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In February, I upped my pre-pension investment amount to $10k, I was hoping to stick with this contribution amount for the whole year, but this plan might change due to potentially buying a house, which I’ll get to later.

What do our figures look like? Almost half a million quid. That figure sounds insane to me. But with recession and lay-off anxiety about, the world isn’t back to normal yet, and it somewhat overshadows monetary totals when it could all change tomorrow.

February has been a busy month, we went on a big snowboarding trip up north, I got a promotion, and we’ve decided to buy a property in a new state. There’s a lot to talk about!

Snowboarding trip with a visit to French Canada

We went on a car camping snowboarding trip in February. We visited 3 mountains for 2 days each across Vermont. The highlight being Jay Peak on the border of Vermont and Canada, one of the biggest mountains in New England.

Jay Peak

Dinner table in our car

We slept in the car for 4 nights. We’re used to doing it now and slept pretty well in general, it’s very cozy. The most difficult thing is not showering after days of snowboarding, we had to make do with wet wipes. For 2 nights, to recoup, we booked a nice AirBnB across the border in Canada and went to a day spa.

We knew Quebec was French-Canadian, but we weren’t prepared for just how French it would be. Everyone spoke French, everything was written in French, even the road signs, the food was French. It was like we were back in Europe.

This was one of the cheapest snowboarding holidays we’ve ever done. Here’s our total cost:

  • $70 for fuel
  • $32 for a meal at a BBQ restaurant
  • $150 for 2 nights in a luxury AirBnB
  • $101 for a full day in a ‘Nordic Spa’
  • $353 total - £293

Of course, this doesn’t include the amount we already paid for our winter ski passes, which were $300 each. We’ll know how much each day’s ski pass cost us at the end of the season.

Each day, other than when we went to the BBQ joint, we ate pre-prepared cold meals like sandwiches and pasta salads, and we cooked for valentines day in the AirBnB.

For 6 days snowboarding, 2 nights in a nice AirBnB, and a day in a luxury spa, I think we did pretty well!

In March we plan on doing another big trip like this one to Maine to visit big resorts like Saddleback and Black Mountain with a couple of shorter weekend trips to New Hampshire.

So far, the car camper is really coming in handy.

Promotion at work

In February, I got a promotion at work to the second level of Engineering Management. I expected this as the first year on the job is meant to be somewhat of a training year, being promoted means that I’m now a fully fledged manager, although I’m effectively at the same level as I was as a Senior Engineer, just a little bit higher on the pay range.

With this, I got a pay rise, a new stock grant, and a retention bonus that will be paid if I’m still here next March.

For this equity grant, I’m not making the same mistake as last time , and I opted for restricted stock options.

This brings my total compensation to above a quarter of a million dollars per year, over 200k GBP. I’m extremely grateful for being paid this much for what I do, it’s roughly triple what I was earning a year ago. I really hope that we can stay long enough in the US for it to make a difference toward our financial goals.

Getting this promotion and retention bonus means I’m a little less anxious about layoffs, it means that I was marked as exceeding expectations and thus will not be on the bottom of the performance stack rank. Although, I do know that some people who were let go were high achievers so you’re not always safe, it sometimes comes down to your area and luck.

Why we want to buy a house in New Hampshire

In June we’ll begin our green card application to become permanent residents. We’ll need to stay in the same state from the beginning to the end of the green card process, which could take 3 years. Due to this, we started to discuss if we really wanted to stay in Massachusetts.

Our dream state would be Vermont, it’s so beautiful there, and it was on our list as the place to retire and buy our dream home. But during our travels, we’ve frequently visited New Hampshire, you have to drive through there to get to most places in Vermont. New Hampshire as a whole isn’t as nice as Vermont, but there are rural areas on the border which are almost identical.

New Hampshire has one key difference: no state income tax, capital gains tax, or sales tax. They get all of their state funding from property tax.

Due to this, as long as we don’t buy a $1 million dollar home, with our household income we would save a shit ton of money each month. We would be able to invest at least an additional $2000 every month, with added savings in capital gains on our growing US portfolio.

We love Vermont, but we don’t believe it’s $2000+ dollars a month better than New Hampshire. This is almost covering our current living costs of around $2500 a month (with a $1400 rental cost). If we found a modest house in New Hampshire for under $200K, it would mean that we would be able to invest over $150k a year, potentially more - £125k a year in savings!! We don’t know how much we need to retire in the USA yet, it’s complicated when you have to factor in health insurance, but doing this move should certainly super charge our FIRE journey.

We just need to find a property that we’ll be comfortable in, has good internet, and hopefully won’t lose too much in value, oh and I need to not get laid off. As soon as we get permanent residency, we’ll buy a bigger place.

Other tidbits

  • Mrs SavingNinja is 1/3rd of the way through her first full length Romance novel. It’s going very well and she is proud of her work so far! I’m excited to start work on the advertising side of the business, I’d like to build an automatic TikTok bot to advertise on a number of different accounts.
  • We’ve just filed our first US tax return. This amounted to a combined 150 pages, 4 different postages totalling $40 to deliver, and old fashioned hand written checks to the government. Next year should be easier when we’re no longer split year residents, as we can e-file.
  • Work is going very well, but I’m still very anxious of a second round of layoffs happening later in the year. If we buy a house now and we had to leave the USA, we’ll lose roughly 10% of the home value in the stupidly high US buying and selling costs. I really hope this doesn’t happen 6 months after buying a home - but we may take the risk anyway as rental costs are high, and there are next to no rental options in rural New Hampshire, we’d be better off buying a $70k trailer home to live in for the next couple of years.

OK, rambling over!

How did your month go?