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?
Congratulations NMW on your successes of 2014. You knocked it out of the park with your financial goals. Your blogging stats were also very impressive. I am looking forward to reading more in 2015.
Thank you very much, appreciate the kind words!
I haven’t been monitoring my blogging stats as closely as my investments, so I was really surprised to see over 8,000 people already visited my blog. The pretty high engagement rate also makes me think I’m on the right track.
Best wishes and good luck for next year to you too,
Congrats to the achievements and all the best for 2015!!!
Thanks, Lars! Have a great 2015 too!
PS: your blog seems to be broken?
Nice work on the blog, financial, and life goals, even if you didn’t hit them all. The point is you worked hard and strove for success, which is ultimately more important than any of it. Keep up the good work, I’m sure 2015 will be an even larger success for you!
I’ve been tracking both blog and financial goals this year, and while I haven’t had the success I would have liked, I’m in a great position moving forward into 2015.
Although I absolutely hate the phrase “but he tried his best, so he deserves a pass”, you’re absolutely right that the entire point of financial independence is trying and working hard to achieve what you really want out of life. As such, I’m a happy camper.
Even though you didn’t succeed in hitting all of your 2014 targets, I still think you’re doing pretty well. You’ve been building a solid foundation for 2015 and that is what counts.
Best of luck next year,
Congrats! Love your blog and to great success in 2015! Cheer 🙂
Thanks, Henry! I appreciate the enthusiasm.
Have a great 2015, buddy!
Impressive stats! WordPress and financial. 😉
Looking forward what 2015 will bring for you,
It looks like you’ve ad a great year all around, well done!
Your number of comments per visitor are impressive, and your saving rate is enormous too.
I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t hit all of your goals, but it isn’t the end of the world, as you’ve made significant progress in all areas by the looks of it, and that’s what goals are about really.
I’ve set my 2015 goals up and I can’t wait to get going now. Bring on the New year!
I hope you have another fruitful year my friend. All the best!
Thank you, appreciate the support!
You’re right about the numbers of comments per visitor. I was actually kind of blown away by the engagement of our community. On top of all these replies my mailbox is constantly full with very inspiring mails.
It’s too bad that I didn’t hit all goals, but I don’t mind it too terribly. I’ve replaced running with biking and next year I’ll hopefully set a bit more realistic dividend income goal. At the moment it’s more of a learning process for me than an exact science, but that should change in the future.
Can’t wait to see what you’re up to next year! Best of luck and enjoy your get-together on January 3rd.
Your savings rate is insane! Congrats on achieving many of your other goals as well. I know I will enjoy watching your journey for many years to come.
Great job again and hopefully we both can reach our running goals next year!
Thanks, appreciate the support! I’m really happy about my savings rate this year. Still unsure whether I should aim for 70% again next year, because it takes a lot of dedication to get there.
Best of luck to you too next year!
Congratulations on your achievement, NMW. Those are some pretty impressive numbers.
Best wishes for your 2015 goals
Thanks for your support, means a lot to me! I’m really happy about my progress this year. Let’s hope 2015 will surpass even this year’s numbers.
Best of luck for your own goals in 2015,
Congrats on the achievements and good luck in 2015.
Thank you very much for being such a regular visitor and supporter.
All the best,
Looks like you’ve had a great 2014. That sucks to hear that you’re having issues with your knees when you increase the running distance. That’s definitely something to look out for. After all, if you don’t have good health, financial independence wouldn’t really matter as you won’t be able to enjoy it. Good luck in 2015!
2014 was a great year in many ways indeed. Last year in december I never imagined it turning out so great, mainly because I was unemployed after finishing university.
Too bad about my knees, but they’vee been trouble for the past couple of years. Football (soccer) is definitely not healthy! 🙂
Best of luck to yourself next year,
You had a great year! Solid financial milestones passed and a new world of blogging that seems to have focused your talent for writing. 60% of your goals you passed and fairly easily it seems. That’s great and I’m sure the new year will be even better. Good luck in 2015!
2014 was excellent indeed! Really happy about it, even though I didn’t hit two of my goals.
I never imagined I would like blogging this much, but it’s actually a lot of fun. That’s mainly due to you guys, the engagement and tons of comments I get out of a single article is very motivating. I wouldn’t say I have a talent for writing though… I’ll leave that to the pros! 😉
Glad to have you in our little corner of the internet. Looking forward to what 2015 will bring for you.
Awesome work this year NMW, your financial achievements are brilliant, but I’m thrilled to see so many readers visiting your site. You’re such a great, unique character with some clever perspectives and a fun writing style, so I really hope you keep the momentum going in 2015.
Shame about your running, but that’s a fantastic attitude to be able to move on and try to take advantage of the situation in another way. That will certainly take you a long way in life!
Have a great New Year, and look forward to keeping in touch over 2015!
Thank you very much, means a lot to me! The amount of visitors and pageviews really blew me away. We have a great and active community.
At first I was really bummed out by not reaching my running goal, but now I don’t care too much anymore. Biking with friends is something I’ve always enjoyed and now I have even more free time to do that. You’re right about that attitude helping me a great deal in general. When one door closes, another one always opens!
Enjoy the last festivities of the year and have an excellent 2015 too, pal! We’ll definitely keep in touch. Can’t lose my only Australian supporter! 😉
Those are great achievements to have, and you did pretty darn well 🙂 I’m impressed you got 20k into the market so quickly – I suppose that awesome savings rate had loads to do with it. All the best for the new year!
Thank you for your support!
My savings rate definitely helped, but of course I also used some of the emergency money I had put aside (when I started I had a €20k emergency fund, which is way too big anyway). Next year I’m going to try and add another €20k to my investments, but this time it’ll be from savings and returns only.
Now that you’ve almost payed off your debt, you’ll start to see large increases to your net worth and investments yourself. Instead of compounding interest working against you, it’ll now become your best ally.
Good luck next year and best wishes,
Congratulations on all the success and growth you experienced in 2014! It’s exciting to see the milestones we hit with our blogs, and the number of people we can reach. I hope 2015 is even more awesome for you!
It truly is exciting to experience such growth, both in the financial and blogging departments. Having so many people read and comment on my stuff, definitely provided a big boost to my motivation to keep going.
Thank you for your support the past year! Let’s make 2015 even better than this year.
All the best,
NMW, amazing achievements there. It’s extremely encouraging to have people like yourself in the community. Here’s to an even greater 2015!
Thank you very much! Means a lot to me.
Let’s make sure 2015 will be awesome together,
Congrats on a wonderful year! Your savings rate is simply awesome–nicely done! I hope you have a fabulous start to 2015. Happy New Year!
Thanks! Means a lot to me coming from you guys. It’s not quite your savings rate, but we’re getting there. For 2015 I was thinking of setting my target at 65%, but ultimately went for 70%. It’s no fun when we’re not really challenging ourselves, right?
Have a great 2015 over there! Hope all is well,
Congratulations and have a blessed new year! Even though this is just your first year you done an awesome job! Keep investing! 🙂
Thanks! The same goes for you. I hope you’ll be able to achieve your wildest goals this year.
Keep on showing how DGI is done right,
Congratulations on your financial goals and on your blog. I find your blog to be a refreshing European perspective and you have a good writing style. I look forward to following you on your journey to financial independence.
Cycling should be less stressful for your knees (swimming is good too).
All the best next year!
Thank you very much for the kind words! I’m not too sure on the writing style though. 😉 Maybe I’m overcricital of myself in another language?
Cycling definitely is much better for my knees. I’ve always enjoyed it, but after quitting football (soccer) I picked up a weekly routine of mountainbiking. Swimming has been an absolute nightmare: the trip to the swimming pool is hell during the winter and I’m just so bored in the water because there’s nothing to see.
Glad to hear back from you once in a while. Looking forward to staying in touch in 2015.
Some really great achievements there NMW – well done and congrats – hope 2015 will be even better!
Thank you! Toppling 2014 will not be easy, but I’m sure it can be done.
I hope you have a great 2015 too,
I’m super-impressed with your blog’s growth and with your amazing savings rate. Marie and I thought we were doing pretty good, but 70% of your tax-home is absolutely crushing it. Congrats!
I’m often amazed at how easy it actually is to save a lot of money when you put your mind to it and give it your all. Basic living costs have gone down significantly over the past decades, but it’s luxury purchases that often take a big bite out of the family budget.
You guys have also been doing pretty great over there! You’re doing much better than 99% of the general population, which is not easy either.
Best of luck in 2015,
Congratulations on crushing your 2014 financial goals. Running 20km in 90 minutes is never an easy task only in my ironman days could I crush out similar numbers to that goal. I am excited to watch your progress on achieving your 2015 goals!
Thank you very much! 2014 has been outstanding.
20km in 90 minutes isn’t easy indeed, but a couple of years ago I could run that fast and far without any trouble. I guess I’m starting to feel the ageing process already.
Amazing that you’ve been active the in Iron Man competition! I guess that shows you can achieve a goal if you put your mind to it. That mindset will definitely come in handy on the road to financial independence!
Best wishes for 2015,
I biked 1500 kms in 2014 and ran 500kms.
I love full day bike trips (130kms). Best thing ever.
You running speed is good. My 5kms are in the 22-24 mins range. My 10kms are still around the 52 minute mark. I slow down after 15kms as well. I’m hoping to complete my first half-marathon in 2015 but I’m aiming for less than 2 hours.
If you can get your 20 kms to 90 minutes and can keep that up, you may one day qualify for the boston marathon.
I love running and biking. Next time I’m in Belgium we should ride together. Long distance bike trips in Europe is on my bucket list.
Glad to see that you are also having fun, mini trips to Dublin. Eastern Europe is also fun and cheap.
Impressive numbers! I wish I could boast them too.
Full day bike trips are the best! I absolutely love getting on my bike in the morning and driving around all day, then coming home exhausted and enjoy the comfort of the couch.
I believe 15km/h is the perfect running speed. Too bad I probably never will be hit that again because of my knees. I’d love to run a half-marathon one day, but chances are it’s not going to happen. Looking forward to reading a post on your blog about your half-marathon achievement!
Next time you’re planning a bike trip around Europe, definitely let me know and we could meet up for a day or two!
Mini trips in Europe have become increasingly cheap the past few years, mainly because international travel has become so easy and affordable. Most flights are under €50 back and forth, which is basically for free. Eastern Europe also has the advantage of having a lower cost of living, which is great for Western Europeans. In the coming years I plan on visiting lots of Eastern European countries.
Great going on the goal hitting!
With the running… what exactly happened with your knees?
Obviously without knowing I can’t say for sure but it sounds like you are being overly pessimistic about not ever being able to run those speeds and distances again.
I did the London marathon in 2011 and my knees were terrible when I was training for that. Two years later on and I have no problems whatsoever and can now run at a much faster pace over a half marathon distance.
Start off again with the lower distances, slow it down a bit and gradually up the distance, then you can up the speed later on. Your legs need to get used to running the distance first or the risk of an injury is much higher if you go fast and long too soon.
Again not sure of the exact issue but I found the following helpful:
Stretching and leg strengthening exercises
IT Band strap like this one: https://www.physique.co.uk/Supports-Footcare/Knee-Supports/ProTec-ITB-Strap?gclid=CjwKEAjwmfKpBRC8tb3Mh5rs23ASJACWy1QPQnToA1aDv93oCsSsiiixIQzK7gJV2iWehFwDHT2XyhoCPqfw_wcB
Let me know if you need more info and we have some running chat! 🙂
My knees gave out a long time ago from too much football, sadly. They lack cartilage. While it’s possible to have regular injections it just wasn’t worth it anymore to me.
I’ve also tried reinforcing and strengthening my legs but over time the pain returned when I dialed the speed up or when I ran for longer distances. Now I go for a short jog every once in a while (maximum of 10km or 50 minutes).
Now I’m biking more than ever, which I also really enjoy. I do plan on asking my doctor if any of the solutions you proposed could help though – thank you very much!
I’ll let you know if anything changes.
Ohhh… That sounds like it could be longer term damage then. My uncle has run over 60 marathons but since he got cartilage damage he has had to seriously cut down. He still manages to run maybe 1 per year tho (slowly) so you never know you might be OK.
Cycling just as fun and good exercise though!
Best of luck with it!