Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Little Life Updates Q3 2019

My pencil bag and the notebooks (including a splurge-y Smythson Panama notebook) that I currently keep in my work bag (still the Madewell Medium Transport Tote). 

I say this all the time, about any given time period - and it's not as if anyone ever actually disagrees with me - but dang, time sure goes by fast, and 2019 is just racing by! It's looking like things at the office will be hectic for both K and I through at least November, and probably for longer than that, which is a bit daunting. 

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One result of this continuous busy period is that we, as a household, may finally be done hemming and hawing over whether to hire someone to clean. We've had a few "false starts" with making that decision in the nearly 18 months since I wrote that post, times when a weekend "big clean" session turned out not so bad after all, or times when we had a slow period at work for a while and felt reinvigorated to do the chores ourselves. This time, though, I think we've finally made the choice. We're likely going to hire someone through Si Se Puede, a NYC-based women-owned co-op that recently came highly recommended via Anne Helen Petersen and a few of her readers. 

Billable Hours

Though I must say, despite having had several intense - including by biglaw standards - periods at work this year, my billed hours are still barely on track for a 1,950 hour year, i.e. one that's still a bit less busy than what some biglaw firms consider the minimum to get a full market-rate bonus (2,000 hours). And well, look at how, in its answer to a sex discrimination class action complaint, a certain biglaw firm sneered at some of the named plaintiffs' histories of ~1,700 or 1,800 hour years. (I once wrote about day-to-day life during an ~1,850 year, and while it wasn't bad at all by industry standards, it did involve quite a few late nights at the office and working through a few weekends.)

I'm only really tracking my hours out of curiosity, by the way. My current workplace does not base bonus amounts on billed hours. (Our bonuses are significantly less than the biglaw market rate.) Plus, even with all that's going to be on my plate at work for the rest of the year, there's at least a moderate chance I'll still finish at closer to 1,850 billed hours, or maybe even a little less than that. After all, there's the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods coming up, and I'll also take one more week-long vacation this year. 

Fall/Winter Shopping

Now that the weather's starting to cool down a bit, I can't help but look ahead at potential shopping for the fall/winter season. I just enjoy sweaters and coats so much more than summer clothing! There are a few things that I've been mulling over, as seen in my Pinterest shopping list

Sweater-wise, I have plenty, including from earlier this year, but I really enjoy sweaters and so I don't think I can stop myself from buying at least one. (Ideally, it'll be the only one.) Last year, around Black Friday, I became interested in a Vince funnel-neck sweater in boiled cashmere that they seem to bring back most years, but by late November, the color I liked was already sold out everywhere in my size. So if I want to try it this year, I expect I might need to order it earlier in the season, even if there are no discounts available. 

Shoe-wise, I'm actually pretty well set for fall/winter, since boots are so much more sturdy than my warmer weather shoes. But as I mentioned not long ago, some of the spring/summer shoes that I continue to wear sometimes in colder weather are kind of on their last legs. They're likely not in good enough shape that I'll still be wearing them next summer. So I've been thinking a little about new shoes. I've become interested in the somewhat menswear-inspired shoes by Office of Angela Scott, including the Mr. Colin monkstrap oxfords, the Miss Button mid-heel shoes, or the Mr. Franklin loafers. (In all instances, the fullest range of colors is available at the brand's website.)

Please follow the link below for a few other little life updates! 

Personal Finance Tracking

I've often commented about how high-effort my personal finance tracking habits are. In all the time I've been blogging, I've always entered transactions into my old, non-subscription YNAB just about every day, and I used to check in a few times a week to see how my investments (the 401(k) from my first workplace and my backdoor Roth IRA; my 401(k) at my current workplace is managed through an investment advisor that doesn't have an online portal for individual investors) were doing via Personal Capital, even though I knew it didn't actually bring me any benefit to check so often. On top of all that, I'd occasionally use an Excel spreadsheet here and there as a one-off to calculate something, and would also plug in my student loan-related numbers periodically to online tools, such as Unbury.me, to determine when I could expect to finish paying off my student loans. 

I've also been open about how all those high-effort money tracking habits weren't exactly productive, and may have been born slightly out of where I grew up, where money and market fluctuations were often a cause of anxiety and stress in the community around me. I imagine that most people around my age - I graduated college in 2010 - have also felt at least some periods of considerable career-building and money-related fear or anxiety as young adults. The 2008 recession cast a very long shadow. 

I feel more stable and secure in my career now, though my student loan balance is still extremely formidable. At the moment, I pay $3,950/month into my student loans, and at that rate, if I make the same-sized payment every single month without fail, I won't have paid off my student loans in full until early 2022. (Law school is hecking expensive!) 

Despite all my labor-intensive personal finance tracking efforts, I never used to consistently keep track of longer-term projections and predictions about where my finances might be in a year, or in two years. My excessive tracking and checking in to accounts was generally just focused on the here and now.

These days, things have changed a bit. I've now started keeping a spreadsheet with some of those longer-term projections. It's laid out like the blank version above (I dropped in a hypothetical student loan balance and repayment projections, numbers similar to my own). All that's really involved is some very basic back-of-the-envelope math, and my best guesses about how much I expect to save each year if I continue with my current habits. (None of the numbers take into account anything like market fluctuations.) I started using this spreadsheet in the first few months of 2019, tweaking it slightly once in a while to add more information.

And really, I should have started keeping track of my personal finance projections a bit sooner! It's been helpful. This might sound silly, but even though I've always had just about all the numbers and other information I needed to make educated guesses about what my student loan balance or total savings would look like at the end of any given year, the end of next year, etc. etc., I'd never actually sat down and really figured that out or kept track of it semi-regularly before I made this spreadsheet this year. Among other things, the spreadsheet and the projections give me a much more concrete sense of the impact that certain bigger, out-of-the-ordinary discretionary expenses - say, a certain surgery that probably won't be covered by insurance - would actually have on my overall finances, which was something I had sort of just... guessed at... before.

What are your personal finance tracking habits like? Does your industry have billable hours? (To my knowledge, there may not be any other industry that relies on billed hours quite the same way law firms do, even if other industries have them.) Is there any shopping that you're planning on now for next season? 

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