Net Worth Week 29 – Halloween is Scary Edition

10/14/16 10/21/16 10/28/16
Joy 1101 1101 1101
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 284 284 284
EF 1005 1005 105
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 946 1942  2145
IRA 9914 10011  9917
Brokerage 400 399 391
CC (largest) -4559 -4559  -4499
CC (longest) 0 -62 0
Rewards Card 0 -383  -647
SL 1 -102929 -103044  -103159
SL 2 -45316 -45368  -45421
Earnest -7720 -7736  -7752
Net Worth -146463 -146000  -147122
Percentage Change .11% .31% -.76%

How are you celebrating Halloween?

Reading Makes You Happier

Gentle Readers,

Some among you may have wondered at my particular format. Why I open as I do. You shouldn’t be shocked to learn that it is in homage to a book. “Jane Eyre” fundamentally shaped my existence. The way that Currer Bell addressed his readers in both the preface to the second edition and in the work itself. When Currer states unequivocally that “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion.” while still actually being a person of deep religious belief and conviction, I noticed.  It has done society great good for folks to not confuse what is normal with what is right. Folks on the path to FIRE know that conventional money beliefs are not for them.

Charlotte Bronte’s re-shaping of what is possible in a novel included directly addressing her readers. Sometimes with an almost out-of-place paragraph about the feelings and place of women in society, and sometimes by letting us know that “Gentle Reader, I married him.”  (spoiler alert, but it’s been over a century).

I was reminded of my love of “Jane Eyre,” this summer by a New Yorker piece. The author had been gifted a session with a bibliotherapist. It seems that a bibliotherapist literally prescribes specific reading to help their patients. I was intrigued. I have done this for myself and others for as long as I could access the written word.

I worried that this would be another boring list of the 100 greatest novels, which don’t necessarily stand the test of time as well as the creators of such lists would like.  However, the author clarifies “I’ve long been wary of the peculiar evangelism of certain readers: You must read this, they say, thrusting a book into your hands with a beatific gleam in their eyes, with no allowance for the fact that books mean different things to people—or different things to the same person—at various points in our lives.”

For me, “Jane Eyre” has meant a great many things. When I first found her as a lonely middle schooler in a very bad environment, I saw a way out. If I modeled myself after Jane and worked very diligently at my academics and always held very strictly to my sense of morality, I should be able to get out of my bad environment. When I re-read it through high school as a balm, it acted as a talisman. It defended me against many injustices that I had no other recourse to counter at the time.

With all of that, and having read it over twenty times, it is not my go-to recommendation for folks. It is a very particular sort of novel. It does not sit well for everyone. It will not mean the same thing for them. That does not mean that the novel is bad, but that it is not appropriate to the situation. And some folks are unwilling to read something so long.

In bibliotherapy, the therapist gives you a questionnaire detailing your reading habits among other things. The author continues,

“What is preoccupying you at the moment?,” I was surprised by what I wanted to confess: I am worried about having no spiritual resources to shore myself up against the inevitable future grief of losing somebody I love, I wrote. I’m not religious, and I don’t particularly want to be, but I’d like to read more about other people’s reflections on coming to some sort of early, weird form of faith in a “higher being” as an emotional survival tactic. Simply answering the questions made me feel better, lighter.”

The author is prescribed some fiction and nonfiction after a series of email exchanges with the bibliotherapist. The author reads them at her leisure and desire over the next few years. She finds the insights she gains helpful, but nebulous.

Personally, I’ve done this. Every time I need to branch out into a dormant portion of my life. I read.

I read when I wanted to come out, but was terrified.  I read when I wanted to walk away from religion, but was worried that I was wrong. I read when I wanted to start a business, but felt inadequate to the task. I read when my heart hurt. I read when my heart was bursting with joy.

There are certain books I re-read in many seasons. I am never surprised when I see that “people who read a lot of fiction tend to be better at empathizing with others.” I know that whole worlds have opened up to me through reading. My friend Financial Libre has also written about this very topic. As I told FL, the books I’ve read in the past two years that have altered my thinking the most are Exile and Pride and this biography of Frances Perkins. While neither is fiction, they both helped me understand different ways of being. They’ve helped me be better.

Have any books altered your existence?

Net Worth Week 28

10/7/16 10/14/16 10/21/16
Joy 1101 1101 1101
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 284 284 284
EF 1005 1005 1005
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 596 946  1942
IRA 10007 9914  10011
Brokerage 401 400 399
CC (largest) -4652 -4559  -4559
CC (longest) 0 0 -62
Rewards Card 0 0  -383
SL 1 -102813 -102929  -103044
SL 2 -45263 -45316  -45368
Earnest -7713 -7720  -7736
Net Worth -146637 -146463  -146000
Percentage Change .23% .11%  .31%

How are your Octobers going?

Net Worth Week 27

9/30/16 10/7/16 10/14/16
Joy 1100 1101 1101
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 283 284 284
EF 1004 1005 1005
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1596 596  946
IRA 10033 10007  9914
Brokerage 400 401 400
CC (largest) -4660 -4652  -4559
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card -701 0  0
SL 1 -102957 -102813  -102929
SL 2 -45328 -45263  -45316
Earnest -8160 -7713  -7720
Net Worth -146981 -146637  -146463
Percentage Change -.69% .23%  .11%

Have you ever contacted an expert to learn that you have all the knowledge necessary?

This Would Have Been a Book Review If They Had Done Their Homework

Gentle Readers,

I was asked to read “It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!”  and I was given a free copy and asked to review it for y’all.

Essentially, this book wants to get folks to understand their beliefs about money. Which could be an interesting topic, but this book wants to discuss religious ideas about money. Again, this could be fascinating, but I personally have no interest in whether “Mary was a truly spiritual woman.” I could have read more, but slightly further down page 8, this book clarified that part of its hope is to mark off who is a good Christian or not, i.e.”Frank and Mary were both Christians. Or maybe we should say they both went to church.” There is so much judgment in this phrasing. As a person raised by fundamentalists, I’m not down for subjecting myself to this book.

This makes me suspect that the people who reached out to me had not read my blog at all. I am not a religious person. I wrote openly about this when I was telling y’all how to be better allies when the LGBT community suffered the horrifying attack this summer.

In case you don’t want to click through,

“14. Don’t take personal offense if an LGBTQ person does not want your prayer – so many of your religions have been used to bludgeon us. At times, to death. If you are praying to comfort us, you may want to consider our actual experiences with people using praying as a weapon to “pray the gay away” and how it would make you feel if strangers prayed about the way you experienced sex and intimacy.”

You should do your homework before asking someone to do something for you. I know that not all lesbians are atheists, but part of being a respectful neighbor includes being careful when you bring up your religion. You should not assume that it is a welcome conversation for folks. It is deeply private and personal for many people. The fact that you live in a nation that is largely one religion does not make it any more polite to assume folks want such a fraught topic brought up.

I only read books that interest me, because there is only so much joy and time in the world. I won’t be reading this one.

Have you ever been confused by someone’s request because it did not take into account who you are as a person?

Net Worth Week 26

9/23/16 9/30/16 10/7/16
Joy 1100 1100 1101
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 283 283 284
EF 1004 1004 1005
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1732 1596  596
IRA 10079 10033  10007
Brokerage 402 400  401
CC (largest) -4693 -4660  -4652
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card 0 -701  0
SL 1 -102858 -102957  -102813
SL 2 -45283 -45328  -45263
Earnest -8143 -8160  -7713
Net Worth -145967 -146981  -146637
Percentage Change .60% -.69%  .23%

Have you ever walked away from a potential mentor because you weren’t sure of their character?

Why I Still Give As I’m Getting Out of Debt

Gentle Readers,

It is true that I am pursuing financial independence, and that I am beginning far behind the starting line to the tune of negative $146,000. I am working my behind off and pursuing many strategies to change my situation. However, I still donate time and money to good causes. Some folks in the PF sphere will think me mad, and that’s okay by me. Everyone is allowed their own priorities.

I donate and give gifts to people and causes who do not directly benefit me. I do this for many reasons. The main one being that I want the world to be better. It would break my heart to know that I spent the next five years so focused on my own financial situation and ignored the world around me. If I can make the world even slightly better as I’m going, I will. Future me will be grateful, I’m sure.

When a young couple I know recently had a child, I checked in after the birth to see what they were missing now that they know what this baby in particular was lacking.  Then I mailed it to them. I also sent them a meal of their choice. They are growing accustomed to being parents and starting to learn some of the true costs. I am a practical woman and usually give practical gifts. I love adorable baby clothes and items, but babies need rash ointment. I can give that.

When I learned a friend had lost his job in a way that will preclude him getting similar employment, I stopped mowing my own lawn and paid him to do it instead. I also began asking around to see if I knew of any opportunities for him.

When people I admire and respect run for local office, I donate. Currently, a teacher from high school is running and so is a woman I met at a gala a few years ago. I do not live in their jurisdictions, but I care that they have excellent, respectable leadership. Neither of these people are running out of hubris. They are running because they have concrete ways they want to improve their community. Local politics matters so much to our daily lives. I give them money. I want America to be better.

I could get out of debt faster if I focused solely on my debt, but that is not how I want to live my life. I want to consistently work on improving the world while also improving my own financially life. I choose both. I’ll get there more slowly, but the view is worth it.

Do you make money choices that are financially irresponsible but right for you?

Net Worth Week 25 – Mentor Edition

9/16/16 9/23/16 9/23/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 283 283 283
EF 1004 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 871 1732  1596
IRA 9854 10079  10033
Brokerage 395 402  400
CC (largest) -4699 -4693  -4660
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card 0 0  -701
SL 1 -102726 -102858  -102957
SL 2 -45223 -45283  -45328
Earnest -8126 -8143  -8160
Net Worth -146867 -145967  -146981
Percentage Change -.22% .60%  -.69%

Any recommendations for paying your employment and quarterly taxes as an LLC?

Net Worth Week 24 – Fall Growth Edition

9/9/16 9/16/16 9/23/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 31 283 283
EF 1004 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 747 871  1732
IRA 10186 9854  10079
Brokerage 403 395  402
CC (largest) -4699 -4699  -4693
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card 0 0  0
SL 1 -102594 -102726  -102858
SL 2 -45163 -45223  -45283
Earnest -8109 -8126  -8143
Net Worth -146532 -146867  -145967
Percentage Change .15% -0.22%  0.60%

Is Fall a busy season in your industry?

AirBnB: All of the Inconveniences of Staying With Friends Without the Friendliness

Gentle Readers,

I traveled for a family wedding this weekend because I believe in showing up. I had not seen the cousins in over a decade, and was happy to catch up. Unfortunately all of the local hotels were $300 a night, which seemed a bit much for just me. Seemed a bit much even if I was sharing with my girlfriend who could not come on this trip.

I asked around to see what people more familiar with the city suggested. Friends sung the praises of AirBnB, but I was wary. Many cities are seeing these poorly regulated accommodations destroying the rental markets for people who have lived there for decades. I did not want to contribute to people being priced out of their homes. I try to engage in the economy in ethical ways when I can. There are times it is just not possible (see clothing), but I think every small choice can make a difference. I try to make as many of them as I can.

I was surprised to learn that many of my very anti-capitalist, anti-gentrification activist friends were also encouraging the use of AirBnB in this city in particular. I cannot recall their reasoning at the moment, but it was apparently compelling enough at the time.

I found a host who did not mention being “420 friendly” in their ad and booked with them a month ago. I was surprised when they sent so many messages that were thinly veiled attempts to make it feel like I was staying with a friend and not paying to stay in a stranger’s home. I only responded to what seemed pertinent and focused on the rest of my life.

This week I realized I did not know the process for the Day of Staying in a stranger’s home. I sent my host an email on Thursday explaining that this was my first stay and I did not know the protocol. I tell the host when I expect to get in to the city and ask how to enter their home. I hear nothing.

I don’t want to hound the host with messages but I’m starting to worry. On Saturday before I fly I ask the host again how to enter their home. I receive a text saying I’ll hear soon.  I hear nothing. My plane lands and I ask again. Another text saying that they’ll text me the location in an hour. A train to their house and no communication in that hour.

I am outside their door. Precisely when I said I would be, and I don’t know how to get in. I wait. For twenty minutes.

Then a hale of excuses. All of them nonsense. I’m not in the mood to be friendly. They made me wait outside in the heat with my luggage for twenty minutes because they failed to communicate. They offer me a glass of water and ask about my plans. I do the bare minimum of polite conversation and wish them out of the space.*

They finally leave and I can get gussied up for the wedding. Things seem better. I enjoy the wedding and stay out incredibly late. I dance. I laugh. I hold a baby. It is a delight.

I return to my host’s building and the damn key is sticking in their apartment door and not opening it. I fiddle with it for 10 minutes before texting to ask if there is a trick to opening it. I hear nothing and fiddle for 10 more minutes before convincing the old door and lock that this key is designed to turn the locking mechanism.  Then the host lets me know that nobody else has ever had a problem with the door. This fact does not matter to me – other people’s lack of problem does not impact me in any way and is a useless bit of explanation. *

I do my PT and go to sleep in this stranger’s house. I am delighted to leave in the morning and get my stuff together promptly and leave the key on the table before taking myself out without a shower because the host has not made a towel available to their guests. The website did not tell me I needed to carry my own towel. I know that Douglas Adams taught me better, and I apologize to Adams in my heart and go about my day a bit grosser than intended.

A few hours after I leave I get another text asking me if I enjoyed my stay and asking for feedback. Readers, I ignore this text. They are not my friend and I am not getting paid to teach them how to do the bare minimum of hospitality. Telling them that my experience in their home makes me want to forego this strange economy does not seem particularly fruitful.

This will be my last Air BnB stay. I like hotels. I like that there will be towels and doors that open. I like that you can shut your door on strangers making awkward small talk.  I like that no one makes you stand in the heat outside of a building for twenty minutes because they refused to tell you how to enter their premises. I like that I can shower.

How do you respond to the sharing economy forcing faux friendships on people as a way to normalize this new behavior?

*I do not tell my host any of my snarky thoughts.