Note 1: I don’t think I get a happy, accomplished buzz of writing net worth reports anymore so this is an isolated update! I do feel our “accumulation” is over – we don’t side hustle much anymore. We’re parents now ^_^ better to spend time with family first.
Note 2: On my Twitter, I asked for personal advice on what to do regarding hitting $3 million. You see the whole chat thread on Twitter. There’s a lot of great advice from the brilliant people in the finance community. I was expecting troll replies or people calling me cop out for not FIRE-ing even though hubby and I both are not fully ready for all reasons besides money. But what came was a good consensus of all the concerns and “what-ifs” we had, which made me feel less crazy for thinking we’re not ready.
Note 3: We’re kicking up our fat/FIRE goal to $5 million for now. Our original goal was $3 million (liquid) but with insane inflation, we don’t feel right to retire in our early 30s. We’re also planning to have more kids someday (woo~), so we need to up that number. We also forgot to include AGING parents in that original FIRE goal. Lastly, we decided to stay in our HCOL area. We really LOVE living in the Pacific Northwest and it’s well worth grinding it out here than move anywhere else cheaper.
Note 4: I wish we had a 7 figure business or have super high sports stars salaries, but nope! We’re just the neighbor’s next door. And I find our wealth journey is more of a testament to the good old way of wealth building all of which was mentioned in, you guessed it my favorite PF book, The Millionaire’s Next Door.
OK now let’s start!
Are you curious about fatFIRE? I’ve always wondered how wealth builds over time. We’re creatures of pattern so we naturally look for benchmarks. Anything to keep on track of a dream FIRE lifestyle. That’s why I wanted to share this post with some half-baked lessons sprinkled in.
First of all, I’m pretty darn sure we’re not the only ones who have recently hit the 3rd million now. I know there are other 30-somethings-year-olds out there in the FIRE community with lots more $$$ now. I mean it has been a few years, and I know at least a few readers who had similar (if not better!) savings, earnings, and investments than us.
Secondly, I didn’t want to share this milestone initially because it seemed a little inappropriate, given we’re still in a pandemic. But damn this 3rd million came and left already, and we’re still struggling with the same health pandemic a year later. So what the hell, new normal.
COVID keeps evolving, and you keep not.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) August 23, 2021
The pandemic was one main reason why I completely skipped over the $2 million net worth update/milestone on this blog. Although our 2nd million was special too I didn’t feel like I was allowed to talk about it when a health pandemic started. Plus we had our hands full with a newborn, and newborns amidst a global pandemic definitely didn’t come with instructions.
And the last thing I wanted to clarify: nothing major happened to change wealth or accumulation.
No rich uncle died. We didn’t take up any crazy investment strategy. We didn’t get an income boost. I freaking wish!! We’re losers.
In fact, new baby coming, I naturally had to give up my Airbnb side hustle. Plus only 1 of my web businesses had the scalable success I originally hoped for.
For another 9 months, I took 100% time off to soak in pregnant-happy, stress-free self-care. I had a stellar, normal pregnancy. Yes some morning sickness, swollen feet, very mild stretch marks but otherwise, everything went awesomely. I encourage all the hard-working ladies to take a break, and have a posh, spoil me babe pregnancy! Do it for your baby and body at least!
After my glorious pregnancy and awesomeeee birth/labor experience, the shit show started. Newborns are little shits. I didn’t like her for the first 3 months. I took 6 months off unplanned. Our daughter had colic and she was classified as failure to thrive (underweight). We had to call up every specialist and order doctor scans to figure out if it’s something or not. Is it just her genetics or does she have some rare disease where she can’t eat or gain weight? Nothing ever came from the tests, scans, or blood draws. Soooo I mean my husband’s skinny even though I’ve seen him eat 4 lbs of ice cream in one sitting……..(Lol, it was a contest for a free t-shirt.)
Anyways, I did little work for over a year thanks to pregnancy and baby. My husband definitely ramped down on his work output too. He’s putting in just a bit above 30 hour weeks. So trust me, income DID NOT explain the 3rd million.
This points to the first observable that’s glaringly obvious:
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Table of Contents
1. The First Million *IS* the Hardest
After we became millionaires in 2018, I lost a good chunk of my interest in sharing our net worth publically. I mean, we already hit a big milestone, and it will be a while before we get to 2 million so why keep tracking it monthly? Isn’t it more to life? Of course, there is.
Due to our busy schedules and general desire to enjoy life rather than count the dough, we stopped paying close attention until one day…whoop, third mil. We know it’s “only” 3 million; plenty of rich people and families have 20 million, 200 million, so much more – especially in Silicon Valley! We’re not super smart or overly ambitious people so the stock market pulled most of the weight.
When they said the first million was the hardest, they were RIGHT. Here’s the broad overview of our money timeline so far:
- June 2010: $0
- Nov 2018: $1,000,000
- Feb 2020: $2,000,000
- July 2021: $3,000,000
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2. Earnings Matters…ish?
Income totally matters…for the first million.
Suddenly in a blink, 2 million, then another blink, 3rd million. Income is definitely not the driving force behind this. It helped, but nah, no way, it’s only been less than 4 years!!!!!!
Your salary is going to be the main driving force for that first million…and you know…not having kids or blowing your money on a new boat. Our daughter was a hard second job. Ugh! It wasn’t just money spent on her but the cost of the time (time is money) put into having and raising a baby.
For women thinking of mommyhood someday: save the money first, then have as many kids as you want! Easier that way and you get the best of both worlds. That’s our plan haha.
It’s pretty unfair the responsibility falls harder on women but just how it is. Hedge your bets with an awesome husband, like mine. He’s doing I say 60% of the childcare duties as I’m studying part-time. That’s just how he is, nothing to do with me, he’s a people pleaser/caretaker type.
We took a lot of time off in the past 2 years. ZERO regrets. We bonded like a family should and family ALWAYS comes first. If our income dropped, we didn’t notice any impact at all on the net worth or our “lifestyle.”
We still pay 100% of our taxes and max out those employer-match charity donations every year. P.S. donations come automatically out of pay, and we don’t take that money out of our monthly budget.
3. It’s Totally Outside of Our Control
We don’t have much cash sitting on hand anymore. Besides the house, all else is riding in a theoretical market. No safe, no valuables, no jewelry, no boat, NO physical assets. We drive a used car (market value not included in net worth.)
This net worth growth….just numbers on a screen….has nothing to do with us nor how wealthy or not we feel. 2020 was a dark time fiscally for tons of people. I think American populists have a strong point. There is something very off-balance about the system in this country and it will come to a head eventually.
Anyway, this net worth growth has nothing to do with us; it’s interesting to see the stark contrast though. My husband and I are NORMAL PEOPLE.
It’s almost as if the stock market was nothing but a crock of shit.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 28, 2021
Unfortunately, we are not stock market (or even regular) geniuses, didn’t make crazy money, and I assure you, most of the wealth at this point is outside of our control. We just check every few months and go ok, cool, is monies + or -.
Then we go back to enjoying a boring, family life minus money anxiety.
4. Focusing on What We Can Know
Years ago, we would have been happy with $3 million. After we became parents we shifted our attention from money and work to our (FTT) baby.
$3 mil liquid, our original FIRE figure would have us driving off into the sunset and laying on a hammock in Waikiki forever, we assumed. Now with baby girl added to the pack, we realize how restrictive FIRE can be with very young children. I don’t know the plan right now. It’s not much to do with money, it’s the unknown.
If we couldn’t have kids…I want to go to Vegas and never wake up before 7 AM again! FIRE may not be for us as we’re not SINKs or DINKS. We are traditional on that front: we have dependents young and old. Going solo is not a privilege we have as a family. We will always aim for early retirement but probably not when we’re in our early and mid 30s.
Also, I very, very much want to make sure our baby will be covered for all of her life too. She will go to a top-quality school…she has a caring sweet father….full insurance…involved parents with tons of free time for her…an amazing neighborhood in a bustling vibrant and safe city………..um………..literally everything I didn’t have growing up. I’m a little jealous of her!
Think of it!!! loads of opportunity…summer camps, international travel, holidays, dance n’ art classes, STEM classes, private tutors, bedtime stories, hugs, an actual bed frame…I don’t know, just everything I didn’t have growing up. I’ll shut up now before I start weeping.
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BaristaFI and regular FI won’t be enough in our expensive city, especially if we have more kids. Kicking the fatFIRE figure to $5 million is a good plan for now based on 33x expenses (check out this Retire Early Simulator).
We want to maintain 80% time at work (if we can get it permanently) but otherwise, nothing is changing. We don’t hate our jobs that much yet. Plus work is a large part of our social life, and health coverage ain’t a bad thing man.
Family Expenses / Annual Budget Review for 2020
Oh maybe someone would like to look at our annual spending for the hellish, dumpster fire of 2020. We became first-time parents amidst lockdown so I can attest at least $1,000 of that total number was straight-up pointless crap for our colicky baby.
Our 2020 family spending was higher than in 2019 for reasons I will explain below.
Eating out was surprisingly low, for us. We tried to support our local restaurants but because we had a sickly newborn, I forbade my husband and myself from leaving the house. We had our meals and groceries delivered (thank GOD for Imperfect Produce deliveries, seriously.)
Medical, um, well it’s high because I gave birth in a hospital lol. The bill was $4,000 and that’s with health insurance. We hit our copay and I think it’s 10% after that.
I loved my birth experience so it was 100% worth it.
My birth was not really impacted by Covid-19, I got lucky. Boy did I get lucky.
Our hospital was discussing implementing policies…so we probably missed pandemic hospital protocols by 1 week.
I think I would have cried if pandemic protocols happened to us. I wouldn’t want to choose between hubby and doula as they did in New York City. Pushing is already tiring, imagine pushing in a mask. Poor mommies =( what a crap situation.
For mothers who gave birth in actual covid-restrictions, sister, you are a roaring lion champion of a WOMAN holy crap!
P.S. I fucking loved my birth experience!!! AHHHHHHHH!! xD I want to give birth again!! Don’t want a newborn ever, but birthing again is a hell yes! Maybe I can be a surrogate haha! I am such a good pusher, especially for a first-time birth, let me tell you, my nurses were impressed ^_^
P.P.S DOULAS ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!! If you don’t get one for birth support, you are way too damn CHEAP 😛
We also got a new roof – which was most of the $7,000 total for home maintenance in 2020. The new roof was finished in January 2020. Hopefully, with luck, this roof will last 30 years since we sprang for premium materials and frills.
Vacation….lmao, I think a lot of us got $0 for vacation in 2020.
WST = all utilities. M.I.T =mortgage and stuff.
In summary, I think without the new roof and hospital birth (totaling over $11,000) we did fairly similar to 2019 in terms of overall frugal living.
Our monthly average was $4,300-ish and total annual family spending was $51,000-ish for our family of 4 in 2020. This includes mortgage, water, sewage, internet, everything. (Actually, for the Internet we get a full refund from work, but yeah, still a pricey year.)
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Little Lady Luck Likes Lily…
I wish me or my husband were more successful people, but we’re not Forbes 30 under 30 people. Just a regular couple you probably saw us checking out at Trader Joe’s today.
- We work(ed) hard; much less hard though.
- We try our best to plan for the future and practice good-enough money sense. NO kids are not a good financial decision lmao!! But we did it anyway.
- My husband had great influences and come from a very successful family. I didn’t; I come from trailer park trash man. So let’s call this a draw!
- We have a good bit of luck (but nothing remarkable as if we had $300 million dineros…)
We DO feel lucky though. Like the Universe really REALLLLLY sprinkled me in lucky charms….or just setting me up for a total Punk’d session. It makes up for my childhood is what I tell myself.
In terms of luck, well I don’t have hard evidence…does anyone?!…but I have very specific examples that **I personally find** odd:
1. Sold our rental property at a good time
I’ve talked about this before; selling our Airbnb rental/investment property. We nab $50k – $100k even after repairs and realtor’s cut. That was because we sold it at the second-highest peak month. The local housing market is only slightly higher now but it’s been almost 3 years since then so adjusted, we sold out at a really good time. Of course, we didn’t know it at the time, but thinking back now yes it was “lucky.”
2. Stopped Airbnb hosting a month before pandemic
Our last Airbnb rental closed before my daughter was due! We planned to close earlier because I was 8 months pregnant and chasing after guests but we had some super sweet recurrent guests who love our place and I didn’t want to say no to them.
We officially closed Airbnb in February. Right before the pandemic rocked everything in the U.S. we were able to avoid all of the negative Airbnb stuff. All of it. By 3 weeks.
Headlines like “hosts overleveraged”, “Airbnb host hardships”, “Hosts face 90% cancellations” etc.
I was missing doing Airbnb and then this happened and I was like…OK, OK Lily….you got out at a really good time because the next 2 years are going to suck for travel.
3. Took out $1 million before Covid-19
We took out almost 1 million dollars a week or two before Covid rocked markets. Actually, I remember it was more around $700,000 plus what we already had in cash. I was 9 months pregnant – maybe don’t listen to heavily pregnant women on investing- but it worked out OK.
I told hubby, I want this money sitting safe and out of the market when the baby comes. We also had already $250,000+ in the bank so we now had about $1 million total that was no longer actively invested.
Ballsy, don’t I know it.
OHHH right my other reason/argument to hubby was I wanted to start house hunting ASAP! I thought we could start house hunting 1-2 weeks after the baby comes…fuck I’m stupid. Market was heating up for spring again and I was like, hey, all cash, our baby needs a house!!!!
Didn’t work out that way, at all. I couldn’t even sit down for weeks. So much blood, so much breastmilk ugh @_@
Note 5: we didn’t touch our retirement if you’re wondering. We didn’t touch anything locked in that would cause a tax mess. My husband would never have allowed that no matter how pregnant I was!
I didn’t want my kid to be born and raised in poverty like I was. That’s the shred of logic behind my ‘whim.’
Having that money in absolute, withdrawable figures gave me peace when our kid arrives. It was money not forever going up and down in a very theoretical space.
It proved at the time of her arrival, I was on a better footing than my parents who failed to provide. The classic poor Chinese parent uses their kids as retirement plans when no child should exist to be their parent’s retirement plan. If you disagree with that, get out and don’t ever visit my blog!
My husband was understandably adamant about emptying out our 2 main brokerages on my crazy need to “prove something.” <- his exact words.
He thought I was loopy, which yes yes I am. All the blood from my brain went to my very pregnant feet LOL. But hey, you DON’T say no to your 9-month pregnant wife.
Was there a better way of doing this? Hell yes. In preparation for our first child’s birth, we decided to create a trust fund + will for her. But ugh, we got lazy putting paperwork and signing off.
So us being lazy (HIS fault!) was what got me arguing with hubby on this insane pull-out. Covid was not fully on our radar yet I do recall my husband was already home full-time. I think there was quite a lag between lockdown and the stock market?
“It’s SYMBOLIC honey!”
So out the money comes. I was scheduled to be induced a few days later. The pandemic statistics started getting scary. People were realizing it but nothing was being done yet. Our daughter came very early in the pandemic; avoiding the Covid-19 protocol rules and staff shortages to come. Thank goodness. Any later, it would have sucked.
Who wants the full almost-pandemic covid birth story? I think every mom wants to tell theirs haha…
End of Feb until about freaking May 2020….total blur. Shit show. Especially because our baby had colic and feeding problems. All family help was canceled due to Covid. No flights in, no food around, the house was a MESS. Also, I was going through some weird anxiety mood thing…not postpartum depression exactly…I think I was just tired as fuck.
I legit thought of running away to Mexico with the $950,000 when I left to walk the dog every morning LOL. 😐 Dooooon’t judge me.
We had this enormous amount of money taken out of the market and sitting in our money market while the stock market went down like 20%-30%? I am a bit embarrassed to admit we did try to time the market throwing money back in. That makes me a hypocrite yup I know. Whatever, I was out, mentally/emotionally/physically. I hate colic.
My husband took care of the actual nitty-gritty of investing it back into the now declined post-Covid market. I recall $700k went back in at a 10% dip in late March about 1 week after. The $250k in cash he dropped in slowly (timing it.) I think we caught close to the bottom of the market for $40,000 of that $250k. I did buy a couple of thousand worth of Delta airline stock myself, I still have them. Taxes were more interesting this year for my husband, oy.
We got lucky but I would not recommend us trying that again!
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