January 2018 Atypical Life Financial Update

***This post may contain affiliate links. I do not recommend products that I have not personally vetted and love myself.***

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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Ethereum0.4 ETH ($445)
Company Match$629
Expat Income$1,397
Interest Income$3
Investment Income$0
Salary (Mr. Atypical)$6,984

Mining Income

This was our fourth month with some reasonable income from the Ethereum miner. We made 0.4 ETH which today is worth ~$400. I am not sure what happened at the beginning of the month to the miner, but it decided to die 🙁 TERRIBLE!!!

I proceeded to reinstall the operating system and update it to get it running better. The new install and update of EthOS raised my hash rate by 20%! Awesome, but it is not stable anymore running Claymore. With Claymore miner, the best and highest hash rate miner available for Ethereum, I cannot get more than a few hours of runtime before crashing. I am now running ethminer and am not having any issues anymore, but am hashing at a lower rate.

In the end, it is a compromise you have to make between hash rate and reliability. More uptime definitely outweighs higher hash rate.

Regular Income

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.

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



January was another regular month besides celebrating my birthday. To go with my birthday is the purchase of a new bike! It’s always a good day when you get a new bicycle. Albeit, I don’t actually have it yet. I put the down payment in for it so that they will start manufacture of my new custom titanium frame.


Besides the bike purchase for the month, we were buying just some random parts and pieces we needed for the bikes and clothes that we have been neglecting on buying for years.

With so many other personal finance bloggers from the Rockstar Finance Forums going for a no spend shopping category for the year, I feel I am being extremely luxurious. I am not even sure it is possible for me because I always have parts and things wearing out that need replacing. But then again, you could allocate those as spare parts and not shopping budgets…

Food and Travel

When we don’t travel anywhere and just hang out at home our costs are very low. We spent $259 on food including the cheeses and other goodies bought on Taobao for our Western sensibilities. Its hard to live in China where they don’t eat milk, yogurt, really any dairy or anything sweet. I’ve got to have some good Western food or I would go crazy, but I can’t bring myself to buy it out at restaurants because of the price. So we end up buying the ingredients and making a better version of it at home anyways.


Our insurance for the month is on an accrual basis. We paid for the entire year this past month. It was slighly higher than it has been for the past year because we got more comprehensive coverage that is still less than 50% of what my company offers to us. The truly crazy part it my company pays for 75% of my healthcare cost and the remaining 25% is still more than 50% more than total coverage available here.

It just goes to show what a rip-off US healthcare is and the cost of what it could be.

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 2018. 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!

The Government is Stealing From Me!!!

This needs a post all its own, but here it is. The state of North Carolina is playing a sleazeball game here.

I got my paycheck for January and to my extreme surprise is an extra $834 state tax levy that I had no idea was coming! What the hell!!!

I went back and checked my state taxes for 2012 and I only paid $1200 back then, so where did this come from?

I reached out to the payroll director at my company and they forwarded me the court directed state tax levy that claims I owe >$3000 to North Carolina for taxes not paid in 2012. This is complete bull.

I was a part-year resident of NC because I was in college, but the only income I earned in 2012 was from I was employed and living in VA. Apparently, NC feels that I was a resident of NC the entire year an skipped paying taxes.

The real underhand sleazy part of it is that they waited the maximum of 5 years before ever contacting me so that they could accrue the most fees and interest! The worst part is they never even contacted me. The court order says they contacted me, but that is a lie plain and simple. I never received any communication from NC about taxes unpaid. They just went the court order to my company that says they must withhold 10% of my paycheck every month until all NC debts are repaid.

Luckily, part of my expat package is a tax service and they are helping me to rectify this, but this just goes to show the greed and sleazy deals that the government does because they do not know how to handle their own money. Better to steal from those that have it!

Okay, enough of that. I will get all my money back.


Everybody hates taxes. They eat away at our income and we never even get a chance to see it. Taxes were 51% of our expenses but only 13% of total income for January totaling $1,219.

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

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:

  • $18,500 to the 401k
  • $5,500 Mr. Atypical Traditional IRA
  • $5,500 Mrs. Atypical Traditional IRA
  • $6,900 to the family HSA
  • Total Value of $36,400

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. Originally, I thought it would take 6-8 months to pay it off, but now that the price of Ethereum has shot up to around $1000, I have made $1,800 total off of it and am now in the pure profit zone!

January also saw me continue to invest directly in cryptocurrencies. 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.

I invested $3,000 in December and got an additional $4,500 invested in January. This is spread around a variety of coins in 3 different exchanges and has definitely seen its up and downs. Cryptocurrencies are in for a wild ride.

Despite cryptocurrencies taking a dive at the end of January, I still have more than my invested $7500.

Is this speculative?

Yes, but if it is done with money you don’t worry about to lose, it is not a problem. I may even try my hand at some day trading in the coming months to see if I can make a decent steady income from this investment.

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In total, we made $6,298 in January 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. 11 months from now, the plan is to transition from side-income to only income and be free.

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

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  1. NC tried to do the same thing with us this year. They tried to fine us about 9,000$ for not paying taxes in NC for when we lived, went to school, and worked in VA from 2011-2015. Then they didn’t actually notify us, they mailed exactly 1 letter to my husband’s parents several months after the due date. Luckily my in-laws actually check all of their mail….

    Btw, I think we went to the same high school… I glad to see multiple ppl from our hometown on the FIRE path:D

    1. Very cool. Apex High?

      It was not a cool thing for NC to do at all. Seems pretty backhanded to me. Just wish I was in the US to more easily pursue it. Did you guys get out of the bogus tax bill?

      1. Yep, Apex!
        I was pointed towards MMM’s website by another high school friend too
        We had to submit all sorts of documentation that we actually were residents of VA and paid taxes there. Of course, it was regarding a tax bill in 2013 and we now live in CO… It took months to resolve

        1. Glad you got it resolved in the end. I am 4 months in now and have yet to see any progress… MMM was one of the ways I got started down this path as well. He seems to get most of us started.

  2. Hey Justin,

    Very clean and organized blog. Must be the engineer in you. I’m also over in China working towards financial freedom.

    The table you provide, did you miss some numbers? Those amounts don’t add up to $15k to me? Just thought I’d let you know.

    All the best, looking forward to exploring your site more!


    1. Thanks for the heads up Colby. Living abroad making the big bucks is an excellent way to get to financial freedom faster. Best of luck to you.

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January 2018 Atypical Life income report. We made $15000 investing in cryptocurrency, working an expat job, and obtaining a bonus. Life is good.