2016 – year in review

Intro

Even though I’ve only been running my blog for about 6 months I thought it would be fun to go back and look at how 2016 treated us. It was actually a bit tedious to pull together the financial data on investment income and net worth since I wasn’t pulling it together on a monthly basis. Now that I am publishing this on my blog it should be a lot easier to run these numbers in the future.

What follows is a brief review of 2016.




Personal

2016 was a great year for The Money Commando household. Our daughter turned 2 and our son turned 1.

My wife and I love to travel (it’s one of the things that really bonded us early in our relationship) and we did plenty of travel in 2016. We spent a week with my mom’s side of the family for a family reunion in the summer. We traveled to visit my Mom and her husband for Thanksgiving and my Dad and his wife visited us for a week around Christmas. New Year’s Eve was spent at a friend’s vineyard in Central California.

In the middle of the year my wife and I took our first trip away from the kids – I brought her along on a business trip to Las Vegas and we had a great time. She sat at the pool while I was at a conference, then we went to some great dinners and saw some shows at night. It had been a while since we’d been to Las Vegas and it was fun to let loose and do some of the stuff we did when were young and didn’t have kids.

I made great progress towards finishing my Certified Financial Planner certification. I knocked out 4 classes (one per quarter), leaving me with just one class in 2017 to finish the curriculum.

And perhaps most appropriate to this discussion, I started TheMoneyCommando.com so I can track my progress towards financial independence and share my thoughts about saving, investing, and earning as much money as possible.

Finances

Net worth – In 2016 our net worth increased approximately $375k to $3,359,647.09. That’s just over an 11% increase. Most of that increase was driven by our stock portfolio, but we did pick up some increase from the value of our real estate investments as well.

Passive income – Here’s the breakdown on our passive income:

  • Brokerage accounts = $32,223.33
  • 401(k) = $8,806.77
  • IRAs  = $1,557.20
  • Rental properties – $4,303.26

Total passive income – $46,890.56

I’m generally pretty happy with our passive income but we have a long way to go to hit my goal of $120,000 for financial independence.

Work income – I had one of the worst years in the last decade from an income perspective. This is the downside of a life in sales. Sometimes you have a good year and you have tons of disposable income to invest and sometimes you have a down year and you barely make enough money to cover your expenses. My expectation is that 2017 will be substantially better – I could potentially make up to 10x as much as I made in 2016.

Because of my lower than usual income we were not able to save as much money as I’d normally like to. In fact, other than my 401k and 529 accounts for the kids we really didn’t save any money at all.

Investment changes – 2016 was the first year in a while that we didn’t purchase a new rental property. From 2012-2015 we purchased at least 2 rental properties per year. Real estate was broadly underpriced coming out of the last recession and I wanted to take advantage. Over the last 2 years I’m not seeing the same value in the market that I used to. In addition, we’ve now hit the maximum of 10 mortgages (first and second on our personal plus 8 rental properties). Purchasing additional properties would need to be done with cash or at higher interest rates.

In the stock market I made some adjustments to our portfolio. As I’ve stated a few times over the last few months, I believe the market is substantially overvalued now. I also believe that we are more likely to have a downturn in the economy in 2017 than not. As a result I liquidated some of the lower quality investments we had and reallocated some of that money to higher quality stocks. I’m also building our cash reserves – strengthening our balance sheet seems like a prudent move based on my belief in a probable downturn.




Recap

As I said, 2016 was a great year for us. We are extremely fortunate to live someplace that we love, to have 2 healthy kids, and to have enough money that we never have to worry about where our next meal will come from or if we can afford diapers for the baby. In fact, the only thing I can say that I wish we had more of was time!

I didn’t really set any specific goals for 2016 so I can’t measure my progress in that area. That will change in 2017 as I’m putting together a number of specific financial and personal goals that I’ll track throughout the year.

 

Readers – how was 2016 for you? Did you have any specific goals you measured your progress against? Have you have anything you want to achieve in 2017?

 

 

 

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