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 2023 Review

This month is just a keep on keepin’ on kind of month. Nothing super fun or exciting to report. The only thing of note is that I’m learning how to crochet, and have a couple of ideas that are very niche that I might be able to make a little side income on. But with how niche the ideas I have are, I don’t see this blowing up like crazy.

The weather has been much nicer lately, so I’ve been out walking more and generally spending more time outdoors. I’m happy to be outside walking more, but my allergies disagree. Luckily they make drugs for that.

March 2023 Food Spending: $476.65

Total Assets: $76,329.82
Total Liabilities: -$34,805.46
Net Worth: $41,524.36
Monthly Change:+$751.41
YTD change:+$7,791.57

Weight: 205.0lbs
Monthly Change:-0.2lbs
YTD Change:+12.6lbs

March 2023 review

This month, my investments stayed, more or less, the same. Which means that I’ve been ab le to Throw $1,300+ at my debt this month, which my bare minimum payments add up to $460.05, so I am almost paying 3X my payments to tackle debt! My highest interest debt is now 6.95% so I have the internal debate of, “do I keep crushing debt, or do I save the excess for a house?” Keep in mind that I already shove anywhere from $200-500/month into savings to get my emergency fund up, but even that is close to my 6 months, So I’m starting to push more towards the “save for a house” mode.

Due to the medical issues my wife is having, I’m not cooking for the both of us, and I have gotten lazy. It is 100% my fault and responsibility. It’s just so easy to throw in a frozen pizza, or pick something up on the way home. So I’m going to start tracking my food intake via fitbit, so I can keep a better handle on my calories in. It didn’t help that my work has been pretty slow and easy so I haven’t been putting in my daily steps or really doing much physically besides just exist. With the warmer weather coming, I am waking up earlier to get a short 20 minute walk in before I go to work, and I am pushing myself to do more active things.

March 2023 Food Spending: $540.36

Total Assets: $75,943.77
Total Liabilities: -$35,170.82
Net Worth: $40,772.95
Monthly Change:+$1,328.44
YTD change:+$7,040.16

Weight: 205.2lbs
Monthly Change:-0.8lbs
YTD Change:+12.8lbs

February 2023 Review

Starting to get back on track! Besides the first week of February, I was down around 1 lb/week! I’m trying my level best to keep this trend going. My food spending this month doesn’t reflect that, but a lot of that spending was trying a lot of different things for my wife since she is still on a liquid diet. She has also started to maintain weight thanks to going out for milkshakes every day. It is surprisingly hard to find liquid foods that aren’t a part of some low calorie diet, which is the opposite of what we are trying to do.

Money-wise, once the food spending goes back down, I’m going to be charging head first into increasing my savings so we can get a house hopefully before the end of the year. We are hoping that this crazy housing market will settle or turn in our favor.

I am brewing some side hustle ideas. One is more of a community resource/classes on technical theater and design where I can dump my knowledge and make some courses, while helping high schools, community theaters, and regional theaters make better design and safety choices. I know it won’t be a huge money maker as it is so niche, and theaters tend not to have tons of money, but I’m hoping with time it can grow.

February 2023 Food Spending: $815.36

Total Assets: $75,681.17
Total Liabilities: -$36,236.66
Net Worth: $39,444.51
Monthly Change:+$2,345.08
YTD change:+$5,711.72

Weight: 206.0lbs
Monthly Change:+2.0lbs
YTD Change:+14.6lbs

January 2023 Review

This month has been one hurdle after another. I threw out my back, and my wife was diagnosed with a disease that causes her esophagus to be constantly inflamed. so she’s been on a liquid diet for 3 weeks now. And while the insurance company and pharmacy try to figure out this weird drug, we have come to find that it will cost us a little over $2,000/month. The only saving grace is that the manufacturer has a payment assistance program, which will pay for the first $13,000 of co-pay, which should last us around 6 months. So we’ll be on the hook for $12,000-13,000 for the rest of the year. It is a newer drug so it is only in one pharmacy by special order, so there aren’t generics yet. We currently are planning to work towards saving $1,200/month into a savings account to pay for her drugs as the year goes on. To boost that account, any freelance designing I do with schools, or theaters will go into this account, which gives us an extra $2,000-3,000 to play with. So the house will be on hold until we get our new life figured out.

With the added stress, and only having to cook for myself, I’ve slipped on healthy eating and even stepping on the scale every morning. I started checking again because my wife has been told by a nutritionist to weigh herself because getting your daily calories in when you can’t swallow anything remotely solid is tough. At my peak this month, I was at 212lbs. I’ve started to work on eating better, and working out. Because of the rough change we’ve been enduring, I’m starting up seeing a therapist next week. I’ve been super agitated lately because the drugs that might allow my wife to life a somewhat normal life are over 10% of our pretax income, for 6 months, I’m pissed that our healthcare system is so expensive, especially since together we make around $100,000/year, so we don’t qualify for any assistance because we make just enough to be over the limit. I feel awful that all I can really do to help is save money and make a monumental amount of mashed potatoes, soup, and protein shakes. I want it to be clear, zero anger is going towards my wife. She didn’t chose to have this problem. It’s just the situation is almost no win every way we go. And I’m struggling with it. We have joked about moving to any of the other universal healthcare countries, but that’s probably not a reality for a little while.

January 2023 Food Spending: $635.26

Total Assets: $74,633.53
Total Liabilities: -$37,534.10
Net Worth: $37,099.43
Monthly Change:+$3,366.64
YTD change:+$3,366.64

Weight: 204.0lbs
Monthly Change:+5.8lbs
YTD Change:+12.6lbs

When You Work for a Unicorn

Back in August I asked for a raise as I took on more responsibilities and projects, and slowly learned that several of my co workers that have been here around the same amount of time, but do considerably less work, were getting paid more than me. Because there was a potential bill that was going to massively screw with the company’s taxes, and a couple uncertainties, I was given a “You’ll get a raise, but we need to figure some stuff out, so we just ask for your patience.” And because I have no plans to leave the area, and currently work at the company that is the biggest and highest paying in the area, I had nowhere I’d like to go.

Well I found out really quickly that I work for a unicorn employer. An employer that does things nobody else would have even offered. I asked for a $10,000 to get me from $50,000 to $60,000, which is what other companies outside of the area would have hired me for. When I got called into my boss’ office for my end of the year chat, My bonus was $10,000. Normally it is between $1,500-2,000. I was given my raise retroactively for the entire year!

I would have expected 4 months worth of retroactive pay if they would have offered that, not the whole year! Plus because my boss has seen us (my wife also works for the company), he offered me a deal. I’ll get paid the $50,000 rate in 2023, but he’ll dump my “raise” into my first paycheck to help us get a house, because he’s seen us try to get a house in this crazy market the last couple of years, and wants us to realize the dream of homeownership. He also gave a soft hint again that he’d love to have us on the leadership/ownership team in the future.

In a world of job hopping, like many of my friends do, sometimes you can find a unicorn employer that realizes your worth and will move the world to keep you. In the entertainment industry, most larger companies have a handful for full time, salaried staff, and the rest are contractors, maybe with minimal benefits. My company employs almost 30 full time staff and 4 part time staff (mostly people who want to only work select days of the week). We also tend to hire 6-8 interns every summer, and if they live locally, or can find a place to crash in town, we invite them back to help on their breaks.

We are also offered fantastic benefits like low deductible healthcare (which they paid for all of the premiums while we were shut down during covid), 2 weeks of vacation, having off between Christmas and New Years, so essentially 3 weeks of vacation, a retirement plan, dental reimbursement. And our scheduling person plans in days off when someone is working on the weekend or has a 21 day run like I did last year in July. We also have flexible office hours. I’m able to come in an hour early and leave an hour early. Which is fantastic because that gives me time to get home, finish some chores and get dinner on the table by the time my wife is home.

I am a follower of the Financial Independence (FI) community, and while most people follow the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) part, I have no plans to retire early since I’ve found this job and actually get excited to wake up every morning for work. I’m still barreling towards FI as fast as I can, but that’s so I can some day afford to retire in style, and enjoy my job along the way.

December/ Year End 2022

December was definitely a range of emotions and surprises. This is the first Holiday season without my Grandfather and Aunt as they both passed in early 2022, so I tried to eat my grief, and I’ll let you in on a secret, cookies don’t make you less sad. That was also coupled with a thrown out back for my entire holiday break, so I couldn’t move for 5 days without excessive pain.
On the positive side, I got the raise I asked for of $10,000 and since we were in a financial pickle at work because of some legislation that could have really messed up our taxes, My boss gave me my bonus this year to basically retroactively get me to what I asked for, and then some. Basically I asked for a $10,000 raise in August, and I got a $10,000 bonus. Which is nuts for someone who isn’t a salesperson or project manager. I am lucky to work for a unicorn in my industry.

I have started up my yoga routine again now that I’m cleared for active duty again and am actively working to get rid of the weight I gained during last year and then some.
My wife and I found that she struggles to digest heavier meats, so we have been finding healthier alternatives to some of our favorites, which so far looks like we should be saving money on our grocery bill as well as saving our waistlines.

Goals for 2023
Get food spending down to $400/month
Cut expenses by $100/month
Save $8,000-10,000 for house
Get rid of 2 debts (1 Credit card, 1 Private student Loan, Total ~6,000)
Work on creating a side hustle
Get under 180lbs
Be able to touch hands flat on the floor with legs straight
Net Worth: $50,000
Read 10 Books

Stretch Goal 2023
Pay off Private student loans ($12,000)
Target weight 160
Pay off Federal Loans (Pending Supreme Court Decision)
Debt Free ($40,484.62, 30,484.62 w/o federal loans)
Net Worth: $60,000
Read 20 Books

December 2022 Food Spending: $632.27

Total Assets: $74,581.41
Total Liabilities: -$40,848.62
Net Worth: $33,732.79
Monthly Change:+$13,055.47
YTD change:+$2,310.46

Weight: 198.2lbs
Monthly Change:+6.8lbs
YTD Change:+0.2lbs

November 2022 Review

This month has been a more relaxed month for me. Only 4 show days, not including the 3 weeks of daily rehearsals for my freelance lighting design for a high school production of ‘Bring It On: The Musical’. Luckily it has forced me to plan my lunch and dinner to be on the go so I’ve actually saved a decent amount on my food budget. Plus adding this side gig is making me $750 for my work and my students are good enough that I spent maybe 10 hours programming and they run everything, so I’m basically babysitting the lights they rented from my employer and solving problems as they arise. Easy money that I’ll be throwing all at debt so my end of year should be just that much sweeter. My goal is to be able to have knocked out almost $10,000 of debt this year which is 20% of my pre-tax pay, and almost 30% of my take home.

I have gained a pound this month, but I weigh myself every day and it wasn’t until the rehearsals went late and the parent volunteers fed us that I pigged out. Almost nothing was healthy, but I’m too polite to say no. And midwestern parents can be very persuasive about their food. I was weak. I probably would have gain more if I didn’t have the stomach flu from the day before Thanksgiving until the following Saturday. I was sad that I didn’t get to eat all of the good food.

November 2022 Food Spending: $416.45

Total Assets: $60,565.97
Total Liabilities: -$39,888.65
Net Worth: $20,677.32
Monthly Change:+$345.27
YTD change:-$10,745.01

Weight: 191.4lbs
Monthly Change:+1.3lbs
YTD Change:-6.6lbs

October 2022 Review

This month, my investments stayed about even from last month, so the increase in net worth is from watching ,y spending and paying down debt! I did spend a lot on going out to eat, but I did have a lot of gig that I had to travel for, which is offset by per diem. I think I can squeeze a little bit more to bring my food down to around $400 in November. I might even be able to get below that goal since I have about half the amount of gigs in November than I did in October. And the gigs I am on, feed me so that should drop my spending down.

Even though things are looking up for me on the money side, this is hibernation season. Corporate events, not great weather. It’s desk work season, not physical summer. My drive is super low to work out and my food intake goes up. My wife and I have started doing yoga, which has helped some of my back problems, and should hopefully get me in the mood to exercise more. Its just mentally hard to work out when it is still dark out in the morning.

November Food Spending: $496.32

Total Assets: $60,741.05
Total Liabilities: -$40,409.00
Net Worth: $20,332.05
Monthly Change:+$1,436.42
YTD change:-$11,090.28

Weight: 190.1lbs
Monthly Change:-0.1lbs
YTD Change:-7.9lbs

September 2022 Review

So last month, I went through my spreadsheet and it seems Some new accounts I’ve added were not in my total net worth. I found a retirement account from an old job which shot me up $3,000, but because I was trying to see what the student loan forgiveness would do for me, I forgot to move a couple loans back into the right spot on the ledger. So if you compare my Assets and liabilities from this month to last month, that would be why.

I was able to cut my food spending a bit. Mainly because I’m no longer working fairs and festivals where a bottle of water is $6. I’m into the corporate and indoor concert season, so it is much easier to pack food and not go out to eat several meals a day.

I have been able to use the personal loan I got last month to knock out some of the higher interest debt, which is saving me $300/month just in interest. If the loan forgiveness comes through, I should be able to throw over $2,500/month at debt and hopefully be debt free by Christmas 2023. And that doesn’t include if I throw bonuses and per diem towards, it will be even sooner.

I’m going to work on reducing my spending even more this month to see how much lower I can get. My goal is to get food down to below $500/month. Which should be possible during the not summer months.

August Food Spending: $584.68

Total Assets: $62,598.26
Total Liabilities: -$43,702.63
Net Worth: $18,895.63
Monthly Change:-$2,114.45
YTD change:-$12,526.70

Weight: 190.2lbs
Monthly Change:-0.6lbs
YTD Change:-7.8lbs

August 2022 Review

I write this several days late because my boss decided it was a good idea to shatter his wrist, so I have been out on gigs for the last 8 days and only have today to catch up with life.

I got the notification from my private loan servicer that my rates would go up. What they didn’t say it that they’d go from the lovely 4% they were at to just under 10%! So I am in the process of refinancing to a 5 year loan which actually will save me tons of money over the life of this loan.

One of the gigs I was working was a fair, that didn’t have catering. And I didn’t find that out until we got there, so I didn’t have access to healthy food. I was actually down 2 pounds this month, and then the fair hit. Hopefully with this next month I’ll be able to buckle down and keep getting leaner.

I realized this summer that my spending was getting away from me, so I have used the idea from Waffles on Wednesday, to make a Google Form to help me track my spending. I already see it working because I am thinking twice before buying the extra snacks, or stopping somewhere for a quick bite to eat.

August Food Spending: $746.46

Total Assets: $58,931.68
Total Liabilities: -$37,921.60
Net Worth: $21,010.08
Monthly Change:-$186.60
YTD change:-$10,412.25

Weight: 190.8lbs
Monthly Change:-0.2lbs
YTD Change:-7.2lbs