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Starting with a change of plans

Today I was supposed to go down to visit my grandparents since I had to work when the rest of the family had the Christmas get together. I wake up to a text from my grandmother saying that she caught some sort of bug. This saves me 2-2 hour drives today, but now I don’t have anything to do. Not having anything planned is dangerous for me. I tend to resort to sitting around eating, watching TV, and slowly thinking about what I could get from Amazon with 2 day shipping.

Today I got my car cleaned because it was filthy, and went to my chiropractor appointment. Forcing myself to go to the gym this afternoon, and see what I can declutter.

I think every week, I’ll post my net worth and weight as a tracker for how I am doing. I’ll also be creating a spreadsheet to track both, with graphs.

April 2021 Review

Besides going back to my old and preferred job, this month was pretty boring. Moderna shot round 2 took me out for the last 3 days of the month completely. the only part of me that didn’t have struggles is the injection site. Luckily the boring life I had means that I didn’t waste money. I even started to get some more home workout equipment but waited on some sales and looked towards used equipment. Weights don’t go bad apparently.

With feeling sick and bad comes with bad eating habits. I started out nauseous after the shot so I didn’t eat much the first day. After that passed, I was lazy and found junk food creeping back into my pantry and fridge. I am weak when it comes to ice cream and cookie dough. Needless to say, I hit that point of feeling like a fat sack of potatoes on the couch watching tv and being bored by day 2. Day 3 I buckled down and finished my last class in my bookkeeping program, so that’s done now. I know I didn’t need to spend that $2,000 on a technical diploma, especially since I think I won’t be trying that as a job or side hustle, but it will help me keep my financial life together once I do start a decent side hustle or even just to keep track of my uber eats expenses and taxes.

I am very excited for May this year. We are surprisingly busy doing events and a few concerts. Which means my monthly per diem check should be fat and sassy, I’ll be getting some meals catered, plus I won’t have time to be bored or shop for things I don’t actually need. Let’s just hope I can avoid the dessert table in catering.

Total Assets: $50,823.98
Total Liabilities: -$35,851.50
Net Worth: $14,972.48
Monthly Change:+$32,38.81
YTD change:$4,244.10

Weight: 185.1lbs
Monthly Change:-0.2lbs
YTD Change:+0.1 lbs

Wasting time

Last week I created a spreadsheet so I could track my time in 15 minute increments to see how often my time is being misused. Turns out a lot. I created a spreadsheet where I could categorize 15 minute chunks of time. My categories were, Sleep, Veg (tv, mindless phone usage), Work, Commute, Side Hustle, Learning, Chores, meaningful activities (playing games, time with my wife, etc), Exercise, and Time I spend getting ready.

My largest category was sleep and following right behind that was work. Tied for third was Vegging and Meaningful Activities. I spent almost 23 hours of my week doing mindless crap like scrolling through social media, watching videos. And only half an hour on Side Hustles. Although I think once I finish with my bookkeeping program, I’ll be able to devote 10-15 hours a week to side hustle territory.

After seeing the numbers, that do not lie, I was able to drastically change how I spent my free time. Obviously sleep and work are kind of locked in on a weekly basis. However it may fluctuate. But I went from that nearly 23 hours vegging to just under 10. I think I can get that down to 5 or less. Now that I’m back in my production job, I don’t have to be at work until 10 (although I show up early so I can leave early to get some errands and chores done before dinner). So with the extra 4 hours of time since I still wake up with the sun, I would usually sit on my phone in bed. I’ve forced myself to change that from vegging to exercise, which is leaps and bounds better for me.

I’m going to add to my 2021 goals to get my average veg time down to 5 hours a week. I think it will be difficult especially on show days where I have several hours of sitting around waiting for the show to start. But I will always make sure I have a book (physically, or digitally), a hefty to-do list, or something productive with me at all times. I can’t afford to waste time. With an extra 15-18 hours a week, I should even be able to add another side hustle, or focus on writing more.

March 2021 Review

I let lifestyle creep get in my way this month. Although my net worth went up, I swiped my cards too much. mainly on food because I was “too busy” to make food. By too busy, I mean too lazy. This also is hurting my weight loss plans. food on the go is definitely not food for good. The actionable news is that This week I’m going through all of my subscriptions and cutting the fat. By my calculations I should be able to trim around $200/month from things I don’t use anymore, or need. My saving grace this month has been the fact that I’m back at my old job and that means I am once again getting money going into my SIMPLE IRA. without that, I would have had a negative month.

Last year I was able to shift my net worth up over $16,000. My goal this year is to at the least go up $10,000. If I can match last year, I would be ecstatic.

Now that I’m back at a job that is less physical than delivering packages, I need to be more aware of what is going into my mouth and fining ways to exercise. Since my wife is still having some balance issues after her surgery, we’ve been going walking almost every day (weather permitting), but they are only 5 or 10 minutes in all. I’ve started a workout routine in the morning to get my day started, but when I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine, the vaccinator must have not wanted to inject me through my tattoo, so it was damn near in my shoulder joint. Let me tell you what isn’t a fun feeling. Lifting weight with a very sore joint. So for a couple days laziness has set in. Gotta fix that.

Total Assets: $48,240.65
Total Liabilities: -$36,506.98
Net Worth: $11,733.67
Monthly Change:+$625.76
YTD change:$1,005.29

Weight: 185.3lbs
Monthly Change:-+0.5lbs
YTD Change:+0.1 lbs

DBSINK

In the personal finance world, you may hear the term SINK (Single Income No Kids), or DINK (Dual Income No Kids). My wife and I are what I call DBSINK (Dual But Separate Income No Kids). We both have jobs, and no plans to have children. Maybe a dog once we get a house and some land. Besides the obvious cost of having children financially, We both have medical conditions which could make the birthing process extremely dangerous or we’ll pass on some less than stellar medical and mental issues. Maybe we’ll adopt some day, but right now, that’s not in the plan.

In our relationship, she is more conservative with money, and I am a bit more bullish. She has had a very high average savings rate (we haven’t actually ran the numbers yet), probably north of 30%. I had a spending and debt problem before we started dating and have been aggressively tackling that mistake. I’ve been putting 7% into my SIMPLE IRA with a 3% employer match since the plan’s inception. My wife has finally just started a job that offers a Roth 401k, and she has opened a Roth IRA. Nothing is maxing out at the moment. For her the stock market is gambling. Nobody ever taught her how the finance world works. She was just told to save.

Because of this divide in financial opinions, we have elected to keep our finances separate. As long as we both can pay our bills, we don’t try to control each other’s finances. I love gadgets and tinkering. I’m working on learning how to program arduino for a lighting project. She likes clothes and a few other fashion luxuries. The only time one of us confronts the other is when someone is going to make a big purchase. When I wanted to the tech school to get a 1 semester Technical diploma to learn Bookkeeping, my wife literally asked me, “Can you afford this?”. When my wife wanted to buy a new phone, I asked the same thing. We are the angel and devil on each other’s shoulders for the big decisions.

We will combine some finances once we buy our first property to make paying bills and creating an emergency fund easier. Now that I am back to my pre-covid job, I travel a lot, so it would just be easier to pay for emergencies like a new water heater, or air conditioner while I’m travelling for work.

For the most part, we are on the same goal financially. I would like the have the option to “retire” (I’ll probably never stop working in some regard) by 45. A couple weeks ago, my wife had the limiting belief of “You are crazy, we’ll never be able to retire.” What changed that was having to help an elderly coworker after a fall. The guy fell in the grocery store and she was the one of 2 people in the store besides this guy. She found him trying to get up. She hollered for her boss and they couldn’t get him up. for reference, my wife is just under 5′ and maybe 120lbs and her boss is only slightly taller. They asked the fallen coworker if he wanted an ambulance and he said, ” I can’t afford one”. When I picked her up for work, I asked her how her morning was, and she said, “So how do I open a retirement account at that Vanguard place. As we opened her account, she did some quick math and realized that if she can only put $6,000 a year (+ adjusted contribution rates going forward), she won’t be able to retire. SO as someone in the FI community, I pulled out my Financial Independence Spreadsheet. I added her Roth IRA to my file and showed her that even if we assume a 5% return, she would have $646,586.12. Which is well over half of our FI number. Then I showed her the 7% average everyone uses as a standard for an average return. Her eyes snapped open wide when she saw $1,061,502.07. In her eyes, even though we aren’t. We are millionaires. Just in the future. Then I showed her what would happen if we both max out our IRAs and just kept doing the match at our employers. We would hit our FI number in 12 years.

She isn’t deep in the FI rabbit hole, but at least she knows that we can actually retire.

So for us, we have found a healthy way to keep our finances separate, but our long term and short term goals together. I keep hearing that it is wrong or stupid to keep finances separate in marriage. But for us this works. It keeps us from judging each others spending and helps keeps us independent so we don’t feel like one of us is doing all of the work while the other enjoys the money. Everything we have, we’ve earned. And she has no interest in using my 3d printer, and I have no interest in her shoes, they wouldn’t fit. So it makes sense to lets us do our own thing. As long as we both are on the same journey.

Coronavirus and the Empty Calendar Episode 9: The Rise of Gigs

Today I put in my 2 weeks notice on a job that makes me unhappy. I’m transitioning back to my pre-covid job in the entertainment industry (pays meh but I love it). When the pandemic shut down the world, I was told to find another job and that my position would be there when this is over. So I took a job delivering packages.

I struggled at first because my career is part of my identity and I felt broken and hopeless. I did several sessions of Tele-therapy (frugal win because my health insurance paid for it all). That helped at first with the sudden forced life change issues.

As time had gone on, I was getting more and more frustrated and grumpy and was not a nice person to be around. Unless you were one of the owners of the many dogs on my route, because that was the only positive thing I could find in that job. I was destroying my body and sanity for a paycheck. I was making more money delivering packages, but the physical and mental expense outweighed the pay. And in the middle of all the stress and unhappiness, my wife who has a bleeding disorder needed major surgery. To most people it is just an outpatient procedure but when your blood doesn’t clot on its own, removing an inner ear growth and reconstructing the entire inner ear is major. She’s recovering with some slight balance issues. I’ve been at peak stress for well over 3 months.

With the vaccine rolling out I’m starting to transition back part time at my pre-covid job. Just being back 2-3 days a week, I realized how much I love my career as a lighting designer. How much I realize that I would give anything to be back doing concerts and events.

My delivery job hasn’t slowed down since the holidays but the holiday “peak” bonus pay is over. I am being taken advantage of. I’m only 28 but after a day delivering I walk around like I’m an old man.

Today as I dropped my wife off at work, I looked at her and said, “I’m done. I can’t keep putting myself through this. I’m going work myself to death at this rate.”

As I waited for my boss to show up, I ran the math on how much I’d make part time at my old job and how much Uber eats I’d have to do to fill in and I put in my 2 weeks. He offered more money but I had to decline. Money won’t fix physical and mental damage.

I never knew how unhappy and miserable I was until I got into my route today after putting an end date in. I didn’t realize how much I clenched my jaw all day. I felt peace. I feel lighter, calmer. I was actually smiling, granted you couldn’t see my smile under the mask. I had to choose sanity and happiness over money.

February 2021 Review

I am grinding it out. after a bit of poor management of myself in January, I made it up and then some in February. I’m getting closer to what I want to lose weight wise and If I can keep tackling debt like I did last month, I should be in a good place by the end of the end of the year. Although my goal is to be free of consumer and education debt, I’ve been lucky to have all of my interest rates under 8%. My private student loans are a variable rate and I’ve seen them as high as 10%, but they are current under 5%. I’m trying to crush that debt as fast as I can, even though it is not the highest rate. I’ve decided to stop paying my federal loans pending what the current administration is going to do about them, which will let me tackle my consumer debt and private loans harder. Even if we don’t get any loan forgiveness, I think I’ll hang onto my less than 3% federal loans so I can save up for a house. I’m starting to see the trend that rents are starting to skyrocket in my area and housing prices are starting to bubble. I want to be in a position of strength when the bubble pops so I can swoop in and maybe even get a multi family property and house hack.

I’m happy but sad that the weather is getting nicer. Happy because that means I can do more running and tennis and other outdoor activities. I’m definitely sad because we never got a long enough freeze to get good outdoor ice rinks for pond hockey. Gotta start running again.

Total Assets: $47,050.68
Total Liabilities: -$35,942.77
Net Worth: $11,107.91
Monthly Change:$1,062.86
YTD change:$379.53

Weight: 184.8 lbs
Monthly Change: -0.3 lbs
YTD Change:-0.3 lbs

January 2021 Review

Well 2021 started and things didn’t magically get better. I wonder why people always put some much weight on the start of a new year. “New year, new me…” More like “New year, new gym membership I’ll go to maybe 3 times and forget I had it and ended up paying tons just because…”. I have fallen victim to that trap a couple times but this year I didn’t. However, January has always been a time of yearly expenses. Amazon prime renews, my NHL Gamecenter Live payment showed up with the return of the season, I had to finish paying for my tuition for the program I’m taking, and a few other yearly expenses hit. Now it isn’t almost $700 worth of expenses, but with all of the commotion in the stock market and media lately, my investments have been on the shakiest rollercoaster. Last week I hit some good highs and lows, but I’m still keeping the course.

The weather has been not fun this month. it has either been so cold or wet that running isn’t an option or safe for that matter. I tried running one day at work when I was behind and almost ate asphalt. I have started to cut down on sugary things, mainly because we found that our neighbors who moved out earlier this month, we feeding a whole mess of ants, and when the food dried up, they came in full force to our apartment. I should have taken a picture of the amount of ants piled up in the ant trap, it had to be in the hundreds. So while they slowly die, keeping the foods they like away is a must. plus that should help me a little bit with the ol’ belly.

On the Covid front, My old job acquired a second round of PPP loans, and they feel that if things keep going right for the vaccines, we’ll be back for concerts and events this summer. We finally got the call back to work. However, I have to see how flexible my FedEx boss will actually be in this transition. If he isn’t willing to wean me off of his employ, I’ll have to fill in the missing 25% of my income with delivery apps. I know the math shows that I can live off of 75% of my salary, but I really want this debt to be gone by the end of the year. I don’t think I am going to crush my federal loans just yet. I’m going to wait out the political atmosphere to see if some might be forgiven. Plus no interest until September now.

Total Assets: $46,283.88
Total Liabilities: -$36,238.83
Net Worth: $10,045.05
Monthly Change:-$683.33
YTD change:-$683.33

Weight: 185.1 lbs
Monthly Change: -0.1 lbs
YTD Change:-0.1 lbs

Back in School

Although my Bookkeeping program classes start tomorrow, some of my classes have opened up a week early on blackboard. I binged my Quickbooks class and am almost done with the 8 week course in 2 weeks.

So far I definitely remember that I am not the best student. Memorizing facts and terms is not my strong suit. At least only 2 of my classes are “normal classes” the other 3 are learning programs and practical learning (more my style). I’m trying to front load as much as I can so I hopefully can be prepared to go back to my old job, should the vaccines all work out.

My biggest fear is that I get called back to work and then lose the time to do my school work and all of the time and money put towards this is wasted. I definitely hope that the estimates for time required for each class is exaggerated.

December/ 2020 Review

This year has definitely been a roller coaster. I was fortunate to have employment throughout the pandemic, granted I changed jobs several times to get where I am now. Hopefully I’ll be able to return to my old job once things clam down. I was able to spend less money and tackle some big debt. I paid off my car loan, paid down a huge chunk of credit card debt, and in a couple months, I’ll be tackling student loans and be so much closer to being debt free. I was able to go from a negative net worth, to being worth near $11,000! Looking through the past I had good weeks and bad weeks. I wasn’t as consistent as I’d like with being in my budget. I was lucky enough to stay calm during all of the market volatility and have been rewarded for keeping everything in place. I had a week where my net worth dropped over $3,000 and other weeks where I gained the same. My goal is to be debt free by the end of 2021 although my spreadsheet says that I should be debt free by April 2022. If I can keep doing side hustles and push any extra money to my debt, I hope I can beat my spreadsheet.

Chocolate is definitely my weakness. With all of the video chat family gatherings for Christmas, we had 3 sets of grandparents send us holiday care packages with enough cookies, sweets and candy to feed an army. My self control was more like self indulge. this coupled with snow causing me to walk and not run deliveries, I have not been as active as I could be. Luckily, the snow means that outdoor ice rinks should be open so I can start playing hockey and if the ice isn’t ready, snowshoeing. Definitely cutting back on unnecessary food.

2021 Goals:
– Be debt free
– get down to weight goal of 160
– finish bookeeping diploma
– (after debt payoff) get emergency fund to 6 months

Total Assets: $45,890.96
Total Liabilities: -$35,162.58
Net Worth: $10,728.38
Monthly Change:+$505.81
YTD change:+$16,140.45

Weight: 185.2 lbs
Monthly Change: +5.0 lbs
YTD Change:-20.3 lbs

Shame

After years of struggling on my own, I’ve realized how much my pride has gotten in my way. I’ve had to move back in with my parents when I maxed out my student loans, maxed out credit cards and suffered through high interest debt. Last week I have started to change that by getting a consolidation loan.

But to bring back some examples of how my pride and being afraid of shame have kept me from going places in life.

When is went to college back in 2010, my parents helped me set up bank account with the credit union on campus. Including a credit card with a whopping $1,000 limit. I had saved up a couple grand to put into my checking and savings from my awful summer job. As my parents left me to fend for myself, they told me to save the credit card for emergencies only. I listened at first because I knew how bad credit card debt was.

As I found my group of friends, who all wanted to go to diners at 3am on a week night, I blew apart my budget I tried to set out. I had a job on campus running sound for the Basketball, Soccer, and Volleyball games. That helped me stay afloat for the most part. But slowly as the year dragged on, I started to rack up debt little by little.

I worked my awful, but decent paying summer job in a warehouse, and that crushed my credit card debt pretty quickly. I was able to save up more money to help me survive sophomore year. But lifestyle creep hit me pretty quick and I ran out of money halfway through the second semester. Enter calling the credit card company to bump my limit up and opening my second credit card (both at 20%+)

My junior year I got a bit smarter and took on a couple more on campus jobs and moved off campus where I could (foolishly) live off my student loan refunds. I had everything budgeted for and we packed 6 people into a duplex that overall cost me $125/ month. I ate the poor college kid life with ramen and the cheapest frozen pizzas money could buy.

Here’s where my financial life fell apart the first time. I was maxing out the student loans through my college’s credit union. And joke’s on me, the fine print says max of $40,000 lifetime. well I was at $39,000ish. They denied me for any future loans. I looked into part time jobs, dropping out, and even seeing how I could finance my life. On top of that my housing situation crumbled after some drama only Shakespeare could write. Although I was living (illegally) on campus with a friend when my lease ran up, I was effectively going to be homeless once the people who were actually supposed to be there moved in.

A little while later, my Dad called me. It was my birthday. I’ll never forget how he started that conversation. “Happy birthday son. How’s maxing out your student loans going?” Apparently my sister had this same problem and he probably knew that I wasn’t going to confess to him that I couldn’t make it on my own. He offered to let me move home and keep using the 1998-Manual Transmission-CD blew up inside the radio so you had to listen to the radio stations-Ford Ranger. I was now a commuter and felt like a failure.

Most of my friends looked at the situation in a positive light. Free food, housing, laundry, and utilities. But I felt ashamed that I couldn’t even make it on my own. My parents even offered to pay for gas for my daily 40 minute-19Mpg- 30 mile commute. I refused. I told them that I make enough at my jobs to get by. But because I commuted and worked on theater shows (for free) as a part of my schooling, work was not as often as I needed. At one point, I remember getting done tearing down a show at 2 am and I started my commute home. My gas light came on. My debit card declined, My credit cards declined, all I had left was the $20 bill I leave in my glovebox. I was out of money. I had 3 days of fuel left in my truck before I was literally stuck. I had another full week until the next paycheck came through. I had to go back home with my tail between my legs and ask for help.

From hitting that rock bottom, I was given gift cards to help me finish out the semester and I took on extra gigs to make money, which hurt my grades, but I felt like I had to pick myself up. I didn’t like the handouts. After that I started turning my financial life around.

Since then, I have had my slip ups, over extended myself, but I have never had a card decline or be maxed out. But my pride and shame have slowed me down. I felt that getting a consolidation loan was going to be an awful process and make me feel judged by my bank, or like I failed. But the reality is that after 4 years of trying to pay off cards with over 20% APR, I wasn’t making any progress. I wasted so much money and I don’t even want to see how the math would have worked out. But even from looking forward, dropping the interest rate down, I will be saving well over $1,000 and almost 2 years of payoff time.

We can all look back and say “woulda, shoulda, coulda”, but I won’t make that kind of mistake again. I could be miles ahead of where I am today if I would have put my pride aside and gotten the loan sooner. Maybe I’d be in my own home, or be looking at maxing out retirement accounts and be closer to FI. All I can do now is make good choices going forward and being independent is all the motivation I need.