Money Basics

Net Worth, Projects, and Dogs – Update Q3 2021

Another quarter in the books! Every three months, I’ll be taking a look at my personal finances, recent news from The Best Interest, and more dog pictures.

Here are my previous quarterly updates:

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Why share this info? To brag?! No way!

I want to be transparent. I practice what I preach and want to show you the results—both good and bad. Many of you have said that seeing my progress helps you gain confidence in your financial life.

Also – I want to show you dog pictures 🙂

My Personal Finances

Let’s start with a personal finance update.

Personal Spending

In July, August, and September, I spent $3,753, $3,735, and $3,059, respectively. That’s an average of $3,560 per month. That’s 15% higher than my historical average of $3100 per month. Is it because of inflation?!

Eh. Maybe. I’m sure some of it is inflation-related.

But most of the extra spending can be attributed to summer fun and a couple unforeseen expenses.

In July, we went to Colorado. Then we met up with college friends in Pennsylvania. In August, I went camping for a week. In September, I went to Austin—some of which we’ll talk about later! And along the way, I bought a new phone ($350) and had a stupid car issue ($550).

Captions: (1) My first ever horse ride. Kelly was a pro. (2) Sadie gazing at the loons on our camping trip. (3) Cookies for camping. I ate many… and (4) Met up with my oldest friend at a rainy Buffalo Bills game

Thank goodness for YNAB! I saved for months ahead of time and moved money around if/when my needs/desires called for it. YNAB is such an easy way to manage my budget.

And there’s one more surprise! Kelly said yes! We’re engaged…to be married! Woohoo! And yes, a diamond ring was involved. Those things aren’t cheap!

Most of the pics are self-explanatory…except for that one with the Swamp Thing 🙂 That’s Kelly’s brother and his girlfriend, who were AMAZING to dress up, hide, and take pictures and video from across the street! Kelly never saw it coming!

I’d been saving for over a year (again – thanks YNAB for making it easy!). And since this is such a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, I am not counting it towards my normal monthly spending numbers. What would you do? Would you include a purchase like that in your personal financial report? I’m interested to hear your opinions!

I hope to write a follow-up article soon on the entire wedding ring process (and maybe more on the entire wedding budget process!)

The Best Interest’s Budget

In July, August, and September, The Best Interest earned profits of $314, $55, and (-$1216), respectively. My total revenue was ~$2500, and total costs were ~$3300. The loss in September is wholly attributable to FinCon expenses.

FinCon—“where money and media meet”—was a fantastic experience. I met tons of awesome people, learned some eye-opening ideas, and even spoke on a panel to a large group of other money nerds. And the conference was in Austin—such a cool city!

I’ll write a follow-up article in the near future with more details and lessons from that experience. There were many! But in short, I have changes in mind for The Best Interest. Change is never easy, but I’m convinced that these changes will be for the better.

Net Worth Update

I earned ~$13,400 in W2 income in Q3, and spent ~$11,400. Not bad–a $2,000 surplus in cash.

My home equity increased $2,400. Nice.

And as usual, there was lots of “paying myself first.” If you aren’t paying yourself first…it might be the #1 tactic you ought to consider. It means that before I ever see money in my bank account, I automatically place money in my investing accounts.

This quarter, those “pay myself first” investments totaled $8,200. Plus, I logged into my HSA for the first time all year and found that the account had grown by $3,700 since the last time I checked. Nice surprise!

Finally, there’s the aspect of investment growth. This is that magic “compounding” that people talk about. It comes in the form of capital gains (e.g. companies growing bigger) and dividends (e.g. companies sharing their profit with me).

So even though most of my investments were neutral in Q3…

  • S&P 500 up 0.75%
  • Russell 3000 up 0.35%
  • International stocks down 3%
  • Bonds down 0.3%
  • Bitcoin up 20% (at Q2 review, Bitcoin was at a 2021 low)

…these investments still grew by $5,600 in Q3.

Thus, the sum total of all these contributors is a net worth growth of $21,900 in Q3 2021.

Cash+$2000
Home Equity+$2400
New Investment Principal+$8200
HSA Growth (~9 months since last check-in)+$3700
Investment Growth+$5600
Total$21900

This budgeting and investing stuff just works.

The Best Interest – Project Updates

As I mentioned above, FinCon was a terrific experience. It was a big impact to my work at The Best Interest, and I’ll share some of my favorite lessons from FinCon soon.

The Best Interest Podcast

The Best Interest Podcast had a strong quarter, garnering over 6,000 listens. But I’ll be transparent—I think the podcast will be changing in the near future. I want to re-format it a bit.

However, make sure you catch these episodes. The guests were fantastic!

Episode 35 – Upstate Real Estate, with The FI Couple

  • Ali and Josh perfectly combine knowledge, execution, and entertainment. They are young residential real estate investors near Albany, NY. They shared their stories—both triumphs and failures!—on the podcast. It was a great conversation!

Episode 31 – Decades of Growth, with The Decade Investor

  • Kolin is a rising star in the space of financial content. His smart investing advice—heavy on the index funds, just like The Best Interest—reaching tens of thousands of followers every day. He recently left his 9-5 job to dedicate himself full-time to his growing social media and YouTube channels. I’m excited to see where Kolin goes from here!

Episode 28 – Nuts of Financial Wisdom, with The FI Squirrel

  • Sean (a.k.a. the FI Squirrel) is a 30-something Canadian who is just inches (centimeters?) away from reaching financial independence. Out of all the amazing guests so far, I think Sean might be the best. And I don’t say that lightly! He is deeply informed on personal finance and investing, and he loves to share his knowledge with the world. Don’t miss this episode!

Monkeys!

Remember the monkey stock-picking project? It’s a stock-picking competition where I’m holding a portfolio of randomly selected stocks and comparing their performance against both the experts (e.g. actively managed mutual funds) and the indexes (where I have all my personal money).

As of the end of September, the monkeys were up 27% on the year, compared to “only” 19% in the S&P 500. Yes – monkeys selecting random stocks can crush the market. They’re also crushing the experts*. Keep that in mind next time someone tried to sell you a high-fee mutual fund. Are they really experts? Or just monkeys in suits?

*The “experts” are up 3%, 24%, 12%, and 7%, respectively.

Here’s the original article for background, and the full Google sheet with live stock prices.

Best New Blog Content

And The Best Interest blog has published a bunch of fun, informative articles in Q3. Here are my five favorites:

Dogs!

We had two friendly dogs in Q3 2021.

First was Tess, a young Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She was energetic and playful, loving to fetch balls and play chase with Sadie. Tess was a “Velcro dog.” She bonded to me quickly and always wanted to be by my side—doing chores, sitting on the couch, cleaning the kitchen, or sleeping at night. Tess was right there.

And right now we’re taking care of Marco. He’s a Beagle mix, and we estimate he’s middle-aged. He’s a low-key guy, preferring to hang out inside rather than sniff around outside. Marco has some back leg issues/weakness—we’re hoping to get it checked out before he’s soon adopted! He hobbles around and seems to love life. He’s been a well-behaved boy up until this week, when he went foraging in the garbage for a snack. What the heck, Marco?! We still love him.

As usual, these dogs are a wonderful addition to our life. If you’re looking to add a dog to your life, adopt a foster!

Until December!

I’ll write the next update in December. Here’s to a great Autumn and plenty of Halloween and Thanksgiving fun!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

-Jesse

P.S. – If you enjoy podcasts, check out the Best Interest Podcast! It’s getting some rave reviews!

About Jesse Cramer

Jesse Cramer created The Best Interest to explain personal finance and investing in simple terms. His writing has been featured by CNBC, MSN, The Motley Fool, and other national publications. He resides in Rochester, NY with his girlfriend and their dog. Follow him on Twitter: @BestInterest_JC
View all posts by Jesse Cramer →

16 thoughts on “Net Worth, Projects, and Dogs – Update Q3 2021

    1. Fair point, Eric.

      My thought is: tracking is meant to provide useful data to use in the future.

      e.g. “I spent $3500 a month for a whole year. In the future, I should plan on spending about that much.”

      But we know the ring is:
      1) a huge purchase
      2) a one-time purchase

      IMO, it would really skew my budgeting data and muddy the proverbial waters.

      Now, all that said…yeah, you’re right. I did spend that money. Maybe I should count it! 🙂

      Thanks a bunch for reading and for writing in.

      -Jeses

      1. I completely get it and used to operate like that when tracking/budgeting. However, there will ALWAYS be “that one-time expense” coming up. New roof, washing machine, etc.

        Personally, I felt it was cheating to exclude any of those. I would rather over save for retirement then define myself a little short for some of these one timed things that I don’t even know exist at the moment 🙂

  1. Congrats on your engagement.

    Personally I would add the ring to my expenses. I agree with @Eric above that the one time expense do come up from time to time. Being a home owner there always seem to be large one time expenses.

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