October 2017 Net Worth Update – $179,134.40

Disclaimer about our Net Worth
We don’t have any debt, none whatsoever. We don’t use any credit cards anymore –  cash and a debit card only. We own a car and a motorcycle, but we do not include the value of these vehicles in our Net Worth. The same is true for our kids 529s.

You know, I love this time of the year. The crazy season at my work is almost done and the new year is not far off, you can relax a little bit and think. Think about your achievement, what needs to be achieved and start thinking about your plans and goals for the coming year.

No, seriously, if you think about it, it’s already November. A couple of weeks later people in the State will eat turkey and you can’t blink an eye and it’ll be Christmass time. Times flies, it really does.

Think about this… You only get about 30,000 sunrises in your life, at least for most of the people. 23,725 are spent growing up and working… You’ve got about 6,275 sunrises left for things that count. ENJOY EVERY DAY. DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE THAT MATTERS @RussianFriendly

In October I finally jumped on my motorcycle (thanks to my wife) and took Hwy-1, one of the best scenic road I’ve seen in my life. I will write a post about this small adventure and how Google Maps screwed me.

Rocky Creek Bridge, Hwy-1

This Russian is so rude, he even photobombed an awesome Rocky Creek Bridge

Awesome views, if you ever visit California, take this road, you will not regret.

OK, back to the business and let us check the numbers.

Yay, $15,561.46 increase since the last month.

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RSU is just a fancy cash bonus

Recently, I had a really nice conversation with one of my friends about RSU, and it turned out we have an absolutely different point of views on RSU and whether should people keep or sell them immediately.

My personal view is you should sell RSUs immediately as you get them just because it is a fancy cash bonus, no more. My friend, from the other hand, thinks you should keep RSU because the price goes up and because of the “tax advantages”. (which is completely wrong statement, but we will get to that)

RSU keep or sell

What’s RSU

RSU stands for Restricted Stock Unit. It’s a form of a compensation, in addition to your salary, bonuses and raises, that your employer can give to you. The employer gives an employer a number of RSUs but the employee can’t do anything with them right away. This is when the restricted part comes to the scene…

Usually, RSUs vest over a number of years (the regular practice is 4 years). When RSUs vest, the employee receives the stocks of the company he works for. If the employee decides to leave his employer, all the unvested RSUs will be forfeited; remember the restricted part?

Let’s leave all the fancy words aside and call RSU what it actually is a deferred cash bonus.  that’s paid in shares. If the company does well and the stock goes up, the bonus becomes larger. If not, the bonus becomes lower.

All the vested RSUs are subject to taxes; when the employee receives RSUs part of the stockers goes to the Uncle Sam. RSUs are taxed the same a cash bonus. You can read about cash bonus taxation here. Continue reading

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September 2017 Net Worth Update – $163,572.94

Disclaimer about our Net Worth
We don’t have any debt, none whatsoever. But we use credit cards to earn some miles and get signup bonuses; we pay the whole balance every month. We own a car and a motorcycle, but we do not include the value of these vehicles in our Net Worth. The same for our kids 529s.

September 2017 Update

Welcome to our September 2017 Net Worth update. It’s been almost six months since I’ve started tracking our net worth, and it’s become really powerful and inspiring tool for me and Mrs. FR. It not only gives us a picture of our finances but also encourages and motivates not to stop and keep moving forward.

September was a great month for us, we are definitely blessed here, praise the Lord. The crazy summer is over and now we are back to our regular, normal level of craziness. Kids went back to school, well, our older one went back to school, but the young one just started her educational journey. She went to kindergarten, is this is really great. But the other side of the coin is the after school bill that we have to pay now, which is $707/month.

Time flies… They grow so fast, it’s unbelievable.

Despite all the school-related expenses and routines, we are so blessed. Kids are a blessing and a gift from God, even though sometimes they can drive you bananas. Enough about my kids, we all know why you are here, let’s check the numbers. Continue reading

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August 2017 Net Worth Update – $154,197.26

Disclaimer about our Net Worth
We don’t have any debt, non whatsoever. But we use credit cards to earn some miles and get signup bonuses; we pay the whole balance every month. We own a car and a motorcycle, but we do not include the value of these vehicles in our Net Worth. The same for our kids 529s.

I know, it is late already and I should have posted all the numbers earlier, but this summer has been crazy and we didn’t have time for almost anything. But I was tracking all the numbers because I knew that one day I will write this post. So, here we go.

August 2017 Update

Checking Account – $4,938.83 (+$3,728.77): We decided to keep just enough money in our checking account and transfer everything else to savings account. Plus, we transferred more to the downpayment fund this month.

Emergency Funds  – $30,000.00: this is our 6 months worth of living Emergency Fund. We use Ally Online Bank for keeping our Emergency Fund money. And you can read here why your emergency fund is not an investment.

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July 2017 Net Worth Update – $133,660.46

Disclaimer about our Net Worth
We don’t have any debt, non whatsoever. But we use credit cards to earn some miles and get signup bonuses; we pay the whole balance every month. We own a car and a motorcycle, but we do not include the value of these vehicles in our Net Worth. The same for our kids 529s.

I know, it is late already and I should have posted all the numbers earlier, but this summer has been crazy and we didn’t have time for almost anything. But I was tracking all the numbers because I knew that one day I will write this post. So, here we go.

July 2017 Update

Welcome to our July 2017 Net Worth update. It’s been 4 months since we started tracking our numbers and I have to say it’s so amazing to see how fast our Net Worth can grow when we watch what we do and plan ahead.

Net Worth Update

Despite the fact our spending rate usually goes up during the summer season we were able to save a good chunk of money too. (I always have to remind myself that we have to live NOW but with the FUTURE in mind).

Because of 3 paychecks in June we put more money towards our future house, plus my and my wife’s retirement accounts increased a little more than usual.

+$9,295.24 since the last month

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Do you ask for discount?

How much does it cost?

My wife thinks I am cheap. She even makes fun of me saying that my motto is this:

Prices are not that bad if you don’t buy anything

Maybe she’s right, because I don’t like to spend money. Don’t get me wrong, I am a boy and I LIKE boyish stuff.

I like motorcycles. I like guns. I like gadgets. I have one motorcycle, two firearms and tons of gadgets.*

Honda XR650L

My little Honda XR650L

But every time when I buy something I feel an emotional pain, because I don’t like to spend that kind of money on stuff. OK, I have to confess, “that kind of money” for me is $20 and more. I know, I know…

I can’t say I am a hog, “Honey, am I?” But for some reasons I resist to pay the full declared price if a purchase costs us at least $50.

Are There Any Discounts?

“Cultures are different” © Captain Obvious

In some cultures you are expected to ask for discount, it’s normal buying routine for people, for example, in Turkey, Emirates and other Middle East countries.

But for some weird reasons in western culture people are afraid to do so. They think it’s an inappropriate thing to do, it is sort of disrespectful attitude to the seller. When I asked my wife why she doesn’t ask for discount, she told me that she would feel uncomfortable.

I created a poll in my twitter and ask if people ask for discount and the results shocked me.  Almost 60% don’t ask for discount, 6 out of 10 people

 

People are afraid to be called “cheap”.

While in some countries you might be called hmm… let’s say “unwise” if you don’t negotiate price, in America we’re afraid to be called “cheap” for doing wise things. And nobody wants to be called “cheap”. I don’t.

To mimic comfort zone when we talk about discounts, bargains, negotiations,  we let’s don’t use this c-word. Let’s use WISE instead. And let’s be counter-cultural and don’t be afraid to get a great deal. Which we all want. And there are some techniques to do so which I’m going to share with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got 5-10% discount on certain products (even at groceries stores) just by asking one simple question, “Are there any discounts?”

It could be my Russian accent though, and a cashier just afraid to say NO, but I don’t think so 🙂 

Of course, sometimes I get “No” as an answer, very polite but still “No”. I am totally fine with it, sometimes the store might not have any bargains at the time, or a cashier was just brave enough Continue reading

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June 2017 Net Worth Update – $124,365.22

Disclaimer about our Net Worth
We don’t have any deb, non whatsoever. But we use credit cards to earn some miles and get signup bonuses; we pay the whole balance every month. We own a car and a motorcycle, but we do not include the value of these vehicles in our Net Worth. The same for our kids 529s.

June 2017 Update

Welcome to our June 2017 Net Worth update. It’s been three months since I’ve started sharing our financial situation. At first I was scared and uncomfortable, but now I can tell that writing this reports helps us to be more focused and accountable.

June was a great month for our family. Our older daughter finished 3rd grade with great score. The young one came back home from Russia where she had spent 3 months with my parents.

The tomatoes we planted in May has grown from small and tiny plants to huge bushes. I think in July we will start harvesting our first tomatoes.

This person gets the prize for determination, creativity and his or her ability to live like no-one else. I don’t know if s(he) is getting out of debt, saving money for a college or it’s just a small business to supplement household income, but it’s great to know that there are people around who are willing to work hard.  Kudos to you an unknown person.

Speaking of small business. The biggest news from the month of June in our family being my lovely wife started a small online business. She’s in learning stage right now but already got several successful deals. Now we have to learn more about DBA accounts, quarterly estimates and other interesting things about small business operations.

Net Worth Update

I love June, there are a lot reasons to love June: it’s stable nice and warm weather, my wife’s birthday is in June, a lot of plans for summer, and last but not least – 3 paychecks in June (we are getting paid bi-weekly).

Since the last month we’ve increased 401(k) up to the maximum, we also started participating in ESPP program. Remember, you have to pay yourself first.

After that lovely month of June our Net Worth became $124,365.22 (+13,351.62)

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It is the time for ESPP

Recently I’ve already written about one financial mistake I’ve made. Today I would like to talk about another one.

Another mistake

A year after we came to the US I got a job offer from a company I always wanted to work for. It’s a publicly traded company that makes awesome products and has great benefits for employees.

One of the benefits that my employer provides is Employee Stock Purchase Program or ESPP.

This program allows you to buy your employer’s stocks with a discount (usually 10-15%).

There are some restrictions and nuances though that I will explain later.

I’ve been working for three years and haven’t participated in this program. Basically, I’ve been stepping over this “free” money.

At the beginning, we didn’t have enough extra money to buy stock because we were deeply in debt. Later, after we became debt free, we didn’t use this opportunity because I listen too much The Dave Ramsey Show where Dave always says that he doesn’t recommend people to use ESPP option.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Dave’s show. He’s helped more people than any of us, or all of us together. But his advice regarding ESPP is wrong and let me explain why.

How ESPP works

Russian Captain Obvious is watching you

First thing first, you have to work for a publicly traded company. Second, your company has to share this benefit with you.

“Hey, Russian! You’re so smart and… obvious”

Usually ESPP deal works like this:

  1. You have to contribute to ESPP some money, usually it’s percentage from your paycheck. Most of the companies set 10% as maximum limit. The money is taken out from  your paycheck up to the contribution limit. Your contribution is calculated on before tax money but taken after tax.  There’s NO tax-deduction on this money.
  2. There are two purchase periods in a year, 6 months each. At the beginning of a period your employer will start withdrawing ESPP money from your paycheck. This money will be kept in a special account. You can end your ESPP participation any time and get your money back.
  3. At the end of a period all the ESPP money will be used for purchasing company stocks. It will be done automatically by your employer. Your get a discount on the purchase price.  (usually the discount is 15%, but sometimes it could be less or more).
  4. Your employer takes to stock prices: at the beginning and at the end of a period. You get your discount on WHICHEVER IS LOWER price.
  5. You can sell this stocks right away without any restriction. Or you can hold them – it’s up to you.

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It is not about money

FIRE and money

For the last couple of months I’ve read a lot of different FIRE blogs. From new, fresh ones, to pretty old-timers and iconic bloggers.

Unfortunately, almost every post I’ve read was about the same topic. And this topic was money.

Dah… FIRE stands for Finencial Independence Retire Early. What else can FIRE bloggers talk about?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind money. And I definitely don’t mind talking about money. But people tend to forget that money is just a tool for something else, something bigger.

It’s not about money.

Generally speaking the word “retirement” has its own negative aftertaste if you wish. People don’t like it. Plainly it means you’ve worked the whole life and now you’re old. I don’t like this word either.

Don’t live just for money

I’ve been living in Russia for the most of my life and in my motherland this word is even worse than a curse. It means you’re almost dead and living below the poverty level.

Early Retirement in addition to Financial Independence is different. It changes the whole aftertaste of this ugly and unpleasant word “retirement”, at least it does it for me. It changes the whole perspective of my life from “Have to” to “Want to”.

FIRE is not about money, no. Money is just a tool, that gives you FREEDOM. Freedom to chose.

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Smile and wave, boys! Smile and wave

To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.
Elbert Hubbart*

I am really sorry but you will be criticized in your life. If you’re planning to do something different there will be people mocking, criticizing and hating you. This is the way of the world.

Some people will never be satisfied. No matter what you do it will be either too much or too little.


Learning from criticism

When I lived in Russia I heard these a lot, “Don’t stand out. Be like everyone!” or “You have nothing to do or what?

As soon as you start doing something different with your life, as soon as you start spreading the word, you will be attacked by critics. You’re a lucky person if the only critics you receive is the constructive one from your family and friends. At least these people have your best interest at heart. But even this can be painful and overwhelming too.

We are all different, and for some weird reasons I can easily deal with criticism coming from my friends and family. Maybe it is a sign of maturity.

You will be criticized and hated by people you have never heard about. Sometimes, even your friends and family get in on the action.

It’s easier, at least for me, to deal with those who have your best interest at heart. And I didn’t say it’s easy. I said it’s easier. Continue reading

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