With the start of the New Year, it’s time for my 2017 year end review.
The year was filled with many amazing times, and several trips all over the East Coast, most to places I’ve never been before. I love to travel and explore new places, and this year I was really able to accomplish that!
As I (unfortunately) did not set any goals at the beginning of the year (shame, I know), here’s a quick recap of the Highlights instead:
The first half of the year was spent mostly in the DC area, but also shuttling back and forth from my parents’ house (6 hour trip each way) for several weekends.
Most of the trips back home were due to a LASIK eye surgery operation I had in January, and then the follow up visits. I’ll write a future post on my experience with this, but there were no complications and it went really well!
I had a blast when in the DC area where I ran my first 10+ mile race in the Annual Cherry Blossom race, took the GMAT test for a potential part time MBA in the future and attended the Preakness Triple Crown race near Baltimore (I’ve always wanted to see a horse race!).
Other highlights of the first half of the year included a casino trip to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with friends from college for the first round of the NCAA Basketball tournament in March (spoiler alert: I didn’t lose any money gambling J).
The second half of the year was a whirlwind of travel and adventures. It would take too much time to go into detail so I’ll just list them all out:
- Week in Myrtle Beach (with family)
- Long weekend (3 days) in Philadelphia, PA (hometown friend)
- 5 days in Newport, Rhode Island (with college friends)
- Weekend in Gettysburg, PA (with parents)
- Long weekend in New Jersey (college friends)
- Long weekend in Charlotte, NC (hometown friends)
- Weekend in Gettysburg, PA (with parents)
- Long weekend in Boston, MA (college friends)
- Long weekend in NYC (hometown friends)
- Parents house for holidays (Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas)
Whew, that was a lot! I feel like I was gone so much, but it was an amazing time seeing all these places. Being able to catch up frequently with longtime friends, whom I wasn’t able to see much over the past couple years, was exactly what I wanted.
Luckily, in just about every single one of those locations, I had friends that lived in the respective city where I was able to stay for free. All except Boston and Newport were within driving distance too so I was able to mostly save on airfare costs. Free housing and low transportation costs? That’s the best way to travel in my opinion! (unless you can get free everything through travel hacking of course!)
Financially, as I mentioned in Background: Part II, my savings rate took a dip from prior years, from 41% in 2016 to 30% this year. Even with a salary raise at the beginning of the year, and a booming stock market, my expenses rapidly rose.
At year end, my expenses totaled up to a little over $40K. $40K!! For ONE person! That sounds insane just writing it. I know there are people in the FIRE community who have an entire family to care for and spend less than that…
Now to the caveat… $4K of my expenses were specifically for the LASIK eye surgery, something I have wanted for a while, and specifically saved up for in prior years.
If you take that out my expenses were $36K. Even in a HCOL area (I’ve always lived in one, no excuses) this is way more than I’ve ever spent in a year.
While the transportation and lodging on all my travels were pretty cheap, the weekends themselves were not. A vast majority of my friends don’t have the savers mindset, and it was easy to get caught up in some unnecessary spending on these trips.
Even the weekends I didn’t travel, I found that lifestyle inflation started creeping into my routine.
Luckily, towards the end of summer I somehow stumbled upon the blogs of Mr. Money Mustache and others. After that, it’s safe to say I’ve been learning as much as I can and soaking it all in.
Where in June I had roughly $30K in cash on hand (roughly 45% of my Net Worth… what was I thinking!?!), by July/August time frame I had upped my 401K contribution percentage to nearly 40% (from 13% prior) in order to try and make up for lost time.
I also opened up Roth IRA and Brokerage accounts to further take advantage of the stock market instead of having my money sitting around in my Savings account. After turning 26 at the end of the year, I also officially set up my HSA account through my work so I will have another pre-tax account to contribute to next year.
While starting the year off by taking a hit (literally $4K… yikes) I definitely ended on a strong note and believe I have set myself up for a strong year in 2018.
Here are a few goals that I hope to accomplish by the end of the year. I’m going to keep track of these quarterly so that way I can really see how much progress is being made and if I’m on track to accomplish them at year end or not.
1) Max out my 401K/HSA
Despite coming on strong on the end of this year, I did not end up maxing out my 401K this year. Next year I am making that a priority from the start and should be able to do this. Maxing out the HSA may be a little tougher (based on my next goal) but I am up for a promotion next year and depending on how big it is will be whether or not I can accomplish this.
2) Max out Roth IRA OR purchase a property
If I have enough extra cash on hand from savings I plan to max out my Roth IRA contribution again. One thing I am interested in is either purchasing my own property to live in, or one for a rental. I hope to accomplish one of these with my extra cash this year. Stay tuned!
3) Savings Rate of 45% (stretch 50%)
I’ve never gotten to 45% in a year, however, by cutting back on my expenses I hope to be able to accomplish this. Depending on the size of my (potential) promotion, 50% could be attainable, but is definitely be a stretch goal as I would need to get lucky with no unexpected expenses and come in very under my budget.
4) Reach $115K Net Worth
This would be my biggest increase ever! With average market returns I should be able to get pretty close to this. Anything more would hopefully put me over!!
5) Create a third source of income
With my job and market investments working as my first two sources, I’d love to create a 3rd source of income. Be it from a rental property, potentially monetizing the blog, or some other kind of side hustle, I’d like to have another avenue to help me build wealth started up by the end of the year.
1) Workout more consistently
One thing I struggle with is consistency when it comes to working out. Some months I’ll be in the gym 3-4 times a week no problem. Other times I’ll go months without stepping foot in the gym. I eat pretty healthy and have noticed I actually start losing weight (which I don’t want) when I don’t get in the gym, so I’m hoping that consistency will help me maintain my desired (healthy) weight.
2) Read more books (at least one per month)
I’ve always enjoyed reading, however, since I graduated college my book reading has dramatically decreased. I still think I read just as much, though now its just in the form of articles instead (thanks computers/smart phones). My goal is to slowly work back into reading more physical books, I’ve seen some great reading lists out there and may grab some ideas from there!
3) Meditate, Yoga or stretch every day
I know what you’re saying… “Guy’s don’t do yoga…” but don’t knock it until you try it! I don’t attend any classes, but there are so many free online videos/articles to help get the basics down and walk you through it. As an ex-college athlete I can say it’s dramatically helped my flexibility and balance since I began! I think these activities all essentially help to calm the mind down and focus which I why I want to start doing this daily.
4) Volunteer somewhere at least once a quarter
This is also something I have gotten away from. I used to volunteer all the time in High School/College. Since starting a full time job, I’ve always made the excuse that I’m too busy. I think it’s time to end that and start giving back to the community more often.
5) Stress less
Lastly, in 2018 I aim to stress less and trust the process. I tend to be a perfectionist and I expect the best out of myself in every aspect of my life. This tends to lead to a lot of stress whether that be through work, finances, or just life in general. I hope that with my third goal, these will ultimately help me to relax, enjoy life, and trust that everything will work out in at the end of the day.
As this is one of the first years I’ve actually set goals, I’m intrigued to see how it turns out!
Are you excited about any particular goals you’ve set?