When looking back on years of your life, there will surely be years that stand out for various reasons.
It could be due to some major life event, memorable experience or even a different phase of your life you were going through.
Some years may be good, others not so much, but it’s important to think back on how things were. Not only to reminisce on the good, but to see how much you have changed and grown into the (hopefully) better version of yourself you are today.
Thinking back on 2018, there can be no other way to describe it, other than simply as: the year I finally got my stuff (PG-13 on the blog 🙂 ) together for a full year!
Getting My Stuff Together
I do realize that it wouldn’t be quite fair to say I didn’t have my stuff together prior to 2018.
After all, I’ve always budgeted, invested, and had a minimum of 30% savings rate while making sure to spend a lot of time traveling and being with family and friends.
What separates 2018 is that I was finally doing all these things with intention and meaning.
This was the first year I actually set measurable goals to keep me on track and work towards something greater. Doing this drove me to seek improvements across all aspects of my life – finances included.
I took a big picture view at my life and how I was living it, figured out what I really wanted out of it, and implemented changes to align my actions with my goals.
One such example: I’ve always loved being outdoors and exploring, yet since moving to DC in 2016 I’d spent much more time exploring the inside of bars than the world around.
It’s a small example, but flipping that time spent around is something that’s had a huge impact on my overall happiness and as an added benefit, on my finances.
I could go into many more ways as to how my personal life has improved over the last year (adventures, friends, family, significant other, etc), but perhaps I’ll save some of those for a future post or two 🙂
Bottom line is, by taking a critical look at my life, I was able to make some lasting changes for the better in 2018.
2018 Year in Review – Adventures
As mentioned before, 2018 was full of adventures which made me very happy.
Many people assume you have to travel far to go on adventures. But what they don’t realize is that depending on where you live, adventures can be in your backyard, or maybe less than an hour or two away.
You don’t need to hop on an airplane to adventure people!
I counted 17 different distinct days last year in which I went on an actual hike at a national or state park within 2 hours of my apt. That’s up from 2 days in 2017!
That also does not include the many days (did not count) of walking around DC and Arlington, VA viewing the national monuments and museums, an adventure of their own!
I hope to top this number in 2019 and see other fun spots in the area in the process!
In addition to all the hiking, I also camped out on my own for the first time. A fun experience I would for sure do again sometime.
As for other adventures, I visited 6 countries on a Eurotrip with friends, as well as 6 different states (1 new!) and of course, DC.
Too many fun pictures to choose from to include here, so just follow me on Instagram if curious! That’s where I post them all 🙂
Travel and adventuring is always something I’ve enjoyed, and will continue to make this a priority in my life.
2018 Year in Review – Finances
Ahh the finances, I’ve already gone over some of it in my December Net Worth Update, but here’s a couple of the year over year comparison charts:
In 2018 my Net Worth increased by $32K, and it eclipsed the elusive $100K mark. Though my investments actually lost value due to a poor year for stocks, it is still great to see the power of savings and what it can do over a year.
I’m still happiest to see that car loan gone and out of my life!
Though seeing the New Worth increase was awesome, it was even more awesome to see how much I decreased my spending from 2017. Nearly $8,500!!
Now, a couple caveats: about $4,000 of that was due to my LASIK procedure, which was a one time expense I had specifically saved up for.
Another $500 in the “Misc” category was for taking the GMAT exam twice, back when I had thought I should go to a full time program to get an MBA (I’ve since changed my mind).
Even with that, I decreased spending by $4,000, which is no joke, and something I’m really proud of!
The big hitters:
Auto Other: In 2017 I had to replace my tires and brakes which were costly. This is why I always budget a good amount for these types of expenses.
Groceries/Restaurants: I drastically decreased my expenses on these categories, simply by being a more mindful consumer and cutting some alcohol costs from my meals.
Entertainment: It’s an all encompassing category, but essentially my bar related spending decreased by nearly $1,500… wow. Some of this was offset by greater spending on events (such as Camp FI’s and Fincon), but those are worth spending money on!
Rent technically decreased year over year, but that was mostly because we got stuck paying for two rents during our moving month as the move in date was a little over a week before our old apartment lease ended.
All in all very happy I was able to decrease my spending so much in 2018!
I saved nearly $39,000 in 2018!! That total is mind boggling considering my highest yearly savings before was about $22,000…
Increasing income while simultaneously decreasing expenses? That’s a recipe for success if you ask me! 🙂
While I got a promotion to increase my W2 income, what I’m most proud of is making the switch to a high interest savings account and watching my interest income balloon, while also starting a side hustle – something there is no way I would have even considered in 2017.
I hope to grow this gap even further in 2019!
2018 Year in Review – Goals
Max out my 401k/HSA
See above income chart… DONE! 🙂
Max out Roth IRA OR purchase a property
Roth IRA was maxed out in March!
No rental property this year ( I prioritized the paying off my car) but it’s on the goals for next year!
Savings Rate of 50% (stretch 55%)*
Also see above income chart, 55%… DONE!!
I just barely got this stretch goal, as my $775 of Fantasy Football winnings in December pushed me over the top.
There’s no way I would’ve gotten to this goal without drastically decreasing my expenses from the year prior while also increasing my income.
*Note that this had increased from 45% and 50% respectively due to a much bigger than projected promotion this year… didn’t want to ease off the gas pedal!
Reach $115K Net Worth
After declaring success at the end of Q3, the market laughed in the face of my hubris.
Despite my high savings rate, the market tanked and my Net Worth actually decreased in the last quarter, dropping me below $115K!
Such a shame, but I know it is all temporary. The market will eventually rebound, and along with it my Net Worth.
I did not include this goal again in 2019 as I thought it kind of pointless to measure success based on something I can’t control! I’d rather focus on my savings rate and getting that higher!
Create a third source of income
With my side hustle of electric scooter charging, this was accomplished! For now I have my W2 Income, Bank Interest, and scooter charging as my three income sources, but I’m always looking for ways to increase this!
I didn’t count this as a side hustle, but signing up for a bank account opening bonus also netted me $300 on the year. This is an easy way for people to earn extra dough if they look into it!
Workout more consistently
The first half of the year I did much better on this, but the second half of the year I largely fell off a cliff.
The goal was to be consistent across the year, so I can only mark it as a FAIL.
I’ll continue to work on this, and one thing that has helped in 2019 is I started waking up earlier to work out in the mornings. I’m already noticing a difference!
Read more books (at least one per month)
As of last update I had 7 books to read in the last 3 months.. Was it accomplished!?
The final tally was…. 11 and 2/3 books 🙁
I got so close! If I really wanted to I could’ve hunkered down on NYE and read the entire day to finish it, but I had plans and was not going to cancel those.
Technically a failure, but I’m counting this as a success as going from reading zero books in 2017 to nearly 12 in 2018 is a huge success for me!
For those curious, here are the books I read:
- 1984 – George Orwell
- The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
- The Art of War – Sun Tzu
- You Can Heal Your Life – Louise L Hay
- The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley
- The Simple Path to Wealth – JL Collins
- The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
- The Richest Man in Babylon – George Clason
- The Demon Cycle Series – (first three books) – Peter Brett
- Your Money or Your Life – Vicky Robin & Joe Dominguez (2/3 of it!)
Status: SUCCESS! (Kind of 🙂 )
Meditate, Yoga or stretch every day
While I doubt I did this every single day, the goal was really about being more mindful and intentional, which was an overwhelming success.
The yoga and stretching has given me strength and flexibility which helps greatly in day to day activities, and the mindfulness of my body and surroundings that come with it has really been the game changer.
Volunteer somewhere at least once a quarter
I only ended up going to 3 volunteering events last year 🙁
I meant to be more involved in the community this year, but I did not take a very active role in looking for opportunities.
This is something I’ll need to keep in mind and take action on going forwards as if giving back to the community is really that important to me, I’ll need to actually take action.
Tackling stress and anxiety is going to be a lifelong affair. I’ve come to realize that no matter what you do, there is always going to be life events that bring you stress – people are just hard wired that way.
What really matters is how you react and deal with that stress. Do you let it affect you and your daily life, giving you additional problems? Or can you manage it and have confidence/faith that things are going to work out?
That last sentence has hampered me greatly over the years, but I think I finally turned a corner in 2018. It’s gotten a lot easier to believe that I’m headed down the right path in life and that things are going to turn out just fine (thanks to the people I’ve surrounded myself with) and that’s done wonders for my stress management.
This will always be a work in progress, but it’s necessary to look back and see how far you’ve come from time to time!
To wrap this all up, 2018 was an incredible year full of many firsts and experiences I won’t soon forget.
I hope to build upon this year and make 2019 even better! Who’s with me on that!?
How was your 2018? What were some successes/failures you experienced? What big plans to you have to build upon/rectify them?
14 thoughts to “2018 Year in Review”
Sounds like it was a great year across the board!
For me, I was disappointed that my net worth only increased by a little less than 10% last year. Most of that was due to the market but I did manage to save around $20K overall. That’s good, but it can be better. Must focus on what we can control, and that’s savings rate. The market will be fine in the long term.
2018 was definitely my best year for travel. I visited 14 other states (plus DC!), including 5 I had never been to before. I’m also a nerd who tracks the states I’ve visited. 😂 My lifetime count to date is 29.
Now that you’re further removed from LASIK, are you still very happy with how it turned out? It is something I am still considering and would make the effort to save for. I just need to make a decision at this point I think.
I’m still amazed at your grocery spending and your car insurance. So much lower. I need an Aldi to open up near me badly, haha. Between those two items, I spent about $2,800 more than you did over the year. Does your car insurance have very high deductibles, which lower your premiums significantly? I think that might be the main issue with mine.
As I’ve said before, I really enjoy your blog and the insights you provide. Looking forward to more this year and beyond!
Thanks Brian! Yea the market was a bummer this year, but they all can’t be great years. Saving $20K is killing it! That’s all you really can control.
Wow 29 is a lot of states! I had counted my total at one point, but can’t remember so I’ll need to count again haha.
Definitely still happy with LASIK, can’t begin to describe how annoying contacts were and the feeling to not have to worry about them anymore.
Will do a future post (in feb-March) detailing groceries as I’ve gotten a few comments on that. It really doesn’t though! I think my deductibles are $500 on collisions and $250 on comprehensive which is standard I believe.
Thanks for all the support Brian, I’ve really appreciate your comments over the past year! 🙂
Saving $4,500 and decreasing spending by $4k is no joke–you’re doing so well!
I feel you on the volunteering thing. I helped people learn Excel a couple times at my local library, and it was so incredibly worth it, but somehow I fell off the wagon. Gotta get back into it again!
Thanks Luxe! Hope your vacation was a great time and glad to have you back! 🙂
Yep – it’s really just a matter of looking for opportunities and pursuing them. The teaching excel idea is a great one as I have some expertise in that! I’ll have to look at my library as an option too
Way to go dude, great year! Keep it going and keep charging those scooters!
Appreciate it! And you know I will haha, though the recent snow storm interrupted that!
2018 was certainly a game changing year for both of us – well done on also almost doubling your savings rate!! And The Art of War is so long it should probably count as two books at least 😉
Absolutely, thank you and right back at you! (And you actually did double your savings rate 😂)
Sooo long, I should have done that!
Hooray for feeling like you’ve got your…stuff (I guess I’ll leave all the language on my own blog 😂) together! I still don’t feel like I’ve got it all together yet but I’m definitely getting there and being more intentional/mindful. Especially financially. Although I think I probably spent a bit more in 2018 than I did in 2017, oops. And congrats on decreasing your spending by so much and increasing your savings rate by such a huge amount! Those are definitely amazing numbers.
Seventeen days spent outside hiking around parks is awesome! I love that you have the number readily available—perhaps I need to start keeping track too.
More intentionality and mindfulness definitely helps! I’d say from reading your blog you’re a bit too modest and have your stuff together much more than you think 🙂
Yea I’ve been tracking all the hikes I’ve been on so I can look back to see all the places I’ve been!
I love your list of books! I’ve only gotten to a few of those, so I added some new ones from your list to my list! I also came here because I wanted to learn how you made money with electric scooter charging. What a side-hustle! Way to go. Next time someone asks me about an unexpected way to make money, I’m mentioning that.
Thanks so much! I definitely did read some big and impactful books this year which I was very happy about. Yes the scooter charging is definitely a unique one for sure but it’s been going great so far!
Congrats man! Sounds like an incredible year.
Saving $39,000 is the real deal. Reducing your spending by $4k is even more impressive. Plus, without a car payment, you’re in an even better position for next year.
Keep it up man, sounds like you’re killing it!
Appreciate it! Yes I’m so pumped to be done with the car payments. My biggest financial mistake is officially in the past and I can move on. Not quite killing it as much as you are, but doing what I can! 🙂