Ether to FI: Bye Bye 2022 & a Net Worth Update

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Ether to FI is back to reflect on the year that was and describe additional ways that his life and philosophies have been altered in the five years that he’s been on a ten-year FI path.

He used to be a check or cash only guy. Now, he loves racking up points and miles.

He thought he’d be a homeowner for life. Now, renting is more appealing than ever.

He and his family may be on the move soon, and he’s gracious to those of you who emailed him with potential job prospects.

He used to be worth just a touch more; December has been a rough way to end a tough year for the stock market. Stay to the end for his net worth update, and remember that you can track yours using the same spreadsheet template that I’ve provided.

 

 

bye-bye-2022

 

Bye-bye, 2022!

 

Is it just me, or did the year fly by?

They say time speeds up as you get older. It sure feels that way. Posting back-to-back months is a new record for me, but we must make up for the long hiatus. The audiences want more frequent updates based on your email responses. Feel free to say hello at [email protected].

The new plan will be to post a new article every 3-4 months. This fantastic audience even sent me several offers of jobs to aid my search for a new place of work. It is much appreciated. The search continues. I might be working with one of you in the future!

We reviewed themes from previous posts over the last five years in the last post. We will continue giving the group updates on how some things have changed, while others have stayed the same. This was initially supposed to be one post, but it will be split into three. This will be part two of three, and you can read the first part here.

 

Credit Card Rewards

 

In my introductory posts, I declared myself a Dave Ramsey aficionado and did not believe in credit cards. Using Dave’s baby steps to get out of student loan debt allowed us to be “gazelle intense” and pay off those loans in less than two years.

I also subscribed to his credit card stance. Not anymore.

If racking up credit card points is a sport, I am working on going pro. I have become a student of the game of hacking flights and hotels and using points to see the world.

I opened my first credit card a few months after my first post and have not looked back. My initial forays were with a Capital One card and an American Airlines card.

Then I learned about the 5/24 rule for Chase and opened my next few cards with Chase. I started with the Chase Sapphire Preferred for 2X travel points and then Chase Freedom Unlimited for 1.5X points for non-travel, transportation, and restaurant-related expenses.

The next card I opened was the Chase Hyatt Card. Hyatt is a great hotel transfer partner for Chase’s ultimate reward points. You can get a real bang for your buck. You also get a free night each year. I am now a Hyatt Globalist based on using their credit card.

After the first year of having the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I upgraded the card to Chase Sapphire Reserve.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

60,000 Points good for $750 in travel or more with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first (or only) rewards card. $50 annual hotel credit for bookings via the Chase UR tavel portal & 5x points for all travel via the portal. 3x points on dining, 2x on other travel. Flexible rewards good for cash, travel, or transfer to travel partners, great travel protection & new Peloton, Lyft & DoorDash perks! $95 Annual Fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve

60,000 Points with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great travel perks including Priority Pass lounge access, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ and a $300 annual travel credit. When using Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, get 10x points on hotels and car rental & 5x points on flights. 3x points on other travel & dining. Elevated Peloton, Lyft and DoorDash benefits. $550 Annual Fee

 

In January 2020, Ms. ETF and I timed our card opening for the Chase Southwest Cards to perfection so that each of us received a Southwest companion pass. This meant that our kids would fly for free for 23 months. Timed it “perfectly” into a global pandemic and proceeded not to fly for 14 months.

Our 23 months were reduced to 9 months, but we still got some use. You cannot win them all. We continued to rack up Chase’s ultimate reward points, our primary strategy for free travel.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

60,000 points with a $3,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Southwest Premier Business Card gets you 60,000 points when meeting the minimum spend, 3 points per dollar spend with Southwest, 2 points per dollar on rideshare or hotel and car rental partners. 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins per year. No foreign transaction fees. $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business

80,000 points with a $5,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Southwest Performance Business Card gets you 80,000 points when meeting the minimum spending requirements, 4 points per dollar spent with Southwest, 3 points per dollar with hotel and car partners, 2 per dollar on rideshares, internet, cable, and phone. Inflight wifi credit, 4 upgraded boardings annually. Global Entry or TSA Pre✔(R) Fee Credit. No foreign transaction fees. $199 annual fee

 

Earlier this year, we entered the American Express universe by each of us opening The Platinum Card® from American Express (rates and fees). Later opening an American Express® Gold Card (rates and fees) this fall added to our points haul. We are racking up points there for future travel.

Most of these cards have annual fees, some with huge fees. However, the savings we have received from using the points generated has far outweighed the yearly fees. We have also downgraded cards to lower-fee cards or free cards for credit cards that we stopped using.

The most important part of our credit card journey is that we do not carry a balance. We pay off each card down to $1 the day before the statement closes. Our credit utilization ends up being extremely low. Once the $1 posts as our statement balance, we pay it off the next day. That is our credit card journey to date.

 

 

Roth Accounts

 

Contrary to popular advice that a couple in our current tax bracket should defer paying their taxes as far into the future as possible and default to a traditional tax-deferred retirement accounts, we do the opposite.

We have continued to take every opportunity to invest in Roth accounts. I might be an eternal optimist who thinks our income will increase each year, and we are currently in our lowest income tax bracket. Or I might be a cynic who thinks tax rates are as low as they are going to get in our lifetimes and are going to head up, up, and up.

Either way, we will keep funneling money into Roth accounts. The optimist or the cynic might both be right.

 

Buying versus Renting

 

For most of our adult lives, we have been renters. Four years ago, we purchased our first home, mainly to be in a particular elementary school for our kids. Four years later, they are now being homeschooled.

We have asked ourselves whether we should keep this house and would we buy a new house in the future. The answer to both of those questions is no. We prize flexibility above most things, and a home roots you to one spot. I can see the benefits when you are old, but there are too many places to visit and many opportunities worldwide that we want to take advantage of.

Strictly speaking, from a financial perspective, we would like the equity that we have in our home to be invested in the stock market or other investments rather than the property that we live in. When we sell our current home, our net worth will decrease, as stated on our net worth statement.

After you factor in transaction costs from buying, selling, initial financing, refinancing, yearly maintenance cost, insurance, property taxes, and remodeling we did to the home’s exterior, we likely would have been further ahead by not buying our house. This is specific to our family. I know there are many merits to owning your home, but renting will be in the future.

 

Moving

 

I have settled into my current job and wanted to remain here long-term. However, in the last year, I have had this feeling that I needed to go. There have been no dramatic changes in the previous year at my job, but I have changed.

I want to explore something new. I want to be challenged differently. My feelings about my job have also extended to our city. Things that did not bother me in the past seem to be smacking me in the face with displeasure.

As we get closer to FI, I realize that everything is a choice. Whether we stay or go. How we live and where we live are all choices. Not moving is a default choice. Who knows what the future might bring, but it is time for something different.

In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, the #1 regret is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This is a regret that I never want to have.

 

Net Worth Statement

 

Our net-worth goal for the end of this year was $2 million. There are so many things you cannot control: the stock market, interest rates, the federal reserve, the housing market, investor sentiment, and the list goes on.

The one thing you can control is the amount of money you invest and how often those investments are made. We will keep on our steady eddy approach to investing and take full advantage of this down market.

On the plus side, 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) employee contribution limits have increased to $22,500 for 2023 for those under 50. Total contribution limits have increased for 401(k) and 403(b) to $66,000 for those under age 50. The IRA limit has increased to $6,500.

We will continue maxing out all our retirement options and increasing our non-retirement mutual fund investments. Our current net worth sits at $1,755,453.10. We invested more this month, and our net worth fell from last month.

 

ether-to-fi-net-worth-12-2022-1

ether-to-fi-net-worth-12-2022-2

 

Download the spreadsheet used above, which will automatically update the investments you have using their ticker symbols.

 

 

It looks like we are investing in a falling market. That’s good news to end the year. I am a fan of discounts.

We wish you and those you love a very Happy New Year!

 



 

Follow Ether to FI’s progress to FI in his previous posts:

 

Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

 

To see rates and fees for featured cards from American Express: The Platinum Card from American Express (rates and fees) & American Express Gold Card (rates and fees).

 

8 thoughts on “Ether to FI: Bye Bye 2022 & a Net Worth Update”

  1. How will your net worth decrease when you sell the house? The way I read your NW statement, I figured you were only calculating equity.

    Reply
    • I am only calculating the equity. However when we sell our home, around 10% of our equity will be spent on the cost of selling the home. A transaction cost that is much less when you rent. With our focus on flexibility, avoiding that transaction cost is another reason we are not buying another home as a personal residence at this time.

      Reply
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Why only 30k in taxable?

    What I mean is I assume you fully maximize your tax advantaged retirement and Roth retirement accounts on a yearly basis and I also assume your income as an anesthesiologist is quite high so where do you invest your additional money?

    Reply
    • I have the advantage of being able to max out both the employee and employer contributions to the 403B and a 457B and an IRA. Mrs. ETF was also able to max out a 403B and 457B and an IRA. We put away around 150K in retirement plans. We also put money into 529s. We also invest in real estate. We have just started trying to build our taxable account in the last six months. You will notice the taxable account grow over the next couple of years. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

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