The first Net Worth Update of 2017!
According to my fancy analytics machine, there’s a 57.1% chance that you’re new here. If so, congrats! You’ve found a website that’s probably gonna make you rich. Or at least be a fun distraction…
For those 57.1 percent of you, here’s my usual monthly spiel. Every month I spill all of my financial beans in an effort to track my progress towards an early retirement, while also showing that you don’t have to eat actual beans every night to reach such a dream.
To take the last point to an extreme, I went and did one of the most wallet crushing things possible in January; I went on a ski vacation.
I did save money where I could, plus the trip was bolstered by its strategically chosen international location.
I’m talking about Canada, our friendly neighbors to the North who are so kind, they even weakened their currency leading up to my visit! Thanks, friendly Canadians!
With the favorable exchange rate, I enjoyed a 25% discount on all my purchases. As an added benefit, Whistler happens to have some of the best skiing in North America. Frugality and amazing memories… talk about the dream vacation for yours truly.
That said, no matter how rich those American dollars make you feel, it’s never cheap to hop on a plane, fly halfway across the continent, and set up a new life for a week.
Thankfully, I was rewarded with skiing one of the most mind blowing mountains I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. Whistler is YUGE, and believe me, I’ve skied everything from the Minnesota mountains (ahem, hills..) to Utah Mountains to Colorado Mega Resorts. But at Whistler, in one ten minute ski run, a person can ski all the way from the top of the mountain to the bottom – an astounding 5,800 feet of elevation change. For comparison, even the second biggest ski mountains on this continent are only about half the size.
I won’t lie, I was huffing and puffing like an out of shape flat-lander. But cut me some slack, that’s a vertical mile!
An added bonus of a mountain that sits above the clouds is the jaw dropping photo ops. I managed a few pictures out of the deal which, although they look pretty darn good from my office desk, don’t do the real life scene any sort of justice:
For now, a trip to a place so beautiful, spending my carefree days doing something I love, is just a taste of the life that waits outside the chains of the wage slaving world. These are the sort of vacations which recharge my motivation to work harder, earn more, save more, and build myself the freedom to live this sort of lifestyle permanently.
In other monthly news, I spent a few more days house sitting for the now infamous million dollar home, where I can still report that mansions are completely, entirely, overrated.
Oh, and this native Texan took one step closer, literally and figuratively, to becoming a true Minnesotan by walking across this frozen lake:
Let’s snowshoe right onto the update!
January 2017 Net Worth Update
Whoa! After all the chaos, we have a smooth, clean, $158,000… exactly! Is this the monthly update equivalent of one of those old-timey screen savers bouncing off the exact corner of the screen?
Oh the things we bloggers get excited about. On a similar note, isn’t it strange how the Merrill Lynch account has the repetitive balance of 47474?
No? Maybe these patterns are getting out of control. Somebody shake me before I go all Jim Carey in The Number 23 on ya.
(Bam, a reference from a movie I never even saw!)
Cash Savings: $8,772 (+$661)
Honestly, I’m a little surprised this didn’t increase higher. I collected a lot of the expenses I previously fronted for the above mentioned 8 person ski trip, although I guess this lump sum was partly canceled out by paying last month’s unusually large credit card bill.
Vanguard: $61,338 (+$901)
Dow 20,000 lifted all boats, apparently. This balance includes just two funds: the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) and my Roth IRA, which holds Vanguard’s REIT Index, VGSLX. Balances at month end were roughly:
- Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX): $47,900
- Vanguard REIT Index (VGSLX): $13,400 (Roth IRA)
Can’t decide if a Roth IRA is right for you? Read this, and give yourself permission to relax.
Merrill Lynch: $47,474 (+$1,555)
No contributions to the brokerage account this month, (or during the past 12 months) so this is all market gains.
Here’s a quick lesson to myself and others why there’s no sense panicking over record highs in the stock market. When I published my first net worth update back in April 2016, I thought a market crash was just around the corner. Human tendency is to try and outsmart this “high” market and sell at the top, then hold off investing until prices come back down to “reasonable” levels.
Well, since that April update, this brokerage account alone continued to rally another 8%, which is an annualized return of well over 10%. Had I sold, I’d have missed all these gains, and waiting for more “reasonable” prices could have left me sitting on the sidelines, right through all of the market rallies.
The key takeaway? When in doubt, keep investing!
401K: $48,219 (+$1,592)
$950 of the ~$1,600 gain was from my own automatic contributions and employer matches, while the other $650 came from the January market increases.
I am looking forward to this account growing faster once I kill that car loan and get back on pace for $18,000 of 401K contributions in 2017.
Rent Payable: $717 (+$27)
Ah! The utilities! My heating bill was not pretty this month. I think I have some faulty insulation, because my bedroom is FREEZING! I noticed a nice arctic blast breezing right through the bedroom window.
Something is telling me it’s time for a maintenance request, and by something, I mean my numb toes in the middle of the night.
Credit Cards Payable: $1,178 (-$2,662)
I like this level of credit card bill much more than the previous month. This isn’t quuuite a full month of spending, since my primary credit card these days has a billing cycle which ends in the middle of the month.
Which reminds me, I need to get that due date changed to match my other credit cards. (Protip: always make sure your credit cards’ due dates line up, in order to avoid confusion and late fees.)
Auto Loan: $7,500 (+$0)
This sucker is dead in the water. I can pay it off today, but I’ll wait one more paycheck when I should be able to pay the loan off completely and still have about $2,000 left over, which is almost exactly my preferred emergency fund size.
If you told me a few years ago that my net worth would be increasing $7,334 in a month, almost entirely from compound interest and stock market gains, I’d have said you’re wackier than Britney Spears with a shaved head.
But saving is a helluva drug, and compound interest is as mind boggling as ever. Between motivating vacations and portfolio rallies, I couldn’t be more fired up about the idea of big time savings. Because big time savings leads to big time freedom, and we’re all getting closer and closer every day.