2017 Annual Progress Report – 12 Years To Go!

As several of you are aware, the entire goal of this blog is to chronicle the journey to having a net worth of $1,000,000 by my 40th birthday, which is February 12, 2029. That being the case, it is fitting to have an annual progress report to show how far we have come over the previous year. Well, today is my birthday! Because the blog is so new, this will serve as the inaugural edition!

Since we are starting from scratch, let’s establish where we currently stand financially. At time of writing, we are worth -$29,484. Mind you, this is after a weekend spent in Washington DC visiting friends, so our food and drink budget may be a little out of whack for February. At the same approximate time last year, our net worth was -$77,571So, without implementing the financial principles that we have committed to recently, and while making tremendous financial mistakes, we managed to increase our net worth by +$48,087 over the past 12 months. Not bad, considering how unfocused and undisciplined we were.

Over the past couple of months, I have made our finances priority number one. I had the realization that I didn’t want money for the sake of having it, but for the freedom it grants. If you are not shackled to a job you hate because you need to be able to pay the bills, it makes searching for your passion possible. By achieving financial independence, my wife and I will be able to work when we want, and how we want. Don’t get me wrong, we both enjoy our current careers, but who knows what will happen in the future? Computers may replace us all at some point (half joking), so it only makes sense to get a jump on the competition and make a stake for ourselves in the future.

Making a Game Plan

As it stands today, we will have to change our net worth by +$85,790 on average every year to be millionaires by my 40th birthday. That is quite the feat, but I believe it is doable is 2 ways:

  1. Getting more serious (see: crazy) about budgeting and hoarding every penny we can muster.
  2. The beauty of compounding growth in investments.

Budgeting

When I look at our budgets in Mint, I am struck with a sense of shame. The amount of money that we spend on food and drink is shocking – so much that I am not comfortable sharing on the blog at this point. Once we get it under control, I will be more than willing to write about it, but as it stands now I don’t know that I could face the music. So, I am going to do something about it.

I have already implemented a plan to reduce our food and drink budget dramatically by eating out less and doing more bulk cooking. Our friends at Frugalwoods have a wonderful guide to living on a reasonable food budget, and although they are far beyond our current level of frugality, there are some valuable pieces of advice. My favorite was the idea of making a large batch of food on Sunday night and eating the food over the course of the week. Anyone who has worked a full-time job knows how challenging it is to cook every single weeknight, so why punish yourself? Cook ahead of time and nuke it after hard day’s work! In fact, I plan on buying several pounds worth of chicken next time we go to the grocery store and grilling them all up in one fell swoop – I will be sure to take pictures and write a blog post about it, for better or worse. Fingers crossed!

Investments

This is going to be the slowest growing portion of our net worth. Thankfully, both my wife and I have employer-matching retirement plans that we contribute to every paycheck. Mine is the Thrift Savings Plan, the federal government’s version of a 401k, and my wife’s is a traditional 401k. My contributions are matched up to 5%, and my wife’s are matched 1:2 up to 6%. With our current combined income of $165,147 annually, we are able to put away $15,685 toward retirement per year. This amount should increase as our respective salaries increase

We are both invested quite aggressively because we don’t plan on retiring any time soon, so we are more than willing to ride out the market fluctuations for an opportunity for long-term growth. Due to the rather bullish pace of the market over the past year, our investments returned +23.85%, which is FAR better than our anticipated 8%. A market downturn will certainly set us back in our overall net worth, but it will give us the opportunity to buy into equities at a low price, which should drive growth over the long-term. In fact, I would LOVE big market downturn right about now – it would give us a chance to invest now so we can reap the rewards in the future.

I know the growth of our investments will be a slow one, but natural beauty of compound growth should help us get over the million dollar hump towards the end our deadline of February 12, 2029. That is, unless we hit a major market downturn in 12 years, which would be unfortunate. Still, we would be young enough to ride it out, and hopefully we will have built other streams of income by then as well.

Conclusion

I am proud of the progress that we have made over the past year, but I am certain that we can do far better. By implementing some serious but realistic budgeting goals, I believe that we can beat last year’s net worth change by +$12,000. It’s going to take some serious sacrifice and commitment, but I believe that it can be done. Not because we are financial and self-discipline gurus (quite the opposite) but because of the help and support that the personal finance community has given us. Even though we are relatively new to this whole thing, the encouragement and cheering that we have received from other bloggers and on Twitter have been nothing short of phenomenal. I am personally inspired by the stories that are told in this community – it makes the dream of financial independence a distant, but achievable reality.

Have you achieved your financial goals since last year? What did you do well, and what could you do better? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Replies to “2017 Annual Progress Report – 12 Years To Go!”

  1. Loving the update here MB40! Good on you for getting closer to breaking even on the net worth.. I’m sure you can smash the 1 mill mark although out of interest what about cash flow? Are you looking to generate x amount of cash to replace your income?

    For me this is a more meaningful measure rather than having a mill in net worth.. An example is that you could have 1 house (especially here in Australia) worth 800k with no debt although it is unlikely to be generating sufficient income to support a FIRE lifestyle

    As for my goals I’ll be honest I haven’t really chiseled them in stone, although have written a post about them.. Although I’ll be FIRE by 40 (150k residual income from investments) per year in 2029, around the same time as your goal 😉

    1. I would be interested in generating additional revenue streams so I can gradually build cash flow. I suppose I could rely on the 4% rule for withdrawing, but that would require a significant amount of capital invested. Any suggestions for increasing revenue outside of the normal 9-5? I have a long time before I can reliably monetize the blog 💸

      1. A great guy to follow is Dave Carlson from Young Adult Money for side hustling.. It really depends on how much time and the types of skills you have 🙂
        There’s ways to invest in things like P2P lending, shares, rental property etc

        Interested to see you come up with some creative ideas and happy for you to bounce some off me! 🙂

        1. I have seen some of his stuff — great work for sure. I have also been listening to Chris Gillebeau’s podcast about Side Hustles. I am always looking for ways to increase the income streams. Sounds like you are too! I am just struggling to find a niche that I can service with my skills, which are very specific given my profession. If anything, I would almost prefer to NOT use my current skills in favor of developing new, more diverse sets.

          1. Keep on keeping on MB40.. Am confident we’ll both get there, it’s simply about focusing on the goal and then working backwards..

            I feel very similar to the way that you do and it’s likely due to us being type A personalities

            Cheers and keep it up!

  2. MBF,
    Good work over the last year. Most ppl are going in the wrong direction. Your focus and and habits will compound incrementally just like your investments. Excited to see how much ground you make up in 2017…

    Here’s my personal progress towards MB55.
    Net worth on 1/1/16 = + $305,579
    Net worth on 1/1/17 = + $397,651
    Gained + $92,072

    The awesome part of your mission is how much faster the progress gets as you build momentum and once you finally get to positive it starts to take on a life of its own because you are able to focus all of your resources on wealth building. It was only a few years ago that I was in the red and in approx. another year I’ll be 1/2 way to MB55!

    1. That is so awesome to see! Tremendous growth in a year’s time. I’m sure the bull market has been kind to your holdings as well 😉

      I can’t wait to be where you are. Thanks for the note!

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