What can I say… 2019 was such a good year it took me a full 3 weeks to come to terms with and recap it! 🙂 All kidding aside (and excuse my laziness in writing to start the year…) it really, truly was an amazing year, and one I’ll look back on with some great memories.
Recapping an entire year can be tough, especially all within one blog post, but I’ll do my best to go over some of the highlights!
2019 Life Recap
Not to sound cliché, but the phrase “work hard, play hard” could certainly apply to my 2019. It’s easily been one of the toughest years in terms of working hours and job responsibilities for my job, but I can at least say it paid off with a raise and then subsequent promotion and raise all within the first half of the year to tremendously boost my salary (from $83K at end of 2018 to $97K in June 2019). As you’ll see later, the effect this has had on my Net Worth and Savings has been staggering.
On the other front, I definitely had my fair share of “play” and fun throughout.
I counted 22 separate days of hiking this year (up from 17 in 2018!) and to be honest, the higher this number, the better! The outdoors gives me so much joy and happiness I can’t get enough of it. My partner and I also threw in our first camping trip this year, which we hope to do more of in 2020 as well.
I also took several trips last year, with family, visiting family, visiting my partner’s family, seeing old friends, and of course, with my partner. These trips spanned 10 separate states, and one new one (hello Georgia!). There was only one international trip this year, a day trip to Canada, but I’m planning to get back on that in the coming years as well. Traveling is something I greatly value, so definitely expect to see more of it in the future!
There were also so many other great moments that I got to celebrate in 2019 (in no particular order):
- Welcomed a new member of the family (my niece!)
- Moved in with my partner!
- Watched my sister walk the stage at her college graduation
- Saw my brother play in a Division I lacrosse game
- Celebrated a wedding (my partner’s good friend)
- Introduced my partner to many of my longtime friends
- Met most of my partner’s extended family on two separate occasions
- Attended another Camp FI and my first FinCon and met so many other members within the FIRE community!
- Spent quality time in and around DC with my partner
As you can see I certainly had a lot to look back and reflect on! It was a year full of highlights, though also one of change and the formation of new routines (see moving in with partner 🙂 ).
I honestly struggled to think of any bad moments during the year (aside from my normal pain points of long working hours and commute, and a lack of any side hustle progress whatsoever), which is a testament to how well things are going right now for me. It’s tough to find anything to complain about, so I’m gonna stop right there and just be grateful for everything I have!
I can only hope 2020 will be as good a year as 2019, but I’ve got my sights set high!
2019 Financial Recap
As good as things are going personal life wise, financially speaking 2019 was by far my best year yet. I both made more and spent less money than I ever have with the resulting gain to my Net Worth the largest it’s ever been as well.
A $71,450 increase! That’s crazy to think about that kind of increase happening in one year, especially when I look back and see it took me 3 years and 4 months to get to an original Net Worth of $75K. While a majority of this increase came from straight Savings (~$46K), the rest came from investment returns (~$25K) which just goes to show the power of compounding returns. When the market does as well as it did last year, it’s amazing to see those returns stack up!
I have to say, even though I missed my unspoken goal of spending less than $30,000, what I ended up spending still was the lowest amount I’ve ever spent in a full year before! When looking at the breakout, it’s easy see why: eliminating that car payment at the end of 2018 was a huge driver (HAH!), though I intentionally did not mean to completely lower my spending by that amount with my aim to give more.
Here were a few of the big categories:
Rent/Utilities – The combined was about $800 more than 2018, owing mostly to the double rent I was paying during the brief period of moving into our new apartment.
Medical – $300 less than 2018. I was very fortunate to have a healthy year and hope for another one in 2020! This does not include the premiums that I pay that are taken out of my paycheck pre-tax.
Entertainment – Wow that was a huge decrease year over year! $500 of this was a reduction in bar related spending, which is totally fine with me haha. Another $400 of that was paying for one less Camp FI in 2019 than in 2018. The rest was related to various other lowering of “fun” expenses, including no wedding tux to pay for!
Gifts/Donations – This was planned way in advance and really happy I followed through with the extra giving this year!
Misc – There were several items that led to a much higher expense here this year. $250 for a pre-inspection on a failed condo bid, $340 on owing on my taxes (as opposed to getting a return in 2018), around $200 in additional metro commute costs after my move (will be moved to “Transportation Other” in 2020), and lots of other moving related costs that did not show up in the prior year.
With over half of my spending going towards rent (wow that’s depressing to write), I know that in order to make any big progress on drastically reducing my expenses I’d likely need to move out of DC and to a lower cost of living area. We’ll see what 2020 brings!
I saved nearly $47,000 in 2019 (compared to $39,000 in 2018)!! The increase was largely driven by my aforementioned salary increases, though lowering my expenses helped a bit as well. The resulting 61% Savings rate is easily my largest ever!
Though my Side Hustle income was disappointing and “Other Income” decreased (no tax return this year and no $775 in fantasy football winnings), everything else went in the right direction and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
I’ve got my finances on autopilot for the most part, so it’s amazing to take a step back and see a year’s worth of progress.
Lastly, let’s do a quick recap (since this is already lengthy!) to see how I did on those pesky goals I set early on in the year:
2019 Goals Review
Max Out 401K/HSA
Not much more to say here, but it’s always great seeing your last paycheck of the year have a little more cash in it as you max out your 401K and thus have less to contribute!
Purchase Rental Property #1
Same as last update – this did not happen this year, though that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on it… It’s only January and I already have a realtor in an area I’ve been idly watching for some time… Will write more when (or if) there is news to share!
Fully Fund Roth IRA… with ONLY Side Hustles
Well I accomplished the first part… but definitely not with Side Hustle money. I only brought in $323 in Side Hustles this year, so this was a big time FAIL. I never really got the momentum going on anything, and spent much more time thinking about potential side hustles, instead of just going out and doing them. This is a lesson I’m hoping put into action more in 2020.
Savings Rate of 65%
Also a fail – as this one was reliant on getting a decent amount of side hustle income, and/or drastically reducing my spending (via a move to a LCOL area). As neither of these happened, I didn’t quite make it there. Still, in no way am I disappointed in a 61% savings rate. Just because I missed a stretch goal doesn’t mean I’m not proud of all the progress I did make!
Raise My Pre-Tax Income > $100K
Well, at least I can say I’m accurate at forecasting (I’d hope so as that is my job!) seeing as last update I mentioned I thought I would land somewhere between $97K-$98K in pre-tax income. Those darn lack of side hustles once again doomed me! So long as I maintain my full time job next year (I have no plans otherwise), 2020 should be the first year I break $100K in pre-tax income.
Read at least 12 Books
Success! Or close enough as I finished my 12th book right after the New Year turned. I could have finished on NYE, but wanted to spend some quality time with my partner instead so I’ll give myself a pass 🙂
Here were the books for those interested:
- Work Optional – Tanja Hester
- Fed Up – Gemma Hartley
- Meet the Frugalwoods – Elizabeth Willard Thames
- Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari; (probably my favorite one this year – I find this stuff fascinating)
- Deep Nutrition – Catherine Shanahan; (this book has completely changed my outlook on food – will be writing on this in the near future!)
- The Demon Cycle Series – (final 2 books) – Peter Brett
- The Old Kingdom Series – (first 4 books, and a 5th book of short stories) – Garth Nix
Work Out More Consistently
Like in 2018, I was on and off this year with working out – which is the definition of not consistent – so I suppose if I’m being honest, this is a fail.
I am encouraged however, as I think I have a good system in place to have sustained success in 2020 on this front. Add on top of that the daily 100 push-ups and planks I’m doing, and I know I’m staying active on exercise front!
Result: Fail (though encouraged!)
At Least One Long Walk/Run/Hike Per Week
This was a very well defined goal, but not one that I tracked this year for some reason… (puzzling, I know). So while it’s inconclusive, I suspect there were at least a few weeks like this that were not true. That being said, I was very active in running outdoors more, and add to that the 22 days of hiking and it really was a more active year cardio wise!
Result: Fail (for lack of a better answer!)
Meditate, Yoga, or Stretch every day
Also a fail, but one I’ve built up a daily streak with heading into 2020! I’m currently at 63 days in a row, and I really think I have a good system going to sustain this. I’ve noticed my stress levels have began to wane as I can more easily decompress, and remove myself from the rigors of the few stressful aspects of my life.
Result: Fail (though also encouraged!)
Post (at least) Once Per Week on Blog
Ha – no need to say much here, as those who’ve been following along have likely noticed my lack of consistent writing in the past several months. This blog has always been a fun hobby of mine, and I think treating it that way going forwards will keep me going in the long term.
While I definitely think I need to get back to flexing my writing muscles more consistently, I don’t want to force it, and don’t want to burn myself out by trying to do too much when I’ve got a lot of good things going on right now. I’m making no promises on a posting schedule in 2020, but I’m hoping I’ll get my act together to get some more of my thoughts out there! 🙂
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you all. 2019 was certainly one for the ages, but I’ve got plans in store to make 2020 even more memorable 🙂
How did 2019 turn out for you all!? I’d love to hear!