End of Week Review 1/10/20

I am not bothered that my net worth dropped this week. This week I luckily didn’t have any major bills, but I also get paid bi-weekly, so I only had “income” from investments to offset any more negative change.
However, I have felt much better physically, especially since I have pushed myself a little more than I usually do at the gym. I have more energy, I sleep better, and I feel less fatigued. I have started to look into getting a personal trainer. I know my strengths and they are not in fitness. I’ve been biking, walking (to get rewards points from my health insurance), and working on my shoulders and arms, as they are the weak points in my body. But I’ll bet you that I’m not actually doing anything useful besides burning calories. I’ve started to learn that I should trust the professionals when it comes to something I’m not knowledgeable at.

Total Assets:$35,028.17
Total Liabilities:$40,628.03
Net Worth:-$5,599.86

Weight:205.2 lbs

End of Week Review 1/3/20

This week I went to the gym a couple times, but got stuck doing stationary work at my job. I stopped buying some of the more unhealthy snacks I usually eat, but didn’t expect to see much change in my weight after a week.
I fell into the gift card trap where I had a $40 gift card but used it as an excuse to buy something worth more than the $40 the gift card had on it, so I probably spent more than I should have. Still made a sizable stab at my credit card debt with the Christmas bonus I received.

Total Assets:$35,074.86
Total Liabilities:$40,486.93
Net Worth:-$5,412.07

Weight:205.5 lbs

New Year, Same Goals

As someone who never gets to celebrate holidays, on the day they are set, I actually get to relax for New Years. I usually work on the 4th of July, Memorial day, Labor day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve. It usually takes me a month to get to me celebrate my birthday.

Looking on social media, I see everyone posting resolutions and recapping their year. I don’t think it is necessary to let the world know of everything that has happened in my life. I do however want to brag about a few things and confess a few things.

On the positive side this year I have:
– Gotten Married
– Ran a weekend long show as an emergency Lighting Designer, when my designer’s wife had some medical issues.
– Started my journey to financial freedom
– increased the amount of show days by 11%, and lights repaired by 62%

On the negative side this year I have:
– Gained about 25 lbs
– Racked up $7,500 in debt from the beginning of the year
– Developed seasonal allergies
– Purchased a robotic vacuum & mop (making me lazy but also have more free time. so kind of a good thing)

I have many goals, but none of them are a resolution per say. I’ve got the typical long term goals, be healthier, get out of debt, positive net worth, save up for a house. Basically the american dreams minus the cheeseburgers. Granted all of the financial goals are the same, but I’ve broken them down to have smaller victories to help motivate me. I should have a positive net worth before I’m fully out of debt, and once I’m out of debt, I’ll be able to save for the house. By breaking my larger goal down to smaller goals, it should be easier to stay on track. I have the habit of completing a goal like “organize my desk” and that works for maybe an hour and then organization goes out the door because I have reached the goal of organization and I fall back into the old habits. And “keeping organized” especially when I get swamped with drafting and preparing a show where I’ll have between 5 and 15 pages of drawings and napkin drawings that I need to bounce between constantly. Having the next step in line should help me stay on track.

As most people look forward to the next year as being a fresh start, I am looking at it as a stepping stone. My “resolution” from last year was set as I was driving a Semi from Northeastern Wisconsin, to Northeastern Ohio. I got sick of listening to the same music I always listen to on long drives. As I started the trip, I went through things I wanted to learn and improve on. My finances had always been a struggle because my high school personal finance class was only a semester long and taught me how to apply for a loan, write a check (which I occasionally do), balance my checkbook (I have apps for my credit union and mint to track my balances), and do my taxes on the short form (I do some freelancing, which causes me to not be able to use the short form). I was financially illiterate. So I stopped just east of Gary, IN for lunch and downloaded Google Podcasts and started my search. I stumbled on the Mad Fientist’s Podcast. I had no idea what Financial Independence (or FI) was. Needless to say, I learned a lot. I blew through all of his episodes within a couple months. I was on the FI train. I love what I do for a living, but being FI would give me more freedom to do what I want, and work on my own terms. After I finished listening to the Mad Fientist, I started listening to Listen Money Matters. If you listen from episode 1, you will get brought through the basics of personal finance and not just “You should save money”. They discuss everything from debt reduction, to investing, to real estate, to different methods of handling your money. By about June, I started to turn my finances around, minus paying for the wedding.

From the lessons I have learned from those two podcasts, I’m starting to feel confident in how I am spending my money, and I even feel comfortable talking money with friends and family. It was difficult at first to admit that I was in so much credit card debt. But just like any addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step. Creating this blog is a very delayed second step. I needed accountability. With how sporadic my schedule is, I didn’t want to rely on a person to keep tabs on me. Most people would say that I should use my wife as my accountability buddy, but we both are incredibly busy. We both can get so busy that besides the normal texting we do during the day, the only time we see each other is when we say good morning and goodnight. An anonymous audience and the fact that I can have a public record of my progress, is motivation enough for me to stay on course.

If it is near the new year, I wish anyone a happy new year and hope you can reach all of your goals, resolutions, and/or hopes & dreams. Happy 2020!

Off to a rough start

Today I had my last family Christmas for this year. I definitely ate wayyyyyyy to much food for lunch and wayyyyyyy too much cookies, and hard candies, and chocolate peanut butter balls, and white chocolate Christmas bark, and more cookies. I’m definitely going to need to go to the gym more than once a day to offset this splurge. I usually make exceptions for the holidays , and I try to control myself, but my sweet tooth is dangerous. I feel like I should have had to eat something appalling for every dessert I had to remind me that I shouldn’t basically eat everything in sight. I’m glad I didn’t skip the gym this morning, but even that probably didn’t put much of a dent in the intake I had today. Tomorrow will be a fasting day for me.

End of the week review 12/27/19

I’m trying out posting my net worth and weight every week to keep track of where I’m at with my goals. I totally expect to have bad weeks, and seeing as like most people, I’m paid every other week. So every other week will be down, but I hope to see the trend consistently go down. I’ve included my total assets and liabilities to better see how things are going week to week. My eventual Goal for weight is to be back to 180 lbs and to get my net worth into the positive by the end of 2020.

Total Assets:$36,247.02
Total Liabilities:$-42,362.46
Net Worth:-$6,115.44

Weight:205.6 lbs

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.

About the “Fixer-Upper”

I’m starting this as a self reflection of how to better myself as a person. This blog was sparked after reading James Clear’s Atomic habits. I am full of terrible habits. I overspend, overeat, and am generally lazy. My goal for this is to track my habits and changes including my financial life. 

Financially, I am in debt. Now it isn’t terrible, but it needs to be dealt with. I make a little over $40,000/ year, and have about $30,000 in loans including Private & Federal student loans, and a car loan. Seeing as I just splurged on my honeymoon, I’ve racked up a total of $12,000 in revolving debt. (Only about $3,000 is from the Honeymoon, I didn’t splurge $12k worth). I have a retirement plan through my employer that I contribute 7% and they match up to 3% giving me a total of 10% of my pre-tax income going towards retirement. I started to invest before I started listening to the Personal Finance podcasts, The Mad Fientist, and Listen Money Matters. Once I got all learned up and realized that I needed to get rid of my higher interest debts, before I started investing, I slowed down on that. I still plug $10 a week into a Vanguard account to keep it going, but I was socking away $50 a week until I realized that I wasn’t making money, I was losing it from my credit card interest. Luckily, my student loans and car loan are all sub-4%. But I have 2 credit cards, at 12.5% and 23.99%. I need to pay them down ASAP.

A little background on me. I am 27 years old, and work as an Entertainment Electrician and Moving Light Repair Technician. Basically, I am a lighting guy for everything from corporate meetings and parties to Music festivals upwards of 50,000 people. I live in Wisconsin where the cost of living is rather low. I live with my wife and a roommate that I’ve had since college. He was my best man and we don’t mind having him live with us. It keeps the cost even lower. Since I graduated college in 2015, I’ve gained 50 pounds, mainly in my gut. Good ol’ Wisconsin Beer belly. Except I have an alcohol allergy that I developed right around graduation. I have had many bad habits over my life. I was a 12-pack a day soda drinker, and when I quit the first time, I was back on it in less than a month. It wasn’t until I went for my annual physical and the nurse ran my blood pressure three times before calling in another nurse to run it to see that my blood pressure was ~160/100 (I can’t remember the exact numbers but I remember they were very close to that). I quit cold turkey in my sophomore year of college. And everyone hated me. I was an ass to anyone who slightly annoyed me. So I took up smoking cigars. That bankrupted me because I didn’t buy cheap cigars and I switched to Electronic cigarettes (before the term vaping was coined). As of August 5th, 2019, I am free of that as well. Changing habits and thought patterns has been very difficult for me. As a child, I played hockey and suffered 4 concussions, and because I am a huge nerd, got my 5th concussion from a foam sword battle while very intoxicated on St. Patrick’s Day with some friends. My short term memory is terrible. Being in a job where I literally meet new people every day and have to work closely with them, their name ends up becoming “Man”, “Chief”, or “Boss” Because of the post concussion issues and all that comes with it, I need something that will keep me on track and honest with myself and my progress. 

I am also publishing this so that anyone who is trying to better themselves, but is struggling can see that they are not alone. You hear of all of these success stories and they tend to make them sound easy. It isn’t easy to change your core beliefs and habits, especially when it means giving up comforts and things we think are necessary. I know that I’m not perfect by any means, so I expect to have setbacks along my journey. Due to my career path, I’m on the road sporadically for up to 100 days a year. This will make it hard to save on food, but on the other side of the coin, a good chunk of those days, food is provided by the show I’m working on. Usually that only counts for the normal meals (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but that doesn’t include any pizza or after show food I may partake in, either by choice or peer pressure. I’m not trying to make excuses for where my wasteful spending is coming from, but I am acknowledging the difficulty I’ll have in trying to budget, seeing as every day is a different situation and different influences will come my way. 

I have tried to budget in the past and have failed every time. My first approach to fixing my finances is to do a fluid budget. By that, I mean that I’ll be questioning each purchase and each item I buy. This means asking “Do I need this?” and “Is there a better alternative that would be more cost effective?” to everything I buy. I will try to budget the best I can but even as a spreadsheet nerd, I can’t seem to stick to a hard budget. I can’t seem to avoid urges to go out and have fun, or get a tool I actually need. 

As for my personality, I am a blunt dreaming realist. I know that is contradictory, but In many situations, I rely on reality to guide my goals. However, like every other person in the world, I want the good sized house, with a nice hot tub, to retire early, travel the world, yadda yadda. In reality I know that I won’t be able to achieve all of that. For example, I don’t have a passport, So the farthest I can travel is within the continental United States. And unless I start my own business, I won’t retire early because as I write this, the company I work for is closed between Christmas and New years, and yet I went into work today to clean out my workbox, build a few things to add to my tools, and re-organize my desk. If I were to retire early, it would be to retire to some other endeavour like a business, or to spend my retirement years designing for a theater company somewhere.

In my adventure to change, I don’t want to starve myself of joy or small splurges. What good is changing everything to be miserable? We’ve all tried terrible diets, or quitting cold turkey with coffee, soda, sugar or smoking. I think asking myself the constant question of “Do I need this?” will make small changes that over time will create habits and those habits will start changing other aspects of life for the better.

I feel that I may never hit a point of being “done” with this journey to better myself and my life. I hope it never ends. I enjoy trying to optimize things at work and in my life. The tipping point that started all of this was when we got a robotic vacuum and mop with some of the money we got from the wedding. With the vacuum we call “Big Buddy” and the mop we call “Lil Buddy”, I have not had to vacuum, sweep, or mop in 3 months. Once I realized that it takes me 3 minutes to get the mop set up and running, and I can tell Big Buddy to vacuum certain rooms, they will do the 1-2 hours of chores I’d normally do. With this extra time, I am able to go do chores I’ve been avoiding for far too long, or get caught up on reading or projects. Once I realized how I was able to automate, Atomic Habits was given to me by my sister. I think that unconscious habits are essentially automation. Hopefully someday I won’t have to ask myself “Do I need this?” when shopping, and will be able to habitually do my dishes as soon as I am done eating instead of eating and watching tv and forgetting the dishes until the next day.

If anyone ends up following my journey, I hope this helps show the reality of changing your lifestyle to get out of debt, deal with mental issues, and put a reality on a, what I hope is a, success story. I’ll gladly accept questions and encouragement along the way.