Net Worth Tracker: November 2017

I love November. Usually it is the height of fall in the DC region and it also kicks off the start of the holiday season. I love seeing my family and spending time with them, and Thanksgiving is the first opportunity we’ve had in several months to do that. Additionally, this Thanksgiving was extra special because it was the first time many of my family members got to meet NFF Jr.

Financially, November was an ok month for us. Mrs. NFF is not back at work yet, and her limited maternity leave policy meant we went this month without any income from her. Maternity/Paternity policies in the US are truly f***ed up. We are fortunate that Mrs. NFF could take 3 months off work (half of it unpaid) and be ok, but I can’t image how the millions of other families in the US deal with it. read more

Net Worth Tracker: October 2017

The first half of October was a busy month for us. We spent 2 weeks in Maine enjoying the start of the fall season. I was expecting to have to travel for work during those weeks, but project delays meant I got to spend every night with my wife and son. Returning to a travel schedule is going to be hard for both me and Mrs. NFF, so the longer I can delay that the better.

All of the travel, along with Mrs. NFF’s birthday, certainly added some additional costs to our budget this month. We also had renewals of larger expenses, like car insurance. I know I plan for those charges, but mentally it is still challenging to see such a large expense hit our credit card. Despite all of that, we still managed to grow our net worth by $11,516. It wasn’t our best month this year, but it definitely wasn’t our worst. Most of the gains (~$7,600) came from increases in the stock market which helped to lift our 401k and other retirement account balances. The rest was a result of our monthly savings, which goes directly towards our house fund. read more

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The 411 on 529s

I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial here, but I think giving your children a solid education is the best gift a parent can provide. Despite the nationalistic economic trends emerging throughout the globe, the (high paying) jobs of the future will continue to require a strong education in order to compete globally. Additionally, there is strong research out there forecasting that the economic divide among the millennial and future generations is going to be much less based on race, and more based on who was able to graduate college without student debt. I owe so much of my current financial situation to the fact that I was able to graduate one of the most expensive schools in the country completely debt free.

As a new parent, saving enough to send my kid to college ranks as one of my top goals. While it doesn’t beat out retirement (you can’t borrow money for retirement but you can for school), it does beat out EARLY retirement. I would view it as a worthy sacrifice to have to work a couple of extra years if it meant sending my child to school debt-free. Though I have learned one thing over the last several weeks: the cost of college is scary high. I mean, it-Halloween-month-so-culturally-relevant-IT-remake scary. read more

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We Froze Our Credit, Here’s How

The Equifax breach in early September, though not the largest data breach in history, spooked me like no other data breach has. Target, EBay, Sony, all of these data hacks I watched come and go, changing little about my every day actions. Equifax, however, just feels different. Maybe because it’s the ground zero of credit, or maybe because it has much more information about me than any other company would have (except maybe Amazon?). After talking with a few family members, I decided to freeze my wife and my credit.

What is a credit freeze?

According to the FTC’s website, a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report only to your existing creditors and certain government agencies. Because creditors won’t issue new accounts without seeing your credit report first, restricted access makes it very difficult for thieves to use your credit information to open accounts in your name. read more

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Net Worth Tracker: September 2017

September was a big month for Mrs. NFF and I. We brought our new baby home from the hospital, we celebrate our 2-year marriage anniversary, I celebrated my 2-year anniversary at my company, and I turned one year older. Fall (my favorite season) is here, and we celebrated by traveling to Maine this past week to see the first leaves begin to change.


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What Does It Mean To Be Vested?

Last Sunday, I hit a major milestone at my company. I have officially been working here for 2 years. In some ways, it feels like I’m just starting but in others I feel like a seasoned veteran. This is especially true since the average job tenure of people my age is just 3 years (should I be looking for a new job already?). The anniversary date came and went without any fanfare. I didn’t get to chose an anniversary gift out of a magazine, or even receive a card from my company. I actually got something much, much better: I vested.

What is Vesting?

Vesting is a term used to describe how much of your 401k you are allowed to take with you if you leave the company. You may be thinking “Wait, I don’t get to keep my entire 401k?” Before you overreact, I want to be clear that vesting only applies to the portion that your company contributes. If you invest $5,000 in your 401k, and your company contributes $1,000, vesting only applies to the $1,000. You get to keep your $5,000 plus whatever you’ve earned in the market when you leave. read more

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Spending Report: August 2017

Having a strong understanding of where your money is going is the first step on any financial journey. In Managing Our Finances with Mint, I talk about how Mrs. NFF and I use Mint to track all of our financial expenses and which categories we use to segment our spending. At the end of the month, I find it useful to go through our monthly expenses to how we did, and how to respond to unexpected changes to our spending. I hope by sharing my assessment with you, can you take a similar approach with your own spending self-assessment.

August 2017 Overview: Total Spending – $7,199 read more

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Managing Our Finances as a Couple

Before my wife and I got married, we had a long conversation about how we wanted to handle our finances as a married couple. Previously, we were using a shared checking account for shared expenses like rent and utilities when we were living together, but marriage was an entirely new ball game. There were very different levels of student loans to pay off at various interest rates, as well as vastly different salaries with which to pay them. We needed to find an approach that allowed us to share in our financial successes and failures that also helped to control some of our worst financial habits.

It should be noted that our approach has worked for us, but that is not to say it will work perfectly for everyone else. People have different attitudes about money, financial situations, and financial goals, all of which should be factored in when decided on your own approach. read more

My Money Mistakes: Holding Onto a Bad Stock for Tax Reasons

While I hope to fill this blog with tips and tricks I’ve learned from my successes in achieving my goals, I know that I will inevitably make mistakes along the way. My hope is that by telling you about them, I can learn from them and hopefully help you to avoid them in your own journey to financial independence and early retirement.

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell read more

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