Net Worth Week 3

Gentle Readers,

My tracking of my Net Worth is going strong. There has not been much visible progress, and my IRA had a more volatile week than normal due to being readjusted last weekend. It will be interesting acclimating to my increased volatility. I trust that it will be worth it to Future ZJ, and I like her.

This week began with a panic at my small business. The timing of my deposits and my expenditures was off and I got a notice on Monday morning to that effect. I worried that I would have to use personal funds to cover next month’s expenses. Thankfully, that did not happen this time. My business got hit with a penalty, but it did not drain everything it has.

I am proud that I have successfully kept the balance off of two of my three credit cards, but the Rewards Card balance still grows. I put all of my life expenses on it (utilities, health insurance, food, alcohol, dates with TBO etc). I am not yet willing to go entirely frugal, but I need to reduce my alcohol in public consumption. Spending time with TBO and my friends usually involves food in public, because living in a city involves being far away from each other’s homes. Spending those meals with people I love helps to maintain my heart and friendships. It is good for me. Spending time in public and, also money, is  good for professional networking; people who’ve never met me are less likely to refer individuals to my business.  This spending may not be good for my current bank balance, but I anticipate that it will be worth it in the long run. It is also just fun.

This week’s paycheck is devoted to my student loan payments and my Earnest loan, but they won’t auto-debit until next week.

It’s fascinating to watch my negative net worth change by .99 and -1.0% every week.

Date 4/8/16 4/15/2016 4/24/2016 4/29/2016
Joy 1097 1097 1097 1097
Travel 322 322 322 322
Down Payment  18 18 18 18
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 9 9
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1066 907 963  1097
IRA  6885 7026 7100  7045
Brokerage  217 221 222  219
CC (largest)  -983 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -2850 -3000 -3060  -3558
SL 1  -101791  -101892 -102041 -102123
SL 2  -44970  -45001 -45046 -45072
Earnest  -10009 -10036 -10054 -10078
–$150,890 -$150,230 -$150471 -$150079
  .99% change .99% change -1.0% change   .99% change

How’s your progress coming?

On Prince Passing Showing Us How to Live

Gentle Readers,

We all know that Prince passed at the young age of 57 last week. How he lived is just now coming to light. This blog is just as much a place to discuss how to be good as it is about how to handle money well. Please allow this indulgence.

His death hurt. It was unexpected for most people. He was incredibly young and still prolific. He meant so much to so many. His music, his aesthetic, his shade – they all impacted people. If he had only given the world his music, it would have been enough.

But, Prince was more than that. He was a man of great goodness. And he did it secretly.

Unlike so many other celebrities and singers whose lives showcased their disregard for others and their literal assaults on people, Prince has not had any stories surface that even accuse him of wrongdoing. No confirmed reports. No rumors. Nothing.

He was a profoundly good man and an immensely private one. So many stories have surfaced of him making sure that other people, especially black women, were given opportunities and guidance according to their talents. Misty Copeland, Beyoncé, and so many other artists were directly impacted by his efforts.

His financial support helped libraries at risk of closure,  provided solar power in under-served communities, Trayvon Martin’s family, and so many others who have not yet shared what he did for them. He was one of the brains behind one of the largest projects to teach young people how to code. He used his money and influence to make his communities better, but avoided having his name and fame overshadow the important things he was supporting. He did not need the good press from these efforts. He did them because they were good and he wanted to.

He did all this and more without seeking credit. He directly lifted others, and allowed them to to in the right place at the right time to show the world what those people could do.

He accepted the world, but worked very hard to make it better. He preferred that we not know that about him.

I hope we can all strive to be our own version of the person Prince was. He loved himself and others and used this love to advance them. He would shade you if you needed it, too. We all need to be shaded at times.

I hope that the stars are as perfect as Paisley Park.

Thank you for being, sir.


Have you been surprised to learn what Prince has done for others?


Net Worth Week 2

Gentle Readers,

I have made many changes to my finances in the past two years, and have been building up my efforts to achieve financial freedom in earnest in the past six months. These changes will result in my net worth getting closer to zero, but involve a lot of hovering around the negative $150,000 mark for now. It can be discouraging, but I know that progress is happening. Even when it does not appear true.

To show myself that my efforts have value and to encourage myself to keep them up, I am tracking my net worth weekly. I know this is obsessive and do not intend to do it indefinitely, but I think that there is a value in having meticulous attention to these matters for the time being.

The Changes

I started a business from my liquid savings in 2014. In 2015, I opened and fully-funded an IRA. In 2016, I opened a separate brokerage account, paid off (with help explained here) two of my credit cards, and began preparing to purchase a coop or condo.

All of these changes feel big, but my bank account feels small. Hopefully my focus will get me to and beyond zero.

Date 4/1/2016 4/8/2016 4/15/2016 4/24/2016
Joy 1097 1097 1097 1097
Travel  752 322 322 322
Down Payment  284 18 18 18
retirement  221 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 9 9
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  471 1066 907  963
IRA  6928 6885 7026  7100
Brokerage  220 217 221  222
CC (largest)  -11883.98 -983 0 0
CC (longest)  -567.28 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -2762 -2850 -3000  -3160
SL 1  ?  -101791 -101892 -102041
SL 2  ?  -44970 -45001 -45046
Earnest  -10000 -10009 -100036 -10054
–$151,728 -$150,890.71 -150230.71 -150471.71
-1.0% change .99% change .99% change  -1.0% change

What changes have you made in your finances recently? 

Paying off Credit Cards 2 of 3

Gentle Readers,

I previously used credit responsibly. The period in which I did not use debt responsibly is something I am still digging out of, and I am now trying to share my mistakes and my corrections so that others may learn from them without making them.

For many years, I  was a responsible user of credit. Always paid off in full. No balances. I did not care about my APR, because it did not matter.

And, then, things changed. The major change occurred after I completed my professional certificates. My computer that was my source of job ads was about to die and I did not have enough saved to buy a computer outright. I had previously been a responsible consumer of credit and felt comfortable taking out a 0% APR credit card for the purchase.

Around the time that it absolutely needed to have a zero balance to prevent an interest charge for the entire balance that had ever been on there, my gig income temporarily dried up.

It sucked. I felt ashamed. But I did not stop using the card. The company kept upping my limit. I kept getting close to the limit. I kept feeling shame.

During this time, I opened my LLC, and it took nearly a year before it received money from a client and not from my personal bank account. I used my credit cards to keep me afloat while paying my personal bills and my business expenses.  Parts of my credit card debt, subsequently, were sensibly acquired. That business is an investment in the life I want.

Fast-forward to the present.

This year had the potential for significant travel. My credit card debt existed, but my credit score was in the great range according to my FICO score. I applied for and received a rewards card with an 0% introductory APR. I put away both of my other credit cards, and focused on only using this while trying to pay the other cards down. I “earned” the 40000 bonus miles within the Rewards Card’s timeline. I purchased two round-trip tickets with the miles so far.

I still had the debt and the APR on my highest balance was high, and it frustrated me. I applied for a loan from Earnest to cover most of the balance at an interest rate that was half of the APR. I then threw two full paychecks and some of my savings at this credit card debt.

Now I have two years to pay off the Earnest loan and one remaining credit card balance. If you use my link when you apply, your rates are not impacted, but my balance will be impacted.

To sum up – I made mistakes, I took out a loan to pay off some of those mistakes, and I am now throwing lots of money at my mistakes to take control of my life.

Small steps count.

Have you been able to change your use of credit cards for the better? 

How I Got Here

Gentle Reader,

Every indebted person is unique in how they arrived to their indebtedness. The majority of my debt is educational, and contributed to my becoming a Professional. The debt is not just from my degrees though. I have used some of this debt to position my life and business in a way that I hope will sustain me in the near future.

My professional industry is rapidly changing.  Unfortunately, my entrance to my profession coincided with its crash. I have been working in gigs rather than a full career job since 2012. The gigs pay more than childhood me ever thought she would earn. The gigs pay more than the career I had always assumed I would have. The gigs pulled me away from considering the nonprofit work that would not pay me enough to live in this city.  For this, I am actually grateful. Having enough has taught me that work should not underpay me just because the work was important and necessary to the world. Work that cannot pay a living wage for its location while being location-dependent is unfair to workers and inappropriate. You should not have to take a vow of poverty to do good work.

In 2014, with the emotional and, at times, substantive, support of Mabel and TBO, I incorporated my own business in a niche within my professional field. I was able to do this by taking half of my liquid savings. All of my savings, outside of my investments in my brain and relationships, were liquid at this point because I was in a scary market and afraid of gigs drying up.

I used my investment in my LLC, and began slowly building it up while working gigs full time. I supported my life with the gig money, and also credit cards. I had some CC debt when this began, due to making a poor decision in a previous relationship. However, starting my business took so much from me and I did not feel able to get a bank loan. I never tried though. The CC debt and revolving gig work created a bad cycle.

My LLC is a bare-bones business that is able to support itself for the next few months without an infusion of cash from my personal accounts. I’m hopeful that my LLC will pay me for the first time this calendar year.

So my story is like many others’ before. Poor decisions in a relationship. Then fear keeping my savings liquid. Finally making decisions designed to take control of my life and financial well-being. This took longer than I am proud of, but I am still young enough to make my life resemble what I desire.

Wish me luck.

How’d you get where you are?

My Current Situation

Gentle Reader,

I am in debt. I do not wish to be. I wish to be able to retire early and only do the type of work that makes me feel better about the world. This blog is a personal attempt to document improving my financial situation while trying to improve the world.

I began life poor. I am now fortunate to be a professional in a city away from my former poverty. Jumping classes means that I look around and see a world I do not know. I am still learning how to navigate and master this new world.

This blog will document my journey to financial freedom, but it is also a place for me to share my plans to make the world more decent and fair. Largely, this will involve my being more decent and fair. A place for me to grow.
Every great journey must have an origin story, and your heroine, ZJ Thorne, has one ready for you.
In the past few weeks, a friend, Mabel, suggested that I buy her coop. I ran the numbers, and realized that even if I wanted her coop, I could not afford it. However, running the numbers made me realize how much I want out of my current living situation. Mabel inspired me to get serious.
Thankfully, my journey is not just my own. I have the pleasure of being in a relationship with The Beautiful One, TBO. She is not at a place where our relationship involves co-habitating, and thus, I decided that I need to focus on getting my financial house in order so that I can buy my way out of living with my PAR, passive-aggressive roommate, in the next year, if possible.
My professional life sees me as a W2 employee who bounces between gigs and the owner of a small business in a niche in the same field. My income varies greatly and feels impossible to predict, which has added that extra kink into planning.
My personal life is that of a young lesbian in a serious relationship with TBO in a major US city.
My hope is to conquer my personal and educational debt and achieve enough passive income to only accept the type of work that brings me joy.
My hope is to live in a place where I share the bathroom with noone I am not in love with.
My hope is to continue growing as a human and to encourage deep thinking about the world, and then seeking to change what can be changed.
My hope is to share that journey with you.
Inspired by J. Money,  I will share my net worth on a regular basis. The situation is dire, my net worth is negative $150,000. A very large, very negative number.
Date 3/28/2016 4/1/2016 4/8/2016 4/15/2016
Joy 1097 1097 1097
Travel 752 322 322
Down Payment 284 18 18
retirement 221 21 21
health 45 45 45
Moving 31 31 31
EF 9 9 9
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 471 1066 907
IRA 6928 6885 7026
Brokerage 220 217 221
CC (largest) -11883.98 -983 0
CC (longest) -567.28 0 0
Rewards Card -2762 -2850 -3000
SL 1 -101791 -101892
SL 2 -44970 -45001
Earnest -10000 -10009 -10036
–$151,164.31 -151728 -150890.71 -150230.71
-1.0% change -1.0% change .99% change .99% change
So this is where I begin my journey. Thank you for joining me on it.
I’d love to hear how your Financial Freedom is going.