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Net Worth Update: January 2020

Welcome to another monthly Net Worth update! This time it’s Net Worth January 2020 edition:

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 to my goals. 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 last month’s report from December.


Welcome back! Another year, same Net Worth report 🙂 Can you believe it’s already February though?? January flew by, but only looking back in hindsight. There was a lot going on in the month that saw my partner and I stretched thin and led to some late nights.

Firstly – work was crazy for both of us. While I’m used to staying late, she also found herself working extra a bunch this month, right as she just found a new side hustle too… which is great money wise, but tough lifestyle wise.

Secondly – we’ve both got some big goals we want to accomplish this year, and a main one is for us to consistently get in our exercise. Finding the time to regularly do that has been challenging in the past, but we’re both holding each other accountable, which is also time consuming especially when work is crazy!!

Thirdly – we’ve also been experimenting with a new diet. And by diet I don’t mean “we’ll do this for 30 days and then go back to what we’re doing before.” This is going to be a permanent lifestyle eating change that I hope will help us out with some of the struggles we’ve been having (namely – poor sleep quality and indigestion for me). Since we’re going for a permanent switch instead of temporary, it’s going to take a while before we find something that truly sticks and works for us.

From a high level, right now we’re mainly just cutting down on the carbs we eat daily, and completely eliminating vegetable oils from our diets. This is way tougher just doing these two things than you would think!! I plan to write a more in depth post about this, but let’s just say crafting our meals around just these two guidelines has been a lot more time consuming that I originally would have thought.

Lastly – as part of my long standing goal of finding a rental property, I’ve finally had enough of just casually looking on the side and not doing anything. I’ve found a realtor in the market I’ve been eyeing, and she has been sending us properties to look that are available in the area. Looking at all the properties, running the numbers, making pro/cons lists, and setting up in person visits (we took our first trip down there the first weekend of February) has also been fairly time consuming!

Whew there was lots going on there! We also found a little time to get outside and enjoy the scenery, marking off 2 of the 52 hikes we’re shooting for this year, along with a New Year’s Day event where we waltzed through the beautiful lights at the National Zoo!

Hike #1 Cosca Regional Park
Hike #2 Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Lights at the National Zoo!
And more lights 🙂

Net Worth

January breaks down as follows:

Yet again no Personal Captial screen shot, but this time it was because the app has been fairly useless to me from a Net Worth perspective over the last month. The app hasn’t been able to link with my Ally account since early January so no point putting the wrong number up here which would just confuse everyone!

After a few months in a row of big market gains, it finally cooled off in January. What can you say… not every month can be a huge winner, just have to keep plugging away and not pay attention to the volatility that inevitably comes around.

Cash: $33,730 – $367

Due to my above average salary I have a lot of excess cash coming in. See the income section below to view what I bring in.

After last month there were quite a bit of credit cards to pay off! Even with a three paycheck month (oh yea, I forgot to mention this was one of those great months!!) this account total barely moved. It was all worth it for the Southwest Companion Pass though, and of course I was happy to give away a portion of my earnings to worthy causes that can use all the support they can get.

I”ll be making moves with the money in this account soon, I’m just waiting to see what cards fall with the potential rental property. Though I will say I don’t want to wait too long!

401K: $106,327 – $1,692

Contributions this month totaled $2,700 (Employer Matching included).

After maxing out the year last month, this was a return to my usual level of contributions (with that extra paycheck!) The investment returns actually fell this month as even though the total market was essentially flat, it looks like the international fund I have in here was negative and dragged the returns down.

I take the simple approach to investing and have about 90% of this account in stocks (70/30 Domestic/International), and 10% in bonds.

Roth IRA: $20,101 – ($9)

A new year means $6,000 more I’ll be able to contribute to this account! While I wait to see what happens with the aforementioned rental search, I’m holding off on making the contributions here, though I fully plan to max this out at some point.

Otherwise, this was just market gains, and it was very interesting to see just how little it did change this month!

With the new contributions this account is invested 85% in VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market) and 15% Cash/Bonds.

Brokerage: $16,217 – ($1)

This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to no change in a given month… that’s crazy how it turned out like that!

In other news, after briefly mentioning it in a past Net Worth update, I finally went ahead and sold the only individual stock I owned, and promptly invested that money into the ETF VTI (total stock market index). While I certainly came out ahead and made money off the stock, my overall investment return was less than it would have been (by several percentage points) had I just invested it into VTI.

While I’m not ruling out investing in individual stocks in the future, for now it’s just a lot easier and less time consuming to take the simple path to investing.

As a reminder, I originally invested $12K into the account in 2017, $10K in the low fee VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) and $2K in a high yield dividend paying stock, but now this account is 100% VTI.

HSA: $8,976 – $1,080

$311 of this was my own contributions as a result of the three paycheck month and $750 was my employer contribution to my HSA that they deposit in my account every January. Have I mentioned I love January for this reason? 🙂

All my funds here are invested into a REIT.

Auto Value: $6,178 – ($139)

KBB value for my 2014 Ford Fusion with 91,000 miles on it.

There was a surprisingly little amount of driving this month, with the 1,000 mile increase being the rounded up amount. Only two gas fill ups so you won’t hear me complaining about months like these!

Credit Cards: $(1,406) – $1,218

I pay off my credit cards in full every month so this is just the monthly balance. By doing this I build credit and get free travel rewards and cash back while paying the credit card companies nothing in interest!

This amount was the remainder I have to pay off on one of my cards where the due date wasn’t until February. You better believe I’m not paying that til a week or so before it’s due to maximize the bank interest I get from that cash!

As always, see below for the full breakout of spending to see how I did against my budget.

Monthly Expenses:

New year means new budget! I also decided to do things slightly differently this year. Since I gave a vast majority of my donations up front, I didn’t want to show a large negative all year for my YTD budget, so I just made a one time adjustment to the month budget to account for that. My yearly spending target is still $28,980, just $1,500 extra was budgeted in January instead of spread across the entire year. Hope that makes sense and doesn’t confuse everyone!

Monthly Rent $1,200:

$1,200 is my portion of the rent for the 1 bed, 1 bathroom apartment I share with my partner.

Utilities/Internet $61:

We have a flat $15/each monthly water bill. We also got a great introductory rate on internet (the lowest bandwidth option) for $15/each per month. The remaining was my portion of the electric for $31 (we don’t pay for gas). January was a cold month so it’s only natural we had the heat running more often!

Groceries $222 / Restaurants $24:

Unfortunately along with our overall diet change is coming a larger grocery bill. Gone are the days of the $135/month grocery bills. This month was extra high as we had lots of new recipes to try and new foods to get, but my hope is that we eventually average out in the $175-$200/month range as we figure out our staples and go to recipes.

For whatever reason my partner and I didn’t eat out nearly as much this month. Perhaps it was because we were too busy figuring out what the heck we are doing with this new food regimen haha.

Auto Insurance $339 / Auto Fuel $70 / Transport Other $50:

$339 for the next 6 months of my car insurance which will take me through July. I was prepared to shop around again in case of a large premium increase (some companies are notorious for that), but I was surprised in that it actually went down slightly!

Only two fill ups this month which kept the fuel costs lower.

$50 in the Transportation Other category for my normal monthly metro card fill up.

Cell Phone $0:

I’m still under my parents plan so this is my portion of the bill. I pay my parents directly up front for 6 months at a time. I’ll need to send them the costs for my next 6 months at some point. I’ll likely give it to them in March which is when I’ll see them next.

Medical $0:

No medical costs this month.

Entertainment $82:

It’s been quite a while, but this was the first time in over a year where I spent $0 at the bars (or on alcohol in general) in a month! That’s not to say I didn’t drink at all or go out. Sometimes it pays (literally) to know a bartender who can make you free drinks when to stop in 🙂

The main expense was $67 to go see a ballet show at the Kennedy Center in DC with my partner in February. While this isn’t something I’d normally do, my partner really enjoys these so I figured I would go with her so we could have a nice evening out together. Plus, in almost 4 years here I haven’t been to the Kennedy Center so it’s about time!

Otherwise, just $15 for monthly Spotify.

Travel $145:

I celebrated achieving the aforementioned Southwest Companion Pass by promptly booking a trip out to Arizona in February so my partner and I could escape the cold! I booked my trip using the points gained from the credit card signup bonuses, so I only paid $11.20 in mandatory security fees for my round trip flight. Oh and did I mention my partner only had to pay $11.20 for her trip too!? This benefit truly is pretty amazing, and we look forward to using it for the next two years!

My partner and I split the Airbnbs for the trip, which came out to $105 each. Lastly, the other $29 was the fee for paying our combined monthly rent on the new credit card to help quickly reach the signup bonus.

Gifts/Donations $1,550:

$1,500 in donations that I made early this year as opposed to the end of the year to help reach Companion Pass status. I grouped these with the same charities that I donated to in December, though left out my high school so I could just do their donation later in the year (so as to donate in their new fiscal year).

The other $50 was a gift for my mothers birthday. This expense is a non-negotiable! 🙂

Misc $16:

$16 here for a few random items including salad dressing containers (to take for lunches!), olive oil bottles that we can infuse with other herbs and spices, and a cheap frame for a Shakespeare poster my partner’s brother got us for Christmas!

Savings Rate

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 4% match. HSA is both mine and employer contributions (my employer contributed $750 in January).

Wow, even with all those expenses this month I still managed a 62% savings rate! Thank you 3 paycheck month!! That just goes to show how much having a high income can help to mask your spending levels and boost your savings rate. Luckily I won’t be spending nearly $3,800 every month!

The $6 in Side Hustle money was from the Lime scooter move tasks I’ve mentioned in the past. I ran 1-2 miles to the scooters, then moved them to the designated areas, and ran back home. Nothing like getting paid to exercise! 🙂

62% is a great start towards my 65% savings rate goal so we’ll keep checking back on this progress as the year goes on!

If you want to see how I’ve done in past months, check out my Net Worth Updates page to see over a year’s worth of reports.

How did your January turn out!?

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2 thoughts to “Net Worth Update: January 2020”

  1. Nicely done! I’m interested to hear more about the change to your eating habits. It is something I may have to address soon myself. I am sleeping well but have been gaining some weight despite consistently going to the gym. Maybe you could do a post on some things you’re cutting out completely, adding in or changing a bit (and how it affects your grocery spending since this is a money blog after all, lol).

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