Net Worth: August 2010

I don’t know if I’ve ever loved Girl Ninja more than I do right now! On last months, Net Worth Update, I predicted my NW would go down by three thousand dollars after some wedding/honeymoon/moving expenses. Fortunately, Girl Ninja, coupled with some Stock Market positivity, actually helped my NW increase! Totally not expected, but I’m a happy camper 🙂

Here’s the breakdown…

Assets:

Checking Account: $4,216, -$1,823. Still keeping the checking above the normal $1,000 balance I generally try and keep, because I leave for Aruba one week from today and want access to quick cash in case Girl Ninja gets kidnapped or something…only kidding…kind of.

Savings Accounts: $13,047, +$0. No change here because I’m keeping my cash in the checking account until after I get back from the honeymoon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this Dual Income No Kids thing is as cool as I hear. Should provide for some major saving capabilities for the rest of the year.

Roth IRA: $13,851,+$1,114. Still haven’t made my 2010 Roth Contribution, but I’m 75% sure I will before time is up. Just waiting for life to settle down a bit before I part ways with another $5,000.

TSP (401K): $15,069, +$1,603. The standard 5% contribution heads this direction each month. I also get that 5% fully matched. I invest in virtually the same funds in both my Roth IRA and in my 401K so they generally perform the same.

Liabilities:

Student Loan: $0. That’s right. My student loan is still $0 and it will be FOREVER. I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever take this account off my NW updates. It feels too darn good to re-post it each month and it reminds me I Punched Debt In The Face!!!!

Credit Card: $0. I typically show my CC balance for each month, even though I pay it off in full. Right now the balance is $0 because I just sent in a payment. I use my CC for just about every purchase I make. Some months it’s a couple hundred, others a couple thousand.

Even with a $2,500 honeymoon deposit and $800 in home furnishings, my net worth went up +$2,496. There are really only three explanations for this: 1) Girl Ninja started moving her money in to my/our checking account, 2) the stock market went up, 3) I lived within my means. All said and done, this leaves me with a Net Worth of $46,186. Ready or Not $50K…here I come!!!!!

**I chose not to include possessions (including my car) in my NW calculations, which would probably increase my worth by about $8K.**

Crappy Advice

Have you ever noticed the disclaimer I have in the left column (towards the bottom) of my blog? I put that disclaimer up for one reason….every other blog I read has one. Do I really need it though? If I didn’t have it, and someone followed my advice and wasn’t happy with the outcome, could they really hold me responsible? Regardless of whether or not I actually need it, I have no plans to take it down because I want it to be very clear I am no financial expert.

Rarely do I actually provide advice to my readers. If anything, I more beg you all for advice and insight. The roles are reversed here at PDITF. I have no financial credentials, and honestly, I’m still pretty new to this whole money/career/adulthood thing, so why would I tell you how to live your life. Answer: I wont.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have my opinions. I want you to beat the living snot out of high interest debt. I want you to be spending less than you make. I want you to contribute to your 401K or Roth IRA or both! I want you to live comfortably and look back on your life and say “Job well done.”

Even though I believe these things are a crucial ingredient for financial freedom, I don’t really write about them. Why? Because my advice is worth what you paid for it…nothing! I think a lot of crappy advice is the result of taking financial principles and making them universal, when they should be PERSONAL. Would you agree?

I may say something like “You need to start contributing to your Roth IRA today!!!” But the truth is, I don’t know you. Maybe YOU shouldn’t be contributing to a Roth. Maybe you need to go backpack Europe instead. I have no desire to travel, so it’s easy for me to tell you to save money for retirement. But if culture and diversity is how you want to invest in yourself, then by all means, save money for a backpacking trip. My goal is not to tell you how to live your life, but only to show you how I am living mine.

I did a little google research and came across some of the crappiest (and funniest) advice I’ve ever seen…

I know I’ve posted this one before, and I know it has nothing to do with PF, but it is too darn good to pass up….

Personally the worst PF advice I ever received was to consolidate my student loan. It was given to me by Mom Ninja, but with the purest of intentions. My sister who graduated a few years before me consolidated and locked in a stupid low interest rate of 2%. Since things worked out so well for my sis, mom (and I’m guilty too) thought consolidating would be equally beneficial for me. Turns out it was a mistake. I locked in one of the highest student loan interest rates in years. It ended up not really being that big of a deal, since I am only a month or so away from being debt free, but it definitely served as reminder to be cautious when I follow others advice and at the very least, do a little research before making a BIG decision.

I’d love to hear the worst PF advice you’ve ever been given (or heard given to someone else). Drop a comment below and let me know!

Net Worth: May 2010

Can I get a booya for a HUGE leap in my net worth? If the month of April were a person, I would probably want to make babies with it…unless it was a guy, then that would just be weird. Seriously though, I had a great month. I paid down a ton of money on my student loan and am oh-so-close to being debt free.

Here’s the breakdown…

Checking Accounts: $3,160, +$492. Looks like it’s time to transfer some money from my checking account again. April was one of my three paycheck months so my income was rather generous. Why can’t every month be three paychecks?

Savings Account: $14,712, -$8,613. Well I’m a whole heck of a lot more cash poor. I told you I had some tricks up my sleeve in last months net worth report. That trick my friends involved taking $10,000 from my savings to throw it at my student loan. Fortunately, I was able to scrounge up $1,400 to put back in there to make the total only $8,600. I have $10,000 in an E-fund, $2,022 for temporary savings, and $2,681 left in the wedding fund.

Roth IRA: $14,826 +$336. I have fully contributed to my Roth since my senior year of college. I’m hoping to be able to scrounge up the money to do so again this year!

TSP (401K): $14,542, +$947. The standard 5% contribution heads this direction each month. I also get that 5% fully matched. Free money is the second greatest thing in the world. The first greatest thing, of course, is JUSTIN BIEBER.

Student Loan: -$4,287, +$10,208. Do you know how good it feels to have this sucker ALMOST paid off. I am so close I can taste it. If all goes according to plan, I should be debt free by August. Are you excited for me!?

That put’s me at a net worth of $41,789!!! I’m up +$3,895 from last month which may or may not TOTALLY TURN ME ON! Bow chick a bow wow. I don’t suspect having another big month like this for a while. It was a rather large jump for a few reasons. 1) Three Paychecks 2) $360 in blogging income 3) $240 in tutoring income 4) Overall good spending habits. Just goes to show if you spend less than you make, things work out.

Thanks for stalking me checking in on yet another net worth update. See you tomorrow 🙂

**If you have wondered why the blue bar (debt) in the graph sometimes increases, it’s because my credit card balance gets taken in to account each month. Even though I pay the balance in full it still appears as a “liability” in Quicken. I just deduct this from my checking account balance to give myself an accurate net worth reading. This is why my actual NW increase, may not always necessarily match with the totals of each category, but I promise the overall total is REAL. I chose not to include possessions (including my car) in my NW calculations, which would probably increase my worth by about $8K.**

What was your epihpany?

I think it’s safe to assume all PDITF readers have two things in common…

1) At some point in your life, you decided to get your financial situation figured out

2) You’re all wearing leopard print underwear. (you followed my pictures instructions, right?)

Seriously though, you probably had a financial epiphany at some point… right? You know, a point where you suddenly went from “I don’t give a crap about my money” to “Oh crap, I did what with my money?”. If you are yet to realize the importance of getting your financial act together, I recommend you stop reading my blog and go visit this website…

www.imabigdumbhead.com

I had my epiphany at the ripe age of 22. I had no interest in personal finance, but had a close friend who worked as a financial analyst. He was totally obsessed with his money. It was weird to me. I didn’t understand how he could spend so much time learning about boring financial mumbo jumbo.

But one night, while we were watching TV, he started talking about the wonders of a Roth IRA. I was intrigued, but way over my head. I couldn’t spell compuond intrist, let alone tell you what it was. Over the course of a couple hours I became more and more curious. This curiosity soon snowballed in to an obsession with personal finance.

Realizing that I already had decent financial habits, I decided it was time I maximized my potential. It’s an ongoing process and I am definitely not the smartest kid in the room, but I’m excited I got the ball rolling at 22 and not later. I don’t even want to know what my finances would be like had I not had that conversation. It wouldn’t be pretty, I know that for sure.

Now that you’ve heard my story, I’d love to know…

When did your financial epiphany occur?

How old were you?

What prompted it?

And what means do you take to financially educate yourself?

Procrastinators unite….tomorrow

One of my favorite things about authoring this blog is getting to read the various emails people send me from time to time. Yesterday, I received a simple, one question email…

I am fairly new to being financially savy and PF blogs. I just wanted to get your opinion. At what age/income should you open a IRA?

My response….

Never. Haven’t you watched the news in the last two years!? Quit your job, sell your assets, and move to Antarctica. America is doomed. Oh wait, what? The market is actually up 47.2% since this time last year? Fudge! I knew I should have invested in a Roth IRA instead of The Foxhole…

In all serious, the time to invest was yesterday. Don’t procrastinate, it’s time to get the retirement ball rolling. That is, assuming: you have income, you don’t have crazy amounts of high interest debt, you’re okay taking on some risk, and you don’t want to work until you are 120.

I really can’t tell you when you should begin investing, you have to make that decision for yourself, but I can share with you some pretty popular investment strategies for people under 40.

Step 1: Adjust your lifestyle so your expenses fall below your income. You have to be spending less than you make each month!

Step 2: Pay down any and all high interest debt (credit card, bank loans, etc) before you begin investing.

Step 3: If your employer matches a percentage of 401k investing, make sure you get that match. It’s free money and you have to be CRAZY to pass up free money. (If you don’t get a match proceed to step 4.)

Step 4: Look in to opening a Roth IRA. You can contribute up to $5,000 in it this year and it is a great investment vehicle for the younger crowd.

Step 5: If you were able to max out your Roth, then you should look in to going back and upping your contributions in your 401k from, say 5% to 10% (or whatever the heck you want).

That is the general order I come across in most books/PF blogs, but how you manage your money is really your call. If you want to live it up while you are young, contributing to retirement may not be the best idea. If you don’t want to be on welfare when you are in your 60’s then you may want to buckle down and begin growing your nest egg.

I personally began contributing to my 401K and Roth IRA as soon as I graduated college and got my first job, making $38k/yr. The earlier you start, the richer you will be.

I think her question is interesting and I’m curious, when all of you peeps started contributing to retirement. How old were you? What was your income? If you haven’t started yet, why not (debt, fear, stupidity)? Is there anything you would change in my “guidelines to follow” for retirement.

Net Worth: March 2010

I’ve got a crush on the last 30 days, because my NW soared. I want to fly like an eagle, I want to run through the halls of my high school, I want to shake my money maker (those are all song lyrics in case you didn’t catch on). My net worth is on the up and up, and daddy likes what he sees. I have a strong tutoring and blogging month to thank for the increase. Let’s take a look at the grizzaph…

Checking Accounts: $1,983, +$106. Made some transfers from checking to the good old INGdirect savings account. I love ING. They don’t pay me to say that, but I wouldn’t mind if they wanted to…you hear that ING… Give me your monies!!!!

Savings Account: $22,765, +$1,700. I’m WHOREding (haha get it!) cash for the time being, until I get a better grasp on what lies ahead. I’ll be using about $4K of this shortly to pay for my upcoming honeymoon. Check back tomorrow to see why I’m willing to give up 4 grand for a vacay.

Roth IRA: $13,539 +$171. I have fully contributed to my Roth since my senior year of college. Right now my account balance is about $700 less than my total contributions. Hopefully soon, I will have actually made money from investing!!!!

TSP (401K): $12,313, +$554. The standard 5% contribution heads this direction each month. I also get that 5% fully matched. Can’t pass up free money now could I?

Student Loan: -$15,612, +$391. Yeah I know, some of you hate me for hanging on to my student loan debt, when I could pay it off. I’ve paid it down $13K in the last two years, that’s got to count for something though…right?

That put’s me at a net worth of….drumroll please….. $33,525!!! I’m up $3,291 from last month, which makes my heart smile. My next paycheck should have my increased salary in it, so I’m hoping for bigger and better things in the coming months!!!

**If you have wondered why the blue bar (debt) in the graph sometimes increases, it’s because my credit card balance gets taken in to account each month. Even though I pay the balance in full it still appears as a “liability” in Quicken. I just deduct this from my checking account balance to give myself an accurate net worth reading. This is why my actual NW increase, may not always necessarily match with the totals of each category, but I promise the overall total is REAL. I chose not to include possessions (including my car) in my NW calculations, which would probably increase my worth by about $8K.**

I save like a G

I love today’s title because it holds double meaning. I originally meant I save like a G (as in Gangsta). If you didn’t know, I’m the ghettoest (is that a word?) personal finance blogger this side of the Mississippi Milky Way.  I love rapping, hip hop music, making beats, and learning about compound interest. If that’s not straight hood, I don’t know what is. Not only does “I save like a G” mean I’m a gangsta, but it also can be taken literally. I really do save about a G (as in a grand) each month. In fact, last month I had $1,800 in discretionary income.

Today’s blog post was inspired by a loyal reader who commented on yesterday’s post. MattyIce wrote…

What is your Percentage of Savings? Is it 15% and then that 15% is divided among your IRA, Savings, and Student Loan Payment?

Well MattyIce, here is my super-dee-duper-uber-complicated formula for my savings…

Basically what I’m trying to say is I have no savings plan. Here is how I actually decide what I do with all that discretionary income.

First, I take my baseline net income (I know each month the minimum amount of $$$ I will bring home is $2,700). Generally, I supplement that with a couple hundred dollars in side income. I also know that my expenses each month generally hover between $1,500 to $2,000 (depending on the month). Thus, I usually have about $1,000+ each month in “do whatever the heck I want” money.

Most people, pay themselves first. Meaning they treat their savings as an “expense.” Before they pay any bills, they throw X% of money in to their savings account. While I totally understand why people do it, I don’t really need to. I don’t have a problem saving. I’m frugal by nature, and frugality leaves me with discretionary income.

So what do I do with my discretionary income? It’s pretty simple, I take all of my left over moolah and throw it in my savings account. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling anti-debt, I’ll take a thousand dollars out of my savings and throw it towards my student loan. Other times, I pay minimum on the loans, and keep the discretionary income in my savings account.

As far as saving for retirement, I have 5% of my gross income thrown in to my 401K. I don’t actually use a dedicated savings account for Roth IRA purposes. Since I am able to hoard so much cash, I don’t have to set aside my retirement savings separate from my main account. Periodically throughout the year, I will make contributions to my Roth IRA, from my one savings account. There is no method to my madness, but it’s what works for me.

Essentially to answer your question MattyIce. I have ABSOLUTELY NO SAVINGS PLAN. Instead of subscribing to a super complicated method, or trying to manage 8 different dedicated savings account, I throw all of my discretionary income in one account and take from it when necessary (i.e pay down student loan, contribute to Roth IRA, buy an engagement ring).

Let’s look at a few past months to see what my savings rates were…

January 2010: 48% (of net income) saved

September 2009: 11%  saved.

July 2009: 53% saved

As you can see, my savings rate is all over the place. My “non-plan plan” is much different than a lot of methods, but it’s what works for me. How do you all decide what you are saving? Do you pay yourself first? Do you save an exact percentage? Or are you like me, and just throw all your leftovers in a savings account? Do you have multiple savings accounts for different things (i.e. new car account, retirement account, kids college, etc)?