Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:07 pm

Well, EdithKeeler, looks like I wasn't too far off. From the Catholic News Service from February of last year:

Of the several questions the pope was asked, one focused on whether he thought giving money to people begging on the street was the right thing to do.

One thing people may tell themselves to feel better about not giving anything, the pope said, is "I give money and then he spends it on drinking a glass of wine."

But, the pope said, if "a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that's OK. Instead, ask yourself what do you do on the sly? What 'happiness' do you seek in secret?"

Or, another way to look at it, the pope said, is recognize how "you are luckier, with a house, a wife, children" and then ask why should the responsibility to help be pushed onto someone else.

Jason
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Jason » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:40 pm

Being that I'm more of a "Teach a man how to fish" type of guy, if I was Pope, I would take time out and teach that one-drink-at-time alcoholic beggar how to rob a liquor store.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:11 am

Starting Oct. 1 my employer is rolling out a 401(k) plan. Because I work for a very small company the options for administration were rather limited, my employer went with John Hancock, and I was worried that the plan might be too expensive for me to participate in. Well, we had the info meeting with the JH rep today and it's not as bad as I thought it might be. While it is certainly not as great as the ridiculously low gross expense ratio my wife pays with her employer's Vanguard plan, it's not horrible. I can pick from several Vanguard funds, including the target retirement ones, as well as several other passive index funds (in addition to many actively managed funds, naturally). The administrator's fee is 1.2% on top of the Vanguard funds' expense ratio, which is pretty darn significant (that's $222 for the year for $18,500, just for the administration fee), but that 1.2% will drop down to more like .63% once the company's cumulative investment fund reaches a certain threshold not too far off in the future. So it's expensive, but it's not so expensive that it doesn't make sense for me to max it out for the tax savings. Also, a big plus is that my employer is matching up to 4%, which is great, as my former (much larger) employer didn't match attorneys at all (they did staff, which is good). So, I'm very much looking forward to contributing to a 401k again. I love any chance I can get to make saving automatic, and between my 401k max, DW's 401k max, the HSA contributions, the 529 contributions, the automatic post-tax index fund contributions, and the money we schedule to transfer over to our savings account every month, we're pretty much on auto pilot at this point. The only thing that is missing is I'd like to get our spending down enough so that we can make automatic mortgage principle contributions every month. Baby steps.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:06 am

September 2018 net worth numbers

Net worth w/o house: $308,946.19
Net worth w/ house: $485,270.45
% of [adjusted] $1.8m target net worth: 27%
Net worth change from last month: $8,629.35
Monthly PPI from total net worth: $1,617.57
"True" PPI (excluding house, 529 from net worth): $965.82

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:32 am

Not a great month, for a number of reasons. We are resolved to be more focused and disciplined in October.

September 2018 savings rate numbers

Total after-tax income: $16,159.52
Total expenses: $9,761.59 (up from $6,544.04 in August)
Surplus/profit: $6,397.93 (down from $17,155.57 in August)
Savings rate: 39.59% (down from 72.39% in August)
NW needed to cover expenses: $2,928,477 (up from $1,963,212 in August)
[S]WR based on total NW: 24.14%
[S]WR based on total NW, excluding home and 529 accts: 40.34%

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:13 pm

Another crappy month on all fronts; going in the wrong direction (the stock market obviously didn't help). November is not looking much better.

October 2018 net worth numbers

Net worth w/o house: $292,522.88
Net worth w/ house: $469,181.32
% of [adjusted] $1.8m target net worth: 26%
Net worth change from last month: ($15,389.13)
Monthly PPI from total net worth: $1,563.94
"True" PPI (excluding house, 529 from net worth): $912.54

October 2018 savings rate numbers

Total after-tax income: $15,242.28
Total expenses: $9,907.69
Surplus/profit: $5,334.59
Savings rate: 35%
NW needed to cover expenses: $2,972,307
[S]WR based on total NW: 25.34%
[S]WR based on total NW, excluding home and 529 accts: 43.43%

Looking at the bright side, for a bad month at $9,907.69 in spending, that is still well below what we had been averaging for 2016 and 2017, which means that even with the Catholic School tuition thing the downsizing of the home has made a sizable and consistent impact. Also on the bright side, my company's 401k plan kicked in in October, with a 4% match, which is very nice to have again.

But, I think it is realistic for our family to get the expenses amount down to $5,600, and that's an additional $4,300/month we could be (but aren't currently) contributing to paying down the mortgage, or whatever. Getting down to that spending amount, however, means we need to get a lot smarter and more strategic about things like summer camps and aftercare for the kids, vacations and other family travel (e.g., pick more getaways where we can take the dog, so we don't have to pay for boarding), and gifts, etc. that we get for our own kids and also family and friends. We also need to rethink things like season sports tickets (or at least plan on selling enough of our tickets to make our money back), and perhaps foregoing the wife's fancy boutique gym membership (she's seriously thinking about it, unprompted by me, thank you very much). Also, groceries, alcohol, and restaurants continue to be major line items for us where big cuts can and should be made. And it is highway robbery what they charge for kids to play academy-level soccer.

By the way, if you seriously want to save money with kids, have only one parent work and send the kids to public school or home school them. Once you add up aftercare costs and the costs of summer camps and the other camps you have to pay for when the kids get random days off during the school year (teacher work days, etc.), that amount gets pretty close to the amount of take-home pay the second working parent is bringing home. I'm not necessarily a fan of Elizabeth Warren's political career, but her book "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke" is just spot on and a must read for parents who are trying to figure out where the hell there money is going each month (at least the original edition; I'm guessing the more recent edition is a good bit more political).

To end on some positives, I purchased some hair clippers for pretty cheap and am looking forward to trying my hand at pet grooming, which will have the double benefit of allowing us to forego paying for a house cleaner and paying for pet grooming.

Also, I'm two billing statements into my new cell phone plan with Xfinity Mobile, and I'm loving it. I've been right at about 1gb each month and so have paid $12 plus another $3 for taxes, etc. (this is in addition to the $19.99 we already pay Xfinity for Internet). My plan in November is to keep my cellular data turned off 90% of the time and stay under 100mb, which would mean I'd only pay for the $3 in taxes. Still working on convincing my wife to join as well and forego her ~$50 Verizon plan. But she had a bad experience when I convinced her to switch to Republic a couple years ago, and she is reluctant to pull the trigger.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

St. John Paul II

Post by Hristo Botev » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:57 pm

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:34 pm

Feeling a little down and in need of some spreadsheet therapy, I decided to adjust the spreadsheet I've been using since January 2016 to track net worth to include estimated car value, with depreciation, in the net worth calculation. Previously, I'd been counting car loans as a negative (back when I had a car loan), but I hadn't been offsetting that loan with the corresponding car value; I think my rationale was that cars suck, and so I didn't want to count them as net worth assets. Well, cars still suck (but they are unfortunately necessary so long as we have little kids involved in various after-school activities), but I've been bummed with the hit our net worth took back in the spring thanks to all the moving costs, closing costs, etc. we incurred with the move from the old, big house to the new, smaller townhouse. So, what the hell. We've got a 2015 Nissan Leaf we paid about $8K in cash for in early 2017, and we've got a new Honda CRV we paid about $27,700 in cash for this summer. Factoring in deprecitation (by which I mean, whatever Edmunds.com says to expect for depreciation over 5 years), this new net worth calculation has us back over the half-a-million-dollar net worth mark (voila!). It may be totally artificial, but I feel better thanks to the exercise, so there.

[Revised] October 2018 net worth numbers

Net worth w/o house: $324,799.00
Net worth w/ house: $501,457.44
% of [adjusted] $1.8m target net worth: 27.8%
Net worth change from last month: ($15,850.38; still a crappy month for indexes)
Monthly PPI from total net worth: $1,671.52
"True" PPI (excluding house, 529 from net worth): $1,020.12

suomalainen
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by suomalainen » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:44 pm

Funny. I used to get comfort from some spreadsheet monkeying too. Now it just bums me out, so I look at it a lot less than I used to. I think it's because it was too much like watching grass grow. I kept wanting to see a lush lawn the day after I had spread the seed.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:54 pm

Not real happy with Fitbit right now. Good lesson in how disposable so much of this electronics junk is built to be. DW bought a Fitbit Charge a little less than 2 years ago at a discount through her employer when they were doing a fitness challenge thing. I ended up with the watch, and got to like wearing it, both for tracking runs and for the text/call notifications. A couple months ago, however, the screen cracked right down the middle, unprompted by any external forces that I'm aware of. The watch still works, but it's unsightly and not something I want to wear unless I'm going for a run. I called the customer service and was told that because it's past the 1-year warranty, all they can do is offer me a 25% discount on a new Fitbit device; there's no way to repair the cracked screen. I poked around online a bit and apparently these cracked screens are a frequent problem for the Fitbit Charge, and the 25% discount is Fitbit's standard reply when someone calls with a cracked screen.

At that price point, a watch really shouldn't be viewed as disposable. I've got a 10-year-old Timex that cost a fraction of what the Fitbit did, and it's as pristine as it was the day I bought it.

Anyway, these sorts of experiences serve as good reminders of what a scam so much of this consumerist stuff is. I don't need a fitness tracker; and when I find myself with a broken fitness tracker, the response certainly isn't to buy a new fitness tracker from the same company that sold me the broken fitness tracker. What a scam.

Quantummy
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Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:39 pm

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Quantummy » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:02 am

Enjoy the journal and definitely agree on the lack of need for fitbits and appreciation for the trusted Timex watches - although they too seem to be disposable. I also seem to get only about half the longevity out of them.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:36 am

The attempt at shaving my dog did not go well, and we ended up sending the dog to the groomer prior to Thanksgiving guests arriving, as our house can quickly fill up with dog hair when the dog isn't shaved. Hoping to give dog grooming another change in the future. Not sure how to keep my dog from squirming around and trying to bite the clippers.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:16 am

Not sure how to keep my dog from squirming around and trying to bite the clippers.
Dog groomers use a grooming table. It is a table with a metal arm to hold a leash. Just don't leave the dog unattended on it as they can hang themselves. I think you can buy just the arm and mount it on a normal table.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:14 pm

I think I'm going to sell my Surly Cross-Check, which is the bike I was riding when I had my accident back in August. I bought the bike because my Craigslist 1980s True-Temper steel Schwinn road bike just wasn't cutting it as a reliable workhorse commuter to handle my daily 12-mile round-trip commute.

The Surly turned out to be the absolute perfect bike for me to go fast, comfortably, on my 12-mile round-trip commute in any weather conditions while also being able to handle carrying a change of clothes, toiletries, my laptop, and whatever other work stuff I needed to take to/from work.

Now, however, my commute is only 2 miles round trip, or 6 miles when I take the kids to school. And since buying the Surly, I converted the 1980s Schwinn into a really nice townie/bar bike, with upright handlebars and a big Wald basket on the front. I also replaced the brakes, derailleur, and wheels on the Schwinn, so it's now just as reliable as the Surly. And it's perfect for 1 to 4-mile trips around town. So I think I'm going to move the dynamo lighting system from the Surly to the Schwinn and sell the Surly; making the Schwinn my primary (and only) bike.

I can't really think of a reason not to sell the bike. And I know DW would appreciate me getting rid of the bike I was riding when I was in the accident, as she now has it in her mind that any bike with drop handlebars is dangerous. Also, after my accident my thinking was that I would just use the Surly for longer, non-commute rides anyway--relying on the Schwinn as the daily commuter. But not surprisingly, given the accident, DW isn't really on board (at the moment) with me doing any recreational, non-commute riding. So what's the point of keeping the bike? I don't see a lot of 50-miles weekend rids or bikepacking trips in the near future. And the Surly isn't really the right bike for those sorts of rides anyway.

Quantummy
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Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:39 pm

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Quantummy » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:05 am

I was hit on an 80's MTB converted to sweet commuter (welded dropout extensions paint touch up etc.) that totaled it and replaced it with a Surly. I like the Surly but not as much as the totaled bike. If you don't want to keep the Surly for backup (e.g. You are ready to ride to work in morning and the Schwinn has a flat), or for a guest or one of your kids to ride, then probably worth selling if you get a decent price. If you can't get much for it and storage is not a problem, then you may want to just keep it.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:27 am

Quantummy wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:05 am
If you can't get much for it and storage is not a problem, then you may want to just keep it.
Sorry to hear about the totaled bike. My version of bike porn is seeing pictures of old 80s MTB and road bikes built up as commuters and Rivendell-style townie bikes. I love seeing those old bikes being re-purposed and given a new life. And those old steel frames are so durable and comfortable.

I think I'll start with just stripping the Surly of the dynamo lights and back rack, and moving it over to the Schwinn. And then I'll see if I'm still on board with selling the Surly in a couple weeks. I think I could get about $600 for it, which would be worth it. And although storage isn't really an issue, it would be nice to just free up a little bit of space in the garage. My only hesitation is that the Surly really is a great bike as an all-around workhorse. In addition to being a daily commuter, I've loaded it up for bikepacking and gone on 50-mile road rides where I've been able to keep up with guys on carbon road bikes (though, admittedly, I was usually towards the back of the paceline). It's just a great bike if you are only going to have one bike.

So maybe the better option would be convert the Surly into a townie with the parts I've got on the Schwinn. It wouldn't look as cool; but it would mean I wouldn't have to worry about moving the dynamo lighting system. And I definitely like that the Surly can take massively wide tires, whereas the best I've been able to do with the Schwinn without rubbing on the fenders is size 28s.

I just don't know.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:20 am

Still waiting on DW to finalize the November spending numbers. Here're the net worth numbers.

November 2018 net worth numbers

Net worth w/o house: $336,443.25
Net worth w/ house: $513,437.12
% of $1.8m target net worth: 28.5%
Net worth change from last month: $11,979.68
Monthly PPI from total net worth: $1,711.46
"True" PPI (excluding house, 529 from net worth): $1,056.07

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:04 pm

November 2018 savings rate numbers

Total after-tax income: $19,490.54
Total expenses: $10,578.52
Surplus/profit: $8,912.02
Savings rate: 45.72%
NW needed to cover expenses: $3,173,556.00
[S]WR based on total NW: 24.72%
[S]WR based on total NW, excluding home and 529 accts: 40.07%

45.72% is certainly better than last month's 35%, but there's really no reason we shouldn't consistently be above 50%.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:23 pm

Breaking down the $10,578.52 in spending, which is always a sucky exercise. Only excuse I've got is that we hosted family for Thanksgiving, which resulted in higher than average alcohol (though our alcohol average is already pretty damn high) and food.

Mortgage (excl. principle): $1,589.87
HOA: $200
Utilities: $158.29
Cell Phones: $51.30
School Tuition: $1,517.60
Kids' Aftercare/Camps: $1,511 (mostly paying for summer 2019 camps)
Dog: $553.54 (mostly annual vet visit, but also grooming, boarding, and food)
Grocery/Home: $858.32 (ouch)
Restaurants: $532.76 (ouch)
Alcohol: $315.96 (more ouch)
Car Insurance/Gas: $104.62
Clothing/Dry Cleaning: $271.85 (none of this is me, naturally; whoever said running was an inexpensive hobby is full of it)
Entertainment/Gifts/Personal/Kids' Rec: $1,406.27 (this has become our "misc." category; this is mostly gifts and Christmas stuff this month, but also paying for some upcoming family travel)
Internet: $19.99
Life Insurance: $59.15
School Stuff: $193.45 (school lunches and something called a "technology fee")
Gym Memberships: $228.96 (my wife cancelled her expensive gym membership and joined a cheaper one, so of course we got charged by both gyms)
ATM: $163.50
Cleaning: $130 (still paying the cleaning lady to come once a month)
Prof'l Sports Team: $686.10 (these guys seem to get a lot of our money)
Allowance: $16
Spotify: $9.99

Hristo Botev
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:54 am

Something I heard Jordan Peterson say this morning as I was getting ready for work in one of those millions of YouTube videos out there from his lectures: "What you aim at determines the way the world manifests itself to you." So, if you're seeing nothing but negative, etc., you have to ask what you are aiming at that is resulting in the world manifesting itself to you in such a negative way.

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