2015 – A Year in Review

Adam My Life, Personal Finance 6 Comments

We set some lofty and quite varied set of goals for 2015. We didn’t hit them all, but I feel pretty good about another year. I switched companies, it’s rough times in Houston, and we’ve had a lot of other changes (like most years I guess), but we’ve managed to get a lot of good things done.

More good things to come in 2016!

Financial Goals

Max out my 401k with $18,000 – Win

BOOM! I’ve not done this before (which is stupid), but it came off without any additional stress. If you can, this is the single easiest and biggest win you can make for your future. 

Continue my Automatic Savings – Win

  • 401k
  • Company Stock.
  • IRA
  • Savings Account

Win on every front except the savings account. 401k and IRA maxed automatically. My company stock continues to accumulate. My automatic savings account continued to do its work, but I did have to tap it a few times to put capital in to my Amazon FBA business, so the balance is actually lower than the year started. 

Pay down debt Win

The only consumer debt I have is my mortgage and I’ve got the insanely low rate of 3.25% of a 30 year. The interest is tax deductible as well, so the odds of my investments not beating 3.25% over that period are incredibly low. Having said that, I do want to keep putting in a small incremental amount above required payment to get this paid off early. No debt equals a lot of freedom. If you happen to have credit card debt, that should be #1 priority on your list.

I pay bi-weekly rather than monthly, so I make 1 extra payment per year without any real thought. I also put an extra $100 per payment. No issues here. 

Rental Property – Fail

2015 is the year I hope to dip in to the rental property game. I’d like to purchase my first property, ensure I understand the process and all its pitfalls and unexpected moments in preparation of buying multiple a year going forward.

After doing a lot of looking in 2015, I didn’t find much I liked after Houston’s big run up in property prices. During that time period I discovered Amazon FBA and because of it’s huge potential for gigantic growth and cash flow, I shifted gears. All my excess capital has gone to this goal, so I’m pretty ok with this failure. We’ll revisit rental property in 2016.

Build up my cash reserve Fail

Buying a house, a car, appliances (fridge), furniture (I basically owned a couch when I bought our house), replacing our roof, and normal expenses really put the pain on my cash reserves over the past 2 years. I want to continue to build that back up to a level that ensures if oil goes to $30 and half the jobs in Houston are at risk, I’ll sleep soundly knowing it won’t make a dent in our lives for at least a year.

Well, I was right about oil prices. We’re almost at $30. However, for the reasons mentioned under “rental property” I didn’t manage to grow the cash reserve. I’ve put a decent chunk of my capital in to this new venture, but I feel pretty good that it will be paying dividends for many years to come. 

Track/Budget better – Win

I suck at this and it needs to improve. I need to fully embrace the detailed review of my expenditures and see where I’m wasting money. Though off the top of my head it’s probably in the wardrobe department and going out.

As you can see, there were a couple of fails this year, but largely due to a major change in side hustle strategy rather than any great failings on our part. The only thing I really wish was different was that cash reserve. That needs to be a 2016 priority. If oil prices come back and I manage to pick up a bonus, that’s where most of it will go.

If you want to track your net worth, I suggest you check out Personal Capital. It’s an incredibly simple and powerful tool to track all your accounts in one place.

Personal Goals

Expand the garden – Win

In the past 2 years we’ve put in 22 fruit trees and 2 nice garden beds. This year I’d like to expand the beds to 4-6 and up the production. I’ll be working to accomplish that when it warms up a bit. Also hoping to landscape the front yard and do some other outdoor improvement projects.

We added another 2 large garden beds to the mix this year, expanding our vegetable production by 80 feet. The winter garden is going strong right now and the oranges taste great.

Write Consistently / Build a Following – Mixed

The writing thing is new and I’m not sure if I’m particularly good at it. I hope to continue consistently putting out something at least a couple of times a week, engage with my peers, and build a thoughtful, educated and interesting following to share ideas with.

I’ve stayed true to posting at least once per week all of 2015 and hit 2x most of the time, and that doesn’t include my “What I’m Reading” posts. I feel pretty good about that accomplishment on top of everything else.

Having said that, I haven’t managed to create near enough of a backlog of content and my newsletter has been somewhere between sporadic and non-existent. I was doing a lot of guest posting, which slowed a lot around mid-year.

Overall a decent effort, but my traffic numbers aren’t where I want them and I need to do more.

Travel more – Big Win

2014 wasn’t a bad travel year. We went to New Orleans, LA, Rio and I traveled to the UK for work. We also spent long weekends in Austin and Dallas. However, 2013 had almost zero real vacations. For 2015 I want to plan a long, overseas vacation and knock something off the bucket list. Machu Pichu is at the top of my list. I’d also like to spend some long weekends vising US cities I haven’t made it to yet.

This has been the Year of the Southwestern Companion Pass and damn it’s been good! We used the pass for trips to Belize on our own and an amazing wedding in Cancun. We also went skiing in Colorado, visited St. Louis to see friends and Little Rock for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary and a different weekend for a wedding.

We also drove all over, visiting Dallas, Austin (ACL woohoo), West Texas for a weekend on the river, and New Orleans for Jazzfest. We did have to cancel D.C. which was a bummer. There are several more international trips in the works for 2016.

Get in better shape – Mixed

This one is a cliché and most people fail at it. However it’s been something Caitlin and I have been working consistently since October every single week and we’ve made real progress. 2015 should just be more progress and consistency. We weren’t in particularly bad shape to begin with, but 3 years in Houston has created some of that dreaded weight creep you see as people age. I had slowly moved up from about 160 lbs to closer to 170 lbs and decided it was time to make a real reversal. The longer you let it go, the harder it is to fix. Since October I’m down 3 inches off my waist and have gained a massive amount of strength doing heavy weight workouts.

I’m still in good shape, but not a huge change since the ones mentioned above. Maintaining, but not major improvement. This one will be another goal for 2016.

Explore Houston / Texas more – Mixed

There are plenty of cool things to see in this city that we haven’t bothered to, even after 3 years. There are also a lot of great weekend adventures to be had that we haven’t explored either. 2015 will be the year for that.

We didn’t make it over to San Antonio like I had planned, but we did hit Austin and the rolling hills of West Texas. We also did a lot of fun local stuff and I don’t know if there’s a brewery left we haven’t visited.

Get to know my neighbors – Win

Caitlin and I have realized we live in a great neighborhood but haven’t made any real effort to get to know the people around us. 2015 will be a year we try to build real relationships with the people in our immediate vicinity.

We did make an effort to meet more neighbors this year, particularly in our age bracket. I think we’ve met 4-5 couples now? I’d call that a win, but only moderately. We’re still not super familiar with a lot of the people directly around us and it hasn’t resulted in any real friendships yet. We’ll keep trying.

Volunteer more – Fail

I enjoy it every time I do it, but for some reason haven’t made it a part of my regular routine. Definitely need to up the personal giving this year.

Giant fail and I’m a bit ashamed about it. We didn’t do much volunteering this year.

Read 52 books this year – Win

I used to do this easily, but time constraints have made it much harder. This will probably be a real stretch goal, but I’m shooting for a book a week.

I need to figure out exactly where I hit, but I’d bet I was close between the fiction, non-fiction and audiobooks. Getting anywhere close to 52 I’d say is a win. Check out our Books Page for more to see some of the recent reviews.

How did you do in 2015? I’d love to hear what goals you met (or didn’t) and what you are thinking about for 2016.

Cheers to another great year!

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Comments 6

    1. Post

      We’re plugging along ok at the moment, but as many of my friends can attest, it can change any day. Brutal number of layoffs and a terrible job market.

      BUT, we’ve kept the expenses low, no debt but the mortgage, and we could rent the house at a net positive. I think if I get laid off, we’ll probably take 6-12 months off and go bum around the cheaper parts of the world. If I’m lucky, I could get enough side hustle income to just stay unemployed!

      The point being, very little stress on my end, compared to a lot of people who were living a more expensive and fixed cost lifestyle.

  1. Michael @ Financially Alert

    Thanks for sharing Adam! I like how you are super clear about which goals you met and which ones fell short. Overall it seems very productive – congrats!

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about the new product launches and your business updates throughout the year. I’m also impressed with the 52 books last year!

    1. Post
  2. Pingback: 2016 Goals and Resolutions | Adam Chudy.com

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