A lot of fanciness for a simple girl

I stuck around this month. I played badminton with a couple friends the first weekend, hung out with alumni from my graduate college the next weekend, spent MLK Day weekend with my boyfriend in SF, and was very much a homebody last weekend. My boyfriend has never been to a Women’s March and I considered taking him the Saturday before MLK Day, but did laundry and yoga instead. He made some digital art that Sunday and I did another hour of yoga. We cooked together for an Indian holiday on MLK day. We also went to a beach where my boyfriend took a perfect picture of the wind in my hair in the sunset, it’s currently tied as my 4th most-liked post on Instagram. Last but opposite of least, my boyfriend got me a super pretty watch for my birthday and planned a dinner at what I swear is the fanciest Indian restaurant in the city. They had a tasting menu for restaurant week so we had a full 3 course meal. It was inventive and filling and delicious, I can’t even… Two of the dishes I got were topped with gold foil!

Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is all the rage right now. I tidied the files and photos on my personal laptop, thumb drives, and microSD cards and took a backup of my personal files from my work laptop last weekend. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time; it felt good removing it from my todo list. The next steps are to backup my personal laptop and phone, and tidy my external hard drive. Also, I had a pile of old clothes that were too worn to donate. Did you know that H&M takes back such clothes for textile recycling and gives you a 15% off coupon for bring them in? I don’t know what they do with the clothes, but it eases my conscience knowing I didn’t just throw them away and I got a 15% off H&M coupon to boot.

I worked out 15 times this month, keeping to my thrice a week schedule. Moreover, I had gotten my mom to start a 30 day workout program over the holidays. She finished the foundation and has now moved on to a second 30 day program, I’m so proud of her for taking charge of her body! I scheduled an optometrist appointment as well as my yearly DEXA scan. I’m planning to use up FSA funds from last year to get contacts and may get prescription glasses or sunglasses using this year’s funds. Since I’ve let my hair grow out for the past 1.5 years, I have A TON of split-ends and badly need a haircut but oh well. Overall, I’m content on the health front.

Financially, there’s a lot going on. I made my backdoor Roth IRA contribution for 2019 and invested it all in ITOT. I have to fill out and mail in a form in order to convert my Traditional IRA monies into Roth, so I’m super jealous of my boyfriend who can convert his online. I also introduced my boyfriend to the helpful graphics on Personal Capital from which you can get a handle on your asset allocation and sector breakdown. I find those and the Investment Checkup page the 3 most helpful pages on Personal Capital. My manager brought up compensation during one of our weekly 1-1 meetings. I was happy with my compensation but that meeting made me research what the market rate is like, just to check. The conclusion: I’m still happy with my compensation.

In terms of work, I’m totally failing my 2019 goal to become more engaged with my industry. But I have become a slightly more productive worker in the past 6 months, my manager said so. I still don’t have a plan for achieving this goal, but I realize I have to let some other things go in order spend more time on my career. I’m not sure what to let go yet so I’ll cool my expectations for now while I focus on making time and space for this.

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2018 Financial Review

Every January I review how the past year went, compare it to previous year’s prediction, and give an estimate for the upcoming year. My last paycheck for the year says I got 296K W-2 gross income in 2018. From what I can tell of my brokerage accounts, I had at least 4K investment income. That puts me over 300K pre-tax income for the year, which is just astounding to me as I never imagined making so much growing up! But my boyfriend likes to quote Professor Scott Galloway saying “It’s not how much you earn, but how much you burn.” so I’d also like to calculate my annual expenses and savings rate for the year. Let’s see how this year compared to my 2017 Financial Review predictions…

Category Predicted Actual Notes
Cash No change -6K I just made a 6K backdoor IRA contribution for 2019.
Stocks (Brokerages + ESPP proceeds) +141K +148K I had predicted 119K RSU contributions using pre-tax numbers, the actual uses post-tax proceeds. From my paycheck, I actually got 130K of RSU’s pre-tax. Between ESPP and RSUs I got 112K post-tax, sold 98K of it (all RSUs and some ESPP), and am currently holding 18K. I believe in my company and can wait till ESPP stock becomes a long position.
Retirement (401K + IRAs) +27K +34K I contributed 28K to my 401K and am counting a 6K 2019 backdoor IRA contribution with this annual review.
Other (Rollover IRA) No change -.3K I rolled my rollover IRA into my 401K. I hadn’t planned to do this last January.
Car Loan Paid Off Paid Off My car turned 5. I paid off the loan and own it outright.
Everything Else No change No change I have a lower credit card balance and have misplaced some Treasury bonds.

My net worth increased by 139K to 353K in 2018 between December 2017 and December 2018 entries, broken down as follows:

  • Cash: 11K original amount, -6K change from 2019 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
  • Stocks: 85K original amount, +121K change
    • +36K personal savings
    • +29K ESPP contributions for five quarters
    • +83K proceeds selling RSUs
    • -28K losses remaining. I realized 5K gains, 3.5K losses, and have 15K unrealized losses in IXUS.
  • Retirement: 122K original amount, +21K change
    • +18.5K my contributions
    • +9.25K company contributions
    • +6K 2019 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
    • +.3K IRA rolled in
    • -13K losses remaining
  • Other: Rolled .3K into 401K
  • Car Loan: Paid off remaining 2K
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

2019 Estimates

  • Cash: +6K for 2020 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
  • Stocks: +24K ESPP contributions for four quarters, +50K proceeds selling RSUs
  • Retirement: +19K my contributions, +9.5K company contributions
  • Bonds: Currently this is a placeholder for some misplaced Treasury bonds. I want to either find them or write them off as lost forever.
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

Annual Expenses & Savings Rate

300K pre-tax and 201K after-tax is probably a good estimate of how much income I made in 2018. I saved 182K this year and my expenses are ~28K so I have an 86-90% after-tax savings rate.

  • Taxes: 99K total (withheld so far)
    • 58K federal
    • 27.5K state
    • 13K SS & Medicare
  • Stock Contributions: 148K
  • Retirement Contributions: 34K
  • Rent: 12K, I share a 3 bd apt with roommates
  • Credit Cards: 16K, I pay off my balances in full each month

After Health? Career.

Happy New Year! I booked flights last minute and arrived at my parent’s house on Christmas Eve, I flew back to the west coast on New Years Day. I spent a lot of time with my family and had an amazing time. I’d worked from home the last time I visited and hadn’t gotten much time with family then. This time I was on vacation all week so I went on a walk with my mom, helped her start a 30-day exercise program and configure her phone settings, and bought my dad some badly needed new pants. I also read Anthem by Ayn Rand, The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, and Little Moments of Love Catana Comics by Catana Chetwynd, among others. Our family went to an amusement center where my mom played laser tag for the first time. I had a lot of fun on the ropes course they had hung from the ceiling too!

I’ve taught my boyfriend about personal finance for the past year and helped him fund a backdoor roth IRA for 2018. I’m getting fairly advanced with my own financial life as well. I took advantage of the downturn in December to tax loss harvest and move money from a fund with a 0.17% fee to one with a 0.03% fee. Since I closed my rollover IRA in 2018, I’m funding a backdoor roth IRA for 2019 now.

I was a health beast in December; I worked out 22 times, including 13 days in a row at the beginning of the month! This means I’m starting 2019 feeling caught up on exercise and I’ll be happy as long as I continue working out thrice a week going forward. I can finally breath through my nose again thanks to Flonase, it’s soooo freeing because I’m very particular about having my sinuses clear at all times. My sister even commented on how soft my arms felt! My hands and arms used to be really rough and dry 3 years ago, they’ve improved a lot since I established a skincare routine earlier in 2018. I’m really proud of how I’ve designed a healthy lifestyle in 2018.

My goal for 2019 is to become more engaged with my industry. Since I work at a large company it’s easy to work a bare minimum and stop growing; I also work on a mature application so it’s hard to move fast. Incidentally, my two remaining quarterly goals from last quarter got rolled over into this quarter, and I was assigned one new goal this quarter. I’ve spoken to a couple people working at smaller companies in the past month and their work is a lot more self-directed. They learn things outside of work and help apply those things at their jobs. I want to get closer to that. Perhaps I’ll read an industry article every day, learn a new technology and get certified for it, or take an evening class. I need to come up with a plan this week and stick to it.

For anyone in the tech industry, I’d love to hear about what you’re planning to learn next and how 😀

The Importance of Having a Mentor

Happy Holidays! I attended a family wedding over Thanksgiving weekend and stayed at my parent’s house the week after the wedding, so I just got back to California this past Sunday. It was a pretty long wedding since I also attended dinner events for the couple’s close friends and family for two nights before wedding day, but mostly it went smoothly. My parents let me take it easy at home last week since they could tell I was really tired after traveling and attending the wedding. This had the added effect of going easy on my credit card balances. I stayed in my sister’s bedroom and raided her dresser and desk while home; we’re similar sizes so this turned up some nice “new” clothes she let me take. I’m thinking of going back for the last week of December.

Otherwise, I’m grinding away… I took the online traffic school course, just need to confirm that they’ve told the county that I passed. And I rolled over IRA into my 401K, which is why I can zero out the Other Assets category. Fidelity made this really easy since I could just photograph the checks on their NetBenefits app. I’m grateful! Now my remaining IRA is Roth and I will be able to do backdoor Roth IRA contributions next year. My boyfriend has no IRA so I’ve sent him various resources on doing a backdoor Roth IRA contribution and told him to do it THIS YEAR. He’s promised me he will open one by the end of this week.

I worked out 10 times in November, which is quite good considering I was gone for a third of the month. My nose is still alternately stuffed or runny, but I feel better rested than a month ago. The week at home really helped!

I made some progress on my two remaining quarterly goals, honestly I’ll be happy to even finish one of them by the holiday shutdown in two weeks. Speaking with other women in my org this week made me realize that almost everyone else has a mentor. Since I’ve joined my company, I’ve cycled between viewing multiple people as my mentors but circumstances have forced these relationships to deteriorate somewhat. One high-level engineer moved to Seattle, I only see him in person every few months if he visits California. Another mid-level engineer stopped meeting me regularly in order to focus on his own career progression, he’s the one who got promoted in September and he’s super-busy now. And finally the last high-level engineer to join our team became my manager, so she can’t mentor me anymore even though I see her every day. These are the three people at my company who I’ve tried the most to open up to, they know my vulnerabilities the best and they’ve given me countless tips. The guy from Seattle is in California this week and catching up with him helped me shift to a broader perspective. I’ve decided to set up monthly video calls with him. I feel like I’ve gotten into a rut and notice myself repeating the same mistakes. I hope some of the things he suggested me will help me grow out of it. I will take all the help I can get at work right now. How about you? What have you learned from a mentor?

The Numbers

I started to blog anonymously so I can be open about my job and compensation. I got the idea of a numbers post from HerEveryCentCounts, who in turn credits Leigh’s Financial Journey. All numbers are in thousands of USD. Salary is as of December of the listed year, Gross Income is the income from my tax return. Net worth lists Assets – Liabilities using December Networthshare entries.

My income fluctuates from my salary because some of my compensation comes from RSUs and an annual bonus. I have a small amount of income from dividends and capital gains. I’ve always had generous 401K company matches and I participate in my current company’s ESPP plan as well.

Year Salary Gross Income Net Worth Notes
2015 115 50 48 – 10 = 38  Started 1st job!
2016 115 127 110 – 7 = 103 RSU 1 yr grant
2017 135 155 219 – 5 = 214 2nd job!
2018 140 200+ TBD RSU 1 yr grant

I graduated college and started my first full time job in the latter half of 2015 so that’s when I start tracking. I’ve had a lot of financial help and guidance from my parents so I started off with $10K in my bank account, a Roth IRA with $11K from 2 year’s internship earnings, a car that my parents made payments on for 6 months after I graduated, a company which paid for my relocation to the SF Bay Area and gave me temporary housing for a month, and no student loans.

Frank Career Conversations

I’m back from vacationing in China and it was amazing!!! Not just the country itself, the trip gave me faith in my boyfriend too. I’d gotten a Chinese visa and booked flights a week before I took off so I landed in Beijing with zero preparation. My boyfriend met me at the airport and took care of almost everything for the week we were there. It really helped that I could forget about everything stateside, and focus only on him and what was around us. He noticed how carefree I was too.

I went full speed at work as soon as I got back. I have three goals to finish by the end of this year and I finished the easiest one in October. I unblocked one goal remaining from last quarter in October as well. I’m working on the second goal right now and am making progress, but I’ve been slacking this week so I might buckle down this weekend to make up for it. I paid to do traffic school and plan to take the course online this weekend as well.

My manager is being very frank with me during our 1-1’s and she’s making me realize that as hard as I’m working right now, I still need to get a lot better at work. I asked her openly what was missing between how I perform and how someone at the next level would perform and she answered that there’s 3 things I need to do in order to get promoted:
1. Execute consistently on my tasks and deliver them on time. My manager also added that I should do this independently, not wait for others to hand me solutions. I’ve struggled with this in the past because I would distract myself with one-off things that ultimately were not important.
2. Lead others to complete a project. I’m not too enthused about this one.
3. Take initiative outside of my team by mentoring others, teaching at the company’s new hire bootcamp, etc. I wonder if this is really necessary…
Honestly, I’m thankful that I can even have such open discussions with her. And knowing what’s needed helps me see where I am in my journey more clearly.

I worked out 11 times in October and worked out for 7 days in a row last week, but I’ve been sneezing and having a stuffed nose since late October. I tried taking allergy pills, changing my bedding, upping the heat in my apartment, and getting a couple of massages but nothing’s worked. It’s more annoying than debilitating so I’ll deal.

Financially-speaking, the market tanked and my net worth decreased month-over-month. But more importantly I read the White Coat Investor’s articles on contributing to a backdoor Roth IRA. The article “17 Ways to Screw Up a Backdoor Roth IRA” really laid out the details and gave me confidence to get started. I finally cashed in my Rollover IRA and will roll it into my 401K this year so I can start making backdoor Roth IRA contributions next year. I’m excited!

Renewed Motivation to Work

Time is slipping quickly these days. I’m again uncertain of where a whole month went. As I predicted in August my work-life balance has become more skewed towards work, but not before a whole bunch of life and play happened in the intervening weeks. I exercised on 5 days straight after Labor Day and totaled of 19 workouts in September; it helped that September was wellness month at my company and they hosted lots of fitness themed activities I could easily participate in. On top of that I did end up buying that Fitbit from Craigslist and was able to track all my activity on the Fitbit app. I know it’s a possibility that the Fitbit I bought is one where the seller complained to the company within the 1 year warranty period and got sent a new Fitbit which they sold to me, but I’m okay with that as I consider it a win-win for both me and the seller. In a non sequiter I got my first ever traffic citation, but I’ll try to do traffic school soon to avoid getting a point on my record.

My boyfriend spent early September squaring away paperwork for joining his new company. But more importantly he planned and got visas for a month-long vacation! He had a lot of vacation days accumulated which he is using in one go; he flew out in mid-September. I don’t have so much DTO but I did get a week off so I will fly out and vacation with him next week. Having him gone honestly freed up a good amount of time and mindspace. I used the mindspace to think about my longer-term goals for the relationship, list out questions I have, and do some research about them. I will spend more time thinking about me relationship and how I want it to evolve later this month after I come back from vacation.

I used the time to start a WordPress blog where I ported all my existing networthshare entries (labangel.wordpress.com) and set up Twitter (@_labangel), Medium, Pinterest, and Google+ accounts under this identity. I tried setting up a Facebook profile but my account got disabled! I’m still a little sore over that 😡 These accounts took a loooong time to set up, but then again I go through every single setting and tune it to my liking when creating an account. It is also very easy to start consuming content in all of these websites and I definitely spent a lot of time reading, scrolling through feeds, following other accounts, adding myself to blog directories, etc. My WordPress and Twitter are in okay shape but I will have to spend a LOT more time on this to take it to the next level, which I am not willing to do for a while.

I realized while reading Designing Your Life that I should go all-in on my work, and I have done just that this week. I’ve worked closely with my new manager over the past 4 months and I have complete faith in her ability to promote me now since one of the senior engineers on my team had been putting in a lot of effort for the past 1 year and my new manager was able to secure his promotion! I know that she wants to promote me as well; this is convincing me to do my best at my job. I did a good job against the goals I had set last quarter, but this quarter’s goals are pretty ambitious so I want to give myself space to complete them by planning ahead and diligently making progress on tasks I’m unblocked on. Wish me luck!