2015 Q2 Review

Adam My Life, Personal Finance, Personal Improvement 20 Comments

Man, this year has just flown by. I think there’s something about writing and reflecting regularly that makes you note how quick it goes by that you may not notice if you were just mindlessly going about your day job. This year (like the past several) has been a real blur.

To see what we planned for 2015, check out our 2015 goals post and how well we stacked up in our Q1 Review.

Let’s check out how the first half of the year has gone.

Financial Goals

Saving

Big Win

No change from Q1. Definite win. We’re on track with a BIG WIN with our Automated Savings plan. I haven’t had to make any adjustments.

Roth is getting $500 per month with a limit $5,500

401k is set at a percentage that will max out by end of year – $18,000. I also receive a pretty significant match (not sharing) which makes this a pretty hefty number.

Automatic savings per month goes from my checking to savings without seeing it.

It’s not exactly savings, but my new job (started in Feb) provides stock grants twice a year as a percentage of base salary (which I’m not sharing). Those shares vest on a schedule each year. If I add those to our savings numbers, it looks ridiculously high.

Remember the hierarchy of savings.

Savings Hierarchy

Buy my First Rental Property.

Fail

Houston has become a hot market this year with prices jumping 50-100% in most popular (and less popular areas) which puts their run up well ahead of rent. I’m sure there are still deals out there, but they aren’t falling off trees. At this point it probably takes more time than I can manage to put together with a full time career and 2 side hustles. We’ve put this on hold for the moment.

Spending

Undecided

I was aiming to come in below $4k / month.

Unfortunately, I’m clocking in between $4-5k each month. That’s not terrible for 2 people with a mortgage, but it’s not great. No car payments. No student loan bills. You would think we could get under that mark easier.

As I mentioned, a vacation, a few weddings out of town, a destination wedding in December hasn’t helped. Neither have 2 car repairs and a $700 emergency vet visit. But that’s all just really excuses for not being on the MMM / Frugalwood level. Remember those emergency funds folks.

HOWEVER, if you count our roommate money as an expense reduction versus income, we are getting under that $4k mark. I’ll let you be the judge.

Debt

Win

We don’t prioritize the mortgage because the rates are so great, but I did use more Automated Principles to get some extra paydown. I put an extra $100 month toward principle as well as pay the mortgage every 2 weeks. This naturally creates an extra mortgage payment of principle each year.

It’s not the most mathematically sound decision for a 3.25% mortgage, but I like the diversification of my savings between stocks and some real estate. Plus I hate debt.

Zero new debt.

Track / Budget Better

Win

I’m probably still not checking my numbers frequently enough, but I am using Personal Capital to go through everything periodically which I then export to a budget file in excel, which allows me to net out the roommate money and do any other analysis to see how we fell.

Personal Goals

Expand the garden

Big Win

In the first quarter we’ve added 5 new citrus trees and just this week I put in 2 new garden beds which will double our space for vegetables.

We also bought about 15 herbs that we’ve planted in the beds with the trees. The hope is they just run wild, require no care or maintenance. I want them to provide us with medicinal properties, garnishes for food and drink and something to add to my salad. For the garden they’re meant to provide shade, mulch, and bug habitat.

Write Consistently

Win

In 2015, I’ve put out 58 posts and consistently put out content 2-3x per week.

My traffic still isn’t impressive (at all), but it’s going up (slow but steady).

In Q2 I’ve put a real focus on guest posts. As of now I’ve gotten material on Seeking Alpha, Business Insider and guest posts with Frugal Farmer, Modest Money, 1500 Days, with several other big ones coming up. This is a big win and I’ve been working really hard at it. Let’s hope we see some of that traffic stay sticky.

Explore Houston / Texas More

Undecided

There are a whole lot of things on my list that we haven’t touched on at all. BUT, we did do a brewtour Saturday with friends and saw 3 I hadn’t been to before. We also spent a weekend in Galveston with friends, a place I’ve spent very little time, and last weekend we took a quick jaunt to the San Marcos river for some floating and fun.

I’d call this a decent start. We also have plans to visit San Antonio this year and do some wine tours which would make this a win.

Get to Know our Neighbors

Undecided

Fail in Q1. To be decided in Q2. We have now met 3-4 young couples in the neighborhood that I’m trying quite hard to get all in the same house at the same time. We also met a wonderful older couple down the block that we enjoyed drinks with.

We’ve not put the effort in to meeting our immediate neighbors though, and the 2 sets we did know have moved. We’re now surrounded on all sides by strangers.

Volunteer More

Fail

No excuses. We’ve just been abysmal on this.

Read 52 books

No clue?

Honestly not sure if this is on track or not. I’ve had 2 week periods where I haven’t read anything, but others where I’ve hammered through several in a week. I need to do a count. I’m also a bit heavy on the fiction at the moment, which feels a bit like cheating since it’s so much easier and quicker to read. I’ll revisit this.

Check out our Books page.

How did your first half of the year go? I’d love to hear about your goals, successes and failures in the comments.

 

Q2 Goals Review

So how do you think we judged the final outcome of our goals review? Are we on track, passing, failing or undecided?

Q2 - Pass

We're not on track for every goal, but I have to say I think that we've largely been on a winning streak.

Jobs, health, cash flow, savings, and investing are all on track. Side hustles are going. Travel is booked.

Overall a solid start to 2015

Learn More!


Still here? If so consider using Tradeking (Special $200 bonus offer) for your next brokerage and Personal Capital, my favorite tool to see all your accounts in place. You can also support us by using our Amazon link. We get a bit back if you do and it helps keep the lights on.

If you have a moment, sharing this post on one of your various social media accounts (facebook, twitter, pinterest) can really help us gain readers, so if you think this post is worth it, please considering sharing. You can use one of the buttons below.

Don’t forget to check out our Resources Page where we’re working to keep links to the best of the web for personal finance, investing, travel and frugal badassity.

Comments 20

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      Thanks my friend. I think it’s interesting to try to have a few categories behind just cash. I’m trying to focus on financial plus physical / mental, so making sure I’m taking care of myself, traveling, reading, and living life are just as important as the good ol’ 401k numbers.

  1. SavvyJames

    It is always interesting to see how others approach financial management and work toward the goals they have established. Congratulations as it looks as though you have had more successes than fails, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. When I do fall a little short, I am always reminded of my favorite quote from Les Brown, “It’s better to aim high and miss, than aim low and hit.”

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      Thanks James. I think 2015 has been pretty successful so far. The blunders I’ve had haven’t been anything major but always striving to do better.

  2. Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets

    I started the year off thinking we were gonna pay off the mortgage, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that wasn’t a good decision from a strictly mathematical standpoint of trying to grow our net worth. By March I started paying the minimum on the mortgage and set a goal of investing $50,000 into our taxable accounts (already max out 401 k and we don’t qualify for roths) and we have about $20,000 left. We’re on track of meeting our investing goals which was my top priority.

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      Those are huge numbers your throwing up! Maxing 401k and 50k into a brokerage account. What are you 2 doing for a living (doesn’t need to be too specific)? Congrats on such big numbers.

      We don’t qualify for a Roth, but we still make the regular IRA cutoff, thought it may be borderline by end of year. I do the pay the mortgage every 2 weeks option, which creates 1 extra mortgage payment per year, and also pay an extra $100 per payment, so I guess technically I’m paying it early, though in a very small way. Our rate is so low it just doesn’t make much sense.

  3. Tawcan

    Good stuff on your 2015 goals so far. Some goals need to be worked on but you still have half year to work on them. I should look at doing some guest blog posts too.

  4. Erik

    Hey man, great to see that you are hitting most of your goals.

    I’m heading over to your garden section since I just bought a house and am very interested in having a garden next year. It’s awesome that you are wanting to grow financially, but also build things that will save money in the future as well. Increasing income and dropping expenses is the best way to do this and you are on your way!

    Have a great day,
    Erik

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      Hey Erik,

      Thanks for stopping by. We’re working hard on the goals, especially the fun ones! If you have any gardening questions, happy to help. Not sure if we’re in the same climate or not but a lot of it is universal.

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      The neighbors one has been a weak point but still working on it. Overall a good 1st half!

      Hope your hitting your goals as well.

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      The financial goals are pretty easy once you automate. I think the personal ones – physical, mental, etc… are probably more important. Plus it gives a bit of insight in to our lives, which I think people enjoy.

      Cheers!

  5. Our Next Life

    Hi Adam. Overall, this feels like good progress. We’re in the same boat in terms of mortgage debt — we hate it and want it paid off, even if it’s not the best decision on paper. With the markets pretty flat this year, though, we’re feeling good getting the guaranteed returns of no 3.25% mortgage interest on the amounts we’re paying down. Also thought your book comment was funny, re: fiction. Must be different books we’re reading, but we keep commenting how fiction just seems to get longer and longer! All of the best sellers are north of 500 pages! So we love throwing in some nonfiction that we can crank through faster and notch our total up faster. 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      True, it is a guaranteed return, but I’m not bothered by missing out to keep a lot of dry power for when stocks look more attractive or the right rental property comes along. But I don’t blame anybody for taking that gain, though I think there’s stocks right now valued at a level that pays a dividend greater than 3.25 and are almost guaranteed to be worth much more in 30 years. The energy sector is on fire sale at the moment (in my opinion) with a lot of 4+% dividends.

      Fiction can certainly be long. The Game of Thrones books are HUGE! But I can usually fly through fiction. I find that non-fiction takes me a long longer for 2 reasons –
      1. It never captures me, so I don’t tend to read it for more than 30 minutes at a time.
      2. I’m usually taking notes for a future book review, which slows me down a lot.

  6. Laura Beth

    Hi Adam,

    Sounds like you’re doing all the right stuff financially! I’m impressed. Love the hierarchy infographic as well.

    One thing I’ve learned though is that volunteering can add so much joy to your life. I would just suggest focusing on that goal. You’ll be amazed how your life will change in a positive way.

    Looking forward to reading more, just landed here tonight from A More Successful You.

    Thanks,
    Laura Beth

  7. Chef@ Fry The Financial Fish

    You are doing great so far on your goals! Real estate prices are going crazy now so I don’t blame you for sitting on the sidelines. With the high property tax rate in Texas, it is hard knowing all the work it takes to manage a rental just to end up breaking even (cash flow neutral). For me not worth the risk of having someone trash the place or spend the extra time to manage unless you plan on sitting on it for a long time- We were looking a foreclosures about 2 years ago but it looks like they are all dried up now.

    Hey I’m over in San Antonio- if you are ever in town and want to meet for dinner let me know.
    Chef

    1. Post
      Author
      Adam

      That would be great. Same goes if your in Houston.

      Still looking at rentals, but it’s not looking likely at the moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *