Net Worth Update – March 2019

My apologies whoever reads this, I’m late on the March update! Now that it’s halfway through April I barely remember what happened. Let’s see what my spreadsheet says.

Net Worth

Apparently my net worth increased by 3.6 percent, so that’s good. Most of my net worth increase came from the market performance. But I did manage to save $400 somehow, I must have had extra income.

Liquid AssetsStartEndChange
Cash & Checking$2,025$1,800($225)
Emerg. Fund$6,000$7,225+$1,225
Savings$2,600$3,250+$650
Brokerage$1,600$1,600 +$0
HSA$1,025$1,300 +$275
Illiquid AssetsStartEndChange
Bonds$1,225$0($1,225)
Home Eq$28,950$29,500+$550
401K$49,025$51,225+$2,200
Roth IRA$27,225$27,900+$675
DebtStartEndChange
Loans($3,550)($3,450)+$100
Net$116,125$120,350+$4,225
% Change+3.6%

Spending

Each month, after my housing costs and retirement plan contributions I have $1,100 to spend on all the other things. My goal historically has been to “budget” $750/month for these expenditures, meaning I’d have the potential to save $350. This month I went over that “budget” and spent $1,040, of which, $185 were medical expenses.

I say “budget” loosely as I’m not really aiming to save right now, but I do want to maintain a positive cash flow.

CategoryBudgetActualDiff
(1)Bills & Utilities$150$144($6)
(2)Food$300$270($30)
(3)Medical$-$185$-
(4)Misc$300$442$142
(5)SF$-$-$-
Total (1+2+4+5)$750 $856$106 over

(1) Bills & Utilities

I was $6 under budget

(2) Food

And I was somehow under budget on food, again.

(3) Medical

I am cash flowing my medical expenses this year, maybe. I have chronic health conditions that make my medical expenses quite high. I am hoping that at some point things stabilize and things aren’t so costly.

(4) Misc

I was slightly over “budget” in this category mostly because I purchased clothes. I actually have a sinking fund for clothing, but I decided to cash flow it.

(5) Sinking Fund

I didn’t touch any of my sinking funds this month despite having funds set aside for medical & clothing expenses. I cash flow all my expenses when I can.

Conclusions & April

Overall I’m happy with how things are going. I earn enough to max out my HSA, Roth IRA and 401K. But after all my additional expenses I don’t have much left over to blow or save. My medical expenses, which have totaled ~$600 so far this year, are a big contributor to my inability to save on a monthly basis. Thankfully three paycheck months make up for lost ground. I just wish I didn’t feel so strapped each month. And in good news, next month I am getting another pay raise which will make for an extra $150/month post taxes. That will certainly help!

It’s halfway through April so I know how it’s going already. Not surprisingly I have quite a bit in terms of medical expenses. I’m also trying this new thing where I don’t meticulously track my budget. Instead I just glance at my credit card totals and am trying to keep them collectively under $600. I like the ease of this system, but I’m totally going to be over my historical $600 budget due to some large purchases of furniture.

How I Track My Finances in Google Sheets

When it comes to tracking my personal finances, I’m wary of financial aggregators like Mint and Personal Capital. I don’t want all my financial data in one place. Have you seen all the data breaches lately? For that reason I use google sheets to manage my finances. Admittedly Mint does track my credit card transactions, simply because I’m not actually sharing my password with Mint. I only use Chase credit cards, and Chase and Intuit (Mint) have an Oauth agreement.

The google sheets workbook I created is made up of various spreadsheets. In one, arguably most important, sheet, I input my daily transactions and categorize them. This data is used for calculations in separate tabs throughout the document. I only do this once or twice a week, since mint captures 99% of my transactions except for cash/debits/ACH payments. Below is a glimpse of some entries:

The information from this spreadsheet is pulled and used to provide a month-to-date snapshot of my income and spending:

When I’m over budget everything displays in red 😦

Within this document, I spend 95% of the time inputting my daily transactions and/or visualizing a snapshot of my spending-to-date. But, as stated, I do maintain other tabs as well. For instance, there is a more detailed month-to-date sheet that I rarely look at:

I use another sheet to track my net worth. I only update this at the end of the month though (A similar sheet tracks my YTD spending, but this is update automatically):

For the most part, I try to stick to the same budget from month to month, but if I need to change it, that can be done here:

Other notable features in this particular financial workbook include:

  • Instructions on how to use the document & make changes
  • Historical detailed monthly budgets
  • A paycheck calculator
  • Charts and graphs galore
  • Income tax calculator
  • Investment tracking
  • Projections

Net Worth Update – February 2019

February was an amazing month for my finances. I was awarded a bonus, received a pay raise, and got a small but significant tax refund.

Outside of the finance world things weren’t so amazing. I’m still struggling with my autoimmune disease and these new medications just don’t seem to be working well. The past couple of months I’ve had to get used to self-injecting on the daily. I’m not a fan. The medications are saving me a lot of money though, as the drug manufacturers are set to pay 80% of my out of pocket maximum indefinitely if I remain on them. But judging by how I feel, I doubt I’ll be sticking with it.

Net Worth

My net worth increased by almost $9,000 which translates to roughly 8%. I wasn’t expecting such a spectacular month.

I was almost tempted to adjust my home equity amount (upward) since a condo sold in my building and I now know the market value. But I’ll stick to my plan and only adjust it in December for a more conservative estimate.

Liquid AssetsStartEndChange
Cash & Checking$2,025$2,025+$0
Emergency Fund$5,750$6,000+$250
Savings$775$2,600+$1,825
Brokerage$1,400$1,600 +$200
HSA$275$1,025 +$750
Illiquid AssetsStartEndChange
Bonds$1,375$1,225($150)
Home Eq$28,375$28,950+$575
401K$45,375$49,025+$3,650
Roth IRA$25,875$27,225+$1,350
LiabilitiesStartEndChange
Loans($4,025)($3,550)+$475
Net Worth$107,200$116,125+$8,925
% Change+8.3%

Most of the extra cash went into savings and investments. I funded my sinking funds (referred to as savings goals), invested a little, and front loaded my HSA. The markets must have done well judging by my investment gains.

Spending

I went $38 over budget, which isn’t terrible, especially since I was under budget last month:

CategoryBudgetActualDiff
(1)Bills & Utilities$1,033$1,033$0
(2)Food$300$249$51
(3)Medical$-$322($322)
(4)Misc$300$306($6)
(5)SF$--$239$239
Total $1,633 $1,671$38 over

(1) Bills & Utilities

This category is a lot higher than the $175 I usually budget for because I paid off some outstanding debts in lump sum. To me this is not the same as going over budget since these bills would have been paid eventually.

(2) Food

I was somehow under budget on food.

(3) Medical

I had more medical expenses than I would have liked. Next month will probably have similarly high medical expenses. I’m hoping things calm down thereafter.

(4) Misc

I was slightly over budget in this category. I technically could have funded a birthday gift with a sinking fund but I cash-flowed it since it wasn’t too expensive.

(5) Sinking Fund

I paid for (some) medical expenses with money I had already set aside in a sinking fund. Other medical expenses were funded by my Chase Sapphire Travel Credits.

I actually have 8 sinking funds for various long & short term savings goals, not including my emergency fund. This month I funded my slush fund with $400 which I’m hoping will now cover any budgetary overages in March – June. That means I shouldn’t be going over budget (I hope).

Another New Budget

Due to the pay raise, I’ll be changing my budget for the third time in as many months. I hope to increase my spending in the “Miscellaneous” category from $300 to ~$500 depending on how much my paycheck ends up changing. I’m trying to cash-flow medical expenses, so this raise will definitely help. My food budget will still be $300. I do estimate that my Bills & Utilities will decrease.

What happens if I am under budget in the months ahead? My plan is to save 25% in a slush fund, save 25% in another sinking fund and invest 50%.

Net Worth Update – January 2019

You’d never know by looking at my net worth progress, but January was a roller-coaster of a month. I wasn’t sure when and if I’d be receiving a paycheck thanks to a wall. Things turned out well, as I eluded, and I hit a net worth of $100,000! 

Liquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Cash & Checking$1,575$2,025+$450
Emergency Fund$5,700$5,750+$50
Savings Goals$775$775+$0
Brokerage Accts$1,200$1,400 +$200
HSA$0$275 +$275
Illiquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Savings Bonds$1,375$1,375+$0
Home Equity$27,825$28, 375+$550
401K$39,525$45,375+$5,850
Roth IRA$23,325$25,875 +$2,550
LiabilitiesStartEnd$ Change
Loans($4,175)($4,025)+$150
Net Worth$97,125$107,200+$10,075
% Change+10.4%

After a terrible performance in December, it comes as no surprise that the markets rebounded in January. The rebound explains roughly 60% of the increase in my net worth. Another 25% can be explained by my contributions to my 401k, HSA, and Roth IRA. I’m too lazy to figure out where the remaining 15% came from. But I’m happy about that too! 

Now that I’m a 6-figure-aire, I’d like to work towards hitting a $100k net worth figure without home equity taken into account. 

Spending

Even though I mentioned developing a new budget for 2019 in previous posts, I’ve decided to stick with my 2018 budget with two notable changes:
(1) Any left over $$ will roll over into the next month, and
(2) Medical expenses will now be budgeted. I am trying to cash flow these expenses and not touch my HSA

CategoryBudgetedActualRemaining
(1) Bills & Utilities$175$135$40 left
(2) Food$300$166$134 left
(3) Medical$-$79$79 over
(4) Everything Else$300$278$22 left
Total (1+2+3+4)$775 $658$117 left

I would like to note that I have already met my ~$1,500 deductible for the year thanks to patient assistance for one of my medications. 

Lessons Learned

One thing I learned from the shutdown is that I really need to build up my emergency fund.  I would like to get it up to an even $10,000 but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

February-ish

  • Medical appointments (estimated cost of ~$150)
  • I’m switching cell phone carriers (estimated savings $25/month) 

A Year in Review | 2018 (& 2019 Goals)

Below is a financial reflection of 2018. I would like to note that some of the numbers may be differ from the actual monthly reports due to corrections that came later. I’m pretty pleased with how 2018 went. My net worth more than doubled:

Liquid Assets Start End $ Change
Cash & Savings $450 $1,575 +$1,125
Emergency Fund  $3,405 $5,700  +$2,295
Savings Goals $525 $775  +$250
Brokerage $697 $1,200  +$503
Illiquid Assets Start End $ Change
Savings Bonds  $2,135 $1,375  ($760)
Home Equity $11,850 $27.825  +$15,975
401K $26,235 $39,525  +$13,290
Roth IRA $20,224 $23,325  +$3,101
Liabilities Start End $ Change
Credit Card ($1,792) ($0) +$1,792
Loans ($18,751) ($4,175) ($14,576)
$44,978 $97,125 +$52,147
% Change +115.9%

And I met all my financial goals:

Fund/Goal Initial Goal Actual Percent
Retirement 15% of Income Exceeded
Roth IRA $5,500 $5,500 100%
Emergency Fund $1,000 $1,500 150%
Net Worth Increase $20,000 $53,592 268%

I spent the following (not including debt payments):

Category Total Monthly Avg
Bills & Utilities $1,536 $128
Medical $3,961 $330
Food $2,718 $227
Everything Else $7,858 $655

Note: During a typical month my goal was to spend $300/month in the “Everything Else” category. But I often times dipped into my sinking funds to pay for gifts, vacations, gadgets, and other overages. I will try to keep better track of my sinking funds next year to ensure I’m not overspending.

My goals for 2019 are:

Fund/Goal Goal
401K Contributions $19,000
Roth IRA Contributions $6,000
HSA Contributions $3,500
Net Worth Total $100,000
Emergency Fund Contribution $400
Savings Goal $2,500

Collectively the goals are a bit of a stretch. Especially since I want to avoid touching my HSA (though that is not one of the goals as of yet). My guess is that I’ll have issues with the savings goal but we’ll see.

Net Worth Update – December 2018

Despite the slump in the stock market, December went well and I saw a 16.1% increase in net worth: 

Liquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Cash & Checking$1,528$1,575+$47
Emergency Fund$5,423$5,700+$277
Savings Goals$585$775+$190
Brokerage Accts$1,273$1,200($73)
Illiquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Savings Bonds$1,409$1,375($34)
Home Equity$19,250$27,825+$8,575
401K$40,996$39,525($1,471)
Roth IRA$24,638$23,325 ($1,313)
LiabilitiesStartEnd$ Change
Loans($11,429)($4,175)+$7,254
Net Worth$83,673$97,125+$13,452
% Change+16.1%

I did receive 3 paychecks in December, which certainly helped, but most of my increase in net worth came from an increase in home equity (by ~$8,000) and a decrease in my loans  (by ~$7,000).  In regards to my loans, I made a biannual payment on the loan to my parents. Then they agreed to dismiss most of the remaining balance. I also made extra payments to my 401k loan. 

I would like to note that from now on, I will be rounding my net worth subtotals for a bit more privacy on the blog. I will also continue to update my home equity at the end of each year.

For December I didn’t do too bad budget wise:

CategoryBudgetedActualRemaining
(1) Bills & Utilities$175$146$29 under
(2) Food$300$79$221 under
(3) Medical$-$338$-
(4) Everything Else$300$645$345 over
Total (1+2+4)$775 $870$95 over

Technically I increased my “Everything Else” budget by $500,  due to the holidays. This means I was actually $105 under. But I’m going to go ahead and stick with my usual numbers since I didn’t go far over my typical budget.

Coming Soon

I’ll soon be posting my year in review along with my 2019 goals. See you in the new year! 

Net Worth Update – November 2018

For the month of November, I wanted to see how things would go if I didn’t follow a strict budget. I’m now realizing that I probably should have waited until December because I did quite a bit of shopping. My net worth did increase though. The markets performed decently and, as usual, I contributed a sizable amount to my retirement accounts. 

Liquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Cash & Checking$1,546$1,528($18)
Emergency Fund$5,411$5,423+$12
Savings Goals$1,409$585($824)
Brokerage Accts$1,297$1,273($58)
Illiquid AssetsStartEnd$ Change
Savings Bonds$1,407$1,409+$2
Home Equity$18,688$19,250+$562
401K$38.580$40,996+$2,416
Roth IRA$23,789$24,638 +$849
LiabilitiesStartEnd$ Change
Loans($12,235)($11,429)+$806
Net Worth$79,893$83,639+$3,746
% Change+4.7%

My liquid assets decreased quite a bit due to my purchases.  I also have ~$500 in credit card debt that is carrying over into December. It’s been a while since I’ve had to carry over credit card debt into the next month and I’m not proud about that.  Using reverse engineering I can back out my spending and compare it to a typical month:

CategoryBudgetedActualRemaining
(1) Bills & Utilities$175$146$10 under
(2) Food$300$319$90 under
(3) Medical$-$92$-
(4) Everything Else$300$1,170$708 over
Total (1+2+4)$775 $1,635$860 over

I went way over my “Everything Else” budget. This is where my miscellaneous spending went:

  • New TV – $635
  • Christmas Gifts – $125 (With ~$175 left to go)
  • Home Decor – $100
  • Snow boots – $45

Thankfully the overages were anticipated. I didn’t actually stray too far from my budget, I knew these expenses were coming and so I did establish sinking funds for them (note how my “Savings Goals” category decreased in my net worth). But it was hard for me to gauge whether or not I was going overboard since I made so many extra purchases. It sure felt like I was going overboard, but turns out I did not.

Next Month

Last month I mentioned November was a 3 paycheck month. Turns out that the third check hasn’t actually processed it will be reflected in my December post. That’s why I have so much credit carrying over into December. I’m not going to be doing too much with the third paycheck due to impending medical bills and a loan payment to my parents.  After December I’m going to tweak my budget a bit to try and save more in 2019. Until next time! 

Net Worth Update – October 2018

So long October.  This past October is actually my first acknowledged “bad” month since I started this blog. So what happened? Well for one the markets did not cooperate, which largely contributed to a decline in net worth:

Liquid Assets Start End $ Change
Cash & Checking $2,700 $1,546 ($1,154)
Emergency Fund $5,405  $5,411 +$6
Savings Goals $725 $1,109 +$384
Brokerage Accts $1,355 $1,297 ($58)
Illiquid Assets Start End $ Change
Savings Bonds $1,405 $1,407 +$2
Home Equity $18,125 $18,688 +$563
401K $39,880 $38,580 ($1,300)
Roth IRA $25,400 $23,789  ($1,611)
Liabilities Start End $ Change
Loans ($13,190) ($12,235) +$955
Net Worth $81,805 $79,593 ($2,213)
% Change -2.7%

Another thing that didn’t help my budget was having to buy a new chromebook for the second month in a row.

Category Budgeted Actual Remaining
(1) Bills & Utilities $755 $745 $10 under
(2) Food $300 $210 $90 under
(3) Medical $- $79 $-
(4) Everything Else $300 $1,008 $708 over
Total (1+2+4) $1,355  $1,963 $608 over

I have bad computer luck, so I really should have insured my old chromebook, but I didn’t. And since it was cheap, it didn’t survive the fall off my coffee table. The new Chromebook cost me $600. It is insured for 4 years, and this one has “gorilla glass”. So at least I won’t have to worry about saving for a new one next year. If it weren’t for this purchase I wouldn’t have gone so far ($608) over budget. Good thing I earned an extra $800 last month.

I also paid 3 periodic bills that totaled another $600. I did anticipate them, which is why my “Bills & Utilities” budget is so much higher than usual.

And I’m pretty proud of my low medical costs this month. I am still waiting on a few bills, and I anticipate higher costs in November/December.

A New Budgeting Method

One new thing that I tried in October was to not actively track my budget. I only tallied up my expenses at the end of the month for the consistency of this blog. I think I’m going to try it again next month to see how it goes. I know that I budget $600 for my “Food” and “Everything Else” expenses. Since all these expenses go on my credit cards, I can easily keep track of my progress by ensuring my credit cards do not exceed a collective total of $600. Budgeted expenses that fall outside of  “Food” and “Everything Else” categories (such as “Bills & Utilities”), can be paid right away to make tracking easier. If it works out well, I will no longer meticulously track my expenditures.

Next Month

I’m really looking forward to next month. I’ll be getting three paychecks!  This year is a bit unusual since there will be three months with three paychecks instead of the usual two (i.e. 27 pay periods instead of 26). I plan to purchase a TV, put money aside for Christmas presents, and make a loan payment to my parents.  It’s been pretty hard for me to save, since I’m paying down my 401K loan. I plan to stop aggressive payments in January 2019. In June 2019, I should have my furniture loan paid off and get a pay raise.  Then I’ll be in a position to save up to $300/month. If I were more strict with my current budget I could do that now.

Next Year

This month it’s open season and I’ll have to decide on my healthcare plan for 2019. I had been internally debating over whether I should switch to a High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP) so I could make use of an HSA. My employer recently published the options for next year. Interestingly, the HDHP is strictly better. According to my calculations, if I have a year of perfect health, the HDHP would result in $4,000 in savings over the regular option. If I have a year of poor health the HDHP would still result in sizable savings of $1,600 over the alternative.  Usually, HDHPs are more expensive than low-deductible alternatives if you use a lot of medical care resources . In this case, the HDHP monthly premium payments are near $0, which offsets the higher deductible and out of pocket maximum.

Recap

All in all the month wasn’t terrible, I didn’t lose any sleep over my financial circumstances or anything, but I’ve had better months.

Net Worth Update – September 2018

September was another great month, at least in the financial sense. My net worth increased by around 4 percent:

Liquid Assets Start End $ Change
Cash & Checking $2,100 $2,700 +$600
Emergency Fund $5,375  $5,405 +$30
Savings Goals $725 $725 +$0
Brokerage Accts $1,350 $1,355 +$5
Illiquid Assets Start End $ Change
Savings Bonds $1,425 $1,405 ($20)
Home Equity $17,575 $18,125 +$550
401K $38,600 $39,880 +$1,280
Roth IRA $25,150 $25,400  +$250
Liabilities Start End $ Change
Loans ($13,950) ($13,190) +$760
Net Worth $78,350 $81,805 +$3,455
% Change +4.4%

I stuck to my budget and only went $1 over. In my last post I mentioned that I needed a new laptop. And I bought a replacement near the end of the month once I realized I was $300 under budget. The replacement ended up being a chromebook instead of another $1,000 macbook air. I am not in grad school anymore so a laptop really isn’t necessary since I have a work-provided laptop.  I thought I would regret a purchase of a lower quality macbook alternative, but I was immediately satisfied. My only complaint is that the screen does not get very bright, which is kind of a big deal since I have low vision. My budget is below:

Category Budgeted Actual Remaining
(1) Bills & Utilities* $175 $147 $28 under
(2) Food $300 $206 $94 under
(3) Medical $- $271 $-
(4) Everything Else $300 $423 $123 over
Total (1+2+4) $775  $776 $1 over

Another financial happening includes earning an additional $800. And I’m still spending quite a bit on healthcare costs. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to tame this beast of an autoimmune disease. Next year I am going to try and be more mindful of my transportation (i.e. ubers & lyfts) to and from my doctor’s appointments. I’ll be doing more pooling and sharing.

Anyway, I have not shared my goal progress in a while:

# Description Goal ($) Value %
1 Retirement Contributions $14,000 $12,200 87%
3  401K Loan Payments $2,500 $4,375 175%
4 Emergency Fund Contributions $1,000 $1050 105%
5 Increase Net Worth $20,000 $30,000 150%

I made my 2018 goals at the beginning of the year under the assumption that my income would remain unchanged throughout the year. Since I was promoted, I far exceeded most goals. I am predicting that my net worth will increase by another $10k by the end of the year, and I’ll likely meet my retirement contribution goal as well. Hopefully I’ll hit a $100k net worth in 2019.

Net Worth Update – August 2018

August was another financially stable month and my net worth increased by about 7 percent. However there were some happenings that are likely to impact my finances in the near future.

First, my Macbook of 4 years died and my “Gadget” sinking fund is not funded enough to buy a new one. I could afford a cheap laptop with the funds I do have, but I would rather purchase a quality product. I have some time to think on it. I’ll wait a bit since I’m hearing rumors of a new, cheaper macbook air.

Second, my health isn’t great and it’s costing me quite a bit. I’ve practically drained my FSA and I am anticipating another $1,000 in copays before the year is over. Not to mention travel costs to my appointments are high.

I’m very disappointed that my health has gotten to this point when I feel it didn’t have to. The issue is I have not been on a medication to control my autoimmune disease since last September. I had a bad reaction to a new medication around that time and the doctor that prescribed it assumed that my symptoms stemmed from depression. Instead of prescribing a new medication, the doctor has chosen to ignore me. So I’m having to find new doctors and deal with the complications of going under treated.

I had my second minor surgical procedure in August as a result of being on no medications. The fact that this disease can kill me makes things all the more confusing.

I was talking to a friend about the bad luck I’ve had with my health care over the years and she said something that really put things into perspective. Medicine is a male dominated field and doctors tend not to take women as seriously as men. Medical care is even starker for minority women with their medical care being worse. I remember reading this article on what Serena William’s scary childbirth story says about medical treatment of black women that had the same message. With prejudices baked into the profession and training, I’m fighting an uphill battle. I never thought of it this way but it does explain how I got here. And why it’s been so hard for me to get the right treatment over the years.

Anywhoo, enough about that and on to my net worth :

Liquid Assets Start End $ Change
Cash & Checking $1,703 $2,100 +$397
Emergency Fund $5,369  $5,375 +$6
Savings Goals $719 $725 +$6
Brokerage Accts $1,234 $1,350 +$116
Illiquid Assets Start End $ Change
Savings Bonds $1,429 $1,425 ($4)
Home Equity $17,015 $17,575 +$560
401K $36,291 $38,600 +$2,309
Roth IRA $24,000 $25,150  +$1,150
Liabilities Start End $ Change
Loans ($14,760) ($13,950) +$810
Net Worth $73,000 $78,350 +$5,350
% Change +7.3%

One thing that changed in August is that I’ve slowed my payments to my 401k loan so that I can set money aside for health related costs. These funds are held in my “cash and checking” accounts.

Spending

I went $32 over budget and this month I’m going to blame the $210 dining table I purchased for ruining my budget. Actually, I had set aside some money in my “Home Goods” sinking fund for it, but since it fit into my monthly budget (well… almost) ,  I decided not to touch it.

Category Budgeted Actual Remaining
(1) Bills & Utilities* $390 $365 $25 under
(2) Food $300 $257 $43 under
(3) Medical $- $189 $-
(4) Everything Else $300 $400 $100 over
Total (1+2+4) $990  $1,022 $32 over

The asterisk for bills and utilities was put in place because I paid $115 extra towards my personal loan to my parents.