Welcome back to My Early Retirement Journey. In case you’re just joining us, here’s a little bit about me. I am a single 30-something, openly Christian, hesitantly immigrant-y, human woman. I love watching TV while eating takeout, and I want to retire early. I currently work as a consultant in a tele-health call center making around $40/hr. I started my professional life in 2015 at the ripe ole age of 31 after a few false starts. I spent 2016 paying off about $10,000 worth of credit card debt. I spent 2017 paying off about $20,000 in private student loans; I still have about $300,000 in federal student loans for which I am currently on an income-based repayment plan for the next 25 years, give or take. I started really getting into savings and investing late 2017 when I stumbled upon the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community. In 2018, I made the decision to try to save for a sabbatical and maybe if all goes well continue the journey to early retirement. Along this journey, I give weekly updates just like this one. Come along with me, I urge you!
Monday – Monday was a great day. I worked 9a-5p. It’s so busy at work! I was stacking calls left and right. Nothing too bad though. Explored some visualizations inspired by Four Pillar Freedom (4PF). It took two hours to remember how to use Excel and get my data entered correctly, but once I did the chart was a cinch! It looks great! I just looked at it in wonder. Creating things never ceases to amazes me. Shh…don’t tell but I may or may not have hit the $100k mark this month! My savings and investment update is scheduled to publish this weekend so be ready for that! I also downloaded 4PF’s mini-Excel course to see if I can learn something new. Eh, had toyed around with a second job for the summer with these long days. But maybe I should just rest? Single girl dinner: 1 cup of rice + 1/2 can of sardines + dried onions sprinkled. Yum!
Tuesday – Inspired by the work I did tracking, visualizing, and updating my savings and investment spreadsheet yesterday coupled with tracking Aunty MERJ’s expenses, I decided to tackle tracking my annual expenses. I encountered a few different spreadsheets of late and finally settled on the Google Sheets template for Annual Budget. It had a lot of categories that I tried to eliminate at first but after spending some more time with it, I just used it as is. I think it’ll be interesting to see how those one-off expenses add up in the end. I thought it would be too time-consuming, and it did take about 2 hours. And that’s with 2 screens. But it felt like a victory to see all my expenses right there. Once I got into data entry mode, I took the emotions out of it and was able to input the data without much reflection. In truth, that’s one of the reasons I don’t do the zero dollar accounting when tracking my expenses – I can’t guarantee how I’ll feel afterwards.
Anyway, I did it and it feels awesome! Had another little creation high. The spreadsheet isn’t perfect because I couldn’t eliminate unnecessary categories without disrupting the formulas and I couldn’t find a good way to account for savings so I just listed them as an expense. I mean they say pay yourself first right, so that works for now. I recommend it if you’re exploring spreadsheet tracking. If you have a Gmail account just go to Google docs > Google sheets and the template is right there. What really sold me was the summary and the cursory little bar graph at the end. So far I haven’t found a good way to track both income, expenses, and savings and investments in one place. I guess that software all the big time bloggers promote is probably the answer. The manual tracking is alright for now. Any tips on getting out of a car loan? Aunty MERJ has paid principal plus about 30% in interest and fees on a usurious car loan and I can’t find a way out.
Wednesday – Had the day scheduled off, but my apartment was so warm when I woke up and there was construction noise. Decided to head in after some debate. Only have $6 left on BlueBird card, so not sure what I can spend it on in terms of take-out. Also not much on TV these days. Now I’m at work and thinking of just working a half-day. Talked to Aunty MERJ and now she wants to go to the doctor, but she’s in Maryland and I’m in NC. Not sure how she’s going to get a ride as all our family up there live active-full-time-job-lives (all 4 siblings, and 5 adult nieces and nephews). She transferred her urgency to me and I suggested she go to urgent care or the emergency room. A friend might be able to take her, might not. I suddenly start panicking. What do I do!
Once off the phone, I looked at the situation more logically. Choice A: arrange for a nurse assistant to take her to urgent care and likely ED @ $26/hr x 4 hrs minimum + miles (I know this readily because I looked into it for my surgery. Choice B: She wait until July when I can go pick her up and bring her back to NC and establish care. She seemed to think she could just go to MD and go to “the doctor” and get checked out. It doesn’t quite work like that and now she’s frustrated. Likely an internal medicine doctor isn’t going to “fix” her in just one visit. She’ll have to find one, make an appointment, find a way there, and then likely see several specialists all of which will require phone calls and appointment which she may or may not be able to do. Why don’t I do it? Well I initially went to Tampa to bring her back to NC so we could establish care here, but she refused to go because she wanted so much to attend my cousins’ graduation. How can you get mad at someone who’s lost their cognitive ability to reason well?
The only choice I thought I had to make today was what I wanted for lunch…oh and maybe if I wanted to come into work today. Now have already searched for a mattress, box, spring, bed frame and created an ad to sell my desk to create space for her unpredictable visits. At least some separation might ease the tension. We shared a bed for the ten days she was here last. No bueno!
Thursday – On my lunch break. Just talked to Aunty MERJ. Every day is truly a new day. Now her skin is itching her so badly she’s no longer having a good time, likely due to past medical history significant for chronic kidney disease. I don’t know what medication she was on that was helping or if it was helping. What I saw when I was last there is not what she told me was working. What I saw before was a cream in a tube. On last visit in March, I saw an oil in a bottle. The only RX I could find in her med list was for the oil. Her last mission was getting to the graduation. Now that that’s over, the only thing she wants to talk about is finding a doctor. Somehow she is having trouble “finding a doctor.” I can’t quite understand what she’s trying to do and of course she can’t properly communicate. I put my desk on sale on Craig’s list last night to try to make room for her. Then she says she’d rather be in MD than NC. When I finally mustered the courage to ask why, she said it’s because she has her own room. Ughhh…this is way out of my healthy zone. I don’t even want to say comfort, because I’m willing to be uncomfortable but my mental state is at unrest when I can’t properly plan for or anticipate the future. I generally cut out things from my life that have variable outcomes. Oy!
Friday – Worked till 2p. Spent breaks and lunch trying to get a ride to urgent care or a new refill for Aunty MERJ. Got the refill. Phew. Praise the Lord! Eye-twitch came back. Creative energy zapped. Had some ideas to add to this post but feeling a bit drained. Ugh. Had doctor’s appointment ($30) at 3p. After a 40 minute drive, waited on drafty exam table for an hour with no bottoms. Was about to leave 1 hour after my appointment time and finally doctor came in. Saw her for 17 minutes. Ugh. Blocked GI again. Was going to watch the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy this weekend but not in the mood right now. Overall, bought a few non-essential items at my weekly Walmart errand run and have a couple more planned. So far bought 2 boxes of cereal and a pair of sandals totaling about $17 plus tax. This happens sometimes when I become aware of my budget or finances. Goal seems daunting = spend more; goal seems achievable = spend more; right on or near target = no change in spending or slightly more thrifty. Overall though the Amex Bluebird card worked because when I had no money on it, I didn’t want to use my bank card to get fast food. It felt… a bit much? Unnecessary?
Alright it’s 8pm EST. Gonna lay down on my belly and wait for the next day to come. If I were to take a beat and count my blessings this week a number of positive things happened including: getting featured on WomenMoneyTalks, reaching another financial milestone, re-learning a new skill and more…. It doesn’t feel like it at this exact moment, but I was happy just yesterday.
TV this week: 100% Hotter, New Girl reruns at night, Jane the Virgin, Champions (ahhh, I didn’t know The Mindy Project was reincarnated into a half-Indian gay teen-aged boy!!! why did no one tell me), For The People, The Middle
Takeout this week: Jerk chicken and rice
BlueBird (no affiliate) balance: $111.60
Note: I use the Amex BlueBird prepaid card in my current Working Budget for regular monthly expenses (groceries, eating out, phone, gas, etc..). My last budget update 03Mar2018 showed this line item as $540/mon (down from $600/mon), but in April 2018 I decided to challenge myself to $430/mon based on my idea that my bare bones budget, if needed and possibly in early retirement, is 500/500/500 housing/student loan/expenses. Since my loans are currently $566/mon I subtracted that $66 from the $500 for expenses and rounded down.
Next pay date: $215 is auto-deposited the 8th and 23rd of every month.
- Must Read! My Week Ending Jun 1, 2018: Terrace House, Subway, Li’l Smokies
- My Week Ending May 25, 2018: Dominica, Design Your Life, Commencement