Ugh…don’t you just hate these 1-year blogiversary things?? I’m with you!! I have only read a few (and one in particular) that hit the nail on the head but those are such a rarity. Overall, I am not huge on self-congratulating indulgences, however, for historical purposes of my own interest (it’s all about me, after all 😉 ), I feel it necessary to future me to have this post to look back on so feel free to humor me or move on…I promise my feelings won’t be hurt!
It’s official. Today is one year since my very first blog post as Miss Mazuma. I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by!! I have read that first post a few times over the past year wondering what the fuck I was thinking starting a blog in this genre in the first place. Reading it again just now, I realize my intention to help others steer clear of some of my own financial mistakes was well-intentioned but, in some ways, completely missed the mark from what I’ve actually experienced. I thought my purpose was to help others but it turns out I needed the help more!
Blogging is a unique platform because it gives you a place to state your own ideas while also giving you a timeline to look back and reflect…but, let’s face it, we could do all of that in a private diary. So why blog?? There is something about putting your diary out to the public that makes it a lot more…real. Knowing people are reading what I write makes me want to be as authentic as possible. I don’t want to fill the space with fluff, I want to add to the conversation and learn from it as well. The bonus to going public is the community that you build is somewhat focused on the same beliefs and values that you write about. I mean, if I don’t like to diet I am not likely to read a blog on dieting. If you like to read about random people’s finances then you read blogs about random people’s finances. So here we are. Me writing, you reading. But that isn’t where our relationship to one another ends…right?? As much as I have loved seeing my page views creep up over the past year, the real gold is seeing the increase of comments with each post. The relationships that I’ve built due to this blog and the personal finance community, in general, are more cherished than the words I have written.
So, without further ado, I’d like to take a look at some of my finer achieving moments from the past year and perhaps share a few of my more lame posts you may have missed along the way…
Total posts written: 57 (Here is the ARCHIVE page in the event you missed a few)
Total drafts on the back burner: 51 😉
Top 3 Posts (no shock due to the fact they were all featured on Rockstar Finance!) :
Why My Savings Rate it So High – Obviously you are a bunch of voyeurs!
That Says a Lot About You – Apparently, you enjoy my softer side. 😉
My Vow Of Financial Celibacy – Guessing you were hoping to learn about my sex life?
Least Popular Blog Posts (Hey, they can’t all be winners!) :
5 Frugal Ways to Beat The Summer Heat – With summer nearby, I stand by this post!
John Oliver Explains Termites and Retirement – A bit of fluff but good nonetheless…
Be Where You Are – Still my most favorite mantra and a post I really loved!
My Favorite Posts:
Rise and Fall of My Empire – My 3 part series on my adventures in real estate
Goldilocks and The Three
Bears Tiers – My 3 tier plan for FI
The “How” & “Why” of FI – No point in going for FI if you don’t have a reason!
And that’s it… I am not going to bore you with stats and crap that doesn’t matter. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I post quite randomly because I have realized that quantity is not as important to me as quality. I have no intentions to do any kind of SEO bullshit to maximize distribution or financial gains. I didn’t start this blog to make money so I don’t want to chase it. If some fabulous opportunity should come from MM, I want it to be because of the writing and not because of the audience. Perhaps that will change if I ever get desperate to leave my job! 😉
Going forward, I don’t have any big plans to change the pace or direction of the blog with one exception…I shan’t be sharing my quarterly net worth any more (after my update below!). In the beginning, I thought I needed this financial diary to keep me accountable. Turns out, I don’t. I am pretty accountable all on my own. What I needed was to start tracking my spending (which I do and will continue to do) but posting my numbers does nothing to accomplish my main goal here – community. In fact, of all my posts, the net worth ones get a ton of page views but very few comments. There is a disconnect between the numbers and the commentary and…I get it.
When I first got on this path to FI, I would read other bloggers financial posts and immediately compare myself to their journey. Am I behind, am I ahead, or am I just stagnant? What can I do to up my game?! As I said before (and with each of those posts), my intention was never to make my journey a factor in anyone else’s. I think it is human nature to compare but it isn’t always healthy – especially when we are talking about something with so many variables such as age, income, family, location, etc. We are all in a different phase of our financial journeys so there is NO possible comparison. With that in mind, I am removing the number factor altogether. There are greater things to focus on that interest me sooo much more, specifically, the psychology of personal finance (why we do what we do) as well as my FI plans for the future.
All that being said, I figure at this point I might as well go out in a blaze of glory. In an effort to show you how stupid numbers can be, I will transport you back to 2012 when I first began tracking my assets. There are some major holes in these numbers, like not counting my liabilities (which were HUGE!), so it doesn’t give the full effect. On the plus side I had no credit card debt and, in the 2 years prior, I had put appx 130k in cash down to buy multiple properties (which, of course, I lost!). On the minus side, my 401k was PITIFUL for someone who had been at the same company for 11 years (with a 9.3% match!). Seriously, brutal…
Since 2012, that number has changed drastically. First plummeting down (thanks, real estate market!) and finally skyrocketing up. In the past 5 years I cashed out (!) one Roth and opened another, switched to an HSA, opened a brokerage account first with individual stocks and now my beloved VTSAX, and in the past two years have maxed out every tax-advantaged account possible. It’s hard not to play the what if game, but I know that all the financial hardship I went through brought me to this very moment today. And where is that, exactly?? Just about halfway’ish to FI (It’s complicated).
Here are my numbers this year compared to last:
As you can see, my net worth has gone from $210218 to $331247 which, by my calculations, is an increase of $121029. What?! Again, just seeing the numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t show how hard I had to work to achieve them, what my expenses were and where I cut them, or what the market has done with my particular investments in the past 365 days. What it does show is that the growth was far more than my income which motivates me to keep up my ridiculous savings rate in an effort to continue with the upwards trajectory. If you are not tracking your net worth (AND your expenses!), please start NOW!! Tracking alone won’t get you there, but paying attention to your finances will.
Again, I credit my increase in net worth to various factors, including:
- Track your spending!! Duh, I just said that. See where your money is going and…
- Cut back on your expenses. Do some research and start saving on energy costs, housing, phones, cable/internet, groceries, restaurants, vacations. Be intentional with your spending and your savings will start increasing.
- Make it a goal to max out all taxable accounts. This will help to increase your…
- Compound interest! Besides owning my home outright (low-cost of living), compound interest alone has plumped my net worth at a ridiculous rate. Yes, investing in the market can be a crapshoot, but not investing is far worse. See where I was at in 2012?? Don’t be me.
- Work more! To say I wasn’t applying myself from 2012-2014 is an understatement. I was coming out of a terrible rut and lacked the motivation to kick my own ass. In early 2015, I decided it was time to make some changes and sought advice from the internet to lead the way. Rarely does the internet lead you to anything positive (Web MD I’m talking to you!) but, in this case, I got lucky. It led me to a variety of personal finance blogs, eventually leading me to the idea of financial independence and the 4% rule. I had no idea such a thing existed!! Late 2015, I set a goal to work a minimum of 100 trips per month and this past year (chart courtesy of the SS website) showed the fruits of my labor. Again, why did I wait so long??!!!?? If you can’t work more hours at your job (I am hourly, not salary) then perhaps you can find a side hustle? In addition to my full-time job, I have a lucrative but hard to explain side hustle. Figure out what you are good at and make it marketable.
- Find your tribe. When you surround yourself with people who have the same interests and values your life you fill voids you may otherwise fill with purchase. We all know what happens when boredom strikes…we eat, shop, and search for ways to spend our money.
Speaking of my tribe, this past year has been AMAZING with the help of my internet friends…YOU!! I can’t believe it has only been a year!!! A few of you I have met in real life, but in time I hope to meet all (Who is going to Lola Retreat, FinCon, or Camp Mustache SE??). It is rare to find friends in this world that will be there for both your highs and your lows. You people have given me words of encouragement, support, and love when shit was tough but also celebrated and congratulated my wins along the way. Whether you know me or not, I appreciate your wisdom, friendship, and the possibility for both in the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Until next time…