Right before the end of the year No More Waffles gets to host its 8,000th visitor! Because that’s a phenomenal milestone in my book, I wanted to take the time to thank everyone who visited my blog since it went live on the 5th of July of this year. Thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting and generally supporting me in my journey to financial independence and early retirement.
The fact that over 8,000 different people found my blog interesting enough to pay either a short or a long visit is absolutely amazing to me – the mind, it boggles. I really appreciate it and I definitely hope to be able to continue writing and be an integral part of our online community. Without you guys I wouldn’t have been as motivated as I am now to reach my goals for 2014.
How about those goals? It’s been awfully quiet on that front, so about time we did something about that. Below I’ll explain how I succeeded or failed at reaching the five goals I set out to crush a couple of months ago.
1. Save 70% on average of my net income – Success!
Back when I first discovered early retirement and financial independence-minded blogs, I decided I should aim to save 50% of my net income on a pretty consistent basis. Of course, at the time I was still living at my parents’, so saving a large chunck of my paycheck was as easy as pie, even though I paid my parents a small sum of rent. My first two income and expenses reports for June (72.9%) and July (76.7%) reflect this quite well with some of the highest savings rates for the entire year.
However, in August I relocated closer to work and moved in to a new appartment with a roommate. Because I’ve never actually had to cover my expenses all by myself – thank you, parents – I wasn’t entirely sure how much I’d be spending every month. Luckily, though, the rent payments were kept low at only €350 a month.
(January and february are omitted because of a mistake on my part.)
As it turns out, living on your own in Belgium isn’t all that expensive if you are the frugal kind. Cheap rent, very few recurring costs, not owning a car, and a generally long-term and healthy attitude towards money, like buying a water filtration system, helped push my savings rate above 70% for most months. The only time I dipped below 70% after moving out was in August (65.3%) because of one-time moving costs and in November (60%) because I bought a new graphics card.
Because I feared the worst in August I put up a small goal meter on the right-hand side of my page to remind me of the now 70% goal I had set for myself. It worked! Even though the jury is still out on December’s final numbers, it’s safe to say that I’ll definitely get to keep 72% of my net take-home pay on average for 2014.
2. Have €20,000 in the stock market – Success!
As someone who had never invested a single penny in stocks before the start of the year, having over €20,000 in the stock market by the end of the year seemed like an insurmountable objective. I’m happy to say that I did it! Looking back at the past few months, I’ve actually managed this goal without too much hassle. Unless the stock markets tank in the next couple of days I can scratch another goal off of my checklist.
In May I signed up with a cheap broker that offered free transactions for a limited amount of time so I could dip my toe in before diving into the deep end of the financial markets. After reading many forums online I felt most comfortable with exchange-traded funds and index funds, an investing strategy I wholeheartedly recommend to new investors. At the end of July my ETF porftolio was boasting almost €10,000 in shares.
In August, however, I became interested in dividend growth investing through some other bloggers. As it turns out receiving monthly dividend payments from high-quality businesses is a great way to balance my impatience and long-term investing horizon, as I’ve written about earlier. My last net worth update shows that I’m indeed a strong believer of the dividend growth strategy because I already own over €11,000 worth of stocks.
3. Receive €100 in dividends – Failed!
Quick calculations in August showed that I should still be able to generate €100 in passive income through dividends this year, but ultimately that estimation seemed too generous. Some purchases got delayed, others were changed, which all resulted in a lower average yield than first projected. Still, I’m happy to report €84 worth of dividends rolling in.
As a new investor it’s not always easy to make assumptions about the future, be that near- or long-term. On top of that I have to take into account exchange rate fluctuations and different dividend tax schemes in a multitude of countries. That’s why I’m still doing the maths behind my 2015 goal, which you can read up on pretty soon.
4. Post at least five articles each month – Success!
Who would have thunk it? Yours truly staying committed to a single project for longer than a week, that’s very much a rarity. My contributions to this blog have been rather inconsistent, mainly because of busy periods at work, but overall you guys got to read at least five posts every month. That’s an average of over one post every week, a very decent rate in my book. Next year I definitely hope to continue the stream of articles.
5. Run 20km in less than 90 minutes – Failed!
This goal really bummed me out because it was within my reach for a very long time. After practicing at least twice weekly, I was doing 15km/h without any difficulties for about an hour, which would put me on track to run 20km in 90 minutes without too much trouble. However, when I upped the distance from 15 to 16, 17 and 18 kilometres my knees decided they had enough. As a result, I had to stop running.
Every downside has an upside, of course, so that gave me more free time to enjoy another sport I like very much: mountainbiking. Although there aren’t any mountains in Belgium, the area I now live in has its fair share of steep climbs and downhills. Now I go biking with a couple of friends almost every Sunday.
Again, thank you. Thank you very much for checking in once in a while and for your support. I’m really blessed to have had such a great year. I found an awesome job, got to meet very inspiring people that are part of an excellent online community, and I’ve never been doing better financially. On top of that, most of my 2014 goals were crushed or almost met.
You can’t always control your future, but you can make sure to push its flow into the right direction. As someone who’s hardly ever proud of his achievements, I am proud to say that 2014 was the year I definitely jump-started a bright future for myself. It won’t always be sunshine and roses, but at the very least I’ll ultimately end up in a much better place than if I remained complacent and inactive.
I sincerely hope 2014 was as kind to you as it was to me. And if it wasn’t, let’s make sure 2015 turns out fantastic together. There’s no better time than now to live our lives the way we want! Have you already thought about all the good things that happened to you this year? Or maybe your plans for next year?