Another year is in the books! Growing up, I constantly heard the phrase "enjoy life, it goes way too quick" but being young and naive, I just wrote it off and said "yea right"... Boy could I have not been more wrong.
Sure, when your 5 or 6 a year seems like an eternity, however, in high school things (at least for me) started to change. In those 4 short years, I vividly remember thinking to myself wow, that year went faster than the last. Throughout college, it seemed life slowed a bit, but ever since joining the work force, it has picked back up in a big way! Now at age 28, going on 7 years in the workforce, a routine has developed and the days just seem to slip by. I blink and all of a sudden a month is gone. I take a nap and the season has changed. A full nights sleep and here I am writing a blog post reflecting on the past year...
The previous paragraph illustrates the importance of the journey that my wife and I are on right now. It is the daily routines and monotony of our lives that make things go by so fast. Trying to retire early will not only let us live the way we want, but will also alleviate us from going through the motions and allow us to never have a routine again.
In order for us to achieve the life we want, we must set consistent, SMART, goals. Without goals, we could sway off the path and hurt our ability to reach freedom from the 9 - 5 job. I believe goals need to be challenging, yet achievable. If you continually set goals that are too extreme, you will continually disappoint yourself which could hinder your ability to keep going. With that being said, lets look at how our goals for 2015 turned out:
Way back in March, I wrote this update post on our goals. As I stated back then, I did not exactly follow the SMART acronym but I feel I can still judge how I am doing.
Essentially SMART goals are:
- Receive $4,500 in dividends
- Connect with the blogging community
- Save as much as possible but live life
I can honestly say that this year was one of the best in terms of overall quality of life and financially. We received $4,674.01 or roughly $390 per month!!!! At one point during the year, I thought we would hit the $5,000 mark but our December month was quite disappointing. Based on the previous year, I thought we could get close to $1,500 in income in December but we didn't even manage to break $1,000 after beating that mark in 2014. Our mutual funds did not pay out nearly as much as last year but so it goes I guess, we still beat our goal!
Goal two had no quantitative measurement behind it but, I can definitely say I am connecting with the blogging community. Although I slacked off a bit during the end of the year, I have still managed to post 57 times since initiating the blog. Some of my top posts are:
The final goal of the year I think was passed with flying colors. The idea of traveling a lot is a significant goal for my wife and I. Besides being financially secure and not having to work, traveling would be the main reason for trying to retire early. It's a big world out there and I'd love to be able to see as much of it while I can.
With that being said, we managed to go to 7 weddings this past year, 6 of which out of state. We loved each one of them but are looking forward to a more relaxed 2016. Traveling is fun and can be incredibly affordable if done right, however traveling and paying for weddings is a much different story! During a 3 day, 2 night weekend for a wedding, the pace seems incredibly fast and as such you are grabbing crappy fast food or going out to eat just to save time. I'd imagine that our expenses for weddings are nearly twice that if compared to a normal vacation somewhere. But, catching up with old friends and experiencing a wedding are a blast so all in all no regrets. In addition to the weddings, we went on multiple vacations such as: Austin TX, Fenwick Island DE, New Orleans LA, Gulf Shores AL, Pittsburg PA, Pensacola FL and Connecticut.
For the past few years we had been saving up credit card reward miles and shockingly our trips were not nearly as expensive as you would think. The flights were mostly free and we were able to stay with friends and family at the multiple locations. Everyone was more than accommodating and most of the time we did not have to get a rental car either. Food cost was kept low as most of the time we did breakfast and lunch at the house and then went out to dinner. It's because of this great network of people that we were still able to invest roughly $47,000 this past year!!
Overall, 2015 was one of the best years of my life! On my SMART scale, the goals turned out like this:
- Specific - $4,500 in dividends, connect with bloggers - PASSED!
- Measureable - $4,674 in dividends, 57 posts total, 7 trips - PASSED
- Achievable - Just barely beat our dividend goal - PASSED!
- Results-Oriented - Dividends = results, Posts/comments = Results, Trips/Family = Results - PASSED!
- Time-bound - 2015 IS OVER AND IT WAS A SUCCESS!!!
How was your 2015?