Opening balances

🙢 Impetus

I deliberately avoided formalizing any resolutions this new year. I was already in the middle of working toward the goals I had set out when lockdown first hit, and was comfortable simply acknowledging my progress toward them and moving on. And then I kept imagining things Iʼd wind up putting on the portfolio and accompanying blog Iʼd eventually be rolling out, some point between releasing the initial version(s) of the software project(s) Iʼm working on and beginning to look for work in the field. When Russ told me that he did want to do something to honour the year, it seemed like enough things were pointing us toward getting our site up and running that I should go ahead and obey the fates.

The best idea would probably be to draw up an actual plan for this—figure out how best to partition topics, the best technologies to use, how personal I want to get, all that important stuff—but Iʼm not. Iʼm just winging it. So, yʼall will be getting everything from personal musings to FIRE milestones to political manifestos; I might even nod toward this being part of my portfolio and get around to putting some programming notes here 😉. Through it all, though, I want to to emphasize a theme of taking time to appreciate the small things in life. Enough has happened in the past year. Letʼs not forget to enjoy what we can.

🙢 Finances

I donʼt believe in the taboo around peopleʼs finances; Iʼm not going to force discussion where itʼs not wanted, but you donʼt have to be here reading what I write if you donʼt like it, and you donʼt have to read everything I write even if you do like other topics here. But always keeping quiet on what you earn and what you spend seems to me like it can only prolong unfair pay gaps and prevent learning better financial literacy.

After all, almost any personal journey in our Western society will have, at its core, money. Russ and I are currently at a point where we are decidedly not able to go gallivanting off on a sailboat for a year, and so that degree of independence provides a solid ultimate goal. As it approaches, we can determine together what we would value working for, but that is still far enough in the future to just be nebulous dreaming with no noticeable effect on what we do tomorrow.

Instead, a good first goal is a positive net worth. (The first first goal of positive cash flow is one weʼve luckily already reached.) Yes, net worth might not be the most meaningful marker—plenty of people might be living reasonably comfortably while still having decades on their mortgage, and others may be stressed with millions in their accounts—but I donʼt want us to settle for reasonably comfortable, I want us to end up somewhere sustainable, at the very least. I want us to be able to take that year at sea if it strikes our fancy. And we need a certain freedom from debt before we can think about how to develop that resiliency further.

Iʼve built up a lot of university debt through courses and housing (note to students: switching from a liberal arts degree to one in the sciences, in the final term of your junior year, will extend your time there significantly) and just because the pandemic has put the loans into forbearance shouldnʼt mean I act as if theyʼre gone—instead it provides a wonderful opportunity to throw more money at paying them off since 100% of the payments go to principle at this point. I also decided to take a step back after graduating, treating these past few years as gap years before I get something that actually uses that software engineering degree, and instead have been working a retail job that I absolutely love. It does unfortunately come with a retail‐scale paycheck.

As part of that stepping back, Iʼve moved back home with my parents to be present as my baby sisters grew up. That appreciation of small things in life? I donʼt want to be just stories to them. Besides, it allows me to pay an even $0 in rent!

Russ… is a long story for another time, but he doesnʼt currently have much of a footprint on our finances. Eventually, we hope his presence in our life grows, but for now, the division of labor is simple.

🙚 Report

Thereʼs a thread on the Mr. Money Mustache forums which was started for those of us in negative net worth to track that exact goal—giving us a place to celebrate or ask for brief support. That thread is one of the inspirations for this blog, as my first post there proved that I canʼt keep my commentary to anything resembling brief. I plan to post these updates quarterly, which should hopefully provide plenty of time for other topics to spring up between them.

Assets & liabilities
Account Balance
Cash flow
Stream Balance