2016 Year-in-Review

Welcome to the 2016 Year-in-Review. It is the first time I have done this type of post since I started the blog. I really tried to stay engaged in the site this year and for most of the year, I have done that. I started this blog in 2015 but I only posted about 6 times in May and June before abandoning it for the rest of the year. When 2016 started I was determined to work on the site and try to improve it as well as post much more often.  I managed to do this and while I still need to improve the site and increase the frequency of posts, it was a big improvement from the previous year.

I didn’t post 2016 goals on the site but I did have them and I will outline what they were along with how I did. I will be posting 2017 goals shortly so it is trackable and out front to motivate me more.

2016 was a crazy year for me. There was a ton of changes in my life, some for the better and some not. Sometimes the bad events in your life provide motivation to make other changes that will greatly improve your situation and that was certainly the case for me. My job loss this year hurt all my financial goals. I have a fair amount of failures due to this. It is not all gloomy though. I mark a goal as failure if I don’t make it but that doesn’t mean it was a disaster. If I wanted $100 in dividends and I got $99 I mark it as failure, so I try to keep it in perspective.

Lets get to the review:

  • Work – I started the year at  a job I liked. It wasn’t as good as the previous job but it was very well paying and I enjoyed it for the most part. By April I had been laid off and was looking for work. Overall,  a stressful time but when I look back, it is a blip in the radar and not a huge deal. No matter how many times you go through a lay off, it still hurts when it happens. I managed to change my profession from Software Engineer to Technical Business Analyst and so far it is OK. I don’t love it but it pays the bills and I have a lot of work to do. I had no work goals for the year but it would have been nice to be able to keep my job.  The job loss hurt all the financial goals for the year as you will see.  Lose
  • Financial (Dividends) – 2016 was a decent year for me financially. I have had better years but overall it could have been a disaster and it turned out that it wasn’t.  My goals for the year are the same as most people – reduce any debt and increase my assets/cash as well as Dividends (which I love). I made the dividend goal on the last day of the year. I knew it was going to be close because I had made some stock moves in the beginning of the year that hurt the income. I still made it which is a huge win for me.

 Dividends Goal: Increase 10% from previous year.

 2015: $5,316.47    2016 Goal:  $ 5,848.12    2016 Actual:  $5,871.93    Win

Related Dividend Posts: 

– December Dividends

– November Dividends

– September Dividends

  • Financial (Debt) –  I started the year with a fair amount of debt but I was shrinking it rapidly. Then I got laid off and the money dried up for bit . This caused the reduction rate to slow to a crawl. After we downsized (see Downsizing), we had to take on a little more debt for a number of reasons.  Now that I have the new job and the extra rental income, the debt is being reduced much faster, I am actually within 5k of the debt total from when I initially got laid off. I am seeing the debt being reduced very rapidly now and hope to continue this trend throughout 2017. The goal is to be debt free and to start working on getting the mortgage lower.

  Debt Goal:  Eliminate non-mortgage debt completely.

  Increase in debt to to life events (but rapidly reducing)   Lose

  • 529 Plans – In 2013 I started 529 plans for the girls. I am glad I did but I wish I had the foresight to start them earlier. As of now, I have only enough to get them through a semester each. Not exactly what I was shooting for. I still have 4.5 more years before my oldest needs the money so I am hopeful that I can start ramping up the contribution amounts.

  529 Goal:  No monetary value but an increase. I did increase it but it was a modest amount. I have 2 Accounts with an increase of $3500 total. I was hoping for about $3000 per account. The job loss also hurt this goal as I stopped       contributions until the new job was in hand.   Lose

  • 401 (k) – Well after getting the new job, I was finally able to start contributing to the new 401(k). I lost the job in April and got severance until the end of May so contributions continued with the severance payments. I also was not able to contribute to the new plan immediately so there was a 4.5 month time period with no 401(k) contributions.  That hurt. I love making retirement contributions. It was a huge blow for me but I am recovering and I am seeing a continuance of the momentum I had before the job loss.

  2016 Goal :  Max out 401(k) and IRA Contributions:

 Goal : 11k IRA (both me &  Mrs. P-and-P) and 23K 401(k) (both me &  Mrs. P-and-P).

Actual:   IRA – $5,325       401(k) –  $12,376.51         Lose

* I have to admit that despite this being a failed goal, I am pretty happy with the results for the year. Having the job situation come up certainly put a damper on the momentum but it could have been much worse and I was still able to add a decent amount for the year, I am also going to continue to make 2016 contributions to the IRA’s until April. The total was down significantly from last year but I can’t help but be happy about this.  

  • Vacation – I love this topic. There is nothing like a vacation to recharge the battery and put you in the right frame of mind. My goal for the year was to go to Siesta Key again (4th year in a row) and to go to Myrtle Beach to play golf. I was able to do this despite the job loss and starting a new job. This was huge for me as I was under some strain and needed a break.  I also got to live the dream of playing golf in Myrtle. I have been wanting to do this for 20 years and just never got it done for some reason. Mission accomplished!    Win

 

Related Vacation Posts

– Myrtle Beach

–  Adventure Island

–  Add to your vacation savings

–  Siesta Key

  • Passive Income – This was one of the biggest victories for me this year. I was able to downsize and collect more rent and also hit the dividend goal. Both resulted in substantial increase in income. I lost in wage income but that is not passive and isn’t part of this metric.   Win
  • Fitness – This was one of the worst results regarding goals for 2016. The years 2013, 2014, & 2015 were all excellent for my fitness and overall health, For some reason, I just stopped going to the gym. I paid the price as I gained weight and just felt crappy all year. Being in shape would have helped reduce my stress during the job loss and helped me out when things weren’t going well. This is a huge focus for me going into 2017 and I have already gone to the gym 3 times in 6 days this year. A big improvement but I can’t celebrate just yet. 2016 was a definite step back here.  Lesson learned!  Lose
  • Money Saving – The debt did increase slightly but I was able to position myself to save dramatically throughout 2017. My goal was to reduce spending in 2016. I didn’t put a dollar value on this but I just felt I needed to reign in the spending so that it relieved a little pressure on the wallet. I was getting packages delivered pretty regularly in 2015 and I wanted it to stop.  We did take two plane trip vacations (see Siesta Key & Myrtle Beach) so that wasn’t exactly frugal behavior, but overall, I think the spending went down. We downsized (see downsizing & Downsizing Expenses), and we tried a money experiment with the kids (see Money Experiment).  By downsizing, I set myself up for a good 2017 with regards to expenses. I am going to put a dollar value on this metric for the 2017 goals that will be posted in the next week or so.

Reduce spending Goal:   No metric but we did a lot to position ourselves to reduce our expenses moving forward.  A huge … Win

  • Emergency Fund:  The goal for the year was to increase the emergency fund substantially. I had precious little saved (about 1.75 months salary) in case we had a major life event, which we did (job loss). At the beginning of the year, I was able to sock away some extra money and it was a good thing I did because the lay off came in April. Luckily we had some money for the emergency and we were able to survive and still take our vacations as planned. I finished the year with a 36% increase in the emergency fund despite the year’s challenges. Overall, I am happy but I want a bigger cushion. Ideally, I want 6 months take home pay in the bank and ready to be deployed if an emergency arises. It will be piece of mind for me going forward.

Emergency Fund Goal – Increase the emergency fund substantially.   36% increase    Win

  •  Blog:   Finally we get to the blog results for the year.  My goal was to be a lot more engaged in the site and to start to generate more views. I would love to generate a little income on the side as well but the goal was only to increase viewership and post regularly.  I started out the year by posting a bunch in February and March. It tailed off a bit in the middle of the year but I ramped back up the last 3 months. For the year, I posted 73 times and had a friend (Rakesh) post an additional 5 times for a total of 78 posts. They were a little bunched up at certain times of the year but overall this was a good first full year on the site. I generated almost no income, just a few dollars but thats ok. The goal was to start to learn a bit more and increase the viewers. I did increase the monthly totals of views but it is not where I want it to be.

I also redesigned the site and got a simple logo done. I am still not happy with the look and feel but it is better than it was   to be sure. I think overall it was a successful year but there is much room for improvement. I will think about what I need   to do to make further improvements and add those to the goals for the year.

  Blog Goal – Increase the viewership substantially and stay engaged.   75% increase in viewers and 78 posts    Win

 

Conclusion – 2016 Year-in-Review

There it is, the year in a nutshell. I had some good wins and I fell short on some of the money goals due to the job loss. Overall, it was a crazy busy year with many ups and downs but I accomplished a lot. I have a new job and made my dividend goal for the year. That is really important for me and I was glad to have achieved some of my key goals. I am hoping that 2017 is better with a stable job and a return to the saving momentum I enjoyed in 2015. I am positioned very well heading into the new year due to the downsizing effort and the increased passive income. I will post the years goals within the next week. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to everyone !!

-Brian