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I Failed But Made Progress

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.



Mr. and Mrs. Wannabe Retiree Financial goals!

I’m 40 right now and our new goal for both myself and Mrs. Wannabe Retiree is to retire by the time I am 50, she will be 44. You may wonder if we are on track. I wonder that too. This is my first post on the subject and so only time will tell.  I may change my mind on the final numbers if life takes me that way but here are the goals as of right now.

Our Financial Goals to retire by 50:
401k: $700,000
ETF: $400,000
Cash: $100,000
Roth IRA: Don’t care!

Am I crazy? Maybe. I’m sure if there is anyone that does reads this site, they may think so. But, I can’t concern myself with them, unless they can help me get there. How far along am I? Well, that is a complicated answer in some aspects but I will try to break it down.

Current Financial State:
401k: about 26% there
ETF: about 2% there
Cash: who knows, its constantly fluctuating! It’s dwindling down as I write this. Gotta love diy remodeling!
Roth IRA: I do have some money in there. Enough for an economical car.

How in the hell am I going to reach our goal. I have been putting away money into a 401k for 18 years and I am only a 18% of the way to my financial freedom number…. It’s hopeless. I should just quit now and hope I can retire by the time I am 65.

Ok, I took a deep breath and now I’m back on track.

The Plan:

First, I bumped up my 401k savings.  That seems logical I thought.  Now, I am contributing the max allowed which of course is $18,000 per year according to my age.  The company matches 3.5% of what I make per year which will add another $2,500 to my 401k for a grand total of $20,500 deposited into my 401k.  Easy peasey right?!  Now a lot of people would probably stop reading right now.  I get it.  Life is not that simple.  It’s not easy raising a family, paying for rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, food, entertainment, insurance, vacations, and everything else we are accustomed to.  But for those of us that have a different goal, a different pursuit of what happiness is.  It comes down to a simple philosophy for me.  Reduce or get rid of what doesn’t matter!

Second, I opened up an ETF(electronic traded fund).  I wanted to have an account that I can access at anytime, without penalty, and with the freedom to do with it as I will.  I decided that I will deposit a minimum average of $200 a week into this account.  I then talked to the Mrs Wannabe Retiree, and she will be doing the same as soon as she finishes nursing school and starts her career this summer. That totals a minimum of $20,800 being shoveled into the ETF account.  Holy crap, that’s about how much I made in a year when I was in my early 20’s!  Ok, now those that have not left after reading the last paragraph are probably f’n pissed off or don’t believe a word they are reading right now.  Younger people just getting started may only be taking home $200 a week.  Just remember these are my numbers because I didn’t do as much as I could/should have when I was younger.  I have to allocate this much to even have a chance of making my goal.

Third, we will save any extra money not allocated to something. (Extra paycheck month, bonus, tax returns, raises)  I anticipate that this will be between $5,000 to $10,000 added to the pot every year.

Some people may have some serious questions about how I came up with these numbers? Well, I figured out that we will need about $40,000 a year to sustain our current lifestyle.  This will include house payments, food, utilities, vacations, insurance, and all the other bills that most of us have.  We need about 25x what we spend annually to fund our retirement.

“How the hell are you going to fund your whole retirement on this amount?” Others may think it is more than they would need. If you run the numbers, which I very much like to do.  Use FireCalc to see what you may need to retire with confidence.  FireCalc takes the history of the stock market and outputs your probability of being able to be retired for X amount of years.  This includes all eras, like the great depression, dot com bubble, housing bubble, and all the good years as well. I find that a total of 1.1 to 1.2 million should be enough for me and mine.  As I get older I may not need as much as I think, I may need more.  I will prepare as best as I can and adjust when the time comes.  One thing I have figured out in my life, is that people in general are resilient and will find a way to survive.  And if you don’t survive, well…. none of this will matter anyway.

I didn’t take into account social security although I do believe there will be benefits dispensed when the time comes.  I wanted to focus on the things I can control which is our savings rate.  I may miss out on the latest and greatest technology, toys, and superficial desires.  But you can probably guess that none of that is important to me right now.  I will still have my house, my used paid off cars, my hobbies, a couple of vacations a year, and my family.  Will I live like a king? Nope, of course not.  Will I be suffering just to meet my goal? I hope the hell not!


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