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 37 – Happy Holidays!

Gentle Readers,

Travel begins tomorrow and will mark the first time I will actually get to be in the same state as my lovely girlfriend on Christmas Day. I’m not thrilled by the area of the country we’ll be in, but she’ll be with me and that’s a lot of joy for one woman.

There’ll be limited time with my family and away from my jobs, but I will get to hug someone I have not seen for a few years due to how far away they live. I’m so excited. Definitely worth the cost of our tickets. All of my siblings in the same space happens once every 2 or 3 years. It is not easy.

12/9/16 12/16/16 12/23/16
Joy 1102 1102 1102
Travel 324 324 324
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 284 284 284
EF 309 309 309
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 445 636  1912
IRA 10988 10883  10718
Brokerage 664 661  661
CC (largest) -4341 -4341  -4256
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card -988 -510  -1274
SL 1 -103334 -103449  -103565
SL 2 -45501 -45553  -45606
Earnest -6915 -6927  -6942
Net Worth -146880 -146494  -146246
Percentage Change .27% .26% .16%

Have you traveled this holiday season?

Net Worth Week 33 – Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition

11/11/16 11/18/16 11/25/16
Joy 1102 1102 1102
Travel 324 324 324
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 284 284 284
EF 309 309 309
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1475 2288  1632
IRA 9965 10004  10170
Brokerage 396 400  406
CC (largest) -4390 -4370  -4332
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card 0 -454  -1443
SL 1 -103115 -103247  -103378
SL 2 -45401 -45461  -45521
Earnest -7318 -7335  -7351
Net Worth -146293 -146069  -147712
Percentage Change .40% .15% -1.12%

Are you enjoying rest this Holiday Weekend?

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?

Road Less Traveled Challenge

Gentle Readers,

If you are not reading Our Next Life, you are missing out on some delightful people. They have issued a challenge whose mantle is well-worth taking up.

The challenge: Instead of talking about what we’re all doing that’s the same (saving at a high rate, optimizing our budgets, etc.), let’s celebrate what we’re each doing that’s unique.

My unique path is relatively simple. I’m a dyke and have been setting my own course from a very early age. If you do not conform to heterosexuality and the assumptions that many people attach to it, you must necessarily decide what life should be for you because there are fewer examples. This is a blessing. You have to figure out what is important to you. You have to create your joy. The day I graduated from high school, I moved out of my “family” home. I’ve been forging an expanded version of family and what life means for me ever since.  It changes with new information and new versions of myself. Self-improvement means that you have to accept new ways of being.

I was fortunate to find other families to take me in at all times. I was never on the street. In other people’s homes, I found a way to contribute, but mainly I learned from them and appreciated the safety and food they provided. The conclusion I reached from living with so many diverse people was that every person believes they are normal. Every person thinks that the way their family has always done something is the way to do something. Everyone’s assumptions are hidden from themselves because they’ve lived in them for so long. The greatest thing about my early nomadic lifestyle was to see through the veil of normal. There are a million ways to “properly” prepare dinner, and all of them are right for someone.

The way you’ve always done something does not have to be the way you continue doing something. 

Until very recently, I never imagined that I would be able to retire at all. I have significant student loan debt and some personal debt. My net worth is hovering around -$150,000.  However, there has been a change brewing in me. I see hope to drastically alter my situation through two different mechanisms.

The first mechanism involves learning a skill that will double my earnings. I’m really enjoying the learning process and plan to continue learning it even after it becomes profitable for me. Once I’m able to do temp work based on that skill-set, my take home pay will skyrocket. It will be enough money that I could realistically pay off all of my debt and save for a down payment in a high COL area in three years or less. With a much higher income, I intend to take a “balanced” approach. Credit card debt will be knocked out entirely in a month. Then I will save a down payment while increasing my emergency fund. If all goes well, I’ll find a small place that is affordable. Once I get an understanding of what my mortgage feels like on my bank account, I will shift focus to buying index funds and paying down my student loans. After the educational debt is gone, I will probably work one more year doing the highly lucrative temp work and plow most of my earnings into index funds.

Then, I will stop.

I will shift to my second mechanism. With the encouragement of my best friends and girlfriend, I started an LLC two years ago that will eventually allow me to live the lifestyle I desire. The work is a passion of mine and contributes to making the world better. With an appropriate nest egg and low expenses, I could work 20 hours a week doing something of value for the world without wearing myself out. My free time will be mine. I will have slow mornings with strong coffee.

I will use the freedom to travel to practice languages I’ve learned. To go on miniature adventures and learn even more ways people view their choices as normal.

I will use the freedom to create things. I like to write stories and paint furniture. I think I will continue to like that in the future.

I will use the freedom to properly learn how to cook. I’m an excellent baker, but my cooking skills are mediocre. Classes would be wonderful. I love food. I’m sure I can learn.

I will use my freedom to continue volunteering for organizations in my city. I will use my freedom to be a more involved citizen.

I will use my freedom to get a puppy. A big one.

What is your unique approach to life and FIRE?

Net Worth Week 13

Gentle Reader,

Man, the violence in our world is a lot sometimes. It is hard to be hopeful, but then I see the image of the strangers in Dallas who immediately surrounded a baby in a stroller when the shots rang out.  They were willing to put their body in harm’s way to protect a small life. That crowd was diverse and, I assume, did not all personally know that baby. They did not know why the shots were happening or who was being targeted, but they decided to protect a defenseless child. That is my hope for the world. That crowd of strangers who chose danger for another.

I know that y’all noticed I was quiet on twitter this week, and thanks for checking on me. PF bloggers are a great community. I had family in town and they had shenanigans to put me through.  I’m still trying to win my way to FinCon – in large part to meet y’all. It is already an honor to know you and I can only suspect that honor will grow when I can shake your hand.

My net worth plucked along in the positive direction and that small victory is helping me remember the destination this journey is leading me to.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 6/17/16 6/25/2016 7/1/2016 7/8/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1099  1099
Travel 323 323 323 323
Down Payment  19 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2597 2597 2002 2002
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1839 1140 1929  863
IRA  8285 8765 9580  9653
Brokerage  221 315 324 329
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -5300 -5347 -5675  -5247
SL 1  -102268  -102284 -102482 -102258
SL 2  -45017  -45067 -45112 -45010
Earnest  -9286 -9306 -9328 -8878
-$147390 -$147748 -$147222 -$147006
  -1.0% change -.24% change .35% change  .14% change

Have you been encouraged by small progress?

Net Worth Week 12 – A Glimmer of Progress

Gentle Reader,

This summer and year have been about volatility in unexpected places. We all watched the markets dip and rebound after the initial Brexit vote. I personally had some shenanigans at my gig, but was really encouraged by the community’s response to my attempt to get to FinCon. Y’all are wonderful and supportive. Thank you.

I am an hourly employee at my temp gig, and I had the misfortune of being sent home after a half day unexpectedly. I did nothing wrong, but they could not get their systems to work, which meant that I couldn’t work either. This will definitely impact next week’s paycheck and comes at an unfortunate time since I had worked a half-day on Monday as well. You are guaranteed nothing as a contingent employee. This week reminds me that I need to pursue FIRE to rid myself of the vicissitudes of laboring for others.

Brexit definitely impacted my retirement accounts. I’m personally on the right track, but am worried for the world in the next few years. Increased volatility hits financial markets definitely, but it absolutely increases violence in the world. I’m watching Venezuela and worrying what other countries will respond to market conditions in a similar vein.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 6/10/16 6/17/2016 6/25/2016 7/1/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1099
Travel 322 323 323 323
Down Payment  19 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2597 2597 2597 2002
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1729 1839 1140  1929
IRA  8516 8285 8765  9580
Brokerage  226 221 315 324
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -5434 -5300 -5347  -5675
SL 1  -102120  -102268 -102284 -102482
SL 2  -44971  -45017 -45067 -45112
Earnest  -9258 -9286 -9306 -9328
-$147176 -$147390 -$147748 -$147222
  -1.0% change -1.0% change -.24% change  .35% change

How did your week go? Have your accounts already recovered from Brexit?

Net Worth Week 10 – Grief Edition

Gentle Reader,

My heart still aches for my LGBT Family in Orlando. I focused this week on time with other LGBT people and in LGBT spaces. I allowed myself to overspend on food to be near people I was grieving with. I knew I was doing it and it was the right thing for my heart. I’m also still operating from a much smaller than average paycheck. It will be a few more weeks of loss. Thankfully small.

I am so encouraged at how many allies and people not directly impacted this time are trying to make us safer. Thank you. I don’t know if you know how much succor it gives us. Only one of my many relatives has checked on me at all, and that is a good summation of what it is like to be a lesbian. We’ve never felt safe in this world, and this has made it worse, but the response of so many people who are taking this as a call to action is so encouraging. Thank you a million times.

My IRA and brokerage accounts took hits this week, in addition to missing a month’s worth of funding that I had previously planned.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 5/27/16 6/3/2016 6/10/2016 6/17/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 322 323 323
Down Payment  18 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2597 2597 2597 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  2765 2344 1729  1839
IRA  8359 8378 8516  8285
Brokerage  222 224 226  221
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -3998 -4481 -5434  -5300
SL 1  -102245  -102360 -102120 -102268
SL 2  -45059  -45095 -44971 -45017
Earnest  -9696 -9247 -9258 -9286
-$145518 -$146101 -$147176 -$147390
  2.95% change -1.0% change -1.0% change  -1.0% change

Has tragedy ever drastically changed your spending patterns?

Financial Freedom Sneaks Into Every Conversation

Gentle Readers,

Once you start noticing an idea, you’re going to see it everywhere. My recent trips to visit family included many conversations about retirement planning that I was not anticipating. I’m glad that folks are thinking about this. I’m still planning on engaging in stealth wealth, but I am happy for the tides of knowledge to lift all of our ships.

I spent one night in the woods at my aunt’s house. We touched on all sorts of topics and enjoyed the serenity of no cell-service. The transformer blew out 10 minutes before we arrived; we really got the middle of nowhere feel. Before I left in the morning to visit the hospital again, my uncle turned to me and began asking if I have a retirement account or savings. I’m so glad that my answer to that question is now in the affirmative. He was happy that I do, even though I did not start it until I was 31. I still have time. He is almost unreasonably proud of me, and I will take it. Encouragement from a good man is always appreciated.

The more interesting conversation happened with my 21-year-old relative, Bill. Bill does not have parents. Bill has chosen to wait for college until he can get better scholarship options. Bill is living way beneath his means and saving most of his earnings. Bill did not learn this from his parents. Bill figured this out on his own.

Bill is a good man to emulate.

Bill brought up that he wants to retire to Mexico by the time he is 40. Naturally, that got me asking questions. Do you have an IRA? Are you considering starting a business? What do you envision this retirement looking like?

He does not have an IRA yet, but wants to start one. I told him about mine, and the minimums my company requires to open the one I preferred. His savings is not quite there yet, but I told him I would do a little research to see if he had good options available.

Of course he does.

Schwab is my personal preferred vehicle, but Vanguard is also wonderful. They both have options that do not require a $5000 opening balance.

At Schwab, the minimum is $1000, but you can only access that if you enroll in auto-transfer of $100 each month. Vanguard has similar limited selections for people who cannot make the higher minimum.

I do not know if Bill is able to afford a $100 autopay each month, but I am going to tell him about it. That extra decade of returns will matter so much.

I’m impressed that he is working so hard and saving everything. His parents were not good examples, and he is doing right by himself anyway. He also brought up on his own that he wants to retire by 40. I did not put that idea in his head. We have many interesting conversations to look forward to. I must keep researching so that I can keep ahead of his knowledge. We’ll both benefit.

I told Bill that I would send him the presents I bought for the other relative’s graduation. Bill is far more likely to read them and implement the ideas that appeal to his personal choices. Each one teach one.

Were you ever surprised by a family member’s insight into retirement planning?