Happy New Year, everyone! As I write this on New Year’s Day I can’t help but reflect on the past year and muse on what might be in store for the next.
It’s funny how we as a people give so much importance to new year celebrations, resolutions and goals on New Year’s Day when it’s pretty similar to the day before and after. Let’s face it – if the Gregorian calendar had started in July and ended in June, the gyms would be overflowing in July. Nevertheless, the end of the past year marks a new beginning and consciously forces us to set new challenges and strive to overcome obstacles. All in all a good thing, even for the most successful among us.
I am not a big fan of resolutions. The intent is nice, but eventually lost and forgotten by most within a couple of months. Instead, I’m going to set a few overarching goals that I hope to achieve.
I haven’t posted in a while, in case you hadn’t noticed. A new consulting gig took up a lot of time, which left me too burnt out to write. I then decided I would churn out a few posts over the holiday break which invariably didn’t happen. It’s easy to procrastinate once you’ve already ‘slipped’. On the plus side, the gig did help smooth over a few financial bumps so the time investment paid off.
Eventually, I hope to get to a stage where I have a couple of months of posts scheduled ahead of time, but that’s more of a stretch goal at this point. A more immediate goal is for me to write one new post a week. It’s not ambitious I know but I’m okay with it. It’s more important that I write regularly and give you the content you deserve. I am serious about growing this blog but don’t want to get burnt out. I think sometimes I got caught up in the ‘post 3x a week’ mantra. I tried that for a while and it works great but isn’t sustainable unless you’re writing a few months ahead.
In a nutshell, I need to start treating this like a business, even though I don’t plan to market stuff to you.
Finances & Investments
The past year started off rough, with a few client projects that looked very promising but didn’t pan out. Thankfully, we were able to conserve cash and saved and invested even more in the second half of the year.
As always the Individual 401(k)s are always maxed out, with the employer contributions to be applied in the near future. We generally don’t make our Roth IRA contributions during the year because our income fluctuates year to year and we may or may not always be eligible for a direct Roth contribution. I also make the HSA contribution twice a year, and the first half has already been earmarked and goes out this week.
According to Personal Capital, our portfolio has returned 23.48% for all of 2017, which is pretty damn good and gets us closer to our financial freedom goals. I doubt we’ll see another year like that for a while. I’m sure a lot of you have better returns than this and if so, that’s great! My portfolio is well-diversified and based on an asset allocation I’m comfortable sticking with, which is what counts.
So far the predominant part of the portfolio is in tax-deferred investments. We will need a lot more in our taxable accounts for me to consider ourselves financially independent. My goal for the next few years is to grow the taxable accounts further.
I did sell off the international property in India in the latter half of the year. After transaction fees and taxes, I would have definitely made more had that principal been invested in a Total US Stock Market or even real estate here in the US. This is not counting the last year of tremendous stock market performance.
Honestly, I’m chalking that up to a learning experience. Yes, it’s not ideal but back in 2011 no one could have predicted how the real estate and stock markets would have turned out 6 years later. Hindsight is always 20-20.
My goal is to have one physical property purchased here in the US by the end of this year. Given that valuations are so high, I’m not sure I’ll achieve this goal but I know I have to get started if I am to start generating semi-passive income for the long run.
I did get started investing in crowdfunded real estate in the last month or two and am proud to say that it was all with new savings. More details in an upcoming blog post.
My goal is to make one international trip a year with the family. It may not be possible all years, and isn’t always cheap, even with travel hacking. Last year was Australia, and this year it looks like it may be India. The wife and I have been discussing that it’s time we started to expose the kids some more, and India has a lot to offer. Of course, it’ll be tricky as we have lots of families there and will have to figure out a way that we can ‘escape’ to go and do what we really want to do.
Spend More Time Outdoors
I love the outdoors. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to get out as much as I would like to. Part of me is looking forward to the day we are FI so I can spend my day as I please. Another part of me didn’t want to put it off that long, so in the last few months I’ve resumed hiking and just last week bought a bike off Craigslist. Spent a good hour or two biking with the kids last weekend and it was glorious. A side benefit is that I should hopefully spend less time staring at my computer screen :).
So what about you? What’s on your ‘to do’ list for the year?