Net worth Update March 2018 $297,880 (+$4,233)

Markets troubles in March coupled with significant income and low expense leads to an increase in net worth to 297,880.04 (+4,232.94).

Let’s see how each account made.

Vanguard (401k): $60,762 (-$461)

Whoa, what’s going on. There was panics on my news feed in early February. “Market Crash”, “Did you sell ?!?”, “OMG”. Uh, I’m not sure what people are talking about. The markets reverted to the values they were 2 months ago. Hardly something to notice. I had ~$3,500 spare cash in a money market account; I bought more VTSAX with it. I wish I had more and I wish the markets crashed further to have a better prices.

Vanguard Brokerage: $50,274 (-$485)

Same as above. Markets were bouncy in February!

Vanguard Roth: $16,483 (-$171)

Bonds are actually going down since interest rates are rising. I’m not sure if bonds are that useful in a low-interest world. Warren Buffett is skeptical about them, saying they have negative rate of return.

“It is a terrible mistake for investors with long-term horizons – among them, pension funds, college endowments and savings-minded individuals – to measure their investment ‘risk’ by their portfolio’s ratio of bonds to stocks, […] Often, high-grade bonds in an investment portfolio increase its risk.”

While I agree with Buffett, I don’t understand what diversification I should use instead. 100% stocks? Munis? Bitcoins? 😛

Fidelity Roth (Spouse): $16,403 (-123.80)

More bonds in another ROTH since their interest are tax-free.

Cash: $26,917 (+$2,390)

I started Churning Bank Account bonuses. The first account I’m testing is the CitiBank. I’m using my Churning tips from DoctorOfCredit. It requires a $15,000 deposit for 60 days. There are no fees if a minimum balance is kept. Once the requirements are met, the bank will deposit a $300 bonus. Then I can close the account and start again with a different bonus. There is also a $700 bonus, but this requires a $50,000 deposit, I don’t feel it’s worth it.


Mortgage is going down to 711,493.59 (-$1,255). Car loan is down to $6,193(-$163). And credit card debt are at $5,175, down from the high of $7,000 in December. The low CC balance reflects the minimal expenses of this month.

Leverage Ratio: 70.82% (-0.39%)

Nice to see this ratio in the lower 70% .Will I be able to make it reach 60% before the end of the year? We’ll see! Total liabilities $722,862.12 are while assets are $1,020,742.16.


Total income on February was $12,091.92, not including income from investment, CC bonuses, etc.

Expenses are minimal at $4,874.81, this includes more than $1,500 for mortgage interest. So less than $3,000 for a family of 5 living in one of the costliest place on Earth.

The main source of expenses are: Home, Food, Children, Utilities and Cars (!). I could reduce car expense further (~$400/year) by getting rid of one car. This would also help with the depreciation. Furthermore, I used the ‘Trim’ service which slashed $10 of my Comcast (Internet) bill.

This gives our family another great saving rate of 64.83% for the month of February. The 12 month saving rate is now at 46.43%, up from 41.34% from last month. We are getting closer to the 50% objective.

See you next month!

Net worth Update February 2018 $293,647 (+$16,897)

See all other net worth update here.

Net worth is up significantly (+$16,897) in February with standard income and low expense. This gives our family its highest saving rate ever.

We are giving up on % differential and will now use absolute values for net worth update. When we would say my account gained 2%, did it gain 2% of $100 (2$) or 2% of $100,000 ($2,000). Real values put numbers into perspective.

Net worth: $293,647 (+$16,897).

Incredible gain! It was expected because of the tax planning of last year. There was no mortgage payment in January, the expenses were low, past Christmas.

Let’s see how each account made.

Vanguard (401k): $61,233 (+$4,378)

We are maxing out the 401k again this year, so that’s $18,500 averaged over 26 paychecks. There’s 50% match (up to 2% of salary) match by my employer. This adds $173 to the account for each pay day. Finally, there was market gain in January leading to 4k gain.

Vanguard Brokerage: $50,729 (+$3,362)

High gain due to strong market return. We are adding $500 per pay day to my brokerage account with an automatic deposit. We need to increase this amount otherwise we end up with too much spare cash.

Vanguard Roth: $16,655 (+$5,318)

Each New Year starts with a new Backdoor ROTH contribution. In 2018, we can contribute $5,500 to an IRA. We then convert it to a ROTH. We have to do this process since our family income is too high to contribute directly to a ROTH IRA. Bonds are getting a negative return (-$200). I have an uneasy feeling about holding bonds due to the low interest rate of the global economy.

Vanguard Roth: $16,527 (+$5,309)

Similar to above. This a spousal Backdoor ROTH. The strategy is the same, we contribute $5,500 to an IRA under her name, and then a few days later, we convert it to a ROTH IRA so it get grow tax free!

Cash: $24,528 (-$3,397)

Cash Balance are too high. I was accumulating them for Bank Account and Credit Card churning which requires large deposit or large balance. We’ll see in the next few months how I’m able to achieve these and where the money will go.


Mortgage is not moving at $712,748. Car loan is down to $6,356 (-$163). And credit card debt are at $7,000, down from the high of $9,000 in December. I never carry a balance, these are just current total.

Leverage Ratio: 71.21% (-1.26%)

That one is staying as a %. 🙂 It’s close to the lowest it has ever been (70.43%). I’m looking forward to it crossing below 70% this year. Total liabilities are at $726,146 while assets are at ($1,019,749). I keep the home value at $840,000 and I’m not moving it. Home evaluation sites are saying it’s worth $900k now. That’s fine. Once we sell, we will have to some repair, home staging and commission. Let’s keep it conservative low. I’d rather be conservative and surprised, than optimistic and sorry.

Expenses are under control. There was another emergency family travel for $923 this month. Food is still incredibly expensive in high cost California ($1084), also, we got 3 hungry mouths to feed. 🙂

Total income (post-tax) was $11,835 and expense $4,287 for a saving rate of 68.45%.  This is the highest saving rate I ever had. For kicks and giggles, if the emergency travel wasn’t there, the saving rate would have been upwards 75%! We are also cheating, there was no mortgage payment on this month. The cumulative saving rate for the last 12 months is 41.31%, up 1% from 40.15%. One of my objective is to get it to 50% by end of year. We are expecting high saving rate for next month as well.

Networth – January 2018 – $276 749 (-0.83%)

We are now in 2018! A new year begins. What happened in December?

  • Many, many pre-payment of all kinds for taxes. Money that should come back in the next few months.
  • Several credit card openings for churning.
  • Some unexpected expenses due to illness in the family. 🙁
  • Christmas! Santa decided to spoil the kids this year.

The Networth is therefore slightly downward! But these are investments that will payoff in the next few months when my taxes refund will come.

Assets: 996 139 (-0.37%)

  • Liquid: $18919
  • Property: 840 000 $
  • Investment 401 (k): $57 018 (+ 4.56%)
  • Investment Brokerage: $47 395 (+ 3.33%)
  • Roth IRA Investment:
    • Myself: $11313 (-0.05%)
    • Spouse: $11193 (-0.09%)

Liabilities: $707 362 (-0.46%)

  • Car loan: $6518 (-2.44%)

I want to pay off that loan The interest rate is 3.24%, do I get 3.24% return with my cash in my emergency fund? No… but I want to accumulate $15000 in floating cash so I can churn several bank account bonuses.

  • Mortgage: $712 748 (-0.18%)

Debt/asset Ratio: 72.21% (+ 0.13%)

Total net worth: $276 749 (-0.83%) Usd
Converted to CAD: $348 192 (-1.69%) Cad

In December, we still get a savings rate of 14%, the income are $19113 (3 paychecks!) and expenses of $17530 (phew!…).

Why the loss of money then? Good question. I made my update late (we are already in mid-January!) and there seems to be an error of 3k and 1k on investments and credit card respectively. I may already be at 280k as a net worth. I will ignore it and the next month will surprise me instead !

2018 Objectives

This blog serves me as a reminder to stay on track. In 2018, I give myself goals in order to raise my play level.

  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Accumulate $2500 in churning of credit cards and bank account bonuses.
  • Obtain a savings rate of 50%.
  • Publish 2 public tools.

Lose 20 pounds

At the end of 2016, I had reached a maximum of 250 pounds. I was scared. I was now as close to 300 pounds as 200. I started eating better at the same time as I started this blog. During the year 2017, I reached a minimum of 214 pounds and I am now back to 220. I want to reach the symbolic number of 200 pounds. I went from “obese” to “overweight” according to BMI. Financial independence is also about working on your future health. There is no point in being rich but being sick. We cannot guarantee the future, tumor, cancer, or other incurable diseases. But we can guarantee that taking care of your body now can only have positive impacts for the future.

Health/Caring for yourself No tumors, cancer, etc. Tumors, cancer, etc.
Taking care of yourself Healthy Future Future Not healthy
Don’t take care of yourself Future not healthy. Extremely unhealthy future

While taking care of oneself does not guarantee to be healthy in the future, I can guarantee that not taking care of you, guaranteed not to be healthy in the future. So pragmatic optimism is the right way to go. If illnesses there must be, having taken care of oneself can help to get through the different treatments. The attitude and the placebo effect help.

The first 30 pounds were relatively easy, I cut sugar intake. The next 20 pounds will be more difficult!

Accumulate $2500 in churning account bonus credit card.

I started at the end of 2017 and the first bonuses will accumulate in 2018. I make ~ $1300 easily with these first bonuses. I think it should be possible to do the equivalent over the next nine months. I could have put $3000 as a goal, but it seems ambitious. I have to stretch the bonuses in time due to the expense prerequisites. Several offers also arrive by mail, we’ll see what will be available!

Obtain a savings rate of 50%.

My weighted savings rate over the last 12 months has decreased from 45% to 40%. I want to bring it back to 50%, which is aggressive given our house and our three children. However, several factors will play in our favor.

  • The refinancing of the mortgage frees up a large amount of interest and increases our payment of principal.
  • A salary increase of more than 13% in 2018.
  • Trump’s tax reform benefits us because it adds a new tax credit of $2000 per child which I did not have access to in 2017. It also reduces the rates of taxation of different levels even if it limits the deductions of state taxes. In total, it should be a winner. The 401 (k) limit is now $18500 instead of $18000.

Publish at least 2 public tools.

I’ve been working on several micro-tools recently. The first is a version of Personal Capital that connects different bank accounts and credit cards in a single view. Very convenient to get a glimpse of your financial situation. Another tool is a dynamic RRQ simulator. It allows you to quickly see the payments to which you will be entitled and allows you to make simulations. My last tool is a credit card selector. It shows you which card to use among the ones you own in order to maximize your points.

All these tools are still in beta phase, but I want to publish at least 2 in 2018, either in Google sheets format, either in mobile application or on a Web site. To be continued. 🙂


To keep me on Track, I will update the status of my goals every quarter, as a business.

  • First quarter – April 1st, based on results from end of March.
  • Second quarter – July 1st, based on results from end of June.
  • Third quarter – October 1, based on results for the end of September.
  • Fourth quarter – 1 January 2019, from the results of the end of December 2018.

With that, I will have no choice but to be honest with myself!

Let’s Go!

Paying Phone Calls

A few days ago, I made two phone calls that brought me $1600. The two calls were made following 2 hours of work. So we’re talking about a job that reported $800/hour NET, or $1100/hour before taxes.


First Call

The payment of my mortgage is due every beginning of the month: January 1st,  February 1st, etc. The month in which the payment is made account for the accumulation of interest. For example, if the January 1 payment is made in December, the interest will be accounting for the month of December rather than the month of January. Interest will therefore be calculated in 2017 and not in 2018. Finally, interest is deductible in the United States.

Payment of $2900, including $1700 of interest. Following the deduction, I save $553 in federal and $158 in California. Total: $711

Note: This does not come back to the same as losing the interest deduction for 2018. Trump’s tax reform for 2018 changes the rules. It makes itemization for deductibility more difficult by giving a higher basic standard deduction. Furthermore, it reduces the tax rate, which means that a deduction in 2017 is worth more than in 2018. Finally, even if none of these arguments were true, it is always better to get tax refund earlier than later.

Second call

I started Credit Card Churning. I went with the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. It gives 3% on certain expense categories such as telephone, Internet, Office supply, shipping. There’s a 80,000 bonus points sign-up bonus. These are worth $800, or $1000 if spent on travel. You have to spend $5000 on the next 3 months with the card to get the bonus. So I will redistribute some of my expenses on this card. In order to meet the required spending, gift cards can also be bought as well.

There is a $100 annual fee on the card, but I downgrade the card next year before it renews to avoid a second annual fee. All Chase maps allow the points to be transferred so they are not lost.

Grand total of both calls: $711 + $1000-$100 = $1611. To get $1611 net, I would need about $2200 of income, or $1100/hour. Incredible! I would have a lot of difficulty, aside from being CEO of a big company, asking people to pay me $1100 per hour for any of my skills.

Think about it the next time you negotiate price, or try to find a rebate for an item. How much are you paid/hour while doing that? If it’s higher than your current job, it’s worth it ! What is the value of your time?