Net Worth Update – February 2021

Each month, I share a net worth update for the Brewing FIRE household. This brief summary of our financial standing serves as a progress report on our journey to financial independence.

In addition to giving a snapshot of our net worth, I will take a brief look at our spending, saving, and investing activity for the month.

February 2021 Net Worth

via Personal Capital

February – Life in Flux

We packed up our things and moved to Virginia just over 3 months ago. While that was easily the most disruptive event of my adult life, I can’t say it’s actually ‘over’ yet. There are still a few major milestones we need to reach before I can truly feel settled. When will we get there? I have no idea, but hopefully soon.

Mrs. BF’s Job

In a previous post, I said that Mrs. BF finding employment down here is what catalyzed the move. In fact, she got a 25% raise to switch jobs, plus sign-on and relocation bonuses. Sweet deal.

The only problem is that she can’t stay with job permanently. In short, she needs to work for a not-for-profit organization in order to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), and her current employer does not qualify. This position was always meant to be a stopgap. It allowed us to move to VA, which should make it easier to land another job around here as a local candidate.

The good news is that she’s had multiple interviews for a position at her preferred employer, and she’s among the final candidates. Fingers crossed that this will work out. Her current gig includes 12 hour days that stretch into evenings and working every other weekend. If she goes back to normal hours, I will really appreciate having her around on weekends again. Kids are tiring!

Update: she just got the offer, and it’s pretty good! Check that one off.

My Job

My job has also been up in the air since we got here. I was initially given a ‘temporary extension’ of my employment that would be re-evaluated after a few months. The issue is that I’m a research chemist, and it’s not really possible to do chemical research in your house.

a lot of “Dada Days” recently…

I’ve been working in a product/project manager capacity the last few months. Basically, I’m connecting the dots between our R&D group and our customers, and making sure that our product development initiatives are aligned with market opportunities. I actually have enjoyed the change of pace, and feel a greater sense of purpose than I had in recent years.

The problem is that my role has not (yet) been made permanent. Last week there was some kerfuffle among the management team about my future with the company. The good news: multiple departments are vying for my services. The bad news: I’m not really interested in a new role that would entail more responsibility, or travel. Come on people, I’m trying to quit here!

I should know what my future holds in the next couple weeks.

House Hunting

If all that uncertainty wasn’t enough, we haven’t found a permanent residence yet either. We decided to initially rent when we arrived in VA, rather than trying to buy a house remotely. I still stand by that decision, but it means that we eventually need to find a home.

I know some of you are saying, “renting can be a permanent option.” Yes, I know that. But we’re not hip, young millennials that can live in a trendy loft that’s in a repurposed nail factory in the newly gentrified industrial quarter. We’re a bit older, have two kids and a dog, and are getting more boring by the hour. My housing decisions are driven by school systems, not by how many coffee shops I can walk to.

Anyway, we’re just dipping our toes into the real estate market down here, and so far it’s fucking insane. The few houses we’ve looked at have gone under contract within a day or two, and most houses are selling for $25-50k over asking price. No thanks.

Thankfully, we have plenty of time to find a house. It’s just a little frustrating to be house hunting in this time of extremely low supply, high demand, and a COVID backdrop, to boot.

Month-Over-Month Comparison

We hit another net worth high in February, which makes 10 out of the last 12 months. The market didn’t cooperate much, but some combination of earnings and Bitcoin helped us get there. I’ve been transferring roughly $10,000 per month from our cash surplus to Betterment, and dollar cost averaging into the market.

Spending and Not Spending

Student Loan$0
Shopping / Misc.$329
Other$21Brewing supplies
Total$6,950minus the donation

Every month when I look at our spending total, I feel a sharp pain in my side. Then I remember that rent and childcare total approximately $5,000, so our spending is really concentrated in those two areas.

It’s official: we’ve spent $500 or more on groceries for three straight months, so that’s just what shit costs now. I suppose our kids are starting to become ravenous little eaters, so technically feeding 4 mouths should cost more than it used to cost for the two of us. I guess $500 a month for a family of four isn’t terrible. Meh.

Mrs. BF spent a bunch of money at the DMV, and and now we’re officially Virginians, with our VA plates and licenses. Can’t leave now!

I am super excited to announce that I’m planning on homebrewing again in the next week. I only brewed two beers in 2020, partly because two kids require more attention than one, and partly because I didn’t know if or when we were going to move. Regardless, I’m fired up to brew again. I’m starting off 2021 with my own interpretation of a CT beer favorite (Sea Hag from New England Brewing- maybe the best IPA you can find in most stores there). I miss The Hag, hence I need to recreate it.

Income and Investing

I’ve been plowing a high percentage of my income into my 401k, figuring I should max it out ASAP in case my employment situation changes. I’m also contributing $600 per month to an HSA that’s invested in index funds. Check out more details on our investing strategy here.

We still haven’t made our 2021 Roth IRA contributions, because there’s a small chance that we could hit the income threshold. Once our job uncertainty is cleared up, I’ll figure out where to direct those funds.

Here’s an update on our kids’ 529 plan balances. We’re shooting for somewhere around $100,000 invested (in today’s dollars) by the time they reach college, based on the current cost of 4 years of in-state tuition. We’re probably not in bad shape to hit those targets, at this point.

That sums up our February. How was your month? If you’ve got stable employment and a mortgage, you might be doing better than me! Let me know in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – February 2021”

  1. every time i see that childcare number i just cringe. i can see you playing mr. mom like michael keaton. that was a good movie. hell, the equivalent of 36k/year just to play with your kids seems pretty good yet tiring. i couldn’t agree more about not being young and cool enough to not want an adult house to live in. where else can you yell at folks to get off your lawn!?

    it’s good to see the old net worth number still heading north for you. we had a little pullback but were probably out ahead of our skis so i’m ok with that. good luck on that job search for mrs. b.f.

    • Yeah, the childcare expense is kind of horrendous. I would gladly trade a couple days of work for more time with them, but I also think 5 days a week alone with them might break me (or 7 if the wife is working that weekend). I have tremendous respect for people that run a household and care for kids at the same time.

      As I mentioned in the comment on your blog, I didn’t realize the extent of the tech carnage until today. After the run that tech had in 2020, I think a pullback could be healthy. Let’s see how it plays out…

  2. New reader to your site, there is a ton of great stuff to read and learn from.
    Looking forward to the betterment post you mentioned earlier – I am looking at the robo option myself, and chances are your article will help me make that move 🙂

    • Welcome DG, and thanks for the comment! Yes, definitely plan to get my thoughts on robo-advising posted in the next few weeks. The short pitch: Wealthfront should save me some money on taxes, and will prevent me from constantly messing with my investments. If it accomplishes that, then I’m happy.

  3. Even my grocery bill as a single guy has been inflated over the last year. Maybe I’m buying more booze at home than I used to. Budget is pretty tight minus the BIG expenses–not much you can do about those. Keep that net worth climbing!

    • Thanks, I need to keep reminding myself this. It’s just annoying to keep spending $500 a month when we were really consistently in the $300-350 range for what seems like years. Anyhow, the difference is immaterial. Doing my spending review really opened my eyes to how little the lesser line items matter. Who gives a crap about a few hundred bucks, especially if you’re saving 60% of your income?? (I still need to convince myself of this, haha)

  4. Yeah childcare is always a killer. Before we lucked out and my mother in law started watching the kiddos, we were paying around $2500 a month with one kid. Kids will definitely jack up food costs. It gets annoying when you make or order them something and they change their mind. But from my high cost of living bay area standpoint, I’d kill for a $500 monthly food expense. I could probably lower it a bit if I went out of the way to discount grocers though, I’m willing to pay more for convenience. Mine grocery bill hoovers around $1200 a month–not including eating out. Good luck with the job situation. I was in limbo like that for a few months. If there’s a silver lining, you know you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.

    • Yes, we’re doing fine, I just hate uncertainty so all of the unresolved situations are eating at me. Actually, my wife got the job offer we were hoping for, so we settled that issue. I can’t believe how expensive childcare is, but it’s a temporary expense and we would significantly reduce it if one of us stopped working. In other words, it’s the cost of earning a double income. And I should just stop complaining about the grocery bill, I suppose. My food ranting is over haha.

  5. Congrats on another high water mark!

    The in-flux state of your family right now is not something I’d envy! That’s a lot of change to be juggling around. Sending good vibes your way. Curious: Which suburbs of Richmond are you focusing the home search on? Price range?

    • Thanks! We sorted out Mrs. BF’s job this past week, so that’s one less thing to worry about. We’re targeting the West End of Richmond. If you’re familiar with the area, you know it’s one of the most expensive parts. The neighborhoods, and especially the schools, are really great out here. We’re (reluctantly) in the 400+ price range, which I don’t really feel great about. However, if I’m going to overspend in one area of my life, it should be our home. I guess? Haha stay tuned…

  6. Looks like you guys are making progress down here in VA, neighbor! Glad to read that.

    And! “Update: she just got the offer, and it’s pretty good! Check that one off.”

    That’s fantastic. I’m hoping it works out well for her, you—the whole family. Really exciting.

    So far as housing…well, yep—it’s super rough. Things get snapped up quickly, as you mentioned. I do personally know two realtors that are great people in the area if you want an additional person to work with to keep an eye out. Let me know.

    And for brewing…well, let’s say you better make some extra! 🙂

    • Hey Chris! Thanks, the job prospect I mentioned to you a few weeks ago ended up resulting in an offer. Really happy to settle that one, because now I have the leverage to quit my job again- haha.

      I hate to admit this, but we placed an offer over the weekend that was $40k over asking, we waived all concessions related to inspection, and we STILL didn’t get the house. I’m going to try to be patient here, but it’s tough. Thanks for the offer, we really like our realtor, it’s not her fault it’s impossible to buy a house.

      The first VA beer is going on tap this weekend. I really miss the days when I could congregate around the kegerator with friends and talk about beer. Can’t wait to do it again!


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