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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
|Shopping / Misc.||$329|
|Total||$6,950||minus 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.