Tag Archives: networth

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.

 

June Networth Check-In: $612,000

I haven’t written on here in a while, so I thought I should check in on my networth goals for the year. Things are looking strong for the year thus far, with $612k in networth hit June 1. The goal for the year is somewhere between $650k-$700k, but I’d really like to hit my stretch goal of $700k by Jan 1.

This seems somewhat doable if the stock market continues to perform as well as it has for the first half of the year. I’m likely going to see about $50k-$55k from stock before the end of the year as long as I keep my job, which leaves less than $40k to make up to get to that $700k goal. Of course, maternity leave is not going to help me achieve this at all, but that is what it is.

I’m still very confused as to how maternity leave will impact me financially. I have some idea on this, but there are so many nuances to the rules it will only make sense after the fact. I know that for my disability leave I get a percentage of my pay for six weeks, but it’s pre-tax, so maybe it will be somewhat close to my total salary. I also know I won’t be eligible to contribute to my ESPP when I’m on leave, which is crappy but makes sense since I’m not actually earning income during that time.

At this point, to minimize the hit on my financial goals for the year, I’m planning to work up until my due date and then to take the 12 weeks off that are semi paid and deal with the losses from those weeks which hopefully won’t be too bad. I can take another 6 weeks protected unpaid, but I’ll prob save those weeks until 2019 and decide if I want to take them then, since if I manage to keep my job all 2019 I’ll be in a higher tax bracket then and the loss of income will be less noticeable, maybe. Still, may decide not to take that time since it’s unpaid and I can’t contribute to the ESPP again then.

Really, my #1 focus is on keeping my job as long as possible. With my stock (which is RSU not options) at this point my networth is really ~ $892k+, but I’m not counting the stock that isn’t in my back account yet since I don’t actually get it until I get it. But, seeing $892k as my approximate networth feels good and makes me think that $1M goal before kid #2 is achievable. After all, I’m $112k over my goal of $500k before kid #1. So grateful for saving throughout my 20s and focusing on savings. Once I get to $1M, I’ll feel a lot better about my life stability.

April Networth Check-In: $575k

For a bit of a belated April networth checkin, I’m happy to report my networth is ticking upwards slowly, despite the stock market doing eh.

Given the larger gains of past months, it still feels flat, but at least it’s up. I started 2018 out with $544k in networth, and am now at $575.6k–so I’m up $31.6k of my $100k goal for the year, leaving $7.6k growth per month to hit that goal (or 5% growth for the rest of the year including saving additions and gains.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 8.32.48 AM

The plan is for about $40k-$50k of that to come from after-tax stock vesting before the end of the year. If I don’t keep my job until then for any reason, then I don’t think I will be hitting the $650k goal for the year. But, with that extra $50k, it should be doable for me to save $25k for the next nine months, even with my maternity leave. Continue reading

My Legitimate Path to $1 Million Dollars

My $1M networth goal is far away, yet also, it appears, achievable. “All I need to do” is keep my job. That’s it. It helps a lot if my company continues performing strongly, but I don’t need to get a raise in the next four years. I just need to remain employed at the same exact rate. Based on my calculations, if I do just that, the following is a reasonable outcome:

Year AGE Networth Increase
2017 33 $423,000
2018 34 $565,000 33.57%
2019 35 $685,374 21.31%
2020 36 $813,785 18.74%
2021 37 $945,160 13.63%
2022 38 $1,097,934 16.16%

Continue reading

March Networth: $573k

How did it get to be March 1 already? Oh, right, February was a short month. Amazing what a difference a few days make.

My networth in March was relatively flat – and down a little bit – but that was expected given I ended up having two weekend trips which cost more than planned (and were worth it, pre baby and the no-travel time of my life.) I wanted to be at about $576k by this month, so I’m down $3k. I’m supposed to be at $589k by April 1… which, unless stocks bolt up in the next few weeks, is highly unlikely. Continue reading

A Loose 5 Year Plan

The whole “being pregnant” and going into “nesting” mode is real. I’ve been spending way too many hours scouring Redfin and Zillow despite knowing that I can’t afford a home here, other than maybe a 1 bed, 1 bath in a really bad part of the bad part of town.

So. I’m trying to focus my energy on longer-term, more realistic goals, while also ensuring that I keep my job in order to hit them.

2018

  • Age: I turn 35(!)
  • Networth: Close out the year at $645k-$650k
  • Housing: Live in 1 bedroom / 1 bath apartment (50% = $14.1k yr)
  • 401k: invest $22.5k
  • Stocks: invest $30k 
  • Baby #1: born, 0 – 5 mo
  • Baby #2: not born yet

Continue reading

Why I don’t include Mr. HECC’s Savings in My Networth

We’re married – shouldn’t I look at “networth” as our family networth? I imagine many of the “networth” amounts listed on Rockstar Finance’s Blogger Networth Directory include total family networth. I choose to leave my independent.

Why? When one retires, she needs a specific amount of income to live life to her current standards. A partner may have different standards, and may not require to save as much. Personally, my goal has always been a minimum of $2M before I retire. Ideally I’ll see a number more like $3M-$5M. According to CNN’s Retirement Calculator I need $8M to retire. Yikes. Hubby “only” needs $3M. Continue reading

November Networth and Budget Recap ($541,989)

chart.ashx

November was a reasonably successful month for networth growth. According to NetworthIQ, my networth is now $541,989. This is a 2.98% (or $15.6k) monthly increase from the end of October.

End of Month Spend Report

Income: $7826
Spend: $3907
Remainder: $3919

Spend Breakdown

  • Rent: $1350
  • Auto: $284
  • Bills: $170
  • Entertainment: $48
  • Food & Dining: $707
  • Health: $114
  • Infertility: $563
  • Shopping: $1821*
  • Travel: $190
  • Other: $10

Went a little (ok a lot) crazy with shopping this month… mostly due to the Sephora Rouge sale. Don’t judge. I’m planning to return a chunk of items I bought that I don’t need, so that will hit December’s spend. Had I not gone psycho on shopping, this month would have actually not been that bad.

Despite spending way too much at Sephora (*this includes all of my hair products for the year, which I acquire for 20% off. And, other things I don’t need.)

My budget goal was $4400 in spend and I actually only spent $3907 so while that’s close, I’m $500 under my target spend. Not bad. I can do better, but not bad.

And all this spend was BEFORE I knew I was pregnant… so I’m definitely going to focus on cutting down the shopping habit going forward. The good thing about living in a 1 bedroom apartment is that it’s hard to go too crazy buying things for the soon-to-be newborn. And, I now have a very real “why to save” goal ahead of me… coming in 8 months! OH MY GOD. My objective is to save as much as possible before baby comes. That, and kick ass at my job so my boss allows me to work remotely and keep earning income when I return from a very brief maternity leave. (AH.)

December Spend Target: $2950 spent / $4876 saved

  • Rent/Home: $1350
  • Auto: $300
  • Bills: $200
  • Entertainment: $100
  • Food & Dining: $700
  • Health: $100
  • Infertility: $0
  • Shopping: $100
  • Travel: $0
  • Other: $100

 

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

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

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

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

=======================

The plan (with flat stocks):

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

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

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

===========================

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

October Networth & Spend Report: $519k

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

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

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 10.29.08 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 10.29.13 PM

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

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

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

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

Spend Goals for November:

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