Net Worth Update: June-ish, 2016

networthupdateHello, savers and scholars! I was super busy over the 3-day weekend, hence the lateness of this post — and the numbers are kind of fuzzy, because they’re numbers from July 3, after I’d already made a contribution to my emergency fund and seen my retirement contribution go through. So the monthly gain is a bit high. But it’ll come out in the wash of the next month’s update.

Also, after the post-Brexit chaos it’s good to see an increase at all! The US stock market bounced right back, and in the meantime I took the opportunity of the brief decline to move $3500 into my Roth IRA from the newly designated “life” fund, since I’m no longer frantically saving against an immediate down payment.

The weekend was a lot of fun. I really like the Midwest in the summer; I picked fourteen pounds of sour cherries and four pounds of raspberries on Friday (which I took off from work because I’d worked through the previous weekend) at a u-pick place near here. On Saturday, I headed back to a wild raspberry patch I’d scored from last summer, and grabbed enough to make a small batch of jam. On Sunday, my housemates and I drove up to Traverse City, MI, for their annual Cherry Festival; it was a long drive for a day trip, but we had a good time, ate a lot of cherries and purchased cherry-flavored products, and took in a classic car show, a craft show, and the Blue Angels airshow while we were at it. The weather was gorgeous, too! Then, yesterday, I baked several cherry pies to take to a potluck.

Anyway, what with all that, it just took some time to crunch the numbers, but here they are:

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This is a little high, but not crazy, especially considering that I was away from home nearly all month and let myself go on spending while I was traveling. I was at a professional development thing, and I ended up eating a lot of lunches and dinners out, as well as doing some grocery shopping, and also bought some souvenirs for various friends. I spread the money around, though; some is under “cash,” some under “slush,” some (mostly book purchases) under “Professional expenses,” and some under “travel.” Plus, of course, the gifts category. On the upside, I didn’t really do any OTHER random spending — no gremlins, car repairs, clothing, or misc shopping — so even though I felt pretty extravagant during these weeks, the damage wasn’t that bad.

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Like I say, these numbers are a little high — maybe by $400 or so — due to having run them on July 3 instead of at the end of the day June 30, because of when my retirement contribution hits plus the markets having gone up on July 1. My EF also won’t show an increase when I do the July numbers at the end of this month because I’m counting the July contribution here — doesn’t affect the bottom line, just the EF number.

Regardless of fuzziness, I can’t help but be pleased by a substantial increase in a month where I was traveling almost the whole time!


Update on all that work stuff

Well, I can’t actually discuss the details, of course. But I finally have a quiet moment to update, so I figured I would 😉

It really has been an insane spring. First of all, I was proposing two books to publishers. I finished the first draft of one manuscript and sent it off for review in March. But instead of getting to take a breath, I then turned to the proposal for the second book (which is actually a second revised edition of an edited collection I worked on a long time ago.) I sent that proposal off and it came back quickly with suggestions for revision, which I made.

As of earlier this week, I have a contract for the edited collection in hand, and the strong likelihood of a contract for the other book next month. This is all great, but it means, you know, that I actually have to do the stuff. Permissions, pictures, revisions, and those are just the big things; there will be a million details to take care of as well.

On top of this large-scale work, I’ve been organizing some events for my workplace, which requires a lot of picky detail work because nothing is ever easy.

I also got deeply involved in some local activism, which I had to step back from after mid-March but was a huge part of the winter/early spring and has occasionally required time since.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been off-site taking a seminar, too. I didn’t plan to be doing heavy correspondence with publishers while taking it, but here we are…. It’s cool, and good networking, but it’s also a lot of work (reading and conversation, so fun work, but still.)

And then…there’s the question of where my career is going.

I spent most of the year applying for an academic job which I ended up not getting — but really, I applied in October and didn’t find out for sure until the middle of May. That’s crazy. (So is the school I was applying to, long story.) The original fallback plan was a 3-year job in my current location. However, things have changed there, and there’s just not as much work available as they were anticipating. I do have a contract for next year, but I decided that I’d rather officially go to 3/4 time and use the balance for volunteer work and reading than pretend I was actually working full-time.

I was settling into that idea pretty well when, out of the blue, an opportunity came up for another job back in New York. It’s an interesting dilemma. The job itself would be pretty enjoyable, I think, and the money is quite good by my standards. And it’s a permanent job, meaning that I wouldn’t have to spend all year wondering what I was doing next! However, it’s not the type of job I ultimately want to end up in. And I’m concerned that if I were to take it, I would not be able to switch back to the track I’m on now. Anyway, I’m going to interview in July. So I guess my situation for next year is not settled after all. But no matter what, I’ll be employed. That’s good. But wow, I’m really kind of ready to get my career a bit more settled than this.

On the plus side, my financial life is kind of rolling right now. Even though I feel like I’m spending money like a drunken sailor while I’m on this seminar (going out to eat with people constantly, buying gifts/souvenirs) I’m still under budget for the month right now. Investments are looking good and dividends should show up this month (I love dividends so much, you guys.) I have plenty of cash in my combined life/emergency funds. I don’t have any near-term huge goals I need to make. Everything’s just…kind of ok. That’s pretty nice.

Net Worth Update, May 2016

networthupdateHello all! It’s that time again. Actually it’s a day or two after that time again. I did my calculations and spreadsheets on May 31, but it’s been busy (hence the radio silence for the last month!) and I’m just now getting around to actually uploading and narrativizing. (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I guess it is if I say it is.)

As I predicted last month, this month looks really fantastic from the net worth perspective. I had no major expenses (no car repairs, no contact lens purchases, no nothin’) so not only did I have all the benefit of my normal paychecks, but I also got to add extra cash from Ebates ($64.94), Swagbucks, ($25), freelance writing ($70), reimbursements I’d long since written off because I thought I’d never get them back ($230), and, drumroll, a $2700 stipend for the seminar I’m taking. Basically, I made about double my normal income this month. That is very unusual!

Continue reading “Net Worth Update, May 2016”

Net Worth Update: April 2016

networthupdateWow. Does anyone else feel like April went by SUPER quickly? I spent the first part of it traveling and being sick, and the second part with my head buried in work (in a good way; the last two weeks have allowed me to dig deeply into a project I love) and I can hardly believe it’s May already.

Financially, it wasn’t the greatest month, courtesy of a $775 car repair (most of that was the cost of the part they needed) and a last-minute plane ticket when I got sick and had to come home early from a trip. However, since I’m waiting for a stipend check for a summer program I’m participating in, next month ought to show a significant improvement (I am going to use the check to fill my e-fund back up to where it should be.) Also, I had significant freelance income this month — $460.82, to be precise — so that was helpful in offsetting the damage. All the details are behind the jump: to the numbers! Continue reading “Net Worth Update: April 2016”

I actually used my emergency fund!

I think I’ve hit an exciting new milestone in my personal finance development: I actually used my emergency fund to pay for an emergency!

The backstory on this is my lengthy love-hate (mostly meh-hate) relationship with my EF. In short, I have had trouble getting excited about an EF. I didn’t have one for a while, then I slowly built it up to $5000 in the world’s most boring savings campaign, then I promptly nearly drained it in order to fill up my Roth IRA when the markets were very low, and at some point in there I discovered that I would rather be in debt than use my EF cash.

So it actually totally does feel like progress that this week I was very uncomfortable with carrying a $775 car repair on my credit card into next month — so uncomfortable that I took the cash out of my EF and paid the credit card right away. I am expecting a big stipend check sometime in the next few weeks (long story, it’s for an academic project) and plan to fill the EF right back up again. But I’d originally intended to just keep the money sitting on my card and pay for it out of the stipend check. It kind of feels cool that in the end I just couldn’t stand it. I wanted my card back to “normal” — which is now hovering between $0 and $200, instead of routinely being up in the $1000-2000 range. And in order to pay it off, I didn’t have to scramble, or dip into my down payment savings, because I literally had an entire savings account set aside to handle just such situations.

Y’all, I think I get why this is cool now.


Shopping My Values: Sugar

This is kind of a funny followup to my lamentation about my car (which turned out, once they replaced some other things as well as the o2 sensor, to be over $700, sigh) but the other thing going on in my financial life right now is that I’m spending more money on food.

Food shopping is kind of a weird topic in the PF world because people have really different takes. Some are clearly spending as little as possible; they buy pasta and dried beans in bulk from Costco, and fruit at Walmart, and so on. Some don’t cook, so their food budgets are large because they go out to eat and/or buy convenience foods a lot. Some eat meat every meal; others don’t. Some are focused more on quality than on price. Etc. Continue reading “Shopping My Values: Sugar”

When does a car become a money pit?

Don’t worry, it’s not such a disaster! But last week my check engine light went on. I needed an oil change anyway, so I dutifully took it over to the local garage I use, and it turns out I need a new oxygen sensor. Not sure yet how much that will run — they estimated $300-400 depending on how much the part itself costs.

Again, it’s not such a big deal. But it got me thinking about how long I plan to drive this car. I’ve had it for not quite three years, and a little over 20K miles; it’s had about $1200 of work during that time (excluding routine oil changes) so let’s call it $1600 of repair work in three years once I get this o2 sensor done. That’s certainly a heck of a lot cheaper than having a car payment, and it’s only at 112K miles altogether; it could have another 80K to go, 8 years at my current pace. On the other hand, it’s 18 years old and I think things are just going to keep breaking and/or wearing out from now on.

At what point do you decide to quit? Do I just wait until I’m confronted with a $2000 repair instead of a $500 one? Or do I decide at some point to sell while it still has value (I figure I could get $2000ish, maybe $2500, for it now), stop putting in an average of $500-600/year in repairs, and roll that money into paying for a new(er) car?

I’ve never liked this car much — it was available and cheap when I needed a car, but I want a four-door hatchback, not a two-door sedan, and I don’t like how low to the ground it sits. On the other hand, the virtues of not having a car payment are pretty abundant….

Net Worth Update, March 2016, and 2-year Blogiversary


Hi all! My full-time job plus freelancing are still kicking my ass, and I still don’t know where I’m going to live next year, so my energy for blogging is still low. However! I would hate to miss a net worth update as exciting as this one.

First of all, yay stock market, and you can see the raw numbers below. But second of all, a few days ago we quietly passed my 2-year blogiversary. So I’ll also do a flashback section of the post, looking back at my very first net worth. For all the fascinating details, look below the jump!

Continue reading “Net Worth Update, March 2016, and 2-year Blogiversary”

Life & Job Update

Hello all! Long time no see! Like I mentioned I might in my last post, I’ve been taking some blog downtime this month. I thought it was just because I was tired and overcommitted, which is true, but I got some news today that made me feel a little impelled to write, so now I’m not sure my lack of desire to blog was really about having lots of other things on my plate.

Continue reading “Life & Job Update”