2015 Progress Report & A Net Worth Update

I may be a bit late with to the year-end review party, but here is the update on our progress.  2015 was an important year for us in many respects.  We made progress on improving our finances, but also made quite a few changes to our lifestyle which will enable more-significant gains in the future (ex. cheaper cell phones).  While, we did slow down our hustling in 2015 to enjoy welcoming a new little guy into the family, our finances continue to improve. 

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The Plan

Early retirement is a very personal goal; everyone has their own idea of how they want to live after escaping from the demands of full-time work.  Our plan is to achieve financial semi-independence in the year 2022.  We hope to pay off all our debts, so we will only need to do enough part-time work to cover our living expenses, with rental property income.  I would like to write (including blogging), do some consulting, craft, and teach a college course.  Mr. Smith will do some home repairs here and there.  We will be able to choose when and what we do as far as work is concerned.  We will not have mortgages for either of our properties.  Our living expenses will be very low thanks to adopting a frugal lifestyle and doing things like growing our own vegetables.  In addition, I have a 401K that we will not touch until we are in our sixties.  It already has some money in it and I will increase my contributions as the debt decreases. 

The Credit Cards

At the start of 2015, we had a whopping $42,000 in credit card debt.  Now, we have decreased that number to just under $30,000 (YAY!).  The balances on the cards with the highest interest rates have been consolidated.  The loan has an interest rate of 14% and a balance of $19,000.  The goal is to pay off the remaining cards this year, one at a time, and then work on the loan.  Now that we have three children, our tax return should be a bit more this year.  We should be able to bring at least one of the cards down to a $0 balance with the return that we will receive in a few months. 

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Let’s get this to zero A.S.A.P.!

Mortgages 

House #1: Mortgage = $98,000, Market Value = $120,000

Rental House: Mortgage = $50,000, Market Value = $89,000

We have a total of $148,000 in debt and $61,000 in equity when it comes to our two properties. 

 

Student Loans

My student loans have not been a priority because they carry fairly low interest rates (as compared to the credit cards).  However, we continue to make the monthly payments, which continue to increase.  The balance is approximately $60,000.  If we continue to abide by the repayment plan, all of these loans will be paid off in 2019.  This works out well (if we can’t accomplish it sooner) because it would give us three years of no student loan payments before our semi-retirement date of 2022. 

Vehicles

It has been pretty awesome to not worry about a car payment for more than a year.  I’ve read the opposing viewpoints on whether to include vehicles in a net worth calculation.  I consider them assets because they are not carrying any debt.  They have resale or trade-in value.  And we would receive a check for them if there were totaled in an accident.  The Kelly Blue Book values our two vehicles at approximately $10,000-$12,000, combined. 

We will need to get a different vehicle as the three children continue to get bigger, and definitely by the time we have a fourth child.  The current plan is to trade my SUV in for a minivan – a used one that will not cost us anything extra. 

401K Savings

One of the perks that comes with working for my company is that they automatically make profit sharing contributions towards our 401K – with no requirement that we contribute anything.  I have not allocated any of my income towards the 401K, yet the balance currently stands at $18,000.  Mr. Smith and I have discussed starting to make small deductions this year, for tax purposes.  According to the retirement calculator on the 401K administrator’s website: if we didn’t contribute any more money, and start deductions at the age of 60, until we die at 92 year old . . . we would get $97 per month.  Well, I guess it’s a start.  With continued employer contributions and our own contributions we should be able to increase this amount for use when we reach old age.  Any additional income we earn during semi-retirement will be invested as well.

Other Assets?

I’m not going to include these in the net worth calculation, because I’m not sure if they count.  We have $3,000 saved up in a Health Savings Account (partly because I over-saved for childbirth expenses).  We have been contributing towards whole life insurance policies for over ten years.  Finally, we have life insurance policies for the children that they can cash out when they turn 18 years old. 

Our Net Worth

By my rough calculations, we have a net worth of – $148,000 based on:

Debt: $29,000 (Credit Cards) + $148,000 (Mortgages) + $60,000 (Student Loans) = $237,000

Assets: $61,000 (Equity) + $10,000 (Vehicles) + $18,000 (401K) = $89,000

 

Self-Evaluation

I focus a lot on our credit card debt, because I now understand just how much money we’re losing due to interest charges.  It’s frustrating because we could be using that money to increase our net worth and hasten our progress towards semi-retirement.  However, I should feel fairly good about our position right now.  We are not starting from nothing, with only debt.  We do have assets.  We need to focus on paying off approximately $237,000 in debt over the next six years.  That is approximately $40,000 per year.  Then, we can expect our net worth to be over a quarter of a million dollars.  I can’t even imagine how wonderful it will feel to reach that point and achieve our dream of freedom.  We can definitely do this!

Note: After I first came up with the $40,000 figure and divided it into monthly amounts of $3,333, I got really excited.  I found myself thinking, we’re already making payments of at least that much every month (not thinking clearly due to a recent lack of sleep with Trey up at night with a cold).  Then, I realized we need to pay that much each month towards principal.  In order to semi-retire, we need to not only pay off our debt, but add money towards my 401K.  While a bit deflated, I still feel optimistic.  As we continue to pay off debts, we will be able to apply more of our income towards principal.  The school loans and consolidation loan should be gone by 2019.  Also, over the next six years, there should be raises, including a big one if I can get a promotion.  And that’s just from my primary employment.  I anticipate that side hustles will make a big difference when it comes to achieving our goals.  We need to keep increasing our income in order to pay down the debt.   

Stay tuned for a post on how we paid off so much debt in 2015 – despite the breadwinner (me) taking a four month maternity leave.  Spoiler alert – it all boils down to changing your attitude about money.

17 Comments

    1. Thanks! For some reason I was a little nervous about posting all of these numbers, but (1) this is an anonymous blog and (2) it’s not like I’m sharing about a secret fortune. We will definitely take it one step at a time – the step that we’re on right now is to just hustle our butts off and keep decreasing our debt.

  1. Your debt and savings figures reminds me of our numbers when we were in our late 20s. We adopted a frugal lifestyle out of necessity but I was age 40 when I decided that early retirement was my goal. We had already eliminated debt other than our mortgage by then so it was all about saving and investing. I retired at age 51 and I can tell you everything you do now will be worth it when you reach your FI goal. Nice job on the debt repayment agins and just keep it up. Its easier to have a simple living, debt free and frugal lifestyle to fund than trying to save enough to fund a consumerist debt ridden one.
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    1. Your comment gives me hope that our dream is possible. It’s so motivating to hear about people who were struggling with debt, but were able to achieve financial independence. Thanks for stopping by and I’m looking forward to posts about your own adventures.

  2. Pingback: Roth IRA Challenge: Creating My Kaleidoscope - Northern Expenditure

  3. Val

    Hi! Just a note about your net worth. I think it should actually be zero not -148,000 You listed your equity in your houses, not the market value. But if you are listing the mortgages as debt then you should list the properties at market value. That’s a huge difference in net worth 🙂

      1. Val

        I’ve enjoyed reading all your posts, I just finished up yesterday and then subscribed to your blog, keep up the great job! Our family is also on a debt freedom journey, a bit to late for early retirement for us but it will be a better one.

        1. Thanks so much Val! I will keep the posts coming and hope they provide you with encouragement and helpful tips. Whether or not you achieve early retirement, paying off debt will definitely give you more freedom.

      2. Liz

        I made the same mistake you did when I first calculated our net worth. I was THRILLED to discover my error!

        Thanks for all the transparent posting of numbers; it’s so much more inspiring and easy to relate to than the finance bloggers who are all vague and coy about their situations.

        1. I like to think that posting our numbers provides us with more accountability – so we can see progress, or lack of progress. And thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one who made that mistake 🙂

  4. Like some of your other responders are saying, thank you for posting your real numbers. I respect those who do not post them as well, but I really appreciate the ability to compare so that I have a better understanding.

    Quick questions: Do you have plans for saving for your children’s educations and/or other type of support? My hubby and I have only been able to put aside a couple hundred dollars for my kids’ college,– which we think they will attend, but if not, the money can go for a car, first house, etc. Mostly, though, they’ll need to rely on other relatives, scholarships, and loans. Just thought I’d see if you’re doing anything different.

    1. We go back and forth on this. I hate the thought of them taking out too many student loans, after everything that we’ve been through. However, I want them to work for it – scholarships, state school, part-time jobs, etc. A lot depends on our financial situation at that point too. If we are able to make progress on killing our debt, we have talked about contributing towards 529 Savings Plans for the kids. I need to do some more research on these plans – perhaps I can make them the subject of a future post.

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