Zero Day Finance July Update

zero day finance ny skyline

Welcome back to the Zero Day Finance update! I haven’t done a dedicated one of these in awhile, and I’ve got a lot to cover. July was an incredible month. I launched a new Zero Day Challenge website, was featured in RockStar Finance, CNBC, and YNAB, at least 30 or 40 people have started their own Zero Day Challenges, and I got a bonus at work! Plus I got to spend a full 2 weeks in New York with my fiancée!

Financial Update

Net Worth

First things first, let’s do a quick net worth update. You can find a running tally of my total net worth changes here. I started the month off at a solid $137,967. After maxing out my 2017 Roth IRA, contributing 18% of my pre-tax salary to my new 401(k), and adding another $1,200 to my house fund, my net worth is sitting at $142,748.

This amounts to an increase of $4,781, an increase of 3.47%. Nothing like my killer 4% – 8% increases during the beginning of the year, but still very solid. If you are able to increase your net worth by 3% every month, your net worth will double every 2 years. This is obviously not sustainable. But when you are younger in the wealth accumulation phase, you should aim to double your net worth every year or two if your ultimate goal is to retire early.

Zero Day Challenge

zero day challenge july spending

My Zero Day Challenge performance for July was… alright. I only had 12 zero days during the month. While this isn’t terrible, I know that I can do better. My spending was off the charts. Okay, not technically off the charts. I hit a little over $2,300 in spending this month. Things were going extremely well until July 25th. I bought $8 worth of McDonalds, and $1,500 worth of laptop.

zero day challenge july spending oops

My old laptop is more than 6 years old. It’s still fairly powerful by today’s standards: a mid-range Intel i5 chip, 8 GB of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card. Unfortunately, the hard drive was making noises, the keyboard didn’t really work, and the screen creaked like crazy. I couldn’t risk losing all of my resources to save an old laptop, so I bought a new one.

In case anyone was wondering, I bought the 13.3″ Razer Blade Stealth 2K. It’s a sub 3 pound ultrabook that should remain a powerful computer for another several years. I would much rather buy a $1,500 laptop every 6-7 years than a crappy $300-$400 laptop every 2-4 years (it will optimistically last that long). If I hadn’t bought this, my spending would have been $800. I can tell you that next month will be much better.

Getting Rockstar’d!

I’ve been working extremely hard on my Zero Day Challenge. Those of you who have been following me from the beginning know how much of an impact it’s had on me, and how much I reduced my spending. I published the first 6 months of my Zero Day Challenge data, and it got picked up by RockStar Finance! Shortly after that, it was featured on CNBC, and even included in the You Need a Budget mailing list.

This generated some traffic on my blog. A lot of traffic. You’ve seen my previous traffic stats on 6 month blogversary post. I was aiming for a respectable 2,000 page views per month. Well, with the help of Rockstar Finance, CNBC, and YNAB, I had over 21,000 views in July!

zero day challenge july page views

I was featured on Rockstar Finance on July 6th which is the first big spike. The CNBC post was published a day later but only generated about 150 page views in total. Then my post was featured in the YNAB mailing list on July 17th, and then they posted it to their Facebook group on July 20th. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped this happen. It feels great knowing that people enjoy reading what I write. I’m also very glad that there are dozens of people who have taken their own Zero Day Challenges. Which leads me to…

Official Launch of the Zero Day Challenge

Yesterday I officially launched the Zero Day Challenge website! It will serve as a “one stop shop” for everything Zero Day Challenge. There are multiple guides, tips and tricks, and general advice to help you with your Zero Day Challenge. Don’t worry, I’ll still publish the majority of my content here. I just wanted to create a single location to learn about the Zero Day Challenge, without having it clutter this site.

I would highly recommend visiting the Zero Day Challenge site. There is a lot to learn, and many resources at your disposal. You can also grab a badge and put it on your site to identify that you have taken the Zero Day Challenge.

Work / Life Balance

I’ve been at my current job for about 5 months at this point. Working at a startup has a lot of benefits. Definitely better and more engaging than my old job working for a 70,000 mega corporation. As part of my contract, I negotiated a permanent work from home, completely out of state. My job is located in Maryland, but I will be living in New York. As of September 8th!

I finally get to return home and live with my fiancée. Things have been really tough without her. We’ve still got a little while to go. But I will be back in NY the third week of August, and then I’m moving back North permanently 2 weeks later. Those of you who are in the DMV area, now is the time to have another hangout!

But now this means we need to figure out where to live. I think its best if we actually move back in with our parents. We will save an extra $2,500 per month that we can use for a down payment. Real estate on Long Island is stupidly expensive, so we will probably need a $125,000 – $150,000 down payment for a modest home in a decent neighborhood. My goal is for us to have $100,000 in liquid cash saved by the time we get married next May.

August Goals

I had a few “secret” goals when I launched Zero Day Finance. I wanted to hit 1,000 Twitter followers, 1,000 page views a month, and have 1 other person trying the Zero Day Challenge by my Birthday. My birthday is in August, and I’ve accomplished all 3 of my goals, so it’s time to set a few new ones for the rest of the year.

  1. 6,000 page views in 1 month remaining this year
  2. Have 25 verified people participating in the Zero Day Challenge
  3. 2,500 Twitter followers
  4. Run a Facebook advertisement
  5. Hit $165,000 net worth
  6. Donate $500 to charity in August

Let’s see how I do with them. Not sure about the page views unless I get featured again. I was averaging about 100 per day before, and I need to step that up to 200 per day, a tall order. I’m pretty sure that I can get 25 people in the Zero Day Challenge, my mailing list hit 300+ last week so I’m sure there are people trying it out. Hitting 2,500 Twitter followers should be fairly straightforward.

I’m definitely going to run a FB ad to see how that goes. I’ll need to average a $4,600 per month NW increase to hit my $165,000 NW goal. Definitely achievable. Finally, I will donate $500 to charity in August. Any recommendations? I’d like to donate to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

Well, that’s about it. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Good Hunting,

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40 Responses

  1. Happy Camper says:

    Nicely done! It’s those little mentions that snowball into big things. Remember all us little folks when you’re someone special, okay!?

    • David says:

      Thank you! Just like the snowball method, or those Jimmy fund commercials: “a little bit in abundance is a lot.” Regardless of making optimal decisions, if you stick with it and make small improvements, they become large improvements over time.

  2. What an awesome month! Congrats on the features – I can totally relate to how excited you must be to see people actually appreciating your writing! Blogger’s buzz 😉

    Will definitely be checking out Zero Day Challenge!

  3. What a seriously AWESOME update David! Very happy for your blogging success, as you definitely deserve it. I’m very happy that you and your fiance will be in the same city again! I’m sure you’ll really enjoy being together again.

    • David says:

      Thank you Lance! I’ve put a lot of effort into figuring out a way to help people save money, and I’m glad it’s really working. Right now I’m counting down the days until I get to stay in NY.

  4. Erin says:

    Congratulations on the NW increase, pageviews, and that it’s just a few weeks until you get to be with your fiancee again! And yes, I’d love to be at a DC meetup before you move to NYC!

    I am…not a math person so I’d never sat down to figure out that a 3% increase in net worth means it’ll double every two years. That’s really good information to know! Turns out I managed a 4% increase in July and now my stretch goal for August is to have my net worth double what it was when I first started tracking it in December. I *think* I can make it.

    • David says:

      Thank you! If you want to roughly approximate exponential growth, use the rule of 72 (which is really the rule of 69, but 72 is easier for maths). Divide 72 by your exponential growth rate (yearly rate). That is how long it takes your investment to roughly double at that rate. So if you are doing 3% a month, that is 36% a year. 72 / 36 = 2 years to double your investment.

      If you look at the stock market, it averages 9-10% yearly returns over 40 year periods. 72 / 10 = 7.2, so every 7.2 years you should aim to double your portfolio value without any additional investment.

  5. Heck of a job!! Wishing you the best in NY. I identify with your downpayment for a home goal! I’m excited to read how you do it because I want to do the same, I know it can be done, I would just like to see more people do it!!! Thanks for sharing.

    • David says:

      Thanks Javi! I have a pretty aggressive plan to build up a sizable down payment, I’m hoping to put about $4k per month towards it by living with my parents for awhile.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Love it. You deserve the features! Good luck with the travel & move… may you keep your sanity.

    • David says:

      Thanks Sylvia! Travel has been crazy, I’ve gone back to NY at least 8 times in the past 5 months, glad to finally stay there permanently.

  7. Congrats! It has been a busy month for you. Lots of positives. Expecting 2k views and getting over 20k is amazing! That is some huge growth. Just keep doing what you are doing and publishing quality articles. The rest will fall into place.

  8. Yay to an awesome month of blog traffic. Keep up the great work, David!

  9. othalafehu says:

    Just an FYI, If I was still young and had no kids I would totally be doing the Zero Day Challenge. Great Update!

  10. colinashby says:

    Great job on the uptick in blog traffic! I got nervous looking at the amount you’ll have to save for a housing downpayment. Wowza! If I bought I house in Texas, assuming a 20% down payment, I would need to save around 30,000 – 40,000.

  11. Miss Balance says:

    Well done! It has been great watching your blog grow. All your hard is paying off.
    I printed out an August calendar today and put a zero in the first box! I’ll see how the rest of the money that goes. There’s 1 extra ‘real’ person doing the challenge 😊

  12. Dave says:

    Congrats on your accomplishments. You had an awsome month. I love the zero day challenge. Being featured on rockstar finance and CNBC is something to be proud of.

  13. Rusty Zappo says:

    Way to go!

  14. Rachel says:

    I just found your site! I wish I had found it earlier. I am leaving my high paying job this month for a 60% salary cut BUT hopefully a much better improvement for my overall career & life. Given the need to cut spending drastically (unfortunately, my husband and I quickly adjusted our lives to the big salary) this seems like the perfect opportunity to start the zero day challenge. We will be doing it as a competition among my husband and I. Thanks for your great site!

    • David says:

      Thank you Rachel, and good luck! Sometimes getting a new job with a lower salary is worth it for life reasons. I hope the Zero Day Challenge helps you adjust!

  15. Yay congrats David!!!! I go with living with parents too. $2500 is no joke…also think about all the home cookin’!!!

    • David says:

      Thank you Lily! The home cooking is significant (and delicious), basically every day. And saving so much money would help us have enough of a down payment by the time we’re married… maybe.

  16. Awesome Job David!!! The page views are amazing and so glad all your hard work is paying off! My husband and I started the zero day challenge last month and love it. Looking forward to trying it again in August! Keep up the great work and best of luck on your new set of goals 🙂

  17. need2save says:

    I just bought our son a laptop for college. I have similar thoughts as you – buy a good one that will easily get him through school and beyond.

    And I thought housing in the DMV area is bad. How much (%) are you looking to put down?

    • David says:

      This laptop is incredible, definitely better getting a solid computer that will last.

      I’m looking to put down 20%. A 2000 sq ft house in an okay school district will run anywhere from $350k-$450k. That same house in a good district will be closer to $600k, and $1+ million in a very good school district.

  18. Keep up the great work! Especially the charity part. Even as we continue on towards our financial goals, charity should always be remembered and acted upon 🙂

    • David says:

      Thank you! I’m trying to decide the right charity to donate to in August. I donated $500 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I was thinking St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital next.

  19. Once again great job David! That’s such a spike in pageviews with the Rockstar Finance feature!!

  20. Zed says:

    I flagged this post while on vacation and just now getting to comment (like I said – I am never first anymore! :p ).

    I love the details you are sharing in here. I have been waffling recently about sharing real net worth numbers. And honestly, you and I are in a somewhat similar range. Could make for some good social pressure (or just cause undue keeping up with the David’s pressure!)

    Favorite part of the whole post – including $8 of McD’s with a $1500 laptop! Ha! How is it working for you? I am not sure I can go back to a screen smaller than 13″. I am really enjoying my HP Spectre (way more now that Ubuntu is installed) though I rarely use the touchscreen.

    • David says:

      Thanks Zed! There’s too much content to watch out for, no worries. One thing I like about sharing my net worth numbers is that it makes me push myself harder, and that means I can retire earlier.

      I make sure to never lie about how much I spend so I can accurately track what I’m doing. Plus what’s the point of sharing with everyone if I’ll lie. Didn’t eat McDonalds and then go on my new computer :P. It’s a great laptop, I opted for the 13.3″ 2K touchscreen, and it’s fantastic. I don’t use the touchscreen that much, but everything looks great, 6-7 hours of battery life and < 3 pounds makes it great for traveling. I decided I needed a travel friendly laptop after I was featured in YNAB but couldn't access any of my accounts on my personal laptop. Plus my old one is basically dead.

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