My Personal Finance Journey

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Monthly Review - October 2005 ($353,676, +$89,790)

Contributed by mm | November 5, 2005 1:56 PM PST

What can be more complex personal finance wise than selling a house, selling two cars, securing two life insurance policies, setting up business banking and accounts, and opening several self-employment 401(k) accounts in one single month? Count an international move on top of it.

This month's net worth report reflects my financial picture after the closing of the property -- obviously, most of the significant monthly advance of nearly $90,000 comes from gap before the unaccounted-for house appreciation in the last two years. Also, not unexpectedly, I have a huge chunk of cash at hand waiting to be parked in better places.

Take a look at my balance sheet -- I simplified it a bit now that I am homeless and wheel-less :-)

  1 Yr Ago 2-Mo Ago Last Month This Month Monthly Monthly
  Oct-04 Aug-05 Sep-05 Oct-05 Change Change %
Cash & Savings  $        34,494  $        48,259  $        57,856  $      255,909  $       198,053 342%
Brokerage  $        15,269  $        14,625  $        13,613  $        14,799  $           1,186 9%
401(k)  $        26,022  $        64,505  $        66,543  $        71,394  $           4,851 7%
Roth IRA  $        13,722  $        16,941  $        17,503  $        14,057  $          (3,446) -20%
Stock Option  $          9,919  $        28,720  $        19,294  $        19,160  $             (133) -1%
ESPP  $          1,139  $          2,438  $          6,307  $                -    $          (6,307) -100%
House and Cars  $      331,607  $      347,021  $      347,484  $                -    $      (347,484) -100%
Receivable (Payable)  $          1,834  $          4,514  $        (1,189)  $          2,803  $           3,991 -336%
  Total Assets  $      434,008  $      527,022  $      527,411  $      378,121  $      (149,290) -28%
Credit Card Loans  $          7,143  $        13,821  $        14,892  $        17,718  $           2,826 19%
Tax Liability  $          2,618  $          8,556  $          6,452  $          6,727  $              275 4%
Mortgage  $      246,632  $      242,591  $      242,181  $                -    $      (242,181) -100%
  Total Liabilities  $      256,393  $      264,968  $      263,525  $        24,445  $      (239,080) -91%
Net Worth  $      177,615  $      262,054  $      263,886  $      353,676  $         89,790 34%

As usual, let me discuss the changes by lines:

Cash & Savings: Proceeds from the house and (two) car sales rolls into this line. Most of the balance is currently parked in savings (i.e. EmigrantDirect) and Fidelity money market accounts, yielding about 3.5%-4.0% right now.

401(k): With me leaving the statutory company of Microsoft US, I have to repay the 401(k) loan I secured two years ago during my house purchase. The loan was repaid in the month, hence the monthly increase. Moving forward, 401(k) line should only represent month-to-month portfolio gains and losses, until I start to contribute to the self-employment 401(k) (i.e. individual 401(k)s).

Roth IRA: Likewise, the drop in Roth IRA balance is not market driven. Earlier this year, I discussed that I was priced out of Roth IRA due to some additional income streams and the expected relocation benefits (which shows as W-2 income). As a result, I had to withdraw the excessive contribution for tax year 2005, and the transaction was completed in October.

Receivable (Payable)/Credit Card Loans: The increase in both accounts represents some self-paid relocation expenses I have yet to seek reimbursement. I will expect more to come as reimbursement process is lengthy for overseas assignment.

Let me skip the expense part for good reason -- too much closing cost and moving cost make the monthly data meaningless -- and share some priorities for the months to come:

- Now that I have tons of cash at hand, I will start to gradually move some of the funds to more rewarding investment vehicles. This may mean growing exposure in the stock market via individual stock pick or mutual funds for now. This may mean a new focus for my PFBlog contributions -- I might not be able to contribute frequently on best banking or credit card deals, but will do more on investment management and this will definitely be very meaningful for US-based readers.

- After the international move, I need to sort out the banking and investment vehicles in the new land. (Let me share the destination is Shanghai, China.) Apparently, one of the things I need to think through is how to hedge the exchange rate risk -- my USD-dominated asset is literally dwindling by the day.

- Of course, some elements of personal finance will resurface in the new city, namely housing and transportation. Shanghai's local real estate market experienced a booming in the last three years, but is currently crashing (15-20% price correction in about six months). This will beg the classic question of buying or renting?

- Maybe a comparative study of personal finance culture and products across the ocean? (That's a long shot for sure.)

This Post Has Received 11 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


Jonathan Commented on November 5, 2005

Just wanted to say congratulations and good luck on your new endeavor. Although it seems like you are moving back to your native country (?) at least temporarily, it still takes courage and determination to pick up your family and move like that.


savvy saver Commented on November 6, 2005

Congrats and good luck! I hope everything goes well!


Caitlin Commented on November 6, 2005

I will definitely be tuning in for cross-continent comparisons. And I echo the congratulations!


2million Commented on November 6, 2005

MM - congrats as well! Once everything settles down I am curious to hear in particular how you made out selling your cars - I know you bought a BMW not too long ago and I am curious to see if you will do an analysis of the total cost of ownership.


Flexo Commented on November 6, 2005

Congrats again -- I look forward to reading your updates from the overseas perspective.


pfadvice Commented on November 7, 2005

Ah, living in a foreign country. Always an adventure! Best of luck on the move and the adjustment of living across the pacific.


Jason Commented on November 7, 2005

Good luck in your move. I recently read that their average household saving is a staggering 25% of income! Will be interested to hear how they achieve this - especially given that US household average saving is ~ 0%


Fidelity Observer Commented on November 8, 2005

Interesting times are ahead, for sure! I would advise against buying real estate in Shanghai. Despite the recent correction, prices are already inflated; there are quality issues, even at supposed high-end addresses; there is an extra layer of bureaucracy to deal with if you are buying as a foreigner; and I am not convinced the political situation in China is stable -- an issue which has burned expats before.

Stick with renting, enjoy your sojourn, and keep the great posts coming!


Claire Commented on November 12, 2005

I'm looking forward to your currency conversion thoughts. My brother and his wife live in Europe but have investment accounts, and until recently, real estate in both countries. Luckily they have a good accountant in each place.


Greg Commented on December 8, 2005

Be carefull with the real estate market over there, I lived in country for about two years and the market is a roller coaster. You would be much better off renting and investing your money elsewhere.

Good Luck,

Greg

http://www.nocostfinancing.com


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