snow_leopard's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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snow_leopard
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snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:13 am

Hi all. I’m super glad to be posting my first entry. I’m inspired by all the journals and comments on here.

A little about myself - I'm 40, married, live in Texas, and work as a web developer. My hobbies are hiking/backpacking, reading, climbing, music. INF/TJ.

A while back I was in credit card debt and ERE blog and book as well as some other books/blogs helped me to dig myself out and get control of my finances and have a different perspective. I'm very grateful for that.

I’m still trying to figure out my goal(s) and what is possible in regards to my situation of when I can be FI. I'd like to stop being dependent on one source of income so I’m considering starting a side business. And I’m interested in reducing waste around the home so I’ve been reading up on that lately and making changes.
Last edited by snow_leopard on Tue May 08, 2018 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Viktor K
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by Viktor K » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:09 am

Totally off ERE-topic but how's climbing in Texas? I'm from there. My hometown had a "saw off all the bolts" policy several years back and has one measly gym that supports climbing/crossfit/ninja warrior (aka crap for climbing). Good job starting your journal. I've recently hatched an idea to self-teach myself web development. It is a high paying field, isn't it? Without too much spending, I think the path to a 4% SWR can't be too far in the future for you.

ira_kart
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by ira_kart » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:28 am

ironical user name, is n't it? some called "snow_leopard" from TX? :) welcome to the family.

wolf
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by wolf » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:48 pm

snow_leopard wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:13 am
A while back I was in credit card debt and ERE blog and book as well as some other books/blogs helped me to dig myself out and get control of my finances and have a different perspective. I'm very grateful for that.
Welcome snow_leopard! That sounds like a good start. Keep on.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:03 pm

Thanks for the welcome!

@Viktor - It's flat as a pancake where I am but a massive indoor bouldering gym opened nearby. I'm pretty new to the sport but I love it. I think when I get a little better at it I'll make the drive to try an outdoor spot, maybe Enchanted Rock. Web dev is a great field! There's a ton of resources online to learn.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Tue May 08, 2018 9:22 am

I've been making some changes over the last few months including cutting some things out of my budget as well as changing some lifestyle habits. They've been good changes and have kind of simplified things for me.

I'm trying to get some spreadsheets started and want to work on some charts. But I'm having some trouble figuring out what method/calculation to use for the savings rate. I know everyone does it slightly differently (gross, net, pre-tax, post-tax). I'm open to suggestions. I've been looking at others' chart formats on here. :)

I rent. Car is paid off and a few years old. No debt.

401(k): 97,000
Roth IRA: 31,000
Taxable Accounts: 19,000
Checking: 22,600
Crypto: 1,600
HSA: 5,000

Total: 176,200

Monthly income (after taxes, 401(k), and benefits) is about 5,000.
I put 12% into 401(k) and company matches 6%. (There are other benefits, bonus and an additional match).

March expenses: 2,400
April expenses: 3,000 ($850 of this was federal tax payment, and a $200 skills course which is a great investment to me)

I think May will be better.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue May 08, 2018 9:35 am

Regarding Texas climbing, Hueco Tanks is a destination bouldering area that draws people nationwide, partially because you can climb there when the rest of the country is frozen.

Viktor K
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by Viktor K » Tue May 08, 2018 10:08 am

I'd actually heard to that place when I was living there but I didn't start climbing until I lived in Colorado! Had no idea.

@snow_leopard Are you tracking expenses by category on a spreadsheet already? If not, that made the biggest difference for me starting out. Good job either way on cutting your spending by more than $650 March to April, if you exclude the federal tax payment and the course. That's just over a 25% reduction in spending.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Thu May 31, 2018 11:13 am

@Gilberto I have heard of Hueco Tanks, it looks awesome!
@Viktor Thanks for the encouragement! I do track expenses, although, for a while it was very loosely. So trying to be more diligent and mindful now.

May Retro

I export my transactions from Mint, pull them into Excel, edit stuff out that doesn’t need to be there like transfers between accounts or business expenses, and clean up the categories. Then I do a pivot table with the categories and amounts to see the overall picture.

My SO and I split shared expenses pretty evenly. We split the rent. I pay the auto insurance, cell phone, internet, and utilities. SO pays for the groceries, restaurants the majority of the time, and a couple other things.

Auto & renters Ins (2 cars) 247
Hobby - 82
Books - 32
Clothing - 85
Food - 434
Gas - 109
Gifts - 41
Gyms - 116
Mobile Phones - 183
Internet - 138
Music - 11
Rent - 550
Shopping - 194
Utilities - 99
Vacation - 52
Grand Total 2373

Well, I was really trying to do significantly lower than March which was $2400 expenses, but I barely squeaked under that. It definitely tells me that even though I’m being more aware and thinking about my purchases, I may not be affecting the overall result.

I had to go on a business trip unexpectedly, so I bought a couple of things to wear (some of my work clothes are getting shabby anyway), some treats for colleagues, and did sightseeing ($160 for these).

‘Food’ includes food & drinks whether it be extra groceries, restaurants, alcohol, coffee, drinks, etc. I still spend a buttload on food, even though my SO covers most of it. Man, I am a pig! Haha. I used to go out to eat lunch at work regularly, but I’ve been bringing my lunch a lot more. I spent $75 on work lunches. That’s a lot better than before, but I guess I need to work on the rest that ends up in this. I may start splitting the category up to take a better look. Also, this kind of doubles as entertainment for me and keeps me in the social loop.

Net worth went up about $7800. Moved max $5500 from checking to Roth. Have not chosen the investment yet.

In non-finance news, I started a compost. Pretty stoked on that!

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:56 pm

Hi. Well, I meant to update this journal on a monthly basis but that didn't happen. Unsurprisingly, I also did not stay on track with my money!

Right now I stand at $188k, which is only a few thousand over what I had last time I posted in May of last year. I watched my portfolio get fat and then got lazy with saving and allowed myself to spend loosely. Then the market took a nosedive. And I used all of my HSA on a health expense. Etc. I'm piecing myself back together now, though, and going to do a full retrospective on how to mitigate falling off the FI wagon too hard again.

Other than the finances, I had a great last half of the year. I finished a masters degree, and the tuition was completely covered by my employer. I really enjoyed working on the degree but I'm so loving not having lectures, reading, and writing hanging over my head after a long day of work. I did a ton of traveling and the most of that was covered by either my employer or my hobby. I learned how to make a lot of new healthy recipes. I've gotten myself up off the couch after the holidays and gotten back into fitness and feeling good (and with a friend, too, so that's extra nice!). I read a lot about meditation and learned how to better control my anxiety through practicing. I read a lot more books last year and I've read 4 books this month so far. I started a BulletJournal and I really enjoy this system and spending time using it.

So I have no doubt I can do much better in the future, and I don't want to beat myself up about it because that really doesn't help me as I'm already very self-critical (which, incidentally, is another thing I'm working on).

I think what will help is to better define a realistic goal that I can hit at a regular and frequent interval. And also to save first, then allow myself a bit of breathing room to spend so that I don't let myself swing wildly in the opposite direction again.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:20 pm

A little update... The good news, my NW is up to around 214,000. Most of that is due to my employer's generous benefits. The bad news is that I will find out in a couple weeks what my layoff date will be. It wasn't a total surprise, but I'm still sad for many reasons, including some of the financial benefits, great colleagues that are like family, and the very generous time off. I was able to do so much travel for different reasons. I also was able to learn a lot and get a lot of great experience there. Sometimes maybe I was not excited to go to work, but I never dreaded it. There was always some aspect that I have enjoyed every day.

The thing I'm struggling with now is I feel pretty unmotivated and burned out. My skills need an upgrade and were a little too suited to this company. And I can't seem to get myself in gear to work on things and practice at home. I really like what I do, I just don't want to do it! HAHA. But for real, I think that a slight shift in focus would probably fire me up again. But this is a major hurdle I'm trying to overcome. Self-motivation is usually not much of a problem for me.

Many of my colleagues have families so they are very concerned about the change. And I am, too. But I don't have kids and I feel like career experience-wise overall I'm in a pretty good spot. I'll be getting a severance package. I have basically fantasized about this moment for years, that I could take some time off work to travel or do something different. Or just find a job that I felt I had a little more control over or more interest in the subject matter I'm working on. But being around folks that are either already jumping ship or are basically ready to hit the ground running has made me a little hyper-sensitive. In the past I've jumped into jobs that were bad situations because I've felt rushed or pressured either by my financial situation or by family members worrying about me. If possible, I would really like for this to propel me to something better and more meaningful. And maybe get to enjoy a little bit of freedom before settling into a new grind.

On the expenses front, I have been more mindful about what I'm spending. Before if I wanted to go to a show, I'd just go. It's not that any of them are particularly expensive, but they do add up. So, I've been a lot more selective. I've also sold some stuff I wasn't using. And I've been cooking a lot more and I really love to cook! It's not that I didn't enjoy before, but now I appreciate the process of doing it, it's not just a chore anymore.

Aside from that, one of my goals this year was to read more books. I'm up to 9 so far! I'm sure that's not a big deal for some people but in the past reading books was not a huge priority, I never cracked 10 or 12 in a year. I have always read a lot but usually it's been more articles. My goal for the year is 30, so I think I'm well on my way. I mostly read non-fiction, but I'm trying to mix it up a little.

I did read the book Nomadland recently. Wow, that was extremely depressing and one reason that I would NOT want to take a break working (pre-FI obviously). Several of the people profiled were in great financial health and then found themselves in a situation where they're in their 60s, 70s, or even 80s, working 12 hours a day for Amazon in a warehouse, and living in their RV or van not by choice but out of necessity. Amazon actually has a program for this workforce. Which countries did Trump say were shitholes again? ...

Anyway...I still go climbing although I have not improved much! I don't go on a schedule so I think it's harder to improve, and I also don't have a buddy or buddies to go with. But I have a blast just going and getting some exercise, it's addictive. If anyone has trouble sleeping, I recommend climbing. It's exhausting and that shit'll knock you out at night. :)

bigato
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by bigato » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:42 pm

hmm, let me see what *I* would do in this situation:

Two cars: sell them both, no more expenses here
Hobby - 82 - from now on every hobby should be cashflow positive
Books - 32 - can only read from libraries for a while
Clothing - 85 - hmm, maybe you can go for a while without new ones?
Food - 434 - you can lower this to 300 now that you have time, can't you?
Gas - 109 - no more driving around since no more cars
Gifts - 41 - not now
Gyms - 116 - training something at home until things get better?
Mobile Phones - 183 - switch to something cheaper, can you do it with 60 for both?
Internet - 138 - Can you decrease this somehow?
Music - 11 - no paying for music now
Rent - 550
Shopping - 194 - what does "shopping" even mean? this is not a category. gone
Utilities - 99
Vacation - 52 - free vacations now

New situation:

550 Rent
300 Food
99 Utilities
138 Internet
60 Mobile phones
-----
1147 TOTAL

1147 * 200 = 229,400 (considering 6% withdrawal rate invested in golden butterfly portfolio)

Your current money plus the severance pay will probably cover this, right? But also you´ll have the money from selling the cars. Bam! Instant barebones FI. And then I'd be much less worried about taking my time to find something else to work, something I'd like to do. But that's me, I don't like pressure.

prognastat
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by prognastat » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:12 pm

It sounds like you've already been doing things to put yourself in a good position for moving from this to another job.

If you are reducing expenses and saving a lot you should have a significant enough buffer to be able to look for a good new job rather than having to jump on the first thing you find.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:27 pm

Thanks for the replies.

@bigato I've thought about your comment and suggestions, appreciate that. I don't think I could do all of them, but I could definitely do some.

@prognastat - Yeah, I think you are right. For some reason I tend to let anxiety get the best of me.

An update, my NW is a little over $220k. Looks like I should be at this job for another 16 months or so, which is much further out than I was originally expecting. I have plenty of time to improve my skills and build some projects. I also want to put some time into thinking about exactly what I'd like to be doing or what type of work environment. Based on that timeline, I have a pretty good idea of where I can be at NW-wise when this chapter closes.

I was really struggling with motivation around the last time I posted. But I have made an effort to do a little work at home a few times a week, and that has really improved my mindset. It's just a matter of getting started and blocking out specific time. And not spending time staring at the phone.

I've read 5 books in the last 5 or 6 weeks. (Incidentally, one was Jaron Lanier's recent book about social media.) Right now, I'm reading How to Survive Without A Salary since I think I saw it on the book list in the resources section. I think when I finish that one I'm going to chill on the reading obsession, otherwise, I'll just use reading as a tool to procrastinate. :P My goal is to read 30 books this year and I'm almost halfway. But I more want to enjoy it and learn, and not really so hung up on the number.
_____

Not sure if folks include their matching in their savings rate. I am set to 12% plus 6% match - so 18% total. And am aiming to save an additional 55% after taxes. So that puts me at an initial savings rate of 73%. In theory, we'll see how it goes.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Thu May 02, 2019 7:41 pm

April was not a good month, spending-wise. I spent about $4000. $1000 of that was taxes. I also had to get a couple new tires for $250. Spent a ton on food and lunches with coworkers, more than usual because we were too busy to hit the grocery one week and also it was pretty stressful at work so we were all looking for a little comfort. I also bought some pet supplies the SO usually covers - $100. Spent about $90 on books, a couple technical books and a few others. I also bought some 1-time household/healthcare things. I bought a few other things I don't really NEED, none of them that expensive but things really do add up. They are things that I will get a lot of use/enjoyment out of, though.

I also have a boot camp workout class now, I got a month free in January and signed up for 6 months. I really like it because it's outside, social, and is an appointment so I'm more likely to work out, but I probably won't extend it due to the cost.

Despite that, I managed to sock away some money and move the needle a little and the NW is 224.2 today.

Looking back on this, this coming month I aim to bring my lunch/eat groceries 4 days/workweek and go out once per week. And I will not buy any books (or go to the library). And I am looking into cutting the internet expense. And not buy random crap.

I finished How to Survive Without A Salary and I really enjoyed that book, I thought it was pretty funny and kind of a delight. I especially enjoyed one of the last chapters on how economists do not account for quality or for things like effect on the environment, as well as how we are so focused on economic growth, but it doesn't really matter if the quality of life is getting better.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:49 pm

My NW is the same as last update 6 weeks ago. $224K.

I had an expensive month in May, some dental work to the tune of $3000, but it was something that needed to be done and also partly cosmetic, and I'm really happy with the result. Also, the market took a dump around then but is starting to recover a little bit. I failed spectacularly with the food spending in May. I also bought some books, a haircut, and a new spare tire for my car.

June is going much better. So far I've spent about $2k, and that includes ponying up for a one-time expense of flood insurance which was a little under $200. Peace of mind since our city government has not done anything to mitigate the flooding problems. All my bills are paid in the first half of the month. I've been better about food and I haven't driven as much - both due to being able to work from home a little more than normal.

My goal is to have NW of $315K when I get laid off next October. That includes adding monthly savings, monthly retirement savings, and severance package after taxes, more or less. There's some wiggle room, because I know if I am too strict I tend to swing wild in the opposite direction. So basically if I save $1500 per check I should be good. The more I break this down into more manageable shorter-term chunks, and automatically sock it away, the more success I will have reaching the goal.

Since I finished a master's degree, I have had a hard time deciding on and committing to any goals. So it feels pretty good to at least put something down.

I have been considering not putting 12% in my 401(k) and instead putting 6% to get the full matching, but then save more after-tax, that way I could use the money before retirement. I'm still mulling this over.

I'm going to Colorado for vacation next week. SO owed me for last vacation so has paid for everything for this one. We'll be staying in the mountains and hiking around Indian Peaks Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park. Super excited for a change of scenery!

Other than that, I've been reading Windfall - The Booming Business of Global Warming. Pretty interesting book especially when it comes to the opening of the new trade route through the Arctic. I have read plenty from the perspective of looking at changes in environment, but this book is more about the adaptation from the business side (part of it anyway). I also got over a mental block in bouldering and have been able to climb a lot of V3s. The issue was I should have just gone and tried more of them and just went for it rather than feeling like I need to complete all the lower problems first. And I've been working on my React and JavaScript skills and getting in a better habit of doing code practice a few times a week. I was going through a really bad slump and a lot of anxiety over the last 2 months, but I feel like I am getting over that and starting to take on more challenges and not be so afraid or let anxiety get the best of me. I'm not really sure how I got so anxious over the last few years, but I have realized how much it is holding me back and causing me unnecessary worry.

snow_leopard
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Re: snow_leopard's journal

Post by snow_leopard » Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:54 am

Hi. It's been two months since my last post. Colorado was awesome. We got up at the buttcrack of dawn to go hiking and saw a lot of elk and moose splashing around in mountain lakes. I had a giant, fresh homemade cherry ice cream cone at a local ice cream/used book store shop in a tiny town. I came away with a couple books, including Endurance, the one about the expedition to Antarctica. There's also a dead Norwegian guy cryogenically frozen in the middle of the town.

Aside from some travel expenses in June, July had a sizable wedding gift for a family member. And apparently I will need to go back and take a closer look at what I was doing, but my guess is I got a little carried away with some of my interests and maybe also was a little bored on the weekends and didn't save as much. Also, the market's been a rollercoaster and my portfolio took a bit of a hit.

So I stand at around $227k. I'm off track according to the chart that I've made for myself that extrapolates to next October. But the number's still going up overall. And I think I can get back on track and I'm also just glad I have a chart to compare with! And mentally and emotionally I've been in a better place. More motivated.

I tend to spend a lot of time reading about the "ills of the world", which is pretty easy to do these days. But I think it's affected me too much and so I've decided to dial it back. Not to mention it is just taking up time that I could be doing something else. You go where you put your focus, and I don't want to spend my energy and focus on stuff that's going to maybe affect my physical and mental health and life in a bad way or cause me more anxiety than usual. I want to acknowledge the negative, but focus on the positive, and do something positive, and try to lift the people up around me instead of dragging them down in criticisms of what is going on around us. I also really want to get out of my routines and ruts and auto-pilot and let some new things in and either rekindle some old dreams or strike up some new ones.

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