Dogs are Expensive

I love my dog. I recently spent over $1k related to her health matters.

  1. Went to my normal animal hospital to have a lump looked at on her chest and get a vaccine. Total cost $186.15vetvisit1The place gave me a quote for a dental cleaning + surgery removal that was been $900 and $1300. I decided that was too much and wanted a second opinion.
  2. I go to another place requiring I pay for a consultation again., That trip was about $126.86. Included a blood test, discussing my options, etc.
  3. The actual dental cleaning / anesthesia / surgery / removal of 7 teeth was $788.61.anothervetvisit
  4. No joke, the second day after the above appointment my dog vomited about 12 times in different areas of the carpet along with issues out the other end. I had to take her in for another visit two days later on Saturday morning. The total is $176.57.anothervetvisit3The brings me to a combined total of $1,151.33. I love my dog, despite the huge vet bill. At least my card is 0% until May and I can probably pay this off in full within 30 days.

 

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“I’ll ruff to that”. She’s fine now, snoring away without a care in the world. Her stitches come out in a week 😀

October 2019 – Financial Update

I’m chip chip chipping away at my debt, and investing. My dog is having a somewhat pricey vet bill coming up early next month. Cleaning and getting a small fatty lump removed. Probably will set me back around $400.

Recently found out that my employer is not giving out raises or bonuses this year. While miffed, I will take this over any type of layoff or downsizing. Many others are in situations where they are stressed beyond belief, facing health issues, or struggling to make ends meet. I’m just not growing as quickly as I want to. I need to commit to basically earning the 4% raise I deserve in my head through other activities.

401k: $59,897.07
Roth IRA: $4,184.82
HSA: 427.63
Total Retirement: $64,513.33

Total Debt:
Car Loan: $6,436.64
Car Warranty: $775.50
iPhone 11 Pro: $1,292
Credit Card: $1,328
Total Debt: $9,832.14

You may have seen my iPhone balance jump over the $505.60 last month. I’ve been on the iPhone upgrade program since June 2018 and decided to take advantage of it. Better battery life, camera, night mode, improved screen, fast charge. All features I will use on a regular basis. It’s still about $56/mo. After 12 months I can just swap it for the next new model.

I also have started experimenting with playing music as a hobby. At work I’m usually looking at spreadsheets, data, email. It’s nice to do something completely different, creative, and more right-brained in nature. So I bought an inexpensive MIDI USB keyboard that I can plug into my laptop and Logic Pro X. I played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the bass clef for Pachelbel’s Canon in D. My grandfather knows how to play, maybe some of that will rub off on me… 😀

Despite my recent purchases, I will be close to hitting a $0 credit card balance once I get paid tomorrow. Back to investing heavy in my 401k, getting the tax write off and hoping that I will have a huge nest egg in 2033.

My Friends Lost Everything Due to a Fire

Taking 5 minutes to type this up quickly before I head into work. Posting this to my network for a friend (who also happens to be a reader of this blog). He also used to be my neighbor, is a life coach and all around great guy. He and his partner recently had a house fire and lost everything. They have insurance but it won’t cover everything they have lost. Every little bit helps. So far they have 18 donations and have raised $2,040 of their $5k goal. Here is the Link to the Donation Page on Facebook.

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Donate if you would like. I hope they can get their lives back together. ❤

September 2019 – Financial Update

3!

Three years ago! That’s how long ago it’s been since paying off my student loans. I am still not debt free. However I have been net worth positive for years now. It’s a huge relief not to owe a single dollar to Sallie Mae / Navient.

401k – $59,450.66
Roth IRA – $4,158.89
HSA – $331.10
Total Retirement: $63,940.65

Credit Cards – $1,132.86 @ 0%
iPhone X Loan – $505.60
Car Warranty – $904.75 (7 payments of $129.25 left)
Car Loan: $6,969.80 (78% done paying it off)
Total Debt: $9,513.01

I decided to ditch Betterment for my Roth IRA. No complaints about them but I just don’t like fees. Going to invest in FZROX which has 0% in fees. Hope to have this completed over the next 3 weeks.

Taking my foot off the 20% 401k contributions  for a month or so to get my credit card bill down to $0.00 and pay off the iPhone X loan. Kind of silly that I haven’t been able to pay either off for months and months. One of my friends is a life coach and I wasn’t able to pay the $2500 she would charge for 6 months worth of coaching without going into massive debt. I still am undecided about whether to sign up.

My office chair broke this week. I spent about $7 fixing it with screws and bungee cord. Couldn’t in good faith drop $200 on a replacement that still could have the same poor design.

A few weeks ago my car wouldn’t start. I got roadside assistance to give me a jump, then drove to the dealership with a $20 off coupon. Needed a new battery, this one at least has an 84 month warranty. With tax I was on the hook for $143.19. Later this month I’ll spend $20 on an oil change plus whatever else the car needs. i wouldn’t say it’s an endless money pit but minimum $1k in auto expenses monthly is wearing me down.

Then over the weekend I popped a spoke on my bike. About $30 to fix it again. I have the equipment to fix it but last time I tried, I popped a spoke again the next ride. Then I needed some more Keto Fire supplements, and replaced cologne that is about to run out. Little things add up. I saw some super fit people running outside my local Run On shop. Two of the guys took off their shirt in this 90+° temperatures and had six packs. I’m still around 240-245ish 5’8 and workout regularly. I know I can get to that point again in time, with the right choices.

Seems like all these people I know are travelling all over. I wonder where they get the money. Some have a sponsor, points, drive a 10 year old beat up car, or use credit cards. I take regular detox  sessions from social media. It’s proven to be good for your health.

Last but not least no matter where you are in your journey, remember to love yourself. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes in life. One of my friends former roomates was struggling with severe depression early this month. I never met the guy but saw my friend posted it had been 2 weeks since the guy passed away. Dude was in his 20s too, so much life ahead of him. Then another story of a guy who asked for a paycheck and his boss shot him. Two degrees of separation. Now the family and friends have a gofundme page up to help with the burial.

My grandmother’s would be 80th birthday is coming up. We lost her 20 years ago and my dad 5 years after that. There are only like 2 people in my family I talk to with any type of regularity, none of them live within a 1000 mile radius of Texas. Gets lonely sometimes but that’s how things are. Making new friends hasn’t been easy. I’m practicing letting go of negative thoughts and visualizing the benefits of meeting new people. It’s not easy, but the alternative just isn’t working for me. Old and bitter is not a good look on me.

What I Do That’s Mustachian?

Someone on one of the forums reached out to me asking what I do that’s Mustachian. My answer was pretty lame, I basically said I stop worrying about money along with a few other things. Coming from a position now of being able to fully articulate my thoughts.

1. 20% to Retirement – Even when the market is getting a beating I still contribute 20% of my gross wages in my 401k. 95% FSKAX and 5 % in bonds.
2. Take lunch to work – At least 3 times a week I bring lunch with me to work. Usually it’s a salad with some extra protein and toppings tossed in.
3. Get gas from Costco. Considering my round trip work commute is 35 miles a day x 5 or 175 miles a week that adds up. Car gets 24mpg so that’s usually 8 or 9 gallons a week at the bare minimum. Double that for everything else outside of that… So 18 gallons @ $2.40 for premium is $43, two other stations nearby are $3.00/gal which would be $54. So $11/wk savings or $572/yr
4. Cut the cord – I don’t pay for cable. My parents do and I log into their account for what I need. My boyfriend has Hulu and Amazon Prime so occasionally we will watch that.
5. Got rid of Amazon Prime – My subscription just came up for renewal. Prime is $119 per year. I rarely watch movies on there, dislike their music app and I don’t have a smart speaker. If I am patient with shipping and shop around I can often find product for cheaper.
6. Use points – With my Chase Freedom Unlimited card I’m getting 3% cashback on all purchases and 5% through my regular Freedom card in rotating categories.
7. Renting – I rent a 1br/1br apartment in a suburban neighborhood. It was built in the 1980s. It’s not the lap of luxury but I’m also not worried about getting shot at night as would be the case in Downtown Dallas… I pay about $915/mo. Not saying I will never be a homeowner again, but taxes alone for property I’d consider would run around $5k/yr. That’s 5 months of rent. Who knows what 2020 may bring. I do see folks coming down in price on their expensive homes though.
8. Use rewards points – When I do go out I try to use apps like grubhub or Ritual for takeout food. With Ritual I got $5 off my first order, frequently saw $5 off Deals and 20x points (every dollar equals a point and at 10k points you get a $10 off bonus coupon).
9. Intermittent Fasting – Ok so this one isn’t for money but I have some extra lbs I want to burn. Skipping breakfast makes that process a lot easier since my body uses its fat reserves. I do consume some tea however to help suppress my appetite.
10. Travel Hack – When I do travel, I will look up prices with a service like Google Flights or Expedia. I refuse to fly Spirit or any other airline where I will feel like a sardine stuffed in a can. I try to avoid travelling on major holidays because the prices can often be double. During my trip last month to Provincetown I did an AirBNB with 4 others and split the costs. The friends cooked a few meals at their home. Little things like that add up, $20 here, $50 there.
11. Buy Discounted Tech – I never pay full price for any of my products from an Apple Store. Sales Tax alone on a $2k mac is $180. Then the prices can be hundreds more than an authorized reseller. I got a Microcenter Apple certified refurb mid-tier MacBook Pro for about $1999 vs $2799 brand new. It looked brand new when I got it, screen is great, battery works fine, no issues with the keyboard.
12. Drink out less – Some years ago when I did go out to dinner I’d often get 2 or 3 drinks. Now I try to limit myself to one. I honestly don’t miss it, I can make myself a quick something or other at home.
13. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. I could lease a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus I wanted to. Maybe one day I will, but for the time being I am perfectly fine with my 3 year old Nissan Maxima.
14. Keep insurance. Without insurance I likely would be borderline bankrupt. Or struggling to pay $50k worth of medical debt. I hate paying the premiums, but it has saved me from huge expenses over the years.
15. Max out my HSA – HSA is a great concept. I get a tax deduction and can use it for things like a blood pressure monitor, orthotics for plantar fasciitis, my braces, normal doctor visits. Since I have a high deductible savings plan this is a also great buffer from unexpected medical expenses. Once I hit a savings certain threshold I can turn it into an investment account.
16. Avoid high interest and maintain good credit. Even with my student loans, after consolidation my interest rate was 4.25%. That allowed me to get ahead much quicker than others with 8, 9% or higher. My car loan is 1.9%… some people with subprime loans pay upwardsof 29%. Not blaming them, but it’s really a night and day difference.
17. Don’t lease a car – It’s different if you own a business obviously. If you have a monthly car payment that never goes away, you have no assets after 3 years. Then if your mileage goes over the terms you’re paying extra. I’m 76% done paying it off my car right now. Then I will own it, not the bank, not Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
18. $1-2 movies – Haven’t been in a while but occasionally there will be something that catches my eye. Occasionally I’ll sneak a snack in. Is it ethical? Maybe? But…I usually don’t like what the theaters even have.
19. Pay for a 12 month Apple Music subscription with discounted Apple Gift Cards Per month Apple Music is $9.99 ($4.99 if you’re a college student) . That’s $120 vs $99 for the annual one I have. I got a 33% discount on mine through Best Buy Rewards points, 20% sale on Apple Gift Cards at Best Buy, combined with 3% cashback on my credit card.
20. Get someone to cook for you. Food always tastes better when someone else cooks for you. Especially when they know what they’re doing. We can eat at home, then grab a drink somewhere out if we choose to. If there’s a Happy Hour special running, even better.
21. Buy Clothes on Sale – I like discounts. Clearance, sales, almost every retailer in America offers some type of deal. Even name brand designers should be on sale.
22. I wash my own car. Usually pay about $5 a week at one of those self serve bays instead of $10-15 by going to one of those modern car washes that often scratches your car.
23. I switched to a low cost energy provider. I’m projected to spend $73 this month, but typically average out to around $50.

 

So there you have it. 😀

August 2019 – Financial Update

Things are going well for me. Turned 36 last week. Not fully where I want to be at this age, but I am continuing to make progress.

Last month I did go on a trip to Boston and Provincetown. Friends and I split the cost to rent a beach house on AirBnB. The biggest downside is the place had no A/C. It also happened to be close to 90° outside and extremely humid. I paid $300 To sleep on a fold out sofa bed for a total of three nights. The biggest expenses were related to food and beverage. Dropping $80-100 on food for a day is not what I consider to be normal. Couple of pictures from my trip.

It’s mentally freeing to go on a vacation from time to time. Especially when you feel a need to escape some of the more routine elements of your living situation. That said I haven’t planned my next trip yet, but somewhere scenic sounds super appealing. Grand Canyon maybe?

Summer is starting to wind down, kids are back in school, traffic to and from work is getting wild again. Time for a financial update.

401k – $55,543.85
Roth IRA – $4,011.71
HSA – $332.59
Total Retirement: $59,878.15

Total Debt:

Credit Cards – $1,065.84 @ 0%
iPhone X Loan – $561.76
Car Warranty – $1,034.= (8 payments left)
Car Loan – $7,552
Total Debt: $10,213.60

Total Net Worth – $49,664.55

I still am paying some expenses related to travel . Those will completely be gone in 2 weeks. Then I also have car insurance, normal living expenses, bought a $100 in Apple iTunes gift cards for $70 to cover Apple Music for the year. Honestly it’s been a struggle not to spend extra money on things. Especially when boredom creeps up.

Is there a recession coming??

I’ve heard so many pundits talking about the inverted yield curve and how it’s a sign of a looming recession. Basically investors can earn more from US treasury bonds over the short term vs the long term. Historically that has been a key indicator that a recession is looming. This happened in 2005 but the US economy didn’t really start to suffer until 2007.

Is this time around different? I honestly don’t think so. Closures in retail left and right, a student loan crisis, unattainably high real estate prices, continual lowering of the Federal Funds rate, economic uncertainty with China and our stubborn president… Reductions in shipping and manufacturing, a glut of oversupply in the automotive market.

For the record I’m in the camp of people who thinks we are due for a market correction and some type of economic recession. Will it be as bad as the late 2000s? Who knows for sure. What I do know is that I’ve been down that path before. https://apple.news/Am2QtY5VxTC2qllXbXWOumw

I was a student during the last two major economic blows in this country. A student with no real money in the marketplace and still operating with a certain naivety from my Gen X and Baby Boomer educators who were indeed able to live the dream on a working person’s salary. My situation today is quite different.

I’m not quite debt free, but between my contribution and my employer, $1600+ goes into my 401k each month. That’s not including a neglected Roth IRA with Betterment that I am presently lacking ample cash flow to fully fund alongside my other short-term obligations. If anything it’s in my favor for the market to go down, that way I can buy more shares of the total stock market index. (FSKAX) at extremely low expense ratios and a higher probability of asset appreciation.

Within a year god willing I will free up some cash flow. $545/mo on a car gone, $129/mo on a car warranty gone, $55/mo for a cell phone gone. That’s $729/mo. for me to live on, use to travel, build up my emergency fund, potentially save towards the down payment on real estate should the right opportunity come along. As I get older and see where each of my dollars is really going, it’s a wake up call how much things depreciate.

I still am staying the course with investing. I get the tax benefit now, it’s great to use compounding to build up a nest egg, a declining market allows me to buy equities at a “discount”, there is an annual limit on how much I can put in a 401k annually, and I have no plans to retire in the next couple years. If anything it’s more like 14 to be retirement optional in 2035.

2008 me invested in penny stocks such as DPDW, which I bought right as it peaked and lost about 50% of my hard earned cash on. I also owned shares of companies like Apple but got too skittish with each and every company announcement, press release, etc. I doubt I will ever buy single stocks again unless I have a huge surplus of cash laying around.