Happy 2018, readers. I hope you’re having a beautiful start to the new year.
This time of the year is magical for me. I enjoyed sharing extra special moments with families and friends, combined with delicious, comfort food (for weeks in a row). I also loved the holiday decors both at home and while being out and about. These moments can really be savored all year long. Sleeping until 9 a.m. has been typical for my family and I this past week as our bodies recovered from all the festivities.
Finishing the Old and Starting the New
As of yesterday, we’ve taken care most of our financial matters for year 2017, with the exception of paying property taxes and filing for tax return. We made purchases in my i401k account, rebalanced our investment portfolio, updated our financial accounts and made a projected budget for this year. So far, the two biggest, one-time expenses we’re looking at are money going toward paying for two international trips. Other than the usual recurring basic expenses, we also have several home renovation projects we want to accomplish.
December 2017 Non-W2 Incomes Report
I Didn’t See Myself Being a Good Teacher/Coach
I’m what some people might call a Type A, perfectionist, or over-achiever. I have high standards for myself. Growing up and while in school, unlike many other Asian parents, mine didn’t pressure me to receive certain grades or go into a certain profession. I was always the one that was self-driven and put lots of pressure on myself.
Knowing that about myself, I didn’t pursue a career in teaching, despite having contemplated becoming a teacher during my freshmen year in college. Yet, somehow, being in academia attracted me (and the over-achiever in me) and I went on pursuing a doctoral degree. While finishing up my advanced degree, I was a teacher’s assistant for two semesters. I did not enjoy that experience. I lacked the patience. Being a mother has been a trying experience for me every day. I’m very thankful to have an extremely patient partner along my side.
Several months ago, when my husband suggested to me to consider doing financial coaching with him, specifically to work with couples, I immediately closed the conversation. It was not that I lacked interest. Everything I do and share on this blog stems from my strong desire to inspire, encourage and promote smart and savvy financial skills. I just didn’t see myself being a good coach. I lacked the confidence.
Self-doubts were casting all over my head. To give you an example:
I recently went through a pretty dark period in my life. Back in late 2016, when my husband brought up the topic of early retirement for both of us, I suddenly found myself going down the rabbit hole of fearing there’s “not enough”.
By that point, he and I have reached a consensus that we’d be in a great financial position to retire (for both of us) within the next year or two. That was our agreed terms, so I thought (I soon learned that was really the terms I put on our relationship). There was a certain financial number I (and only I) wanted us to reach. That was the number I was comfortable with. I don’t know why I was so stickle about that particular number. Maybe I like the sound of it. Maybe I like the roundness of that certain number. Maybe I like having extra built-in cushions in our finances before having both of us retired from our jobs. Whatever the reason(s) might be, I was adamant about reaching that magic and comforting number.
In the fields of economics and psychology, one living with the fears of “not enough” is said to be living with a scarcity mentality (or mindset). If you google “scarcity mentality” and read some of what’s been written, you’d quickly gather that living life with a scarcity mentality can be limiting and debilitating.
For me, I tie much of my sense of security to money. I don’t need to have a lot of money. However, when we’re talking about early retirement, I’d have liked to have reached a certain amount of money before I can feel safe. Both my husband and I had very good compensation benefits. Those benefits were a big part of my family’s safety net. In this blog, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the awesomeness of reaching financial independence and early retirement (see here and here). What I left out was my fear of giving up all the great benefits that came with W-2 employment (see here). The thought of having to let go of all that safety net seemed scary, overwhelming and wasteful. And I cringed at the thought of all that we’d lose when we leave our employment.
Naturally, feelings and thoughts of scarcity started creeping into my head and I found myself in a big mess. Consequently, the quality of my marriage and family life suffered. My mental and emotional health had also suffered.
Shedding Some Light into this New Mental State Experience
The Then and Now
In several of the early articles of this blog (such as here, here and here), I mentioned that my husband loves numbers, analytics and investing. And he’s very good at all three. He started educating himself on personal finances, the stock markets and investing while in his mid 20s, and he continues to do so each day. Even though he’s not a day trader, he follows the markets (and major headlines) daily and analyzes our investment portfolio performance against several market indices. We use Personal Capital to track our finances and net worth. You can read my comprehensive review of this free online financial tool here.
From the start of our relationship, he’s always been the one that spends more time taking care of our equities (stocks) and fixed income (bonds) investments. This is still true even after I had my transformative moment (you can read about my story here). Despite my accelerated learning of the stock markets and investing in the past year, he’s still the more knowledgeable one.
One thing that has been different in our relationship since that transformative moment is that nowadays I take a much more active role making investing decisions with my husband. I have a desire to learn from him (and many others) and continue to build my financial knowledge. Whereas before, I was glad to let him take care of all investments-related matters. Even when he tried to get me involved, I quickly dismissed his efforts.
Two People in a Relationship
Wishlist and Bucket List
Do you recall when you first started having a wishlist or bucket list? I didn’t have one until I was in my mid-20s. Before then, I didn’t desire much. I was simply happy just having the essentials or necessities. I understood my financial situation as a student. My mindset at the time was that my situation was temporary and wanted to focus my attention on doing well in my studies. I looked forward to the day when I finished school, secured a satisfying career and then start living the life of my dream.
What was the first item that made it to my wishlist? It was a Marc by Marc Jacobs crossbody bag. I saw that bag on a fashion magazine that I subscribed to at the time.
Around my 25th birthday, my husband and I visited Saks Fifth Avenue. When I saw that bag sitting on the shelf, I hesitated and started having second thoughts. The price tag was $249. It was a VERY expensive bag. My most expensive bag prior to that one costed me less than $30. My husband and I walked in circles around the store as I had a very hard time deciding if I wanted us to spend that kind of money. It was just a [beautiful] crossbody bag…After perhaps 45 minutes later, my then boyfriend was paying for the bag at the cashier register. And that was my first designer bag. From there, I went on to purchase couple Michael Kors bags.
Deciding on the Now or Later