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I want to be a millionaire! 5 years later…

 

I stumbled across my very first post from this blog about wanting to become a millionaire. It was five years ago that I did that and it was fun to see how far I’ve come from there. I’ve written one post 2 years after that for a quick update. I wanted to see how I’ve stacked up since then and see how far I’ve come from there!

2013
Retirement accounts-goal to contribute 15%
Investments-goal to start investing with Betterment
Real Estate-saving up for the 20% down payment
Savings-Save tons of money

2015
Retirement accounts-maxed out my contributions for the first time
Investments-opened an account with Betterment and started putting 10% in
Real Estate-bought a house and put extra payments in each month
Savings-save tons of money

Today
Retirement accounts
Maxed out my contributions each year since 2015!

Investments
Continued investing with Betterment, and finally seeing it start growing and piling up! We’re going to pay off our car this next month so I’m thinking we could funnel that extra $416 every month into investments…a conversation to have with the hubs.

Real Estate
Bought a house and put extra payments in each month, we’re knocking down that principal. We’ve also done a lot of renovations to up the value of this house. We’re saving up for our next house downpayment to possibly relocate. We don’t currently want to move yet, but when we do we’ll have that down payment already! Ou house has also steadily risen in value even without taking into consideration our renovations. Just by comps alone our house has added a lot to our net worth.

Savings
Created mini goals for savings including one for a Tesla model 3 and the next downpayment on a new house! The interest rate on online savings accounts is also creeping up slowly. Yeah!

Millionaire status
Not there yet but getting there! All the habits I’ve set 5 years ago are still going strong and the money is starting to add up slowly. I’m always evaluating to see where we can do more and what else we can do to save money. It’s definitely a big give and take in my marriage as we have differing views, but we talk it out and see what works for us. There’s also all the earth-friendly things I’m trying to do to save the earth. Some of them end up costing more, while others save money.

Five years ago my husband and I were in intense, very intense, money saving mode. I learned to cut his hair to save $25 a month, we ate out only once a week (even though we love eating out), and many many other things we did to try to save up money. 2013 was the year we got married, bought a new car, and then bought a house! It was a crazy year where we were very frugal. Since then we’ve relaxed off that unsustainable pace but we’re still keeping our spending down.

We’ve also had some change in the way we think about money. I’ve always tended to be more the saver kind of person and my husband more so to save but enjoy life. With our goals set in place and steadily clicking along, plus some family medical issues we’ve had along the way, we’ve definitely re-evaluated what money means to us. We’ve taken some lavish (lavish to us) vacations and not felt guilty over any of it! Last year we went to Japan and this year to Hawaii and spent a good chunk of cash. This year we might get a Tesla model 3!

No matter what the future is pretty exciting. We’ve set up our finances well for the years to come and it’s moving along! How’s your financial journey coming along?

 

 

Busting through the pay gap in 2018

Will the next generation get equal pay regardless of gender and race?

My day job is being a Senior Art Director in the advertising industry. An industry run mostly by white males and filled with stereotypes, overt bias, and hidden bias, that have made my career not boring to say the least. It’s been a tough 10+ plus years working to bust through to the top and to retain my self of sense. Sadly enough, my industry isn’t the only place where this happens. This happens worldwide! All across America, and even worse across other countries that are still punishing women by death. Trying to achieve my goal of being financially independent and to become a millionaire, is hard enough already, but made even harder by the fact that there is an unequal pay gap between women and men. To add even more hurdles in my way, I am also Chinese. Minority women are even further behind in the unequal pay gap. How is it in 2018 that women get paid less than a man for doing the same job?

The 3% Movement
https://www.3percentmovement.com
Last week I was so fortunate to be able to attend the 3% Minicon held here in Los Angeles. What is it you say? When the 3% Movement started only 3% of the creative directors in the industry were women, with less being minorities. Since then the numbers have risen to 11% but they won’t stop until it’s at 50%! Their mission is to bring inclusion for all genders and all races. I spent an entire day listening to speakers from top positions from well known agencies speak up. There was even a 13 year old girl there who spoke so eloquently about the issues and was extremely passionate! All of us, or a majority of us, definitely were so inspired by the next generation. We’re fighting for us now, but we’re also fighting to make the future brighter for generations after us. The minicon was overrun with women with a sprinkling of men everywhere. I would have liked to see more men there too!

From the company I work at, 8 women attended. I very much would have liked a few men to attend as they also need to know these issues. It’s harder for people to know what the issues are if they are not confronted with it day by day. Doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the solution, but hearing the speakers inspired us all so greatly. Our next steps are to consolidate our learnings and action steps together so that we can share it with the rest of our company. From there we can take our next steps and push the movement forward!

The facts
Women are half the population is this world and we’re hampering our entire world by limiting that growth. Women live longer than men, yet have less in their retirement funds due to unequal pay gaps. Women also tend to invest into their children and community on a higher rate. Women minorities are even more likely to earn less for the same job. Maternity and paternity pay, as well as family leave, aren’t as widespread as it should be in the US, and mostly hampers women as they take time to take care of their families.

Look at the CEO’s of the biggest companies in the country and they are most likely men. Look at our government, how many white males are there vs women?

My dreams vs my reality
It would be great to be evaluated based on what I can do and what I know. Regardless of my gender or skin color. That everyone start on equal ground.

My reality is that I am judged every single day by how I look. I am a petite Chinese woman who looks young for my age. On first sight people assume I am much much younger than I am and don’t realize my age until they talk to me. The smarter people take that time to know me before making a judgement. The not so smart people judge instantly and think that I am in a lower position and don’t know much. I remember these people.

Not just diversity, inclusion
No more tokens! No more including one of each type of person for diversity purposes. It’s not a checkbox that you have one female in the group, one black person, one asian person, and one male. Not only do we need to have all types of gender and races together, but we all need to give them the power to have an equal voice. In my industry it’ll make our work more powerful to have all voices together than just from one view. Our world could use that same power.

 

So what can we do about it? Not just for people in my industry but everywhere.

Become a mentor
I am forever grateful to the women and men who have stepped up throughout my life and career to take the time to help me. These people weren’t officially labeled my mentors, but they took my under their wing for a short time to teach me. They took time out of their day to help someone along. They’ve taught me so much and gave me a great example to follow. It takes time to be a good mentor (notice I included good) but it’s well worth it. Not only do you help someone grow, you yourself as a person grows too and gain a new perspective.

Stand up for what’s right
If you see something happening that is wrong, correct it. No matter who you are. Doing nothing is also a choice you make. It is allowing the status quo to keep on as is.

Challenge your inner bias 
Everyone has bias already. I know I do and I’m constantly trying to adjust to stamp it out as much as possible.

Know your worth – negotiate your pay
There are plenty of sites that post salaries. Look it up and see what your worth and ask for it and more! This goes for everyone.

Equal pay studies
See if your company has an equal pay study or a pledge for one. Some companies have already done those studies and have implemented policies to change unequal pay. Others may have done it but not published it.

Paid maternity, paternity and family leave
Push for maternity, paternity and family leave. My company doesn’t currently have policies in place but I’ve been pushing for it and will continue to do so. My husband has 3 weeks paternity leave. Which is great since men also need leave for their children.

Let our voices be heard
Don’t interrupt women when speaking. Studies have shown that women are more interrupted than men when in a group setting. Our voices are literally being spoken over! If you see it happening, say something. Don’t do it, and bring the issue to light. Most people most likely aren’t doing it on purpose. Also support the person interrupted by bringing the conversation back round to them. Allow their voice to be heard.

It’ll take everyone to step up, women, men, everyone, to change things
Yes everyone, absolutely everyone, will need to step up in order for things to change. Women, men, the people in power, the people not in power banding together to create one large voice, it will take everyone to change. This is everyone’s problem. Everyone has a mother, a friend, an acquaintance that is a woman. Possibly a daughter, a niece, cousins who are women. Even if you think it doesn’t affect you yourself, it’s affecting someone close to you.

 

This is obviously something very close to me as I just wrote a long article about this. I could’ve written even more! I’m doing my best to fix this in my industry and in the world. Let’s do it together!

Maxing out my 401k!!!!!

Photo Credit: GotCredit via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: GotCredit via Compfight cc

 

It’s crazy looking at the calendar and seeing November across the top of the month. Where the heck did my entire year go? Stores are already geared up for Christmas and I’m already hearing about black Friday sales. A lot has already happened this year and I’m pretty ready for it to wind down. It’s certainly a good time to remember what goals I had for this year and see if I’ve been able to reach them or what I can do to reach them.

And……….I just maxed out my 401k for the first time ever!!!!!!! This was my major goals for this year and I did it with time to spare. It’s such an amazing feeling to know I was able to do this! Of course I’ve always wanted to but never even got close until now. Things like high cost of living and a smaller salary unfortunately got in the way. It’s been one of my goals since I started learning more about personal finance and I finally got there!!!!!

Better yet…my husband is on track to do the same this year too!!!!! He didn’t start his 401k plan until midway through the year but we’ve ramped up his contributions and it’ll get there before 2016. That would be his first time maxing out too!

With that said and done…I think I can go celebrate and be lazy for the rest of the year. But oh wait…it’s holidays time and it’s when money gets sucked out of my purse like no other. I guess I still have some work to do before 2016.

YTD goals completed

  • Continue to raise our net worth
  • Contribute continuously to investments (even if stock market keeps swinging)
  • Do a full kitchen renovation
  • Pay extra on mortgage ever single month (automatic so we don’t even notice)
  • Max out my 401k

 

I’m feeling pretty accomplished!!!! After years of practicing frugality and adding on different methods to save and automate mula, it’s all paying off and it’s so easy!!!! It amazes me too since so much has happened this year that definitely we spent more mula on than normal. We had a lovely trip to the grand canyon earlier this year. Four weddings total this year with 2 being out of town weddings where I was in the bridal party. It’s a sure way to spend money when you are in a bridal party. I just found out that my best friend and her husband will be coming to LA to spend Christmas with us!!!

Now I need to figure out how first of all not overspend during the holidays, and secondly splurge a bit when my friend is here but at the same time not go full on crazy! I’ve already started Christmas shopping months ago and have bought gifts that were on sale/clearance that I thought would be good for people. That definitely gives me more time to shop around and get good deals instead of mad rushing last minute! Now as for the holiday festivities, I’ll have to figure out a good mix of frugal/fancy things to do. I have to admit that my mind already did jump to getting a 6 foot live tree….but then shut it down after realizing how wasteful that is (money and earth wise). Perhaps a small potted plant?

Either way my work isn’t done yet for this year! Some big accomplishments already but always more I can do!

 

How has your year been going and have you accomplished any goals you’ve set for yourself already?

 

Treat your Gift Cards like Cash

Photo Credit: bill.sarris via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: bill.sarris via Compfight cc

How many times have you seen this phrase and utterly ignored it? I tend to honestly. Every time I use a gift card at a store I don’t check to make sure I get back the right gift card. When I use cash though I make sure to count out what I get back to make sure I get the proper amount. With gift cards though i glance at it and think that it’s the same card I gave my cashier. Learning the hard way about not checking that at all times!

I’ve had a lovely few weeks going back and forth with Home Depot trying to get back the money lost on a gift card that was switched out when checked out. Technically it was my father who this happened to, but I’ve had to deal with it since he told me that it happened at a Home Depot in LA. He had used a gift card to check out and then was given back one that had a zero balance. The situation has been quite confusing indeed because he thought it had happened in my area. Unfortunately he forgot that he went to another Home Depot with that same gift card afterwards where he lives and that’s where it got switched! Only that store can help since they can double check security cameras to verify his story.

Form the day forth…I will always check my gift cards every single time I use them to make sure I get the right one back!

Feels like a card but it’s money

A lot of people I know tend to think of gift cards as free money that they don’t need to account for. It hurts to hand over a $20 but when it comes to a gift card it feels like a credit card. No visible consequences of paying for something thus the same mental thinking. That’s money though on those cards and if you lose it then well it’s gone. I admit I sometimes forget to use them because I don’t always carry them around too. It’s already been paid for so then I’m using extra money instead.

Double-check that card

I highly suspect that my father was a victim of a scam unfortunately. The gift card he had would’ve had a balance of about $150 on it. Turns out we were able to look up the card history through Home Depot’s systems and the card was cleaned out weeks later across the country. He had no reason to believe anything but good of the person helping him that day and it’s the first time he’s encountered this before. It’s been a big hassle and we haven’t been able to get the money back yet. Fingers crossed that we will but already a lot of time has gone into this.

Don’t let it out of your sight

Another thing I’ll be sure to do now is to watch the cashier if I hand over a gift card. Usually they stand right in front of you and you can see everything. If I ever use a self-checkout though sometimes the cashier walks off to a separate station. A bit harder to track but I’ll be extra careful to check it as soon as I get it back.

 

Gift cards are so simple to use that it’s easy to not think much about it when paying with them. It’s a form of money though so I should definitely be more careful about it.

How do you treat your gift cards?

Happy be a millionaire day!

Photo Credit: Lost Star via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Lost Star via Compfight cc

It’s been quite a busy year for me with two major weddings I’m in. Let’s say money has been flying out the door pretty much and my time has been pretty limited. Whoosh. Gone in less than a second! It’s about time I got back to blogging and what better day than today?

Happy be a millionaire day!

I’m not a millionaire but it’s one of my goals to be one some day! Each day I slowly and steadily work towards that goal and I get a tiny bit closer as time passes. About two years ago I made a few goals for myself to get to my bigger goal. Time to check in and see how I’ve been doing!

Contribute to my retirement accounts
I was aiming for 15% but I have surpassed that for sure!!! This year I’m definitely going to hit the maximum for my 401k. I’m not sure I can hit any other retirement accounts but that’s already a much better retirement rate than before!

Buy a house
When I first wrote this I was saving up intensely for the downpayment for a house. A few months after this my husband and I found the right place and luckily our bid was accepted! We paid down a 20% down payment and since then have been steadily chipping away at our principal with extra payments every single month. If we keep going at the rate we’re at currently we would be able to pay off this house in about 22 years! That is if we don’t have children but since we plan to that will put a kink into our plans for sure. Either way we’re building up our equity slowly and that contributes a lot to our net worth.

Invest
I finally opened up an account with Betterment and have contributed 10% of our income to it every single month. It’s adding up pretty quickly and the time invested return is at 12% right now! It’ll be a while til it’s viable passive income but I finally started it up!

Save like crazy
We have a pretty nicely padded emergency fund especially since owning a house brings on more emergencies than renting. Our savings rate is higher than our aimed goal of 10% also!!!! Yes, we could be saving more, but we also are trying to live life well now rather than just later.

And so…on my way to becoming a millionaire!!!!

What about you? Do you have dreams of becoming a millionaire?