Tag Archives: fire

Two Roads To Nowhere and Everywhere: Stay at Home Mom vs Working Mom

I’m sure people reading my blog think I’m crazy with now over $2M in net worth not feeling comfortable leaving work for a while… a few months… a year or two… to spend with my young children. Maybe I am crazy. I’ll tell you what I feel. I feel no different than I did five years ago when my net worth was $500k or 10 years ago when it was $150k.

I am struggling with the concept of time and the time of time. 10 years passes in a blink and yet was it all that fast? I don’t know. 10 years ago with $150k net worth I was just starting my first job in this series of jobs after another series of jobs. I was making $100k. At the time that was such a huge salary I thought I would never earn more. Who would pay me more than $100k for anything?

10 years ago I was 27 going on 28. Approaching my 30s. A far different mindset than approaching one’s 40s. Pre children. Pre marriage. Living with roommates and dating my now husband and struggling with enough depression and self-hatred to push myself to keep going to prove that I could survive. Don’t believe me? It’s all here in this blog. All the years that have sprinted by. The failures. The successes. Three firings later. Day after day of waking up feeling not good enough. Not knowing what I’m doing. Trying to make it work. Trying to fit in. Having good moments. And many bad ones. Ten years later.

What will my life be 10 years from now? I’ll be 47 going on 48. What then? Will this decade feel over in a blink as well? How can I slow it down and make sure it lasts as long as possible – savor every second of it? I don’t know if one can at this age. Time just speeds up. And so there’s time and there’s money. It’s the race of both. You can spend less money. You can’t actually stop time. But to afford to leave the workforce you need a lot of money– and even then the system is rigged against you. That money in the stock market. Sure it will likely keep going up over time. That’s what they tell you. It has in the past. But the past is no indication of what will happen in the future. Though the only way to actually afford the future is to take what you’ve earned and bet on something that likely will go up but really who knows.

I’m too heavy in equities. Too heavy in individual stocks, although mostly in index funds. If the whole market crashes, how much does it matter? Does this mystical, mythical $2M disappear overnight? It doesn’t feel real if it’s not spent and if it’s spent then it isn’t real anymore at all. So it sits there, notated in an overly complex google spreadsheet that I look at each morning to see what it all looks like on that day. I open my computer and start trying to do work for my job that is fulfilling only in when I can help other people do their jobs that I’m uncertain if they find fulfilling or just acceptable in order to earn their own mystical, mythical money. I don’t know. I sit in meetings with senior executives who go off on some rant about something that at best doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the betterment of the world and at worst are stained with sociopathy and that sly smile in passive aggressive attack that only someone with way more money in the bank can slide across their face so damn effortlessly. Everyone is trying to prove to everyone else that they are needed for those ahead of them to win and so even with the best of intentions it becomes this sick game that I’m not cut out to play.

10 years. My father was still alive. Still diagnosed with cancer. Still dying. But alive. Still yelling at my mother. An artist of arrogance. We were all so much younger then. I try to tell myself. 10 years is a long time. 10 years from now my oldest will be 13. Thirteen. My youngest, either 11 or 9 depending if I have another. I’ll hopefully be alive, but 10 years is also a long time for one’s body to attack itself, for health to slowly… or rapidly fail. For my husband to be here or to be ill or not here at all. For my mother to make it to 78 or pass away in her 70s, at an age that no longer inspires those who hear of passing to gasp noting “she was so young” in their condolences. It seems at 70 or maybe 75 it becomes acceptable to die. In ones 80s no one would feel pity over an early death. And 90 is when one feels pity that the person is still living. How fast the years go. Especially if you don’t make the greatest effort to slow them down.

And how can you slow them down? How can I? Well, I feel like there is a choice here. A fork in the road. Like in Squid Game — everyone chooses to play, even after they see what is at stake. Here I am and I see ahead of me 10 years of my children aging from babies to teens and I wonder how much of those 10 years is worth trading for days of panic attacks and feeling horrible at my job and to tired to be much of a mother.

Quit now and move somewhere affordable seems both like an impossible movie plot and an actual life story that could be mine. If only I wanted it enough. And then my husband agreed to it as well. Which would be quite difficult, but if I really knew in my heart it was the right decision — I don’t know — maybe I could convince him we need to leave this place. In a year sell our house. Get away from the rat race. The rat jungle. The rat infestation and bro culture and imposter syndrome and open office spaces and egos and people do don’t have time to connect or build community or they want you to pay a lot to buy in to a community you’ll never be a part of anyway.

If I quit here and stayed here I’d surely eat into my savings quickly. I’d want to do things during the day and going for walks to local parks would get boring after a while, wouldn’t it? There is much to sign up for if you’re a stay at home mom but then you need the money to fund it. Writing is free, at least. But what about my kid’s activities? How do I make sure I have enough to support their lives? I feel that I owe them the upper middle class life I was raised into. I didn’t know how to provide that but somehow through luck and determination here I am. Upper middle class. I guess. It doesn’t feel it. Not like my parent’s generation. One working parent and a nice house with decently nice everything. I’m certainly well off now in most of the world. I certainly don’t feel it.

But I do feel I owe my kids a life at least as good as the one I had growing up. My sister, who makes $14 an hour, refuses to have children because she says she can’t afford them. Yet many people have kids with low incomes — it’s just we were raised into a certain style of childhood and life and we feel our kids deserve at least that. I don’t want my kids to be spoiled. I don’t think I was either. Not horribly so. A little. But not enough to sit on my ass and do nothing. My sister has an incredible work ethic but no belief in herself or her ability to do better. I have random spurts of energy and a character flaw that is my need above all else to prove that I can survive and fit in and thrive in a world that may not be worth surviving.

What if — one year from now — I’m sitting somewhere, some nondescript down maybe — watching waves of a lake-ocean-river-sea crash to shore. Maybe it’s thundering. Or drizzling. Or pouring.  And I’m soaked and running in puddles with my children who are still children. And they don’t remember mom everyday at her laptop working or avoiding working and looking at social media only to be working later when she shouldn’t be because she can’t focus or get anything done. They wouldn’t remember the mess of a house or limited meals but instead clean floors and nutritious fresh food. We’d go on playdates and maybe get to know some people. Really get to know them as friends and build a community, though that’s wishful thinking as being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t suddenly turn me into Miss Popular. But still. What kind of life would that be? One where I am watching my account balances shrink each month instead of grow. I’d be terrified.

That fear is what drives me. But I don’t want to get to 2031 and look back on the last 10 years and say I traded moments for money. I let myself fall into the trap of worrying every single fucking day and waking up each morning feeling sick to my stomach because I know I’ll never do a consistently good enough job at work. Because I’m always on the verge of losing my job and having to admit failure yet again. To pick myself up again. And spend months trying to prove myself. A few victories here and there but nothing enough to stick. And so on. 10 years of that. I don’t know if I can take 10 more years of that.

See, 10 years ago seems like a long time ago. But 4 years ago seems like practically no time at all. Sure, in that time I’ve had two kids and both have grown quite a bit, but that time is all a blur and it doesn’t feel like 4 years it feels like 3 months. Though there is so much of it that I don’t remember. That skips time. And I’m afraid the next 10 years will be that but even faster. So I desperately want to slow the time down. To be present with my family. To take time to be a mom, not a mom who is thinking about the 10 meetings she has the next week while assisting her sons onto an amusement park ride.

I should be grateful that I have the money I do have. It does provide some options. It’s enough to tease me with those options but not enough for the options to be all that real. It’s enough, earned fast enough, to throw in my face that if I leave the workforce I’m not only going to be digging into my savings, but I’m also giving up the opportunity to really get to a place of financial independence for a lifestyle I want to have for my family. Why not a few more months? A few more years? Why not just keep holding my breath until my bank account ticks up to the next hundred thousand? I’m thinking $2.5M before leaving this job, but why not stick around until $3? Why not find another job to take me to $4 or $5M? $5M is the ultimate goal, $200k a year of income from the growth. Maybe then. Maybe then I’ll feel like I can slow down. But when will then be? Will my mind be complete mush by then? It’s hard to say. I just know I’m tired. I’m so tired. I’m tired mentally and physically and I need to sleep. So I’ll sleep now and wonder more about how people make decisions and how I can make decisions and if I’m even allowed to since now I’m a mom and a breadwinner and a home owner and I don’t get to just pick up and change things if they get too hard. This is real adulting. And it better be because I’m fucking old now.

Our Path to 3 Million Dollars

The lack of sleep has been getting to me and my sanity, but I need to keep my head in the game and focus on the prize. While the FIRE goal remains $5M, I have accepted that once we hit $3M I can start slowing down — a bit — as at that point we’d be basically Coast FIRE and not need to save more en route to the $5M (and we’d probably still end up saving a bit.) Since this year has been quite interesting in terms of net worth growth, I want to lay out the path to $3M and how long it will take to get there…

Current: $2.25M

Cash: $35k
Stocks: $874k
Bonds: $26k
Retirement: $763k
529: $287k
Home Equity: $264k

Goal: $3M (+$750k) 

Cash: $60k (+$25k)
Stocks: $1.3M (+$430k)
Bonds: $30k (+4k)
Retirement: $1M (+$237k)
529: $326k (+$39k)
Home Equity: $294k (+$30k)

Growth Only (2 Years)

Cash: $35k of $60k goal
Stocks: $963k of $1.3M goal
Bonds: $30k of $30k goal
Retirement: $841k of $1M goal
529: $316k of $320k goal
Home Equity: N/A (+$30k Principal Payment)

Need Additional in 2 Years (Approx)

Cash: $25k
Stocks: $337k
Bonds: $0
Retirement: $159k
529: $4k
Home Equity: $30k

TOTAL SAVINGS REQUIRED: $555k

… Path to $555k Savings…

Sept – Dec 2021 (+$125k, remaining need $430k… still a lot!!)

Cash: +$25k
Stocks: +$55k
Bonds: +$0k
Retirement: +$19.5k
529: +$20k
Home Equity: +$6k

Jan – Mar 2022 (+$100k, need $330k to goal)

Cash: +$0k
Stocks: +$16k
Bonds: +$0k
Retirement: +$78k
529: +$0k
Home Equity: +$6k

TOTAL VALUE / GOAL APRIL 1 2022

Cash: $60k of $60k goal
Stocks: $1M of $1.3M goal
Bonds: $30k of $30k goal
Retirement: $939k of $1M goal
529: $326k of $326k goal
Home Equity: $276k of $326k goal

Or something like that…

Getting us to ~$2.6M net worth by April 1, 2022.

Still a long ways a way from $3M, but progress in the right direction. And that’s only 7 months away for a net worth increase of ~$350k.

So I guess the $3M goal will have to come next. Step one is to get to $2.6M. After hitting this target then the next major goal will be $3M. I do think hitting $3M will be significant. I guess that’s because in 10 years if we don’t touch that money and don’t save a dime more it will be worth close to $5M. Now, I should probably remove the home equity from the equation entirely, but I’m keeping it for now because it’s a significant part of our net worth and I still dream of selling our home and moving somewhere affordable where we can FIRE and live a good life and have time to travel and see my kids and stuff. So it’s included for now.

Excited to see what will happen in the next 7 months. Of course, the stock market can fall fast and hard and given how heavily we are invested in the markets we can hit $1.5M or worse in 7 months.

Will keep tracking here to see how close we can get to the $3M by April 1… which, incidentally, is when I want to look for a new job!

 

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!

Scared and Stuck.

I’m not in a particularly good life situation right now.  My job isn’t safe at all. I’m basically starting over and any wrong move will have we walked out the virtual door. They know I’m overpaid in my new role–which means they have even less reason to keep me. Or to ever increase my pay again. Only to possibly decrease it. Or leave it flat and let inflation do the dirty work.

Even if I manage to stay –do good enough work I’m a solid 3 out of 5 year after year–is my life just this? Because the longer I stay the longer I lose relevance in the job market. My role, in any other company, would both require more technical skills and pay about half of my base salary. I can’t actually survive on that. Nor do I have the right profile to land a job that pays the same or more.

I’m not being overly dramatic. This is the truth. And why I wake up every morning dreading my life. Wondering what is the point? Why am I such a failure? And, more importantly, how the fuck do I provide for my family?

Here’s where we are net worth wise as of April 1:

Cash $80,633
Taxable $829,501
Pre Tax $456,057
Post Tax (Roth) $238,265
529 Fund (2-3 kids) $232,879
Home Equity $207,288
TOTAL $2,044,623

Lost a bit with market dropping. Still, with $2M net worth I thought I’d feel better about life. I don’t. I feel like I’m suffocating. Will we starve? No. At least not for a while. But it can get ugly fast.

I want to make sure we can afford the next 5 years. Maybe after 5 years my job situation will make sense. And pay better. Right now I have 5 years to figure out.

We obviously could save less and spend a bit less, but if we can keep to this plan for next 5 years we’ll be ok.

Income Tax (40%) Expenses Saving Remaining
2021 $313,350 -$125,340 -$126,000 -$25,000 $62,010
2022 $273,000 -$109,200 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$4,200
2023 $276,090 -$110,436 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$2,346
2024 $279,273 -$111,709 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$436
2025 $282,551 -$113,020 -$168,000 -$57,500 $1,531

The above assumes the following:

  • Our total tax rate on taxable income is 40%
  • I earn a minimum of $170,000 a year for the next 5 years
  • My husband earns a minimum of $100k plus 3% raises for next 5 years
  • We both max out retirement accounts every year as pre-tax money (to keep our tax rate down)

We won’t be saving nearly as much as we have been — but at least we can get through the year without dipping into savings too much (and probably not at all if we’re careful — the remainder this year can cover any overage in next few years.

BUT that’s assuming also that…

  1. can get a job that pays $170k for next 5 years (especially if I lose this one)
  2. that my husband keeps his job and can get a 3% raise each year

Maybe I can find another job that pays $170k but there’s no guarantee. Especially not if I want to start over in a new career. Or try to find something a bit more junior that gives me time to figure out what I’m good at and move up in a normal sort of way.

It would be helpful if my husband could earn $150k and then I would earn $150k and we’d be ok — or at least in a much better situation. However that isn’t going to happen. So I just need to figure this out.

Yet again it feels remarkably hopeless.

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.

My New Buckets FIRE Retirement Strategy

This will be a short post — but just documenting as I figure out my family’s goals for Fat FIRE / Coast FIRE using a new buckets retirement strategy. I really like this model as it helps me understand how much money I need to earn and how much I need my existing savings to grow in order to live the life I want. Since these are “Fat FIRE” goals they are a bit aggressive, but I like aiming for aggressive goals. I know if I hit them, then I’ll be in a really good place. If I don’t, then we’ll still probably be ok!

I’m now including my husband’s savings in a total Fat FIRE goal–he’s note exactly on the Fat FIRE train, but he’s naturally frugal and has agreed to maxing out his solo 401k annually, so I’m looking at all our money together for our net worth goals. At the end of the day, it is “our” money since if either of us get sick and need care, our funds will go to that.

  • Goal 1: 7M in retirement accounts by age 65 (by 2048 – to last 35 years)
    • Current: 514,000 (est 2M in 28 years at 5% YoY)
    • Gap: 5M (1.3M in today’s value before returns)
    • (*at 10% YoY value is 7.4M and I don’t need to save a dime more today to hit goal!!!!)
  • Goal 2: 3M in taxable accounts by age 50 (by 2033 – to last 15 years)
    • Current: 757,076 (est 1.4M in 13 years at 5% YoY)
    • Gap: 1.6M (750k in today’s value before returns)
    • (*at 10% YoY value is 2.6M and I only need 125k more saved today to hit goal – riskier since 10% YoY over 13 years is shorter time horizon, but not impossible)
  • Goal 3: 150k per child 529 before they turn 3
    • Current Kid 1: 35k (Plan – superfund 75-150k next year)
    • Current Kid 2: 35k (Plan – superfund 75-150k next year)
    • Current (Future) Kid 3: 18k

Since I am unable to save more than allowed in tax-advantaged accounts for retirement, what is likely to happen in that some of my 7M retirement goal will be in taxable accounts once I save the 750k additional to hit 3M at age 50. And, of course, the above does not into consideration that my accounts may perform well about 5% YoY, especially with dividends reinvested! But for now, I think these are really good goals. Some may say they are crazy goals (do I really need that much) but at least they are clear goals I can aim for, to help guide spending choices over the coming years.

The above also does not include emergency fund, home equity (I would like to own house outright on top of the amounts above.)

I am doing this all pre tax because I’m too lazy to calculate it post tax and I think if I can get to 3M + 7M pre tax buckets I’m still in good shape!

What do you think? Is this strategy too aggressive?

We Got the Keys! And 10 Other Happy Things.

It’s time for a positivity roundup.

  1. A Home of Our Own: Yesterday, we got the keys to our house. We met our realtor after a month-long seller rent back, and she handed they keys over, and we finally were able to say goodbye to her and stay in the ouse on our own for a while without masks. It didn’t really feel likes ours yet, but it was / is ours. And even though it’s not perfect, it IS a perfect *cough*1.6M*cough* starter home. I really like the neighborhood and standing outside and watching families in houses a few blocks down and thinking about how one day my kids will have friends in the neighborhood made my heart all warm and fuzzy.
  2. Family Connections: My father-in-law, who is in his late 70s, loves spending time with my son and is helping us out a lot with him now through a very busy work period for my husband and myself. While not having to spend on childcare is very much an added bonus, it also is so great that my kid gets to bond with one set of grandparents. I hope my next kid also gets to bond with grandpa as well–and next kid should because grandpa will be living with us!
  3. Presidential Hope: While this election is a train wreck fueled by a president who thinks democracy = not counting all legally cast votes, it looks like Biden might win by winning GA and PA, even if AZ falls back to Trump. The loss of the senate is a shame, as it will give Biden little power to do much of anything, but at the very least we’ll have an adult in office again–which is really fucking important through a global pandemic. I don’t care what side of the donkey-elephant fence you’re on, having a commander-in-chief who throws temper tantrums daily on twitter and who hob nobs with dictators and makes enemies out of our top global allies will be pretty great. Knock on wood, he takes GA and PA and after realizing you can’t actually throw out legally-cast votes, he concedes and GTFO of the WH.
  4. So Far: A Healthy Baby. My pregnancy has gone relatively smoothly (knock on wood.) Sure, it’s 2am and I’m always awake these days at 2am with some sort of allergic reaction to my apartment, wide awake. But I’m healthy, I’ve made it to nearly 29 weeks now, and even if I have my baby right now its chances of survival are above 90 percent.
  5. Stocking it Up. I hit the RSU lotto at work. After years of working for startups and getting “stock options” which ultimately resulted in no value (or loss of value since one has to actually buy them when leaving the company in order to keep them), I finally was able to get hired at a fast-growth public company at just the right time for my initial stock grant to grow about 10x. While I vested a bunch before it hit this milestone (and sold along the way), I still have made a good chunk of change. If I can bite my tongue and hold out for 13 more months, I should make another 350k after tax at a minimum, not counting any saving from income/bonus/etc. This is pretty amazing in terms of a bump in my journey to FatFIRE. And it could be closer to 600k, depending on how the markets do.
  6. Career Path Fun: While my new role at work (that I had no say in) is a little scary from the long-term perspective (it will be hard to get a similar job that pays anywhere near as well at another company, which means I will need to pick up some new skills over the next year then quickly move on to maintain any sort of reasonable salary growth (and non shrinkage), I have to say my current position is kind of, well, fun. It’s not easy by any means, and I have a lot to learn, but I get to focus on one area and might actually be able to do a good job for a while. It also feels like a position I can do when I return from maternity leave without constantly feeling like I’m about to fail and be fired, so that’s good.
  7. Husband is Still Husband: I married the sweetest guy in the world and he hasn’t changed. Sure, our marriage isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day I get butterflies around hubby because he is just such a good, kind, and gentle person. He reminds me of the type of person I aspire to be. I know it’s easy to take one’s spouse for granted, and I need to put more work into my marriage esp when I have the energy to. do that again, but I’m so lucky to have found a really really good partner.
  8. Not Dead from Corona Yet: As far as I know, I haven’t had COVID yet, and no one in my family or friends circle has had it. I’m terrified and sad about the loss of certain freedoms and socialization, but the COVID world has also done some wonderful things for me. I’ve realized just how much my social anxiety negatively impacted my life by seeing what life is like when I don’t have to interact with people outside of my immediate family. I do miss friends, but I don’t miss the horrible anxiety that goes into every moment I spend time with other people, especially at work.
  9. Net Worth Growth Overall: my after tax, don’t have to touch it until I retire family net worth is about 1M. Although that isn’t enough to retire on today or for a while, it is more than most people have at my age–or any age. At my current savings rates, the next few years should be very interesting in terms of setting my middle-aged years for a lower-stress life (no more constantly worrying about what happens if I lose my job!)
  10. This Blog, and My Readers: I still get giddy when people leave me comments on here–while there’s the occasional troll, for the most part people leave incredibly helpful and thoughtful comments which help me advance and grow in many areas. I’ve been writing on this blog now for (gasp) over 15 years and it has really helped guide me towards my north start of being financially responsible and at a very good financial place going into my (gasp) late 30s. Because of that, I don’t feel that scared about bringing a second kid into the world, and a third child (something I’ve always wanted despite coming from a family of 2 and being married to an only child) is definitely still a potential reality if my body will cooperate at 39. It also may not happen, and I’m also very happy with a family of 2 kids, and I just can’t wait for my toddler can meet his little sibling and to watch them grow together, especially after this past year of my son not being able to socialize with other kids at all. It is the absolute cutest thing when he points to my belly and goes “baby growing!” I’m not sure exactly what he thinks about it, but I tell him baby is going to come live with us soon, and he seems to get it at least somewhat. So many precious memories ahead if I can just get through childbirth safely without any additional trauma (atheist g-d willing.) I am feeling really good about this upcoming birth, despite the state of everything.

So there you go, 10 things I’m super grateful for and happy about. I rarely talk about them here because I come here to complain or talk about my frustrations and concerns around all things money related, but there is a lot to celebrate here heading into 2021. By the end of 2021, my net worth should have a significant increase, I should have a healthy baby that is approaching 1 years old (and preparing my body in the healthiest way possible to conceive my third and final kiddo), and maybe even feeling at home in the house we bought. Maybe life is going better than I ever imagined it could be and I just don’t know how to handle being so damn #blessed. Yes, I said it. I hash tagged it. But it’s true. I am grateful. I have some guilt for my privilege that led me here, but it certainly wasn’t easy. I have to fight the good fight every day to not let my mental health challenges get the best of me. And, despite a few breakdowns here and there, and a few manic periods I’d really like to forget, I seem to be doing it–surviving… and thriving even. I should try to celebrate all this good while it lasts. I know nothing good lasts forever. But right now, all signs point to–hey life isn’t that bad. It’s ok. It’s good. As good as life can be after losing a parent and never being able to go back to before all that. It’s just good for what it is. For where I am. And I hope next year continues on this trend line. Maybe soon I’ll remember what it feels like to be happy again.

Coast FIRE sounds good to me.

I’m digging the idea of Coast FIRE–which is basically what my goal has been for a while, I just haven’t had a name for it. By “Coast FIRE-ing,” basically you save enough that you no longer have to keep saving. You just work to pay expenses and your savings grow to support your expenses forever. I like the sound of that.

One of my commenters reminded me that at two million in savings, I might already be there. But then I realized I don’t actually have two million in savings. So I need to figure out how much savings I need to Coast FIRE and then focus on getting there, versus some meaningless arbitrary number that sounds good (like five million, though that still sounds good.)

  • Cash – 185k
  • Home Equity (After Sale) – 226k
  • Taxable – 508k (726k at 30% tax)
  • IRA – 211k (353k at 40% tax)
  • Roth – 103k
  • 529 – 90k

Total Actual Family Networth: 1.3M
Minus home equity and 529 = 984k

So… we’re not really at 2M. I think where I’m going is that we need to get to 2M after tax, not including home equity and 529, to be Coast FIRE. I need to run some more numbers, but the above is a more realistic breakdown of our actual family net worth.

It can definitely grow over the next year with my vesting a chunk of company stock, but it will be a while before we hit 2M… and even then I’ll have to make enough income to afford about 12k a month in expenses for the next 30 years without any savings on top of that. I guess if we get to 2M after-tax net worth (minus our home equity and 529 funds), then we have to earn 250k a year together to cover 12k a month in expenses. If my husband makes 90k, that means I need to make 160k to Coast FIRE, once we’ve saved 2M.

My Three Year Plan: $2.5M Net Worth, IVF, and Baby #3.

The only reason I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved thus far in life is, quite frankly, this blog. Well, the fact that this blog has, since I was 22, force me to plan my life in tiny increments and seemingly impossible goals that I’ve managed to reach time and again. Despite a ridiculous amount of setbacks caused by my mental health issues, here I am, just short of the goal of hitting $2M in networth (including husband’s savings) by 37, and before having baby #2.

But as my 30s come to a close, I have a few major goals to accomplish that are definitely not givens. While my husband and I lightly talked about having a third child should we have two sons first, this week my doctor completely ruined my “sex surprise” by blurting out the sex at my appointment. So it’s a boy. And I’m happy, I really am, and I just want my son to be healthy and yada yada. I know after my first childbirth with my first son ending up in the NICU, just having a smooth birth where baby comes out breathing is a big win. I’ll take that for sure.

Yet like many woman, I long for a daughter. I know it’s a silly thing–people aren’t defined by their genitals. I could have a daughter who decides she is more manly than my boys. Still… I know I’m not the only woman who wants to have a girl. I also know if I don’t at least try (as in use medical intervention to skew the odds in my favor) I’ll regret it. I also will feel that after two kids if it doesn’t work out, I will be sad but accept it. And if I can, in my ripe old birthing age of then 39, make magic happen–I’ll be quite happy.

So, without further ado, here are my goal for the next three years. Keep checking back here as I update with posts on if I’ve achieved any of these goals…

(All goals based on December EOM of the following years)

2020 (Age 37)

  • $2M in total family net worth
  • Own a home and live in it
  • Pregnant with baby #2
  • Keep job through maternity leave start (start in Jan 2021)
  • Don’t get COVID.

2021 (Age 38)

  • $2.5M in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Live in home and enjoy it (meet the neighbors)
  • Pregnant with baby #2 (give birth in Jan)
  • Keep job through maternity leave (start maternity leave in January)
  • Remodel bathroom, fix electric, add HVAC/AC, epoxy garage floors, don’t let all plants and grass die around house)
  • Use 1 month of mat leave later in year to go back to my childhood home and visit family, help mother clean out house and prepare for sale 🙁
  • Go back to work in May/June, remain gainfully employed (and do a good job) through end of year. Complete vesting of first stock grant.

2022 (Age 39)

  • $2.75M in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Begin IVF for baby #3 in March 2022 (or sooner, if weaning prior to 2 years of age); g-d willing, pregnant by September (expect to spend 100k on IVF with PGS but hoping to find a job that covers some of this cost)
  • New job by July 1, 2022 (ideally April 1, 2022) closer to my home

2023 (Age 40!!!!?!!!)

  • Survive and not freak out about being 40.
  • $3M!!!?! in total family net worth (including home equity after potential commissions)
  • Give birth to baby #3?!?!
  • Employed at a job I like, that I’m actually good at.

Hmm. I wonder if any of the above goals are possible. The 2M by end of this year is reasonable as the long as the stock market doesn’t totally tank. And I should defiantly be having a baby this January (and hopefully a healthy baby.) Everything else is very TBD.

But these are my goals. I think if I can reach 3M by 40 that would be pretty insane. That’s definitely a stretch goal, even with my husband’s savings added in. But go big or go home, right?

And… I am so scared about doing IVF to try to have my third child, a girl, at 39. I just can’t not try. And I’ve always wanted three kids. I just Never pictured myself pregnant at 40! Gosh, how did I get this old?

My Journey to $2,000,000 — A Quick FIRE Check-In

2020 is weird. Remember when our stocks dropped about 30%, then bounced right back? I made some not-so-wise money when the market was down, but also made a few good ones. And maybe the bad ones weren’t so bad after all.

My asset allocation is all out of whack. Still. It’s worse, because I admit I’m a wee lil addicted to individual stock buying and those individual stocks are primarily US tech stocks. I do not recommend this to anyone, this is me being dumb and seeing investing as a hobby outside of my actual diversified index fund investments. It was fun when I had about $50k in my old Sharebuilder account and I could see if I could beat the market, for kicks. Now I have about $300k in that account (moved to another broker but nonetheless), it’s getting a little, well, scary.

Right now, my networth (after tax*) looks like this:

  • Cash: $318,937 (downpayment fund + emergency fund)
  • US Large Cap: $546,150 (65.5%, target 43%)
  • US Small Cap: $31,810 (3.8%, target 5%)
  • International Developed: $183,258 (21.9%, target 27%)
  • Emerging Markets: $28,546 (3.4%, target 5%)
  • US Bonds: $0(0%, target 12%)
  • Int Bonds: $45,142 (5.4%, target 8%)

TOTAL: $1,154,954

(*why after tax? I count my networth based on after tax value, not including any penalties or fines for early withdrawals, so I have a full picture of my actual savings and asset allocation)

As you can see above, I’m wayyyy overweight in US Large Cap.

This doesn’t tell the whole picture, because:

  • it doesn’t include my husband’s savings or investments (~$200k which help the diversification but not much, total ratios look like 65/3.9/21.8/3.7/.4/5.3 %)
  • it has $0 in bonds because I sold US bonds for downpayment, and need to rebuild my bond fund
  • the above does not include my potential RSU earnings in the next 16 months, which after tax = ~ $536,896 if I can keep this job for another 16 months, which I hope I can! (total networth including 16 month RSU vested and taxed = $1,691,850)

At this point, for my goal of $2M after tax networth by 40 (solo, not including husband’s savings/investments), I think I’m making good progress. The next 16 months will be key. If the stock market crashes, given how heavily I am invested in stocks, the $2M goal could be far off. If it goes up, then I could be closer than I think.

$2M isn’t a substantial goal for me. I won’t feel good about my personal finance progress until I get to $5M. I want to do that by the time I’m 50, so I have enough money to raise a family in a very HCOL area and help my mother and sister out, so they don’t have to worry. My mother will be 76 then, and I expect that to be the age she is running out of money. When I hit $5M, I plan to pay her back for my college education and wedding (if she really needs the money before then, I will definitely help her out and I already pay for her trips to visit my family, etc.)

$5M seems like a long way off, but if I can find another company growing at anywhere near a similar rate to my current company and get an equivalent or larger RSU grant, maybe 2-3 more times, it’s somewhat possible.  I didn’t think $100k was possible just 15 years ago, so who is to say adding $3.5M in 10 years isn’t possible? With my current funds growing at 5% a year, that will add about $1M in 10 years, so I just have to makeup for $2.5M, which is saving $250k a year. That’s going to be rough, maybe impossible. It depends what kind of salary and total comp growth I see in the next 10 years. It’s probably impossible… but I always pick impossible targets, why not this one?