Author Archives: Savvy Financial Latina

I Love Having Dental Insurance

I love going to the dentist to have my dental cleaning. One of the benefits of becoming an adult, having a job, and having medical insurance is being able to take care of my smile. When I started my first corporate job at the age of 22, I immediately looked into getting braces. My parents were never able to afford braces for me. Hell, I never even asked. It was one of my dreams to be able to straighten my teeth. It wasn’t just for cosmetic purposes. My teeth were very crowded and my mouth would hurt; especially in the winter.

I immediately booked a dental appointment and started researching orthodontists. I received three estimates for my teeth and went with the orthodontist I felt more comfortable. He was about $500 more expensive, but I figured my teeth were worth it. The approximate cost of my braces was $5.500 paid over 24 months. My dental insurance covered $2000 and I had to cover the remainder ($3,500).

I, also, had to get four teeth pulled ($200 after dental insurance). I, also, paid for my wisdom teeth to be pulled, but this was a sunk cost as it had happened while I was in school. I went to a dental university and had students pull my teeth (cost $700). Most people would balk. I actually convinced two others to go to the dental university and had their wisdom teeth pulled. They had a better recovery period than me. I have a small jaw and my teeth‘s roots have hooks, which make them harder to pull.

My orthodontist was wonderful. He was very personable and always careful with my teeth. My teeth are very sensitive, so sometimes the procedures would take a little longer. I recommended my orthodontist to a coworker and she, also, went to him for braces. She loved him, as well.

Best money I spent. My smile looks great. My teeth and gums are healthier.

I just started a new job and have new dental insurance. This is the first time I have to pay for a premium for, both medical and dental insurance. Sucks, but at least I have the option. The dental plan includes 4 regular cleanings a year. Guess what, I will be going to get my teeth cleaned every quarter. I cannot wait!!!

Total spent for smile: $6,400.

Growing Up in a Low-Income Household

I grew up in a low income household. My parents immigrated to this country and worked blue collar jobs. I am the oldest child. I have a sibling who is seven years younger than me. I have always been a very aware kid. At six, I knew we were poor. While most kids prayed for toys, I prayed for my dad to be blessed with a job and for us to continue to have a roof over our head and food on the table. Even now, I pray to be blessed with more work, and for my dad to be blessed with jobs as well. When I talk to my family, I never complain about working long hours. Even if I was working 80 hours a week, my grandpa would say “more hours are great, pray for more.”

It’s a completely different mentality. My childhood experience has left some scars.

  1. Lack of money is stressful. My parents argued a lot about money while I was growing up. They argued over how much money was spent. My mom would get mad at my dad if he spent his lunch allowance too quickly. They would argue over giving money to family. I wish I could say my parents would not let us hear their arguments; unfortunately, I was present for many arguments. Maybe not all of them, but definitely a lot.
  2. I don’t want to be stressed over money. Especially not having enough money. Thus, my huge focus on growing my career and income.
  3. Every dollar has a purpose. My parents’ main problem was not earning enough. Every dollar was allocated. I’m not sure how my mom did it, but we never had utilities shut off and always had plenty to eat. She still manages her budget on very low income. While she never necessarily sat down and taught me how to budget, I learned to budget just because I didn’t want to run out of money.
  4. Control the finances. I have control over our finances. I pay the bills (although most bills are automated), set the budget, set savings goal, and set investments. It can be stressful to have so much responsibility in our marriage, but I think it would be more stressful to not have the responsibility. Sometimes I wonder, if I’m doing my husband a disservice. I try to get him involved in the finances, but he’s not the best student. (Sorry husband)
  5. Frugalness. I say frugalness because while we’re frugal, we’re not super frugal. My husband doesn’t really care about monthly budgets. There are times when I tell him, hey we need to stop spending money on X because that budget is gone, and it won’t matter. To be honest, I’m not great either. The budget is mostly a guideline. Some months we spend more, some less. We could save more money if we were tighter with money, but a lot of it has to do with our choices.
  6. Guilt with spending money. My husband says it’s weird, but I always feel guilty with big purchase items. It’s not because I feel judged. It’s just because I never grew up with such luxuries.
  7. One more thing. Personally, I don’t ever want to be financially dependent on anyone, including my husband. My mom was a stay at home mom and she had less options because she didn’t have an income source. There were a couple times were my mom wanted to divorce my dad, but she never went through with it because she couldn’t support the family financially.  Those phases probably coincided with the most stressful financial periods for my parents. And probably other reasons, but the financial aspect was always there. While there more factors than money, money was a very big deal. Having experienced the roller coaster of my parents’ marriage, I just never want to be in a situation where I can’t do something because I’m not independent enough to earn money. Maybe it’s not divorce. But what if my husband dies?  I need/want to be able to survive on my own.

Growing up in a low-income household where parents were stressed out was not a positive experience in my life. It did leave psychological scars and serves as the background to why I’m so financially minded.

Rant: Political Craziness

It’s really hard to ignore everything going down in Washington, D.C. I don’t usually discuss politics because the subject is very personal and a very taboo subject in the U.S. But…I just can’t believe what’s happening. Here comes a rant. In light of everything happening today: Flynn, the tax bill, Trump’s tweets, I just can’t be quiet.

I identify myself as a more left leaning, definitely on the blue side; just because I believe in the benefit of the social net. Those are just definitions. But, honestly, I believe the government and politicians are corrupt. I think it’s because I’m Mexican. In Mexico, all politicians are corrupt. Life goes on. People vote. The PRI takes over again. Yet because I was raised in the US, I’m more idealistic.

I’m probably more fiscally conservative than the mainstream Republican mentality. I have noticed mainstream Republicans all care about tax cuts and cutting entitlement programs. Why isn’t the focus on efficiencies? Efficiencies drive down costs. Basic supply chain concept (I’m a supply chain professional). The focus should be how we can distribute taxes in an efficient matter with an effective return on investment. Behh…when I try to bring this up to people, the conversation always goes back to how heavily we’re taxed.

Yes, we are taxed. Although we are a low tax nation comparatively. But what if the tax dollars were used more efficiently to help people in need? Except when I bring this up, I really uncover the truth. The theme: people who have wealth deserve it, and those that don’t have wealth, don’t really deserve it, so programs shouldn’t exist. I’ve narrowed it down to a sentence, but that’s how it feels. It’s scary when I start to read in between the lines. People just don’t care.

I worked for a Swedish company for many years. Sweden heavily taxes their population, but then you hear about all the benefits they have: parents get 18 months of paid leave (dad has to take a mandatory 6 months), university is paid for, transportation, medical care, low poverty levels. The tax dollars are used and given back.

Now, back to the present. Part of me wishes the current administration and Congress passes the legislation they want to pass. Guess what? The legislation will favor the wealthy. The 1% already owns 99%’s of the nation’s wealth. But I guess statistics don’t matter. People will then really see the miracles of these tax cuts.

I don’t mean to seem cocky, but maybe it’s the only way people will understand the difference. I have two master’s degrees. I am bilingual. I am a citizen of two countries. I’m young. I don’t have kids. I’m smart. I have global experience on my resume. If things go south, I am adaptable. I can and will pick up. I am a lot more hirable than the average American,

So if things go south, I will not be the one who hurts the most. Might it hurt? Yes. But most likely, the affected ones will be the senior citizens, people with families, people in rural areas already struggling. I’m not writing this to say I’m better than other people. On the contrary, I believe in people. I believe people should progress. Yet I see people who are voting for representatives that don’t represent their best interests. It really feels like some people like to shoot themselves in the foot.

So go ahead with the tax and entitlement programs cuts. I don’t care about cutting social security or Medicare. I’m not anywhere close to 65. I don’t plan on collecting social security or Medicare when I’m 65 (4 decades away). I see it as a tax. I’m preparing for retirement solely on our penny. So, if the program goes away because it breaks, I’m ok with it.

I don’t think the millions of baby boomers coming of age or currently enrolled will be happy. But hey they should have prepared for retirement better! Come on, why were they banking on an entitlement program? Instead of spending all their money on material objects and too big houses, they should have been saving their money. I definitely do not want to support a bunch of baby boomers. Plus, who would hire them now that they are old and slow? They don’t know anything about technology.

It’s a very harsh mentality. But guess what I’m getting older and don’t want to keep paying taxes for people that didn’t plan well.

Just saying….the irony…

House Milestone

Here’s the big reveal: we’re under contract to build a new house. It’s a development house, thus, not a custom build.

Sigh…please don’t judge…

Not sure if reason went out the window the past month or we’re finally upgrading our lifestyle just a bit more. The last time we had a huge upgrade in lifestyle was over 5 years ago when we graduated from school and started our careers. We really just went from being two broke students to two working professionals with a moderate lifestyle.

I think part of the reason is that we just went through a pretty emotional roller coaster with my job. You think this would make me want to get out of the corporate world earlier? Sigh…but it, also, made me want something else, a beautiful house.

I’m not sure if we’re making the right financial decision for our future. We are definitely splurging, but maybe if I work magic on our numbers next year, we may hit our full net worth increase in 2018.

When I wrote earlier, some of you suggested to wait and see, don’t buy a house. Well, we…probably with my significant influence, didn’t listen. We were going to move back in to our old house. We had every intention in doing so, then I realized I wanted a new house.

We’re going to keep our first house rented (so officially permanent landlords) and will be moving into our new house mid next year. It has been an exciting and scary last month. Did I make the right decision? Was I too quick in choosing the location? Are we spending too much money? The answers are maybe, maybe, and maybe.

Let me say that this is going to motivate me to keep doing well at my job. Hopefully, it motivates my husband, as well because it’s a big expense. Furthermore, our budget will be changing…ergh..increasing…

I’m going to have lots of freak out moments. Every night I talk to my husband about the same things. My close best friends are aware of my concern.

I know you’re probably thinking, if she’s concerned, then why is she buying a new house?

The answer is simple. I wanted a new house. It would have taken significant time and money to renovate our old house to make it what we wanted and it still wouldn’t be what we wanted. I wish we were more DIYers but the truth is we’re not. Most of the work would have to be outsourced. So we decided to buy a new house…I ran some numbers and thought we could stretch ourselves to do it. Did I account for everything? No….specifically just recently when I was crunching the numbers and realized I had a fundamental error in the budget. I was either assuming we made more than we actually make or was saving too much and my calculations were not capturing everything. I went from a very happy person who thought we were going to meet all our savings goals next year to a person who’s slightly disappointed because meeting our net worth goal next year will be a stretch. Not impossible, but a stretch.

Come next year our budget will change and we will be spending more on housing than ever before. I will definitely need to emphasize to my husband, we will need to be tighter with our spending….not sure if he will be able to do it…

This will be an experiment. Time will tell if we made the right decision. Worst case…we sell and move on in a few years right?

I go from happy person when thinking about what our house will look like to a sad person when I think about our budget. Paula’s words have never been truer.

You can afford anything, but you can’t afford everything (http://affordanything.com/).

The Next Five Years

In terms of solidifying our path to independence, the next five years will be crucial. I realize this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. There are times when I wish the needle would just move faster. This type of mentality just means I’m wishing my life away. I’m trying my best to encourage us to focus on the present while keeping the future in mind. This is hard for me to do.

Why is it hard for me to stop focusing on the future?

I am very goal oriented person. It has served me well in life. This is how I graduated number #1 in my high school class, finished my bachelor’s and master’s in 4 years, and carved my career path. I’m, also, very stubborn. My husband calls me a bull. I can be so hyper focused to finish, I can quickly forget about people around me, and my present life in general. There are definitely more upsides, but the downside is that I don’t stop to smell the roses. I used to make it a goal to stop and smell the roses, but that just meant I was forcing myself to enjoy the moment. Instead, I focus on goals and making them automatic. I’m becoming more relaxed. Only time will tell if this will be good.

Why is starting on the journey so hard?

We spent the first five years (2012-2017) establishing our financial base. Honestly, when we first started, freedom seemed so far away because we were at point 0. It’s really hard to visualize the finish line when you are at the starting line. But if you split up long term goals into smaller increments, it’s easier to visualize progress. One of the reasons I love to-do lists.  Now, we’re almost 25% of the way. We have knocked down 5 of the 20 years. Why 20 years? Being free by 42 seems like a pretty cool idea. When I first started reading personal finance blogs, I was an early reader of Retire by 40.

Why are the next five years crucial?

We are, both, respectively, 27 and 28 years old. In five years, we will be 32 years old. I feel like 5 years is a good tollgate to check the status of our long term plan. In 5 years, we should be 50% of the way through the journey. We will spend the next five years making sound financial decisions. I believe in 5 years, we will have enough for it to really start to snowball.

 Are we there yet?

My husband asks me on a pretty regular basis if he can quit his job yet. I have to remind him we are not quite there. He got super excited/depressed when I told him we could be finished by 42.

 Other factors to consider?

 First, kids. Some people may have noticed I don’t really bridge the subject of kids. I think we’re getting to an age where people ask us if we want kids. This is an extremely personal topic. The truth is I feel like we are still so young. So no plans. If we had kids, I would want us to be in a position to be comfortable and not stressed out. So there is the answer. I probably won’t bridge this subject very often.

Second, my parents. I’ve, also, mentioned I feel extremely responsible and will end up helping my parents in their old age. My dad is turning 59 this week. He is healthy and still works, but in my mind, I have a 10 year timeframe. My dad is the main earner in the family. My mom is 47, does not work, and sometimes she gets a little bit of money from cleaning houses. She only has one client due to her back issues. Honestly, I’m not really worried about my dad. He’s a busy body and active due to his electrical trade. But my mom is overweight and I’m always trying to influence her to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight. This is an uphill battle.  I’m, also, doing my best to influence, encourage, and help my brother start his journey. He’s 20 years old and currently, in college. He’s really good but struggles with school due to his dyslexia. The goal is for us to split the support of my parents 50/50. I have written before how this has created anxiety and kept me up. In order to get rid of the anxiety, I’ve just started to come to terms with the fact.

The next five years will be a testament to staying focused. We, both, need to do well in our respective careers, and really rock it, so our income remains the same or increases.

Why I Resigned

On Monday, I walked in to the office and gave my manager my two weeks’ notice. It was the shortest conversation ever.

Me: “Just wanted to inform you my last day will be October 13th.”

Manager: “Where are you going to work?”

Me: “I’m leaving to pursue other opportunities.”

Manager: “Are you leaving the city?”

Me: “I’m leaving the company.”

Manager: “Well, best wishes.”

Then, I got up, mentioned something about using the rest of my vacation, and left the room. You’re probably wondering, what the heck. But the truth is the conversation went as expected. The reason I left the company is because my manager was bullying me and treating me differently (negatively) than my male colleagues. I had documentation, had gone to HR, and nothing happened.

I hope to never have to go through it again. It was scary. I felt powerless and it was awful. But thankfully I was not alone. Could I have moved internally? Yes, I was working on leads internally, but I, also, wanted to get the heck away from manager. I went from being a top performer to being criticized about things that were uncalled and inappropriate remarks. I started to look externally for a job, and landed a position that was a better fit (5-6 weeks after I started looking). I really could not turn it down, once I got the offer. It would have taken me a couple years to finally land a similar position at my current company.

Once I put in my notice, apparently I shocked people. But I didn’t shock my current manager. I made some great relationships, but it’s time to move on.

What I learned from this experience:

  1. The Importance of Confidence: I could have stayed longer, endured, waited for management to change. But I decided it just wasn’t worth it right now. I’m at a point in my life where I can take risks. Taking this job was a risk, but I learned a lot and it helped me land the new position. But I’m valuable. So if the company doesn’t value me, then I will find somewhere else where I will be valued.
  2. The Importance of a Supportive Spouse: I love my husband. He’s very supportive and is actually the one who said I shouldn’t have to put up with a manager who doesn’t value me and who attempted to bully me.
  3. The Importance of a Network: For support, for job leads, for help in desperate times.
  4. The Importance of Friends: For support, for help in desperate times. Friendships are so important.
  5. Bad Managers Suck: Bad managers are demoralizing. I had never had a bad manager before and it totally sucked.

We’re not financially independent yet, but the reason I want to be financially independent is because I want to have freedom. I don’t want to be stuck to a job because I can’t survive without it. I want to have power.

Did I make the right move? I don’t know. Time will tell. Am I making a bad move? No, I am not.

2 Weeks Notice

On Monday, I will walk into the office and give my two weeks notice. Oh, also, I will tell my manager I will need to take 5 days off to use up all my vacation. My company does not pay full for vacation, so I’m going to take the vacation instead.

I’m both excited and anxious. I will go into more detail of why I decided to resign after a little over a year with the company when I think it’s appropriate. I write anonymously, but still…

One of my college professors told my class that our generation will work for seven companies in our career. I’m five years into the corporate life (started at 22) and will be on my third, once I start my new job with my new company.

We’re, also, relocating once again. We are moving back to Dallas. I received/accepted an offer and it happens to be in Dallas. It’s going to be a crazy few months.

I’m super excited about this new opportunity. I’m, also, very grateful for this opportunity came at the right time when I need to exit from my current role. But seriously, I’m going to stick at this company for a few years. I’m nervous. I’m starting over again and I was just starting to build a network at my current company. But I learned so much, so I just need to remind myself to focus on the future and be positive. I will do awesome at this next job and I will be close to friends and family (pro’s and con’s on that one). But I’m beyond excited to be close to my best friends. The ones, where I can just show up and fall asleep on their couch.

I have an amazing husband, who is once again moving and putting his job security at risk again for my career. He landed a job a few months ago and he’s working for a really good team. He’s going to be here for a bit longer, then he will work from home until sometime next year.

There are many decisions coming up. Yes, more than deciding to resign from my current job, and accepting another. Like where are we going to live?

So, we have been tossing the idea around of buying a second house in Dallas. Our current house is rented to a couple of friends. So this is a great opportunity to start on the rental income path. So here are the options:

  1. Buy a house – the market is so crazy hot in Dallas. I never thought I would spend as much money as we’re thinking of spending, but there’s really nothing available below $200K. I increased our budget to $250K, and even then, it’s slim pickings.
  2. Build a house – This would be a super complicated ordeal. But we would get everything we want (well hopefully) for as much as we would spend buying an already built “used” house.
  3. Move into our old house – We move into our already purchased house after we give notice to our current tenants. We will spend money fixing it up. We bought this house in 2013 as a fixer upper. It needed a lot of fixing it up. When we moved in, it barely had running electricity. We decided that if we moved in, we would spend the money and time to work on a lot of internal projects while we are not in the house. Projects: Install hardwood floors throughout house, gut the bathrooms, drywall and insulate the garage, remove popcorn ceilings, paint the inside of the house. We could probably wait to do the garage once we moved in, but the floors, bathrooms and popcorn ceilings would need to be completed before we moved in to the house.

It’s a hard choice to make. I don’t know what’s the right decision. I don’t want to be house poor. I don’t want to buy an overvalued house. We have long term plans to get to financial independence, and I don’t want our current decision to put a damper in our plans.

I’m 27 year old who’s just trying to make the right decisions in life. I swear after we finish this episode in our lives, life will slow down.

Making Decisions at 27

This blog has always been about sharing the ups and downs of someone trying to manage all aspects of life: money, career, personal.

I always admire the people who have made it: Mr. Money Mustache, Root of Good, Retire by 40, and Mr. 1500 are just a few of the bloggers who inspire me. I started following them when I was 21, working on my master’s degree, and living paycheck to paycheck.

Last year, I received an opportunity to switch jobs and increase my salary. The upfront incentives were nice. It was a really hard decision to make. I was not actively looking for a new job, but was recruited through LinkedIn. I had a great boss and a really good team, but part of me wanted to grow and learn something new. I was ready for a new challenge. So, I accepted the offer. We moved across the country, my husband quit his job, took some time off, and then found a new job. So much change. So little time.

Things were going really great. I was nominated for top performer of the year, received great feedback from my manager. But then I moved to another team (I didn’t really have a choice). I was put in a very challenging role, and I was ready, and excited to tackle it. It took me a few weeks to realize my new manager is super green, micro manager, insecure, no idea what he’s doing. But I thought ok, I can do it, I can make it. Then, things started getting worse. The perfect storm. I can’t share a lot at this moment, but will write more when I can.

I had to quickly figure out what I was going to do. If I left the company for another position, I would have to pay back part of the incentives, and lose out on my employer 401K match. If I stayed, I’m not quite sure what would happen. Through the grapevine, I found out some things about the fate of the last team he managed two years ago. I started to lose faith.

I have a really strong support network. My husband is amazing. He moved across the country for me. I, also, have great friends. Great mentors.

Something else resonated with me. Stacking Cash wrote a comment on one of my posts in July. “Be and feel empowered with yourself, it will go a long ways in your life.”

I’m not sure if I’m making the right decisions. I hope I’m making the right decisions.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 12.58.23 PM

We are not at a point where I don’t need my job. Not FI yet. Maybe in five to ten years we will be there. But at this point, not quite there for me to just say I’m not going to have a job. But this is why FI is so important for me.

When things like this happen, and you’re faced with a situation where you don’t know what to do internally. I think the best everyone can do, especially women, is to be empowered.

Life Update: Sept 2017

My 2018’s resolutions will have to include publishing more posts. I have been MIA the past couple of months…well maybe more than a year to be honest. Once you stop writing, it’s hard to start writing again. It feels a bit weird starting to share again. But honestly, it’s very much like running. Once I finish running, I feel great. Writing is therapeutic.

About a year ago, we relocated to the MidWest for my job. It has been a year of transition. The new company has been an adjustment. Honestly, I can’t believe how much I used to complain about my old company and now, there are days where I miss my old company so much. There is something to be said about being comfortable where you are in life and how hard it is to change.

It’s been an adjustment to live in a new city and make new friends. In Dallas, we had a circle of friends, and a network to support us. In this new city, we are starting from scratch.

The allure of more money enticed me to accept my current job, but there are days where I wonder if more money was/is worth it. I increased my salary, but work more hours. Not sure. I do have to say that you get used to the increased income. We haven’t increased our lifestyle, but it’s nice to be able to save a bit more money.

Honestly, I’m looking at other options. At 27, I feel so young and old at the same time. When I was 20, I had so many dreams. I don’t feel settled at 27. Maybe it comes when I turn 30?

My anxious self often has me second guessing myself. I just have to hope that I’m making the right decisions for my career and life.

Corporate Gig Warning

Just finished a pretty rough week. Well, actually most weeks have been pretty rough lately.

Today being Friday though, my mood did improve. I smiled, I laughed….I did a great job of faking it today!!! Payday is 10 days away!

I wanted to write a quick post to warn people. Corporate america is very cut throat. It’s all about numbers. We just started our new budget season. Sales are down, which means there will be people cuts. I know for a fact there will be cuts because I’m close to the numbers.

It’s a reason why I’m more determined than ever to hit FI. Yes, it might take 15 years, but there’s no way we can be fifty trusting we will still have jobs.

Companies are no longer loyal. Plus, you are expected to do more with less.

There are days where I want to tell my 20 year brother about how horrible it is. But I have to be careful not to strip him of his motivation.

I’m already encouraging him to save money and learn how to manage a budget.

On another note, I have spoken with 3 soon to be dads in the past week. When they mentioned they will soon be going on paternity leave, I asked when they will be back. Our company’s paternity policy is two months if you will provide 50% of the care. If you will provide less, it’s 2 weeks. It’s basically a technicality for when both parents work for the parents. One parent has to declare primary, and the second parent, secondary. In my department, 3 dads have taken the 2 months in the past year. I encouraged all of them to take the 2 months. After all, I’m a proponent of equal parenting.

All 3 dads said they were taking 2 weeks. They are afraid to take more than 2 weeks for fear of losing their job.

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