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Net Worth Update: December 2011

Hey guys! So remember that time I stopped writing for more than six months?

That was funny, right? Hahahaha… ha… ha.

Sorry about that. Let’s get back to business.

Change (from the last update in April): +$2323 or +8.63 %

Net Worth Graph December 2011 That’s a pretty respectable climb (more than 1% per month!) in numbers, but the graph reveals that there was also a bit of a backslide in there. So what gives? Just what has happened these last 8 months?

Traveled the country as a NASA groupie. When we last left off, I had tried to go a NASA Tweetup for the STS-134 shuttle launch, but the launch was postponed. Following that, I ended up attending three more NASA Tweetups: one in Pasadena, California at the Jet Propulsion Lab just days after my brother’s wedding in Upstate New York; another launch Tweetup for the very last shuttle launch, STS-135 (which did go off on time – huzzah!); and finally another one right in my area at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC (which was actually the same day as a White House Tweetup… which I also attended). Yeaaaaaaah… all really awesome opportunities that were worth every penny I spent in travel and accommodations, but also a bit of a blow to the old wallet!

Transferred $750 into my Roth IRA. In August, some sort of craziness was happening in the stock market. Honestly, I don’t even remember which crisis it was, but stocks were dipping down pretty low, and I had money sitting in my savings account, already earmarked for retirement savings. So, I transferred it. No better time to buy stocks than when they’re on sale, which is usually when everyone else is freaking out and selling theirs.

My car went kablooey. Yeah, that’s the technical diagnosis. On Labor Day, it just decided not to start. Replacing the battery (which was leaking acid everywhere – fun!) didn’t fix it, and neither did replacing the dead starter. Once my friends and I covered everything we could replace ourselves in my parking lot, I took it into two separate shops for more help. Between the parts we replaced ourselves and the ensuing repairs, I spent just shy of $1500 to get my car back on the road.

Oh, and did I mention this was the month my inspection, registration, and car insurance were all due, as well? It was a really fun month for the Oldsmobile! Considering the entire car is worth about $1750 or so now, these will be the last major repairs I put into her. I’ve bought myself about six months (hopefully a tad more), but it’s getting to be about time to put her down.

Got a promotion! And a change of department, even! This was also in September, on my birthday, in fact. I turned 25 and started a new job at the same company, with a pay bump. I’m also salaried now, as opposed to hourly, so my paychecks have become clockwork-predictable.

Moved out on my own. I had moved down here to Northern Virginia in 2009 because the guy I was dating got a job here. Unfortunately, that relationship came to an end. So for the first time in my life I moved out on my own, got my own apartment, and am now fully supporting myself. I shopped around for apartments, and actually managed to score a great deal on a cozy one-bedroom with all the amenities I wanted and more (in-apartment washer/dryer was a sticking point for me!). Lucky? Yeah, a bit. But my housing/utilities costs more than doubled, so I’m stretching things a lot thinner nowadays.

Spent way too much on new furniture and Christmas presents. I’ll admit, I didn’t know I could be an emotional spender. Because of doing The Compact and not buying anything the last time I was in severe emotional stress (long-time readers will remember this as the time I dropped out of film school right before the economy tanked!), I didn’t really give myself a chance to be an emotional spender the last time around. This time? The end of a relationship plus living in an apartment alone meant I dropped a significant amount of money all at once on things that suddenly seemed so very important.

Sure, of course I needed to buy myself a bed – sleeping on a futon mattress piled with three sleeping bags on top of it was not ideal. But I went a little… uh… nuts. If you have a look at the graph above, that is exactly what the big drop around November was. I’m still in recovery from that, unfortunately.

In fact… I stopped keeping track of my finances altogether. I didn’t updated my spending tracker spreadsheet. I didn’t do my net worth updates. I barely glanced at my bank accounts for longer than it took to pay my bills. I didn’t contribute anything to savings aside from automatic transfers. In a lot of ways, I was a whole different person for a couple of months.

It took a really long time to straighten out the mess (and deal with the enormous pile of receipts) in order to get back on track, update the spreadsheets, and fill out my net worth tracker. But here I am – up to speed and finding that somehow, I’m alright. Not great, but recovering steadily and without any permanent damage.

Only, it isn’t really a case of “somehow” – it was the systems I had put in place over the course of this blog. I had safeguards, fail safes, and finally an emergency fund to save myself from… well, in this case, myself. It wasn’t a good thing, by any measure – putting off saving for several months and having to borrow from my emergency fund to bridge the gap one month – but I didn’t go into any additional debt. In short, I dodged a bullet.

New for 2012

My employer has started offering a 401(K) match. Woot! I was already contributing a small amount to my company 401(K), but without a match, I had been mostly focusing on my Roth IRA for retirement savings. Now that there’s a match, I bumped up my contributions to take advantage of the full match. Still, I’m going to increase my contributions to the IRA as well this year – I just don’t feel like I’m saving enough for my retirement yet. Sure, now I’m trying to support myself completely on my own, and socking even more away is just going to make things tighter, but…

If I don’t worry about my retirement savings now, who is going to? And when? This is all on me.

So we’ll just have to see how that goes!

If you have any questions about my net worth or how it is calculated, feel free to ask them in the comments.

13 responses to “Net Worth Update: December 2011”

  1. Megan

    Have you looked at It seems like it might make it easier to track spending, because it grabs the transaction details directly from your online banking information. You can see every transaction you’ve made on your bank account or credit card, and it can also tie into loans, investments, 401(k) accounts, Roth accounts, etc.

  2. Becca

    Welcome back! Glad to hear that despite some crazy stuff going on, you’re doing okay.

  3. cavale

    Welcome back!

  4. Roger the Amateur Financier

    Well, hey there! Nice to see that you are still around. Is this a sign of more frequent posts in the future, or simply a reminder that you’re still alive? Also, congrats on moving out on your own, and on getting a company that will match your 401(k) contributions; sounds like you’re moving up in the world!

  5. Jason

    Stephanie, I’ve been following your progress since early 2008 when I started really getting serious about my finances. I am glad to see you stepping out on your own. I too have ties to NoVa.

    I got into the savings game a little bit later than you but now that I have, I enjoy it. I have a page, if you have a free moment…I’d love to hear any comments you have.


  6. cameron

    I like following you because I too am always concerned about my finances. It’s nice to see someone who is responsible too.

  7. Haber

    nice post Becca 😉

  8. Gal

    I think this is big problem these days. Professional opinion.

  9. IT Consulting Denver

    I too have been on a budget lately. Gotta watch the bottom line with gas at $4!

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