Good morning, y’all! 2014 is no more; long live 2015!
Having watched another year pass by, I’d like to take stock of where I am right now, and look at the progress I’ve made on my long-term personal finance goals.
2015 net worth update
Let’s start with the numbers:
The bad: If I had to pick one thing to feel bad about, it’s that the $31,300 gain to my retirement savings was so much bigger than the $15,000 drop in my debt.
Some of that was just being smart and contributing enough to a 401(k) or Health Savings Account to take advantage of an employer match.
Some of it was just the market being very kind to me. Can’t complain about that!
However, most of it was just because I don’t always do the smartest things.
The good: In the post yesterday detailing how much I spent on different things last year, the two biggest line items by far were student loan repayment and retirement savings.
This represents nothing short of a total transformation for me; as recently as 2013, those two numbers would have been $0 and $0 if I even tracked them (I didn’t).
But numbers aren’t everything and they definitely don’t tell the whole story of my 2014. Sending 60% of my take-home pay to savings and debt payments doesn’t come without sacrifices. I skipped weddings and birthdays, didn’t buy the nicest gifts, declined invitations for travel, restaurant dinners, and nights out, sold some things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place, and more.
And that’s why it’s such a great feeling to see this big increase, helping to reassure me that in at least one way, it was worth it.
Here’s a graph of my retirement savings, net worth, and debt ever since I started this blog back in January 2013.
2014 goal results
I set four personal finance goals for myself at the beginning of 2014.
2014 Goal #1: Pay off $27,000 in debt. FAIL.
I wasn’t even close on this one. This goal was always going to be a reach and I really shot myself in the foot by allocating so much effort toward retirement savings at the expense of paying down my student loans.
The lesson from this failure, of course, is to switch the two around and focus hard on paying off debt in 2015. It’s still a doable goal.
2014 Goal #2: Add $17,000 to retirement savings. PASS.
Because $31,300 is still more than $17,000, right? Excellent, let’s move along.
2014 Goal #3: Add $1378 to my emergency fund. PASS.
This is a very big deal for me. I’ve always had trouble adding to my savings account even though I knew it was important to put cash away for those inevitable rainy days.
I finally kicked my hesitancy by taking the 52-week savings challenge, wherein I saved just $1 the first week, $2 the next (easy, right?), and so forth until before I knew it, I was putting about $200 per month into savings in November and December.
The result? An emergency fund that’s now over $6,000 which makes me feel much more comfortable 🙂
2014 Goal #4: Reduce monthly food spending to $300 and switch to prepaid service to save on cell phone bills. NEUTRAL.
My food spending — which includes groceries, alcohol, dining out, and food while traveling — was just over $400 per month. I failed that part pretty badly.
I may never get to $300, but I think it’s still good to aim for.
I also never did switch to prepaid service.
However, I did drop my monthly bill from $90 to $18 thanks to switching to T-mobile (plus a couple other steps).
I’ll call this a neutral.
Pretty soon, I’ll post my personal finance goals for the new year, but for now, I’m happy with my results.
How did everyone else do with their goals?