Net Worth Week 58 – Graduation Edition

Gentle Readers,

My gig continues to be managed very poorly. Once the supervisor who hated this project got a new job, it has gone downhill faster and faster. They promise there is a ton of work to do, but they are not staying enough ahead of us, me really, to ensure that there is work available when necessary. It’s frustrating. I sit at my desk waiting for work. At least I get paid when I wait. Their mismanagement messes up my ability to get overtime as planned.  Nothing is promised and I have to keep remembering that. Thankfully, I am still doing well.

A coworker I like on another project let me know about some job postings within our field but a level up. He found the pay rate and what skills we would need to show in order to qualify for it. I appreciate that he looks out for us.

I am off to my family member’s graduation party this weekend. It is important to show up for significant milestones. I’ll also get a chance to have a girl’s day with my best friend from middle school. Since she has children, I am letting her pick what we do. She gets less downtime than me. If she wants us to hang with her family or if she needs away time, I’m happy. I love her family, and I will do my part to contribute to its happiness.
My TMJ is acting up. I’m trying to do a better job taking care of this pain, but stress triggers it.
The markets were rocky this week. I wonder what they’ll have in store for us with all of the ridiculous goings-on in our Administration. My IRA is down, but my net worth is up. I’m heading in the right direction. This is the fourth week with a positive change in my net worth!

This week’s net worth numbers

5/12/2016 5/19/2017
 Joy 1106 1106
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 285 285
 EF 11 11
Business 1003 1003
Life 832  1644
 IRA  13002  12883
 Brokerage 693  685
 Rewards Card 2 -1572 -1474
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -999 -918
SL 1 -104577 -104693
 SL 2 -46068 -46121
 Earnest -4862 -4872
 Net Worth -141059 -140374
 Percentage Change .95% .49%

Have you noticed the rocky market or just kept on with your plan?

Planning For a Graduate’s Future – Redux

Gentle Readers,

It is graduation season again, and another family member is finishing high school. This time the plan is to stay in the family home until college starts. I like to not play favorites with siblings, so I am getting her almost the exact same set of books that I got him last year. One small deviation to account for the differences in their characters.

I decided to stick with the perennial favorite, “The Millionaire Next Door.” She plans on a high-paying career, but I think the stealth wealth envisioned here could help her stay on course no matter what happens.

Her personality is very different from her brother and I think she’ll be best served by the framework in “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke.” That will be on top of her present-stack.

I don’t think she would even read the one I was least sure of for her brother, so I did not buy her it. I don’t want to waste her bookshelf space. She plans on being pre-med. That shelf-space is precious.

She believes in deep thought, supposedly, and I got her the esoteric one, too, “Early Retirement Extreme.” I suspect she won’t touch this either.

The deviation for her was “Truth & Beauty: A Friendship.” I loved this biography and think that many women with deep but fraught friendships could benefit from seeing one displayed in all of its gory richness. Patchett is one of my favorite living authors and this was helpful and painful to read during a particular time in my life. I think this family member may understand my twenties better from reading this. Perhaps not. I hope that she navigates relationships in a far healthier way.

Unlike her brother, I think traditional education is the current best route for her. I think she will flourish in college in a way her brother never would. Maybe I’ll buy a textbook for her? Or leave that to her parents…

What do wish you had read at 18?

Net Worth Week 57 – One is Done Edition!

Gentle Readers,
This week has been a whirlwind. We sat for days at work waiting for our task to be available. Naturally, our supervisor did not communicate with us for two and a half days. So we sat. Thursday morning rolled around and we were told that unlimited OT was being “temporarily” suspended since work was not available. Sensible, but frustrating to my plans. A few hours later, not only do we have work, but we have multiple urgent projects. No word on OT until I had to ask my supervisor if the approval would be back since we have deadlines. This is the uncertainty of my job. We just never know what will happen.
I used my downtime at work to study and it feels like it’s paying off. I’m feeling very hopeful about my ability to get a gig in this new skill soon.
In wonderful news, I paid off the balance transfer ahead of schedule!!! No weird spike in interest rate on that bit of money. I’ve been throwing money at this particular sore-spot for weeks. In mid-April, I still had a balance of over $3000. This is one of the reasons I’ve been working my tail off in overtime. I wanted this gone and now it is!
My remaining credit card debt is $2571. Much better than the almost $6000 it was just a short while ago. I will continue working hard towards demolishing this debt. If my job can keep overtime available, it will be very useful for me. I am traveling next weekend, so my ability to work a ton will be diminished substantially.
This is my fourth week in a row of positive gains. I love that sort of trend!

This week’s net worth numbers

5/5/2016 5/12/2017
 Joy 1106 1106
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 285 285
 EF 11 11
Business 1003 1003
Life 1397  832
 IRA  12937  13002
 Brokerage 689  693
 Rewards Card 2 -1727 -1572
 CC (largest) -879  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1150 -999
SL 1 -104721 -104577
 SL 2 -46134 -46068
 Earnest -5318 -4862
 Net Worth -142414 -141059
 Percentage Change .55 % .95%

Have you paid off something lately ?

Net Worth Week 55

Gentle Readers,
I think I figured out my self-employment taxes last weekend. Based on the forms I filled out, I don’t need to prepay quarterly taxes for Self-Employment Tax purposes because I do not anticipate earning enough through my business this year. I also received my federal refund and immediately plowed it into paying down debt as intended.
My overtime goal was thwarted this week because we were made to leave early on Thursday. I used the “extra” time to mow my lawn before we get into the 90s this weekend, which was great because all of the rain had prevented me from maintaining it properly. The added $30 from my roommates never hurts either.
I’m still doing what I can overtime-wise, but it will be smaller than I intended this week.  My project got a surprise two new coworkers this week. Our project manager is now indicating more strongly that we will have work after the next eight weeks, but there are never any guarantees in this industry. I’m still going to try to overload on OT while I can, because you never know what the future holds.  If all goes according to plan, I will pay off my balance transfer before the 0% interest rate changes in early July. In the past two weeks, I have paid off 49% of the remaining balance. The next two paychecks are entirely devoted to debt reduction.
I have used my girlfriend’s old crock pot twice now, which means my lunches have been far more frugal than usual. I’m still getting the hang of the process and seeking out better recipes. Do you recommend any?
This weekend I’m looking forward to dinner with a friend who is in town and also a college alumnae resistance event. See, I do some balance.

This week’s net worth numbers

4/21/2016 4/28/2017
 Joy 1105 1105
 Travel 1 1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 285 285
 EF 11 11
Business 1002 1002
Life 1239  1324
 IRA  12768  12974
 Brokerage 691  698
 Rewards Card 2 -1000 -1859
 CC (largest) -2761  -1629
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1176 -1200
SL 1 -104490 -104606
 SL 2 -46029 -46081
 Earnest -5296 -5307
 Net Worth -143478 -143110
 Percentage Change .92 % .26%

Has the rain ended in your area yet?

Equity Crowdfunding A Movie – An Opportunity for a Passive Income Stream?

Gentle Readers,

Any blogger with more than one post in a niche gets random emails soliciting posts or access to your platform. Most of them are clearly spam. They are the equivalent of offering to write a post about Viagra for a lesbian’s financial independence blog. They all claim to have read you and love your blog, but they’ve never interacted with you on any platform. (Hint, I’m on twitter and facebook and right here at www.zjthorne.com). No liking a tweet. No blog post comment. No indication that they’ve read you at all.

This time was different. The approach was interesting because they actually did some homework on me. They showed that they had read one of my pieces, or at least the title. They put in the minimal required effort to pique my interest. They are the first. There are perks with being first.

When you approach someone like you respect their time, they are more inclined to listen.

Based on our interactions, I believe this person’s idea was worth investigating. They did not ask for a post, and this is not a sponsored post. This is what happens when people respect others’ time and expertise (let’s joke and pretend I’m an expert here, thanks).  I am not receiving any money for this post and I have not decided if I would invest in this project.

Enough with the caveats.

What is Equity Crowdfunding?

Title III of JOBS Act made online equity crowdfunding legal. In a nutshell, you do not have to be an accredited investor in order to participate in some opportunities to invest now. Accredited investors have a lot of money and the government assumes that they know what they are doing when it comes to investing. Thus they are allowed to invest in securities that are not registered with financial authorities. The government thinks that slick folks won’t be able to pull one over on accredited investors and that they don’t need to be protected from themselves.

Those of us who do not make enough money are now allowed to buy equity in an early stage company. You are reading a FIRE blog and I assume you know what equity is. The goal is that this asset produces returns. You can invest in some startups now. That’s the gist of equity crowdfunding.

What is the opportunity?

That Christmas Movie LLC is seeking investments to get a Christmas Comedy out the door for the 2017 Holiday Season, “I’ll Be Next Door For Christmas.”  It is going to be a full length feature film and claims that it will be the first Christmas movie to raise funds this way. (The JOBS Act did not make this legal until 2016, fyi)

Essentially, they are making a low-budget Christmas Movie with some very talented folks, who’ve made comedies I’ve enjoyed before. They will leverage the money earned through equity crowdfunding to access other capital at a cheaper rate.  They’ve reached their minimum goal already and intend to make a movie on whatever budget they end up with. If I understand it correctly, they will not use more than $2 million total to produce this film.

If you have anywhere from $100 to $100,000, you can purchase a share of this security. You are buying Revenue Participation Rights. It is impossible to know what the interest rate would truly be, because that will depend upon returns, if any.  They’ve set up the company in a way to allow the investors to receive 100% of the adjusted gross proceeds up to the repayment amount, that is the $100 to $100,000 you put up. After all investors are repaid, 50% of adjusted gross proceeds would go to investors on a pro-rata basis. There is no term. You buy it and hope to receive residuals forever.

There is even a lesbian link

Jennifer Tilly joined the cast. She is not a lesbian, but she starred in a lesbian classic, Bound. Queer women throughout the US are grateful to her.

What do you think? Should I invest? I have the writer/director’s email and am not sure what questions I should be asking. What would you ask? 

Net Worth Week 54 – Dine With Friends Edition

Gentle Readers,
At long last, my client who insisted everything was urgent weeks ago, is coming in for final approval this weekend. Then my business can get paid!
I’m trying really hard to get a ton of overtime this week, while also planning on finally doing my Self-Employment taxes, which I am still intimidated by. I really want to pay off these credit cards and keep them paid off. My project is only scheduled for 8 more weeks, but could potentially last longer. I want to get myself into a really good position before the ability to do so much overtime goes away. Nearly $5K I’d like to pay off in the next eight weeks, and then I can re-focus on funding my IRA.
I did have a delightful text asking me to join a friend and his family for lunch in ten minutes on Thursday. I ignored my packed lunch and met them. This was the first time their son actually talked to me, too. It was wonderful. Dining with friends makes such a difference in my happiness levels. I would like to do this at least once a week. Lunch or happy hour or a walk or something.

This week’s net worth numbers

4/14/2016 4/21/2017
 Joy 1105 1105
 Travel 1 1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 285 285
 EF 11 11
Business 1002 1002
Life 518  1239
 IRA  12645  12768
 Brokerage 682  691
 Rewards Card 2 -1138 -1000
 CC (largest) -3227  -2761
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1231 -1176
SL 1 -104375 -104490
 SL 2 -45976 -46029
 Earnest -5285 -5296
 Net Worth -144811 -143478
 Percentage Change -.24 % .92%

Have you ever ditched your packed lunch for camaraderie?

Net Worth Week 52 – Year One Done

Gentle Readers,
One year of tracking my net worth is officially complete!
I’ve learned a lot by focusing so intently and have had some improvements while also having some setbacks. Those setbacks would have been worse if I hadn’t been focusing so hard.
At this point last year, my business was not going as well and I was about to spend a lot of my personal money keeping it afloat. I was also in a lot of pain, but had not yet figured out how to navigate the health system to get the care I needed. My girlfriend lived in my town, but in a very high stress, high hour job. I had begun learning a new skill, but was still very much a novice.
This year, I’m in a slightly better financial situation. My business is doing better and I understand better how to make it work. My pain is diminished and I am physically stronger. My girlfriend lives over 1000 miles away, and this chapter in our relationship has already taught us a lot. My skill-building is reaching exponential-growth levels and it is encouraging. My heart is also in a much calmer position. I’ve become more centered in a few ways even as the world around me, and portions of my life, are more uncertain.
This week has had some financial setbacks. After a few days with the mattress my roommate “gifted” me, my body has concluded it needs to be replaced along with the frame that is not structurally sound. I’m not thrilled with this, but I think my body can hold off a while. I ordered the frame my brother recommended and will use that once it comes in. I was worried for 24 hours that I would have to replace my phone after it took a trip into water. Thankfully, it is back in working order for now and I can wait to replace it.
I still find this weekly exercise useful and think I’ll keep it up for the time-being. One more year ought to get me into a better place.

This week’s net worth numbers

4/15/2016 4/7/2017
 Joy 1097 1105
 Travel 322 1
 Down Payment 18 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 31 285
 EF 9 11
Business 1 1002
Life 907  639
 IRA  7026  12736
 Brokerage 221  689
 Rewards Card 2 n/a -585
 CC (largest) 0  -3264
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -3000 -1331
SL 1 -101892 -104519
 SL 2 -45001 -46041
 Earnest -10036 -5274
 Net Worth -150230 -144460
 Percentage Change 3.84%

Have you grown this year?

If It’s Good Enough for Obama, It’s Good Enough For Me: How I Chose To Resist

Gentle Readers,

You know I feel strongly about making the world a better place. You know that I am not in favor of our current POTUS. There are so many things he stands for that I find abhorrent. However, one person can only do so much, and I prefer to focus my efforts into things I can actually impact. I cannot do a damn thing about Russian interference. I cannot stop climate change. I cannot protect NAFTA. I cannot make them hold a hearing for Merrick Garland.

My advocacy must lay elsewhere if it is to have an impact

For advocacy to be most effective, it should focus on asking the right person to do or not do something specific that is within their power to do or not do. Unless your advocacy is more broadly about making a conversation happen. Changing narratives is important, but it cannot be the only thing done. I am glad that there are people staging protests and using their voices in that way, but it is not the route for me.

My tactics are different. I do not have much available time, and I must use it effectively.

I know that the election was decided by a very small margin of voters. I also know that many potential voters wanted to vote, but were disenfranchised. Either by someone’s intent, or through inability to secure the proper documentation. The very inability to secure the proper documentation is because of how we set up our system. I think it is intentional. Many countries automatically register everyone to vote, or use ink on a finger as proof that you’ve already voted, etc. Our system is not the only way, nor is it an effective way if you want more of the electorate to vote.

One of my many internships was working at a nonprofit that considered itself a homeless shelter without walls. We did not have beds for people, but we acted as a hub in that community to enable people to access the multiple services they all needed. Most of our clients had been through homelessness and many other complicating factors. To access services provided by the city and state, they needed to prove who they were. Many homeless individuals lose their birth certificates and other documentation because they are very far down in the hierarchy of needs.

Part of my job included contacting the office of vital records on a client’s behalf. I would fill out the paperwork and get our treasurer to write a check for ten dollars. None of our clients had ten dollars to spare for something that was not urgent for survival. Within seven to ten business days, that man would have a birth certificate. Then we would help him get an ID. Another process that can be hard for people to navigate. The forms can be confusing even if your language skills are more “advanced” than others. The forms also required patience and the ability to prove where you lived. Not always easy for someone. People who’ve been homeless don’t often have utilities in their name.

Without an ID, people cannot vote. As seen above, even without government agencies and officials intentionally disenfranchising people, ie felons and former felons in some jurisdictions, the processes to navigate having the paperwork can be impenetrable. If a person uses a mobility aid, and the bus system only comes by once an hour when it works properly, that person may not be able to make it to the DMV during the appointed time. Having nonprofits who can literally arrange transportation for people who do not have access to personal vehicles can literally be the difference between a citizen being allowed to vote in elections that impact their bus service and not being allowed to vote.

How I chose to resist

Knowing all this, I have followed President Obama’s lead and will focus my energies on voter enfranchisement work. He is a politician, and rightly focused on anti-gerrymandering work, but I don’t have the political knowledge or resources to impact these efforts. I know more about how government works than the average American, but not enough about the systems and processes and political machinations to be able to successfully work in that arena.

I don’t have the capacity to volunteer in a nonprofit at this time, but I do have the internet and the ability to research.

I looked at the states with the most voting restrictions. Then I narrowed that list to those states that had the closest elections in 2016. I chose to narrow in this manner because I do not have unlimited funds. If I were rich, I would have expanded my list and worked on all states with significant voting restrictions.

The states with the most voting restrictions that had the closest elections in 2016 were Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

I then searched for organizations in those states doing voter registration or anti-gerrymandering work. I found https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/, http://www.nonprofitvote.org/, and http://www.blueprintnc.org/. All of these organizations are focused on nonpartisan civic engagement.

If the organization I interned at still existed, I would love to donate to an organization like that. Especially if they allowed me to direct it to enfranchisement efforts.

This is the concrete action I have chosen to take. It is okay if you have chosen something else. I just needed a discrete problem to focus on because of how my brain works. I cannot solve all problems. I know advocacy works. I saw it when all of the phone calls, town halls, letters to Congress and berating our Legislators resulted in the Affordable Care Act living to see another day.

I cannot do everything, but I can do this one thing.

How do you engage in resistance? Do you have a nonprofit you wished I more folks donated to?

 

Net Worth Week 48 – Oral Surgery Edition

Gentle Readers,
My suit arrived and the tailored made it fit. There’s still one small snag that I’ll need to have my dry-cleaner fix, but it looks like a million bucks. I’ll write a post about this drawn out process soon.
Oral surgery happened. Then ice cream and applesauce did. This process let me know that my insurance is now only acceptable at pharmacies that my insurer runs. No longer may I utilize CVS. It is inconvenient, but my past performance on prescriptions being such a rarity for me will hopefully continue trending.
I opened a new rewards credit card and was able to use my oral surgery to hit part of the spending limit. This card is for an airline that flies often between the cities my girlfriend and I live in. For now, I’m keeping all of my other cards open, but I may re-assess my needs and potential impact on credit rating. You’ll notice the big dip in my travel and EF account, because I wanted to pay for as much of my oral surgery as possible up front.
Taxes drafted. Schedule C. (got side-lined this week)
Skill-building classes returned!
Another client hired me as I nearly completed work on a different client’s project.
I finished funding my 2016 IRA.
 I bought my first ticket to go visit her in her new city!

This week’s net worth numbers

3/3/2017 3/10/2017
 Joy 1105 1105
 Travel 324 1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 284 284
 EF 811 11
Business 1002 1002
Life 2640 622
 IRA  12234  12568
 Brokerage 698  688
 Rewards Card 2 0 0
 CC (largest) -4260  -3999
 CC (longest) -191  0
 Rewards Card -2322 -1629
SL 1 -104201 -104057
 SL 2 -45896 -45831
 Earnest -6145 -5692
 Net Worth -143831 -144841
 Percentage Change .34% -.70%

How have your Marches begun?

  

Net Worth Week 46 – She’s Gone Edition

Gentle Readers,
I took my girlfriend to the airport this morning and called in “sick” to work. I believe mental health counts for a sick day, and that it is a stupid system that tells me I can only use the time-off I’ve earned in one particular way.
My best friend is meeting me after work. I am meeting my other best friend’s new puppy this weekend. I’ve got some client work to do and also am not trying to get any OT this week, in part because the holiday pay calculation means that I would have to physically work 40 hours plus 1 in order to get the time-and-a-half pay-rate. Not today, Satan.
 Time to do the errands I’ve been putting off while focusing on her move: trip to the tailor,  oral surgeon,  preparing taxes so that I can understand how to do my schedule c/k? properly, grocery store, skill-building.
My net worth took a slight dip this week, which is attributable to my getting a hotel for her last night in our city. Absolutely worth it.

This week’s net worth numbers

2/17/2017 2/24/2017
 Joy 1104 1104
 Travel 324 324
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 284 284
 EF 810 810
Business 751 751
Bed  0.19 0.19
 Life 1608  1622
 IRA 11974  12163
 Brokerage 688  693
 CC (largest) -4203 -4215
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1682 -1909
SL 1 -103970 -104085
 SL 2 -45738 -45844
 Earnest -6122 -6133
 Net Worth -144139 -144323
 Percentage Change .33% -.13%

What should I do for self-care?

Have a poem by a black, queer poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Happy Black History Month, y’all!

“I loved my friend
He went away from me
There’s nothing more to say
The poem ends,
Soft as it began-
I loved my friend.”
Langston Hughes