2017 ended with a cocktail of excitement mixed with heavy quantities of anxiety and exhaustion. Oh, and a shit-ton of overtime…
Every month I’ll post an update on my finances from the last month, with a focus on increasing income, spending less, and maintaining a high savings rate. You can see previous updates here.
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Final Results – 2017
2017 Savings Rate: 55%
First things first: I finished 2017 with a savings rate of 55%, a nice increase from 46% in 2016.
So, did I learn anything from this exercise? You bet! I got a great picture of what my yearly cash flow looks like (I even made a calendar for it!). I stopped tinkering as much with my budget after realizing that while cutting expenses by $50 was a great goal to work towards, at some point it becomes more efficient to spend that time and energy on increasing income. And that’s what I did.
Last September I set a goal of ending 2017 with a net worth over $25k. In order to do it, I’d have to increase my income, maintain my savings rate, and cut expenses where I could.
So what was the final tally? $25,086. Success!
How’d I do it?
I started by knocking off easy wins – selling stuff around the house, cashing out rewards, and selling gift cards. I upped my 401k contribution to save money on taxes and took as much overtime as I could get at work. I started working on another blog project and tried out plenty of money-making apps.
I also spent a good deal of time entrenched in the cryptocurrency markets. I know the story: everyone was talking about bitcoin in December, the market is fueled by speculation and gambling, it’s all a bubble, it’s just like tech stocks in the 90’s. I get it. I went in with my “risky investment stash”, which was previously sitting in Lending Club (remember how hot Lending Club was a couple years ago?). It was money I could afford to lose and was using for speculative investments and trying stuff out.
I’m working on a post about crypto markets at the moment, as it’s definitely a hot topic in the blogosphere (and there are wildly different opinions on it), but I’ll sum up my end by noting that while I consider most of the cryptosphere pure speculation, there are worthwhile projects with worthwhile missions and technologies out there. After investing a good amount of time in energy into studying these projects AND learning how to read markets, trade and conduct technical analysis, and value assets, I’m not convinced this will all disappear into thin air. There’s a lot of crap, but there’s also something really important happening.
Alright, back to that goal I had. I was trying to do a lot of different things and built a lot of income streams at once, and some were more successful than others. The easy wins were, well, easy. The blog project was a lot more difficult, especially as work picked up and began to drain most of my energy. I didn’t get a lot of use out of the apps – of course, things like ebates and ibotta are easy enough to use so I stuck with those. The task apps, like Field Agent, I struggled with, again mainly due to work.
Over November and December, I crept up into the upper 50’s and eventually settled around 60-65 hours a week. We were extremely short staffed, so there were a lot more “physical” hours, with the mentally challenging aspects laid on top and brain taxing admin pushed towards the end of the day, after 6 miles worth of steps and 10 hours without any sort of break.
The paychecks were great. But to say I ran myself ragged would be an understatement. Thankfully, it was temporary…
The “NEW” Year
To be brief, I’m starting a new job this year. My manager left in December, and I’m going with her. We were both in bad shape and needed out. I stayed an extra couple weeks, partly to help the new manager and because we’re in a 911 staffing situation, and I was willing to work the extra hours. Mostly it was for the pay. For much of the year, the company has stressed that it’s too expensive for managers to get overtime. But when you’re running a restaurant with 40 people (and business needs dictate 80), there’s plenty to go around. Most of my fellow managers would work their 45, maybe a little extra, and that was it. I took as much as I could get, which cost me some days off, a lot of sleep, and probably a good chunk of my sanity.
And I would have still done it if I hadn’t set that goal. In my mind, it was 2 weeks of going all out – I’d get a week off before starting the new job, so I could recuperate then.
Now that I’ve made it, I don’t have any regrets. Those final 2 weeks were terrible, but I know I left everything on the table. Even for those of us whose main financial goal is to eliminate the need for work, it’s important to feel good about the work you leave behind.
So what’s the plan for 2018? I usually don’t make resolutions, and I was positive I wrote down some money goals last year but I can’t find them, so I’m going to assume I killed it and accomplished all of them with ease 😉
The truth is, I haven’t made much of a plan for this year. I’ve been diligently tracking my spending for 3 years, and this year went all out with tracking. I tracked what % of my income came from my job vs. other sources and my expenses for each budget category compared to last year, among other things. I have all the numbers in a spreadsheet, but I don’t know what to write about them.
2017 seems to have wrapped itself up – I have to say, it was my best financial year to date, and one of my better private ones. Yeah, it was a good year.
Thanks for reading!
I calculate my savings rate as follows: 401k contributions + employer match + debt payments + other savings / Take home pay + 401k contributions