cold online application I was in late-stage interviews, presenting a powerpoint I put together in front of 1/3 of their pedigreed team including their CEO. When I asked why I didn’t get the job, she was very nice about it – “culture fit,” she said, adding that based on what I said in the interviews and what my references said I needed more stability to thrive. Maybe that’s true. Or, maybe they just picked someone more junior who was lower risk to the business.

I’m not devastated, as the timing was moving way too fast and I wasn’t ready yet to throw in the towel at my current company – but I did get excited about the opportunity and how FINALLY I could move away from sales-focused marketing roles into something more focused on product. Even my old boss, who I thought didn’t like me, told me over lunch that he thinks I’m great and jumped in to give me a reference that should have sealed the deal. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Continue reading

Keeping Married Finances Separate – Is it Possible?

We’re married, now what?

Against the wiser half of my brain, Mr. HECC and I did not go through a formal financial planner before we got married. We didn’t get a prenup (he’s opposed to them and even though I think it would protect me I find them terribly unromantic and I wasn’t going into a marriage with any easy out of divorce, since I think the point of marriage is that you shouldn’t get divorced.) I hope I won’t link back to this article later filled with regret, but I’m feeling good about that decision at the moment.

When it comes to finances, many married couples merge their finances by default. In the case of a divorce (at least in California) the money gets split anyway, so why keep it separate while married?

We’re both very fortunate that we bring no debt to the table. While he has been less proactive in his career and has saved significantly less than I have, we both are financially stable compared to most newlyweds. I believe together we have about $450k in savings – not bad for “just starting out.” However, I’m still unsure on how to handle finances going forward. Right now we’re both working and fairly independent so it’s easy – we split major household costs — food and rent — and then everything else we pay for out of our own budgets and earnings/savings. What I don’t want to happen for either of us is that we don’t strive to earn more income because the other is making up for it. Neither of us LOVE working so it would be unfair to the other person. If I end up taking a job that makes less money, I should just focus on spending less on myself. If we cannot afford to live in this area, then we need to move.

In this WSJ article from 2014 financial planners/writers argue for and against merging accounts as a married couple. One says keeping accounts separate is the secret to a peaceful, happy marriage – and the other says merging accounts builds trust. The commenters tend to think having separate accounts is bad, one of them writing “it’s nothing more than an exit strategy.” I disagree.

I don’t think we have to merge accounts to talk about finances and plan together as a team. I also feel very passionate about having my own money. If my husband were to get sick and need help, or even if he were to want to go to school and not be able to afford it, I’d put the money down then he’d “pay me back” over the years. I’ve borrowed money from him as well because he keeps his savings more liquid and mine is tied up in investments. In the end during retirement we’ll split what we have.

He knows I’m much better about financial planning than he is, sans my shopping addictions, so he generally trusts me to manage our money within reason. I like him keeping his own separate because then he never feels a lack of independence or ability to buy his own shit (i.e. he can back as many Kickstarters as he likes even if I think it’s a waste of money, and I can go splurge at Nordstrom Rack even though that’s probably a bad idea too.)

When we have kids I think things will change. Kids are expensive and to be fair to them we’re going to have to marge a chunk of our finances to cover their lives which will be a lot of our income. If we buy a house, things might change as most of our savings will go into that together. But I really don’t see what’s so wrong with keeping our accounts separate. Yes, it makes it easier to split our finances should we ever get divorced (not that I’m planning on it) – but it also is good for us to know who is really pulling the financial weight in the marriage and who has to contribute more to the household if their earnings aren’t as high. Luckily Mr. HECC is awesome with kids and will be a great part-time stay-at-home dad should we decide that makes sense one day.

In any case, a part of me thinks it would be nice to have totally merged finances, but I don’t see the point. Half the internet has me thinking I’m a horrible person here, but wiser financial savvy people (esp women) don’t want to merge their bank accounts.

We are probably going to keep doing what we’ve been doing… separate accounts but he pays the rent check and I pay him back (eventually) for what I owe — I pay for all food on our 2% cash back card and then I deduct half of that from what I owe him. I’m thinking now that we’re married we might want to merge our travel and healthcare costs – but even that seems unnecessary at this point. Ie for healthcare he currently pays $400 a month as he doesn’t get it through his work. My work will cover him at 50% with better insurance, so if he goes on my health plan (which he might) I think he should pay the full amount he is responsible for, and I’ll pay my piece which is less because my work covers more of my amount. It is his choice to not get a job with health insurance therefore I don’t think I should have to subsidize that. I believe people need a little kick in the ass (husband’s included) to improve their careers and nothing sabotages that more than just paying for their inability to seek better employment.

Now, if we have a kid, and one of us decides to stay at home to take care of them, or if someone goes to school for their master’s, that’s different – but I don’t consider opting to not look for a better job a reason for me to pay more for him, and he agrees.

It might not be romantic, but marriage is a business as much as it is about love. To us it’s more about love and less about business. I hope I can inspire him to save more towards retirement over the years, and also to either take on a job that pays more or become a teacher which will pay about the same but provide more flexibility for taking care of children and also likely more happiness in his life. I just don’t think merging finances is really something we need to do. I know he doesn’t want to do it.

According to a 2010 report, keeping money separate is a leading factor in couples breaking up. But it’s hard to really claim that to be true because it would consider couples keeping money separate and not sharing any information about how they spend the money with each other and couples that just keep separate accounts but who are transparent about their spending.

The argument that sharing forces you to commit is a silly one. We wouldn’t have gotten married if we weren’t ready to commit. Yes it’s harder to disentangle yourself if your merge your finances, but I find that an immature reason to merge your money.

Another argument is that separate money undermines the financial stability of marriage. I guess that could be true, but as long as you remain responsible for your own money and having enough to cover your own emergencies, why create shared accounts? I still want my own financial security, and my focus is on helping Mr. HECC achieve his. He wants to, and I think he can – he’s much more frugal than I am, so it is easier for him.

Instead of feeling like you have to lie if you want to splurge a bit, keeping money separate allows you to know what you have and keep living like an independent adult. I’m glad we agree on keeping finances separate, and I hope we continue to be able to do this successfully and still be happily married.

 

Networth Update May 2016: $365k

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.

He’ll Teach Himself How to Be Rich…

Ramit Sethi and James Altucher frequently spam me with email content that I actually want to read. Both are brilliant marketers, having built their own brand around taking a strong stance in the world of finance (if you don’t know them — that’s Sethi, with his make more vs save more philosophy, and Altucher with his whole shtick of I’ve been rich and broke and rich and broke and rich again, all while being depressive and charmingly neurotic.)

Both write LONG emails. Both are anti-establishment yet pro money. They clearly each have a lot to say. And, of course, both have written books and maintain a sizable following of their personal brands. If I were a more productive and focused and confident person I could maybe do that as well, but still after all these years I hide behind anonymity because I’ve yet to decide to quit my job for good and become some sort of motivational personality. Cue that annoying cheerleader song.

Every so often one of the emails sent by Ramit or James sparks a little flame in my mind that twirls around until I put it out with a blog post. Today, Ramit’s pitch was on “invest in yourself.” This isn’t anything new from him, but he did detail out how in his childhood he grew up in a lower class family and his parents found $800 to send him to an SAT class because they believed strongly in investing in what matters. He extends that philosophy to now investing $50k in “luxury items” per year (which he can do because I’m sure he’s making well over $1M per year with all his speaking and writing and workshops and such) – but underneath the clever marketing ploy to convince readers to invest in his programs for their personal growth (and fund his next $50k worth of luxury purchases) lies a good point — we have one life, invest in the things that make us better.

This year, I’ve decided to invest in a personal trainer. She comes to my apartment complex three days a week in the morning and calls me up if I’m not out of bed yet. I hate working out and I hate waking up even more, but that $50 a session / $600 a month is completely worth it. Health is everything. As the stock market starts to tank this year (and my portfolio appears to have paper losses of about $25k year-to-date (uhh, that’s just 9 days of $25k “losses”), it’s a good reminder that investing isn’t everything. Or, sometimes investing in yourself is just as valuable as investing in some hot growth stock with a miraculously low P/E despite an overvalued market.

I’m still going to try to sock away at least $30k this year of net new savings, and for all I know this year may end up being a wash. But really, at this point, I’m letting go a bit when it comes to aggressive savings. It’s time to live a little. I’ve got one or two years left before I have kids (hopefully), so it feels like as good a time as any to spend a little more than I normally would on things like health, education, hobbies, travel and other experiences (i.e. upcoming wedding.)

While I may never sign up for one of Ramit’s super expensive classes, I do agree with his general sentiment – invest in yourself first. It’s like oxygen masks on an airplane – make sure you can breathe first before helping others. Soon I hope to do nothing but help others. For now, I’m figuring out how to breathe.

Biggest Purchases in My Life

I’m turning 32 in a few months, and I’m looking at my overall networth and if it could be higher right now if I had not made some “big” purchases. Really, though, it would be higher if I didn’t make all of the small purchases!

  • $17,000 – second car, paid for all cash (used from a dealer) — I don’t love this car, I wish I picked another, but it’s fine and safe
  • $16,000 – stock in private company (purchased stock options), worth $0 today (insert frown face here)
  • $10,000 – DUI fine, legal fees, et al. Worst expenditure in my life, for many reasons.
  • $8000 – first car, paid for all cash (used from a craigslist seller) — lasted me about 7 years, was a great car (V6!) and I miss it; probably could have lasted longer but it ended up not starting and getting towed from my parking space, wasn’t worth paying to get it out of the pound. Should have been able to sell it for at least $1000, so that was a waste.
  • $4500 – invisible braces, cosmetic and somewhat health related, so far worth it but I wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • $4000 – “unlimited” laser hair removal — WORTH IT — though the place changed owners and “unlimited” was more like “limited”

Those are really all of my big purchases in life thus far outside of college and my annual rent ($16,200 a year for my share of a 1br.) Oh, and of course about $300k in actual stock… I guess you can say that’s a purchase.

Looking at spending $40k+ on my wedding in comparison seems kind of nutso, even if my parents are contributing a large chunk of that.

What are the biggest purchases you’ve made in your life?