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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.