New this month: Money trends, 401k, and over $300K! – August 2023 Freedom update

Whew! This weekend (and past month) was a doozy. Warren had his 4th birthday party (I can’t believe I have a four-year-old!) and my mom was in town visiting. Lots of setup and hosting and having fam around.

I also hit the $300K mark officially! 🤑

I noticed the stock market dropped in the last week or so, but not enough to drop me below $300K again. Now that I’m over 60% of the way to my $500K goal, I’m feeling extra motivated.

August 2023 Freedom update

This is a real place

And yet, life keeps delivering. We finally got Warren’s updated birth certificate and passport – and Beck’s stuff is on the way. I have a mountain of crap to pay off and the expenses are always rolling in.

But also – later this month I become eligible for the company 401k. Between that and the HSA, I will be consistently investing again. So despite feeling financially held back in so many ways, I’ll still be making (automated) progress. And that’s something I’m really excited about.

August 2023 Freedom update

So I’m redirecting 10% of after-tax pay into a Roth 401k – that’s a new one for me! I chose the Roth option because I started this job halfway through the year, so a traditional 401k wouldn’t do much to lower my taxable income since it’s already pretty low.

Next year, though, I’ll switch back to a regular 401k. I think the deductions will help, and it’s good to have a variety.

There’s so much conjecture about Traditional vs Roth and all the counter-arguments… I’m gonna try an even mix and strategize down the road. If you have a viewpoint one way or the other, sound off!

a man taking a selfie

I’ve since trimmed the beard

I’m giving myself over to the fact that I may not ever be fully where I want to be financially. With two littles, a big lawyer bill, and various little BS expenses, I haven’t felt “caught up” in a long time. I look at my goals and feel down about not being further along.

I gotta find calmness though, because I’m doing everything I can. And whenever I get the chance, I do contribute toward my goals. It’s not happening as fast as I’d like, yes, but small steps are working anyway. When I look back to this time last year, I have made progress and things are different.

That will always be the case, I think. This entire year has been a lesson in surrendering to – and trusting – the process.

This month’s progress

My net worth is up but my overall investments are flat? I looked at the numbers and ran the calculations over and over and yes? What’s here looks accurate. I didn’t realize stocks were that flat. And the only other thing I can think of is that I made a lot of credit card payments and a mortgage payment? Also I’m paying my lawyer on the side and that’s not always reflected in these updates. But I think we’re almost to the end of that.

This month, I:

  • Set up 10% in contributions to my Roth 401k (my employer matches 4%) that begin this month
  • Almost reached the threshold where I can invest with my HSA (also begins this month)
  • Acquired two parcels of land worth about $11,000, but had to pay some document recording fees and back taxes
  • Finally hit the $300K mark for net worth!
  • Booked travel for later this month and December, which cost a little out of pocket
  • Made a definitive household budget which really shocked me at how much we were spending on soooo much stuff
  • Resolved to cut expenses because of that budget
  • Had a couple of doctor visits, haircuts, therapy, and other self-care sessions that were worth the money
a man and woman in a car

With Mama

I’m relieved about the 401k and HSA thing because it’ll be essentially forced savings (kinda like the house and mortgage). And I still need to max out my Roth IRA. Always plenty to work on. It doesn’t all have to happen at once (but I kinda wish it did lol).

Oh, I know! The net worth increase is because I added the land value to my portfolio. One parcel is about two and half acres, while the other is a quarter of an acre.

Future goals (or maybe the rest of this year)

So my opportunities right now are:

  • Add the remaining $2,500 to my Roth IRA
  • Pay down credit cards (all with 0% APR yet all hanging over me)
  • Bulk up savings – this is the eternal dilemma
  • Add cash to taxable brokerage and UTMAs for the kids
  • Upgrade things around the house (paint, pipes, landscaping, tree trimming, deck – the list could be endless, really)

Once I get the HVAC credit card paid down, I will feel soooo much better. That’s been a focus for a while and it’s about time to go all-in attacking that. Feeling like a broken record about that.

We are also prepping to move out of Oklahoma. I don’t know where yet, just… away. Too much bad stuff happened here and the schools are crap. Warren will be five next year and we want to find a great school for him. There’s nothing good left for us here. Just getting ideas for now.

By the numbers

Here’s what the story says this month:

CurrentLast MonthChange2023 Goal
Overall investments$241,279$241,320-$41As much as possible
Roth IRA$56,998$56,491+$507$6,500 (in new contributions)$4,000 so far!
Taxable brokerage + UTMA$13,376$13,253+$123$25,000 (total invested)
Primary home equity + appreciation$59,518$62,407-$2,889$70,000
Credit card/HVAC upgrade-$10,270$10,372-$102$12,708 (starting balance)
Net worth in Personal Capital$304,726$299,127+$5,149$500,000 (overall goal)Track your net worth with Personal Capital
a man taking a selfie

This guys shows up on your Ring cam wyd

It’s interesting that I’m only up $5K but how significant that feels.

The land value boosted me up even though stocks were flat overall in July. It’s nice to own some raw land. I’m gonna go check it out soon, just to get an idea of what I’m working with. Who knows, maybe one of them could be a building site one day?

For now, though, I will keep plugging along. The dreaming will come back one day. And I won’t always owe the amounts I currently owe. Plus, having a 401k again will be a huge relief for me. Even with “only” 10% contributions, that will anchor me to this journey to $500K. I’d ideally bump that to 25% but… small steps.

August 2023 Freedom update bottom line

Holding steady! I have my work cut out for me and life is busy and good overall. Having the kids’ birth certificates is/will be a huge relief. We are getting our docs together in preparation to move soon. Where? TBD.

Until then, I know what I can work on, like the work I do, and have lots to look forward to. Optimism is coming back. After a long couple of years, I know I’m a different person now. I’m still processing it all, in a way. And outraged on my own behalf that I went through all of that.

Excited to travel later this year, starting with a fun trip for my birthday in a couple of weeks! I used many points & miles tricks and will share some of them later this month as well.

Thanks for sticking with me through all this. Hope everyone is doing well out there.

Stay safe and scrappy! ✨


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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. Steps forward is still moving forward no matter how small. So keep at it, and keep posting. Love hearing your progress.

  2. I’ve been a lurker for some time now and I love these updates. Seeing in real life how these little steps all add up to reaching your goals in such a clear and determined way is really motivating.

  3. Children are just very expensive. It’s a lifechoice. I have two, mostly I’m glad. no wonder progress a bit slower!

    • Yep, exactly. I’m learning so much in so many ways. They’re actually not as expensive as I expected, but they do need a LOT of accessories. Wow.

      I’m so glad I have them, but you’re right: kids and FIRE are challenging to mix!

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