Another successful trip around the sun has passed, so it’s time for our year-end review. Overall, 2016 was a resounding success for us in the following areas:
Work * From January to May we finished out our teaching jobs in Douglas, Georgia. After many years of teaching, both my wife and I were ready for a change. Living by the school bell gets really old after a while, so we decided to leave our jobs again. We had considered staying for a possible third year, but Edwina was adamant that her job was becoming detrimental to our family time. (Her job required longer hours than mine, and she spent many a weekend on club trips and excessive planning.) As my loyal readers already know, it’s never difficult for me to quit a job, so I graciously followed my wife’s lead. Sure, another year of teaching would have resulted in $100k+ in savings, but it was time to move on.
Hardcore Savings * In spite of only working five months this year, we we able to save $86,358 in 2016. From January to August, we zeroed out our paychecks by having them invested in our 457 and 403b accounts. (Our combined paychecks were 26¢…front-loaders until we die!) After the sale of our home in November of 2015, we were flush in cash, so in January I funded our HSA and ESA for 2016. Here’s our 2016 hardcore savings recap:
Net Worth * After years of hardcore savings, we finally hit the $1 million dollar mark in 2016. The net worth total below was taken on December 31st and includes an estimated monetary value of $30,000 for all of our travel hacking points. Even without that amount, we still had a $1 million dollar net worth for the year. It felt great to finally pass this milestone, but we’re still the same people we’ve always been. Going forward, we plan on living modestly and letting our portfolio work for us.
Family * 2016 has been a tough year for our families. Many of you remember that in March my brother-in-law in Tifton, Georgia passed away after a long battle with cancer. Because we lived only an hour away, we were able to visit him frequently before he died. After that difficult experience, it got really crazy in June when my ten-year-old nephew had a heart transplant and my normally super-healthy father-in-law required immediate heart surgery. In July, my father experienced complications from his type-2 diabetes and had to have two toes removed. A few weeks later we learned that he had a staph infection from his wound. In an instant, we suddenly had three family members in very precarious health conditions.
Fortunately, my nephew is doing great after his heart transplant. However, when we went to visit him at the hospital in Atlanta, we weren’t sure if he would make it. Because there was the possibility that his body might reject his new heart, he had to spend three months in the hospital before he was released. Having to spend so much time cooped up in a hospital room made the poor boy miserable. I’m just glad he was strong enough to survive his surgery and the subsequent hospital stay…that boy is as tough as a two-dollar steak!
Both my father and father-in-law finally made it home after lengthy hospital stays. My father-in-law is due to have a pacemaker later this month, and my Dad is still trying to regain his strength after battling his staph infection. In all honestly, I’m just happy to still have them around because it was touch and go there for a while. The silver lining: because we weren’t burdened with jobs, we were able to help our families out during a difficult and stressful time.
Mexico Trip * On October 31st we travel to Mexico where we spent two months. We would have left for Mexico earlier, but we waited until our medical crises stabilized. In November, we rented an Airbnb apartment in Cancun for the entire month. Later, we rented an apartment in Progreso where we spent most of December. During our two months in Mexico we also made trips to Valladolid and Merida. (I’ll recap our trip in an upcoming post.)
During our time in Cancun we were able to process the paperwork for our Mexican permanent residency visas. (We finally got them in December…post to come!) We decided to come back to the U.S. before the end of December so that we could visit our ailing fathers.
Roth IRA Conversion Ladder * In December I converted $30,000 of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. I plan on converting $25,000 a year over the next four years. If you’re wondering what a “Roth IRA conversion ladder” is, here’s the short answer: it’s a way to reduce or eliminate income taxes on your traditional IRA accounts. (For more detailed information read: #1, #2, and #3.) Our goal is to eventually have at least $200,000 in our Roth IRA accounts so that we have a pot of tax-free retirement savings.
Jogging Streak * On July 10th I went for a puny twelve-minute jog, and I haven’t missed a day of jogging since. I recently passed the half-year mark by finishing jog #183; I jogged for 30 minutes and it felt great. Jogging a little every day improves my conditioning, clears my mind, and adds structure to my days. Now let’s see if I can keep it going…
My Goals for 2017
Okay, I’m not going to go crazy here with bold declarations. Here are three goals that I hope to work on a little every day in 2017.
- Keep jogging and working on my fitness. I think I have enough momentum on this goal to keep it going. Plus, I no longer have a job to screw up my schedule. Basically, I have no excuses to blow off exercise. A side goal to this goal is to continue my push-ups, sumo squats, and Pilates that I added to my routine about two months ago.
- Write a little blogging content every day. My regular readers know that I’m not a prolific blogger. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas to share, it’s just that I’m easily distracted and a little lazy…plus, I’m FIRE’d! Once again, no bold statements, but I’d like to write one blog post a month. I could easily do that if I finished some of my draft posts.
- Try to make $120 from my blog this year. Ten bucks a month should be doable, right? I don’t plan on building a blogging empire, but it would be nice to finally monetize my blog. Let’s see if I can turn 200 nickels a month on this blog. You probably noticed that I didn’t mention taking a job in 2017, so I need to seriously explore this potential income source.
Alright, that’s my 2016 recap and those are my humble goals for 2017. How was your year? What do you think about my goals, am I lazy or too ambitious?
|Health Savings Account: We use Elements Financial to access commission-free, low-cost Vanguard ETFs at TD Ameritrade.