Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fake millionaire

[Blowing off cobwebs]

Hi there, internets. How's it going?

This is the first time I've visited this blog since, well, since whenever I last posted. Haven't checked the email account, haven't done squat. Instead of writing about my financial life, I've been off living it, and that's been pretty groovy.

A few things have changed since I last posted. Here's a brief roundup:

--I fell in love, big, big love. It wasn't with the Australian guy I started seeing last May: He's very charming and we had unbelievable chemistry together, but among other things, he turned out to be completely crackers. After a few months that started out great and then got very, very bad, I pulled the plug. We tried to evolve into friends a little while after that because we missed each other (remember, chemistry), but he just can't function without generating drama. In the end he began interfering in my new budding relationship, so I cut him off entirely.

I met someone else in August, an American this time. We had a shaky start, but somehow it caught fire and now I can't imagine life without him. There are so many things I could say about him, including the facts that he's six feet tall and very handsome, but the most compelling for me are that he's a good man and a grounded one, with a heart the size of Texas. We've cautiously started circling around the idea of moving in together once his lease is up in November. November's a long way off, but right now shacking up is on the table as one of a number of different options to consider as the time draws closer. I think he's thought a bit beyond living together, but I'm not really ready for that conversation yet and I don't think he is, either. There's no rush, anyway: We're in our forties and neither of us has or wants kids, so there's no reason to make life-altering decisions prematurely. In the meantime, the relationship continues to grow at a pace and in a direction that feels like home for both of us.

--My mom's health took a dump. She is now nearly blind, in a wheelchair, and showing the onset of dementia, and all of it was triggered by a series of infections. Some days are good and some are bad, but I'm so thankful that she has onsite 24-7 assisted living in her retirement community: She will never live independently again. I wasn't actually sure she would make it to her 86th birthday, but she did and has been doing incrementally better since then. She gave up her townhouse (ever moved a lifetime of stuff in six days? I have), which makes visiting as often as I do both expensive and logistically complicated.

--Knocked off another marathon, for ten total. I have three lined up for this year and I'd like to do a couple more after that, but my body's starting to tell me that I need to make some changes. I've been rehabbing a couple of chronic injuries in physical therapy for months now, and I'm going to have to find a way to manage them because they're not really going to heal.

--My job became my angry job on steroids. It's harder than heck because of all the politics and I'm putting in huge hours, but it's good in a way: Somewhere in the dysfunctional shards of what was once a pretty good organization until it was restructured into god-knows-what a few years ago, I've finally found my niche. I'm in a two-year sweet spot where my pension grows at an unusually fast pace, so I'm determined to stick it out for a while yet. Thirteen more years will give me a decent income from age 60 onwards, and it's harder and harder to contemplate walking away from that.

--I spent a whole lot of money last year. After a tough couple of years at work and with my mom's horrible stroke in 2010, I thought a little more engagement with the present took precedence over the future planning I was doing, at least for a while. It was fun. I'm pulling it back into balance in 2012 because I feel like I'm out of whack on the wrong side of the save-spend equation, and that's not a comfortable place for me.

--Goal setting. I should get back to that sometime. My one concrete goal for 2012 is to save $65,000 and invest $70,000.

--Other than one or two I pop in on periodically, I don't follow blogs anymore. The landscape has changed: I think a lot of people who started around the same time I did have dropped by the wayside, and that's okay. I haven't looked for new blogs to follow; it's just not a priority.

--Last but not least, and thanks to a strong stock market recovery in the first two months of the year, I reached one of my major financial milestones today: Once the sum total of my cash savings and investment portfolio hit $650,000, I became a Fake Millionaire. I call it that because once the approximate value of my apartment after transfer fees and flip tax are deducted is factored in (my conservative estimate is that I'd clear about $350,000), my net worth is a million. The reason why I think it's a false construct is that although I know a lot of people count the value of their primary home as part of their net worth, I don't. To me, it's a place to live and I'm always going to have to live somewhere, so I don't think of my home as an asset that I'll ultimately cash out.

Nevertheless, the idea of being worth a cool million is pretty neat.

I'm arriving at this goal a few months later than I had hoped, but after the economic bloodbath of the last couple of years, I'm glad I stayed fully invested in the stock market even if I didn't add to my investments as much as I should have last year.

My next financial goal is to hit a million in investments and savings alone, and I'd like to get there before I turn 46. I'm 43 now, so I won't hit my deadline without some pretty aggressive saving as well as continued positive performance in the stock market. I've engaged financial advisory services through one of my investment companies in hopes of getting some guidance on simplifying and streamlining what I have, and I have a second meeting with my assigned advisor next week. Should be good fun.

As far as blogging goes, I'll stop in here from time to time as I feel like it, but the spark I had before is gone. One day, you might find that the blog is suddenly gone as well. Part of it is that every day I feel a little more robbed of my privacy, and that bothers me. My first and last name together are a little uncommon, so it's easy to search on my full name and get meaningful results. I've received a couple of unwelcome contacts thanks to busybodies from the past digging through search engines, so I've had every identifiable listing I could get my hands on removed. (Those online "directories" are a disgrace: Public information or not, no one has any business aggregating personal data and spreading it out like a buffet table for any old crazypants stalker to find.)

Largely thanks to social media and online shopping, data mining is faster, more accurate, and a lot sneakier than it was just a year or two ago. I realize that privacy as a concept is outdated, but I have a hard time letting it go and embracing a world where no one has a filter and everyone knows everything about everyone. Knowing that I can't keep my identity from being outed makes me a lot less willing to write openly online about my life, and about my finances in particular.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't use social media or shop online. It's fun. To the limited extent that I do it, I really enjoy it. If you choose to use it, though, never forget this: Once information about you reaches the internet, you can't pull it back. In addition, if you use social media, always be mindful that you are what's for sale.

I don't want to end on a somber note. My mom is stable for now, and although it's been a tough transition for all of us, she's living in a place where she gets the ongoing care she needs. My sibling and I still have a contentious relationship, but for now we're mostly in a state of detente. I've taken a step back on a couple of friendships, but others have deepened. Life is rich and rewarding, and I'm deeply in love.

As always, I'm bullish on the future.

12 retorts:

Penny in Australia,  March 14, 2012 at 9:15 AM  

Fruge! How nice to hear from you again :) It's like catching up with an old friend (well, an old friend without Facebook ;) )

So glad to hear that life is going (mostly) well for you, particularly the love life.

Best wishes!

Madame X March 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM  

Nice to see this. I've also not been very tuned in, but keep trying to get my groove back! Glad things are going well for you in so many ways.

Karin March 14, 2012 at 10:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karin March 14, 2012 at 10:39 PM  

Hey hey - good to see you here! Sorry to hear the Aussie bloke didn't work out (happily, we're not all mad) and great to hear you've found a better model.

Best of luck with wherever life leads you ;-)

goldsmith,  March 16, 2012 at 9:49 AM  

So lovely to hear from you again! Delighted to hear about your new relationship, and sorry about the work stress and your mom's decline.

I would hope you leave the blog up - it's wonderfully written, and I still read through your old entries over and over again. There's so much insight there. I can see your concerns about privacy; hopefully you'll hit on a solution that doesn't leave your diehard fans out in the cold!

Grace. March 17, 2012 at 5:34 PM  

It's nice to see you updating your blog. I do get what you're saying about privacy, but I, for one, love following the lives of people whose circumstances are very different from mine. [I cannot imagine SAVING $65,000 in ONE year!--of course that would leave ME with $10,000 to live on!) It is good to see that your personal life is improving even if the job is not.

Anonymous,  March 27, 2012 at 11:49 AM  

SO AWESOME to see a post from you. I just randomly checked, expecting to see nothing. So glad you are in love and happy in so many ways. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom, though. I'm sad you're not a fan of social media, because I'd love to follow you on Twitter. :) (Which I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into!) But I understand. I do hope that you update the blog every so often like you did this month. Take care.

Bonnie

Rye @ PPI Claims/Reclaims April 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM  

I had the same story back in 2010. I met a guy in May of that year. We had great chemistry but for no apparent reason he just upped and left. But around August I started to build a relationship with another guy, the chemistry wasn't as strong as the first guy but in the long run our relationship only got better and better. We'll be on our 2nd year in a few months. Hope to be hearing more about your guy and you.

Anonymous,  April 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM  

Hi! I'm so happy to see you back! Sorry about your mom, but it's good to see that she has people that care about her. Hope you don't give up this blog entirely. I love your wisdom and writing style and I have learned much from you. n

Super Saver April 21, 2012 at 2:15 PM  

Agree, about 80% of bloggers that started about the same time I did (Aug 2006) have stopped. Good luck with your financial goals and future.

Revanche May 5, 2012 at 9:59 AM  

I'm rather annoyed at Reader for not telling me this post was here,p, I check in every so often to see if you might have been by.

I do hope you won't shut down, I do miss hearing your voice even if infrequently, and knowing all is (at whatever level) ok enough for you to write.

I do know what you mean about the privacy and data scraping sites, I abhor the blasted things.

But I do hope all continues swimmingly with you and the new guy, and for more good days with your mom.

frugal zeitgeist May 30, 2012 at 9:42 PM  

Thank you . . . seeing all the kind comments really made me smile. Take care and thank you for continuing to pop in every once in a while.

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