• F.I.R.E.,  Monthly Update

    California Livin’ [October & November Update]

    I keep having to remind myself not to judge or shame myself for things not going exactly according to plan. I’ve been dealing with a few setbacks that have had notable impacts, but I’ve also allowed myself to fall into the trap of using them as crutches, and blaming them for my lack of progress. Ultimately, the important thing is how good it will feel to finally reach that finish line, not how bad it feels to face any individual obstacle. I just need to keep the ball rolling.

    The past few months have involved a very notable lack of data again. Sadly, I’m currently in the process of finding a new expense tracking application. While I really do love the user experience and features for analyzing expenses, I’ve been dealing with very crippling bugs and errors with the Wallet by BudgetBakers. I’ve opened several tickets with the support team, but they’ve been slow to respond, and have yet been able to actually resolve any of the issues. At this point, I simply need to cut my losses, try to recuperate my subscription fee, and just find an alternative.

    I’ve also been facing a few regulatory obstacles with opening a business investment account. Turns out, moving back to the US has complicated things significantly and now I need to get creative with how to make those funds available to invest.

    Noteworthy Thoughts

    Fight Through Obstacles

    There have been a few things I haven’t been disciplined about. I’ve failed to remain proactive in opening an investment account for the business, and I’ve failed to remain proactive in resolving my expense tracking application woes. In both cases, what should have been a small hang up and taken a mere hour or two of work and focus to resolve, I’ve instead let prolong for an absolutely unnecessary length of time. As a result, I still lack the ability to invest any of the funds I have within the business, and I no longer have usable expense information for my own understanding and for the purpose of this blog post.

    Part of this lack of proactivity has been shame in having taken so long to make the next step of progress, and part of it has been fear and unfamiliarity with investing. I have all the information and preparation one could want to start this journey, and so much to gain once I do, but this is the first REAL step, so that fear and anxiety are present. I need to fight through these feelings and just make progress. If I can repeatedly do that, things will fall into place.

    Getting Back On Track

    I haven’t made any new investments for a few months if you count cryptocurrency (with which I’ve remained even at best), or a few years if you don’t (which would be my previous 401K allocations). My first biweekly paycheck in November will have a 40% contribution to my 401K with my current employer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the benefit of employer matches for my contributions, but it does provide me with the ability to lower my taxable income by up to $19,500 for the 2021 tax year. This could save me up to $6,500 in taxes come tax season. Plus, all of the contributions are set to automatically purchase a specific index fund that most closely mirrors the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX). The fund I chose is the Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX).

    The next step to take is to resolve the issues that are tying up the funds in the business, and find a way to get those invested. That is over 50% of our Current Net Worth that is unable to be used to reach our F.I.R.E. goals.


    I’ve decided I’m going to modify the order in which I go through the categories for this post. I’ve decided to do this primarily because I lack any kind of consistent insight into current expenses. Assets and debts are things I can reasonably easily collect data for. As this post includes data for two months, I’ve created a table with the status of the accounts as of the 1st of each month.

    October (as of Oct 1, 2021)
    DescriptionCurrencyAmountUSD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$40,071.56$40,071.56
    Business Account, CashCAD$29,416.10$23,254.31
    Bank Account, CashUSD$5,221.94$5,221.94
    Bank Account, CashUSD$6,771.47$6,771.47
    Bank Account, CashCAD$153.64$121.37
    Rental DepositUSD$2,990.00$2,990.00
    401K, VTSAXShares30.239$3,268.23
    Credit Card PointsPTS0$0.00
    • Note that Credit Card Points Current USD Value is based on a redemption rate of 100PTS to USD$1.00

    Total Assets (USD): $83,459.22

    November (as of Nov 1, 2021)
    DescriptionCurrencyAmountUSD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$40,066.56$40,066.56
    Business Account, CashCAD$18,727.55$15,138.04
    Bank Account, CashUSD$11,543.72$11,543.72
    Bank Account, CashUSD$6,942.16$6,942.16
    Bank Account, CashCAD$153.64$124.19
    Rental DepositUSD$2,990.00$2,990.00
    401K, VTSAXShares30.239$3,557.66
    Credit Card PointsPTS10,449$104.49
    • Note that Credit Card Points Current USD Value is based on a redemption rate of 100PTS to USD$1.00

    Total Assets (USD): $82,686.05


    Once again, I’ve split the data so that the information is listed as of the first of each month. The only major thing of notice is that the Corporate Tax Liabilities have been paid, and while the business accounts have decreased accordingly, that portion of the debts has been erased. The Visa card bill is getting on the larger side, but it is out primary means of making purchases, and we had some really large expenses in October (travelling home), so the increase is not necessarily unexpected.

    October (as of Oct 1, 2021)
    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Corporate Tax LiabilityCAD$10,537.01$8,323.92
    Visa CardUSD$1,822.72$1,822.72

    Total Debts (USD): $10,146.64

    November (as of Nov 1, 2021)
    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Visa CardUSD$7,639.21$7,639.21

    Total Debts (USD): $7,639.21

    Net Worth

    I think it’s valuable to begin tracking change in Net Worth. As such, I’ll be including the Net Worth listed on the previous post, the Net Worth on the 1st of each month, and the total change in Net Worth of that time.

    On that note, we can see that our Net Worth has increased about ~$3,000, over the course of 2 months, averaging about ~$1,500 per month. Hopefully, the contributions to my 401K for the new job will help increase this over time with the tax breaks and investment gains.

    Net Worth – Sept 1st, 2021 (USD): $72,028.94

    Net Worth – Oct 1st, 2021 (USD): $73,312.58

    Net Worth – Nov 1st, 2021 (USD): $75,046.84

    Net Worth Change (USD): $3,017.90


    Here’s a breakdown of all the income we’ve had over the course of the last 2 months. For my own personal income, these amounts are after income tax withholdings. Starting this upcoming month, a portion of that employment income will be getting diverted to a 401K account for investments.

    Fatima’s Part-Time Contract IncomeSeptemberUSD$49.00
    Patrick’s Employment IncomeSeptemberUSD$11,416.71
    Fatima’s Part-Time Contract IncomeOctoberUSD$1,010.00
    Patrick’s Employment IncomeOctoberUSD$10,142.38

    Total Income – September (USD): $11,465.71

    Total Income – October (USD): $11,152.38

    Total Income (USD): $22,618.09


    While a lack of categorization means I won’t be able to analyze much in the way of day to day expenses, I will analyze the large expenditures. First, let’s look at September.

    SkydivingLife & Entertainment$1,405.72
    Pet DepositHousing$500.00

    It was an expensive month when it comes to furnishing the house. While I don’t have an exact breakdown, simply looking at expenses for locations that are for home furnishings, and specifically remembering certain purchases, I can estimate at least ~$3,300 in furniture and other things for the house. This includes a TV, a new mattress, some desks, a dishwasher, dining room furniture, and everything in between. September also included a lot of expenses for Skydiving, as I had some certifications, gear, and jumps that I purchased. Some rough math tells me that once I account for the reduction in debt for the Visa card that my numbers are close enough to be satisfied.

    One of the very important things to note is that Fatima and I adopted a dog on October 30th. Her name is Kalista, and she is an absolute angel and pleasure to have around the house. As would be expected though, along with her love, she also brings some expenses as well. The expenses here are for her adoption fees and a handful of items to prepare for her arrival.

    So let’s examine large expenses for October.

    Various Travel & ActivitiesTravel$1,577.37
    Car MaintenanceVehicle$125.81

    Aside from the expenses for Kalista, the standout expenses are for our trip to Canada ($1,577.37) and for Fatima’s school tuition ($2,088.00). I also upgraded my Skydiving camera and purchased the new GoPro as I’ve been using a 7 year old model. Accounting for the longer list of small expenses for the month, and the increase in Net Worth, some rough math confirms again that this is a close estimation.

    To those of you reading these posts, thank you very much, and I appreciate your time. I hope your financial goals are coming closer to being a reality in your life! As always, if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email.

  • F.I.R.E.,  Monthly Update

    The New Normal [September Update]

    We are back on track. Now it’s just a matter of keeping it that way. This month was… expensive. But I also started bringing in my new income, so we can start running some new numbers and calculations. Similarly to the last update though, there will be a hole in some of the data given I was not recording expenses for the start of the month. Let’s dive in!

    Noteworthy Thoughts

    Bang for Buck

    If there’s one thing I noticed this month, it’s that the value and enjoyment you get for your money varies dramatically based on what you use the money for. For myself personally, there was a VERY large amount of money spent on activities and hobbies, but the fun and joy I received from it felt like it was worth every single penny. On the other hand, our largest expense was for a rental deposit, and even we will get most or all of that back in a year or so, it definitely didn’t feel like it has brought a whole lot of joy to my life (though it seems the price tag was a necessary evil for having a place to live). I think the key to feeling happy and comfortable with our financial situation might mean keeping a close eye on purchases that don’t seem to provide much fulfillment or happiness. Further, I think it’ll help to try to optimize and get even better bang for buck for the expenses that do provide a lot of enjoyment to begin with.

    Moving Is Expensive (In Both Time And Money)

    Granted, we moved halfway around the world, but leaving our place in Thailand, organizing the move back, finding a new place to stay in, and finally moving everything is EXPENSIVE! Between the flights, the rental deposit, all the new furniture, appliances and other home shopping, the total bill for the move was quite high, and that only takes into account the financial cost. The emotional and physical toll it took on us was also quite heavy. There was so much time and effort invested into looking for a new apartment, organizing insurance for our car and new apartment, finding, buying and setting up all of the appliances and amenities you would expect in a home, actually moving everything over, and on and on and on… In the future, we need to be aware of the cost (financial and emotional/physical) that comes with a move. It is certainly not a trivial one.


    Well, I finally have a new means of employment. One that will be much more stable and lucrative. Also, this income is now employment income instead of untaxed contract revenue. Given my start date, and my employer’s pay cycle, I only received one payment this month, but things should be slightly more than double next month.

    Patrick’s Employment Income (USD): $5,304.95

    Total Income (USD): $5,304.95


    I managed to get our expense tracking app to reset the base currency to USD, but there still appear to be a few bugs. At least for now though, things are usable. I also managed to resolve the connectivity issues with my bank, so it seems like the automated records are coming in again (though it does seem like I need to reset that connection every so often).

    Life & Entertainment$1,959.63
    Food & Drinks$1,678.96
    Financial Expenses$42.00

    This is unfortunately still not a full picture of our expenses and there are probably some expenses that were untracked at the beginning of the month. Surprisingly though, I actually think this covers 70% or more of our expenses because we don’t use cash that much, and our debit and credit card expenses are still recorded and handled by the bank, and thus tracked by our app. Here’s a breakdown of our larger expenses for August.

    SkydivingLife & Entertainment$1,456.00
    GroceriesFood & Drinks$926.26
    Eating OutFood & Drinks$746.49
    Other Home & GardenShopping$353.41
    Clothes & ShoesShopping$299.46
    Air FryerShopping$179.00
    AAA Membership & InsuranceVehicle$175.50
    BooksLife & Entertainment$122.97
    Property InsuranceHousing$106.00

    I decided that my threshold for inclusion in this would be USD$100.00, and that I would call out anything else in particular that was close, but out of the ordinary. Obviously, a large chunk of our expenses go towards 5 things – our rental deposit, my skydiving activities, rent, and food (groceries and eating out).

    Luckily, we know that the deposit is a 1 time expense, and in fact, I plan on listing it as an asset because we’ll be getting most of it back (though it is sadly an asset that will not increase in value). Our rent expenses are going to increase to USD$1,990.00 per month, and the reason August was so low was because it was only a partial month.

    While I fully expect there to be several hundred dollars in skydiving expenses on a regular basis going forward, these expenses were likely a little higher than what a normal month would include. In August, I kind of splurged and those skydiving expenses include:

    • USD$506.00 for jump tickets (22) at Skydive Santa Barbara
    • USD$125.00 for a ground school at Skydive Santa Barbara to get recurrent on my license
    • USD$280.00 for jump tickets (10) at Skydive Perris in LA for training purposes
    • USD$150.00 for a balloon jump near Skydive Perris
    • USD$125.00 for a course to recertify my instructor rating in Skydive Elsinore
    • USD$270.00 for other various small expenses associated with jumping

    In reality, I can probably expect somewhere around $600.00 per month in Skydiving expenses going forward because I expect I will probably be at Skydive Perris once per month, spending about $280.00 on jump tickets, and I expect that I’ll go through about 13 or 14 tickets per month at Skydive Santa Barbara (valued around ~$300) because I can supplement those tickets with jumps as an instructor.

    With regards to food and drinks, those expenses will probably increase because we spent a significant amount of August living with Fatima’s family, and that certainly reduced our out of pocket food expenses. Exactly how much that will go up, I’m not strictly certain, but it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on.

    Total Expenses (USD): $8,998.05


    During this month, we managed to liquidate our remaining Thai Baht assets and convert them into USD, so we are now down to two different currencies – US Dollars and Canadian Dollars. Sadly though, I’m currently having some issues with changes of address and verification related stuff for my CAD personal bank account, so I won’t have an updated value for the account. That being said, it has a low value to begin with, and won’t have dramatically changed from the last known balance. Also of note here is that for the first time, I’ve included Fatima’s account balance here as a separate account

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$40,076.56$40,076.56
    Business Account, CashCAD$29,421.10$23,420.71
    Bank Account, CashUSD$7,142.16$7,142.16
    Bank Account, CashUSD$6,734.44$6,734.44
    Bank Account, CashCAD$169.54*$134.96*
    Rental DepositUSD$2,490.00$2,490.00
    401K, VTSAXShares30.147$3,438.26
    Credit Card PointsPTS48,167$481.67
    • Note that Credit Card Points Current USD Value is based on a redemption rate of 100PTS to USD$1.00

    Total Assets (USD): $85,642.14


    As usual, our debts are exclusively credit card debt and the business tax liabilities, though those are now much clearer as the company finances and taxes have been done by the accountant. The corporate taxes have a small portion that is an estimate because they need to do a second corporate year end financials as a result of my tax residency status due to my move back to California.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Corporate Tax LiabilityCAD$11,837.01*$9,422.87
    Visa CardUSD$4,190.33$4,190.33

    Also of relevant note is that there are still corporate expenses for the year financials that need to be paid to the accountant, and I will also have personal tax liabilities for the dividends I paid myself from the corporation in the past year, though neither of these have any distinct amounts known just yet.

    Total Debts (USD): $13,613.20

    Net Worth

    This is definitely a slightly more representative understanding of our net worth at this point (at least in comparison to how there were some big holes in last months update).

    Net Worth (USD): $72,028.94

    Final Notes

    Now that things have actually begun to settle, it’s time to kick this into high gear. I no longer have any excuses of any kind. My particular goal for this upcoming month is to open the corporate investment account, and begin investing as much as we can while still having a comfortable emergency fund available in the company. I definitely feel better now that I’ve sorted most of the problems with the expense app, and that I’m dealing with fewer currencies, and more traditional forms of income. Thanks again for reading this post, and I hope your financial goals are coming closer to being a reality in your life! As always, I appreciate you, and if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email.

  • F.I.R.E.,  Monthly Update

    A Bit Of A Stumble [August Update]

    I need to start out by apologizing for such a late post. I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for a few reasons. I like it when everything can be neatly wrapped up and tied into a bow, and that is most certainly NOT the case right now. The month of July was quite hectic with the move from Thailand to California, so we weren’t quite as diligent in tracking expenses towards the end of the month. I’ve also been trying to convert the base currency for our expense tracking app to US Dollars, but this has proved much more difficult than expected. Even the first two weeks in August has been a dramatic change from the norms over the past year and a half for us, so it has taken some time to get used to. Ultimately, I’ve been using the resulting chaos from these and more as an excuse not to write this post. For my lack of discipline, I am very sorry.

    Noteworthy Thoughts

    Every Month Will Be A ‘Hectic’ Month

    Upon re-reading the July Update I realized that while I may have called out several things, I haven’t done much about the ones that would have had pretty clear action items to make things better. I’ve read that when budgeting, a common mistake is to assume that any spending that doesn’t fit monthly norms is a sign of ‘abnormalities’ and can otherwise be completely ignored when setting the budget. In general, most months will have some level of unexpected expenses or circumstances that would make it easy to discount them as abnormally hectic months. Another obstacle that people new to expense tracking face is that things go really well for the first month or two, and they get complacent or lazy or have a change in circumstances that causes them to falter on tracking expenses. I think this past month, I’ve fallen victim to both mistakes and used our move as a crutch. I need to remember that I need to be tracking all expenses all the time. It honestly doesn’t take that much effort, it’s just discipline and habit.

    Friends And Family Are Superstars

    An absolutely huge thank you goes out to our friends and family who have given us immense amounts of support with our move and ensuring this was a smooth and comfortable transition back to the US.

    Fatima’s family has been graciously hosting us since we arrived back in California, and provided us with somewhere to quarantine, and stay until we can rent our own place. Being able to be around her family has been amazing, and we are extremely grateful to them.

    Our Rattachai Muay Thai family also came to our house to help us move many of our things out and even stayed to help us clean up and repair parts of the house for our move out inspection. I am extremely grateful to have been able to train with them and get to know them.


    As with previous months, my work income earned in July 2021 was made entirely through contracts billed by my business. As always, it is important to note that this income is pre-tax revenue, and that taxes will need to be paid through the business for this income.

    Patrick’s Contract Income (USD): $8,399.50

    This month, Fatima had some contract income as well from part time online tutoring contracts. This income is also pre-tax, and as such we will need to pay taxes via income tax in 2022.

    Fatima’s Contract Income (THB): ฿7,160.00

    Fatima’s Contract Income (USD): $217.72

    There were other sources of incoming funds though, as we had to sell many of our belongings prior to the move back to California. This included the return of our housing deposit, and the sale of both motorbikes, several expensive household items such as computer monitors, kitchen appliances, organization tools, and various other small knick knacks.

    Household Item Sales฿37,560.00
    Motorbike Sales฿28,000.00

    Income from Sale of Belongings (THB): ฿83,760.00

    Income from Sale of Belongings (USD): $2,546.90

    Total Income (USD): $11,163.72


    Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties with our expense tracking app, I’ve been unable to get a clear picture of our expenses for the month of July. I’ve been having issues connecting (or reconnecting) my bank accounts and credit cards to the application for automatic syncing, so I’ve sent their support team a message in trying to resolve the issue. In the meantime, I only have data up until July 14th for the bank transactions. Because of the move, we stopped tracking daily expenses around the 18th or 19th of the month, so we have slightly more data for that, but still not enough to cover the whole month. One thing to note is that we saved over USD$1,200 by using my credit card points to pay for our flights from Phuket to California, so that was a nice little chunk of change saved. It might be worth tracking credit card points as an asset going forward. For now, here is the breakdown of our expenses.

    Food & Drinks฿29,044.54
    Financial Expenses฿19,020.84
    Life & Entertainment฿16,740.77

    As mentioned, the expenses for this month are only a partial picture. There were several cases where we received cash for selling our belongings, and subsequently used this cash for purchases. Once we stopped tracking things, everything kind of spun out of control. Also of note is that we paid rent for July on June 30th, so the housing expenses here were significantly lower than they would otherwise be. Here’s a breakdown of our larger expenses for the month (based on what has been tracked).

    Credit Card RenewalFinancial Expenses฿18,193.84
    Eating Out/Ordering InFood & Drinks฿12,839.25
    GroceriesFood & Drinks฿8,927.56
    COVID-19 PCR TestsLife & Entertainment฿7,000.00

    The largest expenses this month turned out to be my Credit Card Renewal Fee (USD$550), gifts for various important people in our lives, food for the month, and our COVID-19 tests prior to our flight. There was also one major expense that I’ve been unable to figure out for THB฿8,000.00. Once again though, it is important to point out there is a MASSIVE hole in this analysis that misses anywhere from 12 to 17 days of the month. Aside from trying to be more consistent with tracking expenses, I’m not going to read into this too heavily.

    Total Expenses (THB): ฿99,378.22

    Total Expenses (USD): $3,021.81


    Once again, assets are split in 3 different currencies – US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Thai Baht. There are also various non-liquid assets.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$31,682.06$31,682.06
    Business Account, CashCAD$29,517.77$23,646.69
    Bank Account, CashUSD$5,483.42$5,483.42
    Bank Account, CashCAD$169.54$135.82
    Bank Account, CashTHB฿47,788.29$1,453.11
    401K, VTSAXShares30.184$3,330.80
    Credit Card PointsPTS44,724$447.24
    • Note that Credit Card Points Current USD Value is based on a redemption rate of 100PTS to USD$1.00

    Total Assets (USD): $67,713.59


    Again, this month current debts are exclusively credit card balances the tax liability for my company (which will be paid in July) is unlisted, and currently unknown.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Visa CardUSD$211.26$211.26
    Visa CardCAD$0.17$0.14

    Total Debts (USD): $211.40

    Net Worth

    I’m not comfortable saying this is an accurate representation of where we are financially right now, primarily because of the lack of data and the notable change in life circumstances. That being said, per the numbers, the current net worth is:

    Net Worth (USD): $67,502.19

    Final Notes

    It’s only after I’ve let the ‘abnormalities’ of this past month affect me that I wish I had the data to see how they impact my finances instead. Once I had let go of the discipline of recording the transactions, I let go of the discipline to sit down, analyze the results, and write a post. I am very sorry that this will have continued impact in the next post as well due to the lack of data available for early August. The lesson has been learned. Thank you very much for reading this post, and I hope to have more for you soon. As always, I appreciate you, and if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email.

  • F.I.R.E.,  Monthly Update

    Repetition & Consistency [July Update]

    I keep having to remind myself this isn’t about showing that I’ve got everything figured out (spoiler, I don’t), and that it’s better to just do this now than to try to get all my ducks in a row and have potential issues following through on my commitment (which is an issue I’ve had trouble with before). I’m going to try to just post the numbers and updates, and see where this goes. Start the habit, and stick with it. I’ll try to create some formatting that will be useful for this post and future posts – something I can use whenever I make an Monthly Update post.

    Noteworthy Thoughts

    Coming up with the numbers is just a matter of going through the motions of checking all my accounts, and copy-pasting that information here. It’s important to me that this blog and this process yields more than just a record of my evolving financial situation, which is why I want to call out some thoughts or concepts that occurred to me throughout the month as a way to reflect.

    Don’t Wait to Pay Bills

    This one may seem a bit obvious, but I’ve noticed myself seeing a bill, and not immediately doing everything necessary to settle it. This needs to change. Not paying the bill immediately breeds anxiety about needing to pay the bill, and anxiety about whether I will lose track of the bill or even forget to pay it entirely, incurring unnecessary and otherwise pointless fees or interest for late payments. Subjecting myself to this anxiety serves no purpose, and just erodes the quality of my day to day living. Paying bills immediately is objectively a good financial habit to build and have.

    Expense Tracking Tools Provide Significant Insight

    Another one that may cause people to moan and groan. I’ve tried tracking my expenses on my own using a spreadsheet and Google Forms, and while that worked for a while, tracking every single expense this way grew tedious, and eventually boring. Tracking expenses is a boring activity though – I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that they actively enjoy inputting every last expense and categorizing it. That being said, using an automated tool (we’ve been using Wallet by BudgetBakers for this past month) means that unless I pay specifically with cash, everything is automatically tracked and categorized (although, sometimes poorly categorized). With repeated use, it should get to the point of recognizing common transaction types and improving the accuracy of categories for transactions. At the very least, this expense tracker has forced me to be more aware of things we are spending money on, and how much it actually is. I haven’t gotten to the point of intensive analysis yet (though I’m sure that will eventually happen), but having something that does the tracking (almost entirely) automatically is nice.

    Inertia is a Force to be Reckoned With

    This should have been the month I actually ensured all my documents had been properly submitted, and the business investment account opened. I’ve had the relevant pages that needed adjustments on my desk for nearly 2 months – and they are the ONLY documents on my desk. And yet I act as if they aren’t there. I have no doubt that implementing automated mechanisms that remove the need for manual effort usually involved in investing (think automated 401K contributions, recurring fund transfers, etc) will dramatically impact the degree to which I follow through with my investments. It’s time to get started on these.

    Leveraged Investments are Worth Some Consideration

    One thing I did do this month was some investigation regarding my planned investment strategies. I read through multiple different blog posts, a few papers with the results of studies and investment backtesting, and watched several videos on the subject of different ways to attempt to increase the return on investment, especially early in your investing life.

    To be extremely clear with this, what follows should not be construed as Financial Advice in ANY WAY. Do your own research – especially on the following topic.

    One avenue I came across for investment strategies is the concept of using Leverage as a means of increasing your exposure to a particular asset class (usually the Stock Market) above what you might otherwise be able to attain using only the value of your own cash/assets. The concept of leverage is a VERY nuanced and intricate one. It effectively involves borrowing money for the purpose of investing. The upside is that if things go well, you keep any increase in value of the asset that the borrowed money has earned, and still only owe the initial amount. For example, let’s assume you have $100 to invest, and you want to do so in the stock market. If you use leverage to gain twice the exposure to the stock market, you would borrow $100, and invest the total ($200). If the value of the stocks you’ve purchased goes up 10%, then your investment is now worth $220, but you still only owe $100, which means that you’ve just turned $100 of your own money, into $120, netting you a 20% return. The downside, and ultimately the VERY LARGE risk of an investment like this is that it works exactly the same way in reverse. If the value of the stocks you’ve purchased instead goes down by 10%, then your investment is now worth $180, but you still owe $100. Thus, your share of the investment is $80, and you’ve lost 20% of your money. Using leverage just causes the overall changes in the market to affect (in either direction) proportionally to the amount leverage used (which is 2X in this example).

    There are a wide variety of resources online that you should spend a significant amount of time exploring before even considering putting money into a leveraged investment. I was planning on including some links to resources I read through about the concept of leverage, but finding the exact ones I went through is not as easy as I thought, so I’ve decided against doing so. The specific strategy that most intrigued me is one that has been dubbed Hedgefundie’s Excellent Adventure, and involves investing into leveraged ETFs as a way to improve returns during the early stages of investment for an individual. I’m not going to go into any detail about any of that here, but who knows, I might do a post on it later.

    Whatever you do, please please please please PLEASE don’t blindly invest into leveraged ETFs or any other leveraged asset class. Do extensive research first. Find resources online that discuss these topics, and enthusiastically follow the inevitable rabbit holes that will likely consume one or more days of your time before even considering this kind of investment.


    Income for the month of June 2021 was made entirely through contracts billed by my business. It is important to note that this income is pre-tax revenue, and that taxes will need to be paid through the business for this income.

    Income (USD): $4,559.50


    This is where the meat of today’s post in going to be focused. There were lots of good insights from the expense tracking app. Here is the breakdown of expenses by category from June 1 to June 30.

    Life & Entertainment฿54,719.47
    Food & Drinks฿32,176.37
    Financial Expenses฿783.41

    There were a few things in particular that raised the expense total this month. That being said, there were also some expenses that I was planning for that did not come to pass. Here’s a breakdown of the big ticket expenses for June 2021. I’ll include any individual expense, or subcategory over ฿3,000.00, which is approximately ~USD$100.00.

    TherapyLife & Entertainment฿28,134.33
    Eating OutFood & Drinks฿12,839.25
    VacationLife & Entertainment฿10,196.51
    Ordering InFood & Drinks฿9,770.09
    GroceriesFood & Drinks฿9,567.03
    Massage TherapyLife & Entertainment฿6,100.00
    Life Event*Life & Entertainment฿4,300.00
    *I am not at liberty to disclose the nature of the Life Event expense, though I feel the description is accurate enough for the purpose of this table

    Given this is a blog about personal finance, I won’t go into any details beyond that I had some personal things to deal with this past month, and that required me to undergo some therapy. The expense for it was quite high (nearing ~USD$900) and this was in large part due to the fact that it wasn’t covered by insurance of any kind. Other things to note are that the vacation expenses for the month were about 50% of what I was initially expecting and planning for, so this was nice, though this is in part because we didn’t do as much as we were expecting either. Lastly, the food expenses ended up being lower than the previous post estimated, but it’s interesting to see that Eating Out accounted for ~40% of food expenses. Fatima and I haven’t been focusing on cooking quite as much, so I guess those expenses make a bit of sense, but I certainly think we could lower the overall number if more of our meals were home cooked. Clearly convenience and experiences come with a premium.

    Overall, I had estimated expenses for this month around ~฿79,000.00, and so the discrepancy is about ~฿39,000.00 which is certainly not small. The difference in expenses can be attributed to the following:

    • Therapy expenses were entirely unplanned, and resulted in ~฿28,000.00 worth of expenses
    • Vastly underestimating the housing expenses (primarily Electricity) which had a net difference of about ~฿7,000.00
    • Underestimating Massage Therapy expenses, with a net difference of about ~฿3,000.00
    • The Life Event was also initially an unplanned expense, and was a difference of ~฿4,300.00

    Total Expenses (THB): ฿117,769.15

    Total Expenses (USD): $3,672.54

    Cash Flow

    Total cash flow for the month will be a bit skewed given that expenses and taxes associated with the income earned through the business haven’t been accounted for yet. Even still, it’s a bit lower than I would like, but that’s likely to change in the upcoming months after the move back to California.

    Cashflow (USD): $886.96


    Once again, assets are split in 3 different currencies – US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Thai Baht.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$27,132.56$27,127.56
    Business Account, CashCAD$29,777.28$24,041.73
    Bank Account, CashUSD$6,788.08$6,788.08
    Bank Account, CashCAD$353.74$285.60
    Bank Account, CashTHB฿14,021.09$437.34
    Cash on HandTHB฿527.00$16.44
    401K, VTSAXShares30.258$3,282.72

    Total Assets (USD): $63,192.90


    Again, this month current debts are exclusively credit card balances the tax liability for my company (which will be paid in July) is unlisted, and currently unknown.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Visa CardUSD$12.21$12.21
    Visa CardCAD$50.84$126.35

    Total Debts (USD): $138.56

    Net Worth*

    My net worth decreased this month, which is obviously not good. It appears I dropped about ~USD$2,400. I’m looking forward to seeing that go up again soon.

    Net Worth (USD): $63,054.34*

    Final Notes

    I’m finding myself surprised at the amount of content I’ve been writing for this. It’s been very encouraging to get messages from everyone about the blog as well, so thank you very much for your interest and for reading through it. This upcoming month is going to be a bit of a wild ride – by the end of it, I’ll be back in the US – but I’m excited to see where it, and the rest of the year, will take me. As always, I appreciate you, and if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email.

  • F.I.R.E.,  Monthly Update

    Hello World!

    For those unaware of the concept, F.I.R.E. stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early”. This is the beginning of my journey towards this goal and this blog will serve as a public commitment to the following:


    Money is all too often a taboo subject that people avoid or hesitate to discuss. I want to pull back the curtain, and discuss every aspect of money and finances, open to public scrutiny. I will be posting income figures, expenses, savings rates, investment balances, and every other typically uncomfortable and taboo element of personal finance that usually gets ignored or shushed.


    Saving, investing, and this journey as a whole will take a while. I am committing to bringing you along on with me every step of the way. I want to give updates often enough that there are rarely surprises. For me, this means a monthly update post, and a new post whenever major life changes or events occur.


    I’ve been learning and reading about F.I.R.E. in several ways for nearly 18 months now, and the key takeaway that I have is that it’s scary doing it alone. Whether you are here to read along just for shiggles, or actively want to learn from the steps I take, and mistakes I make, I am also here to learn from you. I have so many things I want to do to foster consistent communication and education, not only for you, but for me as well. I expect it will be much more fun and feel much safer involving those around me in the process.

    And with that out of the way, welcome to My Personal F.I.R.E. As of yet, I haven’t accomplished much. I’ve read several books on the topic of early retirement (or more specifically, listened to them on Audible). For those looking for a start, that’s what I’d recommend first. Here’s the list of books I’ve gone through so far:

    Please note that not all of these are equally riveting, or equally helpful, especially in the context of F.I.R.E. specifically. That being said, this is the material I’ve been working with so far, along with the r/FinancialIndependence subreddit.

    Despite having read a lot of content, and wanting to achieve this goal as soon as possible, I’ve made the mistake of letting myself be paralyzed by this information. It’s a lot to take in, and I’ve been slow to get started. So far I haven’t really accomplished anything concrete. I’ve started my own company, Freefall Consulting (which has served more purposes than just F.I.R.E.), made a single investment (in Bitcoin, which has since lost over half of it’s value), and created several spreadsheets outlining and forecasting income, expenses, and investment values. None of these are actively bringing me closer to retirement yet.

    It’s time to get started, and here’s where I’m starting from.


    Current assets are split in 3 different currencies – US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Thai Baht.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Business Account, CashUSD$27,132.56$27,132.56
    Business Account, CashCAD$29,782.28$24,582.78
    Bank Account, CashUSD$9,041.50$9,041.50
    Bank Account, CashCAD$364.69$301.02
    Bank Account, CashTHB฿12,503.66$401.66
    Cash on HandTHB฿4,092.00$131.40
    401K, VTSAXShares30.166$3,221.12

    Total Assets (USD): $66,153.84


    The only current debts are credit card balances. What is not currently listed due to the exact value being unknown is the tax liability for my company which will be due within the next month.

    DescriptionCurrencyAmountCurrent USD Value
    Visa CardUSD$597.22$597.22
    Visa CardCAD$50.84$41.97

    Total Debts (USD): $664.79

    Net Worth*

    My currently net worth clearly needs to be taken with a grain of salt as there are very clear, significant outstanding liabilities that will be due, thus decreasing the value. Either way, it’s a good starting point to look at.

    Net Worth (USD): $65,489.05*


    My business has been receiving income via contracts using client sourcing platforms. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the billing rate due to contractual obligations, but the platform automatically bills clients, and then stores payments for a managed payments account. This account has been configured to transfer all funds in the account on 1st of the month, if the current balance in the account is over $3,000 because of the $0.50 fee for every transfer. These funds are sent to the corporate account, and are considered revenue for the company. As such, there are other expenses that the business incurs that will inevitably use some of that sourced income. That being said it helps to have a number to work with, even if it is slightly off, so I’ve listed it as the income value for the month. Of relevant note is that when I return to California, the income amounts will change drastically as a result of my starting a new US-based job.

    Monthly Income (USD): $4,560*


    This is something we’ve only begun tracking to a significant degree within the past 10 days or so. They are also in Thai Baht (because we are in Thailand, and the app we started using to monitor expenses does not allow you to change the base currency). Further, our expenses will change significantly once we move back to California in about 5 weeks.

    Other Housing฿850.00

    If I make educated guesses for each expenses category on how much of the month has passed, and which specific expenses are likely to recur again this month, my table looks a bit like this:

    Other Housing฿1,200.00

    Lastly, since we will be moving in about 5 weeks, Fatima and I want to take a bit of a vacation and make the most of our time in Thailand. This vacation will likely happen in the month of June, and current expectations are that we will spend a combined ฿20,000.00.

    Estimated Monthly Expenses (THB): ฿78,719.62*

    Estimated Monthly Expenses (USD): $2,526.30*

    Estimated Cash Flow*

    Estimated Monthly Cashflow (USD): $2,033.70*


    Estimated Long Term Monthly Expenses

    Given the current level of our expenses, and the fact we are moving back to California, we can expect the following increases in expenses:

    • Rent cost will likely change from ~$500.00 per month to ~$1,800.00 per month, an increase of ~$1,300.00
    • Food expenses will likely change slightly from ~$1,130.00 per month to ~$1,250.00 per month, an increase of $120.00
    • Vehicle expenses will change noticeable from ~$30.00 to ~$200.00, an increase of $170.00
    • Lifestyle expenses will rise when I begin Skydiving again, from ~$20.00 per month currently to ~$500.00 per month, an increase of $480.00

    There will likely be other expense increases, but those listed above increase our total by ~$2,070.00 per month.

    Estimated Long Term Monthly Expenses (USD): ~$4,600

    Estimated Long Term Yearly Expenses (USD): ~$55,200

    Passive Income Generation

    My plan is to heavily invest in index funds. In particular, I plan on investing more into Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX). The current planned stock-to-bond investment ration that I plan on is 100-0, and more specifically, over 95% being invested in index funds like the one above. As such, I’ve decided to use the VTSAX long-term average annual returns (which is 8.27%) as a guideline value for my estimates. Being conservative, if I keep $25,000.00 of my current net worth in reasonably liquid cash, and I set aside another $10,000.00 for the business tax liabilities, then I’m left with $30,489.05 for investment purposes. If I was to invest all of this money right away, and also account for the 401K funds currently invested with VTSAX (a total of $33,710.17), it would begin generating passive income of $232.32 every month.

    Retirement Projections

    Current investing and F.I.R.E. philosophy says that the Safe Withdrawal Rate (the rate at which you can safely withdraw funds from your investments without depleting them) is ~4%. This is what’s known as the 25/4% rule because you need an investment portfolio worth 25 times your yearly expenses to be able to withdraw 4% yearly (thus allowing it to replenish itself). I want to be a bit more conservative, and will be using a withdrawal rate of 3.70%.

    I have a detailed spreadsheet with income and expense projections including her schooling and long term raises or income boosts. When plugging in the above withdrawal rate, and yearly expenses of $55,200, we will need a few thousand short of $1.5 million dollars to retire.

    Estimated Long Term Yearly Expenses (USD): ~$55,200

    Estimated Long Term Yearly Investment Return: 8.27%

    Withdrawal Rate: 3.70%

    Investments Value Required to F.I.R.E.: $1,491,891.89

    Long Term Projected Retirement Date: December 2028

    Final Notes

    Firstly, if you got through that entire post, thank you for reading it. Secondly, I want to encourage you to engage with me. This blog is also being used to hold myself accountable and motivate me towards my F.I.R.E. goal, so if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email, and I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.