Net Worth – Q3 2016

For now I think I’m still comfortable publicly updating our net worth progress. It’s a high-level look at our progress to our goals.

Assets

  • Home (Estimated Market Value): $70,000
  • 401(k): $65,191
  • tIRA: $18,303
  • Non-Earmarked Cash: $500 (We have much more cash on hand but a lot of it is going to be eaten up by the transmission rebuild that’s currently in progress.)
  • HSA (invested portion): $987
  • Total: 154,981
  • Assets towards FI: $84,981
    • Approximate passive income this would generate annually: $3,399

Liabilities

  • Home Mortgage: $99,579 @6.5% –> PMI makes it effectively ~7.1%
  • Student Loan (Alchemist A): $999 @0.1%
  • Student Loan (Alchemist B): $21,498 @3.9%
  • Total: $122,076

Net Worth: $32,905

Net Worth Last Quarter: $26,991

Net Worth 1 Year Ago: $15,371

Net Worth At the Start (End 2013): -$33,948


Illness two ways

I’ve spent two of the last three weeks sick, depressed, crippled with anxiety, or all three. Both physical illnesses have been things with few symptoms other than overpowering fatigue and some nausea. I’ve spent a lot of time laying down listening to podcasts because I’m too tired to be “up” but not tired enough to fall asleep, my brain requiring stimulation even though my body wasn’t capable of doing much.

With the exception of a few good days scattered about, depression has also been kicking my ass lately. Not sure why, but all of a sudden my mood stability has vanished. I have tools and techniques acquired in my long battle with this that help, but it’s so disconcerting when you go from stable to a mental and emotional wreck in a span of hours.

It’s both easier and harder because I homeschool the kids. Easier because we set our own schedule. Harder because every day I’m sick or otherwise disabled I feel like I’m failing the kids. Which of course feeds the depression monkey in a self-hatred loop. Not exactly helpful.

Yesterday the kids and I walked to the library to get books for the kids to read in their free time and materials for a school unit I want to do. By the time we got home I was so tired I just fell in bed until dinner, which thankfully was just leftovers that needed to be reheated. I hate accepting limitations, I’m a very stubborn person, but I have to accept them or things only get worse.

Yesterday we also got confirmation that Maria’s car will need a whole new transmission. The rebuild is estimated at about $2700. I knew this was a very real possibility, and we save aggressively to keep it from being an undue hardship. But it’s still a gut punch. It’s not progress towards our ultimate goals.

Fall is normally my favorite season but it’s sure been shitty this year. I keep doing the work I can and I know I’ll turn the corner.


Why we save aggressively

We save aggressively and live simply. People often associate frugality with austerity or ‘missing out’ but there’s freedom in having solid finances. We’ve had an unusually expensive year this year to date but are powering through what would see many “typical” American families accruing considerable debt.

This post isn’t meant to brag, but hopefully to inspire.

Maria earns good money, which definitely helps. We’re above the median household income but nowhere near six figures. We put enough of that income into tax-advantaged accounts that we have zero federal income tax liability each year.

We did $2,000 in repairs to my car. We bought a car for Maria for a little over $4,000 in cash. That car unfortunately may need a transmission rebuild (we’ll know soon) for $2,500-$2,600, but we can (just barely) pay for that out of what’s left in savings.

We spent several thousand dollars on the homestead this year between constructing the raised beds, bringing in soil, buying perennial plants, and setting up our animals.

We grow some of our own food but still spend an awful lot on what we can’t grow. Food is important to us. To paraphrase Joel Salatin, you are only as healthy as the life energy that you consume. I source as many ingredients as possible from local farms, and with the rest of our food dollars I try to support sustainable practices as best as I can through the veil of the supermarket.

With all this, we were still able to pre-pay a considerable amount of our existing debt. We save aggressively as a way to “spend” on our future selves. We give a gift to our 40, 50, 60 year-old selves that hopefully one day in the not-too-distant future we will be financially independent and able to live the homesteading life we truly desire without a need for Maria’s income.

Do you save aggressively? What difficult situations have made you thankful that you did?


What do we expect?

There’s been a lot of angst over violence, whether it’s rapists getting off on very light sentences, the civil war in Syria, the Dakota pipeline, and racially charged riots in my own city of Milwaukee. Should this surprise us? I don’t think so.

What do we honestly expect? Our society is founded on violence.

Our much-vaunted “American way of life” depends on the projection of military power far and wide to ensure cheap resources can be pulled out of developing countries, made into cheap goods, and shoved at American citizens consumers who must be psychologically manipulated to buy what they don’t need.

We do incredible violence to ecologies here and abroad. If the whole world lived our way, few if any thinkers agree that the Earth would be able of carrying that load. Even the most basic of ‘modern’ civilization, water-based sewage, does so much violence and costs so much money that developing countries are seeing the wisdom of not even trying to attempt building this infrastructure, instead doing composting toilets of various designs.

We do violence to workers. An incredibly large portion of the economy is predicated on exploiting cheaper labor markets or using automation that provides a livelihood only to the top-level capitalist and a relatively small cadre of assistants. At home, while not specifically violent, an illustration of our messed up priorities is the fact that people who maintain decorative landscapes find it much easier to make a decent wage than the folks who grow our food.

Government is violent. I’m not just thinking about police brutality or overreaching regulatory power. Taxation, the very foundation of government, is violence. To paraphrase Joel Salatin, if you don’t believe taxation is violence, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

We need to start thinking of ways for free association to bloom. For those free associations to be invested in their ecological nests and think not just of food three days or three years from now, but three hundred years. To stop the violence, we need to shake the very foundations of our society.

Lest I come off as pessimistic, I have seen a very different mindset in those focused on either self-sufficiency or communal sufficiency. People in the regenerative farming and homesteading movements are incredible people, a great hope for the future. But the last gasp of the industrial complex that runs our government has and will continue to fight back against us. They want to keep us dependent on them. We need to focus on helping our fellow neighbors and taking concrete steps to improving our sufficiency. Sufficiency is liberty, and not an American ‘freedom’ founded on violence real and threatened around the world.


An update after pulling back

Making the decision to share significantly less financial details and exiting the MMM forum community has had the effect I wanted. My depression and circle of self-hatred around my perception of our progress has lessened considerably. This was definitely the right decision. I appreciate the kind words many of you wrote here and in my forum journal.

Just today I completed another step and purged a lot of old posts here on the blog. With web archives, nothing ever truly disappears from the web, but I deleted all of the financial detail posts other than net worth, which I plan to continue updating as it’s a nice big-picture look at our journey to financial independence. I also deleted a bunch of old posts that just don’t really fit with the blog anymore, cutting the post numbers by about 25%.

I’ve been doing some structured school with the kids, but for the most part the past three months has been an unplanned experiment with unschooling. I’m building more school back in but the next two months will remain somewhat busy as I am busy preserving the harvest and closing out sections of the garden for winter. I’m also learning the idiosyncracies of our livestock.


The homestead blog is up

I mentioned in my last blog post here that I was starting a separate homestead blog. There’s not much content there but you can peruse the first post here:

https://fatrobinfarmstead.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/animals/

Let me know if you have any issues with the site design, ability to follow, etc. I won’t cross-post much (if anything) between these two pages so consider this just a little nudge to encourage you to follow over there if you want to continue following our homesteading adventures.


Pulling back and moving forward

I don’t talk about it very much, but long-time readers and many who know me in person know that I struggle with depression. While I don’t have a clinical diagnosis, in a lot of ways I suspect I’m actually bi-polar. Thankfully for my homesteading, often the manic periods line up with the times I need to be the most active getting projects done. Unfortunately, the last couple weeks have been really rough on the depression end of things.

Depression is hard to explain for those who don’t struggle with it themselves, and people experience it differently. One change it’s clear I have to make is pulling back on how much I share about personal finances. I’ve learned and benefited a lot from a popular frugality and early retirement-focused forum but sharing details on there contributes to a lot of self-hate when I feel like I’m spending too much or making inefficient decisions. In reality, we’re choosing our values, and no one is living this life but ourselves.

Sharing financial details, even when no one makes critical comments, makes me implicitly feel the need to justify every expense. We’ve spent a lot of money lately getting our rabbit-chicken enclosure up, I ordered a second chest freezer, and many other things that help support our chosen lifestyle. Which in turn leads to a self-hate criticism feedback loop that is, for obvious reasons, not healthy. So I’m closing the book on that part of my life, at least for the time being.

A second change I’m contemplating is separating out the homestead posts into a new blog and keeping this one for personal reflections. As I build a little business, I think it makes sense to segregate things a little. I’ll for sure post here when that is up and running if I do end up going that route. I’ll probably also create a Facebook page for quick little posts, like interesting harvests, etc.

I’ve been busy, affected by the depression, and my carpal tunnel has been severely acting up – all of which leads to me writing much less than usual. I thank those who do read and comment. Sharing parts of my life has helped me work things through, and maybe my lunatic gardening has inspired a few of you. The garden right now is a little sad looking but I’m already compiling ideas for how to make it better next year.