The ‘Shooter’ That Could Have Been

This is not a money related post. It’s a way of getting my thoughts out regarding a situation that could have potentially been life threating to me and two friends of mine.

This afternoon at 1:30 two of my friends and I were supposed to go see a movie at the AMC movie theater in North Park Mall in Dallas. I have been to the mall several times before and think of it fondly. I saw people of all ethnicities there both workers and shoppers. The area is considered affluent and far from being a crime hotspot. I was planning to get there 15 minutes early but both due to weather, getting ready last minute and other factors I got there about 1:26. A woman in her 30s pulled up about the same time as me and we both proceeded to the entrance at the same time.

A friend sent me this at 1:22PM, indicating where I was supposed to meet him. Right next to the Nordstrom building.

Great, I have a landmark to reference. I crossed the parking lot and proceeded to head to the door. I literally was less than 20 feet away and I hear sirens. My first thought…. Is it a fire alarm? Perhaps some unruly teenagers were bored. Wait a couple minutes and it will all be over. The people in front of my ignored the alarm and proceeded to walk in anyway. The woman in the Porsche Cayenne paused and waited outside with me. We both were processing.

Not even 15 seconds later we see people exiting the doors. Except the pace was not leisurely, they were running. Mothers, fathers, children. Someone shouted there’s a shooter in there. I started running with them, adrenaline kicking in… I had my sneakers on. Genetically I’m a sprinter and not a long distance runner. Except I’m 5’9 and 250 pounds. It’s just across two parking lots. I got this.

For context-I hear stories in the news about mass shootings at least weekly in America. It’s seemingly unavoidable. I’m a minority. Going back 100 years to Tulsa and how a group didn’t want to see Black Wallstreet succeed. A former classmate from my high school was stabbed and killed in New York City. Downtown Dallas 2016 had a mass shooting where 5 officers were killed. On the same street as my apartment two people were shot and killed in separate incidents. In my 20s I feared going to the wrong neighborhood at night because of the gangs. Then the stories of Pulse night club. I tried to block all that from memory but was unsuccessful..

Was this yet another unfortunately footnote in the decline of American society? Would they target me because I’m black? What about my two friends who I’m supposed to meet at this very moment? One is stuck on the 2nd floor and live streaming to facebook to let everyone know he’s okay. The other one was literally parking and I text him don’t go in. I try to call but the call wouldn’t connect. Was he okay? He is new to the area and it’s his first time at the mall. My mind starts racing… I send pictures of where I am to my friends and they both respond. Okay they’re fine.

My other friend drives an early 2000s Acura with a shit ton of miles. It overheats for any trips over 30 minutes, almost blew up on the cross country trip. He’s trying to get out of the parking garage but it’s a standstill. On a good day it would take all of 2 minutes. This time it was over 30 minutes. Eventually we were able to rendezvous and sort out everything that was going on. I had a moment of PTSD but had to quickly take a breath to assess the situation and try to move on from there.

Later on we found out it was a mentally disturbed man banging a skateboard and pretending he had a gun. What if it wasn’t though? I’m only 37 with so many years ahead of me god willing. I don’t want to get shot. Some people were trampled by the crowd requiring hospitalization.

I hadn’t done any travelling over the Memorial Day weekend and we didn’t get to see the movie we planned. Rain check… We instead had some friendly banter at a nearby restaurant in Park Lane. I didn’t drink and got a salad. Trying to keep up with my weight loss. If that didn’t drive me over the edge I think I’m doing pretty well. Down about 9 pounds from my all-time high where I felt like literally nothing I did worked. My addiction to food was ultimately the culprit. I still find myself lacking control around certain sugary delights. It’s in a box and I have money. I can grab this box, eat 1000 more calories than I should and feel short term pleasure. Rinse repeat. Only up 9 pounds now since Covid started.

Weight loss journey app snapshot.

I went on a 26 mile bike ride yesterday and feeling pretty good about that considering I hadn’t pushed myself that long in 259 days! Also want more color variety in my bike gear. The GCN Jerseys look pretty rad. Those Brits take cycling seriously. I do need to upload a new video to my other YouTube channel, but the last 2 got 0 views so.. My biggest takeaway is to get to the point. I have about a 20 minute video of my going on and on about random stuff. Decided not to upload since it put me to sleep…

Remembing the people who fought for our country on Memorial Day Weekend

Nothing in life is guaranteed. Try to be smart but also enjoy life. You never know what day might be your last. Living in a bubble all the time is not really living. It’s a big country and a big world out there. This day will never come again. Looking back the times when I said yes to life more I ended up having a blast and making more meaningful connections with people. Game on!

Also http://www.nomoreharvarddebt.com is down possibly permanently. His blog inspired my back when I launched this one in 2012. Joe hasn’t updated in about 5 years, was hoping for a several years later update. Still maybe that’s for the better though. Thanks for reading. Hope you all are doing well.

June 2021 Update – $151k & Volatility Galore

My next paycheck will be in early June so decided not to wait until the end of the month for an update.

As I type this, today May 23 marks 17 years since my father passed away. I’m thankful he was part of my life. Things were complicated at times, but honestly you can’t change the past. Just learn from it and try not to repeat the same mistakes.

Crypto:
Over the course of the month I purchased some cryptocurrency to diversify and potentially capture my slice of the pie. I was tempted to dump thousands into it but I didn’t. Just what I felt comfortable with. My Coinbase account is at $355, and I invested a total of $425 in it so I’m down about 16%.

Coinbase account snapshot

I have some Dogecoin and BTC on the Voyager platform. I got $25 worth of BTC for “free” since I hit a deposit requirement. I own 356 Dogecoins. Did a little dollar cost averaging after some of the recent news stories betweeen Elon Musk’s SNL appearance, China cracking down on the purchase of crypto cryptocurency, Elon’s comments about how BTC is not good for the environment. It’s been a total shitshow.. . Currently I put about $200 into Doge and last I checked that was worth about $111 and BTC worth $15.55.

There was an issue with the app being inaccessable for some period of time:

I wasn’t in the mood to dollar cost average even lower, so I decided to buy two shares of AAPL in my Roth IRA at $125.885 and a little more FZROX. I will likely buy some more crypto again later this year. There is just so much volatility right now and market manipulation. Worst I can lose right now is $625. Not thousands of dollars like some people who might be overleveraged.

5/22/21
401K: $132,481
Roth IRA: $14,276
M1 Acct $1,860
Crypto: $466
HSA $1,856
Total Investments: $150,939

4/27/21
401K: $132,427
Roth IRA: $13,825
M1 Acct $1,818
Crypto: $122
HSA $1,505
Total Investments: $150,707

The market hasn’t been going up as much as it did previous months. Going by the Wall Street Journal SPX Historical Price Index. 5/21/21 Close was $4,155.86 4/27/21 was $4,186.72 so that’s -.73%. I’ve been around long enough to know the market goes up and down. The portfolio balance could be higher come the end of the week who really knows.

Tax Assessment of my old townhouse

Pricing history of the townhouse I used to own. The taxes went up 75% in 5 years! The Zestimate is $275k. I don’t think I’m unreasonable in thinking the value shouldn’t go up 108% in 7 years. My salary hasn’t gone up that much in that time. For that reason I’m currently priced out of the DFW housing market and don’t forsee that changing anytime soon. Making the most of it anyway, I really haven’t had a strong urge to own again.

I’m feeling dramatic and vulnerable, but trying to keep things together. I had a good time at brunch with a friend earlier and managed to lift weights and bang out cardio at a completely empty gym. Yesterday I played kickball, had breakfast with a few team mates, and grabbed a drink. So I’m not totally isolated from people and that’s something to be thankful for.

May 2021 Update – $150k and 9 Years Blogging!

In April I saw friends in Boston after not travelling for over 600 days. I was in need of a change of and drove to Rhode Island one day since it was less an an hour away. Here are a couple pictures from that trip.

It made me think more about how life is not just about accumulating wealth. It’s about being healthy, and enjoying new experiences too. Whether that’s with someone or alone. So yes I plan to do more travelling over in some coming months. Definitely see a summer trip in my near future. I’m a little irked that my folks haven’t been vaccinated yet, nor are they pursuing it after the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine debacle.

The trips don’t have to be expensive either. My car rental from Tuesday – Friday was only $182, and gas was $25. I think I only ended up paying for 2 or 3 meals during the whole trip. I had a credit from American Airlines from my previously cancelled New York trip. I did have to pay extra fora checked in suitcase and to change my seats to main cabin extra but it was totally worth it.

4/27/21
401K: $132,427
Roth IRA: $13,825
M1 Acct $1,818
Crypto: $122
HSA $1,505
Total Investments: $150,707

3/27/21
401K: $123,653 (including pending contributions)
Roth IRA: $12,484
M1 Acct $1,566
Crypto: $0
HSA $1,303
Total Investments: $139,006

Total Net Worth is up $11.701 or 8.4% vs previous month. I’ve had a series of dividend payments on my 401k, the latest was $145.60. It’s nice to lock these in to offset fluctuations in the marke.. So far since 2018 the total is $3,760.

401k Dividend History

Going back to the dark period of April 2020… There was so much uncertainty about what was going on in the economy. This time last year my total only around $65,285. Almost one year ago I made the last payment on my car and became officially debt free! I would never make it to the Dave Ramsey show but this is fine….

Since then… I’ve been aggressively squirrelling my dollars away into investments. With my car payment at the time I would have spent $6,500 over 12 months. S&P 500 comparing April 23, 2021 is $4,180.17 vs May 1, 2020 was $2,919.61 or +43%. Between the payment and the appreciation I would have been down $9,295. That’s a lot of $$$.

Still thinking about my next steps. Things are kinda stagnant right now. Getting closer to 40, 9 years experience in my industry, almost 10 in this city… Texas population is very much still booming, we gained 2 congressional seats, and almost 4 million people from 2010 to 2020.

I hope after 9 years of this blog I can inspire other people to become debt free too. 2012 was a long time ago! My biggest takeaway is hard work and sticking to a plan pays off. I’ve always thought along the way how to get to the next level and now is no different.

April 2021 Update – $139k!

So March was an interesting month. I’ve been enjoying more of my photography hobby. I keep telling myself that I need to create magic in my daily routine otherwise it’s never going to happen.

Today I got my stimulus check in the mail from the United States Treasury. It’s not a huge amount at $1,400, but it definitely will be growing into a lot more over time. It also allowed me to make my final Roth IRA contribution for 2020, hitting the $6,000 max for the first time in my entire life.

Currently at 37 I have more invested than the average person in their 50s. Sure I don’t have the house but that shit is expensive relative to my income. Ideally I will be in a spot where my passive income allows me to buy the things I want. For example if I have $500k saved, buying a $30k slightly used 1-3 year old car really isn’t that big a deal. Or if I have $700k, buying a $200k house with a mortgage sounds pretty reasonable. I’m about a decade out from hitting that milestone assuming things stay fairly steady.

I made a 19.5% pre-tax return on my cryptocurrency holdings in 3 months. The amount of money invested was only a couple hundred so I’m not rolling in the dough. I do think crypto is crazy overvalued right now and there is a lot of uncertainty. I didn’t want to be the one left holding the bag so I sold it all. If it has a major dip I will consider buying again.

3/27/21
401K: $123,653 (including pending contributions)
Roth IRA: $12,484
M1 Acct $1,566
Crypto: $0
HSA $1,303
Total Investments: $139,006

2/28 Update:
401K: $117,738 (including my pending contribution)
Roth IRA: $10,239 
M1 Acct: $1,452 
Crypto: $181
HSA: $1,037 
Total Investments $130,647

I still didn’t touch the emergency fund, nor am I including that or money in my checking account here.

That makes my net worth $8,359 or 6.4% higher than it was last month. March 2020 I only had a $50k net worth. 178% higher right now and yes it took lots of sacrifies but not too shabby. Still no debt and loving every moment of it. This might be sustainable if I don’t let consumerism get the best of me. The market is near record highs so there’s that too. Still expect things to crash and burn at some point like 2020. Just $6000 more on the Roth for 2021. $6k / 11 months = $545. $272 a paycheck, I got this.

I’m still thinking about other life priorities. Do I move or just do enough things outside the apartment with all the cash I’m saving including saving for something nicer. I know I sound like a broken record but 6+ years is a long time in one unit. Especially when you literally have never invited a single neighbor in the other 159 units to your apartment and the only person you really know in the zip code of 135k people you don’t get along with. Just keeping it real, after 5 tries it’s a lost cause.

Do I move when this lease is up? Do I wait until I hit some arbitrary number maybe $200k? $250k? What really would make me happy? All questions I find myself struggling to find answers for. I don’t have the energy or drinking capacity I had in my 20s and that makese me sad sometimes.

Sweet sweet stimulus check

What are you doing with your stimulus check? How is 2021 treating you?