New Year goals, up $8K, and an announcement – January 2024 Freedom update

Like last month, this one finds me at yet another new net worth high. But unlike last month, it also finds us with a brand new baby girl. That’s right – we are now a party of five and have spent the last week getting to know our sweet new baby!

a man holding a baby

POV: you fell asleep on Dad

Even with all the expenses associated with delivery, my overall net worth continued to tick upward to over $342,000.

I’m excited and so tired. We’re currently on an adventure and making new memories in a new place. Here’s how it’s playing out as I start 2024.

January 2024 Freedom update

I had to make some allowances with the numbers this month. I charged ~$4,000, the amount of my insurance deductible, to a credit card. I’m not including that amount because I’m reimbursing myself from my HSA (a work account I’ve never included in my net worth calculations).

But this month is also a bit of a puzzle because I’m having to carry balances on a few cards until that reimbursement comes through. There were a lot of other expenses an HSA can’t cover, and I lost my side hustle this month.

a group of trees in a field

These midwinter daze

I was working for a friend’s business and we had a big falling out. Like, a big one we won’t recover from. We were friends for nearly 20 years, and he completely snapped on me. At the time, he owed me several thousands of dollars for work I’d done for his business that he never paid.

I was depending on that money to get ready for the baby’s birth. It’ll take me a few months, but I’ll just have to pay it down when I can. For now, my hands are very full and, as always, I’m sticking to my investment plans.

You’ll also notice my savings number has decreased, and that’s why. There’s really no other way to explain it, so I figured I’d just be open and say what happened. My money bestie assured me we’ve all been there and I really needed to hear that because I was feeling guilty about it.

So, lots of deep breaths. This past month has seen loss, movement, joy, and a new family member. We’ve been so grateful for all the friends and family who came to wrap us in love, visit the kids, and deliver home-cooked meals. I continue to marvel at the stuff of life.

This month’s progress

Now I’m excited to share more money progress. As last year wrapped up, I added a traditional 401k to my existing Roth 401k account and bumped up my overall contributions to 12% (from 10%). I have 10% going to the traditional 401 and 2% going to the Roth 401k.

I knew that little extra would pinch a bit, but I’m glad for it.

a man holding a child

Got lots of good family time over the holidays in Memphis

A new year, a new Roth IRA limit. I still have $2,000 left to go with 2023’s Roth IRA and want to challenge myself to max it out for last year AND this year. Will I? Can I? I don’t know, but I’ll try.

Between my tax refund and any extra cash that comes through, I think I’ll be OK within the next few months. I’ll get there.

Also, the real estate market where our house is located has been softening, so I anticipate losing a little more net worth value from falling prices.

Like everything else, there’s been give and take, ups and down, but the overall trend is progress because my net worth keeps going up.

To recap this month, I:

  • Boosted my 401k contributions to 12% (and want to bump it up again to 15% if I can)
  • Had to carry balances on a couple of cards to get us through the last month
  • Depleted some savings because an ex-friend totally stiffed me :/
  • Emptied one HSA account but am now actively building it up again
  • Lost some value on my primary residence because of a soft market
  • Got more gains from a strong stock market to reach another new net worth high
a baby standing in a tree

And this sweet baby is growing so much

Whew! That felt like a lot to type out.

I also want to add that now that our insurance deductible (and out-of-pocket max) is almost met, the rest of the year should have no extra medical expenses, which is pretty awesome. Anyone else ever max out their deductible in January? This seems like a life hack or something. Either way, we got lucky with our sweet Capricorn girl!

By the numbers

This month had a lot going on. It’s been emotional, busy, wonderful, hard, and so many other things. I’ll continue investing aggressively with my 401k and find ways to make progress on the side. Maybe I’ll find another weekend side hustle.

CurrentLast MonthChange2024 Goal
Overall investments$255,263$241,704+$13,559As much as possible
Roth IRA 2023$61,109$58,532+$2,577$6,500 (in new contributions)$4,000 so far!
Roth IRA 2024$0$0xx$7,000 (in new contributions)Starting May 2024
Taxable brokerage + UTMAs$3,366$3,238$28$25,000 (total invested)
Primary home equity + appreciation$55,788$58,072-$2,284$70,000
Raw land$40,400$40,400xxNo goal, just including for completeness 🙂
Net worth in Empower Personal Dashboard$342,551$334,080+$8,471$500,000 (overall goal)Track your net worth with Personal Capital

You’ll see everything mentioned above reflected in these numbers. As of now, I’m not including my credit card balances as liabilities because I’ll get reimbursed for most of it soon. And I’ve never included my mortgage because, with a 3% rate, I have no interest in paying anything above the monthly payment.

a purple and blue background with white text

Almost 70% of the way to $500,000!!!

Long-term goals include:

  • Put more money into Beck’s UTMA 
  • Start an UTMA for new baby when we get her SSN
  • Finish maxing out my Roth IRA for 2023 
  • Build my savings account again (will I ever? )
  • Invest as much as possible
  • Work up to 15% in 401k contributions this year

We’ll also incur expenses for baby stuff in the near future. For example, we need a new stroller and will need another car seat down the road. Those will mostly be as-needed, but can be pricey. So, as usual, I’m gonna wing it and control what I can.

January 2024 Freedom update bottom line

Suffice it to say we had a very Happy New Year. We now have a four year old, a one year old, and a newborn. I’m thrilled to be in my family-building season of life that just so happens to coincide with an aggressive financial goal I set for myself (to save $500,000 by August 2024 – my 40th birthday).

The market delivered over 20% returns last year and if that continues, I might just hit the goal. In this moment, I’m staying steady after a whirlwind month. I’ll figure it out and get back on my feet, but for now I’m smelling that new baby head and cocooning with my loves while it’s so cold outside.

As always, thank you for reading and following my journey. Hope everyone is doing well!

Stay safe and scrappy out there! ✨


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About Harlan

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

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  1. Looking good overall, but I’d stay a little more liquid, Loss of a few thousand shouldn’t force carrying cc balances or any special other actions.

    You may want to update “About Harlan”. It seems the “Digital nomad living on the road” is a thing of the past.

    • Absolutely agree. I’m kind of alarmed tbh, but also got hit especially hard by a lot of expenses all at once, so giving myself a pass. This did reveal I need to focus on building up my savings. That will definitely be a priority this year.

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