Welcome to April, friends.
If you’re in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere like me, you’re finally seeing some green out there after a long winter.
It’s fitting that I’m writing this post at the beginning of spring and surrounded by so much life. For many cultures, spring has come to symbolize rebirth.
In the first quarter of 2017, the purely financial changes in my life were overshadowed by a personal rebirth of sorts. After all, what is marriage but the rebirth of two lives and two sets of goals into one?
Of course, there are also plenty of financial implications to marriage too, but more on that another day.
Let’s get to some numbers.
Change in net worth
Over the first quarter of 2017:
- I paid off $4,400 of debt to bring the total down to $61,100
- I added $41,400 to my retirement savings to increase the total to $207,100
- Combining the two, my net worth increased by $45,800 to $145,900
Here’s a graph:
In this graph, I break down the aforementioned debt and retirement numbers into monthly gains, then overlaid my average monthly gain from 2016 for some perspective.
How I did it
The first three months of the calendar year seem to always be pretty good for me (In 2014 and 2016, the first was my best quarter both times). I can think of a few reasons why that’s the case:
- Bonuses. Like many others, my company frontloads pay at the begining of the year through performance bonuses. Over 40 percent of my 2017 pay will have come in the first three months
- Tax-advantaged savings. I save throughout the year, but tax-advantaged comtributions to my 401(k) and Roth IRA in the first few months mean my savings go about 20 percent further.
- Motvation. Every new year is a new opportunity to resolve to do better than last time. Before this optimism wanes, I’m better able ot stick to the frugal ways that allow me to save more.
These factors, combined with the S&P 500 already being up 3 percent in 2017, made for a very strong first quarter — albeit with a much slower March affected by expenses related to the wedding.
It feels odd writing so bloodlessly about personal finance during a quarter in which I also got married, but because it happened so close to the end of March, it didn’t affect these numbers too much.
In future posts, I’ll start to outline the changes that’ll come from truly joint assets, expenses, and lives.