Side Hustling?

One thing that I promised myself after I earned my PhD was that I would never work harder than my body would allow. My health is very precarious. I have some pretty serious health issues that affect me daily. These conditions are potentially life threatening. Fatigue and pain are major components of my illness, and if I push myself too hard, it can lead to worsening health. Because of this, I’ve been avoiding pursuing a side hustle.

I got a PhD to make my life easier. It made me a competitive candidate on the job market. I have an awesome job, with my desired employer. I’m working 9-5 and no more. My earning potential in my current position is $100,000+. Work doesn’t make my life very stressful. These are all things I knew  a PhD would get me. And I’m very thankful for that, and that was exactly my goal.

That being said I’ve been approached with a side hustle opportunity and I have accepted. The great thing is my life shouldn’t change all too much. I’m currently active in the health community mostly dealing with patient engagement. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years on a voluntary basis. A group of friends are now looking to branch out and make this a non-profit organization. But in general, it is something I’m already passionate about and already do on a regular basis without compensation.

Keeping Track of My Personal Savings Rate

One thing that I didn’t do a good job of last year was keeping track of how much I was saving and spending month to month. Because of this, I was unable to determine my personal savings rate, or the percentage of income saved.

I am now outlining my budgeted expenditures in all of my net worth updates.  And while, I don’t directly mention how much I save, I can extrapolate this number by looking at my goal progression.

In order to calculate my personal savings rate I take the following steps:

  1. Calculate the amount of income saved
  2. Determine total income earned
  3. Divide income saved by total income

When I do this, I get a savings rate of approximately 45% of my gross income. This is for the first 2 months of 2017. This is quite a bit higher than I was expecting, but I did have three paychecks in January and  received a tax return.

I live in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the nation.  I make enough money to live comfortably, but I’m pretty far off from a six-figure salary.  Given that I live by myself, due to my health condition, I’m pretty happy with this savings rate.

As a statistician, I like graphs, so I broke down my spending a bit further to better illustrate my savings and all other categorical expenditures. As you can see, most of my income goes towards taxes and deductions, rent, and my 401K contributions.

 

jan-feb-gross-savings

I know some calculate the personal savings rate based on net income, which is defined as gross income minus taxes. If I were to use net income my savings rate jumps to 60% so far in 2017.

Personally, it’s easier for me to use gross income. Additionally, since I will be paying taxes in retirement, it doesn’t really make sense to look back on net income statistics. For example, knowing that I saved 27% of my gross income towards retirement tells me I could most likely live comfortably on 75% of my current income in retirement, even if it’s taxed.  The fact that I contribute to a Roth IRA should shelter me from some of the tax burden, but I’d rather overestimate the money I need as opposed to underestimate.

Net Worth Update – February 2017

It’s number time!

Liquid Assets Jan-17 Feb-17 $ Change
Cash & Savings $1,200 $1,425  +$225
Emergency Fund  $2501 $3,009  +$508
Short Term Savings $75 $300  +$225
Long Term Savings $43 $144  +$101
Other $303 $0 ($303)
Illiquid Assets Jan-17 Feb-17 $ Change
Brokerage $197  +$197
Savings Bonds $500 $1,315  +$815
Retirement Accts Jan-17 Feb-17 $ Change
Roth IRA $12,824 $13,600  +$776
Traditional 401K $13,126 $15,364  +$2,238
Liabilities Jan-17 Feb-17 $ Change
Medical ($100) ($0) +$100
Net Worth $30,472 $35,353 +$4,882
% Change +16.0%

My net worth increased by close to $5,000 this month!

The increase was mostly due to my tax returns. I’m not aiming for a sizable tax return next year. I only did so this tax season because I knew I’d be tempted to dip into my emergency fund during my first year of work. So I let Uncle Sam hold onto my emergency fund. Now that I’m through the rough year, I won’t have to resort to such measures.

I love how my net worth went from $20K  to $25k to $30K over the past 3 months. It was a good run, but I don’t anticipate on keeping that momentum going.

Goal Progression:

Fund/Goal Contrib. Total  Goal Progress
401K $1476 $2,510 $18,000 13.9%
Roth IRA $398 $1,219 $5,500  22.2%
Emergency Fund $1,323 $4,324 $5,500  78.7%
Vacation Fund $225 $300 $500 60.0%
Vanguard Fund $101 $144 $3,000 4.8%
February Stretch $- $6,390 $5,570 111.1%

I’m on track for meeting all of my goals, and I’ve started two new ones. My vacation fund is in my short-term savings account and my Vanguard Fund  is in my long-term savings account. My vacation funds need to be accumulated by April. I have no specific timeline on my vanguard fund.

Oh and I surpassed my February stretch goal of having $5,750 in liquid and illiquid assets.  I even met my March stretch goal.  Using my goal post trajectory, I also surpassed my April goal.  This allowed for my vacation in April which was a spur of the moment decision I did not budget for.

So how did my budgeting go this month?

Category Budgeted Actual Remaining
Rent $1,650 $1,650 $0 left
Fixed Expenses $100 $146 $46 over
Medical $- $73
Food $200 $163 $37 left
Everything Else $315 $286 $29 left
Total  $2,265  $2,252 $20 left
  • Rent: I paid the usual: a lot. I choose to live close to work.
  • Food: I was $37 under my food budget!
  • Fixed Expenses: I went over $46 because I decided to trial Sling TV (not keeping). I also kind of wanted the Roku that came with the trial.
  • Medical Expense: While I don’t budget for medical expenses, I finally received a medical bill that was long anticipated.
  • Everything Else: I gave myself an extra $65 to spend on “Everything Else” due to $65 extra income. Notables for this month include purchasing 4 plane tickets for 2 vacations and also partially funding a hostel stay. Thanks to credit card rewards I didn’t spend a whole lot on any of this.

Even with the overage in the Fixed Expense category I still managed to come $20 under my budget.  The $20 has been transferred to my long-term savings account.

March should be another straightforward month. April may be a bit more interesting since I’m going on my first vacation. This is a 10-day international trip. I would love to keep my spending on this trip under $500, but I think $750 may even be a stretch. We will see!