My Financial Journey – 5 year anniversary

My Financial Journey – 5 year anniversary

Wow – I can’t believe its already been five years since I started this blog. It really seems like its only been a year or two but looking back at where I started and where I am today its pretty obvious that some time has passed.

As I look back to those first couple posts back in December of 2005 – it amazes me how far I’ve come and how a few simple blog posts five years ago greatly affected the financial success I have achieved so far. In my 1st Retirement Nestegg Report I reported a total value of $24,616 and just 7 days ago I reported my November 2010 Nestegg report with a value of $155,708. Such tremendous progress, yet it happened step by step with lots of small mundane actions over the last 5 years that resulted in nestegg growing by 732%.

Five years ago today I knocked out four blog posts that set the foundation for this blog and my financial planning. I can’t emphasize how important it is to get your thoughts and goals written down somwhere – there is some magical power that comes from actually taking thoughts from your head and getting them down on paper/computer that drives you towards achieving whatever you wrote down. Do it!

Two posts from five years ago that really laid out my financial future were the blog posts “What are My Goals” and “Goals Rough Draft” In these posts I talked about the following goals for myself.

  • Make $100,000 a year by the time I turned 30.
  • Save $100,000 for retirement by time I turn 30.
  • Have $1,000,000 saved for retirement by time oldest kid starts college
  • Become financially independent early in life so that I can spend time doing whatever I want
  • Help family and friends learn about money
  • Save some money for my kids college education
  • Have $10,000,000 put away for my retirement

Make $100,000 a year by the time I turned 30.
This was a goal I almost forgot about and really didn’t know if it was realistic and while I didn’t quite achieve it I came close enough to call it a victory.

Save $100,000 for retirement by time I turn 30.
This was probably my most open and visible goal and that one that seemed to get the most attention on this blog – see the status meter on the side bar. While in my final writeup I did admit to falling just a tad short of my goal – it is another goal that when I set it didn’t think was going to be possible, but in the end I was successful.

Have $1,000,000 saved for retirement by time oldest kid starts college
This one again I can’t believe I had as much foresight in 2005 as I did. I have been thinking of how to set my next financial goal for myself and turns out I already took care of it in 2005. I will be writing up a full post on this goal and this will start tracking it just like I did my $100,000 by age 30 goal.

Become financially independent early in life so that I can spend time doing whatever I want
The previous goal and this goal sort of go hand in hand and at same time they could be sort of contradictory. Having $1,000,000 saved for retirement is great, but at the time I will only be 43/44 years old and I can’t touch any of that money for another 15 years because its all in retirement accounts, so that means I won’t exactly be able to quit my job or take a low paying flexible job. This one needs more thought and I really need to decide what I really want from this goal.

Help family and friends learn about money
Regarding this goal I think I’ve done an OK job. I am certainly a person that a lot of my friends and family look to when it comes to money questions, but in the original goal I sounded a lot more ambitious about getting my younger family members into investing which I don’t think I’ve successfully done.

Save some money for my kids college education
Check – I have 529 College savings plans that I setup up for all 3 of my kids as soon as I got their social security number. I don’t contribute much to them ($15 per kid per month), but honestly at this point I’m not too worried about paying for their college education. My retirement takes priority and if my kids had to take on some college loans or work to pay off their own college it wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world. Besides by then I will be a millionaire (har har har) and could just turn my income spigot at their college education if I so chose.

Have $10,000,000 put away for my retirement
Well this was the pie in the sky end game goal and is something I think is feasible – its currently not date bound, but by my original projections I had created back in 2005 I had anticipated hitting $10M at about age 65. Now granted that assumed I would put away about $23k a year in my retirement accounts which I have not done the last two years as I have instead saved $70k for a new house we might build. It also assumed I would make 10% a year on my investments each year which is a pretty lofty task – though I have been pretty successful with my investments so far (I need to calculate my overall annualized return these last 5 years so see if its a realistic number)

Well its been a great five years for me and this blog has been so invaluable to me to be able to set goals for myself, track my thinking and decisions throughout time, get great feedback from other people in the personal finance community as well as those kind enough to leave me comments for me. I’m amazed at how often I refer back to my own blog when trying to figure out if I am on track for retirement or to send a link to a friend who asked me a financial question that I just happened to have a blog post about (all without them knowing I am the actual author of the post). This blog to me is clearly the single best financial decision I ever made and even if you don’t want to make your goals and financial status/decisions public like I have – I can’t urge you enough to write them down and keep track of your plans and thoughts over time. It is so valuable to be able to go back and re-read what you were thinking 5 years ago and what you had hoped to accomplish.

To those of you that have been kind enough to leave me comments and stay up to date with my blog over these years I want to say thank you. The readers and comments were an unexpected bonus of this whole blog experiment and have really helped me grow over these last five years. It has been a great give years and I hope the next five will be even better!