Hey gang! I know, I’ve been absent for a little over a year now, which is crazy. A lot of things have been happening, mostly in my personal life, and I just needed time to reset. I didn’t intend to take QUITE so long to reset, but there it is. Financially, things have been mostly on an even keel. Some small shake-ups, which I’ll describe below, but overall things are still marching in the right direction. But first, here’s the annual update on what’s been happening in general, and why I’ve been so absent.
Went to FinCon 2016
FinCon 2016 was a wonderful experience. I met some awesome fellow bloggers, got a crapload of tips for the blog and how to develop it further, and then . . . got completely overwhelmed. You know that old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time?” Well, I blew it. I tried to take it in all at once and choked.
I wanted to do the million things that people were talking about. Sam and Emma and Brian and all the other bloggers were so cool and competent, and I met so many great people that I wanted to emulate. My phone is still filled with pages and pages of notes and to-do lists from the things I learned at the conference. And the sheer volume of information and other stuff was just too much.
I should have set reasonable goals for myself, starting with just writing a post about FinCon. Or better, I could have chosen just one new thing and tried it. But I couldn’t, or didn’t, and then I started feeling bad about not having done it, and then it became impossible. So lame.
Started a Stupid Online Game
Around that same time, I started playing a stupid online game, Mobile Strike. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I’ve always played dumb little free games on my phone during downtime, and these stupid little Mobile Strike mini-game ads kept popping up. Finally, I downloaded the game, because I figured it might at least stop the same ad from cropping up. (It didn’t work.) I figured there was no way I was going to get hooked on this game, because I’m totally not a fan of war games or war movies.
Welp. That happened. I started playing the game as a general time suck, either to avoid writing blog posts (ahem) or to avoid dealing with other things, like relationship issues (double ahem). The war game part was just okay, but the social part was what really got me. I got into an alliance of some really smart, funny people, and we had more fun goofing around with each other than we did actually playing the game.
All in all, I don’t regret playing the game, aside from the amount of time it sucked up and the huge asterisk that it put on my frugality scorecard. I made some great friends playing it, and I’m still very close with four of them. But it was a big factor in pulling me away from the blog.
Broke Up with My Boyfriend
This was kind of a big one. So the boyfriend and I had been together for a little over four years, and it just wasn’t working. We had been going to therapy for ages, but it seemed like we were stuck and things weren’t getting any better.
This was hard, because he is one of the nicest people I know. And I really love his family, too. But there was just this fundamental incompatibility that was making me miserable.
I think the emotional weight of that decision, and the awkwardness of the aftermath (it happened in early December, so we had separate holidays and we were still living together) made it hard for me to want to write. Plus, his parents read (or used to read) this blog, so I didn’t have any idea what to say.
Vacation with New Friends!
One of the bright spots during the breakup/move-out was that I had become close friends with a couple of girls from the game, and we decided that they should come visit me for a week. One lives in Scotland, and the other lives in Seattle, and all of our lives were a little effed up and needed a shakeup.
Fortunately, they were both brave enough to leave their homes and spend a week with a total stranger. You might think that I’m equally brave for having two strangers come and live in my house for a week, but you’d be wrong. I’m just a terrible planner. My brain signed me up for this, and it wasn’t until I was literally getting in the car to drive to the airport to pick one of them up that I thought “what have I done?!”
Fortunately, nobody turned out to be a murderer, and we had a blast. We bought an insanely large wading pool and sat in it while drinking piña coladas, listening to music, and laughing our butts off. We also went to Chinatown for dim sum, visited the Natural History Museum in L.A. (my favorite dinosaurs live there) and the Griffith Park Observatory, did some crazy half-drunken karaoke, and went shooting. Those two ladies are some of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and I was so sad when they had to go home.
Made Partner at My Law Firm
In January of this year, I became a partner at my law firm. This is incredibly exciting, and also more than a little scary. It also made for a semi-rocky financial year, as I left my regular salary and transitioned to billing clients and waiting for them to pay, all while covering my share of overhead.
As an added bonus, our office expanded into the neighboring suite early this year. So we had additional furniture and computer and some build-out expenses, and our rent increased by a whole lot. Plus, I had to buy into the partnership. And now we’ve just hired two more employees. Aack! My partners are super nice and insanely fair, so it’s all working out just fine, but it’s just a lot to juggle all at once.
Rental Property: Set It and Forget It
I am really thankful that I had my rental property this year. That small stream of additional income helped smooth out some of the financial bumps. It also helps that I live pretty darn cheaply.
My favorite thing about rental property is that it’s not going to go away if you temporarily get sidetracked by other things. It can be pretty low-maintenance. There are a lot of investments out there that require a lot of active effort (such as a side business), or that give erratic returns (like the stock market), which are hard to rely on when life is getting away from you.
But rental property, if you set it up right, can help make your life a lot easier with a fairly small amount of effort. Set it up to make it easy on yourself, though. Use rent collection methods that don’t require frequent trips to the property or chasing the tenants down. Find good tenants! Use stringent application criteria to make sure you get good people in the door, and you won’t regret it. Get your systems in place, and then go live your life.
Before I end this post, I just want to say thank you to the people who have checked back and left comments during the past year. There were times during my burnout phase where I wondered if anybody was reading any of this. Depression is one of the beasts I wrestle with on a daily basis, and in my darker moments, I often told myself that this was all just a colossal waste of time. Those little messages and comments made a bigger difference than you probably realize. So thank you.
In the next post, I’ll give you an update on how the rental property has been doing over the past year. Let’s hope I get that one written and published before another year passes. 😉