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  • Late Start Earner

🗓 Monthly Snapshot: February 2021

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

How well did I track against my goals this month?

I plan to write a post at the end of each month that tracks my health and progress towards goals. These cover the following main categories:

  1. FI (Financial Independence) Contributions

  2. Monthly Discretionary Spending Budget

  3. Monthly Flows Breakdown

  4. Self-Care

Check out my annual goals for 2021 and a detailed overview of how I think about my monthly tracking in my January 2021 Monthly Snapshot. Alright, let's dig in!

1. FI Contributions

Here is how I did at the end of February:

  • Roth IRA: Exceeded YTD goal --> 100% Complete! Similar to last month, I lump-sum contributed my savings and was able to max out my 2021 Roth IRA contribution limit. Also, similar to last month, due to the market crash I probably would have been better served had I waited. Oh, the joys of investing!

  • Pre-Tax 401k: YTD goal: On-Track. I maintained the per-paycheck retirement percentage contribution that meets my annual goals for both paychecks this month.

  • After-Tax 401k: YTD goal: On-Track. I maintained the per-paycheck retirement percentage contribution that meets my annual goals for both paychecks this month.

  • Emergency Fund:YTD goal: On-Track. I cashed out my recently vested RSUs and dumped them into my Emergency Fund account. It is really nice to have that extra cash lying in the account, however, next month it will likely get cut in half: I scheduled a $3K withdrawal on March 1st to meet the minimum balance investment requirement for Vanguard's VTSAX in my taxable brokerage account, and I also anticipate that next month a chunk of it will be spent on large renovations projects on the getaway property.

  • FI Investment:YTD goal: On-Track. I bought 5 shares of TSLA and 30 shares of AAPL with the rest of my RSU vest. In the future, I plan to invest in VTSAX instead of individual stock shares.

Overall, my February 2021 FI Contribution goals were ✅ On-Track (5/5 goals).

2. Monthly Discretionary Spending

At the outset of the year, my annual goal allowed for $20K in discretionary spending, split about equally between food and other spending. On a monthly basis, this allows for $1666.67/month of total discretionary spending, which I have rounded down to $1600/month to make it easier to track. In my Discretionary Spending chart below, I perform an easy sum of what my credit card company categorized as food/groceries, and then dump the remainder of my credit card transactions into the "Spending" bucket. This is where I get my "Unadjusted" number from, since it is the raw transaction totals coming from my credit card. From there, I deduct out reimbursements, shared expenses, and alternative spending categories to get my "Actual" number for the month. Finally, the "Budgeted" category is simply what I allowed myself for the month.

Here's how I did in February:

  • Food: Below Monthly Spending Target --> Success! I had takeout 4 times this month (~$14/takeout), took 4 large in-city grocery trips, 1 large in-town grocery trip while at our getaway property, and a handful of smaller grocery runs. This month, I actively tried cooking and eating down our pantry, while also replenishing our stock of staples like coffee. Some favorite meals: Shrimp and Mushroom Linguine in a Garlic Butter White Wine sauce, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Very Best Burgers and crispy fries and tater tots, Spicy Chile Oil and Black Bean Sweet Tofu Lettuce Wraps, and Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies.

  • Spending: Below Monthly Spending Target --> Success! I just barely made it under budget this month! Some larger expenses included a $100 donation to a local food charity, $95 for my annual credit card membership fee, and $92 in pet supplies. The differential between "Unadjusted" and "Adjusted" values come from purchases for renovations on our getaway property.

Overall, my February 2021 Discretionary Spending goals were ✅ On-Track (2/2 goals).

3. Monthly Flows Breakdown

This section breaks down all the money coming out of my checking account for the month. It may not match up all the way with money in any of the previous sections, since I sometimes pay the entire previous month's credit card bill and/or pre-pay my credit card to reduce the ultimate monthly balance.

Overall, my February 2021 Monthly Flow was ✅ On-Track.

4. Self-Care

I honestly believe there is no point in pursuing FI if you're not simultaneously building the life habits and experiences throughout the journey to learn how to enjoy FI once you get there. When thinking about self-care, there are a few categories I keep in mind:

  • Stress levels: Work, Financial, Personal

  • Physical Fitness (3x/week)

  • Daily Habits: Sleep, Walks, Meditation, Yoga/Breathing or light exercise

  • Mindfulness: Mindful eating, drinking, intentional time spent

Stress: I felt overwhelmingly busy at work this past month. There were a number of high-profile problems requiring resolution, and I was in the center of driving several projects while simultaneously trying to make a dent in several more. At the same time, towards the end of the month I was able to act on advice to leverage more support from others on my team and offload some responsibilities to others. This helped me regain some semblance of sanity. From a financial stress perspective, I still need to get more comfortable with the decision-making process behind RSU vests and digesting the fact that our getaway property renovations will always cost more than expected.

Health: It was weirdly cold and snowy so I spent less time outside, caught the common cold, and had trouble sleeping for more than a couple weeks. That being said, I made an effort to set time aside for light exercise 2-3x/week for 3 weeks.

Fun: I really appreciated the pockets of quality time my boyfriend and I were able to share by having dinner, watching a couple of television series, and even playing video games! I started playing a co-op video game with my boyfriend and am getting hooked! It took me by surprise because I'm not much of a video gamer and have never owned a console in my post-elementary school life.

I also made plans on the weekends to catch up with old friends and colleagues over Zoom. I really appreciated the opportunity to bond, hear updates, and share stories and laughs.

Overall, my February 2021 Self-Care 😊 Improved but 🤥 Still Needs Improvement.


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