Zero Day Finance Trimester #1 Summary

I would like to thank all of my readers here at Zero Day Finance. It has been a very different journey than what I was expecting, and I enjoy every minute of it. I’ve been looking for ways to help people manage their personal finances for a few years. I contemplated writing a book and even started a few times. I’ve helped several of my friends start investing. I got my sister to voluntarily double her student loan payments. But I wanted a way to help out more people. Even if I only help a few, that would make me happy. So, here I am, 4 months into my blogging journey. I decided on doing trimesters because everyone does quarterly updates. This way I’ll stand out :). The first part of this post will be a financial and blog summary. I’ll end with a little self-introspection, and hopefully you’ll know a little bit more about me.

April 2017 Summary

I should probably give a summary of my April 2017 finances. I’ll skip all of the stuff and give you the results. My total income was $6,500, spending was $3,458, and my savings rate is 46.8%. I had 17 zero days which brings my total to 55 for the year. Zero days represent 46% of the year so far, and my spending is definitely lower as a result. I will push myself to do better as well. Here is my spending whiteboard for those who are interested.

Zero Day Finance Trimester 1 Summary

My biggest expenses were for birthdays. I spent $342 on my mom and her husband’s birthdays. In addition, I spend $420 for my dad’s birthday dinner for 5 of us. These don’t happen particularly often. In fact, they only happen once a year! I’m happy to spend money on my parents birthdays. They raised me well, and it’s the least that I can do.

Note that P’s represent days where I spent $8 on parking (max). W’s are days when I worked out!

Net Worth Summary

I haven’t ever posted my official net worth numbers, and I never will! Giving out exact financials is extremely risky. If you do so, I would recommend either making up the least significant digits (the ones on the right), or just rounding to the nearest hundred/thousand/ten thousand. So without further ado, here are my numbers:

2017 Net Worth Progress 
January 1, 2017 Net Worth$104,000
April 30, 2017 Net Worth$130,000
Net Worth Change (%)+25%
Net Worth Change ($)+$26,000

I had an excellent first trimester. I can guarantee you that I won’t do as well during the remaining 8 months of the year, in terms of absolute value and percentage. This increase was primarily driven by two bonuses that I received in my last job. I got a small bonus of $1,000 for bringing in some revenue, and I got a $7,000 end of year performance bonus (a week before I put in my 2 weeks notice). In addition, we’ve seen a strong stock market performance which has lead to a nice gain as well.

Asset Allocation Summary

I have not made any major changes to my asset allocation. It typically covers 2 main components: accounts and asset classes.

2017 Accounts 
401(k)$91,000
Roth IRA$21,000
Cash$16,000
HSA$2,000

The majority of my net worth (86%) is tied up in retirement accounts. I’ve always done a very good job saving for retirement. Unfortunately, I’ve never been great at saving cash. After 3.5 years in the workforce, I’ve only saved $16,000 in my savings account which is not that much. This number will go up significantly over the next few months. The following table summarizes my overall asset classes as a percentage of my net worth.

2017 Asset Classes 
U.S. Stocks66%
International Stocks17%
U.S. Bonds5%
Cash12%

This is a pretty standard allocation. I wish that my Bonds and Cash were smaller percentages. I am currently saving for a house down payment so my cash balance is higher than it should be. Overall, my allocation represents a fairly risky growth portfolio. Since my investment horizon is so long, I am perfectly fine being heavily weighted towards stocks. If the market falls and I see my net worth drop, all I’ll be seeing is “SALE” signs and I’ll be sure to continue my investment strategy.

Blog Summary

I really enjoyed my first four months running Zero Day Finance. It has given me a great opportunity to talk personal finance with a bunch of people. In addition, I’ve learned a lot from everyone that I interact with. I’ve been reading finance blogs for years, but I still learn new information almost daily.

2017 Blog Summary 
Page Views1,624
Comments101
Blog Posts32
Most Popular PostSecure Your WordPress Blog The Right Way

I’m happy with my page views, even though there are plenty of people who started after me and have more. My goal for trimester 2 is to have a month where I have 1,000+ page views. This would mean more than a 50% increase from April 2017, but I can do it. I’m very proud of my 101 comments! Half of them are mine, I respond to every single one, except one from Zed. I would be replying for the sake of replying which is just wasted effort. I published 32 posts which is close to my goal of 2 per week, and should be able to maintain this pace. Finally, my most popular post is Secure Your WordPress Blog The Right Way. If you haven’t read it, please do. You can take a few simple steps that will protect your blog from the majority of malicious attacks.

My (Own) Favorite Posts

I’ve written a few posts that I am particularly proud of, for one reason or another. Here they are, not in any particular order:

These posts are my favorite because #1 can help every single person who runs a blog, regardless of the content. #2 introduces a strategy that the majority of the U.S. population can use to comfortably retire at the age of 65. This post is based off a Reddit thread I started that went viral and hit the second page. The final one is a direct introspection into my own financial strategies. Money never stays in my checking account, it is immediately transferred into savings, investments, or paying off my credit card.

My (Other) Favorite Posts

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I actually read the majority of the blogs that I follow. I say the majority, because it is impossible to read the hundreds of post per day. However, if I follow you and see that you have a new blog post, I typically read it. The following are my favorite blog posts from the previous 4 months. If one of your posts isn’t on this list, don’t worry, it isn’t particularly long.

  1. How To Use Mutual Banks To Increase Your Returns by Courtney from Your Average Dough
  2. A Year of Giving (More!) by Zed from Zencents
  3. When it rains, it pours: I had to choose between a new job opportunity and a great counter-offer by Jane from Cash Fasting

All of these posts speak to me in a different way. They help me relate to others, push me to achieve more, and teach me new things. Jane went through a similar situation as me. I had to choose between staying at my current job and starting work at a brand new startup (I’m employee #7). The questions she asked herself really resonated with me. In the end, I switched companies for better opportunity.

Zed pushes me to help out the less fortunate. I’ve always donated to charity; however, I should be doing more given my income. To start things off, I donated $500 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. One of my childhood friends, Jeremy, lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis a few years ago. He was like my younger brother. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of him. I donate in the hopes that we can both treat and eradicate this disease in the near future. I plan on donating an additional $1,000-$1,500 to other charities this year. If you have any recommendations, send them to me. He also pushed me to start donating blood again. I’ve probably donated a few gallons at this point, but haven’t gone back in a year or so because getting stuck with a needle sucks. I’ve decided to just deal with it.

Finally, Courtney taught me something very new. This is the first time that I’ve learned something completely new from a finance blog in a long time. Most of what I read relates to content that I have some knowledge about. I’ve never heard about what is essentially an IPO for smaller, sometimes local banks. So thank you!

Social Media Advertising

When I started my blog, I created Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. I focused the a lot of my time on Instagram because my fiancee has very good success with it. However, the majority of the comments on that platform are automated and useless (at least for me). It never really provided a way for me to interfact with my followers.

I started getting active on Twitter in March and have grown my following significantly. I’ve met some fantastic people. I would link to everyone, but that would take way too much space. But know that if I comment on your blog posts / social media accounts, I think you have fantastic content. Right now, I’m getting about 40,000 impressions per month on Twitter. I’m hoping to grow that number by 10-15% per month, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to just go and follow several thousand people to grow my audience. Finding new blogs that I want to read is still my first priority.

I don’t have any luck with Facebook at all. I do have a few “followers” (or whatever they call them). This was from my Millenial FIRE Showcase blog post. They actually tagged my blog in their post, and they do have some followers. I re-posted it and got a few likes. If you decide to like my Facebook page, I’ll be sure to like yours back! I’ll even throw you some comments. Growing a Facebook page is very difficult, and I’d be glad to help.

A Little More About Me

This part of the post is difficult to write. If you only care about financial content, feel free to stop reading. It is hard opening up about myself in general, and doing it on the internet where it will be immortalized isn’t easy.

These past 4 months have been really tough on me. It isn’t any one thing in particular, but rather a culmination of factors that have made things extremely difficult. I’ve had my ups and downs, and I’m just trying to get through one day at a time. For the past 6 years, I’ve suffered through pretty serious pain in my fingers, forearms, and shoulders. It has gotten worse over time. I’ve been to 4 Orthopedic surgeons, a hand specialist, two GP’s, a Rheumatologist and a neurologist. I’ve had MRIs, nerve conduction studies, x-rays, and blood tests. Everything comes up saying that I am normal. I can tell you that being in pain every waking moment isn’t normal.

Did I forget to tell you that I’m a software engineer? I write code for 10 hours every day, and typing each key hurts. Even now as I type this, I need to take breaks. I just got out of a PT session, and they think that I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It felt great to finally have a name attached to this pain. For 6 years, almost 10 doctors couldn’t figure it out. I began to think that I was crazy, or the pain was entirely in my head. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I donated blood after I got this new diagnosis. My blood pressure dropped by 15/10 points because I was so relieved. Maybe Physician on FIRE will stop by and give some remote medical advice.

So that’s the good news, lets get on with the bad news. Well, this isn’t bad news, I am just selfish. My fiancee got a job offer in New York which is great! Both of us wanted to move back to New York so that is perfect! Unfortunately, I cannot convert to full work from home at my new job until September of this year. This means that I’m currently living by myself, and I’m very lonely. After graduating from college, my social network shrunk. I don’t really hang out with friends. I was perfectly content hanging out with my fiancee every night. Now that I’m alone, I’ve started to get sad more and more often. I don’t leave the apartment on weekends. I doubt that I’ll utter a syllable today which is really depressing.

Things are really hard for me right now. Hell, last night I had to watch the ridiculous movie “Down Periscope” to make me feel happy. I need to do a better job socializing. I have a few friends in the area that I can hang out with, I just… don’t. Taking better care of myself needs to become a top priority, so I guess that’s a goal for the next few months.

Fin

So I guess that’s it for my first trimester update of Zero Day Finance. I really enjoy writing, and I love engaging with all of you finance people on the internet. Hopefully I can keep growing my blog more, but the real reason why I write is to help people.

Good Hunting,
David


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10 thoughts to “Zero Day Finance Trimester #1 Summary”

  1. First off, a 25% increase in net worth is amazing! Congrats on doing that in just four months. Good on your for being hesitant on sharing your personal numbers. I think PF bloggers like to overshare (I’m guilty of this) because we want to encourage people to feel comfortable talking about money, but there’s always a risk attached to it.
    Secondly, thanks for including me in your top three favorite posts! I’m so honored :). As long as one person finds my content useful, it’s enough for me to keep going.
    I’m loving this trimester format, haha. Can’t wait for the second one!

    1. Thank you! 25% is a very big increase, I’ll need to do another 25-30% during the remainder of the year if I want to hit my financial goals, we’ll see what happens. Sharing personal numbers is always weird, but I want to be as open as possible. Only a few people know who I am (family) so I’m not too worried. And keep producing great content! I enjoy reading your blow 🙂

  2. Thank you for being open and honest about everything. I think it’s refreshing, especially when a lot of personal finance/FIRE blogs are just ‘by the numbers’, it kind of loses the human element.

    Sorry the long-distance isn’t easy going. I can’t imagine it would be. I’m a HUGE proponent of side hustling in MC-ing/public speaking situations both 1) for the extra pocket change 2) to get me in front of and interacting with other humans because I also live alone. I don’t know if you lean extroverted or introverted, but have you ever considered gigs like hosting trivia or karaoke?

    1. It felt… wrong for me to not include my personal struggles. They are what make me human, otherwise I’m just a set of numbers in a spreadsheet somewhere.

      The long distance thing is much harder than I thought it would be. I’m probably 75%/25% introvert/extrovert. I’m that guy who will hang out by himself at the party if I don’t know anyone, but I can be the life of the party if I know people there so it really depends. I need to work on pushing myself to be more social. I do have some friends around, even one day a week where I get to interact with someone who isn’t a coworker would be good. I haven’t considered gigs like that, but I’ve done trivia. I’m very bad at it though. What I plan on doing is trying to hang out with 1 friend a week, maybe get dinner or something. I want to start going rock climbing again because that is a fantastic social activity, I need to drop a few pounds first though. Thank you for the comment!

  3. So many good things to comment on in this post! Congrats on 4 months, the big increase in net worth and to your fiancee for being able to move back to NY! Although September probably seems like a lifetime away right now, it will be here before you know it. I’m really happy for you getting a diagnosis on the pain. That sounds like it’s been a nightmare for 6 years. I had stomach issues go undiagnosed for a few years myself and I know that extreme feeling of relief to just finally know what it is that’s causing it. Hopefully this means you’ll be on the track to recovery now!!

    I think it’s great that you dedicated some of these post to being so open and honest and real. I think that’s something that is hard for a lot of us bloggers to do, but I find it great that you are sharing something very personal. It’s nice to get a better idea of who we are as people, not just bloggers.

    Last, but not least, thank you so very much for including me in your other favorite posts section! I really appreciate it and I am so glad to have been able to teach you something new! We actually just sold our position from the most recent IPO we participated in, so I will be doing an update of some sort soon. I’ll keep you posted! Thank you, seriously, again!! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’ve been working really hard and I’ve “put on the blinders” and I need to slow down. September is another month closer, that’s the way I’ve got to look at it. I talked to my CTO today and he says that I can spend 1 week a month in NY which will help out a lot. I also need to grow on a personal level.

      The thing about my hand pain is that I lost hope. I thought I would have to deal with it forever. I thought that it was in my head. I didn’t mention it, but that is one of the reasons that I started down my path towards financial independence. The pain kept getting worse, and I didn’t know how much longer I would be able to type. It could be a month or a year or even ten, but I would never know. It still hurts a lot, but hopefully my PT sessions + daily stretches can improve. If anything, the diagnosis has given me back hope, and I didn’t realize how much the lack of it was hurting me.

      I am really looking forward to that new post! Before I read it your original one, I had never heard of anything like that, and the idea really intrigued me. It seemed so obvious, yet I never even thought that smaller banks would do it. Keep doing great!

  4. I appreciate that you shared some of your personal story in this post. Although your finances seem to be in really good shape, your physical and mental health are even more important. Hopefully there is something that can be done about the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome diagnosis. Sounds like rock climbing is a promising way to get back in the social scene and get some good exercise at the same time.

    And I am going to read your Secure Your WordPress Blog post right now!

    1. Thank you. It’s been tough but I can get through it with a little soul searching. I hope your wordpress page is secure now!

  5. Great post David! I really like your personal touch in your posts. Feels kinda strange to know that I might know you better that some of my coworker hehe, but this might be due to the fact that you’re way more interesting 🙂
    A +25% net worth change definitely is awesome, keep up the great work.

    1. Thank you! I’ve worked very hard and gotten lucky. Hopefully I’ll get another 25% during the last 8 months of the year!

      I realized that I enjoy reading blogs where the authors talk about themselves and aren’t scared to write about painful topics. I want my readers to know more about me so they understand my motivations. I was very scared and anxious about publishing this post so I sets it to automatically do it while I was driving to work. I look forward to reading more finance for geek posts!

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