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.
That’s right. I am not rich. I am a wannabe retiree, as the website name suggests. What I write, say, and do are only that, things that only apply to me I am not a financial consultant, accountant, lawyer, guru, wizard, life coach, or any other type of person that can promise anything. What I write on this site is for my own accountability, reflection, and thoughts that need to come out through words.
If I was any of the above, I probably would be further down the path to FI right now. Unfortunately, I am not and have made many mistakes in my teens, 20’s, and 30’s. Do I hope some people will learn something from what I write? Sure. Hopefully, I will eventually be able to learn more from the readers though. I can’t promise wealth if you do what I do. I can only hope that if you want to achieve FI, you will question whether or not you are on the right path.
We are all responsible for ourselves. There are consequences for our actions, whether good or bad. You choose what you want your life to be full of.
If you would like to be rich or achieve financial independence than I suggest reading those who have done it, those who aspire to(including me), and those who don’t. Educating yourself will never hurt. You can learn so much from all three groups. You can learn what goals you align with, who you relate to, what you don’t want to emulate, and so much more. Real people such as MMM, GoCurryCracker, JMoney, 1500 Days, GenYFinanceGuy, and so many others are either on their way to FI or already there. They share their journey and how they have gotten to where they are. You only have to read the daily news to see what happens to the rest of us.
I see so many people want the quick fix. Nothing I write will ever give you that. Every FI blog I read, has a few simple messages. Invest over time in low cost index funds, spend less, and challenge what you think you really need. Of course there are many other things to learn such as what to invest in, how to optimize taxes, side hustles, and so on. But the core of how to start a journey to FI is to INVEST, SPEND LESS, and CHALLENGE EVERYTHING. Again don’t take my word for it. Read about others and how they did it or are doing it. Ask yourself, Am I happy? Am I where I need to be? How can I change?
I also feel the need to say that I would never sell or voluntarily disclose your email address or personal information. It is a little sad that I feel the need to write such a disclaimer. I started my journey because other websites inspired me to strive for more. I started this blog because I wanted to share with others and be part of a community. That is what this is about.
I have to think of this journey to FI as a game. Or, I would probably give up, get disinterested, too overwhelmed, or worse and go back to living like most people. I do not want to judge others and their lifestyles but I can’t allow myself to spend frivolously and put off what is important to me and my wife. So, I make it a game.
How much can I contribute to my 401k? Hell, lets just max it out and see what happens. Less taxes here we come!
How much can I contribute to our ETF? Screw it, lets start with $200 a week and see what happens. I don’t miss it and I get to see our ultimate goal grow and grow.
You get the point. I also do this with my rental property savings and personal savings.
It reminds me of working out. I hate trying to set aside 30 minutes to an hour everyday to work out. The idea that I have to set aside time when there are so many other things that I would rather be doing like time with my wife and kids, painting, web surfing, diy projects makes me not even want to start at all. However, I discovered if I made working out a game by seeing how many pushups I can do without stopping (which started at about 30 and now is 70), it doesn’t feel like one more chore. It only takes a minute to do that little exercise, Then, I decided, I will do this several times throughout the day, whenever it crossed my mind or I was bored. At my cubicle and restless, bam do some pushups. Ate a meal I shouldn’t have, get down and gave myself 60. I started seeing results in my arms and chest and a little in my stomach. I figured why stop there, lets start incorporating planks. Hell, lets start incorporating variations of planks. One minute to 3 minutes here and there throughout the day and no dreaded gym! I can still do all the other crap I want. Woohoo! Now, I may never get the beach body I never had but it wont hurt.
Just like my exercise game, I start seeing positive results. I get excited seeing our retirement accounts grow which only makes me want to continue the game. I figure out how to invest more. My retirement daydreams get more vivid and clearer with every deposit. I like what I see because it can be a reality if we continue.
What do you want out of life? My goal is to be free and there is a number associated with that. Can it be painful getting there? Yes. Is it more painful than being 65, 70, or older and working just to survive? I don’t think so. I am motivated by the image in my mind of having to work until death, just to survive. F@$% thaaaaaat!
Will my game work? Will my investments pay off in 10 years? Who knows… All I do know is that if it doesn’t work, I shouldn’t be worse off than if I hadn’t started at all. Even if I don’t make our ultimate goal of retiring in 10 years, we are still closer than we would have been if we didn’t start saving more of our income. I want to be responsible for our own path and how we got there. That means stop buying everything we want, don’t live beyond what we make, and don’ just live for today. Making this journey to FI a game helps me to not fall back and keeps me on track.
Anybody out there want to share some tricks to their finances? Any thoughts on the subject matter? Does anyone else make their FI a game? Would love to hear from any of my 4 subscribers:)