Saturday, January 07, 2017

Catching up on 2016

A few notes as I do my year-end accounting for 2016. 

The first thing I dug into was the trusts I manage for my mom. Their return was about 9% last year and I was about to pay Mom about $8,000 in dividends. I feel pretty good about this, especially after a shaky start in the first few months I was managing her money when the market was down and I was afraid she wouldn’t understand that it wasn’t my fault! I am also a bit less nervous about my mom’s finances since my grandparents both died in 2016 and she does not have to contribute to their nursing home costs anymore, which was a big expense.

My own personal investment accounts are a bit more aggressive and using the way E*Trade calculates returns, I actually beat the S&P 500 in 2016— 11.4% returns in one account, 10.73% in the other, vs. 9.53% for S&P 500.

I earned more money this year as a result of my new job, and decent investment returns. My total income including salary, bonus, investment income and other odds and ends such as employer contributions to 401k was over $214,000, vs about $188,000 for 2015. I also spent more on various things— food, wine, clothes and a few other small pleasures, but also taxes, as those increased when my income went up. But my total spending only went up by about $6,500, so my net savings for the year ended up being almost $85,000, vs about $65k last year.

I am thinking more and more about how to retire early, or at least downshift to a less stressful job. I like making more money, but it has come with a TON of stress and I’m not sure it’s worth it. Maybe I’ll eventually feel more comfortable in this position, but for these first few months, I’ve been struggling and really not feeling confident that it will ever get better. I’d love to quit, but I’m not ready to admit failure, and I keep telling myself that the longer I stick it out, the earlier I can retire! 

My net worth was about $1.17 million at the end of 2016. I’m on the right track for my retirement goals, but not so much so that I can totally relax. I’ve played around with a lot of scenarios in a retirement calculator— the good news is that it does seem like I’d be able to retire at least a few years early, even if I go back to making somewhat less. If I was willing to move to a different part of the US with a lower cost of living and make some big changes to my lifestyle, I could probably retire tomorrow if I felt like it. But I’m not willing to do that just yet, and who knows what the next few years will bring, in terms of my own career, my family, and the political and economic uncertainty in our country.

2016 was a pretty shitty year. It was bad enough that David Bowie, Prince, and Sharon Jones died, not to mention various other iconic celebrities. I lost some dear friends and beloved family members, which of course was more important to me, and I lost a lot of faith in American democracy in seeing Donald Trump elected President. In most other ways, I am happy, pretty healthy, and generally feel incredibly lucky that I have the life I do. When I started this blog, I still thought of myself as “young”— now I’m middle-aged! It’s weird to feel like I’m shifting into a new attitude towards the future, at exactly the point when the future looks bleak in some ways. But I still keep thinking “onward and upward!” Wishing you all, dear loyal readers, the very very best and a happy New Year!


kramme said...

Thanks for sharing. I can relate, I make a good salary but stress full (IT Project manager). I may do something less stressful before I retire. Meanwhile doing good with the savings.

I was wondering how you track your expenses if you do not mind sharing that, that is something I need to get a handle on for future retirement planning.

Anonymous said...

You can blame the last 16 years of lame duck presidencies on why we elected Donald Trump to office. You say you lost faith in our democracy??? The democracy actually worked. The people have spoken and they are obviously sick of they direction this country is heading. An regardless Trump is our president now so it would be good to give him the benefit of the doubt. We survived the first 44 presidents and we will survive him. Also you never know, he just might be a good one. I had high hopes for Obama. Really thought he was gonna be better than Bush and Clinton but he did nothing but try an bankrupt and divide us. The most divisive president in history IMO. So you never know. What you think is bad just might end up being good. Only time will tell.

T'Pol said...

Good to hear from you! Wish you a better and happier New Year! You have always been an inspiration in terms of finances and I am proud to say that I have been doing pretty good too. I have saved 42% of my total income last year. So, as you say "onwards and upwards" despite the changes awaiting my job.

bethh said...

I agree that 2016 was a very disturbing year in many ways, particularly politically. I don't usually comment on your blog but figured since you mentioned our troll in chief, you might get some negative comments. I"m trying to be more vocal in support of people in general, these days :)

I'm curious how you decided to set whatever goal it is that you have for retirement - is it salary times x, or spending times 30 years, or what? I feel pretty sure that if I were in your shoes I'd be retired already!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year! You are a very interesting woman. Please post more often.