My main goal is to build an investment and cash portfolio of $1,120,000* in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal earlier this year, but believe that it’s a worthwhile exercise to continue with my financial updates until the end of 1500 Days, so I continue.
It’s time to take a look at the month of December and 2016.
2016, where did you go?
If there was a theme for 2016, it was that we were extremely busy. Between our jobs, this blog and finishing up our home, we never slowed down. Not very fun. I greatly look forward to taking it much easier in 2017.
Random note: Most of the pictures you see throughout this post are from my 2016 travels.
The blog is supposed to be about money, sweet money; so let’s start there:
- Investment portfolio: The non real-estate, non dinosaur part of my portfolio went from $1,057,961 to $1,257,128. Out of the $199,167 gain, about $100,000 came from new contributions. The S&P 500 ended up 9.6% for the year, so after I take into account the cash portion of my portfolio, my returns were similar to Mr. Market’s. Note that my portfolio still has a lot of stocks in it from my old days as a stock picker. See my last portfolio update here.
- Net worth: My net worth went from $1,307,961 to $1,627,128 for a gain of $319,167 (!!!). $110,000 of this was due to an increase in our home’s value after we completed our improvements.
- Moving money: I opened a self-directed solo 401(k) to allow for pre-tax investments outside of the stock market. So far, I’ve invested $145,000 in two real estate deals. One is hard money while the other is private equity.
- Mrs. 1500’s job: The wife found her groove at her semi-new job which has been wonderful. She loves it and her employer is very flexible. We mostly lived off Mrs. 1500’s salary and invested mine.
Thoughts: Because of my new part-time work arrangement, 2016 was the last year for big contributions. This makes me sad because I enjoy deploying money to various investments.
Life (no more Mr. Wheezy!)
- Our family has been in great health and one amazing thing happened to me this year; my asthma disappeared. For the past two decades, when the temperatures cooled down in the fall, I’d have multiple asthma attacks every day. For reasons unknown, my asthma completely went away this year.
- Home is done: We finished our home improvements (I owe you a final wrap-up on this one).
- No TV: I kept my TV viewing for the year to 8 hours (Superbowl and the first four Game of Thrones episodes). I’ll watch a little more Game of Thrones in 2017, but I still plan to keep my total TV hours to under 40.
Thoughts: 2017 will be the year I work on tuning my life. Now that I’m not working full-time, I’m figuring out how to optimize my days. For example, I like getting up early (no later than 6am), but I do my best workouts in the evening.
Exercise (or lack of it)
- No exercise: We were very busy and exercise was the easiest to give up, so I did. I’m not thrilled about it. Despite not being obese, I’ve been borderline hypertensive for a while. Not good.
- No more knee pain: I was complaining about my IT band syndrome to a physical therapist friend. He said, “Strengthen your ass muscles and it will go away!” Well, he didn’t say ‘ass muscles,’ but you know what I mean. I started doing lunges and lo and behold, I can now run miles and my knees never complain.
Thoughts: Exercise will be a priority from here on out.
- New schedule: I went down to a 24 hour per week (Tuesday – Thursday) commitment.
- More work! I found new and exciting work outside of my real job and blog (more on that soon).
Thoughts: It feels incredibly *&^%ing good to be down to 24 hours, but I quickly realized it isn’t enough. My Mondays and Fridays fill up incredibly fast. By the time I have to pick the children up, I still have loads left on my list.
- Exposure! 2016 was the year we received massive exposure via a front page feature on CNNMoney and Yahoo!. It was terrifying. I’m a private person and to see my face on one of the biggest websites in the world was very strange and uncomfortable. For those who don’t know, news outlets pick up these stories and publish them without our input, knowledge or permission.
- Exposed! The exposure also exposed us. My coworkers read my story. So did some friends and family. I was pleasantly surprised when no one asked us for money. I was even more surprised that no one gave even the littlest shit.
- Relief. After the dust settled, I’m happy that our cat was forced out of the bag. The blog is a big part of my life and I always felt a little funny keeping it hidden.
- Biggest post: My most popular post of the year (22,000+ views) was the one where I announced I had achieved my goal: http://www.1500days.com/1120000-fi-and-a-bad-case-of-sphenopalatine-ganglioneuralgia/
- MMM: The guy with the big mustache was one of the folks who got me started on the FI path and the reason I blog today. It was surreal to guest post on his site.
Thoughts: My 1500 days is up next month. I’m still figuring out what happens after that.
I love to travel and we had a lot of fun in 2016:
- April: Nevada/Arizona to visit family over girls’ spring break.
- May: Berkshire Hathaway meeting with the Penny Planters and Income Surfer.
- June: Yosemite and Pismo Beach.
- July: Wisconsin (Jim Collins), Chicago (work) and Tennessee (family reunion).
- September: Salida, Colorado.
- October: FinCon in San Diego.
- November: Ecuador for the Chautauqua (I still owe you two more posts).
- December: Chicago for work and play.
- December again: Nevada and Arizona for the holidays.
Thoughts: Yikes, we sure got around in 2016. We have a couple big trips for 2017, but plan on sticking around home more.
- Sleep deprivation: Too many things kept me busy in 2016. More often than not, I woke up exhausted. 2016 was the year I realized how harmful sleep deprivation is to my physical wellness and mental state. (Mrs. 1500 note: 2016 was not the year I discovered that sleep deprivation is harmful to his mental state…)
- Unhealthy: Exercise, ha! What’s that? I weighed in at 172.6 recently, about 15 pounds over my optimal weight for my slender frame. (Mrs. 1500 note: Not a CHANCE I’m divulging my weight… Last year’s goal was to lose 40 pounds – only 50 to go!)
- Family time: We didn’t give our children enough structure. Our youngest child can destroy her room in about 6 minutes. She is a human tornado. It then takes her hours to put it back together.
- Hoarding: Mrs. 1500 has a slight hoarding issue. She isn’t like one of those crazy people on TV that have to make paths through boxes of old magazines and dead cats, but it isn’t pleasant. I like less stuff in my life. The hoarding has made life difficult:
- We moved to a home that had almost 5000 square feet and it was filled with stuff. We moved to one that was 1400 square feet and Mrs. 1500 was reluctant to get rid of much of anything. 43 months later, we still haven’t made much of a dent in getting rid of stuff.
- She also loves to stockpile food. If you looked in our cabinets and freezers (note the plural), you’d think we were preppers, getting ready for the apocalypse.
Mrs. 1500: Look at all of this stuff at the grocery store that was on the bargain rack!
Me: Look at how our cabinets are completely unusable because they’re completely packed! Look at the avalanche of crap that falls out of the freezer every time I open the door.
The result of this is that we’ve been living in clutter for almost 4 years. I like to live simple and this wreaks havoc on my my mental well being. 2017 will be the year we declutter.
(Mrs 1500 note: I’m completely on board with this, but need to move in baby steps. I took an entire car load to Goodwill just today. I’m trying, and making plans to remove all the stuff I don’t wear in my closet. Yikes, that’s a car load in itself…)
In December, my portfolio increased from $1,230,058 to $1,257,128 for a gain of $27,070. I’ll take a gain like that any time:
2016 (as of 12/31/2016)
- Days elapsed: Done!
- Days remaining: 0
- 2016 gains: $199,167, (including 401(k) and some after tax contributions of about $50,000)
- 2016 401(k) contributions: $51,000****
Since the start (1/1/2013)
- Days elapsed: 1460
- Days remaining: 40
- Gains since 1/1/2013: $671,085
- Needed to quit work ($1,120,000 in investments): Mission accomplished!
- Net worth*****: $1,627,128
In November, I committed to get my ass in shape through P90X and running. It hasn’t been going so well:
- At the start of December, I slipped on ice and fell on my ass. On the way down, I whacked my left elbow. I didn’t break anything, but it bled for 12 hours******. Over a month later, it still hurts. I have just started easing back into my workouts.
- I was on vacation a couple weeks ago and the hotel had free beer in the evenings. It wasn’t good, but even Bud Lite tastes OK when it’s free. I threw my “no drinking Sunday through Thursday” rule out the window and visited the free beer station Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
My bum elbow and beery ways didn’t help with my fitness goals:
Better luck next month?
Stock Picking Experiment
I’ve done incredibly well as a stock picker. My biggest hit was buying Google at IPO. Buying Apple in 2007 was another hugely profitable move. I’ve mostly given up my stock picking ways, but there is a little part of me that still thinks I can beat the market. Are you done rolling your eyes yet?
Anyway, I created a little experiment so you can see how I do. With $10,000, I designed a mini-portfolio on Motif (no affiliate link because I don’t endorse this behavior). This experiment started in April and for a while, I was killing the market. The election quashed my winning streak as my tech heavy portfolio took a swift kick to the groin. Since then, I’ve made a comeback. I’m not beating the S&P 500, but I’m thisclose:
More than anything, I want 2017 to be the year when we start living and stop working so much.
- No more spending entire weekends remodeling.
- No more staying up until midnight to work on the blog.
- No more reactive living.
- Board games with the children.
- Family hikes on Saturday mornings.
- Dates with Mrs. 1500.
*My goal isn’t to have $1,120,000 at the end of 1500 days, but at any time before the day count was up. Why? It all goes back to the 4% Rule. Remember that our little friend, Mr. 4%, is nothing more than the most conservative safe withdrawal rate. So, if I were to quit my job now, I could spend about $48,000 in my first year of retirement. I’d stick very close to that number too because market valuations are ambitious. Let’s say that Mr. Market caught a cold tomorrow and my portfolio dropped down to $800,000. No big deal. This would mean I’d be safer stretching my spending a little north of 4%.
**My original goal was $1,000,000 and no debt, I later raised the goal by $120,000 to $1,120,000 because I will have debt in the form of a mortgage and I firmly believe in not paying it off. My compromise is to have enough money put away to cover the mortgage at the time of retirement. So, to retire today, I would need about $1,120,000.
***This is an affiliate link. If you sign up, the blog (me) makes some cold, hard, beautiful, cash. Personal Capital is a totally free and awesome way to keep watch over your investments. It’s worth it for the fee analyzer alone. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try. If you’ve already signed up through the link, please know that you are a fine person of above-average intelligence.
****My 401(k) contributions include my own, Mrs. 15oo’s, and the contributions from my corporation. Self-employment with a solo 401(k) is a very powerful savings tool. I should have done this years ago.
*****The numbers on the right side of the page only reflect my investments and cash. Net worth includes, but is not limited to:
- Home equity ($350,000 after the appraisal!)
******If I wasn’t making sense at Goose Island that night, it’s probably because I knocked my head on the way down. Also, sorry Brent for the blood all over your place.
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