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March Wrap-up

April 9, 2021

Money & Net Worth & Spending

We continue to save each month. I’m front loading retirement this year again, because I am. I have no particular reason to think I won’t have a job for the full year, and lots of reasons to expect I will, but it is still just nice to have that taken care of.

I finally set up my yearly projected spending. It went down due to the mortgage refinance. I’m pretty OK with letting that ride indefinitely, given the < 3% fixed rates. Childcare is also going down just a bit (on a monthly basis) due to LO getting older and officially in a preschool classroom. It is still a lot. Related, we increased our Dependent Care FSA deductions from $5,000 to $10,500, which should take a bite out of taxes for 2021. With these reduced costs, we should have extra funds to deploy to our savings priorities. A 529 or a megabackdoor Roth is next on the list. The 529 is easy. A megabackdoor Roth requires some research and effort, but is the more optimal choice. I need to detail out my yearly projected savings more carefully before deciding.

I finally tallied up our spending for the quarter, and it is basically as expected. Very high in food, but I’ve lost motivation to try to reduce that for now. A little high in other areas that will be easier to watch.

I decided to put in a new “target annual income” amount to calculate our percentage progress to FIRE in my spreadsheet. Something somewhat realistic, but still a total guess. So, i’m moving the goal posts, significantly. Since we aren’t planning on taking any actual action on the information any time soon, it seems appropriate.

COVID

We were fortunate to have received our first doses of the vaccine, and will be fully vaccinated by the end of the month! We went (separately) to one of the FEMA mass vaccination sites, and everything was really smooth. It was a little emotional, but it was such a sense relief. Also, case rates have plummeted locally, which makes me less anxious about childcare. LO’s teachers are vaccinated, and a lot of the other parents are getting vaccinated. I feel very grateful we made it through the past many months of childcare without a serious COVID scare at her daycare.

Despite this awesome news, not a lot has changed for us yet. The big thing is that my (vaccinated) parents are going to come and see us! The CDC is still giving some conflicting guidance about travel – vaccinated people can travel w/out quarantine but non-essential travel is still not recommended. But, we have weighed the risks and I have not seen any family in over a year, and have not seen my mom in nearly a year and a half. So, unless infection rates do something unexpected, we are going to have them visit and stay with us.

Activism

I feel like I have so little to give in this area right now. But, I also know that communities that have to deal with racism and discrimination don’t get to take a break when they don’t feel like dealing with racism. I have my financial donations still going, which is something.

Work

I’m suddenly feeling very burned out with respect to work. The adrenaline of last month’s major work accomplishment wore off, and the realization that I hadn’t really unplugged from work for more than a day or two (including weekends) since who-knows-when sunk in. We haven’t taken a true vacation at all since summer 2017. The only mini-vacations we had since were pre-pandemic visits to family for Christmas 2019 and a long weekend for my sisters wedding about 2 years ago.

I keep trying to book individual days off as vacation days, even if I’m just going to stay home. I did not do this earlier in the pandemic, because it felt like a “waste” of a day off. Still, I usually end up getting sucked into an “important” work meeting. Meetings are never REALLY that important, but they have become the main way to receive back-and-forth information about what is going on with the project. It always feels like missing a meeting is just missing too much key info, and you may never get looped into something if you weren’t in the meeting where it came up. This is a sign of sub-par project organization/communication in a totally virtual world, which I think we all (including management) recognize and are striving to fix. It is also just a bit of work FOMO on my part. Anyway, I end up prioritizing meetings over work blocks to get stuff done. A lot of my job is communication, coordination, and meetings – but there also are parts of it that require focus and time to complete.

My current method of working is by my design, or rather, by the individual choices I make each day, without a clear system or design in my mind. It is an inefficient way to avoid burnout, and also not the most efficient way to accomplish work. I’m going to try to change the parts I can change. I can set better boundaries when I do take days off. I can put work blocks on my calendar. I can’t really fix the broken meeting culture on my own, and I don’t even know what to suggest to improve it.

My role on my main project will shift at the end of May, and I can cut out a ton of meetings. Literally 8+ hours of meetings will vanish, mostly permanently. (No wonder I can’t get things done at a reasonable pace!) I can and do multi task during many of the meetings. I filed out a workplace survey on Zoom fatigue last week, and it was only then that I realized that I multitask during meeting because “I have to in order to get my work done”, which was one of the multiple choice options.

Family & Life

Things are good here, at least as good as they can be when I’m burnt out from work and still grappling with the pandemic. LO can now sing her ABCs. She has been doing so many fun activities in daycare. We are procrastinating on potty training, but it is probably about time.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2021 8:45 am

    Congratulations on the first shot! I get excited when I hear about folks getting their vaccines, even though I’m jealous.

    My company and bosses have been fantastic throughout the pandemic, but I have been burned out since last summer. I’ve resonated with all the people figuring out they have ADD – I think the routine and structure of work hours was great for me. Now, I float between two tasks and feel like I’m doing neither to my satisfaction.

    I am constantly moving the goalposts with RE. If my spreadsheet says I won’t run out of money, I adjust numbers until they say I will. I may not be comfortable until I have 60x expenses and a million dollars set aside for healthcare!

    • April 12, 2021 10:16 am

      Yes, the work “problem” isn’t my bosses or my company or even project deadlines. Everything there has been pretty great (although there are some immovable deadlines that I internalize pressure for). The burnout is mostly self-inflicted by the work patterns of my own choice, so I’m hoping I can turn it around… especially as life changes into a new normal (fingers crossed!)

  2. April 13, 2021 2:27 pm

    So glad you’ve gotten your vaccines! I’m hoping that we can soon..but also dreading the side effects even though they’ll be short lived, because we just do not have the room to tolerate either one of us being sidelined for more than a couple hours. Sigh.

    I hate to say that I mostly cannot wrap my head around the megabackdoor Roth. It makes me think I’m missing out on a really useful tool but I suspect I’ll feel worse about doing it and doing it wrong than not doing it at all.

    I also hate that our annual spending doesn’t seem to have gone down at all even though we still don’t have childcare. This IS because we have to pay to supplement JB’s education with a tutor and other lessons but it’s still disheartening if we’re going to be using infant childcare anytime soon.

    Meeting culture: If this role wasn’t ending soon, I’d suggest nudging people into email wrap-ups but it might not be worth your while at this point.

    • April 16, 2021 4:54 pm

      Roths: I will say the normal backdoor variety was shockingly easy (including tax docs), and implementing the megabackdoor also seems simple. It would be hard to do wrong if you try to do it at all. But i left it on the table for a longtime e too.

      Meeting culture is tough, because there is really a lot of collaboration and discussion that needs to happen in real time and an email wouldn’t suffice. Still, I think we have some of the wrong meetings (too big in attendance and focus) and are missing some of the right meetings (smaller, more focused)… so it is still kind of broken. And some of it is just my own discipline.

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