2017 Goals

Hey folks!

First, I just have to say – 2016, what a year! It started off slow, got a little crazy towards the middle, and then ended with a bang, politically. 2017 pretty much picked up where 2016 ended but, if history is any indication, keeping my head down and working toward economic empowerment is the best way to navigate these uncertain times. No matter who or which political party is in office, I know that the best way to ensure that I am taken care of financially is to make sure I am setting and working towards achieving my goals.

Here are my goals for 2017:

2017 goals

Financial Goals-

  • Open a Roth IRA account.
  • Allocate at least $700 to either my taxable brokerage account or Roth IRA(or combination of the two) per month.
  • Increase my total net worth to $32,000 by 12/31/2017.
  • Hold taxable brokerage account balance of at least $13,000 by 12/31/2017 (Can include uninvested cash held in account).
  • Receive $300 in total dividend income.
  • Allocate $200 per month to a new car fund.

Health/Spirituality Goals-

  • Sign up for two 5K’s or one 10K by September 2017.
  • Donate at least $50 per month to church or reputable charitable organization.

Travel Goals-

  • Allocate at least $50 per month to my travel fund.
  • Take a least 2 domestic trips/international trips and 2 weekender/road trips.
  • Take a solo trip.

I’m grateful for what I have been able to accomplish thus far but I am absolutely looking forward to making great strides towards financial freedom in 2017!

Thanks for reading.

Image: Death to the Stock Photo with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

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My 2016 Year in Review

2016 year in review

The one thing I absolutely love about writing a finance related blog is the fact that I can keep track of how my net worth fluctuates from year to year. I am able to see how my savings rate increases and how my debts are slowly being erased; it’s truly a liberating feeling! Since keeping track of your progress in achieving a goal is the second most important thing (after setting one first), having a detailed log of how you’ve achieved them to reference is key to helping to keep you motivated.

Throughout this year, here are some of the advances I’ve made:

2016 Goals Reviewed

Financial goals
  • Allocate at least $625 per month to my taxable brokerage account. – PASS; Allocated an average of $825
  • Hold a portfolio balance of at least $10,500 by 12/31/2016. Can include uninvested cash held in account. – PASS; Portfolio balance is $10,749.41
  • Receive $225 in total dividend income. – FAIL; $219.89
  • Allocate an extra $50 per month to my car loan principal. – PASS
  • Pay off my car loan principal IN FULL (Balance is currently $4909). – PASS! Completely paid IN FULL!
  • Allocate 6% of gross income to company 401(k) to get full company match. – PASS; Completed 10/15/16
Health/Spirituality goals
  • Sign up for another 5K run or a 10K run by June 2016. – PASS; Completed April 2016
  • Donate at least $50 per month to church or a reputable charitable organization. – FAIL; monthly average $40
Travel goals
  • Allocate at least $50 per month to my travel fund. – PASS
  • Take at least 2 domestic/international trips and 2 weekender/road trips. PARTIAL; 1 international and 2 weekender/road trips

2016 Net Worth Reviewed

In December 2015, my total savings were $16,713.17. My total debts were $20,586.82.

My net worth as of December 2015 was -$3,873.65.

This year I really did strive to pay off as much debt as possible. I also really wanted to focus on saving a high percentage of my net pay and grow my net worth.

As of December 21, 2016, here is my financial situation:

Debt

Student loans:

$3,148.27 at 3.4%

$2,631.43 at 4.5%

$2,001.58 at 5.6%

$5,747.27 at 5.0%

Total student loans: $13,528.55

Car loans:

$0 balance

Credit Cards:

$0 balance

 Total Debt: $13,528.55 (decrease of $7,058.27)
Savings
 Retirement accounts:

$9,394.04

Personal Savings:

Emergency Fund balance at $5,000

Investment portfolio account balance: $10,749.41

Total Savings: $25,143.45 (increase of 8,430.28)

NET WORTH: $11,614.90

Wahoo! My net worth is finally positive! Up until this year, I was worth more as a baby with a $0 net worth (as the former Dividend Mantra used to say) than I was at 25. But due to diligently paying down debt, increasing my savings rate and making sound investment choices, I have crossed the $0 threshold and now know what it feels like to have a positive net worth; it feels great!

Stay tuned to see what my goals are for next year – I’ll have an updated blog post on that soon. I really can’t wait to see what financial goals I am able to achieve in 2017.

What have you accomplished in 2016? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Images: Upsplash with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

2016 Goals

2016 Goals

2015 was a great year financially. I was able to reduce my negative net worth by nearly $10,000 resulting in me getting closer to the black. I think this feat can be attributed to creating and laying out an actionable plan to follow. Since publishing my goals in a public place has helped me this past year, I definitely want to keep the momentum going and see what I can accomplish over the next 12 months.

Here are my goals for 2016:

Financial Goals-

  • Allocate at least $625 per month to my taxable brokerage account.
  • Hold a portfolio balance of at least $10,500 by 12/31/2016 (Can include uninvested cash held in account).
  • Receive $225 in total dividend income.
  • Allocate an extra $50 per month to my car loan principal.
  • Pay off my car loan principal IN FULL (Balance is currently $4909).
  • Allocate 6% of gross income to company 401k to get full company match.

Health/Spirituality Goals-

  • Sign up for another 5K run or a 10K run by June 2016.
  • Donate at least $50 per month to church or a reputable charitable organization.

Travel Goals-

  • Allocate at least $50 per month to my travel fund.
  • Take at least 2 domestic/international trips and 2 weekender/road trips.

Looking forward to making great choices for another financially fruitful year!

Thanks for reading.

Image: Death to the Stock Photo with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

 

My 2015 Year in Review

review of my 2015 goals

When I revamped this space, one of the goals I wanted was to track how far I’m getting along in my personal finance journey. I wanted to create a space where I can look at my month-to-month progress and see how each individual step/decision brings me to my financially independent future self. December 2014 was definitely an eye opener; Even though I thought I was in a decent place financially, I realized that at any point (due to job loss, big medical expense, etc.) that I could find myself in a precarious financial position. It was a sobering thought and I’ve been using the last twelve months to get myself out of the red into the black.

In December 2014, my total savings were $11,428.05. My total debts were $24,697.21.

My net worth as of December 2014 was -$13,269.16.

Although the majority of my debt was due to financing a car and my student loans, I realized I definitely should be focusing on having more money saved and working to pay down my car debt loan. Not only would paying down my car loan free up the $152.40 that I allocating to it but it would also help me to reduce my monthly car insurance since I wouldn’t be required to have comprehensive insurance added to my monthly premium.

As of December 22, 2015, here is my financial situation:

Debt-

Student loans:

$3,677.88 at 3.4%

$3,029.19 at 4.5%

$2,252.51 at 5.6%

$6,532.89 at 5.0%

Total student loans: $15,492.47

Car loans:

$5,094.35 at 3.39%

Credit Cards:

$0 balance

Total Debt: $20,586.82 (decrease of $4,110.39)

Savings-

 Retirement accounts:

$5,349.17

Personal Savings:

Emergency Fund balance at $5,000

Investment portfolio account balance: $6,364

Total Savings: $16,713.17 (increase of 5,285.12)

NET WORTH: -$3,873.65

Did you catch that? My net worth (although still in the red) jumped by nearly $10,000 in one year! It really goes to show how much consistently saving really makes a difference. I was only able to save approximately an extra $650 per month; in my mind, that didn’t seem like a whole lot of money. But over the year, each dollar has added up and has gotten me closer to a positive net worth. I can’t wait to see what I’m able to accomplish next year! I will be sharing my goals for 2016 in the next few days.

What have you accomplished in 2015? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Images: Death to the Stock Photo with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

Dividend Income Update // August 2015

One of the things I am most excited to write about in regards to a dividend investing strategy is actually receiving the dividends- It’s the best part! Since dividend investing does not involve day trading or huge portfolio value swings from growth stocks (the backbone of the strategy includes only investing in high quality, mature and stable companies after all), the real excitement comes from watching the dividends roll in.

DividendUpdate_aug2015

August Dividends

  • Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) – $13.72

Total dividends received for the month of August: $13.72

Obviously, the dividend income this month is small since I bit the bullet by initiating a position in JNJ in July 2015, my first ever stock purchase. However, I am confident that by adding fresh capital and reinvesting the dividends received, these monthly updates will continue to increase. Can’t wait!

Full disclosure: Long all aforementioned stocks.

Thanks for reading.

Images: Death to the Stock Photo with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

2015 // Mid-Year Review

2015MidYearReview
I started 2015 with the overall goal that this year will truly be different. No more resolutions! Be consistent with creating content for the blog! No more making un-SMART (strategic + measurable + achievable + realistic + timely) goals. I was tired of making resolutions and forgetting what they were – much less completing them every year. Writing my goals down and defining clear check points has definitely helped keep me accountable; not only because I wrote them down but because it’s been published in a public place where people can also hold me accountable. 

For me, the first half of 2015 has been both eventful and unremarkable- all at the same time.

Financial Goals-

  • Open a taxable account in a discount brokerage firm with $2,500 by 3/1/2015. (FAIL. Hoping to achieve in the second half of the year- Stay tuned..)
  • Allocate at least $400 per month to my taxable account. (PARTIAL: Jan- $400; Feb-$214; Mar- $306; Apr- $375; May- $387; June- $400)
  • Allocate an extra $50 per month to my car loan principal. (PASS)

Health/Spirituality Goals-

  • Give at least two hours of my time every month to helping someone in need. (PASS)
  • Donate at least $50 every month to church or a reputable charitable organization. (PASS)
  • Sign up for a 5K run by April 2015. (COMPLETED)

Travel Goals-

  • Allocate $50 per month to my travel fund. (PASS)
  • Take at least 4 local, stateside, or international trips by 12/31/2015. (PARTIAL: 2 of 4 completed)

January was largely quiet. I suppose the calm could be attributed to the fact that we are typically in “holiday recover” during this time. Financially, socially, mentally/emotionally. Even as it relates to our health. We are typically tapped out financially from all of the holiday spending. Socially, we’ve seen our friends and families more often in November and December alone than we have throughout the other ten months of the year combined. Mentally/emotionally, we may be drained from the first two examples! (As an introvert, this is my constant struggle- I’m conflicted between having quiet moments to myself + my own thoughts and going out to celebrate the various holidays with people I love + cherish.) I appreciated the stillness of January because the next two months were less than slow.

February was definitely the most chaotic month of the quarter. I spent the first few days in NOLA for the start of Mardi Gras- which was a blast! While I largely pulled from my travel fund (which I saved for throughout all of 2014), I still had some small expenses that I needed to pull funds for from my monthly budget. I also had some doctor’s appointment co-pays that I needed to pay for ($60 for an eye exam and trial contact lenses, as well as, $35 for a gyn appointment in December- more information than you probably needed to know but, hey, I told you I’m being completely honest!). I also bit the bullet and purchased the iPhone 6 (my iPhone 4 was seriously holding me back, ya’ll) on a two-year contract, which set me back another $199 + taxes. Yikes. However, I did manage to get some community service in by participating with co-workers in an Operation Welcome Home event.

March was much better in terms of staying on track financially and health-wise. Although I had to pay for my cell service twice this month (since switching from Sprint to Verizon), I started training for my first 5K. The threat of snow was no longer imminent, the birds started their chirping once more and the thought of running three miles straight seemed possible. While I’m still at the point of mostly completing the 3.1 miles wheezing, with a flushed face, and praying for the sweet relief of death in a record time that I am ashamed to admit as a former high school track runner, I am confident that I will be able to get to the finish line when I run my first race.

April and May were great for my health/spirituality and travel goals. In April, I celebrated my 25th birthday by taking a trip to Puerto Rico. Don’t worry- Again, I paid for the vacation in full by using my savings from my 52 week savings challenge/ travel fund from 2014 and still had money to spare. I also signed up and ran my first 5K with the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It was actually pretty fun! May was also pretty quiet…until the end of the month when I wrote about the scary possibility of a job loss. I am still gainfully employed and therefore my ability to meet my financial goals are still possible. But if I weren’t? I would be grateful to have my emergency fund in place to cover me financially for 6 months!

June has been wonderful and also largely quiet (are you seeing a trend here?! LOL). I was able to re-evaluate my goals for the year and start making necessary changes to achieve them. I’ve started researching online discount brokerage firms and even opened my first account (stay tuned to see which one I chose and my experience with opening my first account). Overall, it has been a great month across all of my goals.

Whether you realize it or not, thanks for holding me accountable! Share some of your goals and your first quarter progress below.

Thanks for reading.

Image: Death to the Stock Photo with graphics added by One Woman’s Worth.

Do I need an emergency fund?

Photo Credit: Death to Photo Stock
Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

Every single personal finance adviser/blogger encourages keeping an emergency fund. An emergency fund is just what the name implies – liquid savings (not tied up in investments) to cover you financially should you ever need to deal with an emergency like losing your job, needing a new engine/transmission for your car or incurring a huge medical bill. Not everyone agrees on the amount you should keep. Some say 3 months of net take home pay is plenty; others think that eight months to 1 year is ideal. Personally, I’ve always thought that keeping more than 3 months of take home pay wasn’t the smartest way to manage your money because the interest that most banks offer isn’t high enough to off-set inflation.

Until I was almost faced with losing my job and needing a cushion to cover my expenses.

Last week, several of my colleagues were let go due to the company not being able to support their salaries. Fortunately, I was not one of the people who was let go. But watching my former coworkers walk into the office with jobs and then by 10 a.m. leaving jobless with their possessions packed into boxes (they won’t even let you access any of your files on your computer so if you have anything personal/professional backed up on a work computer or saved in email files, you are SOL) was so scary. In the few years that I’ve been with this company, I’ve seen three rounds of layoffs. But the magnitude of people who were let go and the overall destitute feeling that was left caused me to rethink my emergency fund strategy.

Let’s be honest – corporate america (actually most businesses, small or large) do not have your best interests at heart. They don’t care that you just bought a new car or that you needed to pay $3000 for your dog’s surgery. For them, the health of the business is the bottom line. If that means getting rid of a few employees to cut costs for the year, then so be it.

That’s why having an emergency fund is so important. Because we are considered resources that can be acquired and disposed of, having a safety net in place is the surest way of keeping peace of mind.

By October 2014, I had about 3 months of take home pay saved and was starting to feel comfortable with my financial health. I felt like I had pretty good job security and that the only reason I needed an emergency fund was to cover any major repairs to my car or some other large unforeseen bill. But losing my job never crossed my mind. I falsely felt secure in my job and my company. I wonder how many others have those same thoughts and feelings. I’m willing to bet that losing your job isn’t something most people think would actually happen to them!

As it stands today, I now have a little over 6 months of take home pay saved. Before last week, I had planned to take about half of that savings to invest in the stock market. However, having seen with my own eyes that being laid off is a real possibility and could happen to anyone no matter how great of an employee you are, I think I’ll hold off on any investing opportunities until I’ve saved a bit more money. Likely closer to the end of the summer. Because, while I may potentially lose out on catching the hot new stock while its low, I’ve gained a little bit of peace that I’ll be covered for 6 months if I were to lose my job.

Let me know your thoughts below! Do you think 3 months is enough? Or, are you like me, more comfortable with having a more hefty liquid emergency fund?