Wait, 2021 is over already? What the heck happened? 2020 trudged along like a drunken sloth trying to scale Mt. Everest. 2021 seemed to fly by in seconds…
2021 was a pretty great year. I’m thankful for all of the adventures I got to experience:
I’m even more thankful that my daily life was interesting, challenging, and filled with good humans.
Money, $$$, Money
This blog is supposed to be about money, so let’s start there.
2021 was a fantastic year for most of our portfolio. Our net worth started the year off at $3,519,746 and finished at $4,956,642 for a gain of $1,436,896. This was our second year in a row of appreciation greater than $1,000,000 and our biggest year yet. This gravy train won’t last forever, but I’ll take it while it lasts:
Here’s is how it happened:
Tesla and Google clobbered the indices. Most of our other big holdings had similar returns to the S&P 500. Amazon noticeably lagged:
Tesla made the greatest impact. It opened the year at $705 and closed at $1057 for an increase of $352 or 50 percent. For my 1,145 shares, this translated to a gain of $403,000.
These stocks are a throwback to a previous strategy when I didn’t know about index funds. Almost all new money goes to indexing which had a great year as well. The S&P 500 was up 27%!! Insane.
I’m not sure where we go from here, but I do know that inflation is high and the Fed will attempt to cool it down by raising rates. When this happens, usually money flows out of stocks (especially growth). However, timing the market is a futile exercise and we’re in it for the long-term, so we’re holding steady.
Primary home ($100,000 increase in value)
We refinanced our home in the fall. (I love leverage when the money is cheap and the strategy has served us well.) The electronic appraisal gave the value a nice bump. An electronic appraisal was the cheapest and easiest way to refi, but it’s also conservative. If our remodeling was complete, our home would be worth far more than the $550,000 that the appraisal gave us. I prefer to err on the side of safety, so I’m sticking with the low 550 number.
I’ll reevaluate the value at the end of 2022. If the same model home as ours sells this year, I’ll have a better comparison. The same model home as ours on our street did sell in 2018 for $600,000, so I’m feeling really good about where we stand.
Coworking building space ($47,500 increase in value of my equity [1/3])
I bought in at a valuation of about $382,000 and the building is now worth $524,000. This increase is based on Zillow’s estimate. I don’t have a ton of confidence in Zillow, but I also think that the estimate is conservative. Other businesses on Main Street Longmont have been selling quickly at aggressive prices. Again, I’d rather err on the conservative side, so I’m sticking to the lower number.
A couple of our real estate investments went to hell:
- Despite a roaring economy, one syndication deal performed terribly. We’ll probably get all of our initial investment back, but with little upside. Had we taken the simple and easy route (VTSAX), we would have doubled our money. Whoops.
- Another investment in a single-family home with a friend went similarly downhill when the tenant stopped paying rent and refuses to leave.
Both of these bad apples should go away in 2022. Good riddance!
All other syndication deals did as well or better than their projected returns, but all have underperformed VTSAX.
2022 Investment Plans: VTSAX And Chill
Our investing will be simpler from here on out. I don’t want to spend my time:
- Reading syndication pitches which are mostly fairy tales.
- On Twitter trying to figure out if my individual stocks are still worth holding.
- Looking for more local real estate deals.
I just want to:
We worked hard on 4 different projects:
Basement: This one is almost done. We need to finish the bathroom, trim, and tie up loose ends.
Shed: Our garage is small and my tools, bikes, and yard stuff need a good home.
Solar panels: DIYing solar panels saved us a load of money. Since Longmont pays the retail rate for excess generation, I installed twice as many panels as we need.
Kitchen: We still have to finish the backsplash and breakfast nook, but the heavy lifting is done.
2022 DIY Plans
I’m going to tie up loose ends and then take a break from construction. Loose ends include:
- the kitchen breakfast nook
- kitchen backsplash
- basement bathroom
These projects will take at least until the end of March to complete.
Bad: I let myself go. When COVID started, I was at my lowest weight in 20 years, 149 pounds. Now, I’m 24 pounds heavier. Not good. Time to course correct. More broccoli, fewer tacos.
Good: I gave the talk of my life at EconoMe. This was one of my high points for the year. I once heard someone say:
Lack of confidence is like going through life with your handbrake on.
Public speaking gives me confidence and after this talk, my handbrake is almost completely disengaged. You may watch it here.
More Thoughts And Plans
Investing: Tesla, Meta, Waymo, VTSAX
Although I’m an index investor now, I still own stocks that I bought a long time ago. I’ll eventually sell them all, but that process will take decades. I do keep up with the big stocks I own:
Tesla is opening two new factories in 2022 (Berlin and Austin). While production takes a long time to scale, these new facilities will allow Tesla to produce over 1,000,000 vehicles annually for the first time ever and cut shipping costs.
- 4680 battery production with dry electrode: Batteries are the limiting factor in electric vehicles. The dry electrode production method will allow Tesla to produce batteries quicker than anyone else and at a lower cost. The batteries are delayed, but Tesla will probably achieve volume production this year.
- Cybertruck: This was supposed to launch in 2021, but I’d be surprised if we see it before 2023. The delays are disappointing because Tesla has over 1,000,000 reservations for it. However, the truck depends on a lot of batteries, so Tesla won’t make it until the 4680s are being produced at volume.
- Autonomous driving: This was supposed to be out years ago. I’m not sure if Musk believes his own words, but the delays are disappointing. I would be surprised if Tesla had level 4, regulator approved autonomy in the first half of this decade.
Despite my negativity, Tesla has a lot going for it. Electric cars are the future and no other company is close to Tesla.
Meta (Facebook): This one scares me a bit. Social networks are trendy and younger adults want nothing to do with Facebook. Will Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision be successful? I have no idea. I do know that I’d rather be outside spending time with friends in person than sitting in my basement with VR goggles.
Alphabet (Google): The most exciting part of Alphabet for me is Waymo. Devout Tesla fans like to make fun of Waymo’s efforts, but I think they’re closest to Level 4 autonomy. A Waymo robotaxi service is a big threat to Tesla and every other auto manufacturer. Why would anyone spend $50,000 on a car when you can utilize a cheap, convenient car share to get around town?
Index investing: Three of our syndication deals are scheduled to close in 2022 and we’ll put the money straight into VTSAX.
Another Online Project
I’ve been threatening to get a webcomic out for years. This will be the year. I hope.
Some local friends want to collaborate on a brick-and-mortar business in Longmont. In some ways, it would complement the coworking space.
FIRE And Chill
I’m not sure what 2022 has in store for me, but the unknown chapters are the most fun. Instead of selling 2,000 hours of my time to someone else, I’ll use most of them exactly how I want to use them. I’ll work on this blog, the house, the podcast, and my webcomic.
I’ll exercise more.
I’ll read more.
I’ll do nothing more.
FIRE and chill.
More 1500 Days!!!
You can also find me (and the dinosaurs) at:
Mile High FI podcast:
- Facebook: Facebook group and page
- YouTube: My channel is mostly devoted to home improvement, but I have some other material coming up soon too.
- Instagram: Pretty pictures of dinosaurs, sunsets, and nail guns!
- Twitter: Spontaneous, often insane, ramblings
- Coworking space: On the surface, MMM HQ is a coworking space. Look a little deeper and you’ll see that we’re really building community. The members of MMM HQ are some of the finest people I know.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.