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Net Worth Update: March 2018

Welcome to another monthly Net Worth update! This time its Net Worth March 2018 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 February.

March

After a slow(ish) start to the year with few weekend plans, March really made up for that with everything that happened!

Firstly, I’m no accountant, but it’s been extremely busy at work the past month which has really put me in a time bind with everything I have going on. Unfortunately, working out has taken the hit so far, and I’m not too happy about that, though I am aiming to get better.

On a more positive note, I had a lot more going on during the weekends which is always fun!

First up, I traveled up to Baltimore to see my younger brother play a college lacrosse game. It was great seeing him and my parents were also there supporting so that was a fun time.

Next, I traveled up to NYC to visit a bunch of my college friends for the first weekend of the March Madness college basketball tournament. It’s always nice re-uniting with them, though as we’ll talk about later, had some implications for my budget. (And my bracket was busted the first weekend 🙁 ).

Who said NYC doesn’t have great views!?
NYC from my friends rooftop above his apartment!

I also was able to sneak out and brave the surprisingly cold temps (seriously weather??) to go see some of the famous cherry blossoms! Most had not bloomed at this time, but hoping to be able to see them in full bloom at a later spring weekend!

Over the Easter weekend I finally made my (typically quarterly) visit back home to see my parents for Easter. While a short visit, it was great to see them again. Their house is undergoing a massive renovation so I’m excited to go back in the summer when it’s complete!

Now for the real reason you’re here!

Net Worth

March breaks down as follows:

Some big movement between categories this month. Also, the magical 3 paycheck month appeared boosting my Net Worth in the process!

To the details!

Cash: $11,923 – $3,280

From last month:

With the extra Cash I have at this time, I will probably use it on one of two things at some point this year:

  1. Contribute and max out my Roth IRA (!!)
  2. Save up to purchase a property (to live in or as a rental)

Ding ding we have a winner! I have officially MAXED OUT ($5,500) my Roth IRA this year!! I was getting a little too impatient trying to find a good rental property so I decided to forgo it this year and maybe revisit it again next year.

I’m going to use the extra time to do some more serious research into owning a rental property and maybe even talk to a few people about it to make sure next year I know exactly the best strategies to make it a success.

The reason this wasn’t down as far was due to getting my extra paycheck (my company pays bi-weekly meaning 26 times a year), as well as receiving almost $300 in cash back rewards from my credit card (see income at the end).

401K: $53,955 – $1,585

Contributions this month totaled $2,074 (Employer Matching included). This means that the market losses were about $500 this month.

I don’t plan on touching this money for quite a while, so there are no worries here watching the market continue to struggle.

My balance is 100% in stocks right now, split roughly 70/30 – Domestic/International. I may reevaluate sometime in the future, in order to re-balance and move a portion to the Bond Market to lock in some of the overall gains, but I haven’t decided yet.

Roth IRA: $11,365 – $5,469

As mentioned in the Cash section, the Roth has been maxed out this year! Other than these contributions, the market did decrease slightly for this as well.

Another benefit of the added contributions is that my total account went above $10,000! This meant I was able to convert my Vanguard mutual fund from Investor shares to Admiral shares! I’m now paying an even lower fee which is awesome!

This account is all invested in a Vanguard mutual fund for Mid-Cap stocks.

Brokerage: $12,643 – $343

No contributions here, so just market losses.

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.

HSA: $1,537 – $331

I opened my HSA account at the end of November last year after turning 26. This gain was straight from monthly contributions.

Unfortunately, this is all held in a Cash position right now as I need a minimum of $2,500 to invest in a NTF (no transaction fee) mutual fund. (On the positive side, being held in all Cash means it was immune to the negative market swing!)

As I’m on track to max this out this year, I’ll hit this mark later this year and will immediately invest it.

Auto Value: $10,477 – ($290)

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: $(1,101) $298

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 number is what I pull from my credit card statements which ends on the 4th of every month.

So technically there are a couple expenses from next month being counted in here but this is what’s easiest for me to track so I’m not too worried about it.

Credit Card expenses were a bit higher this month. See below for the full breakout of spending to see how I did against my budget.

Auto Loan: $(7,977) – $290

The value on this increases as the amount of principle on the loan decreases with my monthly payment. Glad to see it’s under $8,000 now!!

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.

As the interest rate is pretty low, I’ve been investing my money into the market instead of paying this off further.

Monthly Expenses:

The first real slip up of the year and man it hurts after doing so well the first two months of the year…

The details:

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 (leading to an even longer commute), and with much less perks than what we have now.

Utilities $74 / Internet & Cable $67:

Utilities are up for the month (again). This is on a one month lag so technically this is February utilities when we had some very cold days.

Internet/Cable is pretty standard around $65 as I split the costs with my roommate every month.

Groceries $190 / Restaurants $96:

The way my credit card billing cycle worked I was stuck with a 5 week grocery shopping month. This plus the fact I needed some other non-grocery items (like trash bags, laundry detergent, body wash, etc) that get stuck in the grocery category since I got them at the grocery store, means it was a much more expensive month than usual for groceries.

A majority of my restaurant costs were from my NYC weekend trip (brunch with friends is an expensive affair!), though there were a couple nights I grabbed dinner in DC as well.

Car Payment $302:

Monthly car payment to pay off my loan. Less than 2.5 more years now! (If I don’t 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 Insurance $0:

I paid in full in January for the next 6 months to get a discount on the total price. This price is much lower than what I used to pay!

Check out 5 Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Rates to get some ideas on how to lower yours!

Auto Fuel $176 / Auto Other $3:

I have a lengthy commute to work – 60 miles round trip – leading to high fuel costs each month. I finally took a road trip back home and the extra gas costs from that were enough to bring me over budget.

The Other category includes any maintenance, repairs, taxes, etc that I budget for.  I spent $3 to hand wash my car for the first time since early winter, it was much needed!

Cell Phone $240:

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 finally gave them the check for January-June when I was back home for Easter.

Medical $32:

My portion of the bill for my semi-annual dental cleanings. I pay this out of pocket to keep my HSA for investing pre-tax dollars.

Entertainment $318:

The first real test of my Entertainment budget was a total fail. A vast majority of this was “going out to bar” related costs, something I have written about before.

A couple factors were at play here: my weekend trip to NYC, and that my roommate is moving away in a couple months.

NYC is obviously an expensive city and going up to see friends from college (who have expensive tastes) was just asking for a budget blowing weekend.

On the other end, my roommate is moving away from DC in a couple months, likely for good. This means that he is crossing lots of things off his DC bucket list he hasn’t gotten to, and several of those have been to various bars he’s heard about in his time here.

He’s one of my good friends down here and because of that I feel obligated to spend time and let him choose what he wants to do, but it hasn’t been kind on my budget. When he does eventually leave, I’m anticipating that I’ll be going out to the bars way less often as he is the main person I go out with around here.

Travel $280:

This category is for flights/hotels/etc portion of travel. I booked a 10 day trip to Europe in April with friends! It is going to be a whirlwind of a trip with stops in Dublin/Budapest/Vienna/Prague/Berlin and Copenhagen. It should be really fun!

Most of the flights were booked with points from my regular credit card spending, but this $280 was my return flight home which I did not have enough points for.

Gifts $0:

No gift giving this month. A vast majority of my gift spending is at the end of the year around Christmas time when I get Christmas gifts and make donations.

Misc $62:

$20 each for laundry, DC metro card replenishment, and a march madness pool with my friends I do every year, unfortunately my bracket was busted in the first weekend :(.  Also, it was a couple dollars to ship a package.

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 3% match. HSA is both mine and employer contributions.

This 58% savings rate almost feels like cheating after how much I spent this month. The extra paycheck and nearly $300 of credit card cash back really helped out here.

Even with the March slip-up, I’m pretty happy with how the first quarter went, and I’m definitely on pace to reach my savings rate goal!

Looking ahead, April will be another expensive month with my Europe trip, so I will need to make up the savings in the months after!

Check out the Net Worth Updates page to see how I’ve done in past months.

How did your March turn out?

6 thoughts to “Net Worth Update: March 2018”

  1. Whew that’s a busy month! Friends leaving is HORRIBLE for your budget. You want to spend all the time possible with them while you can, but it unfortunately usually tends to be time at bars and restaurants. Two summers ago when my roommate and one of our friends were both leaving town, I think I ended up spending something on the order of $500 in the two months before they left. That was just about the time I started Googling “how to make a budget” and found the FIRE community. Coincidence? I think not!

    Congrats on an awesome 57%, which is funnily enough what I think mine was too! It definitely feels like cheating with the extra paycheck (and I got the larger part of my tax return), but April is going to be hugely expensive so I’ll take it!

    1. Ah yes so true! It’s happening now, but also happened last year for me too when several friends left prior to the summer! I think people just need to stop leaving! 😂

      Congrats on awesome saving rate too! I’ll take what I can get with April about to be an expensive month for me too!

  2. Good month! The way I look at it, any positive movement in net worth during a bad month for the markets is nothing to complain about.

    Nice job on the Roth IRA. I put my full $5,500 in on January 1 this year as I like to save up and get it over with right away but given the way the markets were in February and March, that may not have been the best decision. In the long run it won’t matter much though and what’s done is done so I can’t do anything about it.

    How are you making your HSA contributions? Spread out evenly over the year or varied? I opened one for the first time earlier this year and front-loaded it so that 1) I avoid the monthly fee for balances under $1K and 2) to be able to invest it. My HSA requires $1K in cash before investing, so I’ve been contributing heavily and started investing everything over $1K in a few of the funds they offer.

    Also curious about your cash — is it all held in a checking account or a mix of that and a savings account? I’ve been thinking about moving some of mine to an online savings account to at least get something for my money, hopefully around 1.5%.

    Keep up the good work! Glad I found your blog and that you’re active on it with good content.

    1. This is true! Definitely shouldn’t complain haha. Yes totally agree though, have to have a long term mindset and the important thing is you maxed it out period!

      Unfortunately my company would not allow me to front load my HSA contributions so they are going in evenly throughout the year. I just want to get to the $2,500 so I can invest it!!

      My cash is mixed between checking and savings but the rates are tiny on both. I too am looking at switching to an online savings account to get higher rates, something I am planning on doing in May (after returning from Europe!)

      Thanks for reading and following along! Glad you are enjoying 🙂

    1. Hah – I survived twice! Made another visit last night!

      Thanks though, I almost would have preferred it went down.. that would mean I have a lot more money in there where my earnings couldn’t outpace the market losses! 😉

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