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  • KaiM
  • January 18, 2019 06:01:29 PM
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Want to retire early? Looking to be financial independence? Join us on our journey to F.I.R.E. We post tips and tricks for those we want to attain early retirement.

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My Breast Cancer Scare – Part Two

This is part two of my breast cancer scare experience that I had last year. This is a a continuation from part one I posted last week. New article post My Breast Cancer Scare – Part Two appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

This is part two of my breast cancer scare experience that I had last year. This is a continuation from part one if you haven’t read it already.

After 5 days, the result came back and revealed that it was not a malignant lump, which means it is not cancerous (thank god!). However, the doctor mentioned that to be safe, it is best to remove the lump just in case because there is still a 5% risk.

I was contemplating on doing surgery because 5% seems really small. However, one of my close friend’s brother is a doctor and he advised to go through with the surgery because 5% in the medical field is NOT a low chance.

I thought everything is done after revealing of the lump but noooooo. I feel like these 2 months were the shittest month of my entire adult life. 

The Surgery

Before the surgery, I need to go on a 12-hours fasting which was not hard because my surgery is at 9 AM and I normally don’t eat breakfast. When you go into surgery you need to wear a hospital gown and underwear. Don’t worry ladies, if you are on your special time of the month, the hospital will provide sanitary pad as well (no you can’t use your own). 

My wrist is about 3 inches wide and the intravenous needle is about an inch wide. There is ZERO pain medication before that fat needle enters my wrist. Immediately, I see hand turning blue and purple because of the needle bruised my skin! I was glad that Mr.Wof accompanied me to the hospital bed. He was constantly talking to distract me from the pain until the pain killer finally kicks in. 

I was wheeled to a different section of the hospital to get a 3-d picture of my breast taken and a clip was inserted on the lump. This is to help locate where the lump is during the surgery. 

It was very uncomfortable because the machine would be squeezing and compressing my breast vertically and horizontally. Then, a doctor would make an incision to place a small clip inside the breast while watching the 3-D picture. There was so much blood on the machine after insertion was made. By this time, I was cold, tired, and hungry. 

A few minutes after the instruction, someone rolled the bed into the surgery room. The last thing I can remember is a bright ceiling light and I decided to close my eyes to take a nap.     

The end is near

When I opened my eyes again, I saw Mr.WoF sitting next to the bed. I guess I survived! There was no pain at all. That was some strong anesthesia. I got discharged around 3:30 PM the same day. The only thought in my head was let’s go get Korean short rib soup. 

The financial impact of the whole process is a big chunk of money. In total, it cost me $4,000 out of pocket and I have insurance! At this point, I’m glad that I’m not living paycheck by paycheck. According to Common Wealth Fund, 41% American have trouble paying off their medical bills. 

One reason I believe the bill is expensive is I got double charge for every single test.  However, Kaiser stated that I’m not getting double charge. It’s just that they charge me one for getting screen and again for reading the result to me. This is the funniest bill explanation I ever heard.

To help pay the bill, I max out my HSA contribution. Of course, I used my own personal money to let my HSA grow and will reimburse myself later. Kaiser is willing to divide up the bill into 6 monthly payments. 

Since I wanted to get some perks from my credit card company, I decided to pay everything in one go. I also don’t want to have outstanding bill that I might forget to pay. Even though I’m so young, but yet I still get hit a big medical. 

FYI: Quick note for those of us need more time to sort out our finances, when the Kaiser bill comes, you can delay the bill for at least 3 months before taking any action. 

Recovery/Aftermath

The worst part of the recovery is not the pain because I learned from the last time to get STRONG pain killer. What kept me up at night was the itchiness from the formation of scabs. I found myself scratching in my sleep and little bump of rashes started to form near the cut and down my left arm. 

Did I go back to the hospital to check this out? NOPE. I don’t have enough money to be feeding Kaiser. Instead, I slept half naked in the middle of winter because the cold air for some reason helps with the itchiness. When the irritation went away, slowly the bumps on my arm also went away. 

If you were worrying about the shape of the breast, the lump was small so the surgery didn’t change anything. Now, I have a battle scar. 

Last thoughts

Even though 4k is a big expense. The thought of having breast cancer is the most straining part of this whole experience. I felt that I was going through something unknown and toward a black hole.

However, from this rough time, I’m happy that Mr.WoF was by my side. I’m very grateful to be here and to be with the people I love. Advice to all you ladies (and guys) out there to get your routine prevention check up! It will save you a lot of pain, headache and money.

New article post My Breast Cancer Scare – Part Two appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – Life Insurances

Wondering about life insurances? Here are some articles from the FIRE community that you should read about life insurance. New article post Saturday Night Read – Life Insurances appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Life insurance is a very complicated subject. There are many questions about life insurance: what is life insurance? how much life insurance should you get? What is the difference between Life term and whole life? Many times life insurance is advertised as an investment vehicle. However, we should only take Life insurance for what is it: to be able to leave behind a lump of money in case you pass away early. I myself know very little about life insurance so let’s see what other people in the FIRE community have to say about life insurance 

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need? By Your Money Geek

“We want to help you save money while also ensuring your loved ones won’t be left in a difficult financial situation. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this, you will have a clear idea of how much life insurance you need. Then you can get over this hurdle and find the most suitable policy for your needs.”

Term Life Insurance Is Way Better Than Whole Life Insurance by Wallet Hacks

“With term life insurance, you pay premiums, but build up no cash value in the policy. If the term expires, your policy ends and you have nothing to show for it. If you die, your family gets the death benefit payout.  With whole life insurance, you pay premiums, but you also build up a cash value. There is no term, so it never expires (hence permanent/whole life); but if you stop paying, or let the policy lapse, you can get back the cash value of the policy.”

5 REASONS WHY MILLENNIALS SHOULD CONSIDER LIFE INSURANCE by The College Investor

“According to a recent study, more than one third of all households would feel adverse financial impacts within one month if they lost a primary wage earner. While most people don’t like to think about life insurance and death, having a plan can actually make you happier today. Sounds weird, but it’s true!”

Want more articles about life insurance? Click HERE.

New article post Saturday Night Read – Life Insurances appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


My Breast Cancer Scare – Part One

Cancer. One of the most scariest word in the dictionary. Last year, I had a breast cancer scare. Here is my experience. New article post My Breast Cancer Scare – Part One appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Last year, I experienced one of those life-changing moments. I went through the process of breast cancer diagnostic. Now after a year has gone by, I am more comfortable sharing with you the experience I went through because of this scare. Actually, this is not a short memoir at all but a rather lengthy one so I will be posting this memoir in two parts. This article will be part one. 

The Start

It all started when Mr.WoF noticed there is an unusual lump on the left side of my left breast (I leave that up to your imagination..teehee). This happened right before our trip to Hawaii last year. Coincidentally, it was my 3-years regular preventive care check-up. I pushed off going to the doctor after the trip was over because I know the answer would affect me in a negative way. 

During my preventive care exam, I was scared to tell the doctor about the lump. A part of me doesn’t want to know and a part of me needs to know to. Regardless of what I wanted, the doctor made a decision for me. “You have something over here on the left side. We need to check this out.” said in the most calming voice. My heart sank. I didn’t want to hear this but this is now all too real. It’s not just speculation from Mr.WoF playing doctor. This is from a doctor that deals with this every day. Now, I have to deal with this weird lump. 

Kaiser Debacle 

To see the lump, I need to get a mammogram, an x-ray for your breast. I called up Kaiser to schedule my appointment. Amazingly that the appointment process was so easy. I arrived at the Santa Clara Kaiser Hospital. The parking was a nightmare. It took me 30 minutes to find parking! I didn’t realize that there are so many people visit the hospital during the day.

After finding the correct department office, I waited 30 more minutes for them to tell me that my appointment was made at the incorrect office and they will move the appointment to the correct office. Once I arrived at the “correct” office, it was 4 PM. The new office front desk told me that there are no doctors at 4 PM and I have to come back the next day.

It was a miserable long day of being bounced around by Kaiser. There was ZERO apologize for the incorrect arrangement. Instead, they scold me for not answering their phone when I was waiting at the “wrong” office. 

The mammogram

Two days later I went back to get my mammogram done. The process really makes a shy person insecure because I had to change into a hospital gown that opens outward and no bra. I’m happy to see that the nurse who takes the mammogram is a woman instead of a man. Yes, I know I should not discriminate between sexes. But, for me, exposing a sensitive area, I prefer women over men. 

First, a warm thick cream was spread over my left breast. Then, the nurse pressed a round smooth metal scanner to see my tissue. On the black and white screen, I can see a little pebble. My nurse looked concern because the outline of the lump is uneven. She requested me to wait in the room while she walkout to show a senior colleague the picture. After 10 minutes (which felt like 1 hour), she came back and told me that a breast biopsy is needed because she cannot conclude whether or not the lump could be breast cancer.

Again, I didn’t want to hear this at all! Why is this keep happening? The nurse walked me out of the exam room and back to the dressing room. After getting dressed, I walked out into the lobby and lay down on a couch. I was in a daze and my mind was blank. Tears start rolling down my cheeks and I didn’t want to move a single muscle. I didn’t know what to think but I was already expecting the worse, breast cancer.

Have you ever read “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale? Every morning, every lunchtime, every night, I tried to think positively by telling myself: “It’s nothing. You are fine. The doctor is wrong.” At the same time, I started to feel pain and sorest in my left breast. I’m not sure if it was imaginary or the lump is growing. 

The Biopsy

A breast biopsy is the most physically painful in this experience! Again I was vulnerable and half-naked. First, the doctor cleaned the left breast. A local anesthetic was delivered using a 6 inches needle! If you don’t like needles, never look during your biopsy. I got 3 shots of anesthetic and waited 10 minutes for the numbness to kick in.

To get the tissue of the lump, the doctor used a laparoscopic (hybrid scissor/needle). The tip is like a needle but in the end, there is a scissor handle to cut and grab the breast tissue. Every time, the doctor grabbed a piece of the tissue, you can hear a horrible clipping noise. In total, they grabbed 4 pieces of tissues. 

At the end of the biopsy, I was sent home with an ice pack. I wished they gave me some pain killer because the next few hours my left breast was sore and achy. The hot pack that I bought from Walgreen helped me through the uncomfortableness. I went to work wearing a fluffy jacket to hide my hot pack. During a time like this, I do wish I was retired so I can rest at home instead of carrying a hot pack around the office.

I have to wait 3-5 days to hear back from the doctors for the biopsy results. Now, it’s more positive thinking! A million things were going through my mind while I was waiting for the result to come back.

Dear, universe. God. Budhha. Please do not let it be breast cancer.

To be continued in Part two! But you probably can guess the result from the title of this post hahaha. 

New article post My Breast Cancer Scare – Part One appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Financial Reflection – December 2019 and Year In Review

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade! Our blog is now 1 year old. Hooray for us! So, let’s reflect on the last month of this decade, December 2019 and reminiscing over past year New article post Financial Reflection – December 2019 and Year In Review appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade! Our blog is now 1 year old. We have also been keeping track of our FIRE journey over the past year. It was a roller coaster ride working on this blog, there were ups and downs but we enjoyed every moment of it. Our goal when we first started this blog was to keep it going for 1 year and we have managed to do so. Hooray for us! So, let’s reflect on the last month of this decade, December 2019 and reminiscing over this past year and what we can learn from it. 

Things That Went Well

Up up and away! Stock is hitting another record high this month. The S&P 500 Price index and  Dow Jones Industrial Average returned 30.43% and 23.76% respectively in 2019. Yet another reason to invest in the stock market. 

And unlike last year, It’s a good way to end this year with an increased net worth. Making me feel rich and ready for retirement already! Let’s just pray the stock god that it doesn’t crash (actually that would be fine too since we will just buy more and wait it out!) 

The holiday break was great! We stayed in the Bay Area to visit friends and family. Since our Chrismas shopping was done in July, we did not participate in the holiday shopping rush. It was very relaxing. We watched a lot of shows but was also very productive at times. 

Eating out was minimal this month. After watching the documentary, The Game Changers, we are trying out a new plant-based diet and eating less meat. Surprisingly, there is a new trendy term for people who eat less meat, “Flexitarian”.  Since we eat more beans, we are also a bit more gassy than usual. 

Things That Went South

Maybe it’s the holiday season because everything is going smoothly as tofu. 

Investment Reflection

I was able to invest in 401k again after my 3 months of probation. Yup. I missed some gain these past 3 months of ZERO 401k investment. Don’t worry guys, I saved and invested in my regular stock account. 

Mr.WoF realized that he sold too much stock for a loss and was freaking out as the year coming to an end. I had to remind him that he can write off $3,000 worth of short-term stock losses and carry over to next year if needed. He decided to sell some profit stock to offset the loses. 

Looking Forward

It’s a new year! I’m looking forward to everything in 2020. We already started to plan for an oversea trip to Thailand and camping in Yellowstone! A more concrete plan will be shared with everyone here soon (new year resolution!).

I know we say this a lot…but hoping to get some sort of business started in 2020. We tried dropshipping last year with no luck.

Expense

The highest expense for me this month was Mr.WoF’s gift. 

who said boys don’t get a shower with gifts? It was only 1 gift but it cost $200. I bought 2 years 24 hours gym member at Costco as a Christmas gift for him. Between you and me, it mainly a gift for me to see him fit and healthy. 

BUT… This came back and bite me in the butt because he also made me go to the gym with him. THEN, he got sick right after the New Year. Karma is REAL!

December 2019 Overall

We are closing the year with all the positive! We reached 25.15% of our FIRE goal. A quarter of the way there and only 75% more to go.  

Type of InvestmentSavedGoal% Changed% Completed to Goal
Passive Income$792.12$10,000.0033.99%7.92%
Retirement$194,036.36$600,000.002.57%32.34%
Investments$260,444.79$1,200,000.008.15%21.70%
Grand Total$455,273.27$1,810,000.005.73%25.15%

Year Review 2019… Let see our progress.. I hope it’s good

First, I want to say that this is our first year of really tracking our spending and income toward FIRE. So, please be kind while reading our progress. 

WOOT! Take a look at May – our best passive income month because of the second CRE paid full rent and stock div. Sadly, the trend didn’t continue for the latter months. I wish the second CRE will keep their promise and start paying the full rent this coming February. 

We are happy to see that our investment and retirement accounts have an upward trend. If we keep this up, I’m sure we can reach our goal in 9 more years. Hopefully, the market will be nice to us. 

Comparing to December 2018 (when we started), our grand total increase of 54%. If we keep increasing our grand total by 50% each year, we will be able to reach our FIRE very soon.

Type of InvestmentSaved – Dec 2019Saved – Dec 2018Goal% Changed 2018 – 2019% Completed to Goal
Passive Income$792.12$1,604$10,000.00-50.62%7.92%
Retirement$194,036.36$113,546$600,000.0070.89%32.34%
Investments$260,444.79$179,879$1,200,000.0044.79%21.70%
Grand Total$455,273.27$295,029$1,810,000.0054.32%25.15%

What We Were Doing in 2019

  • Real Estate: We bought another CRE. It was great in the beginning when they were paying rent. 
  • Corporate Ladder: I got a new job. Slowly climbing up. 
  • Another Corporate Ladder: Mr.WoF got a raise! 
  • ESPP: Our first time using ESPP as one of our investment vehicles. 
  • Diet: Did you know “Flexitarian” is a term? Neither did we until we started a less meat meal plan. I really hope this will help us getting a 6 pack. Hahaha
  • Gym: Mr.WoF didn’t go to the gym as often as he wished at the beginning of the year. However, when the stomach started heading South, he started to go again toward the end of the year.
  • Restuarant: Not as good as we planned. We fall off the wagon of eating out less than 3 times a month. 
  • HSA: In February I got hit with a fat medical bill. If you can, put your HSA money to work.
  • Side Hustle: Sadly, I didn’t find any home buyer this year. The cost of hold a real estate license is more than the income rolling in so I stop hanging my license at a broker. 
  • Teeth: In March, I got a tooth crown. Thank you again for HSA. I’m still wishing that healthcare can be cheaper!
  • Day Trade: It’s not for the faint-hearted. I went swimming with the day trade sharks and came out alive (enough to cover my dental expense). 
  • China: One of the cheapest out of State vacation!
  • FIpedia: New blog roll in We on FIRE. The name is a play on words of Finance Independence + Wikipedia. We will add more features soon so stay tuned.
  • Christmas: Shopping for gifts was easy this year because 80% of the work was done in July.
  • Book of Mormon: If you are looking for a date night with a lot of laughter, buy a ticket to the Book of Mormon play. 
  • Avocado: Slowly our avocado plan grew 6 leaves. 5 more years to go until we can have fruit. 
  • Camping: A great way to hang out and get to know your friends is to go on a camping trip. There is no tech distraction at all. 
  • Birthday: Mr.WoF and I were born 3 days apart in Setempber. This year, we celebrated our birthday and anniversary in Vegas. The flight was free because of earned credit card points and 4 nights hotel was $70 total. 
  • Launched New Home Page: Did you get a chance to look at our new homepage?

New article post Financial Reflection – December 2019 and Year In Review appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – Goal Setting

Aim to set small achievable goals as stepping stone to your final goal. Here are what our FIRE community has to say about goal setting. New article post Saturday Night Read – Goal Setting appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Happy new year everyone! It’s the new year and a new decade! To start the year strong, we have to set goals to steer us in a better direction. Setting Goals are very important whether it is a big goal or a small goal. Goals don’t always have to something big or glamorous. Aim to set small achievable goals as stepping stone to your final goal. Here are what our FIRE community has to say about goal setting.

How I’m Setting Goals During Early Retirement By Minafi

“For some people the habit alone might sustain you, but I doubt it’ll be enough to provide motivation to continue on your worst days. For that you need goals.”

10 ATTAINABLE 2020 RESOLUTIONS AND PERSONAL GOALS by Time In The Market

“Still, no matter how silly they can get, goals are a great way to motivate yourself any time of year. It just so happens that the changing of the calendar is the time most people think about it. Plus this time, it’s the changing of the decade too.”

How to Set SMART Financial Goals by Moolanomy

“An important factor in achieving financial success is setting good goals that you can work toward. Like traveling, you can get to where you want quicker if you know where you are going instead of wandering about aimlessly. However, you can’t just say that your goal is to retire rich someday. For a goal to be effective, it has to be SMART — i.e., Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.”

New article post Saturday Night Read – Goal Setting appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Our Christmas Shopping In July

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! This year we prepared well in advance and did our Christmas shopping in July. New article post Our Christmas Shopping In July appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! The end of the year has so many celebrations and gifts to prepare. I don’t know about you but buying gifts for other people can be stressful. You have to make sure it is a good gift and that they will like it. Unlike last year when we were struggling to find gifts the last minutes. That’s why this year we prepared well in advance and did our Christmas shopping in July. 

Christmas Shopping in July

We were walking around the mall one day in July and saw a lot of people crowded in front of a store. Out of curiosity, we joined in to see what was all the commotion about. 

Turns out, Crabtree & Evelyn, a lotion and bath store was closing their physical stores and moving everything online. Everything was 50 – 75% off! Honestly, we have no clue what’s Crabtree & Evelyn was about so we were standing in the middle of the store amazon-ing and googling “What’s Crabtree & Evelyn?” 

After a few minutes of researching the product, we were surprised that the market cost for these lotion and bath soaps are so expensive without the discount. One “Three Times A Lady”, a box that contains 3 different types of hand lotion, costs $27. With the discount, the same box costs only $7. Online the same box would cost $21. 

Amazing! It finally becomes an affordable lotion that I normally would buy. We normally don’t use that much lotion. However, since this is of great quality we thought it would make a perfect gift for Christmas. Since lotion has a long shelf life, we were not worried about storing the products for 6 more months for Christmas. 

So we bought 10 boxes of lotion/bath soap. Another great thing about Crabtree & Evelyn is their boxes are already nicely wrapped so we don’t have to worry to wrap the lotions (yay! I don’t like spending time wrapping gifts).

Books as Christmas Gift

For children under 10 years old, we decided to give them books. Yes, we like to make them work their brains over the break (hehe). Both of us believe that brain stimulation for kids is very important. Plus, I read that a study shown the number of books that a child owns when they are younger might correlate to their future success. 

Since these kids are raised in a middle-class family, food, toys, and clothes they already have plenty. Books are the perfect gift for them and I’m sure their parents will be delighted as well. 

Other Inexpensive Gifts

We also bought food and wine gifts for our friends. One of our friends barely cook or eats so we got him a box of udon bowl and healthy snacks. We know he would definitely like it because they are quick and easy on the go meals. 

Mr.WoF got four bottles of wine for the price of 2 and saved 48%. Alcohol might not be the most ideal gift but you can bring it to parties or holidays get together. Who doesn’t look some good wine? 

We love gifts that you can eat, use in your daily life, or expand your mind. As you can see, our choices of gifts really show what we value and want to share with our friends and family. In total, we spent around $300 in total for 25 people. 

How was your Christmas shopping? What unique ways are you finding a good gift? 

New article post Our Christmas Shopping In July appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


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