Welcome to another addition of my monthly Net Worth update!
For those that are new, I will be posting these on a monthly basis to show my progress towards Financial Independence. The purpose of these is not to brag, or show off what I have, merely to show that little by little, even over the course of just 28-31 days, much progress can be made.
In addition, by tracking and posting this on the blog where everyone can see, I’m hoping this helps to hold me accountable. Where slip ups and unchecked spending can easily be passed off by keeping it to myself, with other people watching it should help to keep me in line! (Nothing like trying to avoid public humiliation to keep you motivated!)
If you haven’t already, check out my report from November.
After my crazy busy November, it was nice to stick around DC for majority of the month.
With a lot more free time I was able to waltz around DC to check out a few places I haven’t been to yet, including seeing the National Christmas Tree, the Smithsonian African American Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. I love how DC has so many free museums to see around the city! As a huge fan of history, I could spend days in these places.
In addition, I also spent a bunch of time attempting to learn tips and setup this blog. This stuff is all new to me so it took a whole weekend to just get it started and running!
I had a few extra PTO (paid time off) days remaining for the year so I ended up heading home for the holidays a little early to spend more time with family. With my company having off from Christmas-New Years, it essentially amounted to an entire week and a half off! Does that count as a mini-retirement?? 🙂
It was really nice to be home and around family for the holidays and have a little time to relax and take my mind off things. Being around people that support you and whom you know will be there for you through anything is very comforting and relieving. After a few weeks it was time to bid adieu, and I headed back to take in the New Year in Alexandria, VA with a fireworks show over the Potomac River!
Talk about starting the New Year with a blast! Now on to the Financials…
December breaks down as follows:
Finished the year strong!
This month was about in line with my increases since the summer when I started to optimize my Finances.
To the details!
Cash: $13,415 – $642
My cash account was aided by lower spending than my budget for the month.
I feel most comfortable with around $10K in Cash on hand, in case of any emergency that potentially could arise. I don’t get too worried if this fluctuates, so you may see it above and below at times.
With the extra Cash I have at this time, there are several ideas mulling inside my head on how I might use it.
- Wait until 2018 and put some into my Roth IRA
- Save up to purchase a property (to live in or as a rental) sometime in 2018
I’ve been casting a watchful eye towards the whole cryptocurrency craze and may dip my toes in if there is some kind of market correction in the next few months
The last was a thought I had during last months review. After further reading and review I’ve decided to just stay on the sidelines and invest the “traditional” way. The crypto future is just too unclear and even though I don’t mind risk, this is just too much for me.
What do you think is the best course of action?
401K: $49,107 – $1,780
Contributions this month totaled $1,329 (Employer Matching included), while the rest was pure market gains. This Bull Market has been incredible and really has helped my Net Worth rise, especially recently.
I understand times aren’t always this good, however, I’m not worried about a crash. I don’t plan on touching this money for quite a while, so there is plenty of time to ride out the booms and busts.
My balance is 100% in stocks right now, split roughly 70/30 – Domestic/International. I may reevaluate soon, in order to re-balance and move a portion to the Bond Market to lock in some of these gains, but I haven’t decided yet.
Roth IRA: $5,891 – $55
I made my first full Roth Contribution ($5,500) this summer and have seen it slowly appreciate in value. It’s much better to see it earning money instead of sitting still in my Cash account!
This account is all invested in a Vanguard mutual fund for Mid-Cap stocks. In the future I may move this elsewhere, perhaps to a REIT as I currently have no exposure to real estate.
Brokerage: $13,037 – $219
In addition to making my first Roth Contribution this summer, I also decided to move a significant amount of my Cash into a Brokerage account. I had way more cash on hand than I needed at the time, so I figured I may as well take advantage of this stock market and get to investing.
I originally invested $12K into the account, $10K in the low fee VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) and $2K in a high yield dividend paying stock that, after a few months of research, I believe was undervalued.
Both have worked out pretty well so far! I’ve seen gains every month, but as I noted in the 401K section, I absolutely realize that this won’t last forever. At least they both offer dividends that I will continue to harvest through the bad times and good.
HSA: $187 – $187
Turning 26 in November, by law I was booted off my parents health insurance, so I needed to set up my own HSA plan. As I do not have any health conditions (haven’t been to the doctors in over 5 years) I plan on using this as another pre-tax savings account! $100 were contributions while $87 was the pro-rated amount that my company contributed.
As a note: my parents health insurance plan covers the entire family, and it is the same cost to them if they had one child under it, or four, or more. As I have two younger siblings that still need to be on it, staying on my parents insurance for a few years added no cost for them, and allowed me to save a little more instead of paying medical premiums. I know I was very fortunate to be in this kind of situation, and it has helped me out greatly.
Auto Value: $11,343 – ($288)
I have my Auto Value pegged at $2,500 above what the remaining value on my Auto Loan is. The negative value is simply monthly depreciation. The reason for this? Simply put, that was the value of the down payment I placed on my car.
I verify through Kelly Blue Book each month so that if I desperately needed to, I could sell my car for around that value, which has always been the case. However, I plan on having this car for a long time so ideally the need to sell before the loan is paid off never comes up.
Credit Cards: $(1,294) – ($386)
Credit Card expenses were a bit higher due to Christmas gift spending among other things. See below for the Expense Summary to see how I did against my budget!
Auto Loan: $(8,843) – $288
The value on this increases as the amount of principle on the loan decreases with my monthly payment.
I got the loan with a 1.9% Interest rate, which depending on whom you talk to, I’m either an idiot, working with free money, or somewhere in between.
I will be writing a post on my experience and lessons learned from buying my car in the future. Be on the lookout!
Under Budget is always good in my book… A few notes:
- Monthly Rent $1,131:
- Have to love living in a HCOL (High Cost of Living) area right? This is for a 2 BR apartment with my friend in which we split the cost. We could have found a place a little bit cheaper, however it would have been much further away from where we wanted to be (also leading to an even longer commute), and with much less perks than what we have now.
- Utilities $46 / Internet/Cable $78 :
- My utilities payment (Electric, gas, water, trash) is pretty standard around $55 a month so that should not fluctuate too wildly. I suspect this month was a little less due to our apartment being empty for a week and a half with the holidays. Internet/Cable is up this month as my roommate and I ordered a few movies to watch on demand. Still much cheaper than going to the theater!
- Groceries $212 / Restaurants $201:
- Personally, I view these together so if I can stay under the combined $375 ($225 + $175) budget, then I am satisfied with the month. Groceries were pretty standard as I helped out and grabbed groceries a bunch while I was at my parents house. Restaurant costs came in much higher as there were a few holidays dinners I went to in DC with friends before the holidays, as well as meeting up with friends from home while we were all back seeing each other.
- Car Payment $302:
- Monthly car payment to pay off my loan. Only 2.5 more years! (If I don’t just pay it off sooner). With only a 1.9% Interest rate I believe I can beat that payment towards interest with returns through the market, which is the only reason I haven’t paid it off so far.
- Auto Fuel $104 / Auto Other $78:
- I also have a lengthy commute to work – 60 miles round trip – leading to high fuel costs each month. Being home for a week and a half meant no commute! The Other category includes any maintenance, repairs, etc. as well as other transportation costs including metro, uber, etc. I got a routine oil change for the car, as well as a wash and a few uber trips to round in out.
- Medical $29:
- My co-payment for my semi-annual dental visit. Majority of the costs are covered by my insurance.
- Entertainment $97:
- There were much lower entertainment costs this month. Free museums and figuring out a blog for a weekend really help with that! Most of this was a few nights out at the bars in DC and my hometown with friends. I also took my brother to go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (our recent holiday tradition) which we both loved.
- Travel $0:
- Even though I technically traveled home this month, those got covered in other categories. This is for flights/hotels/etc part of travel.
- Gifts $293:
- Christmas gifts for the family as well as a donation I annually send out this time of year.
- Misc $15:
- My annual cost for the blog was partially covered by coming in 3rd place in my fantasy football league and getting my money back! Technically that’s income, but I already counted it as an expense in September so backing it out this month felt justified.
*Note – Auto Insurance and Cell Phone are paid in full every 6 months*
Here’s the overall picture:
*Note – Take Home is my after tax pay (what shows up in my bank account). 401K is only my contributions. 401K Match is my company’s 3% match. (Personally, I see this as income as this is part of my total compensation package. I understand if people don’t like to count it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!) HSA is both mine and employer contributions.
41% savings rate is right on target! Next year I am hoping to get above 45% with a stretch goal of 50%.
Check out the Net Worth Updates page to see how I’ve done in the past.
How did your December turn out?