Tag Archives: financial independence

2021 Net Worth Goals Update

A month ago I posted my 2021 net worth goals. Checking in to see how things are going…

  • Retirement: $614,629 ($521.5k then)
    • Current: $715k (cool, already beating my goal, guess I should raise it!)
  • Taxable Investment: $822.5k ($804.5k then)
    • Current: $856k (also hit goal already nice, need new goal)
  • Emergency Fund: $60k ($60k then)
    • $62k (still good)
  • IVF Fund: $65k ($65k then)
    • ok this is $0 because I didn’t want it sitting and I moved it to my investments. But I can sell some investments when/if we decide to do IVF.  Going to remove this goal.
  • 2 Yr old 529: $196k ($91.6k then)
    • $105k (need $91k more but might reduce this goal)
  • 0 Yr old 529: $151k ($41.3k then)
    • $73k (need $78k more but might reduce this goal)
  • -3 Yr old 529: $63.7k ($63.7k then)
    • $65k (good)

New 2021 Goals…

GOAL Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec REM
Retirement $800.0 $521.5 $715.0 $85.0
Taxable $900.0 $804.5 $856.0 $44.0
Cash $0.1 $0.1 $0.1 $0.0
529 A $150.0 $91.6 $105.0 $45.0
529 B $150.0 $41.3 $73.0 $77.0
529 C $65.0 $63.7 $65.0 $0.0
Home Equity $270.0 $250.0 $257.0 $13.0
savings needed:
$264.0

Will check in again each month to see how I’m progressing towards these new goals!

The day we surpassed $2M in networth. Can I buy a Roomba now?

Holy hell. Personal capital shows our family networth crossed the $2M threshold. This was my goal for 2020, yet it felt so far away earlier this year. A bump in my company stock was really all it took, but it was far from guaranteed. Even with deducting $100k from the cost to sell our home (which I have set up as a liability in personal capital) we’re across that $2M mark. Insane!

2 million networth

It feels especially weird given the state of the world, with so many people struggling. While living in a HCOL area with 2 kids and hopes for one more, I can’t start throwing heaps of money at charity as I’d like to yet, I’m looking into doing a donor-advised fund next year, as well as where we can help locally at food banks and such. I’m a little nervous about next year as the breadwinner of the family who happens to be about to go into labor any day now (and who has to hold down a $7k a month Bay Area mortgage), so want to be smart about giving strategies, but it’s time to think seriously about that. I just feel overwhelmed as so many people need help right now. I feel guilty for having “so much money” and yet, so many people have a lot more $ here too. And many are struggling to put food on the table. I feel weird being one of the people benefiting from the state of the world as I have a lot of stock, but at the same time proud of myself for being frugal and investing in my 20s, and also landing this job and seeing the potential in this company a few years ago.

Sure, the stock market could crash overnight or my company could go belly up — and at this point I’m holding way too much stock in my company despite selling along the way. It’s about 25% of our net worth, which is way too risky. But I also want to hold off on cap gains until AFTER next year, since I’ll likely go back to a normal income once I vest my final year of my initial grant. But that’s super risky. Yes,  I can and should sell my new RSU vest now, and I probably will (it’s down a bit so holding until 2021 to either take a loss next year to offset potential short term gains later in the year or just take a gain if it goes up again.) I’ve held on to most of my ESPP against the wisdom of finance professionals everywhere, which has proven to be quite a lucrative bet. Those get taxed at a mix of income and cap gains, and my cap gains right now in CA is basically the same as my income tax rate, so it feels prudent to hold just a year longer even if they could end up being worth nothing. I’ve decided that in order to build wealth there is some truth to needing to do stupid things and take risks that aren’t wise. Men do this often. Many of my male colleagues haven’t sold one share of their stock even though they know it’s super risky and you know what, they’ve made a fortune in holding. Sure, they could lose it all as well, but so far I know some of my coworkers are set to retire tomorrow, all because they are men who take on too much risk.

Maybe risk is ok. The more money you have, the more risk you can take. It’s not quite putting it all on red. But I would not have $2M now if I hadn’t ignored my CFP’s advice and sold all of my ESPP up front. Instead, I have over 1000 shares I’m holding now, with the total value hovering around $500k. Is that stupid? Maybe. They say don’t hold your company shares as you have too much riding on the success of your company already just with your employment. That’s probably true. And RSU has no reason to hold since they’re taxed as income on vest and you should treat as a bonus (and you likely wouldn’t go and buy your company stock with a bonus – also true.) ESPP is a little more complicated. In typical slow-growth companies these give you the benefit when you make a purchase, a small 15% discount on shares, plus any growth within a lock back period. But holding you can pay cap gains tax on any growth, which can be substantial in a fast-growth company. So I’m holding. Maybe I’ll regret it. So far, doing this has catapulted us to our $2M net worth goal.

Looking ahead to next year, I see $3M as a possibility. It’s unlikely we can go from $2M to $3M, but it could happen. Right now I’m estimating about $2.5M-$2.75M by the end of next year if the market holds. If it goes up, we could get to 3. There is something about that $3M number… it’s equal to about $1M in 1981.. so hitting $3M, esp in a HCOL area, is when you actually feel like a “millionaire.” It seems like a shit ton of money (and it is) but when you have $3M in net worth, I think your world changes a bit. It definitely changed for me at $100k and $500k and $1M, but $3M is the beginning of a new chapter. It’s when you cross the threshold from upper middle class to entry-level wealthy. At least in the Bay Area — $1M, $2M, $3M, $5M, $10M are these levels of wealth. $5M is realistic for a family with 2 tech workers who are each making $250k a year. Since my family is 1 tech worker, it’s still possible if I can have a few home runs with RSUs (ie make 500k-1M per year a few times in my lifetime.) If you don’t work in tech, or settle for whatever a company decides your level is worth without convincing them you’re worth more, then it’s really hard to get there.

I still have my eyes on the prize ($5M net worth) but when we get to $3M, I’ll loosen up a bit. I’ll fly my mom out twice a year and put her up in an AirBnB for a few weeks so she can spend time with her grandkids. I’ll send my sister that TV and other random gifts she keeps asking for (actually maybe I will do that this year.) I’ll take my family on some nice vacations and pay for my kids to take enrichment classes that cost too much but it won’t actually hurt our retirement goals so why not? And I’ll seriously look at how to build the donor-advised fund I’m going to likely start next year so we can be quite generous with charity in the years ahead, which I haven’t made a priority in the past.

I’ll do a full recount of 2020 networth once the year is over as there are still a few paychecks coming in and expenses going out. I’ve spent way too much on fixing up my new house and it isn’t done yet. Next year I’ll prob spend too much buying furniture for the house (to be fair, we’ve moved from an 800 sq ft one bedroom where we were still using mostly craigslist furniture or IKEA stuff I bought when I was 22) to a nearly 2000 sq ft house… we don’t even have a kitchen table right now or any place to sit outside in our yard except our camping chairs. So I’m going to splurge because life is now and we are in a good place to buy things to increase our quality of life without going overboard. I’m not talking luxury items but thing that will make us happy because we spend most of our time in this house (well pretty much all of our time now) so…

My boss’s boss (my former boss) even liked a small project I did this week, which made me quite happy. I know I’ll never be able to be good enough for this company, but if I can keep turning in quality work I can survive through the end of next year, which means $3M net worth is no longer a pipe dream. And once you hit $3M, theoretically you can make 10% on that YoY and get to $5M in 6 years. Yea, 10% YoY gains six years in a row after a bull market is quite unlikely (might see 6% YoY losses) but being this close of striking range to the $5M net worth goal is… just… well, I don’t even know what to think about it. If I can get to $5M by age 40, that would be a whole other level of crazy. And if I’m going to do it, that’s on me. My husband brings in a stable $90k a year, and that certainly helps, but I’ve got to lean into the crazy that is RSU growth in Silicon Valley’s top-performing companies, negotiate well for my next gig, and just hold on for dear life. I have no interest in being a VP anymore — I just want to FAT FIRE (well FIOR – financial independence, optional retirement.) $3M gets us close. $5M gets us all the way. Can I get to $5M by 40? Even by my calculations that’s highly unlikely. But a few years ago $2M by 37 was also very unlikely. So anything is possible. And when I set my mind to something, well, either I ADHD space out and it never happens. Or I ADHD super focus on it and I get there.

To my readers out there, thanks for your support along the way. I hope it is as fun for you to watch my nutty progress as it is to live it on my end. Right now my biggest focus is on NOT getting coronavirus, surviving childbirth, having a healthy baby, and getting myself healthy in the year ahead. It’s ALL possible. The world SUCKS right now and it’s hard to stay positive, but at least for me, good things are happening. I don’t deserve these good things any more or less than the next person. I am grateful and in awe of how the world works in such mysterious ways.

And I like that my couch fits so nicely in my family room. And I want a kitchen table.

Financial Independence – What it Looks Like to You

When one is on the road to wealth, the dream of financial independence lingers in the distance. Financial Independence means different things to each person. For some it may mean being able to take year-long luxury vacations around the globe and returning home to a mansion. For others, just being able to live a modest lifestyle and not have to work in order to afford it is enough.

I ran into this interesting article discussing financial independence.It posed a few questions which help paint a clearer picture of what this dream would really be like:

  • What time would you wake up?
  • Would you be awakened by an alarm clock or by your body’s clock?
  • Once you arose, what would you do first? Second?
  • When and what would you eat?
  • What would be the main activity of your day?
  • How would you spend the evening?
  • What would determine when you went to bed?
  • What would your home look like?
  • What kind of vehicles would be a part of this typical day?

I thought I’d take a stab at answering the questions, as they probably will help guide in my determining my ideal lifestyle with or without said financial independence. How would you answer these questions?

What time would I wake up?
Probably 8 or 9am.

Would you be awakened by an alarm clock or by your body’s clock?
Body’s clock. I hate alarm clocks.

Once you arose, what would you do first? Second?
I don’t know. If I don’t have work to go to, I tend to just waste time. I’d probably be bored very quickly. I’d likely waste away my days unless I had a project to work on… like work.

When and what would you eat?
If I had “luxury” financial independence, I’d have a cook who would make me healthy delicious fresh food everyday. I’d also be a better cook because I’d have a nice kitchen and a maid who would clean up after the mess I make. I’d frequently dine out – sometimes at fancy places but mostly at modest restaurants. I’d try to eat healthy. I’d have a personal trainer.

What would be the main activity of your day?
Well… other than sleeping and watching television, which would get old fast, I’d want to be working. Maybe I’d take classes. If was wealthy I’d want to just spend my life learning. I’d probably take a bunch of psychology, art and writing classes. Maybe I’d just get a bunch of master’s degrees. I’d spend a decent amount of time floating around my pool. I’d travel and take lots of road trips across the country.

How would you spend the evening?
Cuddling at home with my boyfriend, watching movies, taking relaxing baths in a luxury bathroom that I designed. Sleeping.

What would determine when you went to bed?
What I was tired. It would usually be pretty late. I’d be doing something creative at night and fall asleep whenever, knowing I didn’t have to wake up at any set time in the morning (unless I had class.)

What would your home look like?
It would be in a neighborhood where I had friends who lived close by, who were also financially independent or had more flexible lifestyles. It wouldn’t be giant, but it would have a sizable yard with a private pool (optional) and enough room for entertaining and having guests. I would personally design my own unique kitchen and bathroom. I’d have a robot that does my laundry and folds/hangs my clothes!

What kind of vehicles would be a part of this typical day?
I’m fine driving the basic honda/toyota type car. If I was the rich kind of financially independent, I might buy a Tesla. But I’d be too scared to drive it because I tend to bump into inanimate objects. Maybe I’d splurge on a Lexus or something. I don’t need a Ferrari.

What is most interesting about this analysis is that clearly I’d be massively bored if I was financially independent. I like to work. In fact, I can’t imagine ever retiring. Still, I want to achieve financial independence. To me, financial independence is $2M in networth, or $1M with a modest lifestyle in one’s 30s/40s that is growing to $2M. It isn’t some super fancy lifestyle. And even if I was financially independent, I’d want to work. I would just want more flexibility in deciding where and when I work. And I’d also want to have the opportunity to take more classes and change careers frequently, not caring about taking lower level jobs to be learning something new all the time. Hmm.

Is my networth really $300k?

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…

 

Account Amount
Cash (Liquid)
Checking $10775
Savings $370
TOTAL CASH $11,145
Debts
Credit Card Debt -$333
Paying Soon -$4,000
TOTAL DEBTS -$4,333
Property
Car $10,000
TOTAL PROPERTY $10,000
Investments
Sharebuilder $93,083
Vanguard Stocks $24,299.37
Prosper $856.04
Lending Club $387.53
Startup Co Stock * (this is likely worth $0 and a $16.4k loss) $16,400
TOTAL INVESTMENTS $135,026
Education
529 Plan $4399
TOTAL EDUCATION $4399
Retirement Accounts
Vanguard IRA $26,674.61
Sharebuilder IRA $13,805.69
401k $63,044
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
TOTAL NETWORTH $300,254

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.