RBOC

  • I hadn’t updated our net worth calculations in I don’t know how long.  (I literally do not know how long– if I did this would probably be a full post instead of a bullet).  But, since the time I updated it, it has increased 50%, meaning that it was X before but now it is 1.5 X.  The stock market alone seems to have been responsible for much of the increase.
  • The reason I updated things was because I was curious to see what our stock portfolio looks like in terms of stocks/bonds/etc.  It’s mostly stocks.  There’s some bonds.  My accounts that are just Target Date funds and my university Fidelity account are both currently ~85% stocks and 15% bonds.  The rest… pretty heavily stock.  Mostly US stock (though both Target Date and university Fidelity accounts have emerging markets and foreign markets).  Some accounts are entirely S&P 500 because that’s the lowest fee in an otherwise high fee work account.  So I think I need to focus on adding more foreign markets and emerging markets, and maybe more munis.
  • My father has been sending increasingly deranged emails.  (Most recently he sent DH a very fragmented email that seemed to be telling DH that DH had to contact my father NOW in order to protect my children from their narcissistic mother, aka me.  We think that’s what it was saying, anyway. Previous emails have attacked my mother and sister as gaslighting or narcissists etc.  Once he cc’d the author of a book on narcissism.) But he’s refused to get an evaluation and my mother won’t force him to.  She’s also somewhat in denial or attributes it all to a potential stroke he may have had a few years ago.  They are adults, and my mother still seems to be in full control of her faculties, so not really anything my sister or I can do at this point.
  • One of my colleagues says his age 80+ mother is engaged to a much younger man (like 50+ years younger) that she met online who seems to be interested in her money.  I will probably end up not getting an inheritance but at least the money my parents have saved is likely to either go to my sister or to actually worthy charities and not someone who preys on older women.
  • My MIL has started Christmas shopping already.  I just got a copy of Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny’s new book from her!  (Also, fairly clear she’s ignoring the “kids only” rule, but as long as we don’t tell SIL nobody need know. We’re either getting her a sewing machine or we’re taking her newish memories book to the local printer to get copies for the kids, depending on if she’s finished filling out the memories book yet or not.)
  • We have zero idea what to get for DC1 for Christmas + Birthday.  At first we were like, how about a ukelele, but then realized zie probably doesn’t want one given zie hardly has enough time for piano, violin, and theramin as it is!  I have fidget stuff on hir wishlist for relatives and a few fiction books, but we’re mostly drawing blanks.  We may have to resort to SAT prep and AP prep guides.  There’s always money, but it would be like, “Here’s $100” then a few days later “Here’s another $100!” and zie doesn’t actually use it.
  • Speaking of AP exams, DC1 is taking 4 AP classes this year.  Zie is probably not going to take the Physics 1 AP because zie will be taking Mechanics and E&M next year.  Zie will have to decide about Spanish soon.  Zie will definitely be taking the BC calc exam.  Then there’s psychology… It’s hard to know what is optimal for a junior whose scores might affect college admissions positively or negatively.  It seems ridiculous to decide these things Fall semester when the exams are pretty late Spring semester.
  • I’m not really sure how DC1 ended up so not consumerist.  DH likes shopping more than actually owning/using.  DC2 is delighted with new things. I’m a bit of a pack rat. But DC1 is just a natural minimalist.  Zie also listens to hir hunger and will stop eating say, an ice cream, if full.  Zie has been this way since a baby.
  • I bought more pens I didn’t need from jetpens and I’m really enjoying them.  These vintage color Sarasa pens from Jetpens (not an affiliate, I’m just addicted) are perfect for writing postcards to voters this fall.  VIP Voters in Ohio got in the Blue-black this past week.

34 Responses to “RBOC”

  1. mnitabach Says:

    So sorry abt your father. That sounds like it is very painful for the family & he presumably isn’t feeling happy himself.

    WRT investments, are you considering putting anything into cryptocurrency ETF that it’s launching today? I’m thinking I might throw an amount of money I wouldn’t care if I lost completely into it…

  2. Katherine Says:

    On the AP exam decision, you have the money to pay the fees to sign up for exams now and push the decision to take them or not into the Spring, right? I’m pretty sure I ended up not taking some of the AP exams I registered for because mock trial nationals were the same week, and there wasn’t enough time in the make-up testing days to take all of the tests I had planned on. I don’t think there was any penalty or issue with just not showing up for them. Is there a reason not to do that?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not sure that’s true anymore, although the last two years they added a lot of flexibility because of the pandemic.

      They don’t make it easy to figure out on their webpage, but it looks like there’s a $40 cancellation fee if you cancel before March 15 (after March 15 you can only cancel your score, not the exam itself). So in theory we could do that if I’m interpreting correctly.

      AP testing was a lot more flexible when I took them.

  3. Revanche @ AGSL Says:

    I’m equal parts impressed and *gasp* how? (which is a different form of impressed) at your not checking your net worth. It’s still my coping mechanism.

    My family culture is always to give money. They’ll use it eventually, so maybe it’s not a bad thing option for DC1 since zie doesn’t care much about acquiring or having things. ours always came in the traditional red envelope, and they make really cute ones on Etsy (just bought some recently for Christmas gifting).

    I’d really like to be done with Christmas shopping now. I think I’m halfway there?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      How: 1. There are a LOT of different accounts– it took about 2 hours to check them all (digging out logins etc.) and 2. Most of them are retirement accounts that we won’t be able to touch for a decade+ so unless we’re planning on making any major changes to our work situation, their current level isn’t really relevant.

      I do check my checking and saving a LOT!

      I think we have an origami boxes book that shows how to make origami envelopes too. We could definitely do that, though maybe using actual red envelopes is culturally appropriating for us? (Cultural appropriation is still one of those things I’m not always sure about so I tend to err on the side of not doing it. Unless it’s food. Or anime or manga. Or presents received from someone of said culture.)

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        Fair point on possible appropriation. I think it’s fair to make cute envelopes in the spirit of the idea? I mean, I think it’d be cool though I realize I can’t speak for all the people of the tradition or culture.

  4. Steph Says:

    Starting Christmas shopping now is a good thing! Supply chain and shipping issues are supposed to cause major issues this year. I am basically done with my shopping, though I have grand ideas about sewing a half dozen gifts or so. Hopefully I can still make that happen.

    Would DC1 like any kind of digital content? Like buying seasons of favorite shows, or purchasing music (instead of streaming), or a year on a streaming service? Patreon subscription for creators they like? Those might still end up as gift cards, but it feels a little more purposeful while not generating more physical stuff.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DC1 mostly doesn’t have any time. Zie listens to a lot of classical music streaming (piano and orchestra). We own a ton of classical music both in CD format and mp3 format, but zie prefers youtube and this neat library they get through school where they show the music for different parts while the music is playing. I will ask about Patreon– maybe the magic piano fingers person. We do pay for a subscription to Adobe suites for hir, which should have been a Christmas/Birthday present, but we got it in summer.

  5. CG Says:

    We got our kids really nice sleds from L.L. Bean for Christmas–already purchased and stored in my in-laws’ basement to make sure we didn’t run into any issues. However, this is probably not a great option for you, haha. How about an interesting trip somewhere or tickets to a concert? I mean, once that’s a good idea again.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      twosetviolin has a virtual concert over the holidays, but it is only $20.

      Back in 2019, my sister took DC1 out to a very fancy sushi place which was probably the most memorable experience of DC1’s life (and we got the cookbook for the restaurant after, but sadly it calls for too many unavailable ingredients, though DC1 did make a few things from it and they were all delicious and difficult to make). My sister also used to take the kids to the ballet, but… not so safe right now, even though numbers seem to be diminishing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      p.s. I do have a snow shovel on my *own* list. Because we don’t have one and climate changes means we’re going to have bizarre weather extremes.

  6. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I have gotten five postcards to voters since the summer (primary in June). I find it kind of hilarious since I’m an election official so I always vote early while I’m working the polls for VA’s almost 40 (!) days of early voting.

  7. Julia Says:

    Hello,
    Have you ever discussed how you weigh the expense ratio for a fund vs their avg returns? I tend to go for lowest fee ETFs. My husband keeps suggesting that if a fund has overall higher returns that it is worth the slightly huger fee. I’m usually looking at funds with like 0.4% or less in fees. He probably wouldn’t go over 1% but still higher than me. Is the math as simple as if the returns are higher it’s worth the fees?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh gee. You’re right. Your husband is wrong. I’m going to need to think about what is most likely to convince him. Maybe the Bogleheads Guide to Investing? I can throw this up as an ask the grumpies one of these fridays.

      • Julia Says:

        Thank you! Yes, I’d love this to be an ask the grumpiest post! I’m looking on bogleheads forums too.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        There’s a really neat paper that leverages the fact that S&P 500 indexes can have wildly different prices depending on the company AND they were started at different dates so have different rates of return since inception. Even though they are exactly the same index with the same actual returns before fees are taken out. (I think by Brigette Madrian.)

  8. SP Says:

    Have you ever considered consolidating accounts? I guess inertia is a good reason not to, plus sometimes fees, etc., and some plans don’t accept rollovers into new plans. Not that you need to check your net worth more, but I get anxious about having my money in too many places, like it could get forgotten!

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad, that sounds tough – but glad that he has your mom, even if she is a bit in denial.

    I find it surprising that you suspect your sister would get an inheritance, but you may not. I don’t expect anything (in fact, the opposite), but if there was anything, I would expect it would be equally divided, even though it would only make a real difference in the life of one sibling.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think we have a post on this, but the election of Trump led me to realize full fascism is a possibility and having lots of accounts means in the worst case scenario we might still have one or two after escaping the country. We should probably do something offshore one of these years. I know that sounds crazy but the ringleaders of last years coup have not been prosecuted. Which is crazier?

      We’re worried about my mom because he lashes out at her and she has gotten frail. He has always been verbally abusive but we’re concerned it has gotten worse. If my mom dies first then my father decides where his money goes. 10 years ago I would have said equal division and/or charity. You don’t leave money to someone you have decided is out to get you and several of his bizarre emails have mentioned changing his will (demanding our kids’ social security numbers that we have not sent).

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        Have you ever though about calling adult protective services for your parents’ state? A bit iffy since he’s the one who is both demented and abusive, but maybe if it gets bad enough?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If it gets bad enough. It’s hard to know what exactly is going on since we both live many states away. My mother has an elected local government position so at least in theory she’s being seen by other people. She’s also seeing a therapist virtually though I’m not sure that’s actually helping— previously she was putting all responsibility on my father changing on the therapist and then eventually he quit going. She tends to use what the therapist says to make excuses for him (and my father was using it to say he had a hard childhood so it’s ok for him to be a jerk). My sister was planning on talking with said therapist about her concerns but I don’t know if it happened.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Even good therapy doesn’t help unless the person wants to change.

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        I had considered an offshore account for the same reason TBH. I just don’t know if I can handle the mental load right now! Wait no I know I can’t yet. But I do worry that we’ll need international access to our money.

        I’m so sorry about the situation with your parents. That’s so worrying to be far away and not know what the truth of the matter is.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah I don’t even know the first thing about stashing money overseas. Are Swiss bank accounts still a thing?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I do have to say that I love the way my in-laws drama is limited to things like will MIL and FIL ignore the Christmas lottery and give everyone gifts or where will the family go for summer vacation in non-pandemic years.

      • SP Says:

        Off shore seems like a smart idea, but also complicated.. I guess we can all let each other know if any one bothers to figure out how…. I’ll put it on my list of things that I wish I would do….

        That sounds very difficult, I’m sorry to hear.

      • SP Says:

        Update re off shore: I discussed this with my husband, who thinks that the USD is such a global currency that it is really unlikely that we wouldn’t be able to access our money if we left the country. He thinks the most likely result for the US is basically that the entire US becomes more and more like Texas. :( :( :( :(

        I’m not fully convinced by this, but also don’t see it as super urgent to figure out if off shore is needed.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        See, I’m concerned about the government potentially marking me as an undesirable and seizing my assets. (Something they tend not to do with upper middle class white people, but is not unheard of for other groups.)

        Apparently having a Swiss bank account will not help with that anymore.


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