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  

Net Worth Week 44 – Best Week Yet

Gentle Readers,
My high credit score officially returned last week. It took a beating down from excellent to high-ish after I completed a balance transfer last summer. The balance transfer rate ends in July. I am doing a lot of OT right now, and part of the aim is to use those funds to knock it out before then.
I still have not made an appointment  with an oral surgeon.  There is not time right now, and my focus is elsewhere. I am going to try and sneak in a massage or reflexology. My body is terribly stressed right now.
My streak re-set to 2 week’s positive net worth growth! This is my closest to zero since I’ve kept track.

This week’s net worth numbers

2/3/2017 2/10/2017
 Joy 1103 1104
 Travel 324 324
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 45 45
 Moving 284 284
 EF 810 810
Business 7511 751
Bed  0.19 0.19
 Life 1356  819
 IRA 11459  11536
 Brokerage 674  679
 CC (largest) -4182 -4182
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1530 -1120
SL 1 -103998 -103854
 SL 2 -45804 -45738
 Earnest -6562 -6109
 Net Worth -145201 -144610
 Percentage Change .33% .40%

Are you making plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you spend a standard amount?  

Net Worth Week 40 – Birthday Edition

This is now a 7 week streak of my net worth improving!
12/30/16 1/6/17 1/13/17
Joy 1102 1103 1103
Travel 324 324 324
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 284 284 284
EF 309 310 310
Business 501 501 501
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1889 1422  1128
IRA 10879 11055  11075
Brokerage 658 669  666
CC (largest) -4251 -4210  -4210
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card -1534 -1406  -999
SL 1 -103680 -103795  -103652
SL 2 -45659 -45711  -45646
Earnest -6956 -6507  -6519
Net Worth -146049 -145876  -145550
Percentage Change .13% .12% .22%

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Net Worth Week 38 – The Year End Edition

I once again travel today, but this time to New England to begin the year with some of my favorite people. I love starting the year with them, but have not done it for a few years. Extra bonus, my girlfriend loves every time I visit this region because I come home so happy. Everybody wins.

My business had a major milestone. I paid myself out of the profits for the first time. It is a small amount, and does not begin to repay me the loan of my money and time over these years, but it is an incredible start. I’m quite happy to start small, because this gives me a chance to feel what paying self-employment taxes are like on a limited-scale. If I mess up, the error should be smaller, right? My current plan is to pay myself from the profits, but not spend the money. Just have it set aside into my “business” account. Once I get the hang of paying quarterly taxes, I can save it/invest it/use it like regular money.

Thirty-eight weeks of tracking my net worth and I’m doing slightly better than I was when I began. I had hoped to be in a much better position at the end of the year, but I had not anticipated the thousands of dollars in medical bills. I still know that I am doing better, but it is important to remember that life can come at you sideways.

12/16/16 12/23/16 12/30/16
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 1 501
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 636 1912  1889
IRA 10883 10718  10879
Brokerage 661 661  658
CC (largest) -4341 -4256  -4251
CC (longest) 0 0 0
Rewards Card -510 -1274  -1534
SL 1 -103449 -103565  -103680
SL 2 -45553 -45606  -45659
Earnest -6927 -6942  -6956
Net Worth -146494 -146246  -146049
Percentage Change .26% .16% .13%

Are you ready for a New Year?

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 20

My pain keeps circling itself. I think that the steps I’m taking are having long-term effects, but they are shorter lived than I hoped.

Date 8/5/16 8/12/2016 8/19/2016 8/26/2016
Joy 1100 1100 1100  1100
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  2003 2003 2003 2003
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1444 769 1844  2127
IRA  9984 10087 10127  10058
Brokerage  409 410 402  401
CC (largest)  -4791 -4791 -4791  -4791
CC (longest)  -273 -295 -319  -437
Rewards Card  0 -273 -564  -1022
SL 1  -102713  -102489 -102604 -102719
SL 2  -45217  -45115 -45167 -45220
Earnest  -8486 -8404 -8522 -8540
-$146099 -$146657 -$146050 -$146599
  .56% change -.38% change .41% change -.37% change

Have you seen growth in other areas of your lives lately? Have the hustles been paying off?

New FHA Mortgage Guidance Will Impact Borrowers With High Student Loan Debt

Gentle Readers,

I was having dinner with Mabel recently and she had some bad news for me. The federal government has issued new guidance for FHA loans. This guidance will make it far more difficult for people with high student loan debt to qualify for a mortgage. Me. It will make it far more difficult for me to qualify for a mortgage.

The Federal Housing Administration insures mortgage lenders as a way to encourage home ownership in the US. The FHA does not issue mortgages, but mortgage lenders use the insurance to stay in business in case too many people enter foreclosure. The FHA has guidance for the type of qualifications a person must meet when applying for a loan. If you are eligible for an FHA approved loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5% which is far more attainable than the standard 20% necessary to avoid PMI. Not all mortgages meet the qualifications for an FHA loan.

Part of what the FHA measures when determining your loan eligibility is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.  Naturally, student debt counts as debt. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how to count this debt. Borrowers are allowed to pay back under a number of different terms and conditions. You may have a 10, 20, or 30 year schedule with or without some forgiveness of the debt itself. It’s complicated.

What concerns me today is the new rules for those of us who are paying back our student loans on an Income Based Repayment (IBR) Schedule. In IBR, you pay a percentage of your income towards your debt each month. This is not an amortizing payment. It is not intended to efficiently wipe out your debt. It is intended to give financial breathing room to people with student loan debt that is high in proportion to their income. I pay roughly $500 a month toward my student loan debt because of IBR. If I was paying an amortizing payment, I would pay closer to $1500 a month.

The FHA has new guidance for mortgages for people under IBR. If I want to use an FHA Loan, they will calculate my monthly debt obligation in a new way now. They no longer consider what my IBR obligation will be each month, which makes sense as the IBR changes yearly based on last year’s income.

The pertinent changes:

FHA 4000.1 Section II. A. 4. B. (H)

(4)  Calculation of Monthly Obligation
Regardless of the payment status, the Mortgagee must use either:

  • the greater of:
    • 1 percent of the outstanding balance on the loan; or
    • the monthly payment reported on the Borrower’s credit report; or
    • the actual documented payment, provided the payment will fully amortize the loan over its term.

What this means for me personally at my current student loan debt levels is that I will likely be ineligible for an FHA loan.

  • If my student debt obligation was calculated as it is now incurred, it would be $500/ month.
  • If my student debt obligation was calculated at 1% of the loan balance it would be $1450/month.
  • If my student debt obligation was calculated as if I were in the process of fully amortizing my loan over a 30 year term, it would be $936/month.

These are very different debt calculations and will absolutely impact my ability to get a loan. The difference between $500 and nearly $1500 will be a killer on my DTI ratio, which must be under 43% in order to qualify for any loan.

If I make $4000 a month, and have a $1500 a month student debt payment and $650 in other obligations, I would have a DTI of 2150:4000. Over 43%.

If I make $4000 a month, and have $500/m student debt payment and $650 in other obligations, my DTI would be 1150:4000. Under 43%

This change is literally the difference between getting a home and not.

With an income of $4000 per month, the highest my debt obligation could be and still leave me eligible for a mortgage is $1720.  After subtracting my other obligations, I would need my other student loan obligation to be less than $1070/m.

To get to $1000 a month in student loan debt obligation, I would need to reduce my student loans to $100,000 from their current high of roughly $145,000.  Alternatively, I could attempt to  increase my earnings to $5000/m and then my 2150:5000 DTI would be 43%.

So, plans must change. I have to kill my student debt.

Previously, my plan of action for when my income doubles was to increase my investment payments at a far greater rate than paying down my student loan debt since I wanted to get the magic of compounding going. My new plan must be to reduce my debt obligation significantly.

When the income doubles, if I make $8000/m, at least $5000 needs to go towards student debt. I have two student loans. One of them is roughly $45000 currently. I will focus all extra payments on that one. In nine months of focused payments, that debt will be almost wiped out.

I would still be left with a student loan obligation that is roughly $100K. 1% of 100,000 is $1000. If I had that $1000 plus $650 in other obligations against an income of $8000/m, my DTI would be 1650:8000. I would be eligible for a loan. With a doubled income, the highest DTI I could have and still be eligible for a loan would be 3440:8000.

Has governmental guidance ever changed your plans in a major way?

 

 

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?

Joining the Yakezie Challenge

Gentle Readers,

I read about the Yakezie Challenge before I started this blog, but I worried that I would not be serious enough to commit to what it requires. Luckily, I love blogging and have many ideas for posts. While past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results, I am comfortable in saying that I am officially joining the Yakezie Challenge.

If you are a fan of Call Your Girlfriend, it is similar to Shine Theory. When your friends do well, you do well. Their shine rubs off on you. I love interacting with people who are fascinated by anything. Maybe you learn about esoteric topics from them, or maybe they let you know about an unpublished event that would be amazing to sit in on. You never know what will happen when you are open to interesting people.

Fascinating people make great friends. They inspire you to do and be better. It is a joy to be friends with people who are living their dreams.

I have always been a fan of promoting others and encouraging them on their journeys – no matter where they are going. Outside of my blog life, I help connect people with the jobs and relationships and books they desire. I love learning what sparks my friends’ joy. A joyful person is wonderful to see.

The details

The Yakezie Challenge is the brain-child of Sam of FinancialSamurai and he describes it in this post. Of course, I’m going to to bring out his relevant information below.

To join the Yakezie Challenge :

1) Install the Alexa toolbar if not already and comment what your current Alexa ranking is. (Done.)

2) Write consistently 2-4 times a week on your own site and consider guest posting around the community including on Yakezie.com to raise your profile. (In process)

3) Install the Yakezie Challenger Badge. (Done)

4) Announce on your blog that you have joined the Yakezie Challenge. (Here we are)

5) Selflessly promote others and build relationships. (In all of life)

6) Stay committed and consistent over the next 6 months!  (In process)

7) Introduce yourself on the Yakezie Challengers Forum and get to know your fellow Challengers and Members. (I’m not clear if this is still being updated)

8) After you’ve completed the 6-month challenge, let everyone know how it worked for you. If you’ve done it as intended, you could be invited to become an official Yakezie member. (See you on December 6, 2016!)

Persistence in relationship building is the key. You must show up for people. This is an online version of that. I like it a lot.

As of today, June 6, 2016, my Alexa ranking is 14,000,562 internationally and 1,489,921 nationally.

December 6, 2016 is six months from now.

Before December 6, 2016, I need to:

  1. Complete 27 weeks of 2-4 posts a week.  Or 54-108 posts.
  2. Get to 200,000 on Alexa. That is a 13,800,563 (international) or 1,289,920 (national) difference. This is definitely the hardest portion of the goal. ZJ Thorne is my first experience of blogging. I don’t know tricks. I just want to share my story and my learning. Hopefully that content will appeal to other people, but that remains to be seen.
  3. Support other bloggers in their goals. A delight.

Do you think the Yakezie Challenge is still achievable in light of how many blogs there are in 2016?