December 2017 Year-End Atypical Life Financial Update

Welcome to our monthly income and expense report from the Atypical Life family. If you are more interested in how we make money blogging then check out our monthly blogging update. We are pleased to share this with all of you, so that you may have the inspiration to achieve financial independence and freedom from the man sooner. As an atypical family, this income and expense report will look very different to most family budgets, however, it is 100% real and is achievable under the right circumstances.

I share my finances to inspire others to reach for freedom earlier. I hope to demonstrate:

  • Income can be generated in multiple ways. The regular 9-5 job is not the only way to make money and is also the best way to be a slave to the man.
  • Lowering expenses is really the path towards financial freedom. The lower your expenses, the more you can save. Also, with lower expenses, it takes fewer savings to live on.
  • There are 6 simple steps to financial independence and we are following them.
  • Side Income can allow you to be free from the man sooner than just saving.
  • It is possible to have low expenses.
  • Becoming an expat is a great way to financial freedom
  • To keep me accountable.

Tracking Your Money

Keeping track of your money is the number one way to reach financial independence. We track all of our income and expenses on Personal Capital and then analyze it all at the end of the month for you.

Using Personal Capital is the best way to aggregate all of your accounts into one nice easy view. With your accounts spread across so many different platforms, it is hard to get a holistic picture of your finances. Personal Capital gives you a view of where you are, if you spent too much, saved too little, or went into debt. Keeping track of your Net Worth on Personal Capital is super easy.

The best part of Personal Capital’s service is that it is free! It fits in perfectly with our frugal sense and allows us to track and reach financial independence faster. Check out their retirement planner to estimate how far away you are from retirement. It is one of the best I have seen for those of us pursuing FIRE.

If you haven’t started tracking your finances, it is not too late to start. Give Personal Capital a try and you will soon be on your way to being a personal finance guru.

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Ethereum0.6 ETH
Company Match$629
Expat Income$1,397
Interest Income$3
Investment Income$1022
Salary (Mr. Atypical)$6,984

This was our second month with some reasonable income from the Ethereum miner. We made 0.6 ETH which today is worth ~$600 and 1000 Siacoin worth an additional $32. After trying to tune the GPUs in November and burning up cables, I left it alone to dual-mine ETH and Siacoin in December. This regime worked much better and it was stable all month. Now, I don’t have to do anything to it. I just go about my life and the miner goes about making money.

My company has a fairly generous 401k match of 9%, as long as we contribute 6% to the 401k. This goal is very easy for us to achieve, as we contribute 50% of our income to the 401k. There is one caveat to my 401k contributions, though. They are only calculated on salary, expat income is not included, so 50% of $6,984 goes to the 401k each month to prepare us for financial independence. The 401k matching contribution is free money and we make nearly $6,000 per year from it.

We had our regular salary and our wonderful, but regular expat income. This expat income is a 20% location premium or hazard pay in expat vernacular. The expat income is additional income for us that is grossed up by the company, so we do not have to pay taxes on it. We are continuing to add 50% of my salary to the after-tax 401k since we maxed out the Traditional in May.

Check out my post on the many benefits of becoming an expat and how I landed my expat job.

This was our largest month for dividend payout to date! 2017 was a great year for growth of our portfolio. In 2017 alone, it grew 20% in addition to the new contributions to it. Is a 20% growth rate sustainable?

No way!!! However, I will take it for now and be prepared for when it crashes back down and stocks go “on sale”.



December was a month for gifts and repairs at the end of the year, so our cost went up again… Let’s see how I did.

Business included a $40 refund from Bluehost


Shopping saw a huge surge in expenditures for the month of December. $704 is over double what I budget for the month. However, $704 brought the annual expenditure for shopping up to $3,500 which is below the budget for the year. I will call that a success.

The new Samsung tablet that I bought in September and promptly broke the screen on got repaired for 950 RMB (~$140). In addition to the tablet expense, we also purchased gifts for each other. Mrs. Atypical has dealt with a very cheap and useless smartphone since we have lived in China. We got her a new Huawei Honor 6X for 1000 RMB. This is the budget model by Huawei but is still super awesome blowing away my older Samsung Galaxy S5.

For me, we got a Garmin Edge 1000. I have been lusting over this bike computer since it came out 3 years ago, but the retail price on it was $600. I finally found it in China, I think refurbished, for 1300 RMB or about $200. It has been an awesome new computer for me. Did I need it? Certainly not, but it is nice and I now have something else to sell.

The remainder of our shopping expenses were Christmas cards for all our friends and family back home and a gift to our personal driver for his continued wonderful support of us.

Food and Travel

We managed another regular food budget for the month that even included two meals in Hong Kong while we were there for Christmas Eve. Our travel budget included solely our travel to and from Hong Kong that always drives me crazy because it is so close, yet so expensive.

Check out our Christmas Eve feast. Does it look like Christmas Eve food to you? No? Well it did to us. Awesome!

Christmas feast of Donner Kebab and Fried Cheese Sticks!!!


Our insurance for the month is on an accrual basis because we paid for the year entirely in December 2016. We dropped our company-sponsored health insurance that cost us $250 per month and the company $750 per month in favor of a local insurance company that was ~5300 RMB or $890. This covers us for all medical expenses in Greater China and also qualifies us to use the supercharged investment vehicle, the HSA.

Going forward, I signed up for a different plan (the expat plan) with the same company, but all the paperwork has not finished up yet, so I am still waiting to pay them for the 2018 plan year.

The HSA Experiment

Our HSA, currently residing at HSA Bank, incurs a fee of $2.50 per month for a balance under $5,000. We will incur this fee and an additional $3 per month on that account, so we can keep all of our HSA money invested at TD Ameritrade and buy VTI, the best possible investment vehicle. VTI is the ETF equivalent of my favorite mutual fund VTSAX, Vanguard Total US Stock Market Admiral Shares.

The investments made into the HSA will save us a good amount of tax for 2017. At the 25% tax bracket, if assumed the HSA contributions are taken off the top, it is $1,688 in tax savings. I will be in the 15% tax bracket after all of our savings so, even there our you savings are $1,013. These savings help to accelerate our path to financial independence.

Looking forward to 2018, we can now contribute $6,900 which we plan to do to receive the huge tax break again that makes our health insurance essentially free!


Everybody hates taxes. They eat away at our income and we never even get a chance to see it. Taxes were 28% of our expenses but only 4.7% of total income for December totaling $736.

There are 2 certainties in life, death and taxes. ~Benjamin Franklin

My taxes were significantly lower this month because we have already passed the social security income limit for the year, so now social security is $0. The limit currently resides at $118,500. I did not make that much money in total for the year, but because of all the other costs that the company covers for us I get passed social security for the year and get it returned at tax time.

After doing a review of my tax situation in 2016, I approached my tax preparation company about reducing my estimated taxes for 2017 and the future. I showed what I would save into pre-tax investment vehicles:

  • $18,000 to the 401k
  • $5,500 Mr. Atypical Traditional IRA
  • $5,500 Mrs. Atypical Traditional IRA
  • $6,750 to the family HSA
  • Total Value of $35,750

This is able to reduce my taxable income significantly, and when combined with personal and standard deductions on Form 1040, it significantly reduces our taxable income.

I know how to take care of my money, not the government! The government obviously does not know what is best for me. We can put our money to work as soon as possible by investing in VTSAX and VTI, without waiting for a tax refund at the end of the year. This can gain us upwards of 12 months of compounding growth (or decline…). It also allows us to raise our contributions throughout the year to achieve a healthy total portfolio to pursue freedom sooner.

I would never use a tax preparation company right now if it was not provided by the company. Taxes are not nearly as complicated as they are made out to be. Due to the tax equalization policy that my company implements for us, we have to have a professional tax preparation firm handle our taxes.

You too can reduce your taxable income by simply adding it as an item on your budget. It will help you to track it and feel the pain it causes. When you feel the pain, you will work to minimize the effects taxes have on your bottom line.

Buying Assets

September saw the purchase of an asset which I do not consider as an expense. Hold your breath…

I bought the Ethereum mining rig! You know the cryptocurrency you see all over the financial news these days? I bought a computer that works to confirm transactions on the blockchain network for Ethereum and for its services, I get paid Ethereum currency.


The whole rig cost ~$1,600, but I consider it a transfer to an asset rather than an expense. With it running stable which it now is, I should be able to make the $1,600 back in ~6-8 months, with all time after that as pure profit. So far I have made $60 worth of ETH and am about to make my next $60. There will be a few posts coming explaining more about what it is and how it works, but for now, let’s leave it as a new investment into emerging technology.

December also saw me invest directly in cryptocurrencies for the first time. I had planned on doing this earlier in November or October but just didn’t put in the effort. I’m happy I got in when I did.

My $3,000 of investments are currently worth >$8,000 in the course of 1 month!

Outrageous! Unsustainable! Stupid awesome!

Yes to all of those. Is this speculative?

Yes, but I made $5000 with little to no effort in 1 month and it is a very small investment that I can afford to lose, so no worries whatsoever.

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Net Worth

2017 was a great year for us. Take a look at our net worth growth for 2017. We are up $146,000 which is more than my income alone ending the year at a nice $419,635.

2017 net worth growth

And here is our net worth growth since I started tracking after college.

net worth

The trajectory is looking good for hitting the goal of $500,000 by the end of 2018. We shall see what the year shall bring. A major stock market crash could bring our net worth down to $300,000, but it will eventually correct itself again and continue to go up.

That is why we are focused on developing side sources of income instead of financial independence solely by investments.


In total, we made $13,204 in December that recharged our bank accounts and got invested.

It was another successful month financially (positive dollars towards financial independence), but that doesn’t matter if we did not enjoy ourselves. We should not kill ourselves to reach financial independence. There may be a point where you are being too frugal in the pursuit of financial independence. You should enjoy life, knowing in the future it can be even better.

“Love the life you have, while you create the life of your dreams. Don’t think you have to choose one over the other.” ~Hal Elrod

Soon we hope to have decent side income from our blogs to add to our monthly income report among other side sources in the works. Keep an eye out next month for more on my planned money-making ventures. 12 months from now, the plan is to transition from side-income to only income and be free.

How was your December? Are you heading towards financial independence as well? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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December 2017 Atypical Life income report. We mad $13000 investing in cryptocurrency, working an expat job, and obtaining a bonus. Life is good.