Progress Report – January 2018

By | February 4, 2018

I’ve been meaning to update my readers on a number of various topics that I’m focused on in 2018.  At first, I was going to do separate posts about each and I might still do that in the future.  But, for now, I’ve decided to lump all of them into one post.  As we know, with the beginning of a New Year, there comes lots of motivation.  People make resolutions but after a few weeks or a couple of months, they fail to keep their resolutions.  Now that one month has passed, it’s time to take a closer look at how I’m doing with my goals for 2018.  Am I still on track?  Here is my progress report for January 2018.

Student Loan Repayment

I started the year with $19,860.23 in student loan debt.  My goal for 2018 is to pay that off by October.  The minimum payment is $97.61.  However, my plan was to pay a minimum of $2000 towards my student loan.  I can’t wait for this to be gone.  Once I’ve paid it off, that $2000 can be applied to either saving for a down payment or towards my dividend portfolio.

Well, I am happy to report that I was able to pay $1997.61 towards my student loan in January.  I was $2.39 short but I felt like I needed more cash around because January was such a long month.  I hope to reach the $2000 mark in February.

Because $97.61 is the minimum, I have that automatically drafted from my account so I don’t miss a payment.  Then I take the income from my rental, plus my salary, and apply them towards my student loan.  I’m hoping there’s not much real estate expenses between now and October.  My tenant’s lease is up in August or September, so there might be vacancy for  month or two.  But, I still got time to prepare for that eventuality, and worst case is that I cover everything with my paycheck.

To follow me on my progress towards paying off my student loan, visit my debt tracker for 2018.

Savings Rate

This is huge for me.  I recently discovered the power of a high savings rate.  I even wrote about it in my post entitled Savings Rate:  The Secret To Early Retirement.  I’ve been obsessed with the FIRE principles and trying to figure out how I can have a high savings rate.

Well, I did some math and calculated my savings rate.  At first, I was looking at my expenses and even focused on my fixed expenses in an effort to figuring it out.  But then I realized that regardless of what my expenses were, or what I spend money on, my savings were always the same every month, even though my income might have changed.  So, I looked at my monthly pay (before taxes) and what I was saving to determine my savings rate.

The reason I focused on my gross monthly income and not my net income is that I’m including my contributions to my Roth 401K and Roth IRA as part of my overall savings rate.  I’m not just including what I see in my checking account.  Even though the Roth accounts are post taxes, the money in my Roth 401k does not go to my checking account, but straight to the 401k plan.

Because I am focused on early retirement, and to maintain some amount of privacy, I did not include my contributions to my Robinhood account, cryptocurrency exchanges or to my emergency fund.  However, those contributions are a very small percentage of my overall investments and so the savings rate reported below is relatively close to what it actually is.

Monthly savings rate = (monthly savings / monthly gross income) * 100.  So, if I make $100 a month (gross), and I save $80, then my savings rate would be (80/100) * 100 = 80%.  If my math is off, or if I’m calculating my savings rate incorrectly, please let me know.

Based on my math, my savings rate for January was 45.54%.  I hope to maintain it at that level or increase it going forward.

Fitness Goals

Back in July of last year, I was very excited to post about my new fitness goal.  I had a personal trainer and started going to the gym.  Then I got injured (not while working out) and had to stop going to the gym for a while.  I lost the motivation to work out and so I didn’t blog about it anymore.

Then, late last year, I went to a body building competition.  All I could think about when I was watching the performers was what it would be like if I were on that stage.  So, after the competition was over I tried going back to the gym again.  I did it on my own.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, but went, on and off.

However, in December, I found a workout partner who agreed to help me with my fitness goals. I knew that the New Year was coming, but I didn’t want to wait until January to make a resolution about my fitness.  Too many people (including me for many years) have a resolution to get fit, and then end up quitting after a few weeks.  What’s impressive about this story though is that I consistently went to the gym all of December and all of January!!!

The consistency is important for me because I think this is one of the longest stretches I’ve had in my efforts to work out.  But, even more exciting is that, a few days ago, I found another work out partner.  He has agreed to help train me for an upcoming body building competition in the Spring.  He’s trained two people before and they did well in the previous competition. So, we started in February.

I try not to think about it.  I haven’t seen much improvement in my body in the past couple of months. But, I’m going to start taking pictures.  I’ll keep you posted.

Eating Out

My first cooked meal of 2018

Well, I started the year off strong!  During the first week in January, I cooked all my meals.  I only really know how to cook a couple of things, which I posted in this post.  But, sufficed to say, this goal has been a DISMAL failure.  After the first week of me cooking, I got food poisoning, which caused me to have to go to the hospital.  That was a horrible two days.  I haven’t cooked since.  What’s worse is that I think I’ve spent more money in January than I did previously on food. I don’t know exactly how much because I’m embarrassed to see what the actual number was.  I just know that I spent over $500 on my credit cards (because I ran out of money in my checking account) and it was all on eating out every day!!!


On the bright side, it’s February.  So, I’m going to try again!  This is super hard for me, but I’m going to try baby steps.  Rather than going cold turkey and cooking everyday, I’m going to ease into it.  So, a colleague had a great suggestion.

My second cooked meal of 2018

For lunch, I usually eat chicken and rice, maybe drink a coke, and that would cost me $10.  Since cooking rice is super easy for me (I bought a rice cooker), I could only buy the chicken, which is $5 and bring my cooked rice to work.  Then I could either buy a case of coke or, because I’m trying to be more healthy, a case of water.  I like that idea and I’m going to try it!

I’ll let you know how I do in my next progress report.

Net Worth

I’m actively thinking about the idea of reporting on my net worth.  I use Personal Capital to figure out what it is.  In fact, I might do a review on Personal Capital later.  Part of the reason I like Personal Capital is that it tracks the Zillow estimate for my house, and so my net worth includes the value of the rental property along with the mortgage payment.

I’m not good at making graphs.  If I can figure out a cool way to display the information, I will likely report on the subject.  In fact, I might just figure out how to copy and paste it from Personal Capital to make it easy.  But we will see.  Stay tuned.


As I mentioned, I really wanted to get this information out.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep everything in one progress report post or make them separate.  My savings rate and net worth might be separate posts in the future.  In the mean time, what are your thoughts?  Let me know by commenting below.

16 thoughts on “Progress Report – January 2018

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      That was a failure too. Gonna try again starting Monday! Plus, I just won $100 at bingo, so I’m going to buy a blender, protein shake and groceries. Cooking this week.

  1. p2035

    Lol progress report 🙂 we fill progress report at work to track the status of projects. But its a good tool. You rock it man. 45% saving rate! We barely make it to 10%. Well to br honest I dont include my 2 and 3 pensions which is same as your 401k. Our contributions are 6% for 2nd and 4.5% for 3rd pensions so thats extra 10% of our gross income for saving. But sad part is that they are invested into funds and there is no dividend single stock investmeny possibility. So this might be something around 20% of saving rate from our gross income.

    And way to go on the gym side. Im also doing quite well on health side. Its 15th day in a row im doing small workout + cold shower + 10 min meditation each morning 🙂 Think I will write about that in some time.

    Ou and what relates to eating your cocked meal I foud a good way to motivate yourself. each time I eat home made food I transfer 2€ for saving account. These are the money I saved. You should try that to. Its like paying yourself for good job 🙂
    p2035 recently posted…I’m getting a pay raise!My Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion p2035 and congrats on your goal of going to the gym. For my 401k, I’m actually invested in funds and not individual stocks. The same goes for my IRA. I actually prefer that because they are more safe than individual stocks. If my entire dividend portfolio went to zero, at least I would still have some money saved for retirement.

      I like the idea of saving every time I cook as a way to motivate me to cook more, but money is a bit tight for me. I may have to find other ways to motivate me to cook.

  2. Dividend Diplomats

    DP –

    Bravo, very solid month. The big ticket financially in this article is dominating the extra $2k in student loan payments. Pumped for you to get rid of that one, for sure.


    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      I’ve decided that the $2k is going to happen per month every month unless something drastic happens with my finances. Even if that means dipping into my emergency fund a little bit, then so be it. It’s February and as soon as I get paid again, I’m hoping to dump another 2k into the debt! It’s kind of exciting to think that it will soon be out of my life forever.

  3. Mr. ATM

    Hi DP,

    Sorry to hear about the setbacks you had on your fitness and eating healthy goals. But I’m happy to read that you are not giving up and even making progress. That’s its all about, you fall, you get up, and move forward.

    Food poisoning from home cooking is probably very rare but can happen if you had a cross contamination between raw meet and other food. Anyway, make sure you always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling any raw meat and clean the surface as well that you used to prepare the meat. Also, make sure meat is well cooked.

    I’ve never been sick of eating at home, even when we used to cook meat. Anyway, meat are tricky to handle, so be careful.

    I like being vegetarian/vegan now as it so much easier to clean up after cooking.

    Take care and keep up the good work my friend.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Mr. ATM. I didn’t mean to imply that I got food poisoning from my cooking, although I did get it from bad oranges I ate from the grocery shopping I did.

  4. brian @ singledadmoney

    Nice progress Glen. The 2k student loan payments are awesome, and I know you don’t want to, but you might need to be cut back a little if you’re running out of money and eating with your credit card. Don’t give up on the home cooking (you could get food poisoning eating out too!!!). It is healthier and cheaper. Buy a couple cookbooks geared toward cooking for one or two people and follow the recipes. Cookbooks are ALWAYS on the discount rack at the big-box bookstores. And if you only need to cook for yourself, cooking the double meal gives you dinner and lunch the next day. Regarding the public tracking of your Net Worth, I highly recommend it. Like tracking your student loan repayment, tracking your savings rate, and tracking your dividends, it gives you that next level visual that’s like a target you know is out there and want to improve. Do it monthly and you’ll be stoked to see your month to month and year to year progress and making it public gives you the support of your readers and they’ll sometimes give you some tough love in your comments like mentioning reducing your student loan repayment to better budget food!!! Keep up the great work and keep these great posts coming.
    brian @ singledadmoney recently posted…January Dividend Income – $1.93My Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Brian. Well, I cooked today. I wanted to have a whole day without spending money. I usually go to Starbucks for a $6 drink in the mornings. Well, today I substituted that for a protein shake with frozen fruits and two oreo cookies. For lunch, I went home and made pasta. For dinner, I had some more pasta, but I quickly fried some chicken. It’s going to suck cooking everyday, but it’s a little bit faster, and I won’t have to worry about it spoiling. Now, the goal is to see if I can replicate the process tomorrow.

      Not yet decided on my net worth, but I am leaning in that direction. That’s for the insights and encouragement.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      It is very aggressive Geek, but it also allows me to get out of debt quicker. If I’m able to do it, then I might ease up just a bit for a month before dumping that $2000 towards either a down payment or my dividend portfolio or both. I really would like to maintain it, because as I get other income, such as a tax refund, or a pay increase, then I can help avoid lifestyle inflation too much while maintaining an aggressive saving habit towards my future. I’m not quite 40 but I feel as if I am running out of time.

  5. Mr. Robot

    Great to see you making progress in your health & nutrition! I really don’t do anything with my savings rate. I maximise this constantly but dont have a fixed number. Also great to see you paying off your student debt, go go go! 🙂
    Mr. Robot recently posted…January 2018 Dividend ReportMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Can’t wait. I’m going to write soon about my increased expenses for the summer, so the sooner I get rid of the student loans, the better.


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