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Millionaire Interview 17 Update

Posted: 03 Oct 2016 02:05 AM PDT

The following is an update to Millionaire Interview 17.

My FMF millionaire #17 interview took place almost 3 years ago. The biggest change for me since then has been my job. At the time, I hated my job. It affected my mood very negatively and looking back, I was probably on the edge of depression. A few months after the original interview posted, I found another job that was more suited to me, still in software development, but with saner management and it turned my work life around. It's been more than two years now, and I still really enjoy my current job and previous stresses (both mental and physical) are significantly reduced.

Another big change was 2 years ago, we bought and moved to a new home (better schools/bigger yard for the kids, better neighborhood). Thinking to get started in real estate investing, we rented out our old house, but after a year, decided landlording wasn't for me and sold at a small loss. (With the constant repairs and dealing with tradespeople, I was just glad to be rid of it). It turns out my old and new home are almost exactly alike financially (equal home values, same mortgage rate, virtually identical mortgage balances when we sold the old and bought the new) and my one year of rental income vs. expenses was pretty much break-even. So this foray into real estate didn't affect my financials much other than about a 20K loss (when closing costs are factored in).

3 years ago, I reported that our annual expenses totaled $85K. I lied, unintentionally. I have since figured out that I left out about $7,000 of expenses, for an actual total of $92K (Sorry about that). I have tightened up my expense tracking a bit since, and I can more confidently say that now our annual expenses total $90K.

Our expenses went down mainly because our kids are in school now, so daycare expenses have gone down by 50% (still need after-school care and summer daycamps though). My wife's and my commutes have also collectively decreased by 75%, so I've seen our gas expenses decrease by 50% (Why not 75%? Probably because weekend and non-work driving pattern remain the same). Just these two categories alone reduced expenses by $10K. Other categories have gone up though (kids' activities now that they are older; resurrected some hobbies now that kids are more independent), but overall, we have a 2K reduction in annual expenses from 3 years ago. Take that figure with a grain of salt though, given how well my expense tracking system was working back then.

Between a job change and raises, our combined salary is now 270K, up from 230K before. And our net worth has grown to $1.8 million from $1.2 million before. That is about $200K/year increase, but we don't net anything near that. The growth has been more due to stock investments appreciation and increase in our home equity, but saving about $90K a year also helps.

While I record all our income and expenses, I still don't track them very well. I'll track our net worth monthly, and further look at income/expenses every 3 to 6 months, maybe, but as long as the net worth figure keeps growing, I don't worry too much about eking out all the savings that we might be able to. I rather spend that time with my family and on hobbies. When our net worth figure dips significantly is when I will dig in to find the cause. Sometimes it's a big one-time expense, other times it's the stock market dropping.

I should, however, work on improving our investment portfolio. I know there is a lot of room for improvement there. I said 3 years ago I am starting to clean it up. I have, to my credit, by consolidating some 7 accounts into Vanguard accounts of each type (Rollover IRA, Roth IRA, regular brokerage) and getting rid of some holdings (for negligible profit) from back when I was following the stock tip of the month, but that's the extent of it so far. We're currently invested in various ETF's and mutual funds in a mostly lazy portfolio style, but I don't rebalance as I should and don't track them well either. Our 401k's are solidly in target retirement date funds though, and I'm thinking now to just move our entire portfolio to target retirement date funds, given how well they seem to be doing compared to my other haphazard portfolios, and given my lack of will to properly take care of them. I'm too lazy to even do lazy portfolios properly! I don't care to think where we'd be now if I did have a coherent investment strategy...

To assuage those who say home value shouldn't be included in net worth, here are the numbers without home value. Our home is conservatively worth $650k, with a mortgage balance of $350K. Take away this $300K of home equity and our net worth is $1.5 million. Some people want to say the mortgage should be further subtracted, for a net worth of $1.15 million. So there you go, depending on how you want to calculate net worth, mine is one of $1.8, $1.5 or $1.15 million. Even if I was posing as a millionaire before, no one can argue I'm not one now!

So that's my update. Better job, increased income while expenses stayed flat, net worth increased due mostly to stock investments and home value appreciation. I'm not doing anything more than the practical creed, "spend less than you earn." But I am thankful that our high income allows my family to enjoy a good quality of life and, at the same time, to save a significant amount for our future.


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