What The Heck Does That Mean: A Beginner's Guide to Investment Vocabulary

So I recently did a lesson for my mathematical literacy class (my current side gig) on some basic personal finance topics.  I reviewed with them the Pyramid of Investment Risk and thought I'd share it here for any new investors like myself. I'll admit I had to look up most of the words before I presented the lecture as I am still pretty new on My Early Retirement Journey.

 









(source: Investor Education 2020







What the heck does all that mean?

What are Futures? A futures contract is a commitment to buy or sell a specific amount of a commodity at a specific future date and price. Futures contracts deal in products ranging from corn, soybeans, wheat and cattle to gold, crude oil, Japanese yen, and U.S. Treasury bonds.

What are Bonds? When investors buy bonds, it means they have loaned money to a company or a governmental entity.

What is a Stock? A stock is an investment product that represents partial ownership of a company or corporation. The stock market represents all the companies that sell their shares to the public. It is the primary place for companies to obtain financing for their operations and for investors to profit on the growth of those companies. There is therefore a close relationship between the stock market and the economy as a whole.


What is a Mutual Fund? A mutual fund invests the pooled money of its shareholders in various types of investments.





What are Exchange Traded Funds? Exchange-traded funds are a cross between mutual fund index funds and stocks. Like index funds, ETFs hold baskets of securities that follow indexes.

Index funds.  What that? These are relatively simple funds that aim to track indexes, or broad baskets, of different securities. Their goal is to match a particular market index such as Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (S&P 500), which measures the performance of 500 large U.S. companies.

What are securities? Securities allow you to own the underlying asset without taking possession.
For example.. Municipal securities are how government agencies borrow money to finance investments and cash flow needs.





That's all for now, folks! Thanks, come again 😁
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My Week Ending April 27, 2018: Pigeon Forge, Sugar, Root Canal

My Early Retirement Journey

So here's what happened this week in My Early Retirement Journey. And in case you missed it, last week was an adventure!

Monday - Had quite the pep in my step today. Don't know if it's from a less congested GI tract; some good sleep; nice overcast weather (I'm not being sarcastic, the NC heat is my nemesis) or blogging! I made it back to Blogger (from Bluehost) officially on Sunday and I IMMEDIATELY REGRETTED IT. The regret lasted until 9p Monday. Then I saw my new site and the good feelings I had about the work product I had created from my Wordpress/Bluehost site were replaced. Note to new bloggers: If you are redirecting your site, remove your Cloudlfare DNS name server! So glad I don't have to know what any of those words mean anymore 😄. Let's not overdo it, but I'm a lot happier than I was yesterday. Ate some delicious frozen African food that I had ordered online from my sick leave.


I did some timesheet corrections at work and realized we got our bonus paid a month go! Some tweaking still needed on this Journey if automating everything means I miss extra money! It would be nice to see and physically hold your paycheck every two weeks. It would be even better psychologically if they paid us in cash! I know the first time I got my side hustle's check, albeit via direct deposit, it changed my attitude a bit towards going there every week. Maybe I've been minimizing reward in My Journey?




Tuesday - Went to day job for about 4 hours. Then had endodontic retreatment (i.e. 3rd root canal on same tooth in 6 months). Then tried to get my car inspected but they did nothing for the 45 minutes I waited. Had to get to class. It's the last lecture day. It's been a spendy week. My mind is easing off the tension that was building from starting a blog and the slow pace of investing. I did recently read on Four Pillar Freedom that saving the first 100,000 is the hardest. I have nothing to compare it to, but it is a grain by grain kind of momentum. I think I've realized I've saved as much as I'm going to save for now. I'm right at a 50 to 55% savings rate with my current working budget.  Getting too frugal was making me crazy.

Wednesday - Day job for 9.5 hours. Mouth actually doing ok. On Wednesdays I like to eat meatless. I commune with my BFF and we talk about life. This Wednesday was no different. I got take out from the Middle Eastern restaurant by work - majadara (lentils and rice) with a side of hummus and pita. I like to make little pita sandwiches. I was really hungry so I actually got a pack of pitas. Total cost about $6.  BFF and I talked; reflected on the blog; life in general. I am so excited to be almost done with my class. Now in hindsight it seems quite doable. I'm still pretty sure I wouldn't do it again, but I probably could be convinced in a moment of weakness 😕. Still I am really glad I saw it through...well maybe not really glad. Anyway, I realized the $1600 net I'll receive by the end of it all wasn't quite worth the toll on my health and the interruption to my schedule. I'll do a bigger post on it later. In other news, this hectic schedule has me longing for an escape.

Thursday - Thoughts of an escape are consuming me. I asked a couple people at work about Pigeon Forge TN. People around here like to drive up there and have a weekend away. I just never know what to do in those kinds of environments. I've sort of set a mental budget of about $1500 for some summer adventure. Hmm... I wonder where I got that number. I might do a roadtrip somewhere. Been thinking about visiting some national parks for some time now. I'm no longer as desirous of international travel as I once was even ten years ago. I don't particularly enjoy airline travel.   Ran some errands. I bought a lot of sugary things  - 3 packs of cookie mix, graham crackers and marshmallows, 3 packs of brownie mix, a coke, some Apple Jacks. Some from Walmart, some from Kroger.  If my physical body won't go on an adventure...my brain is sure going to be hopped up on glucose. Sorry, brain.

Friday - Worked 9 hours. Work was busy, didn't have time to do much blogging between calls. Tried to book a trip to Tampa to visit my aunt for Mother's Day. Her health is failing. Between calls and trying to compare prices, it got to be too much. I tried not to compare prices, but that was me pre-FIRE too. I just want to go somewhere! I'm tired of thinking about money; saving money; everything is pretty much set at this point on the FIRE front. There's not much else I can do to accelerate my retirement. This is kind of It, so I'm at a pivotal point to figure how to make the best of It. One thing I'm thinking about is using the work-from-home option to opt out of my current routine. Psychologically, I do better with my current structure, but I keep having musings of an adventure, breaking free from the grind. Shake things up. One benefit of taking my work on the road is capitalizing on the idea of a mini-retirement or mini-sabbatical because when I think about it, my life now wouldn't look that much different in retirement. It's the same me, same budget. What I would hope for this trip is to see some parks; maybe explore some affordable communities along the way; and just get out of the containers that are my studio apartment, my car, and my cubicle at work. I want to be in an environment bigger than me, not just moving from one box to another.  I don't want to get bogged down with the planning. My first stop would be seeing one of my cousins who has two kids that I've only seen a couple times. The idea of reconnecting is also a bit of stumbling block. Am I ready? I'd also have to get a phone and sleep in random places for 6 weeks, the time frame my mind seems to have landed on.  Stay tuned...

Other things.
I ate out almost every day this week so I couldn't keep track. Here's what my prepaid debit card said I spent this week. For new readers in My Journey, instead of tracking every cent, I just give myself a monthly allowance on an Amex prepaid card. I like Bluebird, no affiliate, because there are no fees.









Oh...there you'll see the refund I got from Bluehost










I did end up buying a ticket from Tampa, I have until 9p tonight to cancel it for a full refund.

TV this week (via apps): Alex Inc, Survivor, Mom, Life in Pieces, The Let Down (funny), New Girl

Final Thoughts: I am enjoying blogging thus far. Just this week I was able to reference old posts to remind me of something and I even used one of my posts for a lesson for my class. That was awesome! The choice to stick with Blogger has eliminated just about any technical hassle I was having with Bluehost/Wordpress. I have been less active seeking out other blogs and blogging tips. I'm getting into my groove. It's only about month 2 so I don't know what direction I want to take my blog, but it's actually ok. I'm ok with it. For now, it's me chronicling my journey and by posting it online, I'm sharing it with whomever that cares to listen. That's enough. I decided against a monthly blogging update for this month. Might just do a quarterly update with my financial update. That's all for now. Have a good day!

I Finally Got My Hospital Bill: The Cost of A Dual-Port Hysterectomy in 2018 (in pictures)


So I finally got a bill from my surgery.

In my mind, I had anticipated paying up to the $1,000 deductible as dictated by my plan.

Background:
My health plan options, provided by my employer:

 

What I chose: Choice Plus Standard Plan
Rationale: Although the monthly premium was higher, the deductible was lower. Psychologically, I just figured if I ever needed to access my health insurance for anything other than an annual visit, I don't want to have be worried about costs during my recovery. Additionally, the difference in monthly premiums was less than the difference in deductible per calendar year and the annual out of pocket maximum.

The math:
UHC Choice Plus Standard: $41 x 2 pay periods/ month =  $82/mon x 12 months = $984/yr in premiums.

UHC Choice Plus Basic: $22 x 2 pay periods/ month = $44/mon x 12 months = $528/ yr in premiums.

Difference: $984 - $528 = $456/yr more for the plan I chose
Vs The Difference in Deductible per year: $1,000 ($2,000 - $1,000)
Vs The Difference in Annual Out of Pocket Maximum: $2,250 ($5,500 - $3,250)

What do all those words mean.
I recently did a little lesson on this for my math literacy class, so I thought I might as well share it here as well (source: uhc.com).

Premium - The amount that must be paid for your health insurance or plan.  You and/or your employer usually pay it monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Deductible -  The amount you could owe during a coverage period (usually one year) for health care services your health insurance or plan covers before your health insurance or plan begins to pay. For example, if your deductible is $1000, your plan won’t pay anything until you’ve met your $1000 deductible for covered health care services subject to the deductible. The deductible may not apply to all services.


Copayment - A fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for a covered health care service, usually when you receive the service. The amount can vary by the type of covered health care service. Also known as: co-payment, copay, co-pay



Out of Pocket Maximum - The most you could pay during a coverage period (usually one year) for your share of the costs of covered services. After you meet this limit, the plan will usually pay 100% of the allowed amount. This limit helps you plan for health care costs. This limit never includes your premium, balance-billed charges or health care your health insurance or plan doesn't cover.

Health Savings (HSA) vs Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) - You might see these words floating around the blogosphere. I certainly have never used one nor paid either any mind. HSA is not offered by my employer. FSA is offered, but if you don't use all of it, you lose it at the end of the year. No, thanks. As I have no chronic conditions, thus no need for regular doctor's visits, it was an easy choice.



  • Health Savings Account (HSA) - A bank account that lets people put money aside, tax-free, to save and pay for health care expenses. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) limits who can open and put money into an HSA.



  • Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) - Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are a provision of the IRS Section 125 tax law that allows you to deposit a tax-free portion of your gross income into a savings-like account which is then used to reimburse you for certain out-of-pocket expenses.


Back to my surgery. 










Jointed Pneumatic Leg Device $1,490

 









Anesthesia $1,298

 









The Actual Surgery $3,000


Side note. Why is the medical device half the cost of the surgeon? I would be a little offended if I were the surgeon that all my expertise, education, skills, training, and experience were valuated at just a little bit more ($1.5k) than a medical device.



 









The Pathology Report $485

Total Billed:  $6273
Total Patient Responsibility: $986 (15.7%)
Difference: $5287

Did I choose the right plan? Since I haven't reached either deductible ($1,000 or $2,000), there's not much comparison. I knew I would be spending more yearly with the plan I chose, but in case of emergency, it's a choice I would not regret.

Final thoughts: Thank you Lord for health insurance!

July 17, 2018 Update:
So I received a letter dated 27Jun2018 that the surgery center actually submitted a claim of $22,000 for the surgery. That's $19,000 more than the surgery number above ($3,000).  Additionally, to date I have not received a bill for the pneumatic leg device ($239.12). For the sake of transparency and completeness, I updated the numbers below.

Total Billed:  $6273 + $19,000 = $25, 273
Total Patient Responsibility: $986-  $747.40 (3%)
Difference: $24,526

Wow!  Follow/ Like/ Subscribe

 


Am I A Gold Digger? or Is It You That Has Not Seen The Light?

So today at work, one of my co-workers saw a new employee walk by and exclaimed, "He's really cute!" He was easily 10 years younger than either of us. And at a lower pay-grade. We know this because of our titles. This male employee has been with our company and our team for almost 6 months. While I've noticed him around, I haven't taken notice of him.

Background.
For those just getting to know me, I am openly single. I don't hide it or mask it,  and I use it as an identifier only as a juxtaposition to the masses, especially in the FIRE community. Not only am I single, I've never been married nor have I been in a relationship. I've never really dated. I say never really instead of never because I did make an attempt in my late 20s (blogs 2 and 3, now deleted that chronicled my short stint in dating); it lasted less than 2 years. I was in graduate school and on the academic calendar, so I can't be certain. As you can see, it held a lot of meaning...


Anyway, the furthest I got was a 2nd date with the same person. The journey changed along the way from dating with the end goal of a relationship to having as many dating experiences as possible, a bucket list of sorts, because I was starting to lose interest. I tried to go into the experience with an open mind. I hoped the experiment would  disprove my original notion- that I was the only sane one and everyone else was crazy and had not seen the light. Think Myth of the Cave.

To put it youthfully, I believe most dating and romantic relationships are stupid. I don't see the point. Most importantly, few modern day dating and romantic relationships in America benefit women. I believe that firmly and it's evidenced when you get a woman alone and she speaks honestly about her marriage or relationship. I often ask if it's what they expected. I used to mentally prepare myself to be convinced about how wonderful and fulfilling marriage was for these women. Over the span of my ... yes short life, not one woman has tried to convince me. I've lived all over the US and asked women at different stages in life. I'm always surprised how easily they speak the truth. It's as though they've been waiting for someone to ask them. If you don't believe me, ask your spouse. I dare you.

The non-Facebook version of their life after marriage is easily proffered.  When the catharsis ends, they soon get this look on their face as if they've realized they've said too much. The conversation ends then with a hidden sigh eclipsed by the ever practiced smile abridging the experience to the version they've led everyone else to believe. I just stopped asking. The last person I asked was my previous manager, a doctorate, who quit her prior job because her husband expressed concern that he was handling too much of the childcare.

In case the personal experiences of others were not enough, having tried it myself I knew I was right all along. Though after awhile you just start to feel crazy that everyone is still pursuing this ideal that doesn't make them totally happy and is not quite what they expected.

In some ways, that's what the workforce was for me. I was never one of those people that expected work to be fun or to love what I would be doing, but I thought it'd be more empowering. I thought I'd have a bigger impact on the world, make some sort of contribution. But work is just work. Full stop.

So back to my co-worker and me.
I realized after returning to my cubicle that to me looks have never been the most striking feature in a partner. I'm most attracted to power and prestige, affluence and influence. If a partner had to be in my life, I would expect the transaction to be worthwhile. I use transaction intentionally. Everyone that's ever written or spoken about it seems willing to believe that marriage and relationships are hard work.  Yet these days no one seems to expect it to return any tangible yield.

Historically, women were "married off" when they weren't allowed to be educated; weren't given a voice; and unable to inherit their families' wealth. Now that we allegedly have a choice, why do women still settle for lesser positions in life? I don't mean the dichotomy you might be thinking. I mean thoughtless marriages that do little to contribute to their financial standing or societal position.

If dating and relationships were to serve an actual purpose in my life, my ideal partner would need to be able to make my life significantly better either by pushing me along My Early Retirement Journey with actual dollars or move me to a better position in life with some ability to influence change. I haven't found a way to do that by myself.

How To Stay Motivated Your 1st Month Blogging


So it's been a rough first month blogging about My Early Retirement Journey on a self-hosted site. I was on Blogger for about a month when I first started blogging as a test run. I wanted to see if this is something I really wanted to do. It is. However, I have had quite a few technical difficulties and the psychological impact of fully immersing myself in FIRE blogging world was significant.  I almost quit. I say almost loosely. I still have about 5 days to ask for a refund from my domain host.  Yesterday, I was sure I was done with self-hosting. What was the point? What was I doing? It all started to feel like a pyramid scheme to building a business. Make a blog to encourage other bloggers to make a blog, then you make a referral fee. I don't want any part of that. But what do I want?  I definitely want to chronicle my journey. I like writing. I like creating (something I was just able to articulate after reading some of the posts below). But did I want to build a business or was that an idea I was sold hook, line, and sinker? I've never wanted to build a business in the past.

If I didn't have any aspirations for a business, then why was I on a paid site? Honestly, since all the information I learned about FIRE was through other people's blogs, it felt like my own self-hosted blog was an initiation to be part of the conversation, something I wrote about freely in yesterday's post.  After a month, I started to balk at the perceived constraints and the manufactured box I seemed to create for myself after reading all the blogging stats, and income reports, and net worth stats. Was I trying to keep up with everyone? This was my journey. It says so in the title.

This morning I felt different than I did yesterday. I wanted to give self-hosting another chance.  I thought if I just made the changes to speed up my site (my biggest hurdle), maybe I would feel differently. But what do I do when I encounter the next problem?  What was my goal here? What was my objective?

If I were just writing for me, then Blogger (free hosting) made more sense.
If I were writing as a blogger to create a side hustle, then Bluehost (paid hosting) made more sense.

The pressure of self-hosting was something I couldn't reconcile. Was it worth my mental state to side hustle? As I have been doing with most things on this journey, I crowd-sourced intel.

Four Pillar Freedom: I stumbled upon some posts by Four Pillar Freedom (4PF) that helped me start re-thinking what exactly I was doing and why. The information was not entirely new as I had seen similar things on other blogs earlier in the journey, but it was there when I needed it most.
In my first year of blogging I earned a grand total of $37.50. I spent roughly 50 hours per month working on the blog, which equates to 600 hours of total effort in my first year. This means I earned about 6 cents an hour from blogging during my first year.

If you do want to earn money from blogging, make sure you have a multi-year time horizon.

There is one last point I want to drive home: blogging is a marathon. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’re almost guaranteed to be a nobody during your entire first year of blogging, with few page views and little income. This is why most blogs die out before they turn one year old.

How does he make money: a combination of ads and affiliate links; after the first year, he eventually was making a few hundred dollars a month; also had a post featured on Rockstar Finance within Year 1 that made it to other national sites. At 6 month mark, he was at 10,000 pageviews per month, and it took about 1.5 years to get to 40,000 views per month which is where he is currently.

He shares a low point in his journey, excerpted:
A few months ago I was feeling particularly discouraged about my low monthly page views and my inability to monetize this blog. I was frustrated that I couldn’t turn my passion into a source of income. I was at a point where I questioned whether all my writing was in vain.

One morning I decided to write a short letter to myself as a reminder of why I even started this blog in the first place. It turned out to be a tremendously helpful wake up call that helped me realize my passion (writing) did not have to be my job (data analyst).

Consider the fact that your blog and your writing may never ever be profitable and you might not make a single dime off of it. ...Would you still write? If yes, why would you still write? What drives you to still write if nobody ever reads your stuff and you can’t make a living off of it?

It’s highly likely that you’ll [n]ever make a living off this blog. But write because it brings you joy...

Screw writing for page views. Screw trying to get featured on big websites and being disappointed when you’re not.

...Write for you.

Don’t write for the stats, the money, or the audience size. Don’t write to turn this into a full time profession. Don’t obsess over the popularity of the blog.

You're.... sharing your own unique journey with others. Write because it’s your voice and you have something to say. If zero people listen, it’s no less worthy than if 1 million people listen. Write to write. Writing needs no justification. It goes beyond everything tangible. It speaks to the soul.

... Obviously I would love to see this blog grow over time and even become a steady source of income, but that’s no longer my top priority. I’m more concerned with writing content that adds value to the world ... But I think things get sticky when we try to force our favorite type of work to be our primary source of income. Worst of all, when we try to force our passion to create income, our incentives change. We no longer create because we feel driven to do so, we create for profit. This almost always leads to stress and causes us to produce work that’s less than our best. ... I don’t dream of being the world’s greatest data analyst. But I do plan on using the income from my data analyst job to create a financial situation that lets me do more of what I really love: writing and creating.

... What I really love doing in my free time is writing and creating.

That was helpful, but it didn't really help me answer my question of whether to go back to Blogger or stay on Bluehost. Not writing is not an option for me. I journal even if I'm not blogging. Blogging serves no real motivation for me in terms of producing content. It's just a tool to share my writing. And I don't mind sharing.  But one of the things I hope to achieve in retirement is everlasting peace on Earth. Some people call it happiness. He enumerated some things I copied to my personal journal.  Although he's a data analyst by profession his writing includes some psychological aspects which is what I was looking for. Right now, the psychological aspect of the Journey (blogging and FIRE) are what I'm having a tough time reconciling.
We just need a better understanding of what conditions are needed for lasting happiness.
Specifically, the field of psychology has identified three conditions:
Connection – a sense of belonging, relationships, a community
Competence – working on challenging tasks, acquiring skills, developing mastery
Autonomy – the freedom to control your time

From this, Competence is what might tip the scales in favor of Bluehost. It is infinitely easier for me to post on Blogger. All the technical elements that I'm interested in are pre-formatted. Even Adsense. I write, add a picture, click post, and I'm done. On Bluehost, I am learning little bits of code; watching YouTube videos to learn how to do a variety of minutia; I'm installing plug-ins and signing up for outside servers just to get the page to load in a fashionable amount of time. But with each challenge I am able to surmount, there is that little tiny thrill of victory. But do I need that hassle? How necessary is that in my journey?

Montana Money Adventures: she shares what she's learned over her blogging journey at 6 months and 1 year.
... if you are looking for a way to make $1000 by Christmas, this isn’t it. After 6 months of part time to almost full time work, I have made $0 dollars. Impressive isn’t it? Actually I have spent about $500-$700. Although, admittedly I have made zero attempts to monetize this site.

Relationships. Building relationships takes time. Getting to know people takes time. And I’m starting to see a lot of momentum on that front. The number of emails I received from readers month 1 was 0. Month 2 was 0. Month 3 was 0. Now I get emails every week, sometimes every day. It took a year of writing here every week, but we have gotten to know each other a bit.

I’m actually really proud that I hit publish on 102 posts this year! Consistently putting out content is a big challenge to blogging (read: time consuming) but it’s paying off.

Frugal Asian Finance: For the most part, she is in it for the potential income as a side business. Creating a manageable business is her primary objective and what keeps her motivated, excerpted.
On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, seven months after launching Frugal Asian Finance, I officially got burned out from blogging.

... amidst the happiness of staying ahead of my own schedule, I also felt tired and resistant. Blogging suddenly felt like a chore and a job. I felt like I had to stick with my own schedule, and I’d feel guilty and unproductive if I didn’t.

After taking the break and feeling more refreshed and energized, I asked myself the 64 million dollar question: Do I still want to blog?

Now that I have spent almost 1,000 hours on this blog over the past 7 months, I feel like I have invested so much time and effort that it wouldn’t be a wise idea to end the project completely.

And most importantly, I don’t think I’ll be happier without a creative outlet in my life.

... In terms of blog expenses, I have spent a total of $222.96 since the launch of my blog [seven months ago].

11:52 am. I started writing this post at 9am this morning, Sunday, April 22, 2018. It's now 11:52 am. It was originally going to be describing how I used some other blogger's stories to motivate me to stay with Bluehost, but I'm back to where I was yesterday.  I still just don't know. Will I reach more people one way or the other? Does that matter?

If I do stay with Bluehost, I made some action items. Maybe that will help put things in perspective. Here's my list so far.

  • Turn off Stats (recommended by 4PF, this took about 3 minutes of fumbling around Wordpress: Dashboard > Screen Options > Show Site Stats (uncheck))

    • Check no more often than quarterly, if at all in the first year



  • Identify some personal goals

    • Keep writing content no matter what

    • Don't care what other community members think

    • Don't censor yourself to build an audience

    • This is your blog, use your own voice

    • Stop looking at other people's net worth, blog income, and blog stats for the next 3 months, if not the rest of the year

    • Recognize it can take about 3 years to establish yourself in the blogging community; and the first year, most make no money

    • Keep posting on Blogger, if you need to, because you're nothing if not a back-up plan/ safety net kind of girl



  • Set your own blog milestones, if needed

  • Answer the following questions and reflect

    • Do you really want to make this a side business?

      • Are you willing to do the work required to make this a side business (i.e. social media accounts, active engagement with the community, make business purchases, etc)?



    • If so, what are your goals for the business?

      • End of Year 1: $500/mon gross income

      • End of Year 2: $1,000/mon gross income

      • End of Year 3: $1,500/mon gross income



    • What will you do, if you don't hit these goals?

    • How do people make money on these blogs anyway?

      • From the blogs I see, Personal Capital affiliate links.

      • Blue host, Siteground affiliates (about $50 or $65 per referral).

      • Google Adsense (around $30/mon for fledgling blogs, less than 3 years old).





  • Remove featured images (to help load time)

    • Add the smaller versions of what you have on Blogger, if so inclined



  • Use images of no more than 100k moving forward

  • Disable Google Adsense (to help load time), until ??

  • Re-think plug-ins

    • Aggressive caching (Word press setting)

    • Auto-optimize

    • Others




12:01 pm. I think I might stay with Bluehost. What is helping sway my decision that 1% over the limit was the fact that I still spend $2/week for the lottery pool at work, so that brings my total to about $104/yr which is about 40% more than this blog for the year.  And if I weren't the one collecting the money, I probably would quit altogether for a year. Secondly, I have nothing else to do this summer. I usually take a seasonal hiatus from cable, and barring any actual side jobs, I will have plenty of daylight with li'l to do. This might just be my $60 hobby for the year. Re-assess at Month 3 (June 28, 2018) and Month 6 (Sep 28, 2018). Is it worth it? Is the technical side of self-hosting getting in the way of my creating/ my creative outlet? Is it changing my voice? Thirdly, I might stay with Bluehost the same reason I stuck with my side hustle. Not one I always willingly believe matters in the long run, but there is that momentary high that happens when you defeat an obstacle.

Other Action Items, no matter who I choose to host my blog:

  • Streamline categories - it's getting too muddled even for me.

  • Determine if the attempt to learn from other bloggers/ use them as a road map/ follow their breadcrumbs (benefit) leads me to play the comparison game (detriment). If so, stop doing that.

  • Analyze if the psychological impact of being heard/being noticed after spending the last 2 years fading into the background is desirable. Are you ready to change paths?

  • Find an objective for this blog; clearly articulate it; make it visible to you as reminder and to readers as a guide.


Crowd-sourced objectives.

Four Pillar Freedom:
I’m more concerned with writing content that adds value to the world. ... My reason for writing: because I believe anyone can radically transform their lives if they get a grip on their finances, and I want to share my thoughts on how to do so.

Montana Money Adventures:
I believe transformation and progress happens in community. When we hear people’s stories and they hear ours. That is magic. Blogging transitioned me from a consumer of information to part of a community. So I am trying to create that community here for you. There is a saying, “A rising tide raises all boats.” But community is magic. I think community can raise the tide.
Being known is awesome…and terrifying...

Frugal Asian Finance:
I wanted to start my own business when I was a freshman in college. I didn’t know what I’d do, but the desire to own and run my own company was burning inside me. Seeing how many bloggers have successfully built their sites, made a good income from their blogs, and become their own bosses gave me [my] eureka moment. I decided to start my own blog and wanted [to] grow it into a side business one day.

There's a little bit of me in each their stories. I don't know that I have defined a clear objective for writing though there's a semblance of one in my Pilot Post. I don't particularly have a strong desire to start my own business, never had, though the potential is what led me to self-hosting in the first place. I don't want the pressure of being the voice of a community, never have, though I don't mind having a voice. I don't really think what I have to say is going to transform any lives.  I guess I was ok being a me-too. That's what we call generic drugs in the pharmaceutical industry that offer no real therapeutic benefit over what's already on the market. There was no one like me on a FIRE journey, and I wanted someone out there to know they're not alone. I'm here too. And it's hard and it sucks, most of the time. Sometimes things hurt less when someone is going through it with you. Basically, the point of my blog is I'm here with you!

The only question I'm trying to decide now is which is the better platform for that?

12:22pm - I still don't know. I'm leaning towards keeping both sites for now.

Final Thoughts. One of the reasons I could not be really successful in business is I believe if I have something you need, I should give it to you. I've said something similar in previous posts. That's what it's like where I was born (unspecified country). It's a third world country; people get by not with wealth but with sharing resources.  That's all I'm trying to do. There are a lot of people who have blogs of how quickly they ascended to financial independence and even blogging success, but there are still some of us who are living the journey, struggles and all.

Stop the Lies: An Open Letter to the FIRE Community

Possible titles for this post.



Personal Finance and Budget Lies: An Expose on the FIRE Community
FIRE is not FUN - It's not for everyone.
Personal Finance Lies and Half Truths: A Rant on the FIRE community


Savings and budgeting was more fun until it became a requirement
Stop Lying: An Open Letter to the FIRE Community

Why I Came Back To Blogger

 



I used to be grateful.
I used to be so grateful that I had $300 to pay a fine. I'm talking about my towing experience a couple weeks ago. Before my FIRE journey, I would have paid that fine and thanked God that I had money to pay the fine. I would have thanked God that $300 wouldn't mean I didn't have food to eat or money for rent or money for my car or gas. I used to be grateful that a $300 fine didn't create any meaningful loss or sadness. Now all I can think is in terms of my FIRE budget. That's my FIRE food budget for 1.5 months. That's 1% of my annual FIRE budget. This is a setback.

I used to be generous.
I used to give freely. I was generous with my time and money, if I needed to be. I willingly helped my family. Now I think only in terms of my FIRE budget. How will this impact ME? Instead of how can I be a blessing to someone else. Before FIRE, I gave 10% of my earnings away. I started my side hustle, and I've been paid 3 times. I only gave 10% away from my first check. Now I'm slow to act and I feel stingy. I'm tired mostly from working two jobs.

I used to love eating out.
Before FIRE, eating out was my reward. It was my comfort, my luxury good, my reminder that I made it. It was breathing room. I can do this without going into debt or neglecting essential expenses. FIRE says don't treat yourself. If you treat yourself, you defeat yourself. Because of FIRE, eating out feels like I'm doing something wrong. I spend money and I think how will this impact my journey. I walked out of a casual dining restaurant on Tuesday because I was too paralyzed to spend $9 on a burrito bowl (especially after seeing their advertisement for it as a Friday special for $6.49). Before my FIRE journey, I didn't care. That's what money was for.

I still want nice things.
A beautiful house one day; maybe a fancy car. I want to fly first class somewhere; maybe even take a private plane. FIRE calls me names when I think like this - a consumer. Isn't everyone?

I don't want to hack anything.
I thought that's what college and a good paying job was - the ultimate life-hack that afforded you choices, options; a way out of the struggle, out of the fire, so to speak, of financial worries. I thought I already did "everything" right. Now the "everything" has changed. Make up your minds.

I tried my side hustle and it sucked.
Teaching a night class seemed so easy and doable from the get go. I can teach. I know stuff. It's what my first degree was in after all. This is perfect; it aligns with the FIRE tenet of earning more money. It wasn't perfect. It sucked. It led to a longer workday, physical ailments: headaches, vertigo - twice; poor eating, poor dental hygiene. I'm even willing to blame my tow on it -maybe if I hadn't been so tired that night, I would have moved my car after reading the email late that night. I figured I had until the next morning. I didn't. It seems I've been figuring a lot of things wrong. How did I figure my burning desire to leave the workforce could be salved by adding a second job?

I feel like I'm disappointing the community.
I've never felt like a disappointment to anyone or myself before FIRE. Now I feel like I'm letting down an entire community...of people I don't even know. I bought the website like they said. I joined the directory and forums, like they said. I joined the conversation, like they said. I feel inducted into a virtual fraternity and it's icky. I was never one for organized fraternization or the pressure of other people's expectations or norms. It's why I left my small town; why I gave up my old friends; why I don't have an activated cell phone all the time; even why I'm not on social media. Trying to fit in was never a priority...until now. I thought I'd found my people, my tribe. It seems not.

I find myself judging people.
I judge those around me on their consumerism. Why are you buying new pants? FIRE says wear the same old pants until they're threadbare then wear someone else's old pants. Why are you paying for so many activities for your children- do they need track, ballet, and travel soccer? FIRE says let them walk to school and play in the park for free. Who am I to judge...no really? Who am I? When did I start caring what other people were doing? I don't want to be this person. I didn't used to be this person.

FIRE says retire early then...
Spend all your time tracking and fretting about expenses and net worth fluctuations. Retire early they say, but "passively" earn income from your real estate investment; run your AirBNB; raise your kids; travel hack your next trip with spreadsheets. It takes so much time and effort either to make money or avoid spending it! Stop minimizing it! I generally believe in America you either spend money or you spend time. I prefer to spend money and save time. Isn't that the point of money?

FIRE is not fun. It's not easy. It's not for everyone.
Not one thing I've done has been 3 easy steps, no matter how much it's touted on multiple blogs. It's pain-staking, arduous, confusing, circular; sometimes you feel stuck in a loop of indecision. I feel sold, duped. I usually see a sales pitch a mile away (I'm talking to you Avon, Pampered Chef, DIRECTV). This was so new to me. I didn't know to put my defenses up; be-spectacle myself and read the fine print. I didn't see through the smoky pyramid scheme. FIRE was the best salesmen of all because I didn't see them coming, and they came from so many directions. Satan, is that you?

FIRE repackages financial worry.
You go in thinking this is the way to financial freedom. Maybe you were free-er than you thought. FIRE doesn't remove financial worry. It doesn't financially free you. FIRE re-brands the worry as financial control and financial responsibility. It doesn't change it or lessen its impact.

I need to go back to me.
I'm partly to blame for my current state. I wanted so much to belong somewhere; to find my tribe; to find my people. I attach quickly and ask everyone to love me best (ala Grover from Nanny Diaries). I need to go back to me, the person I was before I began this journey. What does that look like now knowing what I know? How will this affect my journey?

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My Week Ending April 20, 2018: Blogger, Drunken Noodle, Poop Tea

Hi, there. Welcome back. So this is what happened this week in My Early Retirement Journey.

Monday - day job for 9.5 hours. Worked until midnight working on blog. Honestly don't remember what I was doing. Cursory search on mini-retirement locales. Just an idea I toy around with but haven't come up with anywhere that sticks.

Tuesday - day job 6 hours. Teaching side gig till 8p. I'm so glad there's only week of class left. I have a little bit of anorexia (loss of appetite) lately. I think it's due to lingering constipation from surgery. Ordered take out: Drunken Noodles from the Thai place near work. Only ate half. Cost: $10.  Today is Tax Day. Did my taxes awhile ago.

Wednesday - stopped re-routing my Blogger blog to my Wordpress blog. Seriously thinking of leaving self-hosting. It's too much trouble. I don't really have an entrepreneurial spirit. Some of the fun has been taken out of it for what was supposed to be a hobby/ passive income. I've lost sight of the objective. Got take-out for lunch: hummus, pita, and majadara (lentils): cost $5. Ate leftovers for dinner.

Thursday - general feeling of malaise and loss of appetite. Been eating cupcakes for dinner this week. That probably doesn't help the ongoing constipation. Drank some senna tea (aka poop tea). Halfheartedly in the market for a second side gig even though I didn't really like the last one. Not sure what to do with my down time once side gig ends. No cable. Maybe give Wordpress a little longer? The $60 is only part of the issue. I felt like I was paying for a community/ got lost in the shuffle. Ran errands at Walmart, cost: $10. Bought lotto tickets for office pool: $2.

Friday - So glad it's Friday. Only have day job today. Realized I'd spend more on lottery tickets this year than the Bluehost site, so it can't be the cost. I think the pressure of churning a hobby into a business overwhelmed me. It's a lot of work with no promise of success. Am I not dreaming big enough? Am I giving up? Or am I recognizing my limitations. They say don't start a blog to make a money. They say start a blog to make passive income. This Journey is at a pebbly point. I don't want to say rocky because these are not big hurdles. Lunch $4 (Subway), Dinner $10 (Jerk chicken and rice). Stayed up till 1:00am preparing final lesson for side gig. Search for a new side gig? What will I do with all that daylight and free time this summer?

Total spending this week: $41
TV shows, memorable: Survivor

Tax Day 2018: My 2017 Tax Return

My cousin just bought a house at the latter part of 2017. I was curious how the home ownership tax deductions affected his return. Since the perceived benefit doesn't seem to match the actual numbers in my cursory searches and applied examples.  He sad it increased it by about 67%. I don't have actual numbers though. Seems high. What do you think?
In that conversation, I mentioned that I think I was getting maybe $30 or so back total between state and federal returns. He was curious how I estimated my tax so well. I appreciate the credit, but I think it's more so I'm just a default or template tax payer. I have nothing to claim or deduct, so I take the standard deduction. And I think the general estimates are based on simple tax situations like mine. I've never felt so average. 😏

Part of the purpose of this blog is to create a space for single earners like myself and we all love a numbers post. So I thought I'd include for illustrative purposes what a simple return looks like.
(numerical values truncated for privacy and laziness)

Filing Tool: HR Block Free File
FEDERAL
Filing Status: Single
Wages: $86,000
Standard Deduction: $6,300
Exemptions: $4,000
Income Tax: $14,7xx
Federal Witholding: $14,7xx
Amount Owed: $16
Marginal Tax Bracket: 25%
Effective Tax Bracket: 17%

Savings, per HR Block:
By participating in a qualified retirement plan through my employer this year and making contributions with pretax dollars, I reduced my taxes by: $2,600.00
In simple terms, the Marginal Tax Rate is the tax rate that you pay on your last dollar of taxable income. It is the highest federal tax bracket that affects your tax calculation. The Effective Tax Rate is the percentage of your total income that you paid in taxes. For 2017, my Marginal Tax Rate is 25% and my Effective Tax Rate is 17%.
STATE
Total Tax: $4,2xx
Total Payments: $4,3xx
Refund Amount: $63
Net Refund ($63 - $16) = $47
That's it folks! I think I did it during my lunch break at work! How did your filing go?

101 Things You Will Encounter Your 1st Week Blogging....about FIRE or Personal Finance


So you followed your favorite blogger's advice (read: their affiliate's recommendation) and started your blog in 3 easy steps! Turns out they left out quite a few things. Here's 101 things you will encounter your first week of blogging about personal finance, FIRE, or your early retirement journey!

  • Spam emails. Parvinder and Sunhil will email you about marketing strategies and offer to take your blog to the next level. You will get 6 to 8 emails a day from them.  Then James and William will email you with surprisingly the same offer. Don't be fooled it's still Parvinder and Sunhil. It will take Gmail about 13 days to realize this is spam.

  • Robocalls. Parvinder and Sunhil didn't like that you didn't answer their emails. They sold your information to the top robocallers. You will get many offers for business opportunities and a few threats from the IRS. It's not the IRS; it's Parvinder and Sunhil trying to get your information. Don't give it to them.

  • Wordpress. The 3 Easy Steps To Start A Blog your favorite blogger promised were just to take your money. Now you have to figure out Wordpress. There are so many buttons. It will take your Friday evening, most of your Saturday and all of your Sunday to post your first entry.

  • Slow load time. You will wonder why your blog is so slow when you only have 6 entries? Next you'll ask when did 7 seconds to do anything start being considered slow?

  • Marketing.  You wrote 6 amazing posts, you'll think, so why haven't you been featured on CNN Money? Why do you only have 50 page views total and 47 were when you were trying to figure out Wordpress?

  • Adsense.  Why haven't they approved your account yet. The notice said a day or less. It's been 5. Maybe you should have considered Parvinder and Sunhil's offer after all.

  • Pinterest. What is Pinterest? What does that have to do with blogging?



  • Rockstar Directory. It's not an energy drink.

  • Rockstar Forums. It's not enough to just be in the directory? What's a forum? Is it free? Will it make you famous? Just one forum post and your blog will explode overnight right?

  • Cloudflare. You contacted Bluehost and to make your site load faster you have to upgrade your package. The tech support guy said your package was the "cheapest."  Is this one of those spend money to make money scenarios?  The forums said try Cloudflare. So you might try that.

  • Stock photos. Where does everyone get all their artistic photos? It's so aesthetically pleasing. Do you have to hire a photographer? Is that more money to a blog that's already cost you $60 bucks on the first day?

  • So many log-ins. You can't take anymore spam. You will have to open a 4th email address. (The first three are for your other lives.) Plus, you're obviously going to blow up in the blogosphere and your fans need to reach you.


 

  •  What's a plug-in? Is it free? Do you have to create another log-in? You wonder how does everyone keep all these passwords straight?



  • What is HTML code? Do you need a coder? Do you have to create another log-in?

  • What's a widget? Is that the same as a plug-in? Is this Econ 101? I thought this was supposed to be 3 easy steps! How come your page won't load on your Ipad? Where did your menus go?

  • Some say you need a newsletter? What that? What's an email list? How will that make you money? Will that make you money?

  • You finished what you had to say in your first 6 posts. Now what?

  • Now you need a disclaimer? But no one's reading any of your posts. Do you put that up before you get page views? Before you get ads?

  • Are you supposed to read all these different Terms of Service?

  • What's a name server? Why do you have to create another log-in to change it?

  •  What's a gravatar? Another log-in? Is it free? Will Parvinder and Sunhil find me again?

  • How do you edit your </header > ?

  • What does Merge Top Menu mean? Do you have a top menu?

  • What's a static home page? Do you want that? Is that what everyone else has?

  • Why haven't you made any money yet? Wasn't this supposed to be passive income?

  • Where did another Saturday go?

  • How do you make a drop down menu? Should you pay to upgrade your theme?

  •  Do you keep your name private? Should you use a pseudonym? Acronym?



  • Do you share your net worth? Your income? Your expenses? Your FIRE date? Your FIRE number in dollars? Euros? Pounds? Canadian dollars?

  • Is your site https? Does it need to be?

  • Why haven't you made any money yet?

  • Where did another Sunday go?

  • What's a CDN Server? Do you need that?

  • What is Pinterest again?

  • Do you tell your friends? Family? If you don't tell anyone, how will people know your blog exists?

  • Should you pay for some of these services? Do you need a virtual assistant?

  • What is Blog Elite Academy?

  • Do you need a web designer?



  • Do you even know anything about finance? Do you need to do APA or AMA citations when you "borrow" from other people's posts?

  • Is your blog just a listicle or roundup of other people's blogs? Should it be?

  • What's your hook? Your niche? What's your voice? You must have had one...where'd it go?

  • What's affiliate marketing? Do you need an ad network? How do you get one?

  • Adsense, why do you still have no ads for me?

  • How many pageviews should you have? It's been a week!

  • What is SEO anyway? How do you get that? Do you need Parvinder and Sunhil for that?

  • What is a WHOIS?  What is FinCon?

  • What's my debt payoff story? My rags to riches tale? How frugal is too frugal?

  • Is there something you can hack?

  • Parvinder! Sunhil! Help!


Related Content:

 

My Week Ending April 13, 2018: Savings Rate, Ads, Fried Rice


My Early Retirement Journey

Another week down in My Early Retirement Journey.  This week ended, thankfully enough, with a little spring in my step. Nice weather brightens my mood. It feels nice to leave the workday when it's still light out.
On with it...

Monday - Worked 9.5 hours at my day job. Came home; watched The Mindy Project; and ate some frozen Asian rice. If you're curious it's Ling Ling's Chicken Yakitori  (<<my first attempt at affiliate linking!). It's about $6 a box and you get 2 bags in each box. One bag sometimes lasts me two meals; sometimes just 1+. Today it was 1+. I add some expired gochujang sauce on the side and it tastes like take-out.  Side note- the frozen rice doesn't taste quite as nice the second day. I still eat it but day one is best.  During some downtime at work, followed a comment from one blog to a list of other female FIRE/ Personal Finance bloggers. They're out there! Spent some time introducing myself.

Tuesday - I had a jury summons for today but my number was not called so I had to go to work. I actually wanted to see what it was like to do jury duty. I guess that will be for another day. Worked 6.5 hours at my day job. Including commute, gave 3.5 hours to side gig (teaching). I only get paid for 1.5 hours for the actual teaching but it's ending soon! Hallelujah!!

Wednesday - Another 9.5 hours at work. I helped train a new employee who didn't return to work the next day 😖. I got off work on time and told myself I'd watch TV (free streaming) and relax but of course I ended up checking blog stuff. I finally got approved for AdSense! It took about 2 weeks. Got stuck in a 4 hour AdSense loop trying to figure it all out. In the end, I ended up with one AdSense ad on one of my side bars and made $0.01. I also figured out how to make the Walmart ad (my first affiliate) click open in a new window. This girl did some coding! I felt pretty accomplished. Granted, it was 2 words of code, but still it took me at least 30 minutes to figure it out!

Thursday - Worked day job and side gig. Went to Walmart to run errands. Grand total was about $12 for: 3 mangoes, 3 plums, some frozen tilapia and eggs. Got gas during lunch break and that was about $23. Bought lottery tickets for work pool ($2) and 2 apples ($0.80). Total for the day (approx): $36. My first auto-deposit to my Build Wealth fund was set for today. I budgeted for it at the beginning of the year, but it took a while to get the exact number right; figure out how I wanted to fund that account; and set up the payroll direct deposit.

Friday - Working 9 hours today. Still at work as I type this. I felt a pep in my step this morning. It was light out when I woke up and it should still be light out when I get home! I want to get some take-out today but nothing really seems appealing. Did some tweaks to budget this week.
Tweaked my spending budget down from the original $600/mon, the current $560/mon down to $430/mon. Rationale: I have this bare bones monthly budget in my mind of 500/500/500 for housing/student loan/spending.  Housing is not there yet/ student loan is $566/ so I took the $66 out of spending and rounded down.

Other highlights of the week: 

  • 2 days without spam calls from blogging

  • Increase in spam emails about blogging after adding a few new plug-ins to my site to combat the slow load time (W3 Total Cache, Cloudflare, Auto-Optimizer)

  • Health-wise, feeling better than I was last week

  • Only spent about $12/week on food (food budget: $50/week)

  • Found this link to calculate early retirement age; might share it with my students; and this blog post led me there


 Calculated my savings rate in 2017: 25%

After perusing some random FIRE blogs this week, realized I don't know or never cared to figure out my savings rate pre-My Early Retirement Journey. These are the rough calculations I made.

 401k:  Used my 2017 W-2: Contributed about $11,000

Savings Account: Used the difference between statement balances Jan 2017 and Dec 2017: about $6,000

Total Savings in 2017: $17,000 (rounded)

After-tax Income in 2017: $67,000 (rounded)

Savings rate: 17/67 = 25% (not bad!; estimated savings rate in 2018 = 50%)
Where did $50,000 dollars?   Expenses are estimated about $30,000 and I paid off $20,000 in student loans. I had to check my student loan statements to remember. One day I will post my zero balance letter.  I may also do another post on my debt payoff story, since it's all the rage.

Simple wins for this week:

Personal: not late for work once this week; feeling much better

Blog: Adsense, Incorporated Affiliate Link into a post.


Simple goals for next week:

Personal: eat more vegetables (x > 1 serving)

Blog: submit a post to Rockstar Forum for their 3rd Monday shout out

Trying to Plead My Case After a Tow

So, my apartment complex towed my car. Perils of renting. Why do I stay you ask? It's close to work. Work controls my life! The tow cost me $300; that's my food budget for 1.5 months. And I missed a Holiday at work because I didn't work the full 8 hours. I tried to get my money back and here's what happened.

On 04/04/2018 you submitted the following feedback:

Me: My car was towed from a handicapped space in front of VACANT retail spaces attached to my apartment building. These retail spaces are and have been VACANT for the 2.5 years I have lived here since the building was erected. I was the third person to move-in. This space is not accessible to anything in the building other than the VACANT retail spaces as the elevator is on the other side of the building, and the side were my car was parked is flanked by stairs. This is private property so the towing was commissioned and sanctioned by The Property; a little more notice or sufficient warning would have been appreciated. It cost me a total of $300 to have my car returned to and I suffered some ramifications at work as I was 1.25 hours late. When I signed up to live in a luxury community this is not what I expected. As such, I am requesting a $300 credit be applied to my account. Thank you.

Them: Good Afternoon, I contacted the towing company to get the information about your car and the specifics on why it was towed. After seeing the pictures, your car was towed, not due to being parked by retail, but due to parking in a handicap parking space without having a valid handicap sticker showing. That is not only against our parking rules, but it is a violation of NC statute § 20-37.6. On Thursday of last week, management also sent out an email reminding residents of the parking rules and procedures and to let everyone know that we were towing for any infractions. I double checked to ensure that your email was correct and that the message was delivered, which it was. Given all of the information above, we will not be able to credit back to you the $300. In the future, please ensure that you are parked in a non-handicap space or that you are properly showing the handicap tag.
Sincerely,
Ashley Valenzuela

On April 6, 2018, I wrote them this:
Me: Thank you for your prompt response. It does not appear to me that the concerns I raised were completely understood. Towing my car from the VACANT retail lot where the posted signs, handicapped or otherwise, still remain widely unenforced is altogether a malicious, arbitrary, and capricious act. If the impact on community members and the people who call The Property home has no bearing on its decisions that's certainly The Property's prerogative. Similarly, it is my prerogative to not suffer lightly those who take my money and affect my ability to earn income. I have come to expect less from this property over the years, and it has delivered. Thank you. Have a nice day.

Conclusion: I'm still out $300. I'm still renting. I'm still working to mitigate the loss. Sometimes I wonder why I try. :/

Tally:
My Early Retirement Journey: 0
The Man: all the points

I got towed!


One fine morning after mustering the energy to attempt another workday, I walked outside to get in my car. My car was gone. A strange calm settled over me as I searched the parking lot. My first thought was my car was towed. And lo, it was! I had been parking in this handicapped space in front of vacant retail spaces on the backside of our building.  I guess today was the day I was found out.  Figures.

I moseyed, still eerily calm, to the towing sign to get the phone number. Since I don't have a cell phone and my emergency phone is in my car, I walked back into my apt to call from a Google app.

Two rude phone calls and a threat (from the towing company!) later, I was told my car was on its way. Yes, the towing company threatened to charge me $50 dollars extra for trying to plead my case. He states his daughter is handicapped so I was "barking up the wrong tree." Heaven forbid, a random woman should want to park on the side of my apartment building in front of vacant retail space flanked by stairs. I felt no empathy and I'm not ashamed to say it. Entitled people can be handicapped too and I can't be bothered with the flood of entitlement I have to wade through regularly.

My final prize was...

 
For the opportunity to have my car forcibly removed$200

And for the privilege of having my car returned to me: $100

Total damage to my budget: $300 (all before breakfast!)
Budget category: Unexpected Expense

Cheers.

My Week Ending April 6, 2018: Allergies, Fever, Root Canal

My Early Retirement Journey This Week:

Monday - I started the workday relatively fine. Today was a 9.5 hour shift. I despise it, but it affords me the opportunity to do my side hustle so I have to remember to be thankful for them accommodating me. I was fine when I got there. I helped train a new employee. What do you think about people who make snarky comments and hide them as jokes? I don't care for them. I held my tongue for most of the day as it didn't really hit me until that night. Work politics are annoying. I look forward to the day that I don't have to deal with it. I wish that day were now. By the time I left work, I was congested and had the beginnings of a headache. I attribute my symptoms to either a 9 minute walk outside on a high pollen count day or chemical irritants in the cube I was sitting in today to train the new employee. Argh. Work makes me physically ill sometimes.

Tuesday - Today I worked 6 hours at my day job and then went to my night side hustle (a teaching gig). Students were fine. Most of them showed up. A few of them came with excuses on why their work was late. I have to do something about that. At my day job, there was quite a bit of hullabaloo about one of the calls. People were talking about me in a way I didn't care for. It was annoying. It's mostly annoying not being able to speak up for yourself or be heard. Can't say I'm too surprised. I want to say people I thought more of were taking part but I don't really think that much of anyone I work with so that really just affirms my position. It turns out they were wrong and I was right but they still think they were right because I couldn't say anything. It's so annoying!

Healthwise, I was blowing my nose all day. It was a pretty miserable day. By the time I got home, I had a fever of 100.6*F. I took 2 Ibuprofen, ate some Ramen with fried pepper, and went to bed.

Wednesday - Woke up feeling a bit better. Temperature back to normal. Today is another 9.5 hour shift at my day job. Not feeling like eating much. My tooth hurts. There is a hole in my crown. I had an endodontic retreatment the day I returned to work after my surgery, and I think the filling they put in there has either fallen out or partially fallen out. Now my mouth hurts more. Internet down when I got home so I stared at the wall since I don't have cable right now. Did some dishes. Washed some bedding... I probably did that Monday night though.

Thursday - I did go to work today eventhough I couldn't sleep through the night. I think work is making me physically ill. I might need a new mattress. Sometimes my neck hurts; sometimes my back hurts; I wake up with fingers and arms that have fallen asleep. I don't know if it's my mattress or a psychosomatic response to work. I know not what exactly I want to do when I ever reach FIRE, but health and wellness is definitely at the top of that list. I can't let go of the feeling about some of my co-workers; I feel betrayed somehow. I do my best to leave everyone alone but sometimes it feels like they try to ostracize or judge me but in a passive in-ostensible way. I understand now why some people hate high school. If this is what it was like for them, I would have hated it too.

Thursdays are usually my errand day but I only had to get dishwasher tabs and some produce. I didn't want to make two stops, so I just went to Kroger. I probably overpaid for the dishwasher tabs at Kroger but Walmart doesn't sell lottery tickets and I buy lottery tickets for our small office pool on Thursdays. I also got some Zaxby's. One chicken nugget fell on the floor when I got home... I still ate it 😄. Ate 3 spring Oreos, flossed, brushed, and went to bed.

Friday – Woke up with tongue hurting. There is a small white bump on it. Compound that with my ongoing respiratory symptoms: my nose is running; my chest is congested; coughing productively with colored sputum. Don't forget still recovering from surgery.  It’s not a great day. This is either motivation or discouragement for FIRE. Motivation to keep going so one day I won’t have to work when my body needs time to heal. Discouragement that I still have so long to go. Why am I wasting my youth preparing for old age. I haven’t fully reconciled that. Add to this also, the ongoing silent drama at work, being passed over for a promotion (more on that later). The hole in my tooth; ongoing jaw pain; constipation and abdominal pain. God, do you hate me?

Related Content:

Throwback 20s: My Free Trip to Washington DC!


So every now and then when I binge read other FIRE blogs, I wonder what the heck I was doing in my 20s when they were all seemingly frugaling away their coppers.  To keep my head up and not get too bogged down with what I wasn't doing, I decided to start this Throwback 20s Series as a gentle reminder of the adventure portfolio I was building with a FIRE twist.  So instead of bemoaning my twenties, I want to take some time to celebrate that part of The Journey! Come along! I urge you!

This week I'm highlighting domestic trips. For a long time I didn't have a passport to travel out of the country and visited 40 out of the 50 states before I turned 30! Let's not discount how amazing America is for greener pastures across national lines. Lots of people come here to visit!

THE HACK:
Family
Friends

THE DETAILS:
I was living in California at the time and really wanted to be there for the 2009 Inauguration. History was being made no matter what side of the line you were on.
My cousin was in medical school at the time in Washington DC = free housing!
My roommate (in a 4 person share) was a flight attendant for JetBlue = free airfare! ( I miss those $525/mon housing days)

MEMORY STOCK:










the mobs, the mobs, the mobs!

 









who doesn't love a little pomp...

 









...and...

 









...circumstance

 

 









I'm pretty sure I wasn't this close...this might be a stock photo










awe, little ones...

 










this is more representative of how close I likely was

 









the mobs were serious..if I didn't mention it :)

 









I loved all of it!

 

 









Best trip ever!

 

Why I Came Back to BlueHost

So I’m giving Bluehost another chance. Since Making Sense of Cents is my blogshero I decided to click through her link to give her credit.




Why am I going back? A few reasons.

Personal: Yesterday I worked 8a to 12n. Went to dental appointment for endodontic retreatment. Logged back in at work from 2:30 to 4:30p. Then commuted to part time job. Got home a little after 8p. That is a 12 hour work day after being out on sick leave for 2 weeks. I was thinking as I meandered my recovering body into my teaching gig if I were financially independent this would’ve been a 2 hour day to go to dental appointment and I’d be able to give myself the full 6 weeks for my stitches to heal.

Financial:  My plan is to actively try to make money on this blog not just blog and hope for the best. My part-time gig ends early May 2018, and my goal is to have my Bluehost site up and running by then. That gives me time to allow the process to happen on a realistic timeline versus the instantaneous one I had in my head. I even set some preliminary goals:

Full launch: by May 2018

Income: $500/mon net revenue by end of first year, May 2019

Psychological: When I first went into blogging, I was lead/misled by the blogosphere that I could set up my blog in 3 easy steps and begin generating an income. Bluehost and Wordpress are the most popular and often labeled the best for that. I’m a big fan of letting others do the work for me/ not re-inventing the wheel. Bluehost was not easy to set-up and I did not make money instantly. So I went back to Blogger because that was easy and I thought with Adsense I'd at least make a penny or two right away. That hasn’t happened either. So if it’s going to take time on both sites, I’d rather just continue with Bluehost since there is more potential to make more and continuing to post on blogger keeps me writing which is what I’ve been itching to do while I still have momentum.

Thoughts? Any goals you had to revisit after a first failure to launch?