A Q3’17 Savings Update

2017 is wrapping up way faster than I’d like. Fall is here, Halloween is around the corner, and I don’t know if I’ve made as much progress towards my goals as needed. That’s not to say that there haven’t been successes this year. After all, I paid off my student debt in June, which has allowed me to really jumpstart my other savings and investing goals. Let’s take a look at the progress I’ve made since my last update.

Here are my financial goals for 2017:

Max out 401(k) and IRA contributions

I’m on track to put away a full $23,500 towards retirement across my company 401(k) account and my Roth IRA. This will be the first year that I’ve maxed out my contributions entirely, so I’m pretty excited! My retirement accounts make up 83% of my entire net worth. For people just starting out their careers or trying to save money, retirement accounts are the best. Sure, it’s money you don’t really have instant access to, but that’s actually for the best. By having my contributions deducted from my paycheck before it gets deposited in my account, I’m not really thinking about how much I’m putting away every month. It’s so rewarding to see my net worth increase by the thousands every few months.

Have $10K in my personal investment account

One of the things I started this year was a separate account for investing. This is something that’s always been daunting for me since 1) I know nothing about investing, and 2) I’m very risk-averse. That’s why it was important for me to open up a separate account for this. I currently have about $7K in this account and put away $1K a month. Provided the market doesn’t tank before the end of the year, I’m on track to reach this goal.

Sometime soon, I’ll post a review of different robo-advisors I’ve experimented with. Being afraid of the stock market isn’t a good excuse to not invest in it and robo-advisors help with that. Yes, I may be leaving some money on the table, but it’s worth it for me. I’ll share more soon!

Reduce my average monthly living expenses to $1,700

With the cost of dance creeping up from ~$500 a month to almost $700, this goal has kind of gone out the window. However, my most recent cash fasting challenge resulted in September expenses of $1,706, which is pretty spot-on. My Q3’17 average? $1,989. That’s lower than what I averaged in Q2 ($2,293), and on par with Q1 ($1,986). My monthly average in 2016 was $2,371, so at least I’ve been consistently lower than that.

My Q3’17 savings rate: 64%

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat. I can’t believe it! I had to run the numbers a few times to be sure. I’ve usually averaged around 50% so this is crazy! Having $750 taken out of each paycheck helps for sure, as do all my automated transfers to my savings accounts. (FYI, this savings rate is calculated after taxes, so it’s 64% of my take-home that I’m putting towards my future.)

Build an actual emergency fund

My original goal was to build up $6K as an emergency fund by the end of the year, but a few months ago, I realized that having that much in a separate savings account wasn’t the best idea for me. There are a lot of people who would disagree with deemphasizing an emergency fund, but I’m not at a place in my life where I need to have a lot set aside. I have no dependents, and I can draw funds out of my investing account if needed, which can already cover three months of expenses. Right now, I have enough in my e-fund to comfortably cover one month of expenses (two if I really need to stretch it). I have an automated transfer setup that pulls a few hundred every month into this account, so eventually it’ll be bigger, but for now, I’m good. 👍

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Other goals:

Expand the blog

The only goal I had set for myself at the beginning of the year was to have 100 posts published by the end of the year. This post is number 89. Originally I was on a twice a week posting schedule, which I kept up for most of the year. However, work has been crazy lately, and I don’t think I can keep up that pace anymore. There are 11 more weeks in the year, so if I can commit to doing one post a week, I’ll hit that 100 post goal exactly on target, haha.

I’m growing on social media!

Twitter: 838 Followers (up 53% from my Q2’17 check-in)
Facebook: 40 Likes (up 29%, but does that really count when the base number is so small)
Pinterest: 37 Followers (up 32% but I’m still not doing much here)
Instagram: 83 Followers (I’m new here! Come and join me)

Live a healthier lifestyle

This year I ran a 5K, most of a 10K, and increased my ballroom dancing commitment. I need to keep working on living a more active lifestyle, but much of my “healthy living” goal is also focused on eating cleaner. That’s why most of my Cash Fasts revolve around food. In one of my earliest blog posts, I shared a screenshot from MyFitnessPal, which I’ve been using to track my weight for almost five years. As much as I hate to admit it, a lot of my self-confidence is tied to my appearance, and actually feeling comfortable in my own skin.


To be honest, 2017 has been a rough year. I tend to give myself a lot of giant, long-term goals without smaller benchmarks to keep myself going. Clearly, I’ve made a lot of progress (yes, I do see it), but it’s hard to not get discouraged.

As personal finance bloggers go, sure, I’m still considered small fry. It’s been over a year since I started to blog, and I’m just happy to be still here writing. I haven’t lost my passion for this niche, even if real life has gotten more hectic. This is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever undertaken, made more difficult by the fact that I’m only accountable to myself (and all you wonderful internet strangers).

That closes out my Q3 update! I suppose that for any long race, the important thing is to pace yourself, right? I definitely started out weak in Q1, but picked up speed once that pesky student debt was wiped out over the summer. 2018, I’m coming for you!

Comments

  1. Sounds like you’re really closing in on your goals! You’ve done a great job keeping your expenses so low, especially when your dance expenses have increased.

    And that’s perfectly fine, it’s super important to do things that you enjoy, it makes life more livable.

    1. Author

      Thanks, David! I’m still struggling with having what I think are high expenses. I agree that it’s important to do enjoyable things, but when it’s a third of my monthly expenses… 😭

  2. That’s a lot of accomplishment for someone so young!!! I would love to hear about your robo investor review. I never thought investing was scary but Jared did. After you get more comfortable, there’s the world of Magic Formula investing (real name) if you just wanted to play around 😁

    1. Author

      If it weren’t for investment platforms like Robinhood/Wealthfront/Betterment, I don’t think I would’ve gotten into investing outside of my 401K/IRAs. I’m definitely easing into it since I only started this year. My review will be out soon enough!

    1. Author

      Thanks! I’m surprised at myself, really. For some reason, I thought I spent the majority of my income. I guess that’s not a terrible mindset to have if it keeps me saving more!

  3. Congrats on the 50% savings rate!! I’m trying to cut some expenses to get me to 50 but it is oh so hard!!

  4. Nice savings rate and 401k milestone for sure! The first year I maxed mine I was when I was 34. 100 posts in a year is solid too – especially when they’re solid content (like everything I’ve seen!).

    1. Author

      Thanks, Adam :]
      I’m really excited to max out for the first time. I’ve been close before, but major life events have necessitated pulling back in the past. In retrospect, I could’ve covered major coats and still saved a full 18K for retirement, but I didn’t know then what I know now.

  5. Congratulations on all the progress you’ve made so far this year, especially being on track to max out your retirement accounts! That’s definitely a goal of mine but I just can’t afford to do it at the moment and still be able to pay rent.

    We have the same goal of reaching $10k in our investment accounts this year. I don’t think I’m going to make it (I’m close, but I just don’t have enough room in my budget for it), but considering it was a stretch goal I’m just happy I’ll probably be in reaching distance at the end of the year!

    1. Author

      The great thing about investment accounts is that it’ll still grow (hopefully) even when you don’t put funds into it. Maybe the market will get a nice boost by the end of the year and help us both, haha.

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