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I failed to achieve my goals of saving a specific amount of money for 2016. I wanted to invest $18,000 in my 401k, and save $17,000 in our ETF, to start. It was a little disappointing but life, projects, interests, and desires get in the way. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to have something to look forward to other than retiring early. We have to live a life of fulfillment between now and that time. Will I try to be smart about it, of course. Will I set my goals higher for 2017? Yes!
So what went wrong/right?
I was able to invest about $17,500 in my 401k for 2016. So, I was off about $500 from my goal but with my company match I was able to save about $20000 total for 2016.
Mrs. WR and me were able to save about $14,500 in our ETF. This was the biggest disappointment because I strived to invest $17,000.
You want to hear excuses? Because, I got plenty of them.
So, the bathroom remodel turned into a bathroom, master bedroom, and 3 room carpet replacement remodel. I haven’t tallied up the specific amounts of all the projects but I probably went $4,000 over budget. I do not regret it one bit. We love the new bathroom, our bedroom, and the carpet. It all feels like a place we want to spend time in. It also caused me to get a little artistic with the bedroom furniture, instead of buying brand new. This got my creative spark back to start painting again. I am happier because of it and so is Mrs. WR because she gets to take baths again.
The second main excuse for me not achieving our goals in 2016, is that we a re planning a trip to Europe with the kids. We were planning on doing this in 2019 or so but I had the bright idea of doing it in 2017. My oldest is going into the 7th grade after this school year which means he will no longer be going to school year round. Knowing that going to Europe in the summer is more expensive and crowded, we decided to go in March. Everyone is excited and I am excited for them to see other cultures, lifestyles, and way of life abroad. This of course is a huge expense and unfortunately I did not have enough airline miles to make it less so.
Third, I had to fix up, replace, and repair my townhome rental in 2016. After my last tenant left, it was not left in good shape. This caused another unexpected expense that took a month out of my spare time and seriously questioned my desire of being an accidental landlord. However, we did what we needed to do and are lucky enough to have a great renter now.
So yes, I failed my monetary goals for 2016. Could I have achieved my goals and more? Sure I could have. However, I strive for balance in my life. Everything in moderation because if I allow myself to care about only one thing, I lose sight of other important things like happiness, family, and self fulfillment. There is more to life than savings goals and the extreme desire to retire early.
For all my excuses and failures, we still managed to progress. Our goal is to have about $1,100,000 to $1,200,000 for FIRE. At the beginning of 2016 we were about 18 to 19.6% of our goal. In the beginning of 2017, we were about 23.4 to 25.5% of our goal. How about that! A little bit of failure and yet we still progressed toward our goal by about 5-6%.
So what now? Well, we plan to up the ante. With my wife finally done with school and working as a RN. I continue to try to increase my income yearly by modest amounts. I am unfortunately at the highest position I can achieve at the company I work for and therefore have limited to no growth opportunities. This is my own doing because I did not finish getting my bachelors degree. So, let this be a lesson to all those that are starting or in the middle of your journey to FIRE. Get your education or enhance skill sets, so that you can have more opportunity and freedom.
In a perfect 2017 savings goal scenario, we would like to do the following:
Mr. WR 401k: $20,500 employee and company match total
Mrs WR 401k :$12,000 employee and company match total
Our ETF: $30,000 more added.
Can we do it? I am optimistic but I am also a realist. We will definitely have to push ourselves towards these goals but I do know that life will get in the way at any moment, which is ok with me. I know that even if we fail to reach these goals, we will still progress toward the ultimate goal of FIRE and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. I won’t let failure get in the way, discourage me, or prevent us from enjoying our life and journey. I hope that your failures won’t prevent you from achieving your ultimate goals.