Let’s see if I’m also one-quarter of the way to my 2016 goals.
Here’s what happened to my debt, retirement savings, and net worth over the last month:
How I did it
The $14,200 gain feels terrific and adds to a 2016 that, so far, has seen a perfect storm of factors to help my bottom line.
The markets from which I draw my portfolio did very well. The Fidelity index fund FSTVX, which tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index, the first quarter of 2016 was the best in at least two years, and a welcome rebound from the unforgiving second half of 2015.
March was also the first month that a new raise took effect at work. For me, the danger with raises is that lifestyle inflation can easily eat up all that extra money.
Besides that increase in income, I also saw a few small lump sums come my way — a tax refund and a small performance bonus. Of course, the danger with lump sums is that, because they feel like surprise money, they get spent up on toys immediately.
To prevent both of these dangers, I made sure to take that extra cash out of my hands as soon as possible by bumping my 401(k) deferral up to 60 percent of my salary — the maximum our program allows — and continued to live as frugally as I did before. I’ve found that the best way to prevent spending of found money is to pretend that it doesn’t even exist.
Over half of my net worth increase this past month came from the gains in the stock market. Put differently, the stock market helped my portfolio more this month more than I did, through my contributions.
But it’s not the first time that’s happened, so this isn’t the milestone I was talking about.
The bigger milestone is that last month’s stock market gains were more than my entire March income. Of course, I definitely can’t expect this every month. Still, it’s a nice glimpse into a future, somewhere far down the road, where I can just sit back and watch my money make money for me.
Huzzah! Hope everyone else’s March was just as prosperous 🙂