2017 Financial Review

My net worth increased by 112K to 214K in the past year, I personally contributed 64K (after 5K excess contribution withdrawal) and the rest was company match and investment gains. Here’s how my investments have changed between the December 2016 and December 2017 entries:

  • Stocks (Brokerages + ESPP proceeds): 20K original amount, +65K change
    • +35K personal savings
    • +16K ESPP contributions for three quarters
    • +14K gains
  • Retirement (Roth 401K + Roth IRA): 75K original amount, +46K change
    • +18K my contributions
    • +8K company contributions
    • -5K excess contribution and earnings distributed from Roth IRA because I contributed too much for my income level in 2016
    • +15K gains
  • Car Loan: -4K
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

I don’t really plan out how much of my savings I invest, it just ended up being 35K in 2017. Here’s what I know will get added in 2018 assuming I stay at my job (I plan to):

  • Stocks
    • +22K ESPP contributions for four quarters
    • +119K current value of RSUs which will vest in 2018
  • Retirement
    • +18K my contributions
    • +9K company contributions
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

Focus on Friends

Native peoples, who were, of course, already here when the pioneers arrived, stayed at traditional camps in the Pioneer Square area. Many intermarried with settlers. Cultural diversity was again broadened by Chinese arrivals, who built railroads to the West and stayed here. Over and over, as immigrants came to Seattle, many became a part of Pioneer Square. Today we get a lot of people from California...

This past month has been nice. I’m focusing less on work and more on friends. I met up locally with a few friends from high school and college over the weekends, and I flew to Seattle over MLK Day long weekend to meet friends there. My boyfriend’s resolution is to change jobs so he is following a strict schedule these days. I’m trying to give him space by using my time to deepen my friendships and rekindle my creative side. I used a vinyl cutter and heat press to add a design on a shirt yesterday and I bought a voucher for horseback riding with lessons today.

As you can tell, I’m in that cash crunch week right now. One bank’s site is down for maintenance so the credit card debt number is an estimate. I did finally fill out the auto-pay form so I won’t need to do it manually from next month onward.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2018/01

My monthly money tasks

My credit card spend is much higher lately because of holiday travel, dining, and gift expenses as well as medical costs from physical, dental, travel, lab, and eye appointments. I got health checkups, flew to Korea, and spent $1K over 9 days in November. I flew to my parent’s house in December and gifted my mom a Fitbit. I expect it to be high again for January or February since I’ll pay for 6 months of car insurance and I’m contemplating spending time with friends for MLK day and/or President’s day. It will go back to normal around March. I also need to add the payment information for my new credit cards into my online accounts like Amazon, Uber, Comcast, etc. Right now they just have my old credit card information so I end up making purchases on it when I really should be using my new credit cards which give better rewards.

What I really need is more cash to both pay off the credit cards and for cash flow. I pay all the rent and bills for my 3 bedroom apartment and my roommates pay me back. But that means I am cash strapped for 7 days at the end of the month because I pay rent three days early, my roommates pay me on time, and it takes 3 days for my roommates’ Venmo’d funds to get to my bank account. I have recurring transfers automatically moving money from checking to savings to brokerage and I cancelled the next few occurrences so funds should slowly pool in my checking account.

I’ve always tried to automate my retirement savings and personal savings by setting up paycheck deductions, DRIPs, etc. I recently realized my 401K has an automatic rebalancing feature. But there’s still a lot that happens manually. Here are the manual money tasks I do monthly, ususally when I make a Networthshare entry:
1.) Schedule paying $3K rent to my landlady at the end of the month.
2.) Cancel the auto-transfer to savings or make purchases using transferred cash in my brokerage acct as needed.
3.) Review my credit card purchases from the previous month and dispute transactions as needed. Nowadays I also make note of whether I would have gotten better rewards had I paid using a different card so I can improve in the future.
4.) Put bills from the previous month on my roommate Splitwise group. My roommates Venmo me $2K for their share of rent so I pay back my friends from my Venmo balance and transfer the rest to my bank account.
5.) Schedule paying off the cash rewards credit card, the bank mailed me a form to set up auto-pay but I haven’t filled it out yet.
6.) I sell ESPP stock once a quarter. Starting 2018 I’ll sell RSU stock quarterly as well.

Out of curiosity, I went on Creditkarma while making this entry. My credit score is ~790. I also logged into Personal Capital and saw my asset allocation, this was an impetus to sell ESPP stock and rebalance a little. One year ago my asset allocation was 100% US stocks. Now I bought some IXUS, with the goal of getting to a 70-30 US-international allocation. I’m currently around a 90-10 allocation.

I exercised 14 times in the first three weeks of December, whereas on average I exercise thrice a week. I caught up on workouts I’d missed over Thanksgiving and kept doing extra workouts knowing I’d inevitably miss them over the holidays. I hosted a friend over Christmas weekend and was at my parent’s place from Christmas to New Years Eve.

I had a long distance relationship for all of December. It was actually really refreshing because we often get distracted by minutiae like “Wow! You look stunning!” or “Can we turn the fan down?” when we spend time in person. Our phone conversations were on much longer term topics like “How do you plan to take care of aging parents in 10 years?”. My boyfriend got back to California after I left for my parent’s house. I came back at night on Dec. 31 and he met me at the airport. We celebrated New Years in the back of an Uber riding back from the airport. Today he told me he still hasn’t met his hair goals. I exclaimed, “OMG I have a boyfriend who has hair goals!” and he called me out as being sexist. ;-D

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/12

Korea with friends

Seoul Lantern Festival

I didn’t really post an adequate update last time, I’ll fill in some details from October. I think I missed mentioning that I got a new cash rewards credit card while on the east coast to use on gas and dining out. After I came back to California and somewhat recovered from being sick, I was busy practicing the choreography for a group dance I performed during the Diwali celebration at my company. I also organized a Diwali get-together with all my friends at my place. My boyfriend was really impressed with that gathering (^_^) I spent one day at Santa Cruz Boardwalk (my company had raffled free pairs of tickets so we each paid only 1/3 the normal price!) with two alumni of my Masters university the next weekend (I got my Bachelors from one university and my Masters from another). And the weekend before Halloween I got dinner with my cousin who’d flown in from the east coast.

I also had a fitness evaluation the last full week of October where the resident personal trainer at my office gym walked me through what I wanted in terms of fitness for the next 6 months and helped me set goals. Since that week I have exercised on average 3 times a week, up from only doing yoga once a week since mid-2015. I still do yoga once a week, augmented with a run and a group exercise class at my company gym. I also track which days I did which workout in my phone calendar. I feel my thighs getting thicker as my skinny jeans feel tighter as a result. I feel hungry more often and have a good appetite. I have to constantly manage my time so I can exercise 3 days a week, but I hope it eventually becomes a habit.

On to November, so much has happened! I joined a meetup event for a group archery class the first weekend of November. I met up with my Masters roommate the next weekend. But mostly I was wrapping up tasks at work and planning for exciting Thanksgiving travels!

I would work hard at work so I could come home, conference call my friends, and research our trip as best we could without knowing Korean. No joke, we had a shared Google spreadsheet and shared maps account to plan out where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and how to get around. I got a physical, went to a travel clinic and took the typhoid vaccine over the next week. I got a prescription for anti-diarrhea pills, packed a first aid kit, and registered our trip with the State Department. My friend and I searched up and each got a new credit card with no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee. I even looked up my company’s travel insurance policy. I impressed myself on how much of an adult I had become.

A note on health, I fasted and got my blood drawn one day and had an ultrasound another day. Everything is normal, just my cholesterol levels are higher than last year. I had bought new glasses earlier and had mistakenly submitted a claim to my eye insurance even though I paid for them through a separate health account. So I mailed in a request and undid that claim. I made my open enrollment elections for next year during that second week of November and kept my insurance similar to last year. Now after having an eye exam and ordering contacts today, I’m second-guessing that I should have put more money into the tax-advantaged health account, I wonder if there’s any way to modify it now…

I hosted my undergrad friend from Chicago the week before Thanksgiving. I really got to connect with him since it was just the two of us hanging out that week. We talked about faith (he’s Christian and I’m Hindu), we talked about love (he’s single and I’m not). We talked about parents and siblings, grandparents and ancestry, languages and our lack of competency with them. For some reason I was surprised that my boyfriend hit it off with him. I really shouldn’t have been, he’s starting grad school at the same college my boyfriend graduated from. My boyfriend is a silver-tongued chameleon, he can fit into any group I drop him into.

He and I and my college bestie spent all Thanksgiving week touring Korea. It was a blast and I’m so glad I went! I ate the best meal of the year at a temple food restaurant in Seoul and visited a handful of UNESCO World Heritage sites, both natural and cultural. I got a layered haircut and bought cosmetics. I impulse purchased a multi-purpose USB hair iron that works as either curler or straightener 😝. I went to a cat cafe, dog cafe, and fish market. He’d gotten in touch with our college friend who teaches English in Seoul so we saw the Seoul Lantern Festival together and she invited us to her place for an expat Thanksgiving. That was my first international trip without my family and I feel really complete having gone.

My boyfriend flew to his parents place less than a week after I got back. He’ll be gone the rest of the year spending time with family. I’m trying to keep myself busy by exercising and spending time with old friends. It’s nice that I had the chance to catch up with my high school math teacher as well as a college friend this past weekend. I’ll get a few days with my civil engineering friend when she visits me Christmas weekend. One last upside is that I am able to focus on work without being distracted or feeling guilty. It’s a red flag that my boyfriend makes me feel guilty if I spend as much time working as he does. He agrees it’s unfair of him as well. We’ll work on it.

Money-wise, I set up autopay for one of my new credit cards and will work on setting it up for the other one. I’m also not including the balance from the other one under credit card debt since I don’t know what it is. I locked myself out of my online account. I should also save up some cash right now. I’ll get a smaller paycheck come January because of retirement account contributions. Finally I’m reading “The Seven Stages of Money Maturity”, a personal finance self-help book from the Buddhist perspective. It guides you through writing a financial autobiography and meditating on your philosophy and biases around money. I started writing my autobiography yesterday and am liking it so far.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/11

Sick

I’ve been rushing and busy and working hard this entire month. I got a fever, cold, body aches, the works during the first week of October plus I was on my period. My body was weak from travelling and doing errands during the wedding and I took some sick days to recover. I’ve had a dry cough all month and I’m still not completely recovered. I had my annual physical earlier this week, my physician said a nasal spray should help with the mucus in my nose and throat.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/10

All about family

I have shifted these entries later and later, to the point that this entry is three weeks late. No bueno. I will work on recording them earlier going forward. I also want to get to work earlier going forward. I’m really busy at work nowadays and I want to get more focus hours by being at work in the morning when fewer people are around. I also signed up to do a small dance at my company in two weeks. Going to dance practice in the mornings will be a good motivator for two weeks at least. Another incentive is that I will go home on time without feeling guilty.

I traveled and attended a family wedding last weekend. It was a nice ceremony and I enjoyed catching up with most of my extended family. At the same time I acknowledge that I have some less than pleasant family members who I don’t enjoy interacting with, namely one cousin who excluded me from performing a dance with her and our other cousins on the wedding stage. Most of my family members treat and respect me like a capable adult, I’m learning to ignore the select few who do not.

A new Staff Software Engineer joined my team last month. She came from the same company I was at before I joined LinkedIn. She and I are the two women in our team. Having her around makes me feel less alone. I also had a six-month mini performance review with my manager today where we went through the company’s performance guidelines and he told me I’m performing at my seniority level. I’m lucky to have a communicative manager. I’ve grown a lot in the past six months and I’m happy with myself for this. I have a good job paying an amazing salary where I can learn and thrive without burning out or completely trashing my health. I recognize I should be more confident in my abilities and push back saying I am exceeding expectations, I hope that will come with time.

I spent a lot of time with my parents over the past week and I’ve been pointing out and convincing them of small changes I’d like them to make. Often times my father says some small indiscretion aloud for everyone to hear instead of taking me or my sister aside to tell us individually. And my mother overcompensates for my father when he does this. This happened in August when my father commented, as he often does, that the skirt my sister was wearing was too short. That annoyed her, but she held it together. Then my mom commented that if my sister just got skinnier the skirt wouldn’t expose so much of her thighs. That pushed my sister over the edge and she stayed holed up in bed the rest of the night instead of coming to that important dinner with my boyfriend’s family. I hope my parents improve, I have more hope that my mom will than that my dad will change.

I lived with my boyfriend for over a week and it was glorious except for the last day when we fought and I stormed out. We made up that evening but I’m less confident in this relationship than I was in August. I’ve been having too many arguments with him and we’ve said a lot of hurtful words on both sides.

Other than that, I finally sent the last check from the old 401k to my new one. Yay for me I guess. Till next time!

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/09

Dinner with parents and future in-laws

Jellyfish at Monterrey Bay Aquarium

I write these entries as my log of the month past. And I try to write them when I’m in a good or neutral mood. I already have a notebook I write in when I’m so blindingly angry that I can’t express what I’m angry about. Writing down my thoughts helps me slow down and recognize what issues I’m pissed about and which are just annoying or extenuating circumstances. The entries here are different. I don’t want to reread my personal writing and think I am always a negative person. So I record these entries with a neutral to positive outlook, as an accurate snapshot of my life.

With that being said, the end of August was a sad time for me. I always have my period around that time, on top of that I had a week of being seriously sick with fever, congestion, the whole kit. I took a couple days off of work and only had the energy to collate August numbers. I got a bunch of R&R over this Labor Day weekend and want to backfill my entry.

The dynamics of my team changed last month. My team consists of four developers under my manager: the oldest engineer has been at the company for 5 years, the next oldest who has been here for 4 years, the youngest who joined last summer after doing an internship here, and me who joined in February. The youngest engineer on my team got promoted to Senior Engineer last month. That makes me the only one on my team with the title Engineer. Everyone else is Senior or Staff Engineer. Having my younger peer get promoted a year after joining the company made me feel really bad during the last two weeks of August. I felt like I was stuck in the same place while the world moved forward. It didn’t help that my manager estimated I would get promoted next fall when I want to be promoted next spring.

My parents and sister flew in from the east coast and I bought a sofa-bed and coffee table for my living room in preparation. I also borrowed some folding chairs from a friend. The visit went as well as could be hoped given that my sister is a teenager. She and my parents tend to miscommunicate and set off each other’s pet peeves. It’s a headache when it’s happening but funny to think back on. My parents usually speak in our native language which my sister doesn’t have a thorough understanding of. One time my mom used an idiom in our native language whose literal English translation is “the time never happened” but which really means “the occasion never came up”. My sister thinks my parents are dumb because they speak Indian English and she often corrects their pronunciations to be more American. So my sister starts yelling at my mom, “What do you mean, you had so many weekends of free time!!!”. And I had to explain to the teenage know-it-all that she doesn’t understand idioms in our native language and that even though the denotation of the word my mom said means one thing, the connotation is another thing entirely. I had to propose that in such a scenario she should always pause and clarify what my mom meant before politely correcting her. I hope my sister becomes more mature in college.

My boyfriend has been busy with his own family, he took them to see all the sights nearby. I had met and liked his sister already, and his parents are good people. We arranged a dinner with both sets of parents and his sister (my sister refused to go when my parents set off her pet peeve). From being around his parents, his perspective of our relationship has gotten more serious. Yesterday he asked me if I wanted to stay at his place for 10 days straight to test drive living together. So we’re doing it.

After my parents left, my good friend from undergrad was in town for a business trip. I drove him, his colleague, and I to Monterrey Bay Aquarium. We had a nice time there and stopped at a redwood state park on the way back. His wife later flew in on her own business trip and I got dinner with them and his cousin one evening. One of my mentees flew here for her cousin’s wedding and she, her sister, and another mentee who’s lived here came to my workplace to get lunch with me. I’m glad I live in a place where people travel and contact me to meet up. It’s easier to stay in touch with old friends. One sad thing is the mentee who’s lived here accepted a job by Seattle and flew away last week.

Family and relationships aside, there was a lot of spending on the money front. I bought living room furniture, another year of car registration with the DMV, flights to the east coast for my cousin’s wedding, and flights to Seoul for an extended vacation over Thanksgiving. I also forgot to pay for my car insurance renewal because I was sick. I just realized I’ve been driving without car insurance for over a week. I’m kinda too lazy to shop around for a better deal right now so I just paid it for another six months even though they increased the rate by $40 for 6 months. The old 401k check is still with me but I did end up investing the cash from selling my company stock. I literally bought IXUS with it.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/08

Impostor syndrome and friends

Saint Charles Air Line Bridge

Hello world! Usually the first day of my period is the worst day of the month, but today was pretty good considering. My manager has doubled as my career coach for the past 6 months and I’m really grateful he invests so much time in me every week. His birthday was this week and I drove the team to buy him a birthday cake and surprised him at the end of a team lunch with 40 or so people! He was really touched and thanked me later, and organizing it made me happy too.

I’m starting to realize my X factor is communicating and doing people stuff. My presentation from last month went well and I’ve made good progress on my next main task. I’m easily overwhelmed by information especially since I’ve been oncall for the past two weeks so I’m depending on my team to help handle some of it because in the end we all have the same goals. I’m learning to be more comfortable taking their help. I’m transitioning to the attitude that my not being able to handle oncall duties and make progress on my own tasks is not a reflection of me being a bad coder.

Chicago was amazing! I had a ton of fun catching up with two friends from undergrad and seeing the city. I stayed with my friend right in downtown, about two blocks from the Field Museum. And I hung out with them Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday and did touristy stuff the rest of the days. It worked out really well.

The next weekend a different undergrad friend visited and stayed with me. I took her to see the redwoods, San Jose downtown, and the beach. And she took the Caltrain to San Francisco while I was at work on Monday. Friends are the best.

Last weekend and the next few weekends I’m busy deep cleaning in my car and apartment in preparation for my family staying with me for the first two weeks of August. My living room is completely empty (it’s better than a week ago when the room was being used as storage). I have two weeks until I host a get-together of 10 people to make it look like a normal living room. Yep, I have my work cut out for me. I’m planning to buy a sofa bed and a couple folding chairs.

Those checks from my old 401k are in a giant pile of paperwork I need to sort through…so yeah. In brighter news, I got the first proceeds of my company’s ESPP! That’s why the amount of money in my stocks category jumped by 10K. I sold the stock immediately (well, a couple days later) and now I need to invest the cash in some index funds. I only have domestic equities right now so I’ll look up some good international ex-US funds.

Last and most crucial, my boyfriend’s parents flew here last week. Tomorrow, I’m meeting them for the first time. This relationship is at a point of no return. Wish me luck!

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/07

Self-affirmations

It’s only been three weeks but it’s time for another life update. I like having my updates about two-three weeks into the month because my credit card balance always clears mid-month so my balance in my entry a more accurate reflection of the last months’ spending.

At work I finished the two large tasks I mentioned last month and I’m super happy since I’m presenting the work I did for one of them to my wider team on Friday! It’s really good visibility-wise! I have the next large task lined up and another being designed which I think I will be coding on. For once I feel like a software engineer, previously I thought myself mostly a code monkey. And I’m really thankful for my relationship with my manager who is also into personal finance, we even got to discussing dividend reinvestment one evening after wrapping up our work.

Big purchases-wise I just made one today. I’d booked a free 15 min massage promo and they totally upsold me into buying a $200 5-massage package. Each massage is for 25 min, and the masseuse assured me that I could sneak my boyfriend in to see her for one session. Otherwise my money also went into summer holiday travel. I’m going to Chicago for the weekend and week of July 4th!

I got another pair of checks to transfer from my old 401k to my new one. I believe these are the last checks which will close out the account. It’s exciting to see how close I am to my retirement account going over $100K. Every milestone is something to celebrate.

My weekends have been packed, and they will be packed for the next month at least. I’d just recovered from being sick so my boyfriend and I went to my company picnic two weekends ago. Then last weekend my boyfriend introduced me to his exclusive friend group. We went to Pacifica beach and the Golden Gate bridge with them despite my boyfriend being sick at the time. Driving home we got into a huge argument about my hat and jacket choices. He apologized the next day, and what’s more, he apologized saying he shouldn’t have put so much importance on impressing his friends with his trophy girlfriend. This boy really knows how to push all the right feminist buttons. That’s just as well because his parents are flying to California in July to meet me (among other things like touring western USA). We’ve kept having serious conversations through the weeks; I feel so connected to him.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/06

Slogging work, slugging life

Hat Creek Rim Scenic Viewpoint

I’m back! Something broke on networthshare.com and the login through Facebook functionality had stopped working so I wasn’t able to log in for my April entry. Shoutout to whoever fixed it! I deal with member feedback tickets in my job so I know how thankless it is.

Job-wise, I’ve been stuck on one major task for the past 6 weeks. I did my work and two weeks in we decided to scrap that and I had to redo the work over again. It’s almost done now and I hope to finish it by the end of this week, but “almost done” is not the same as “done done” -sigh-. I have actually finished one complicated task in the last 6 weeks and am almost done debugging another large refactor but those are not as important as the major task that’s dragged on. I’m losing the esteem of my manager and need to build it up again by finishing the two large tasks on my plate right now.

I finished taxes last month, it wasn’t too complicated. The funds from my previous 401K transferred to the new account. I later got another pair of checks from dividends, miscalculation, etc. which transferred to the new account as well. My brokerage account has grown nicely with the auto transfer and my retirement account is growing quickly with my employer match.

I’m still accumulating creature comforts. Last month I bought a desk and a computer monitor off Craigslist so I can viably work from home now. This month I bought a used iPhone 6 off Craigslist and a new Fitbit from Best Buy. The phone was overdue as my previous phone’s screen had cracked three months ago. I got a new case and screen protector from Best Buy so this won’t be happening again. Next up I’ll continue to work on my wardrobe but mostly I’ll spend money on summer travel.

I just came back from an epic road trip with my boyfriend in which we spent three days in the volcanic region of California. We had some serious couple talks and I couldn’t be happier with the long weekend. And I’m taking two days vacation and flying to the east coast next weekend. I think I’ll book tickets to Chicago for Independence Day weekend as well.

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2017/05