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It’s that time of the month again.
This time, I’ve made an effort to write a good Savings Report. I’ve recreated my writing ‘flow mode’ by sitting away from my phone with a coffee, early morning and with ‘Peaceful Piano’ playing on my headphones.
Doing this is like a magic trigger to get me to write. My brain knows it’s writing time as I did this for years in the earlier days of Saving Ninja while commuting to London on the train each morning.
Part of the reason I’m not writing as much is because I’m not able to recreate these ‘flow’ conditions. Now that I’m in the US, my day starts at 7am instead of 11am to ensure there is enough time with my EU colleagues. It’s a lot easier for me to write after a morning exercise and meditation while being fresh, rather than after an 8 hour day when I’m exhausted.
I thought that, as I’m a morning person, moving to the US and working earlier in the morning rather than later at night would be better, but what’s really happened is my company gets my most productive time instead of me.
Maybe I need to start getting up at 5am?
Big Fluctuations in Savings
I’ve reached the half a mill dollar mark again after a slight recovery in the stock market combined with another month of contributing $13,000.
One thing that has become apparent to me when looking back at previous months, is how much currency changes warp my portfolio. I now hold three currencies; SEK, GBP and USD and in recent times these are moving up and down a lot.
For example, in my last savings report , my total GBP net worth was reported as £413,688, and my USD net worth $461,262. With currency fluctuations, these two figures are now £402,296 and $474,026. This warps my figures each month, so if you’re reading this and seeing a big difference between how my portfolio and your own is reacting, it’s probably due to this.
Contribution Slow Down
October was the second month of contributing $8000 to our pre-pension pot and $5000 to my 401k (US pension). For November I contributed $6000, although I think I’ll have to slow completely down for the next couple of months.
After two big offsites at work, which I have to pay for and then eventually get reimbursed, as well as combined dental and health care costs, and purchasing PC components during pre Black Friday sales for me and my wife (more on that later), I seem to have… Not much money left for an emergency.
For the first time in a long time I’m eagerly awaiting my next pay check as I’m a little worried.
Before the interest rate hikes, I could have borrowed on margin from my Interactive Brokers account (I have a handy debit card for it) if there was an emergency, but right now I don’t fancy paying more than 6% interest.
I’m now aiming to have a stable, $10k+ in my checking account from now on. Realistically, I should probably aim to have more of an immediate emergency fund, if we ever had to leave the country in a hurry or pay for a big medical bill upfront before getting it reimbursed, I’d feel a lot better. Especially as we still can’t get a credit limit above $300 per month here.
I’ve reduced my contributions for pre-pension down to $1000 for next month, keeping the pension contributions at $5000 as I’d like to hit the 401k limit before December. I may be able to ramp it up again in December. we’ll see.
As I’m sure you’ve all been hearing in the news recently, tech is going through some dark days. There have been mass layoffs in multiple growth companies; Twitter, Facebook, Lyft, Netflix. If layoffs aren’t happening, there are hiring freezes, and everyone is nervous.
This is happening as capital is now more expensive and these companies are generally not yet profitable and they need capital investment to sustain themselves, so most are trying to become more lean and self-sufficient.
My own company has announced a hiring freeze for the whole of 2023. They are stating it’s a precautionary measure, as they’re in a better place financially than most who have already started laying off, but if the economy continues to trend downward, layoffs seem inevitable.
Of course, I’m anxious as hell! I’m a top performer, about to get a promotion, but if layoffs happen it will probably be on a department level, not a performance level.
If I were to get laid off, we would have 4 weeks to vacate the country. I’d have to go from having the dangling carrot of a huge net savings amount back to being jobless in the UK, before I’ve managed to truly take advantage of increased savings in the USA. I’d also have our dreams ripped away from us, something that we’ve been trying to accomplish for the last decade, when we were so close from getting a green card and being able to stay.
The only thing we can do now is hope. I’ve also been entered into the H1B lottery, if I’m one of the 1 in 3 who gets this Visa, it will be able to function as a back up visa to stay in the USA if I need to find another employer.
This is all doom and gloom thinking from me, I have no reason to think that I’ll be laid off, it’s just very hard to not be anxious with what’s going on in the tech world right now!
Christmas and PC Gaming!
Before my anxiety of potential layoffs grew, I started collecting pre Black Friday sale PC components for both myself and my wife to build us gaming computers. The last time I did this was 8 years ago, before I found the FIRE movement when I was a spendy-pants and my wife had my older gaming PC.
I lost these computers in the move to Sweden and the US and I think it’s now time to buy into this hobby again, we miss it too much! The PC component market has come down tremendously in the last 12 months, I managed to build two 4k 60FPS gaming PC’s for around $1000 each. This would have cost more than $3000 each 12 months ago in Sweden. This has been hard to spend, but with my increased disposable income and the lower cost, we decided to do it for a hobby that we both love; PC gaming.
I’ve had increased anxiety about it with my worry of layoffs, I started the builds thinking we would be building for the future, but if we had to leave the US we would be forced to sell them within 4 weeks for a huge loss. I’ve been on the verge of returning the components a couple of times already, but right now we still want to go ahead. We’re planning on having our first Christmas alone at home here in Massachusetts and having gaming PC’s was a big part of our excitement to do that.
I hope you had a good month. I’m hearing a lot of worrying news from the UK, 3 Prime Ministers in 3 months!? Is it as bad as I’m hearing from this side of the pond or overblown?
If I had to leave the USA, should I not come back to the UK? :)