April Financial Progress and Some Complaining

It’s been a slow month for posts but that’s because it’s been quite busy in other areas of my life.  After returning from our sailing trip to Thailand, I have been on a marathon of business travel.  In the last three weeks, I have been home with sweet Mrs. Zero a grand total of two days.  Mega-Bummer –  but my company doesn’t send me those paychecks every two weeks for my good looks.   No, lately it seems I am paid for blood pressure points above 110/70.

I am currently in Beijing China taking a break from work, spending an afternoon at an outdoor cafe’ with an incredibly overpriced Stella and the accompanying  “free” Chinese style spicy peanuts.  Beijing is one of my least favorite places to visit, but I will not go into that here.

Although I have been slack on writing, we are continuing to make progress towards our FI goal.  Our savings is well on track and still hitting around 75% on an annual basis.  Market growth and dividends  have helped us along to the tune of $45K so far this year – not bad on about $650K invested.

I last updated our net worth when we officially crossed into millionaire status in late February.  We are now starting to put some distance between ourselves and that milestone.  I have managed to keep that growing pile-o-cash in check by further paying down our home mortgage (saving us 3.25% interest), but haven’t had the guts to reduce cash significantly by adding more after tax money into market.

As I have written before, I know it is not possible to time the market, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to pile-on what I believe is already overpriced.   I looked into starting a position in peer to peer lending, but since I don’t reside in the US, it is going to be a complicated endeavor.  Perhaps it’s time to add to my very small bond position.  I am inclined to add more to Vanguard’s Total Bond Index Fund, but if anyone knows of a good source of information on municipal bonds or otherwise, I am all ears.

So we continue to kick-ass in terms maintaining our FI trajectory, but I have to admit that lately, work is sucking more and more.  I’m not sure if this is a form of short-timers disease,  or if after nearly 20 years,  I am finally coming to the realization that work is meant to suck.  Perhaps I owe this feeling to the taste of freedom that our recent sailing adventures gave us.   At any rate, lately I oft find myself counting the ways life will be better once I have full control of my time and how I spend it.

This blog and the lack of posts recently is a microcosm of what having a “career” in today’s modern world has become.  I am connected and expected to be connected to events in real time.  When I travel, it is amplified and the separation between my time and work time is blurred to the point that there is no longer a distinction.  Although many of us have come to accept this as normal, I firmly believe this isn’t what life is supposed to be.

This blog is what I do for fun, but it requires some brain power and a clear head.  Spending time with my lovely wife and three boys is what I look forward to, but is far less meaningful if the latest dramas at work fill my brain’s limited bandwidth.

Yes, I long for the day when I have full control of my time and how to spend it.  2 years, 2 months and counting!

5 Comments on “April Financial Progress and Some Complaining”

  1. I recently gave a personal finance spiel to my students as a last-day-of-class lecture before they graduate and go into the real world. I warned them of the upcoming sucky jobs. Work is meant to suck. But nobody ever warns them of this. I pleaded with them to be frugal, tax savvy, and invest the savings wisely to buy their freedom from the system. Only 25% of students showed up. Of those that did, I think it was quite impactful. The sooner they can understand the relationship between money and freedom, the better.

    Best of luck as you grind out your remaining time. Looks like the end is near, my friend. Regarding overvalued stocks, I have to agree, but I am such a fan of dollar-cost-averaging that I continue to plow money in month after month and hope that short-term-fluctuations work themselves out.
    Frugal Professor recently posted…Net Worth Tracking ToolMy Profile

    1. Very cool thing of you to do Professor. If you get through to even one of your students, I think your lecture is well worth the effort. One of the younger engineers on my team was considering going back to school for his PhD and becoming a professor. Fortunately, even though I was his boss, he trusted me enough to talk to me honestly about what he was struggling with. At 30 he was starting to question whether he wanted the kind of life that comes with careers like we have. I think he was a bit surprised when I pulled out some generic personal finance spreadsheets over a lunch meeting that I scheduled with him. I showed him 2 scenarios. 1). Go back to school for 4 years, then get a job making the same salary he made then. 2). Keep working in his current career, saving 50% of what he makes today and increasing his savings rate as his pay increased.

      My message was… Either path is great, but you better be damn sure you will enjoy being a professor more than you would enjoy the freedom of being financially independent and free to pursue whatever you choose in your 40’s and 50’s.

      All the above was a few years ago. He recently moved to another team, was promoted is now on an expat assignment similar to mine in Asia. We had dinner together during one of our business trips. I asked him how he was enjoying his expat assignment. He gave me a big smile and said,”67%.” 🙂

      1. 67% of the way to FI? Brilliant response.

        I actually chose one of the few fields where a PhD makes sense (perhaps the only field). I invested 5Y in school (got paid 30k to do so), then increased my salary from 90k (engineering) to 250k (professor). Absent the financial incentive, I may have still done it for the freedom alone, but it would have been a much tougher decision.

        It doesn’t take much to light the fire of FI in someone. As you mention, some simple spreadsheets or pointing someone to a FI blog can suffice. But such a simple act can drastically change the course of their lives.

        Best of luck to you Mr Zero. I look forward to learning form you for years to come.
        Frugal Professor recently posted…Net Worth Tracking ToolMy Profile

    1. Yup, first world problems. I am living proof that savings rate is more important than investing strategy. I owe the majority of my modest success to brute force savings.

      I need to change that soon if I want my planned early retirement in 2019 to be successful. 25% cash ain’t going to cut it.

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