Saturday, January 07, 2017
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!