March 2020 Update – Coronavirus??

It’s March 21, 2020 and it feels like the world is on fire. Coronavirus has received to much press over the last few weeks it’s insane. My investment portfolio has taken such a huge hit. Things are happening at my company that make me wonder what’s going to be happening down the line.

My honest belief is that we can only control so many things over the course of a day. We should focus on maximizing our time and adapting as best we can. 24 hours are in a day, work usually will take 8-10 of them, sleeping roughly 8 hours. So that leaves 8 good hours to become Superman and try to accomplish everything else.

Some days over the past month I’ve been fairly amazing at this. Work 8 hours, commute an hr 20 minutes, go to the gym, make dinner, walk the dog, take an hour to let things wind down and be done with it. Others like the last week have been especially challenging.

In the last 2 weeks here are some of the things that have gone down that direct or indirectly affect me.
1. Employer is closing some of our locations permanently, resulting in hundreds of jobs being lost. That’s pre-coronavirus closures.
2. Our company temporarily closing all of its stores directly as a result of COVID-19, hopefully for only 2 weeks but I wonder if it will be longer.
3. My 401k/ Roth IRA took a huge hit dropping from a combined total high last month of $80k down to $55k currently. The $25k drop is a lot to swallow. I also have seen videos about the creash of 1987, lived through 2001, worked in banking during 2008/2009. None of this is too surprising. I know it will pass at some point. Last Monday the Dow dropped 3000 points, the highest single day point drop ever and highest % drop since 1987.
4. Two of my kickball friends were recently hospitalized. They’re getting tested for the Coronavirus after one developed a fever and was likely exposed to it. I hope the healthier one is safe and they both test negative. Doesn’t look super promising now though.
5. Bars, restaurants, many retail establishments in the state are just flat out closed.
6. Working from home – Not quite used to it. really, it’s been an adjustment for real. 8 days in so far, no end in sight. They say another week but my gut tells me it’s going to be a lot longer. I really need a vacation soon, have almost 3 weeks of time to use.
7. Oil is at record low prices. I hear it’s due to a pricing war between the Saudis and the Russians. Russia wants to get the price of oil down to hurt US shale / fracking companies that are heavily leveraged by debt. Gas in some states is below $1.00 in certain states. Without a 32 mile round trip drive each day, a tank of gas could easily lasting me 3 weeks.
8. The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates again, this time to .2%, on Jan 30th it was 1.6%. That’s less than 2 months we saw a huge drop. Great if you’re buying a house but the prices of those are expected to plummet next.
9. My home state of New York is getting a whole lot of attention right now related to the Coronavirus. On one hand they are testing more people than most other states in the nation and in some cases more than other countries. The downside is the total number of positive cases is also a lot higher. I’m worried about my relatives who either are or are close to being senior citizens.
10. Two people I know in the food service industry lost their jobs, one got a personal call from the CEO. Another is a bartender / gogo dancer and works a bunch of side jobs as he gets his acting career off the ground. I also wonder about two people I know in the airline industry. One for American and another for Southwest. These are turbulent times.

There are no shortages of conspiracy theorists who think this is all orchestrated by the ultra wealthy to acquire assets at a steeply low price. Others think it’s going to be the end of life in the United States for a while. One of my friends was trying to get me to drive cross country to be with other people in the event of a state or area-wide quarantine. Logistically it just didn’t make sense for me to drive 24-26 hours each way with a dog while still having day job responsibilities.

So onto my financial update….

As of 3/21/2020:
401k: $52,533.78
Roth IRA: $3,193.40
HSA: $651.46
Total Retirement: $56,378.64

Car Loan: $3,756.09
Car Warranty: $129.25
iPhone 11 Pro: $1,011.04
Credit Card: $1,028.33
Total Debt: $5,924.71

Up to this date I haven’t made any significant changes to my investment portfolio. My initial thought was to contribute in my 401k only up to the match and boost my emergency fund or pay down debts. I haven’t graduated to that point yet. If I start having doubt of my future employment, this could definitely change.

Timing of things is always very interesting. As I write this I’m watching a video from Joseph Carlson – Divident Cuts: My Response. One of the images in about 21:15 shows the length of time of recoveries from collapse.
1987 – Black Monday – 22 Months (-36% 2 Month decline)
2001-2001 – Post 9/11 Attaches – 48 Months (-38% 33 Month decline)
2007-2008 – Financial crisis – 48 Months (-54% 17 Month decline)
I wouldn’t call it greed, but there is definitely a part of me that likes to think mathetmatically.

Benefits of continuing my current path:
1. Buy stocks at a huge discount / use dollar cost averaging in my favor
2. Max out my 401k contribution limit for Tax Year 2020
3. Make up for lost time in a way since I waited until 30 until I started this current investment portfolio. Could’ve done it in my 20s but I was broke.

Downsides to current path:
1. Almost no emergency fund savings – I do have things I can sell quickly for cash like Camera, iPad, high end laptop if needed. Plus I have access to several lines of credit.
2. Still have car payment obligations outstanding in the event of a job loss. $545/mo is still a big chunk of my disposable income right now. If I were to contribute only up to the match the car payment would be gone in 3 months.
3. Not saving for moving. I don’t really like my apartment complex much. It’s familiar but it’s also old. My neighbor just moved after being here a year. Every other place I’ve reviewed is either super congested, way too expensive, not particularly safe, or has a lot of bad reviews.
4. Not saving for a house. If I ever want to buy again I will need help with a down payment. Hard to put any money aside for that currently. Plus thinking things are going to drop a bit in the coming month.

There are also rumors that we are going to be getting checks from the Federal government based on our income in 2018. I’m not really one to ask for a handout but definitely would use that money wisely. Most likely an emergency fund since $140 isn’t cutting it.

One day I hope to be able to look back on this perid and laugh about it. Right now we aren’t there yet. I’m hopeful though, have seen so many outpourings of support to one another online. I do work almost 7 days a week now in some capacity. Becoming as indispensable as possible and hope that helps a little more with job security. My schedule is too irregular for me to get a 2nd W-2 type job. Random gigs on the other hand would be a definite possibility. Or generating more content / finding a way to monitize it. Shit, even $100/wk would be something.

I’m up to my 13th Debt Free Alpha video on YouTube, published a few days ago. Trying to do 1 video per week and improve how I present information. Whenever I rush them the quality is really really bad, but I’m still learning.

So my readers I ask you this question. How has the economic downtown / coronavirus impacted you? What are you afraid of? What are you excited about? Know anyone severely impacted?

——————-
*Off-topic* – I was recently watching a video by Alex Becker, (Why Making Money Online Is Bull%^@! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfaor_HZ5Gg) he was speaking about why most people don’t have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

One of the key takeaways was most people who work for someone else give that employer the hours where their mind is the sharpest.

Another was that their dopamine levels are all fucked up. Essentially being addicted to their phone, video games, and other things that give them a quick dopamine hit but don’t really move their lives forward. A lot of people who are successful in business are driven by pain, suffering, and fear.

The other one that resonated with me was that most people think they don’t have the skills needed to succeed in business instead of focusing on the right output quickly and consistently over time. Trying to be mindful of strategies that will help me become a six-figure income level and get me to the next level in terms of lifestyle.

February 2020 Update

February 2020 Update:
As of 2/21/2020:
401k: $75,068.17
Roth IRA: $4.704.99
HSA: $554.93
Total Retirement: $80,328.09

Car Loan: $4,294.28
Car Warranty: $258.50
iPhone 11 Pro: $1,067.20
Credit Card: $1,355.77
Total Debt: $6,975.75

Earlier this week my 401k + Roth IRA balance surpassed $80k, then the market took a bit of a dive. I’m contributing the largest amount I feel comfortable with. $1467/mo plus my employer match. That’s equal to my rent + car payment combined. I’m over having a car payment, you have no idea. Roughly 8 more payments to go and only 2 on the car warranty.

I feel like I’ve made a lot of sacrifices the past few years. Living in location with affordable rent but not close to work, not travelling much, watching each dollar I spend like a hawk. Ok maybe some of those wouldn’t go away with more disposable income but still.

My credit card balance is up this month due to two main reasons.
1 – I replaced my 2015 QHD computer monitor with a 2019 4k model. I originally bought it for $429.99 then got an $80 price match dropping it to $349.99. I love this monitor, it’s so incredibly sharp. Plus I’m experimenting a bit with 4k content creation. Shipped the old one to my parents who have two old monitors from 2001 / 2005 so my original $450+ purchase won’t completely be a waste.
2 – I booked a trip to see my family in New York. I haven’t been on a plane since July 2019. I’m getting the urge to leave Dallas for a couple of days. I try to stay off Social Media, lots of my friends are going on trips several times a month either for work or fun. Booked the coach flight through Expedia and got a discount for the car rental. Decided to get the car insurance since I have a $1k deductible on my own personal vehicle. Altogether the bill will be $492.37.
3 – Life – Things like getting shots for the dog, shipping the old monitor out to my parents, groceries, eating out with friends, occasional clothing purchases. Recurring expenses.

I still would like to plan a non-New York trip this year. Thinking about Fincon 2020 but not sure how much I would benefit from such a trip. I’m not exactly a popular blogger or Youtuber. There would be benefits from being around a community of like-minded individuals with a Financial Independence Retire Early mindset.

Last but not least I’m single again. No regrets. Just couldn’t see things going much further than they were. We are still friends and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still miss the familiarity of it all. I feel like after a year dating we should’ve had a general idea of what they next step was. I was allergic to his bunnies and they were afraid of my dog. I wasn’t and still am not sure if Texas is my long-term destination, but the economy isn’t great right now. There was a time where I thought about what things would be like living together. That was short-lived though. He’s still a good person and I hope he can find a husband again. Sometimes the best thing to do is to let things dissolve amicably. I’m still optimistic about finding love, enjoying life, and reaching my goals.

Aside from that I posted a few other videos to the YouTube channel. My last video was a trainwreck so I pulled it down. Some things you just can’t rush in the morning before you go to work. Lessons learned. It still feels weird writing our 2020 on anything I post here. Forever 2020 was *the future*, now it’s the present.

January 2020 Update

The stock market has been up, down, but mostly up. I’d be a fool to think this is going to last forever. I’m investing heavily right now to get compounding working in my favor, not to mention the tax benefits. I hate owing more to the IRS than I have to.

As of 1/22/2020:
401k: $71,078.21
Roth IRA: $4,668.99
HSA: $458.40
Total Retirement: $76,205.60

Car Loan: $4,831.60
Car Warranty: $387.75
iPhone 11 Pro: $1,123.36
Credit Card: $924.22
Total Debt: $7,266.93

In 2019 I made the decision to get brace. So far I’ve paid a total of $2,200.03, out of a total of $2,990. Not 100% sure how much I have left on my braces. Only *4* or $688.92 in payments left until I’m basically free and clear with that. It will be nice to see the money in the HSA actually accumulate and not just get wiped out immediately.

I lost my class action recall Plantronic Backbeat Fit headphones not that long ago. I literally looked everywhere for them, called my gym, nothing. It hurt and after a couple days I said screw it, time to upgrade. That in turn resulted in hours of watching YouTube videos talking about what people thought of different models of sport headphones.

I considered the Apple AirPods, AirPods Pro, Powerbeats Pro and a few cheaper options. My biggest beef with the old set I had was during a workout, static would occur and the connection would disconnect. You try grooving to some Fantasia or Mariah Carey only to go into radio silent mode while you’re pushing a steady 160bpm roasting in the hot 100° degree Texas summer sun. 😛

I have an iPhone 11 Pro so the Bluetooth only options didn’t make a ton of sense. Apple’s H1 chip provides near instantaneous sync up with my iPhone/iPad/Mac, supports Hey Siri functionality. That left the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro. APP has that white glossy plastic that scratches way too easily. My original earpods look like absolute trash all because I dropped them once. Then there is the “will these stay in my ears” factor. Again, I had my doubts. The last thing you want to worry about is losing your expensive gear due to a slightly off fit…Powerbeats Pro were actually in stock at my local store too. The audio quality is good for calls, I can walk anywhere in the apartment (even with the microwave going) without dropping, and chat walking the dog without the other person complaining they can’t hear me. Simple thing that would disconnect my old buds.

No they weren’t cheap. I originally paid $249.95 for them at my local Best Buy store. Got 1% Cashback through a Rakuten in-store coupon code, plus 3% back on my Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Then I saw the price drop by $50. You guessed right, I stopped by the store the next day to get it. That can pay for AppleCare which I definitely am getting for these bad boys. Sweat, heat, electronics, what could possibly go wrong…

Latest expensive purchase – Powerbeats Pro

My computer chair has been slowly disintegrating before my very eyes. Bungie cord to keep the back in check, now I added zip-ties for the arm that kept popping off. I can still get another year from it I tell myself. tweeted Mr. Money Mustache and he tweeted me back. Totally relished in my fanboi moment for a few days after that haha.

Office Depot WorkPro 1000 Chair with Bungee cord and zip ties.

I’ve been eyeing a 4k or 5k display to replace my 2015 27″ Asus PB278Q WQHD LED. The first 4k computer monitors made their debut in 2013, but they still haven’t really caught on. Content creators, prosumers, anyone who spends a lot of time viewing a screen and wants to preserve their vision has a justifiable use for them. In 2020 The most common resolution right now is 1080p HD or 1920 x 1080. My laptop is 3072×1920, my monitor is 2560 x 1440. The Apple ProDisplay XDR is 6mos worth of rent so that’s out, but then I see people complain about LG’s reliability and cheap build quality. After 2 years their $1200 screen just completely goes out. Unless you find a kickass warranty to go with it that sounds like a really shitty purchase.

I have a potentially short February work trip coming up, want to see my mom in New York in May, and possibly two other trips with friends later this year. Cruise and an island vacation potentially. Also throw in another trip with my boyfriend. Do I have enough money saved for any of this? No, but I’ll figure something out. 😀

I do feel very blessed these days. I don’t want to take any of it for granted. I know so many stories of people I’ve met who are strugging in varying capacities. Single mom who lost their husband, recovering drug addict, several depressed people who are struggling just to pay their bills. Guy who got stuck in a car while it burned to the ground. He fights to do even the most basic of things. Then looking at what is posted on GoFundme, I donate occasionally. It really pulls at your heart strings.

My hope is that more people would take time to love and respect one another while they are still here. I remember the storry of Mattie Stepanek, the little boy with a powerful message. He passed away almost a month after my father did which seems like a lifetime ago. Here’s his story if you want to learn more. Warning: You may need some tissues after you watch it.

Take care, be well. Remember to invest in yourself. Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want. Posted 7 videos so far. Quality isn’t quite where I want it. I can do a great video, or an average one, but sometimes my days are quite busy. So for now quantity rules out.

2019 – The Year In Review

Net worth is an important measure of your overall financial situation. While some choose to ignore debt indefinitely, I have never been one of those people. Even when I had $50k of student loan debt, I knew exactly what my balance was, the interest rate, monthly payment, etc.

First let’s start off with Net Worth. These numbers are estimates and don’t include any depreciating assets I own including auto, phone, computer, etc.
2011:    $-45k
2012:    $-43k
2013:    $-35k
2014:    $-35k
2015:    $-11k
2016:    $6k
2017:    $9k
2018:    $31k
2019:    $62k

Auto Loan:
12/24/2018: $12,224.63
12/31/2019: $5,370.34
Change: -$6,854.29
% Change: -56%

Retirement:
Roth IRA:
12/31/2018: $1,042.96
12/31/2019: $4,545.02
Change: +$3,502.06
% Change: +336%

401k:
12/31/2018: $40,124.58
12/31/2019: $68,178.70
Change: +$28,054.12
% Change: +69.92%

Overall it was a great year for me. Things are headed in the right direction. Looking forward to hitting new milestones in 2020!

December 2019 – Financial Update – Broke $70k in Retirement

401k: $65,831.25
Roth IRA: $4,425.07
HSA: $633.38
Total Retirement: $70,889.70

Car Loan: $5,374.98
Car Warranty: $517.00
iPhone 11 Pro: $1,235.68
Credit Card: $1,557.14
Total Debt: $8,684.80

Some of my payments will be posted next week, but I do plan on posting a 2019 year in review post in a few weeks. Overall observations about his month:
1. I really considered going on a vacation either to Austin or San Antonio, but I don’t think I would have the level of experience I’d desire with my current budget. I refuse to fly Spirit after my last claustrophobic experience in the back of the plane stuck behind the restroom. Places I want to stay are close to $200/night, my budget would be $100/night. The hotel we were going to stay at has some really sketchy reviews, charges a daily parking fee. The weather isn’t that nice right now either. Maybe I’m just making excuses.

2. Apple gave me more for my trade-in than I thought considering I got a credit on the taxes. Ended up being $1,515 vs $1,400. That’s fairly close to what I would have netted out to between ebay fees. Let’s break it down.

eBay Listing Fees:
Insertion Fee: $2.00
Listing Fees: Bold + Subtitle + Scheduled listing: $2.60
Electronics Fees (8% of the initial $50.00, plus 5% of the next $50.01 to $1,000.00, plus 2% of the remaining final sale price balance). Assuming $1700 sale price that would be $4+$47.50+$14: $65.50
PayPal Fees: 2.9% + $0.30 of the total selling price: $49.60
Shipping: Estimated $50.00
Total Fees: $169.70
Fees – Sale Price: $1,530.30
Not much of a difference and a lot less aggrivation.

3. I bought a few things for Black Friday. Between new shoes, bedding, a pair of jeans, and a shiatsu foot massage machine I spent about $199.53.

4. I just switched insurance providers from State Farm back to Allstate. It costs a little more each month, but…
State Farm doubled my payment, I switched to a monthly plan through from a 6 month lump sum. then took a whole 2 weeks to give me a credit.
Around the same time, the rep in the office tried to cross sell me some insurance I wasn’t interested in but ultimately agreed to. Then after signing up I got a letter in the mail saying I don’t qualify due to my BMI.
Their office moved what is now 30 miles away from I work. I have never met the actual insurance agent. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt by scheduling a Friday call after work since their Saturday schedules are always busy… She never called me back. Then she calls be back all happy go lucky about wanting to discuss my insurance renewal two weeks later…

Really thinking about the next few years of my life. Perhaps overly so…. I’m not 100% sure what direction things will go. From an earnings standpoint should I continue in Marketing, explore options in IT, or ramp up my side hustle game. I could have a Bachelors in Computer Science before the age of 40. If I start now I’m confident it would take me 2 years. Assuming it takes me 2 years to get the degree I’d have to start out taking a pretty big pay cut from where I am now. Would it be insane to start racking up certifications as a backup incase my industry starts to move toward automation or we have a crazy recession? I’ve gotten burned before being a one trick pony

Marketing Salaries Compared – Courtesy of Salary.com

Software Developer Salaries Compared – Courtesy of Salary.com

I don’t think this blog is able to be monetized and that’s not inherently a bad thing. The traffic isn’t there, it’s honestly all over the place, and really specific to my own experience. I write for my own pespective instead of someone just getting started in Personal Finance.

It’s also not a Brand in the typical sense. Too close to debtfee.com which is a licensed LLC. If I am to blog with the goal of generating ad, affiliate, etc. revenue I’d have to pivot to a different name.

My goal is to start modelling myself more after the top 11 people I follow in the space.
1. Alex Becker – Entreprenuer, Popular on YT – 387k subs
2. Clark Kegley – Refusing to Settle – Passive Income- Entpreneur – Mindset – 292k subs
3. Jaspreet Singh – Minority Mindset – 515k subs
4. Nate O’Brien – Millenial, saves a ton of his salary, minimalist – 343k subs
5. Mr. Money Mustache – He’s the standard 32k subs
6. Mike Rosehart – Young guy, into real estate, is completely crushing it, 14.7k subs
7. One Big Happy Life – Great to see things from a family perspective – 178k subs
8. Ryan Scribner – Personal Finance – Entrepreneurship – Stocks – 502k subs
9. Madfientist – He hit F.I.R.E. super young – 9k subs
10. Joseph Carlson – He dives into the world of investing weekly. Big on dividend investing (I’m also trying to increase my retirement stash quicker than he is lol) – 58k subs
11. Andrei Jikh – Magic of Finance – Big on dividend investing, has almost $195k invested at 30 years old, saves close to 50% of his income – 251k subs
Stay tuned….