Friday, February 2, 2018

January 2018 Net Worth Update

January sure started the new year with a bang for our net worth. We ended the month at $768,059, up nearly $25k making it our third best month ever. Here’s how it all went down:


Our cash went down a bit this month but January tends to be an expensive month for us so this wasn’t entirely unexpected. We paid our semi-annual auto-insurance, booked a beach condo for an upcoming trip, and also hit up the best clearance clothes shopping of the year. We’ve known our cash levels would hover here for a bit and should have it rebuilt in February to where we want it to be longer term.


Nothing too exciting here - still loving my Lexus and even managed to squeeze three kids in car seats in the back this month. While we were out, I took it in for an oil change and definitely felt like more of a target for an up sell compared to when I showed up in my old Corolla. Had I just let them do their thing, I would have paid at least double.


Sorry kids, this was the last month I’ll be adding to your 529s for a while. We’ve decided to redirect what we were saving to college to go towards the mortgage. We’ve always paid extra, and this will allow us to do even more. This single change accelerated our expected payoff by a few months, and we feel that we’ll still have plenty of time to save for college since we’ll have the house paid off before our oldest is even in middle school.

In the meantime, we’ll keep it invested 100% in equities and let it ride.


The market had a great start to the year, but honestly I am starting to hope for things to go down a bit or at least stay flat. It’s not that I mind buying in a higher prices each month, but really that this constant steady increase is setting inappropriate expectations for many investors. I’m not worried about me. I made it through 2008 on the front lines of the financial services industry and experienced things that can’t be learned from books. I’ve also got several years before I’ll actually be using my investments to live on and I’ve got a wife/partner that is very good at separating emotion from investments.

Who am I worried for? How about the guy who just started investing 8 years ago? Since he started, the market has done nothing but increase. Sure we’re had some scares with Greece, or the Fiscal Cliff, or Brexit, etc. But nothing really that has drawn the market down by 10%+ for long enough to really get scary. This guy thinks he’s a genius!

He’s probably got a Robinhood account and they fuel the fire by advertising things like “Mastered Stocks? Now try Options”. As if figuring out to buy and sell stocks on your phone in a bull market is all you’ll ever need to know to make money (As a former Registered Options Principal, I don’t even want to think about the compliance nightmare they’ve got coming).

Or how about the retirees who for years have been looking for safe, low-risk returns and have historically avoided stocks. Since interest rates have been so low for long and stocks have been rising so much for so long, they may have stepped further and further away from an asset allocation they’d be comfortable with during more volatile times.  

I digress. At least this first week in February we’ve seen a little bit of volatility and actually some down days. January market returns were over 5%, which boosted our investments balance by $24k. We’ll continue to do our thing by investing regularly and staying allocated close to 100% equities.  

The only change we’ve really made to our investments is that we changed my 401k contributions to now be going in as pre-tax contributions. We’re still putting the same amount in, but this increases our take-home pay, allowing us to pay even more towards our mortgage. Do you see a trend developing here? 


We knocked down our mortgage balance by $1,800 this month and will be able to do at least this much each month in 2018. As mentioned earlier we’ve made some changes that will allow us to further increase what we pay towards the house and are making mortgage payoff our top priority. We aren’t doing so at the expense of contributing to retirement or going on vacations, but will be scaling down some home improvement projects and other areas of savings/investing (see 529s).

We also now have these jars in our living room where we’ll all see them regularly. Each glass rock represents $1,000 of our mortgage and whenever we make a payment we’ll be able to move rocks from the left to the right. Only 185 rocks left, but this helps us get the kids involved and to visualize our progress.

January was great and I’m excited to see what the year has in store for us.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Best Investment for 2018

I came across a great article the other day from HumbleDollar outlining the best investment you can make in 2018. Sorry, but it isn't anything too exciting - it's paying down debt. Specifically mortgage debt. Not that I needed any additional validation, but it’s nice to see this since we are planning on reducing our mortgage balance in 2018 by over $30k.

This year marks 9 years since we paid off our non-mortgage debt and at one point since then we had our mortgage balance as low as $85k with a line of sight to be mortgage free within a year.


In 2013, I took a new job and we moved to a new state. We had a good chunk of home equity built up and when we sold we took all the old equity and put it towards our new house, still borrowing $260k. Our house is larger than our last house, but more important (to us), we now live near the best public schools in the area (our last house was in a terrible school district, but our kids were small enough we didn't really care).

Fast forward to today and 5 years into our 30-year mortgage we are 95 payments ahead of schedule (that's like 8 years!). Our mortgage website has a cool calculator that shows how much time and interest we've saved assuming we only make minimum payments from here on out. You already know that that isn't happening, so every month this view looks better and better.

Since 2013, my income has grown a lot, allowing us to put more and more towards the mortgage each year. Our first couple of years we had some expensive home repair projects, plus at the beginning of any mortgage it takes a while before it feels like you’re making any headway as the interest part of the payment is so high. But since about 2016 we have started to get into a groove and now the payoff is gaining some traction.


We’ve made some additional tweaks to our budget that will allow us to increase what we pay each month. I've also made some high-level assumptions about how the new tax law will change our take home pay. Our plan is to have all extra $ will go towards the mortgage. As of now, our current projection is that we will be mortgage free in 2022.

If we only ever paid the minimum, our interest payments would have totaled $173k over 30 years. Yuck. Paying $52k in interest is also lame, but way better. One of the biggest excuses you’ll hear for keeping a mortgage is for the tax deduction. With the new US tax law doubling the standard deduction, even fewer households will itemize deductions. Now mortgage interest will be deducted by even fewer households. Even more reason to get rid of this mortgage as soon as we can.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

December 2017 Net Worth Update

December 2017 marked the first time ever that the stock market had positive returns every single month of a year. I’m thankful for the impact the market has had on our net worth this year.

Nevertheless, let this serve as a reminder that the high returns and low volatility we’ve been experiencing are unusual and shouldn’t be expected to persist.

What will 2018 returns look like? Your guess is as good as mine, but so far we’re off to a positive start.


Our net worth increased in every area this month, ending the year at $743,422, up $12k from last month and up $137k from this time last year.


Despite buying several last minute Christmas gifts and traveling for the holidays, our cash balance went up by more then $1k. For our trip, we drove and didn’t need to get a hotel so it was a pretty inexpensive trip. We’re still focused on increasing cash but don’t expect it to be where we want until February. That’s when I’ll be getting my annual bonus which we’ll use to boost our cash and make a really big mortgage payment.

Our Christmas gifts for the kids were actually quite simple. We make a concerted effort to keep our kids expectations low, so even though they only got a couple gifts each, they were thrilled. They got some LEGO sets I got on sale, a new DVD player for the car, and some other things that were thoughtful and unique to their interests. Things like clothes we always just buy when they need them regardless of Christmas or birthday timing so gifts from us are usually things in the ‘want’ bucket.

Side note - we have always tried to make sure our kids know we will never lie to them. This means we don’t do things like Elf on the Shelf, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or even Santa Claus. Despite our best efforts, they got pretty heavy doses of Santa at school and it has really been confusing to the kids of who to believe. Doh!


The S&P 500 returned 0.98% in December, which explains most of our returns. We also continued to add to our investments from normal payroll deductions. All of my retirement contributions are going in as Roth contributions so at least I know that portion is 100% ours.

I had a small holding in some crypto-currencies, but when some of them tripled in under a week in December, I cashed some out. I still have a small position, but have taken out more than my initial investments and am only playing with the house money. It’s been fun to watch, but it definitely looks and feels like a bubble.

My personal rule of thumb is that I don’t invest more than 1% of our investable assets in speculative trades. This would include things like options, individual stocks, and most certainly Bitcoin/crypto-currencies. I know I could be missing out on a huge opportunity here, but it’s not worth risking a painful loss to play with more than 1%.


We continue to build home equity, and made an extra principal payment yet again. Starting in January, we’ll be increasing the amount we pay even further. We reduced our mortgage balance by over $22k in 2017 and are planning on even greater reductions in 2018.

I have been trying to get a good estimate on the impact of the new tax bill on our household and it looks like we could see as much as $4-5k in lower taxes next year. If and when we start to see the increase in our take-home pay, it will likely all go straight towards the mortgage.

Most of our home improvement projects are on hold until spring, when we plan to replace the grass in our front yard. We’ve tried several different things to get the grass to look good but have decided we finally need to bite the bullet and start from scratch with new sod.

There are a few big home projects we’d like to take on, but as of now are thinking they may be 2019 projects. The big ones would be to remodel our kitchen and master bathroom. Neither are terrible as-is and both would be extensive and expensive even doing most of the work ourselves. For 2018, we’re also keeping our eyes out for some good deals on a few specific furniture items and hoping that none of our A/C or furnace units die.


There isn’t much to report on our vehicles other than that I really love driving my new car. I knew that upgrading from a Corolla to a Lexus would be an improvement, but I wasn’t expecting the change to be so drastic. I’m not sure if that means my old car was that bad, if the new car is that great, or some combination.

I can’t explain why KBB has our car values going up this month, but the total value still is reasonable and not a large percentage of our assets.

529 College Savings

We are now including our 529s in our net worth, but there really isn’t much to talk about here. We’re adding $200/mo and allocating it 100% to stock mutual funds. Our current savings rate is not enough to fully fund all our kids’ college, but we aren’t planning on covering all of their expenses anyways.

I’ve toyed with the idea of stopping these contributions and paying down the mortgage even faster, but this really wouldn’t make that big of a change in our timeline. We’ll have more than 7 mortgage-free years before our first child starts college and that should be plenty of time to further pile up our savings.

Thanks for checking in. I’m looking forward to what 2018 brings.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

The older I get, the quicker time seems to pass. Here we are at the end of another year. A lot has happened, but it still seems like yesterday when I shared some of my goals for 2017.

Tonight we’ll be going to bed before midnight (we did the countdown with the kids on London time). Before the year is officially over here in the US, here is a quick re-cap of how I did with 2017 goals.

2017 Intellectual Goal

Similar to previous years, I had set the goal of reading 52 books this year. I blew this goal away and completed 62 books in 2017. My reading is perhaps the largest impediment to me blogging more, so I may consider scaling back my reading at some point.

I did read mainly from my “to-read” list, but added a lot to the list so it didn’t really get shorter. My local library also started offering Hoopla, which I loved since it has a great selection of books already on my list. Sadly, it became too popular (expensive) so it has since been discontinued at our library.

In no particular order, some of the best books I read this year include:

1. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds - This was a great story about the pioneers of behavioral economics written by one of my favorite authors, Michael Lewis.

2.  1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created - Charles Mann: From the same author as 1491, this book detailed many of the secondary impacts of Columbus' voyage on the globe and not just the American continent.

3. When to Rob a Bank - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: From the creators of Freakonomics this is another compilation of fun experiments and research of everyday topics through the lens of economists.

4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah: I've been very impressed with Trevor Noah as the new host of the Daily show and reading his history of his childhood was hilarious and sad.

5. Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase - Duff McDonald: I've always been impressed with Jamie Dimon but reading this helped me see even more things that he's done behind the scenes that prove he's the right guy for the job.

6.  Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley - Antonio Garcia Martinez: I like reading inside stories of companies from the viewpoint of a non-executive (this book was mainly about Facebook). Silicon Valley is a different world in many regards, and I'm glad I don't work there despite the opportunity for obscene fortune.

7. Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires trying to Reinvent Money - Nathaniel Popper: I read this over the summer and afterward made a small 'investment' in crypto currencies (I since took out my initial investment but still have a position that is 3x my initial investment). This book is a good background on the history and use of bitcoin.

8. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google that will Transform the way you Live and Lead - Laszlo Bock: This one came recommended by several people at work and was written by a senior HR leader at Google. Although I don't have the budget to do nearly as much for my employees as what Google offers, I have taken some of the learnings to heart and made some changes.  There are a lot of things you can do to show employees you value them short of gourmet catering 3x/day.

9. Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence - Jerry Kaplan: Artificial Intelligence has and will continue to change the modern workplace. This book raises some questions that need to be answered as this field continues to advance.

10. Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry - Helaine Olen: It shouldn't surprise you that there are many so-called financial experts in the media who really don't know what they are talking about. This book attempts to dethrone some of the more famous finance personalities. In some cases I felt she was spot on and in others she just had an ax to grind, but the overall message of being skeptical is wise.

2017 Career Goals

I was intentionally vague in describing my career goals, but I will say that I have been pleased with my career growth in 2017. It wasn't my best year, but I learned a lot and helped my team grow. 2018 is shaping up to be a very challenging year but I have laid the foundation for 2018 success in 2017. I wasn't planning on getting a new job or promotion in 2017 but did have an interview for a promotion recently. For a variety of reasons I doubt I'll get the job, but the fact that I was considered even for an interview bodes well for future opportunities.

2017 Financial Goals

I set what felt like a lofty goal of reaching $700k net worth by the end of 2017. The Stock Market in 2017 performed much better than I had assumed. That and some other wins helped us reach this goal back in September. Our next big goal and milestone will be to reach $1M net worth and we are going to stretch to try and get there by 2020.

Other accomplishments for the year included welcoming our fourth child into the family, adding a stamp from Chile to my and my sons passports, and lots of travel within the US. I’m now up to 43 states visited and just have some hard-to-reach states left. We also found time to do home projects like adding a fence, new patio, and exterior paint.

We are still figuring out 2018 goals but they will likely be a continuation towards our longer term goals such as paying off the house, visiting new countries, and spending time with family.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Are Index Funds Safe?

In the years following 2008, any time I recommended a mutual fund, portfolio, managed account, or any other investment, clients would almost always ask me: "How did this do in '08?"

What people were really asking was "is this going to protect me from the downside next time the market corrects"?

This often lead to discussions about bond funds, which at the time showed steady 10-year track records like the blue line in this graph.

"See, look how smooth the growth has been compared to stocks (yellow line is the S&P500)". A few years ago, the 10-year return for bonds even looked better than stocks. Lots of money poured into bond funds from cash that investors had pulled out of stocks but were too afraid to get full back into stocks.

Shift to Index Funds

As stocks have continued to set new records, including now the first year ever of 12 winning months, a tsunami of cash has been piling into index funds driven in part by charts like this one:

"Stocks are the best long term investment, but why waste money on actively managed funds when the mostly underperform the index?" Sound familiar?

A lot of this capital has come actively managed stock funds but also from cash and bond funds. If money is going into Index Funds from cash and bonds, many of these investors previously cashed out of stocks.

During the 2008 financial crisis, I met too many people who thought that actively managed funds "should have seen it coming" or "should have gone to cash". It came as a surprise to many investors that their mutual funds prospectus prohibits market timing. Now those same investors who poured cash into bonds when they were still afraid of stocks have been rushing to index stock funds as stock performance continues to enhance feelings of FOMO.

Personally, I doubt their original unrealistic expectations have changed. The market has gone up for so long there hasn't been the need to blame anyone for losses, and there are many who have pitched index funds as "safe". Sure, they're safe in that they are diversified, but when the average investor asks if something is "safe", they aren't thinking about the difference between systematic and unsystematic risk. They are asking whether they'll ever lose money. They'll tell you they know the risks of investing in the market, but when we next see a >10% drawdown that will all be forgotten.

Are Index Funds Safe?

Index funds are no "safer" than the actively managed mutual funds they've been replacing in investor portfolios. The only things they save you from are higher fees and the risk of underperforming the market. I'm all about being a DIY investor, but it is important to have realistic expectations. When the market tanks, you'll be just as exposed as anyone else. I'm ok with that risk, but the average investor attempting to time the market may be disappointed.

I'm very curious to see what happens to fund flows after the next market selloff. Will those new to indexing strategies truly stick with it? As much as has been said about the change in investor preference and behavior, I'm still skeptical.

There is strength in numbers, and following the herd mentality sometimes just feels right. Sitting in cash when everyone else is losing feels great at that moment. That still doesn't mean it's the right move long term.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

November 2017 Net Worth Update - Up again


November is behind us and we continue to make progress towards our financial goals. For the first month in what felt like a while, we haven't had any major travel or home improvement projects, which is nice.

This month I also reached my goal of reading (or listening to) 52 books for the year. I have met this goal every year since I starting tracking it in 2011 and only started getting into audiobooks in the past couple of years (I'm about 50/50 reading vs listening). Not everything I read is worth recommending, but the best books I read this month were:

The Simple Path to Wealth, by JL Collins. The title sums it up best - it really is a simple read about a topic that many try to overcomplicate.
Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know about Religion, and Doesn't, by Stephen Prothero. This isn't a religious book but was helpful in learning about religions role in our culture.

And of course, the market continues to surprise and delight contributing to our 13th consecutive month of net worth increases. We ended the month with a net worth of $731,362, up nearly $10k.


Our cash balance stayed pretty flat this month and will probably do the same thing for December. We mostly completed our Christmas shopping in November and also booked a cruise for this coming Spring. So far, we've only booked flights and made the initial payment towards the cruise and we'll cash flow the remaining cruise costs.

In our house, Christmas tends to be a pretty low key holiday. We make it special but don't go all out, especially for the kids. This year, we will spend less than $1,500 on gifts, most of that on gifts for each other.

For the kids, we'll spend under $100 each and you know what's crazy? They'll be thrilled. By not constantly giving things to the kids, even small or simple gifts become a big deal. Also, I hate clutter, and if you're being honest most Christmas gifts are clutter. We really try to make sure we aren't contributing to a cluttered house whenever we buy gifts. The one exception to this rule lately has become Legos. Since introducing them to our house earlier this year we've been able to keep the mess to a minimum, but I tolerate it since it is contained and they really spark the kids' creativity.

As inexpensive as electronics have become, we are pretty firm in our stance of kids not having their own electronic devices. This will only get harder as they get older since many of their peers at school or church are already getting their own tablets or phones.


Similar to previous months, the biggest factor driving our net wort change was our investments. The S&P 500 was up 2.81% in November, and our investments were up 3.1%. This is basically just the market gains plus our normal monthly contributions.

For our primary portfolio, our asset allocation is heavily weighted to US stocks, as shown below:

I've been allocating out of bonds for some time now but still have some lagging positions. Rather than have the bond income reinvest into bonds, I reinvest it into stock mutual funds.


As expected, the value of our vehicles declined this month. Back when I had the Corolla, the value had pretty much leveled out and KBB had it hardly depreciating at all. Now with a newer car, I expect to see the value steadily decline for the next several years.

Something to know about my wife's car is that she doesn't drive it much. LIke hardly at all. We live close to our church and kids schools, our kid takes the bus from the bus stop two doors down, and I do almost all of the grocery shopping on the way home from work. With her natural hermit tendencies, this means that there are times when she goes almost a week without driving anywhere.

For years, whenever I review coverage with our auto insurance provider, I always ask how low can we say her car is driven each year. Consistently, I've been told 8,000 miles is the lowest they can quote (even though she probably doesn't drive 1/2 that much). This came up again when I called to add the new car to our insurance, but this time I was told that they actually could quote a lower rate but that I would have to give them an odometer reading and call back with another reading in 30 days.

I gave them the odometer reading and made a reminder to call them back in 30 days. The grand total of driving for those 30 days? Under 300 miles. I told you we didn't drive that car much. They rounded it up to 4,000 miles per year, but that one change lowered our insurance bill by almost $200/year.


Zillow says our house value came down slightly, but we paid extra on our mortgage so the decreased principal helps offset the loss. Nothing too groundbreaking here, but it is exciting to see that we'll now be consistently paying down over $1,500/mo. Our current plan is to increase this amount further starting in January.

Our home improvement projects in November were limited to general maintenance and repairing a few spots of rotted trim on the exterior.

This is the time of year where we look at our last 12 months of spending and decide which areas we want to increase or decrease our spending in the next year. In 2017, we spent roughly $9k on home repairs/improvements, which was roughly what we've spent in 2016, and slightly less than 2013-2015. In 2018, we're thinking we may lower that expense further to make additional progress on the mortgage, but we do have plans to renovate our master bath and kitchen at some point, each of which would be at least a $10k project.

529 College Savings Accounts

I am now including these funds in our net worth, but we haven't really changed much with this account. The amount we've saved here has been growing steadily, but will not be enough by itself at this rate to pay for 4 years of college for each of our children. Our goal is not to be able to fully fund their educations, but this will make a good contribution. Once our home is paid off (within 5 years from now), we will revisit how much we are saving here vs increasing our taxable investing.

Net Worth Summary

A year ago when we set the goal to reach $700k net worth by year end,  it felt like a stretch goal. Market returns have certainly helped by significantly exceeding my assumptions, but I would rather be conservative in my projections. As gains continue to exceed our expectations, we can reach our goals with even lower future growth assumptions.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

October 2017 Net Worth Update

October was another great month for the DIY$ household. We had a lot going on financially but were still able to increase our net worth by $15k to $715,925.

Here's how it went down:


Our cash balance got decimated this month. We paid almost $4k for our new patio that finally got completed, and also bought a new car. A lot of the cash had been earmarked for a car anyways, so this isn't entirely unplanned. We'd rather keep our cash balance above $20k though, so we have some rebuilding to do. We should only be below $20k for a couple of months.


Each month we add about $1,600 to our investments accounts, almost all of which is tracking the S&P 500. The S&P was up 2.2% in October, so this explains the vast majority of the change in our investments.

Investing in index funds certainly isn't the most exciting way to build wealth, but it makes for one less thing to worry about. I don't spend an incredible amount of time researching mutual funds but do periodically rebalance between US and international, large-cap and small/mid-cap.

While the majority of our investments are in index funds, we do make the occasional speculative investment. I do this to learn about new markets, keep a pulse on other trends, and sometimes just to have fun. The rule that we have set for ourselves is to have no more than 1% of our net worth tied up in our non-core index fund strategy.

As of right now, we are way under this limit, but some of our speculative investments currently include

  • Amazon (AMZN)

  • Bitcoin

  • Some REIT ETFs (MORL and NLY)

  • Various options trades - none at the moment, but I have historically traded spreads


We finally said goodbye to my trusty old Corolla. For weeks, I had been unsuccessfully making offers on cars but wasn't having much luck getting what I considered a good deal. I was looking at newer Corollas, Camrys, and Fusions or slightly older Lexus in the $15k range. We ended up with a 2012 Lexus for right around $15k plus tax and traded in the Corolla.

I probably could have gotten an extra $1k or so if I sold the Corolla on my own vs trading it in, but I really value my privacy and time and didn't relish the thought of having to meet up with random strangers from Facebook or Craigslist to sell it. I wasn't pleased to trade the car in for less than my previous net worth calculations valued it but decided that it was worth avoiding the hassle.

If the Corolla was actually worth more than $2,500 I may have tried harder. Although it probably has another 100,000 miles left in it, the list of small things wrong with it was actually pretty long once I started to list them.

Here's a list of some of the little things that were wrong with the Corolla:

  • Fading paint on the roof

  • Scratched/peeling tint on one window

  • Weatherstripping coming loose from one door

  • Broken latch holding down center console lid

  • Sunroof shade that wouldn't close all the way

  • Squeaky A/C

  • A slight smell in warm weather that I never could put my finger on

  • A loose section of the body kit

The new car has none of these problems. In fact, it has quite a few upgrades that I'm really excited to have. The KBB when I bought the car showed that I paid right about what it was worth after taxes and fees, but by the end of the month it had dropped a couple of thousand.


A lot of our net worth increase came from the value of our home. The value still seems in line based on prices in the neighborhood. The house next door is still for sale, but I'm not surprised it hasn't sold yet since there haven't been many updates to it.

In October, we increased our payment slightly and will bump the payment amount up again starting in January. We've always paid extra, but haven't been paying the maximum we could since we were building cash to buy a car. Now that we've bought the car, we'll start to really attack the mortgage once our cash is back at a more comfortable level.


With our net worth already exceeding our 2017 goal of $700k, I've been making some projections for our next goal/milestone. It no longer seems that out of reach to hit $1M by 2020, so that is going to be our new target. It still feels strange to be within sight of $1M, but so did getting to $500k just a few years ago.

Also, starting in January I am going to start including our 529 accounts with our net worth. Even though the money is earmarked for kid's college it is still ours and we can technically use it for anything. We discussed it and just decided that it makes sense to include it.