I’m not sure about your 2019, but frankly I’m quite glad to see it in my rear view mirror. It was a year full of adaption and change. All the changes I made in 2019 made it rather difficult to actually make progress on any one thing. I feel blessed I was able to tread water and not lose any ground. I lived at 4 different addresses and started 3 different jobs. Each one of them made sense in isolation, but strung together turned out to be completely overwhelming and probably not a good idea. Hindsight is 2020, eh? (I promise that’s the only joke I’ll make about the year and vision!)
The dawn of the year found me living with a wonderful family in Northern Virginia with a new job. I paid off lingering debts from my 9 month stint of self-employment in 2018, started to refill my saving accounts and make some purchases I had been putting off in the name of fiscal responsibility. I published 3 posts in January:
- The Year of Focus: I lay out my goals for 2019. Looking back, I did pretty good on them! But that is a full post in and of itself.
- Beware of the Compare: A reminder that is hopefully useful for everyone. Only compare yourself to the you of yesterday and not a single person more. I should read that post every year!
- The Privilege of Self-Employment: I looked back on my self-employment stint in 2018 and detailed the various levels of privilege I have that let me bounce back from little to no income for an extended period of time easily.
I also had a guest post on my friend Financial Mechanic’s blog! I did a spending diary for a week and got a lot of great feedback!
I enjoyed several social outings in January. The FinCon team came to DC and had a meetup which was fun to attend. I went on a hike to Cunningham State Park with friends and successfully avoided an early death on the ice covered paths.
Being a short month, February flew by. I spent most of the month wrapped up in the interview process for Very Big Tech Company in the Bay Area which culminated in an on-site interview at the end of the month. While I didn’t get the job (a fact I’m very grateful for now, given what I know), I did get valuable interview experience and a free trip to San Francisco. I got to meet a few followers while there and spent some time hanging out with my friend Michelle as we happened to coincidentally be in the same town at the same time while she was on her US tour. I published 3 posts in February:
- Monthly Status Report: January 2019: Exactly what it sounds like- my month in more detail. A look at my budget and all the money that came and went in the month. It sure was nice to have income again!!
- Always Be Interviewing: I featured a guest post from my friend Mr. Waffles on Wednesday on why you should keep your interviewing skills sharp. Ironically, he is no longer working and I used those interviewing skills to get 2 more jobs in 2019. Funny how things work out!
- Affinity Fraud in the FI Community: While the vast majority of the FI community are wonderful people who just want to help others, there are a few unsavory characters that have appeared to feed off the community. Stay alert, my friends.
March marked a quick trip home to Chicago to visit friends and grab my stuff for the first move of the year. I moved out of the basement and into an apartment in DC with my friend Erin from Reaching for FI. I got to see my first MLS game ever, so now I just need to see an NBA game and I’ll have seen every kind of professional sports event in person. (I’m not counting things like UFC fighting, btw). I started biking to work more days than not, and took a trip with my roommate to hike in Shenandoah National Park. The cherry blossoms started to bloom, making my commute to work even more amazing (and slightly hazardous with all the tourists milling about. I wrote 2 posts in March:
- Monthly Status Report February 2019: drumroll please A post in which I covered my finances for the month of February. Never would’ve guessed, eh?
- A Moving Experience: A post all about moving my stuff from the Midwest to DC. It features moving truck pictures and fun details.
Is there anything better than spring in DC? Turns out that answer is an emphatic YES as I discovered the misery of seasonal allergies. The explosion of flowers everywhere was absolutely gorgeous, though! A few friends came to visit in April, so it was fun to play host and pretend like I knew what I was talking about as a “local”. I flew to Colorado to see friends for the première of the documentary Playing with FIRE. I had an absolute blast hanging out with everyone and exploring the “FIRE Mecca” of Longmont, Colorado. My friend Owning the Stars and I went to see Avengers: Endgame on opening night and it was simply incredible. I may or may not have watched it about a dozen more times since April.… (it’s that good!) The end of April/beginning of May saw me attend 3 games at Nationals Stadium as the Cardinals swept the Nats. This was right before the Nats became crazy good and made it to the postseason, btw. I published 3 posts in April:
- Monthly Status Report March 2019: Yep. You guessed it.
- Surprise! A Career Change: I got nearly everyone with this April Fool’s Post. It was an entirely plausible scenario, but I’ve never been more happy to be out of the military given the cluster in the Middle East.
- Adjusting to Big City Life: This post detailed all the ways I was struggling to adapt to live in the DMV area. These things got a little better when I moved back to Northern Virginia, but not by much.
I got really into meal prepping, bike riding and fashion in May. This was the month I hired a professional stylist (or two) to give me advice on what I should wear. Turns out I was doing some things right and other things way wrong. I attended Ramit Sethi and Tanja Hester’s book events and had a lot of fun at both! The end of May saw me attend Camp FI Mid-Atlantic. I had a good time seeing old friends and making new ones! I also made a huge decision to leave the podcast. 9 months later I can say I miss the podcast, but it was the right decision to make. I also accepted an offer to change jobs, as the one I had at the time wasn’t working for me. Get it? Work wasn’t working for me?? HA! .….. ok so I published 3 posts in May:
- Monthly Status Report April 2019: Lots of good stuff in these status reports!
- Leaving It to the Pros: I detail some of the better decisions I made in the year. Hiring pros for things you can’t do yourself or would take valuable time is soooooo worth it!
- Life Changes: I detailed all the big decisions I made in May. Turns out there were more big decisions to come!
I started my new job at the beginning of June and was happy to be back in a corporate environment again. My commute turned unexpectedly hellacious which wasn’t fun at all. The Playing with FIRE team came to DC so I went to the showing and was surprised when they pulled me onto the panel after the documentary was over. I had a good time sharing my story to a new audience and seeing some people’s wheels start to turn. I tried out new food (Ethiopian food is delicious!!), got a new video game and started playing a new mobile game. I published 2 posts in June:
- The Four Stages of my FIRE Journey (so far): I describe the 4 distinct phases of my FIRE journey so far
- The Definitive Guide to Making Money Online: Gold City Ventures Review: My friends Julie and Cody teamed up to create the best course on making money online I’ve ever seen. If you want to make money online you should go here first.
July began with a fireworks extravaganza as seen from the roof of our apartment building. The wind was against us and obscured the main DC fireworks, but there were plenty of shows all around us to make up for it. July saw some nasty storms sweep through the DC area, including the day it took me 2 hours to get to work thanks to flash flooding on most of the main roads. I attended another Playing with FIRE showing in Northern Virginia and had more fun meeting new people at the brewery meetup afterwards. The end of July saw me move out of the DC apartment and into my own place in Northern Virginia. I was happy to be living on my own again, but the cost was high. I did take advantage of all the amenities and space and got back into hobbies, which helped for a while. I posted 2 articles in July:
- Monthly Status Report: May & June 2019: I missed a month, so I doubled up in July.
- New Place, New Me.… Nah: All about my various living situations in the past and more details on the new apartment!
August was a quiet month spent settling into new routines at work and at home. I made a baby quilt for a friend. I hung out at the apartment pool. I got into the local Buy Nothing Group. My friend Military Dollar and I were able to get dinner together when she was briefly in town. I got invited to a few last minute pool parties at my friend’s apartment in DC. The last week of August was spent preparing for the fun madness of FinCon in early September! I wrote 2 posts in August:
- The Best Places to Source Used Stuff: A comprehensive list of all the excellent places to score new to you stuff for a new place!
- Monthly Status Report: July 2019: Back on track with the monthly updates!
September began with FINCON! All my friends came to town and I got to spend time with most of my favorite people all at once! I had really great conversations with a few people and fun conversations with a lot of people (sober and otherwise). I also got to spend some time at the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum which was super awesome. I’m glad I got to go, especially as I lived only a few miles away. I went on more bike rides, hung out by the pool more, cooked for myself more and did some craft projects around the apartment. I also had a blast riding my new scooter all around DC! I published 4 (yes, 4!!) posts in September:
- What’s in a Job?: Job #2 2019 wasn’t working, so I was on the hunt for a different job. I succeeded, just in a different way than I imagined!
- FinCon 2019 and the Future: My recap of FinCon 2019 and thoughts on the future with regards to finance stuff.
- A Weekend of Yes: I said yes to every offer to hang out in one weekend and documented the results
- Monthly Status Report: August 2019: Got it in before October. Go me!
My favorite month because it’s my birthday! I turned 29 in 2019. I can’t believe my twenties are almost over.… but there’s still lots of life ahead to be lived! I interviewed for different jobs in October, visited friends, learned new skills, enjoyed the crap out of my time at Camp FI SW in Joshua Tree, went on a few hikes, watched my Cardinals tragically lose to the eventual World Series champions, and enjoyed a brief surprise trip home to visit family. I wrote 2 posts in October:
- Monthly Status Report: Sep 2019: Crushing this whole update thing.
- Interviewing for Jobs Sucks: Wrote this when I was pretty low after getting denied a job I was specially recruited for.
November was crazy busy and awesome. I attended my first NHL game, took a weekend trip to see friends in Maine, gave notice at 2019 Job #2, said goodbye to people in DC, packed all my belongings, said goodbye to places in DC, and drove all my stuff across the country to my new place (with a detour to my aunt’s house for a family Thanksgiving). Then we got to unpack my stuff and started to explore my new home of St Louis. I wrote 3 posts in November:
- It’s Ok to Change Your Mind: We are not trees. We are only as rooted as we want to be. Take big, bold, wild chances — you can always go back!
- Monthly Status Report: Oct 2019: So many updates.
- Meet Me in St Louis: My favorite article of 2019 to write. I got the job and could leave DC!
December was at once chill and simultaneously crazy. I drove home for 2 weekends in a row to see friends and family for Christmas. I started my new job and started drinking from the firehose of new responsibilities, new coworkers, new building, new culture and new routines to learn. Given all those expectations, the rest of my time was as simply spent as possible. I unpacked and settled into my new place more, and enjoyed peaceful holidays. Super chill and also super intense. I published 2 posts in December:
- Monthly Status Report: Nov 2019: The last update of 2019 before I update on 2019 as a whole!
- Review: Unagi Electric Scooter: The most fun-est electric scooter I’ve ever gotten to ride!
Because I want to make this the longest post I’ve ever written, I’ll tack on the finances part of the recap here as well.
I started the year with a net worth of $170,000.
I ended 2019 with a net worth of $213,000.
I earned $90,000.
I spent $60,000.
It’s easy to look at that and say, wow a gain of $43,000 well done! But it doesn’t tell the whole story. I went from a bare-bones existence of stress and anxiety at the beginning of the year to finally feeling like I wasn’t struggling anymore at the end of the year. It’s crazy to think I made roughly $90,000, spent just a shade under $60,000 and still saw a gain of $43,000. The markets were truly crazy and I’m glad I saved a ton when I was able to when I was a few years younger to give me this boost.
Also, doing a year-end review of your finances is incredibly helpful. I thought I made $70,000 last year but I earned far more than that thanks to bonuses that came my way. That’s a $20,000 difference! Who knows what surprises lurk in your finances??
I’m excited to see where 2020 goes with my finances. I’m not going to set any goals, mostly because I don’t know what I want to do with my life anymore (in the context of FIRE, anyways). This will be the subject of a much longer post in the near future, so I’ll be fairly brief here. So much of what I could set as a goal also depends on the market, which seems incredibly foolish to bet going higher than the record highs we have now. I’ll still invest, through the ups and the downs of the market, but I don’t want to set a goal of achieving $300,000 and then the market tanks and I feel like a failure. I’ll come up with less market-dependent goals for my finances in 2020.
Thanks for reading! How did your 2019 go for your finances? Shout any big wins in the comments!
I’m so glad you’re in a better place to start 2020, friend! Also, I would love the hook up (oh god am I turning into my parents) er connection to your stylist!
Is this THE Leigh? If so, I hope you’ve been well.
Tyler Weaver says
Why not set a goal for contributions to your investment fund rather than on the total value. Learning how to grow your investment over time is important, but at this stage, is focusing on income production and costs?
I agree with you interviewing is miserable. Even as an employer it is uncomfortable, you have to make decisions about a candidate based on such a short slice of time. People who do well in interviews may be good in a clutch situation but may not be consistent performers. At the same time
Tyler Weaver recently posted…House Hacking Your Way to Financial Independence
I like the idea of setting a goal for contributions since the market returns are out of our control. Another alternative to this is something I believe I picked up from Mr. 1500 which is to look at your portfolio in terms of shares owned instead of money value. For instance I own X number of shares of VTI or VTSAX. Of course this isn’t perfect either because as the market rises shares become more expensive or if the market tanks you could load up on shares for a year. It does however seem like a way to smooth out the ride and still make you excited about investing when the market is going down because you are really growing your number of shares owned.
Way to go! And have you also checked out the various women’s professional leagues? Love me my NWSL, WNBA, NWHL leagues!