Throughout my documented personal finance journey, five-figure monthly net worth growth had been a rarity in 2003, 2004 and most part of 2005. Stars recently align differently: the $26,206 improvement in January marked the fourth five-figure growth in five months.
Not surprisingly, January's monthly improvement is delivered by both regular savings as well as investment gains:
• $10,000 from regular savings (earned income - expenses)
• $7,800 from investment gains
• $14,100 from employee stock option value (thanks to solid quarterly earning release)
• ($5,500) tax reserve to account for investment and stock option appreciation.
IMPORTANT BALANCE SHEET MOVEMENT DISCUSSION
• Cash & Savings: More cash-like balance has been moved to investments. The remaining balance includes about $17,000 in my offshoring accounts in China for daily expenses/emergency fund, $5,000 in my US checking accounts, $20,000 in US Savings Bond holdings at Treasury Direct, and another $22,000 in high-yielding savings accounts at ING Direct and alike.
• Brokerage: Growth comes from net contribution from cash accounts, regular savings and investment appreciation.
• 401(k): Solid improvement of 5% thanks to my heavy exposure to international equity.
• Stock Option: Monthly gain includes $1,000 from a newly-vested batch of options, and $13,000 from MSFT stock appreciation.
• Receivable: Receivable is mounting as I am waiting for reimbursement for some 2005 year-end medical expenses and business travel expenses -- reimbursement cycle is long for overseas subsidiaries, so I anticipate Receivable will remain at high level for the next couple of years.
• Credit Card Loans: I snapped on a no-fee lifetime 1.99% balance transfer deal from Citi for $10,000. The proceeds have been moved to high-yielding accounts. At about 4.5% APY and 28% tax rate, we are talking about $100+ risk-free annual gain.
• Tax Liability: Tax liability is adjusted to account for investment and stock option gains.
IMPORTANT PERSONAL FINANCE ISSUES IN MONTHS AHEAD
• Tax Document Collection: It is tax season again. As an expatriate benefit, KPMG will prepare and file my tax, but I still want to prepare my own tax just for practice -- the international relocation offers tons of opportunities to implement different tax strategies, and I can surely benefit from more tax knowledge.
• Investment Tracking: Since investment performance is becoming a larger portion of my monthly net worth movement, I will soon introduce a monthly scorecard to keep track of investment results.