Whew! December was the month of travel, as you might have noticed from my sporadic posting schedule these last few weeks.
I started the month off with a week of some boring work related travel. I came back just in time for Lady Money Wizard and I to jet off to Denver, which has become a sort of annual Christmas tradition for us.
Long time followers of the blog probably remember that I lived in Denver for a few years before moving up to Minneapolis three years ago.
I love Minnesota in it’s own, umm… unique… way. It’s important to remind myself of that during these winter stretches of brutal sub-zero temperatures. Nevertheless, it’s about this time of year that Lady Money Wizard and I enjoy taking a sentimental trip to the sunny, mountain-playground state called Colorado.
In Denver, we wined. We dined. And this time, we skied!
Yep, I finally convinced Lady Money Wizard to join one of my ski trips, and we had a blast. Or so she tells me, to avoid breaking my heart. 🙂
With legs turned to complete jelly thanks to the mountains, I flew home to Minnesota. Where I spent a whole whopping 9 hours before catching the next plane to Dallas, to visit family for Christmas.
The trip home was filled with far too many family highlights to list in this short post, but for completeness, I will include this massive 17-beer flight we managed to chug down at a local brewery.
With the end of December approaching, we packed up the Christmas decorations and I said my good-byes to parents, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Again, I found myself flying back to Minnesota.
This time, I’d stay a whopping one day before catching the next plane to Florida, with plans to crash with Lady Money Wizard’s family for the New Year.
All in all, total days not traveling in December? 8.
Let’s see what that did to my net worth:
Net Worth Update: December 2017
Wow, didn’t expect that. To the detailed breakdown!
Cash: $6,760 (-$1,536)
The two biggest cash events this month were:
- A $2,750 contribution to my Roth IRA. Hooray! After months of procrastination, we’re finally maxed out for 2017 IRA contributions
- A $1,000 year-end bonus at work. A nice little surprise.
Brokerage: $113,238 (+$4,140)
At this point these net worth updates are starting to sound like broken records, but the market continues to a new high.
In last month’s net worth update, I mentioned the Dow index hit a new all time high of 24,000. In this month’s update, what do you know… another new time high! 25,000 now.
It’s a good thing I didn’t sit on the sidelines when I thought the market was already overvalued last year, or I’d have missed out on a legendary run up. I still think this economy could be a sham, but as an index fund investor, I’ll keep riding the wave ever higher and hope for the best.
No contributions this month, and my breakdown remains:
- $58,000 invested with Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund (Related: How to Choose a Vanguard Index Fund)
- About $33,000 invested in a mixture of Vanguard growth, value, and bond ETFs.
- About $20,000 of individual stocks back from the days when I thought I could beat the market. I’ve now wised up and decided not to trade individual stocks
401(k): $88,043 (+$6,191)
Around $2,000 of that $6,000 gain was from my own contributions and employer matching, and the rest was the continued rally of this crazy stock market.
In December, I actually adjusted my contributions down for 2018. I’m still planning on hitting the $18,500 IRS allowed 401k maximum, but since I won’t be spending the beginning of 2018 paying off a car, my contribution per paycheck should be about $250 less come January 2018. Definitely looking forward to that little “raise” as we head into the new year.
Roth IRA: $23,679 (+$2,177)
Take that, procrastination! After almost an entire year of feet dragging, I finally contributed to my Roth IRA in November. Then in December, I kept the streak alive – I finished maxing out my 2017 IRA with a final $2,750 contribution.
And my efforts were immediately rewarded with a $600 drop in IRA value. Thanks, Vanguard’s REIT index fund. (Where my entire Roth is invested.)
Of course, none of that short term performance even matters, since I’m in this baby for the long haul.
Mortgage Payable: $768 (+$10)
Not a whole lot of surprise here. Our mortgage stays at $680 per month, and we keep pretending our rent is $1,300 in order to build up a fund for the home maintenance that we know is eventually coming our way.
The $10 difference comes down to the freezing cold temperatures this time of year, which apparently meant the radiator was working a little harder to keep it toasty.
Credit Cards Payable: $2,177 (+$7)
Veeeery overstated this month, because not only is there a week long business trip on there, but I also plopped down a whopping $1,300 to rent a ski cabin for a group of 8. Me and my best friends are heading for an affordable ski trip in Steamboat, Colorado at the end of January, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Let’s head to the monthly spending report for a more accurate break down:
Total December Spending: $1,897
Traveling for 23 out of 31 days has its expenses, but apparently groceries isn’t one of them.
Dining Out: $86
After last month’s disasterous $400+ dining out bill, I went on record, even offering to let you readers beat me over the head with my restaurant bill, if I didn’t get this expense under control in December.
Luckily, I mostly succeeded. I brought my lunch to work almost every single day, and I kept to home cooking for the few days I was home.
I did eat out some while traveling, which will show up a little further down this report. Even still, my wallet and my health is definitely happier with the fewer trips out.
I didn’t fork over a cent for the 5 flights I took this month, thanks to cashing in points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I was also fortunate in that mine and lady money wizard’s family are much more generous in their lodging costs (free) than the standard hotel chain.
So most of this spending was related to entertainment while traveling. Ski lift tickets, a rental condo, a few dinners out, and the previously mentioned 17 beer MONSTER flight make up the bulk of these costs.
‘Tis the season… mostly the cost of Christmas gifts here.
I also went on a shopping spree to support Toys for Tots. In doing my best impersonation of my 12 year old self, I also realized something my 12 year old self never would – charitable giving to a good cause really is some of the best money spent.
And that’s a wrap on 2017!! Stay tuned on all sorts of annual reviews, goal setting, and much more shenanigans over the coming days and weeks.
By the way, if you’re not already tracking your own spending, I can say from experience it’s probably the easiest way to take control of your money. I highly recommend Personal Capital, which will track everything for you automatically. If you prefer to be a little more OCD, you can always track it manually using this underrated iPhone app.
Readers, how was your December?