My goodness how time has flown this year! Seems like yesterday my Wife and I were in Orlando bringing in the New Year, and here we are looking forward to celebrating another New Year, this time in Atlanta! If there’s one thing I can say about 2016, it’s that this year has been the year of “Anything is Possible.” Just think about it:
- The Golden State Warriors broke the Chicago Bulls’ single season wins record…and then lost in the Finals
- Lebron James brought a title to Cleveland….Cleveland!
- The Cubs (!) won the World Series for the first time in 108 years
- Donald Trump is President-Elect
- A rookie, Dak Prescott, took over Tony Romo’s spot as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting Quarterback (had to throw this in there since I’m a Cowboys fan)
If you had told me at the beginning of this year that all of these things would happen, I would NOT have believed you. But they have, and the lesson I learn from this year of possibilities is to go after your dreams, because anything is possible to those that believe! With that in mind, I thank God for allowing me to see this year and would like to recap the successes we’ve experienced.
Emergency Fund Fully Funded
Our Emergency Fund is now fully funded! We have been working on this for a while and now have an account with 6 months of emergency funds within it. If absolutely needed, we could stretch this account to about 9 months of use if living in the US, and definitely 12 months of use in Eastern Europe where we currently live.
Savings Goal (Almost) Met
My Wife and I (mostly me :-)) set out to save a specific amount saved over and above our Emergency Fund amount. We have not yet met this goal but it looks like we will end the year very close to it. If we are able to hit it or come pretty close to it, then we will be in position to go hard at buying assets (i.e., investing more) in 2017. Speaking of which, we….
Having debt and major costs early in our marriage hindered us from investing, as I liquidated my previous investments to help pay for our wedding. With our remaining debts out of the way in 2015, 2016 was definitely the year for us to start investing. To that end, we opened up brokerage accounts through Scottrade and Betterment to begin our investing journey (technically we started our Betterment account towards the end of 2015, but the bulk of our account funding occurred in 2016).
As far as performance goes, our Betterment portfolio has returned a very healthy 12.5% since inception (not bad!). However, as I tried to play the hero with individual stock picking, I’ve lost about $1,800 over at Scottrade (very bad!). I will be more conservative in my selections and investment allocations in 2017.
There’s nothing I like spending money on more than travel. This year my Wife and I were blessed to spend New Year’s in Orlando, my Wife’s Birthday in Rome, a summer vacation with friends in Bulgaria and Rome (I love that city), tacked on a mini-vacation in Hong Kong onto a work trip to China, got some time off in Dallas with my Wife, and got to see my Mother and Sister in Los Angeles. We even got to experience our first long-haul flight in business class paid mostly through Airline points! It has been great to take multiple vacations this year without fear of not having enough money to pay for them or dread over adding vacation expenses to an ever growing credit card bill. There’s nothing like travelling and vacationing care free!
Successfully Used Credit to Our Advantage
My Wife and I made it a point to not pay interest on any credit cards anymore. I’m thankful to be able to say that, except for one instance, we have been faithful to this. The one instance is my fault – there is a rarely used card that had a recent charge on it. Unfortunately, I didn’t properly automate the payments, which caused a late fee (I have since gotten it removed). I was also unaware that interest was being charged, since I thought the card was set up to have no interest for 6-months on new charges. The total interest is only a few dollars, but still…Promise to do better next year :-). Aside from (almost) not paying any interest this year, we racked up almost $2000 worth of credit card points and credits. Points helped pay for most of our initial trip to Rome. We hope to be able to use these points on travel for our upcoming anniversary. We’re experiencing more and more how it pays to manage your money well and use credit to your advantage.
Read More Books
I bought a Kindle Paperwhite as a Christmas present to myself last year and my purchase has been well worth the price. The books I’ve read or am in the middle of reading include the following: The Effective Executive, The Effective Manager, Your Money or Your Life, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, The Personal MBA, Hiring For Attitude, God’s Plans For Your Finances, The Bogleheads’ Guide To Investing, The Richest Man In Babylon, and The Millionaire Next Door. Wow! I didn’t realize how many books I had tackled this year. My top 3 out of this bunch are definitely The Richest Man In Babylon, The Effective Executive, and Your Money Or Your Life. As you can tell, I love reading about career and personal finance topics. I probably need to broaden my horizons next year.
The Birth of Money Pebbles
Money Pebbles was born in June 2016. While I have a long. long way to go, it’s refreshing to see the progress that has been made so far. I look forward to expanding the reach of Money Pebbles in 2017.
Those are our successes over the past year, and I am thankful for every one of them. I hope you have had a successful year and have a successful 2017 as well.