May Financial Update

First of May, first of May, financial updating starts today…

(Or continues, really. I’ve been doing this for years.)

My current net worth is $107,801.44, which is $5,054.69 higher than my April net worth of $102,746.75.

This is nearly entirely due to investment growth—I got a 4.3% return this month—which, even though I knew this kind of thing would start to happen once my net worth passed the six-figure mark, still feels really weird.

I received $9,300 in freelance checks last month plus $43.20 in publishing royalties, and I anticipate breaking $10K in freelance checks in May. June, however, will probably be a low earnings month, since I am taking a two-week vacation (five days at Walt Disney World, five days at a family event, a couple days at the end to rest from all the travel) and won’t be writing or earning money during that time.

This also feels a little weird—it’ll be the longest chunk of time I’ve taken off work ever, I think. I’ve done a week away from work in the past, but I don’t think I’ve taken two weeks off, even back in my employee days.

But I did set myself the goal of taking a two-week vacation in 2019, and now I get to see what happens.

In terms of spending: like many people who discovered their tax burden was lower than anticipated, I took that extra money and let it blow a hole straight through my pocket. I bought $63.13 worth of plants. I got myself a $15.99 gym bag that I didn’t even need (my old one was still functional, I just wanted one that had a pouch for a water bottle). I spent an unbelievable $126.62 on dining out—and before you start laughing, remember that I typically spend $25 per month on restaurants and snacks, and okay, you can laugh now.

Yes, I live a very frugal life, and yes, I’m steadily increasing my monthly freelance earnings, and yes, I’m investing a lot of those earnings—and so this is what my finances are starting to look like.

It’s weird.

I’m very happy with it, but I’m not used to it yet. ❤️

April Financial Update

It’s time for another financial update, so let’s check in with my YNAB account:

My current net worth is $102,746.75. That’s up $5,463.23 from my March net worth of $97,283.52. Total freelance earnings for March (including self-publishing royalties) were $7,388.57, so that was part of it, but my investments also did pretty well; according to Vanguard, I gained $1,896.37 in investment returns in the past month.

I spent $2,676.47 in March on personal expenses and $212 on business expenses. The personal expenses number is higher this month because I started making purchases towards both a personal vacation and a family trip, both of which I’ll take in June; February’s $1,212.15 represents a more typical personal expenses month. (Yes, that includes rent-bills-food-fun-everything.)

According to the financial independence calculators, I should hit FI in April 2030, eleven years from now.

I’m still going to try to beat that goal. ❤️

March Financial Update

It’s a new month, which means it’s time to check in with my finances.

Here’s a YNAB chart illustrating my net worth, which is $97,283.52 as of this morning:

Currently, my investment balances total $85,296.36, divided as follows:

  • Vanguard brokerage account: $6,401.14
  • Vanguard traditional IRA: $12,078.77
  • Vanguard rollover IRA: $45,534.32
  • Vanguard SEP IRA: $6,484.87
  • Vanguard Roth IRA: $6,685.68
  • TIAA annuity: $5,348.99*
  • Health savings account: $2,744.59

The big gamechanger this month was the money I put in my brand-new SEP IRA: $500 for 2019, and $6,000 for 2018. The latter investment came from money that was part of The Billfold LLC account, which is much better off invested in a SEP IRA than taxed (though it will be taxed eventually).

In case you’re curious, it has cost The Billfold LLC $1,399 to shut itself down so far. This money includes CPA and legal fees, and there is at least one more payment coming as I file the final paperwork. That money also came out of The Billfold LLC account.

I received $5,135 in freelance checks in February, and earned $12.24 in publishing royalties from Amazon. I spent $1,212.15 on personal expenses (rent, bills, food, fun, donations, etc.) and $187.33 on freelance business expenses, not including money put into investments or set aside for taxes.

According to my financial independence forecaster, I should hit FI in 12 years and one month. However, now that I am no longer giving the majority of my time to The Billfold, I’ve been able to take on several higher-paying long-term assignments, which means I’ll probably be able to save and invest additional earnings (especially in my SEP IRA, which can absorb up to 25% of my freelance earnings as tax-deductible contributions).

So I’m very interested to see whether that forecasting number changes by the end of March.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’ve been transparently sharing my finances online since 2012, when I was making $500 a week as a brand-new freelancer.

Because I want to present a realistic picture of what a mid-career freelancer (and author, and teacher) can earn.

Because I know that the type of freelancing work I’m doing won’t last forever — the internet might fundamentally change, robots might start grabbing all of the good copywriting jobs, companies might want to work with younger freelancers who know all the dank memes — and so I’m investing in my future by trying to save as much money and grow my net worth as quickly as possible. Even if I don’t hit financial independence, being able to set money aside while I have the privilege to do so will give me more choices in the future. 

So that’s my March financial summary.

We’ll check back again in April.

*When I worked as an executive assistant for a non-profit, I invested in a TIAA 403(b). I was able to roll everything over into a Vanguard rollover IRA except for this one non-rollable TIAA annuity that TIAA told me I’d have to keep until I retire, I guess. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get that money out of TIAA and into Vanguard, let me know.