By: Revanche

Net Worth & Life Report: April 2017

May 4, 2017

Money and Life Report: April 2017

On Money

Income

Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks. Some of our side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, and Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines prevents me from working.

***

I conserve cash for savings by earning money for gift cards to the stores we frequent: Amazon, Target, PetSmart, or buying discounted gift cards to make each dollar go further. Every spending dollar that I earn or buy at a discount means one more dollar of our day job income is saved and invested.

***

This month I kept a VERY close eye on our incoming cash flow, quickly diverting all irregular cash flow from our FSA reimbursements and any gift money into a savings account. This is a little bit of a psychological thing, and an accounting assist, so that I can easily identify income that’s normally earmarked for spending. I keep the usual cash separate from the irregular income which is tucked away to be used when unusual expenses crop up. We know they’re coming, in the form of a down payment and closing costs at the very least, so I’m doing my best to pad our landing when we jump down into that rabbit hole.

Spending

Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr. Rebates and Ebates first for cashback.

Thanks to Dad’s major rent increase, we’ve had some serious conversations, one of which is the need for him to start taking on more of his own expenses because we will no longer have wiggle room in our budget to cover his rent and overdue utilities once the new home situation comes into effect.

One of those conversations led to the realization that my extended family still believes that a nice house means you’re doing well, that if you own a house, you’re well off. By old country standards, back in the day, that might have been true, but that just doesn’t work here and today. When I see a big house, I just see a huge pile of debt until the place is paid off. They see: must be wealthy, life must be cushy and smooth.

This major misconception is why I don’t share my financial information, history, or plans with them – there’s a strong sense of duty-obligation that runs through the community even today. If we seem to be relatively comfortable, the expectation that we would continually fund those who aren’t as well off, like keep enabling Dad no matter how much of our future is compromised, is strong. This system only works when the entire community helps and helps alike, but the imbalances are far too great the way it’s worked out now. We’re already the first port of call when someone needs help, but while I’m all for helping people who need a hand, I’m not willing to keep making the situation worse in the long term as has happened with my own family.

Meanwhile back at the farm, we’re tightening our belts and pulling together all our pennies in anticipation of a large down payment. We’re examining every spending choice rigorously and deciding how to make do without, or pay for it creatively. This also means I’m spending an unhealthy amount of time staring at our expenses spreadsheet! It makes me feel better. A little bit.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year and save 20% of cash of our net salaries.

Our stock portfolio is with TradeKing – I’m a low maintenance investor so they suit me perfectly with low-cost trades. They’ve got two good offers right now: New accounts opened with a $500 minimum deposit get $500 in free trade commission and new accounts opened with a $5000 minimum deposit get $1000 in free trade commission!

Some savings accounts are untouchable, like our saved income from the rental. That money is being set aside because over the next several years, I’ll be paying for maintenance like paint, carpet, a water heater, and possibly a new roof. This also means that, like our net worth, when those expenses come down the pipeline, our savings will appear to drop like a rock off a cliff.

Finding savings where I can: I went through another semi-annoying process with cost comparing life insurance policies through a broker and found a comparable policy from Transamerica for less than $700, saving about $240 annually over my policy with Allstate. I did ask Allstate if they would price match but that was not an option. The process was a pain, and the broker’s agents when we got to the approval stage were aggravatingly naggy, but that’s over with for now.

Disability insurance is up next. This isn’t savings in the sense of keeping money in our pocket. Rather, it’s part of a well-rounded financial plan that takes into account that accidents happen. And some accidents can make it impossible for you to work anymore, whether in your chosen field or any other one. I’ve started the quote process with a company to see what they can provide, and if I like their work I’ll have them quote for PiC too. I’ll let you know what I think of them.

Our net worth: increased 2% from last month, and 9% from January.

Our investments went up this month, and we earned some minor dividends. We also received a couple unexpected cash infusions, and our tax returns, all of which were banked in anticipation of housing costs. Can you tell that I’m bracing really hard for home-impact? I am!

Moments

  • A contractor advised me not to go buy a brand new BMW as soon as an offer on a house is accepted lest we lose financing. People do that?! (I’m told yes. Good grief.)
  • A contractor suggested “You could wire the house with Nest, cameras on 3 sides, hook in your fire alarm to the same system, too.” Me: DOES NO ONE REMEMBER BSG?

Links from this month

On Health

Working out

My steps this month: 124,696, or 56.11 miles (at 2,222 steps per mile).

My resolve to aim for a higher monthly average slumped a bit this month thanks to attack of the virus. I was hit with several days of a sore throat, which has always presaged a massive cold or flu. I managed to exercise some brain cells and went to bed “early” each night instead of working the third shift past midnight. Darn if it didn’t work pretty well at keeping me from getting worse than a little congestion, minor cough, and a swollen throat for the first two weeks. Practically a walk in the park compared to my illness last year!

Of course, later, it landed on me like a ton of bricks but that’s a story for next month.

On Life

Oh Seamus. This poor guy just can’t catch a break. Thanks to Linda‘s suggestion, we’ve swapped out his salmon oil for tinned sardines, and he seems to be doing pretty well on it. It’s been several weeks since his last serious breakout, he’s only had a minor episode since the sardines diet started and that resolved itself in a couple of days. But he scratched up his eye again, we have no idea how, and that required another two weeks of medications and veterinary visits. Sigh. This month we’ve racked up $410 in vet bills, less than my previous recollection of $530, but still annihilating the savings I just found with a cheaper life insurance policy. And he’s due back in May for another routine check.

I’m also contemplating putting him on a raw diet to see if that gets him all the way home on the allergy front. It’s never been an option because we have very little space and cost is a concern, neither of which has necessarily changed, but I’m still pondering how it might be possible and how we might experiment with it. I already do nearly all of our logistical household planning and adding one more special diet might be what tips my system into chaos.

On the home (hunting) front. We’re talking to a lot of workpeople right now: general contractors, roofers, all the people we might need when the time comes, since it’s become clear that any house we can afford will require a lot of work. It’s both disheartening how much this work costs, especially since it’s not an option for me to do the work myself – imagine me with my knees that refuse to bed climbing on the roof to check a chimney!

We’re making progress but it sure feels like I can’t breath freely for a while. Of course that means I should be doing much more deep yoga breathing and not less.

:: How was your April? How long did you save for a down payment if you chose to buy a home? Am I the only one who guards against hackers and Cylons by refusing to upgrade to the highest of tech?

Read past monthly updates here!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

25 Responses to “Net Worth & Life Report: April 2017”

  1. Ha, hear you on the tech paranoia. Whenever someone says “Self-Driving Cars” I see that episode of Doctor Who where everyone was permanently stuck in their cars. What if my car takes me somewhere I don’t want to go? Like the Soylent Green plant? Soylent green! It’s PEOPLE!

    I also get the family thing. Jon and I each have siblings with pretty unrealistic expectations about finances. They greatly underestimate the level of responsibility they should take for their situation (low earnings, high impulse spending, not much sense of actions and consequences.) While my brother’s situation means there’s not a lot we need to do for him in the foreseeable future, I worry about what will happen with Jon’s sister when her parents are no longer able to fund her hoarding habits.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…State of the Blog April 2017My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I love tech so long as there’s no chance it can lock me in, out, or veto my decisions!

      My empathies on the similar family situation – I really hope that doesn’t fall on your shoulders!

  2. I can tell you’re bracing yourself. And major props for doing so well anticipating the housing costs. Love these updates!
    Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies recently posted…Forgetting About FrugalityMy Profile

  3. I’m so glad you had that talk with your dad (and brother?) I understand that “I can’t breath freely for a while” feeling. Moving is no small deal. Right up there with death and divorce in terms of the stress it brings on. Take extra care of yourself as you navigate the limbo between one house and the next – and sleep tight.
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Tapping into The “Why?” of Our Greater Financial FreedomMy Profile

  4. Kris says:

    Hey Revanche – this is going to sound like a crazy question. Do you have a spreadsheet from your net worth and budget tracking that you can share? Not with any of your info in it, but a template with the formulae all in it so I could enter my info and it does the calculations. I’m trying to financially plan and, while doing OK, I’d like to really do some long-term stuff. No matter how much I can save, it never seems enough, but I’m not interested in taking any side jobs for at least the next year (ha ha).

    Meanwhile, I’m catching up on your blog. Seems you’ve had a lot going on – despite changes upcoming, are things settling a bit as far as having to make the big decisions about what to do?

    • Revanche says:

      That’s not a crazy question. Let me try to clean something up for you.
      Nothing is really settling yet, but I think we can hope for them to settle down by the end of the year. Really hoping they’ll be settled before fall, honestly!

  5. Totally agree on the being able to breathe front. And yes, save up. We’ve put so much more into our “new” house than we’d anticipated. Three appliances have broken since we moved in 8 weeks ago. 😉 Because. . . that’s what you get when you can’t do an inspection!
    Hawaii Planner recently posted…Frugal FridayMy Profile

  6. I’m glad things seem to be working out between you and your dad. Looks like another great month of net worth. Keep up the great work! 🙂
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Why We Don’t Order from Blue ApronMy Profile

  7. Mrs. BITA says:

    Oh I empathize with the vet bills – as you know Fuzzy BITA racked up a sizeable bill in April, with the promise of more to come, what with the congenital condition and all. Bah! But he _is_ so very fuzzy, so there is that.

    Have you decided on the area where you are going to attempt to procure some nice overpriced Bay Area property? South Bay? East Bay? I remember being all over the place back in 2012 when we did our procuring. We (so optimistically) started in San Francisco, where we were living at the time. After we toured several matchbox sized apartments there we finally gave up and went the opposite extreme – we’d move to the Santa Cruz mountains, south of Los Gatos. Lovely big houses, lots of land (relatively speaking anyway) and a completely shit commute. Not to mention having to do a lot of maintenance work (e.g. some houses there are responsible for the ‘last mile’ of road to their house). After those two bouts of craziness we considered various places in the East, North and South Bay before finally finding our home in San Jose. It was quite the ride!
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…On the path to financial independence: April 2017My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Our Fuzzy pups are totally worth it but boy the money part can sting, sometimes!

      East Bay is off the list for sure, it’s just too much commute for both of us. The Santa Cruz mountains crossed my mind, too! Those houses are awesomely gorgeous but you’re right, the commute would also be terrible and the maintenance is more than I’ve got the energy for.

      That leaves us the whole of SF down through the South Bay but I’m pretty positive that SF proper isn’t going to happen. You know those prices as well as I do 🙂

      • Linda says:

        I’m sure you’re looking at certain areas because of PiC’s commute, but know that up here in the NE Bay the housing costs aren’t quite as crazy, either. There are periodically nice 3/2s for less than 800k in town. Of course, they aren’t as high because who wants to commute from here to the Peninsula, right?
        Linda recently posted…The progress loop trends downwardMy Profile

        • Revanche says:

          I didn’t realize that there was anything closer to affordable up there! But that commute would be impossible for us, so we can’t look that far north.

  8. Congrats on the house savings! I’m hopeful that I can maybe buy a tiny home in a few years, so I’ve started saving towards that. Hopefully that will wind up being a little less of a headache than all your house hunting woes! I hope everything pans out ok in the end with the house hunt!
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #193My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I wish you all the luck possible when it comes time for your own househunt. Do you have any idea when and where you might like to find a place?

  9. Linda says:

    Glad the sardines are working for Seamus! All hail the power of little, oily fishies!

    I’d be very interested in the details if you do manage to secure long term disability insurance. I tried to get some back in 2010 and again in 2012 and was turned down both times. The first time I was declined because I disclosed that I had panic attacks back in the late 1990s. The second time I applied to a different company and was declined because I was seeing a chiropractor regularly to combat some kinks from tension and sitting all the time. At this point I can’t imagine anyone giving me disability insurance. I’m just glad I managed to get Long Term Care insurance several years ago.

    I think my subconscious reacted to your BSG tweet. I had such bad dreams Friday night. :-/
    Linda recently posted…The progress loop trends downwardMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I’ll let you know what happens with the long term disability – I have no clue how this might go since this is a new one for me but I hope it won’t be worse than the life insurance. It might well be, though, with my fibromyalgia.

      Thank goodness you got the Long Term care insurance, that’s so important.

      Again, so very sorry about the BSG nightmares!

      • Kandice says:

        You are smart to look into LTD coverage. I had a great policy through my former employer when I very unexpectedly suffered a debilitating spine injury. Since I earned the bulk of our household income, it was quite literally a life saver. I’m currently recovering from surgery number 9 and am grateful every single day for those benefits.

  10. I love these type of updates. 2% increase in your net worth is AWESOME!!! We had a similar bump of 2% which we were pumped about. If only we could maintain a 2% increase every month. 25% gain for the year would be AWESOME. Can’t wait to hear how next month goes 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…When Is It Worth It To Get Back Into Debt?My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks! Bear in mind this isn’t normal, necessarily, we’re just gearing up for a home purchase so we’ll see how it shakes out by the end of the year. 🙂

  11. I’m late to the party but wanted to swing by and empathize with the family situation. My in-laws are…shall we say not responsible with money. They do OK but we have to listen to constant complaints about lack of money. Of course, this is after supporting their mid-40’s daughter and her family (living in a house in their front yard) and car payments. I’ve told my husband that if anything happens we can talk about how best to help his parents, but the mooching sister in law gets nothing.
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…Embrace Your Frugal WeirdoMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the empathy. I’m sorry that you’ve also got something similar going on, it’s tough on the family dynamics.

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