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.

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 😀

Designing My Life, Part 1

I started reading the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. It’s an interactive book that gives writing prompts every chapter. In the first chapter they advocate putting together a Health – Work – Play – Love Dashboard as a “You are here” sign to signify where I’m starting from. Here is mine; I’ve rated each area from 0 to 4 and written a small blurb about why.

Health – 4

This is the highlight on my dashboard right now. I’ve been exercising for months and I’m in great shape. I eat right, I move enough, I have a good amount of energy. I struggle a lot with impostor syndrome and disappointment in myself but I’m starting to pay more attention to my mental health. I’m trying to be more mindful, more grateful, more self-affirming. I’m trying to adopt a growth mindset and change the stories I tell myself.

Continue: Diet and exercise routine

Action Items: Develop a routine of self-affirmation, meditation, and gratitude.

Work – 2

I’ve stagnated in this area for all of 2018. I’ve been on autopilot at work through a reorg, a manager change, and a performance review cycle. I excused it by telling myself I was focusing on all the other areas, but now that I’ve made good progress on everything else I want to dedicate more time to my work. It’s not that I’ve been slacking at work, I got an “Achieves expectations” during the performance review earlier this month, but I could definitely dedicate more time, thought, and energy to it.

Continue: One thing I have started recently is to minimize context switching between tasks at work. For example, when I work with other engineers to finalize a design, I try to implement that design immediately after so I don’t lose the context and don’t have to remember the details later.

Action Items: Dedicate more time to my work. I am pretty productive when I do work, but I leave work early to go to the gym so I don’t give myself enough time to actually focus. I need to get to work earlier, or work a little in the evenings or weekends to make up for coming into the office later.

Play – 4

I’m happy with my friends and hobbies as they are. I’ve decided not to worry about actively reaching out to friends who hardly reach out to me. I only keep in touch with friends who reciprocate the effort nowadays. I play badminton and hang out with friends in person often. I’ve spent a lot of evenings setting up this blog and I’m happy with how it’s going.

Continue: Stay close with long-distance friends who keep in touch with me and hang out with people in person. Keep playing badminton. Keep posting monthly net worth entries on this blog.

Action Items: I’m spending a lot of time talking about personal finance in Facebook groups and on Twitter. I also check my account balances pretty often. I can de-emphasize this area.

Love – 3

My boyfriend’s goal for the past year has been to get a new job while working full-time at his current job. I carried our relationship in a lot of ways while he focused on his job hunt by applying to a lot of companies on his behalf, going over to his place so we could spend time together eating dinner, and in general not expecting very much of him. He’s conscious of needing to step up in our relationship now that he has accepted a job offer. I shared a list of how I want him to be more conscious of my time.

Continue: My boyfriend and I care deeply about each other. He is the one who kick-started my physical and mental health improvements, and I’ve greatly improved my communication skills with him showing me how.

Action Items: I should learn to let go since my boyfriend won’t need so much support anymore. And I will keep working on better communication.

Taxes and overview

Monthly Networthshare Entry: https://www.networthshare.com/user/labangel/2018/04

I did my taxes in April. I’d set up automatic withholding but I still had to pay the IRS because of capital gains. I should be getting a state tax refund soon though. I also took a DXA scan to compare with the one I took last April and I’ve lost 2 lbs of fat since last year! Yay for a lifestyle of healthy diet and exercise! Otherwise, I’m spending all my time with work or with my boyfriend; just showing up, buckling down, and pushing through.

This month I’ll revisit where my net worth comes from:
Cash: From my checking and savings accounts. Does not include : Venmo balance (currently 2K!), Splitwise balance owed to me, or cash rewards balances.
Stocks: From two brokerage accounts. Does not include: Coinbase wallet or Robinhood since they aren’t significant amounts of money compared to the other two.
Bonds: I own T-bonds, like actual physical pieces of paper. I had assumed they were filed away somewhere, but I could not find them when I went through all my papers for taxes in April. I’m listing $500 but this is mostly a flag for me to hunt them down.
Retirement: I have a 401K and a Roth IRA. Most of my 401K is my Roth contributions but a small part is a taxable employer match.
Other Assets: A rollover IRA, this is a taxable account.
Credit Cards: Balances from the two credit cards I use. I have auto pay set up to pay these off every month.
Auto Loans: a 0% loan which I’m 3 months away from paying off.

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