I know it’s been a while since I last posted, and for that I apologize! Work and my personal life have been a little busy recently (young professional life!). I also am somewhat struggling to find new topics to post on. After 4 years of blogging (can you believe it’s been that long?), I’ve covered so many different financial topics over hundreds of articles. I thought that this week I might take it a little personal and let you into the financial mind of YMF, seeing what’s been financially up with me and what’s been on my mind. I often get asked what YMF would do in a certain situation, so hopefully this will give you some insight into how I think through things!
From an income standpoint, things are going quite well. A little over a year ago, I made a job change and have been working at the new place since. It was definitely a great career decision for me! As with some other companies, January/February is raise/bonus time so that’s pretty legit. The bonus is a lot more substantial compared to the raise but I’ll take it! My current financial situation is thankfully pretty good, with a decently comfortable personal life. My wife and I take a few trips each year, eat out from time to time, and are able to buy new things as the needs arise. It’s taken a long time but with the hard work of paying down debt, saving up an emergency fund and controlling our spending we’ve been able to succeed. With the bonus/raise, I’ll probably save most of it. We’re trying to build up our house fund (I realize that upgrades/replacements will likely be in the future) and my wife’s considering grad school. I’m still working my side hustle, which is a fun way to make a little ‘mad money’ that I can spend at my leisure. Finally, I’m still invested with Lending Club and have still experienced a 9% return on my investment. Other friends haven’t fared as well and have pulled out, but my experience has been positive so I’m sticking with it.
It’s funny how as your income grows, so do your expenses. It seems like every month something is coming up that force us to spend a little more and save a little less. We thankfully survived the Holidays, which always seems to be an expensive time of year. From car repairs to a big weekend out to celebrate birthdays, there always seems something popping up. Maybe I should readjust my budget to allow more in the General Living & Fun categories and just be more realistic with myself. Turning in the electric car has certainly led to a high gas bill now that we’re back to two gas vehicles. My wife recently joined the Crossfit gym I attend, so that was an increased expense ($100/mo) but I try to look at that more as an investment in our health. All in all, we’ve managed to keep our expenses under control and are able to save money each month.
One of the big investing updates is the fact that we refinanced our house late last year. We were able to lower our interest rate by almost 1% and remove PMI. I know that came as a shock to some friends that YMF was paying PMI (private mortgage insurance, have to pay until you have 20% equity in your house), but buying when we did ended up being a smart move given the appreciation in value we’ve seen. Despite lowering our monthly payment by $300/mo, we’ve still been paying what we paid before refinancing, which means we’re paying down an extra $300 in principal each month than we were before. Not bad! I’ve also come to the realization that our savings isn’t where it should be. Sure we have an emergency fund that would last us a few months but I think we could have more of a cushion. We’re at a time in our lives where we don’t have a ton of liabilities and I know that will change in the future with kids, the house getting older and the need to replace our cars. I’ve pretty much slowed on my general investing (still doing 15% for retirement) and have been trying to place that money into savings accounts. A lot of my financial moves in the past few years were focuses on other areas from savings (i.e. buying a house, saving 15% for retirement, paying cash for two cars) and while good financial moves, saving money will be the priority moving forward. I think that knowing that we’re preparing for our future will definitely help set up us for success in the long term. I’m also still participating in my company’s employee stock purchase program, with the current cycle ending 3/31, meaning I’ll convert the cash I’ve set aside into stock. I did lower the contribution rate after my realization that I need to save more but getting the 15% discount on the stock price is tough to pass up on. Quick side note – if you’re not earning closer to 1% at your bank with your savings account; check out one of the online savings banks. I use Capital One and have really enjoyed earning more than what my regular bank is paying me!
So, that’s a little insight into the mind of YMF! Just like you I certainly enjoy spending money and living life to the fullest. I try to balance my savings vs. my expenses to maximize the here and now vs. the future. Although there’s certainly room for improvement, I’m pleased with my progress so far. I spent a lot of years saying “no” much more than I would have liked and painfully watching my investments/savings balance grow; little by little. Even YMF doesn’t have it all figured out but I’m certainly doing the best that I can!