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?

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 45 – A Change is Gonna Come

Gentle Readers,
There was another week of net worth growth, but big changes are brewing. These changes will impact my money, my time, and my general happiness.
My wonderful girlfriend had a short period of unemployment before accepting a job very far away. It’s an exciting opportunity and will be a great chance to grow professionally, but it is also bittersweet. A change of scenery may be good for the spirit, but it also means that our hug quotient will go way down. She flies away next week.
Thankfully, my employment is flexible. I have not yet broached it with my agency, but I will request that they allow me to work remotely outside of the weekend to sometimes work from her new place while she is at her job. This will make visiting her monthly far more feasible. I have the approved computer for remote work. My bosses don’t supervise us, nor care that one person sleeps while “working.” This would allow me to continue pursuing their overtime goals and allow me to purchase cheaper airfare. They should say yes, but may balk. We’ll see.
With all of this, I also need to continue to work on my balance transfer from last summer, and pay it off before July.  Her move is why I have not yet made my appointment with an oral surgeon. I want to spend as much time with her and helping her as possible. Sometimes love includes dental pain.
I have a lot to learn to make this change work. I did not previously know that South West Airlines had such flexible tickets. I will be looking up travel hacking, and all sorts of other things to make sure that our love and support stay strong.
 .

This week’s net worth numbers

2/10/2017 2/17/2017
 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 819  1608
 IRA 11536  11974
 Brokerage 679  688
 CC (largest) -4182 -4203
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -1120 -1682
SL 1 -103854 -103970
 SL 2 -45738 -45791
 Earnest -6109 -6122
 Net Worth -144610 -144139
 Percentage Change .40% .33%

What made a long-distance relationship work for you?  

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?

Net Worth Week 23 – Pain Abatement Edition

9/2/16 9/9/16 9/16/16
Joy 1100 1100 1100
Travel 323 323 323
Down Payment 19 19 19
Retirement 21 21 21
Health 45 45 45
Moving 31 31 283
EF 1004 1004 1004
Business 1 1 1
Bed 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life 1775 747  871
IRA 10118 10186  9854
Brokerage 402 403  395
CC (largest) -4755 -4699  -4699
CC (longest) -0 0 0
Rewards Card -644 -0  0
SL 1 -102835 -102594  -102726
SL 2 -45273 -45163  -45223
Earnest -8094 -8109  -8126
Net Worth -146761 -146532  -146867
Percentage Change -0.11% .15%  -0.22%

Have are your Septembers going? Is learning happening in your lives and professions?

Net Worth Week 21 – Tacos Trucks On Every Corner

Date 8/12/16 8/19/2016 8/26/2016 9/2/2016
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 1004
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  769 1844 2127  1775
IRA  10087 10127 10058  10118
Brokerage  410 402 401  402
CC (largest)  -4791 -4791 -4791  -4755
CC (longest)  -295 -319 -427  0
Rewards Card  -273 -564 -1022  -644
SL 1  -102489  -102604 -102719 -102835
SL 2  -45115  -45167 -45220 -45273
Earnest  -8404 -8522 -8540 -8094
-$146657 -$146050 -$146599 -$146761
  -.38% change .41% change -.37% change -.11% change

Have you ever felt more secure even when the numbers stayed the same?

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?

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?

Having Savings Makes Emergencies Manageable

Gentle Readers,

What was supposed to be a vacation to celebrate a graduation turned into a Family Medical emergency  and it is ongoing. Thankfully, my savings has made this fraught time easier to navigate.

I did not quit as planned before I left for the airport, but I am even more concerned about my employer’s behavior. I informed them of the emergency and let them know that my return is up in the air. I have heard nothing. Not even the standard, “I hope you are well.” I still have heard nothing about being told to work for no pay. I still am refusing to donate my time to this corporation. They have not fired me. Nor have I quit. We’ll see what develops.

Meanwhile, I am currently at a hotel. Not an expense I anticipated when originally planning this trip, but I found something near the hospital that allows me to Uber to it. This gives me some more freedom in this state that does not believe in public transportation or non-car-based-infrastructure. This expense won’t really harm me, even if I lose my job, because I have enough cushion right now. This expense allows me to be near my loved-one so that I can advocate on his behalf. This expense allows me to know what is going on.

Today I do not know if I need to stay in this place. Today I do not know if my job will be there when I return, but my savings is working for me. I am not stressed about money. This is freeing.

Tomorrow, we contact the lawyer to make sure the Power of Attorney exists with the person we think it does. Tomorrow, we see that the directive includes information about what level of assisted living is desired. Tomorrow, we find out what next steps are inevitable. Tomorrow, we’ll show up for the people we love and do the things they need.

Planning For a Graduate’s Future

Gentle Readers,

A family member is graduating from high school and intends to move out of his home immediately. I’ve racked my brain to come up with a suitable present for my hopes for him.

Naturally, I got him a bunch of personal finance books.

Everybody’s favorite, “The Millionaire Next Door,” because I want him to have honest examples that frugality, and choosing businesses and careers wisely will make his life different than he is accustomed to. Stealth wealth is a phrase I want in his heart. I know that he is exceptionally kind, and I want him to put on his own mask first.

Less popular among people pursuing financial freedom, but a useful framework that may appeal to him, “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke.” I want something to reach him, and this may be the most accessible at this point in his life.

The one I’m least sure of, because I have not yet read it myself, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” So many people recommend it; many people whom I respect. I wish I had more time to read it, but there is only so many hours in the week.

Lastly, the most esoteric one, that just may be precisely what he could use as a life framework, “Early Retirement Extreme.” Walden knew what he was doing, and this could give my relative all the ideas he needs. I want him to grow in skills especially, but still focus on being a good person.

I chose a variety of books in the hopes that one would appeal and sink in enough to keep him on track. He’s made excellent decisions so far, but his nearby influences are not the example I want for him.

I think that traditional education is not the best current route for him. I’d love to see him gain some more skills and perhaps start a business. I also think he has what it takes and the time to learn how to buy fixer-uppers and make them lovely places to live. Real estate is still not my favorite, but I think it would work well with his personality and current and future skill-set.

What do wish you had read at 18?