February Planning

$8774.92 coming my way tomorrow morning, according to the paystub in the mail today.

Mortgage $1137
Comcast (from Jan) $70
HOA $320
PGE ($92 projected) $75
AT&T Phone $103
gas $50
food $250
Bird Storage $130
audible $15
total $2150
 account balance after paycheck $9336
minus outgo $7186

Ok, so it looks like I’m just barely on track to able to save $7000, with only about $186 in cushion room.  That shouldn’t be bad as long as I maintain discipline and don’t have something terrible happen like need new car tires (knock on wood?).  The mid-Feb paycheck should yield another $3000 in savings, and Feb 28 another $2000.  I will end Feb then with $22.5k in savings, and my mortgage will be down to $47k.  Allright, so it looks like I’m safe to transfer $7k into savings tomorrow morning and make my mortgage payment.

Reflections on January 2017

 

Equivalently, dumbass spending will find a way.  January hasn’t been so bad.  I am $1000 off from where I though I would be, but only two-thirds of that was yo-yo spending (yeah right, “only $640 on yo-yos, you’re doing so well!”).  Food spending is roughly on track, and I’ve managed to avoid restaurants.  Yoga is on track, although some days I definitely picked a really, really easy workout.  I was hoping to get more like $6k out of taxes, but $5k isn’t bad.  Funding the 2016 HSA was painful but long term smart.  January is one month out of six.  It’s a long one – 31 days.  February will be blissfully short at 28 days.  I drank a few times in January, so I can’t really say I’ve kept to my “no alcohol until the condo is paid off” rule, but it wasn’t too much and most of it was with friends.  Also, I don’t particularly have a desire to drink when I’m by myself (encourage by a few hangovers), so it doesn’t seem problematic.

I just analyzed somebody’s portfolio this morning and realized they’d missed out on $179k in gains b/c they invested stupidly.  I don’t want to run the same calculation on myself. It’s going to be a struggle to make them change.  Thus is the human brain and emotions.  It becomes less mysterious to me why people don’t grow wealthy.  Even when you have a ton of money, you are stupid with it.  Applies to me also.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.  I had quite a few migraines in January – too many.  I think they came from all the working out but not increasing my food intake enough.  I’ve been shoving more food into myself as a result, even when I don’t find it appetizing.  Eventually I feel better.  It’s an annoying problem.

Assuming I just kind of hermit this weekend, I should finish the month out pretty strong, with $17,500 in savings  and a mortgage balance of around $49k.  Savings as a percentage of debt would be around 35.7%.  Let’s say February gives $5000 and March gives $10,000 (yay tax refund), then I’d be at 66% – two months and I’m about 2/3 done.  Three months after that (this is the real slog), I’m at the six month mark with $44k debt remaining and $47,500 saved… if I manage to actually save the money.  I will miss some, but it will be damn close.

Tax Return

I’ve calculated most of my 2016 tax return.  A more full analysis later, but here’s what I’ve found so far:

  1.  $5000 in return.  Not bad.  Has me on track for condo payoff.
  2. I don’t get to write off the $5500 IRA money b/c I earn too much.  That’s terrible.  I need to do a roth conversion asap.  If I didn’t take a tax break on some of the contributions, maybe my basis is lower and the conversion will be cheaper.  If I convert $63,314, I’ll be raped by Federal and state taxes.  My expected income for this  next year if I don’t negotiate anything is at least $160k.  The next tax bracket is $190k, so I’d pay 37.3% on the first $33k and 42.3% on the next $33k.  $11,190  + $13,959 = $25149 cash needed to convert.  Fuck.  I though it was going to be $15k.  I’m an idiot for forgetting about California taxes.  Thanks for fucking me over for retirement, California.  Conversion doesn’t seem very appealing at the moment.  If I left the state in retirement, the tax rates elsewhere would be much lower.  Better to see if I move elsewhere in the next several years?
  3. I still haven’t put in my $1500 investment loss deduction (okay, maybe I only have about $1000 left).  I need to get the 1099div from Edward Jones, and that will probably take another 45 days because they are fucking slow.  I’ll probably get a nice carry over to next year though.  I need to find that old 1099 and write up a summary.  I wonder if they even mailed me those documents.  Since they closed my online account, I have no access to any old tax forms or statements.

Confession

Required to disclose I offered $600 for the $900 of yo-yos.  Seller accepted $640.  So that’s only 71% failure on my part?  Anyhow, because I discovered the yo-yos by searching on eBay, I’m now banned from searching on eBay.  What I don’t know can’t hurt me!

Super Strong Training

Ok, so January.  Here’s a list of things I’ve rejected so far:

  • build a new mini gaming computer with a badass itx case
  • get a new apple watch band
  • get a new anime deluxe edition horror book
  • buy new movies/tv/amazon crap
    • uzumaki dvd
    • himizu blu ray
    • exte: hair extensions special edition dvd
    • miami vice the complete series
    • nekromantik 1 and 2
    • unsolved mysteries
    • pizza stone
    • moonlighting
    • alien dvds (they have different special features/audio)
  • buy my own yoga mat
  • go to a restaurant
  • buy a better design cat litter pad
  • buy a better design cat food container
  • buy the oxy 4 yoyo on ebay
  • Resident Evil 7 preorder

And I’m sure there’s more that I’m not mentioning but those are just the easy ones to remember.  And as I’ve closed the browser windows, or added something to a wish list and closed a window, I’ve been thinking about why I had the thought in the first place, and I’ve been thinking about if and why, as I reject these things, the pressure builds to break – to purchase a new, physical item.

It got me thinking about how people feel happy as they see gradual improvement.  And what is the definition of improvement?  How do we define it for ourselves?  Clearly people mark out these big life changes – graduation, pets, marriage, buying a home, having a baby.

I know for myself, I’ve achieved many of these, and since there aren’t any more affordable houses to buy, I have placated myself over time with collectibles.  Yo-yos, movies, books, games, pens, camera equipment, whiskies.  Each additional trinket amuses me briefly while I fail to advance any larger cause forward in a way that is meaningful to me.  I’ve done it so many times it’s boring.  But I’m still tempted by it.  The connection my mind has made between purchasing an unfamiliar physical item that I can connect with my existing hoard and gradual improvement is undeniable.  The wiring is there.  There to the point that I fail to sell what I know I do not use.  What takes up space and costs me storage monthly.

ROFLMAO and now on eBay I look and see several one of a kind yo-yos I’ve wanted for years that are even better than the Oxy 4.  Like, really good stuff. One of a kind, titanium axles, teflon coats, Italian.  Let’s think through it.  How much do the yo-yos cost?

At the buy it now price, they cost $300 each.  So that’s $900 total, and we know from calculations that on a 30 year investment timeline that’s more like $2700.  We know from last year though that once you start buying yo-yos… it went up to $5000.  And people tend to sell some nice stuff in the spring.

From a different POV, these are not really yo-yos, they are symbols, examples of my addiction to buying expensive yo-yos, and in particular expensive Italian yo-yos.  What is the cost of not breaking this addiction?  How much will the yo-yos cost that are going up for sale next year?

If I didn’t buy the yo-yos when I know I could have, will I want them as much the next time?  Will they seem as appealing if my brain believes the opportunity to get them is not so limited?

What is the cost of not breaking any particular bad habit?  Bad eating?  Drinking?  What is the cost of not developing good habits?  Exercising?  Writing thank you notes?

Can I rationalize it?  Am I allowed to purchase these yo-yos if I subject myself to some other good habit?  Do I have the willpower to maintain my New Years resolutions AND maintain this new yo-yo penitence habit?  Will the yo-yos give me super powers that allow me to… (lol).

The post is titled “Super Strong Training” to point out how incredibly powerful the draw is to continue buying this shit.  I’m trained way, way better to want this stuff than to want $900 more in my investment account.  It can be easy to rationalize.  My net worth can easily swing >$900 in a day depending on how the market does.  It makes it easy to pretend, again and again, that actions don’t have consequences.  I try to be neurotic in a different way – to look at my net worth every morning, to celebrate how it goes up nearly every paycheck – but damn those yo-yos are shiny.

I haven’t bought anything yet.  I did transfer an additional $500 to the Betterment safety net fund earlier today, leaving my cash safety net at around $600… which I guess is a plus because I no longer have $900 sitting around in my bank account that I could blow on these.  It adds that much more resistance.  But the pain!  The anguish!  Someone else will buy them…

Groceries

Since I’ve been shopping at the Safeway more often, I wanted to checkup on how much I’ve spent on groceries since I returned on Jan 5.

TJ $73.05, $34.01, $36.62,

Safeway $17.48, $10.57, $25.79

= $197.52 for 11 days.  That’s about $18 a day.  It includes some non-food items like dental floss and soap.  Some of the stuff from Trader Joe’s was definitely on the pricier side.

At that rate, I’m spend $558 and I’ve only budgeted $500.  How to improve?

  1.  Well, first off, fewer trips to the grocery.  I went 6 times!  That’s a crazy waste of time.  I should be going like once a week, so maybe twice so far.  I’m not planning enough.
  2. Find a better staple for carbs / protein / fat.  I tend to buy these not very efficiently, because it’s fast to prepare.  But I should have something like rice or bread.  I’ve been consuming more protein powder, but it’s on top of food consumption, not in lieu of it.
  3. Not everything is about reduction.  Since I’m not going to restaurants: What’s something new I should try at the grocery?  Cook a steak?

$11k in savings.  +$7k at the end of the month.  That puts me at $18k, which is expected.