Many personal finance bloggers provide net worth, income and expense, and goal updates each month for their financial situation. Some of these bloggers go in-depth into the details and are fully transparent, while others will tell you at a high level their net worth and how it changed during the month. In 2017, I’m becoming a fan of being fully transparent with my life and I also believe you, my reader, appreciate it as well.
In this post, I want to lay it all on the line: I’m going to give you an in-depth look at my balance sheet, income statement, and talk a little bit about areas for improvement going forward. First, I will give you a high level overview of my assets and liabilities, my income, expenses, and taxes over time, and my savings rate for the first 6 months. Then, I will dive deeper into the details for my income and expenses and discuss my goals for the next 6 months.
My sincere hope is that you look at my transparency around my finances and look to take steps to make your financial situation better. I truly believe that everyone can get their financial situation in order and can be successful with money. It doesn’t matter how much you make, it doesn’t matter how much you have currently. By taking steps each and every month to earn money, save money, and invest money, you will be on the road to wealth.
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau
Erik’s Financials at a High Level
First, I want to show you a high level view of my balance sheet and income statement. At the beginning of the year, I had a net worth of $68,919. At the end of June, my net worth is $96,073. This number is my assets minus my liabilities. The assets include my cash in my checking and savings accounts, my house and car, my 401k, IRA, HSA, and any other investments. The liabilities includes my credit cards, my mortgage, and my security deposits.
I was lucky to graduate college with only $8k in student debt, which I paid off in 2015, and while I did take out a loan on my car, I paid it off promptly in the few months after to keep my financial situation liquid. I’ve missed out on some market gains, but still am doing pretty well for 25.
In 6 months time, I have been able to increase my net worth by nearly $30k through a combination of building my investments, and paying down my mortgage. I will go into more detail later in this post.
For my income, investments, expenses, and taxes, I break them out below. So far this year, I’ve made $56,178, invested $16,002, paid down my mortgage $9,934, spent $16,590 on various things, and paid $12,333 in taxes.
I really like looking at this table because it tells me the story of each month. In February, I received a nice bonus from work and was able to put $5,500 into my Roth IRA, and paid off an extra $2,800 in mortgage principal. Also, I break out taxes, because it’s interesting to see how taxes affects my savings rate.
Now, I will go into the details for each line item.
An Examination of Erik’s Balance Sheet
I break up my assets and liabilities into high level categories: cash, property, investments, credit card debt, mortgage debt, and miscellaneous debt. Each of these categories includes multiple accounts. Becoming wealthy is about increasing the quality and quantity of assets you have, and decreasing the liabilities you have.
As mentioned above, my assets includes my cash in various checking and savings accounts, my house and car, and my investments in various accounts (401k, IRA, HSA, taxable, and business accounts).
For cash, I could be a little more aggressive with my investments given my cash situation, but I like having at least $5-7k in cash from a psychological standpoint. I never know what will happen to my house, my body, or my life. Therefore, I treat my savings account as my emergency fund. As you can see below, my total cash has been relatively constant between $5k and $12k.
I’m fairly comfortable where I’m at right now with cash, but wouldn’t mind having at least $15k in cash when I’m done hitting my debt paydown and investment goals (more on this later).
For property, I have a 2014 Volkswagon Jetta which I bought last February, and a house, which I bought July 2015.
For my car, I reduce the value by multiplying each month by 98% to simulate depreciation. This is not a scientific method, but it works for now.
For my house, I’m taking the most recent appraisal value (August 2016). I’m skeptical of Zillow’s Zestimate because earlier this year, my Zestimate was $360k, but then dropped to $315k, and now is back to $340k. I would rather not see big peaks and valleys in my net worth, and as a result, I’m keeping the house value at the appraisal value.
Overall, I’m happy with my property valuations and these numbers will be staying relatively the same over the next few months as I’m not planning on buying another car or another house!
I have a few investment accounts, some tax advantaged, some taxable, and one business line item. For the tax advantaged accounts, a 401k account, a Roth IRA, and my HSA. For taxable line items, I have a taxable account with some shares from the company I work for, and RSU’s from the same company. I’m happy my 401k balance has nearly doubled, but this is far from being satisfactory if I’m going to have a fat tax-advantaged retirement account 🙂
2017 was the first year I contributed to an IRA. Technically, I contributed the max for 2016 and haven’t contributed anything in 2017. I want to change this soon, and will look to max out my 2017 contributions in the next month or so.
My 401k account is a Roth 401k and I’m contributing about $800 a month. I’ve upped this contribution a little bit more to 10% of my salary, but am always tinkering with this number. I’m also thinking of switching to traditional because I was recently promoted and got a decent raise (post to come 🙂 ).
I’m maxing out my HSA account since this is almost free money… I put pre-tax dollars in and can spend those dollars without paying any tax – such a good deal!
Overall, I’m generally pleased with my investment growth, but will have to stay consistent with my contributions.
For liabilities, I have 4 credit cards, a mortgage, and security deposits for my roommates. My one roommate never gave me a security deposit, which I’m a little upset about, but haven’t (and won’t) taken action.
For my credit card debts, these are generally below $1,500 a month. I put all of my purchases on my credit cards and average 2% cash back. I pay off my balance each and every month.
My mortgage is a 5/1 ARM at a 2.625% rate. So far, I’ve paid off $9,934 in mortgage principal – a combination of regular and pre-payments. I’m currently at roughly 85% LTV and have PMI to pay each month. To get rid of PMI, I will need to pre-pay roughly $20k of principal. I want to address this in the next 6 months, by either accomplishing it, or getting a solid start on it for 2018.
Net Worth: Up $27,154 From Beginning of Year
For the year, my net worth is up $27,154, mainly driven by an increase in investments of $16,002, and a decrease in mortgage of $9,934.
In the second half of 2017, I expect my net worth to hit $100k, and my investments to increase at least $15k, and my mortgage to decrease $10-20k.
One area of improvement that I see is increasing the distribution of my net worth to investments. Right now, my house makes up roughly 50% of my net worth (roughly $48k of $96k). I’m not sure if I want to address this concern this year given my goal of getting rid of PMI.
An Examination of Erik’s Income Statement
To get to the balance sheet, we must examine what happens behind the scenes: what is my income and expenses by month? Tracking your income and expenses is incredibly important in personal finance. What gets measured gets managed!
Currently, I have 3 streams of income – 2 active and 1 passive. I work a 9 to 5 doing statistical analysis for a regional bank, and I have a few hours of statistical consulting work a month. My two roommates pay me $1,300 a month in rent, and this has allowed me to increase my income by roughly $8k per 6 months. I also include my utility income (which is technically income but is offset by when I actually pay the utilities), and any other income.
It doesn’t matter how much you make, it matters how much you keep. It is important to live within your means – spend less than you make!
The main expense categories are discretionary spending (Food and drink, shopping, recreation, travel, home improvement, donation, etc.), utilities and mortgage, auto insurance and gas, other expenses (investment contributions), and paycheck items (taxes and investments).
The main expense each month is food and drink. I’ve definitely became a little more loose with food and drink as my income has increased (lifestyle inflation at it’s finest).
I’m averaging about $450 a month in food and drink, most of which comes from eating a $5-10 lunch at work. I don’t buy drinks or go out for dinner too much any more, but lunches add up!
Also, at the end of June, I booked a flight to Vegas to hang out for the 4th of July weekend. I haven’t done too much traveling, but realize if I want to widen my perspective on the world, it’s essential to get out there and see new things!
Recreation is another one that I think can get out of hand quick: this one is gym membership fees, golf greens fees, and other fun expenses, etc.
Utilities and Mortgage
Each month, my mortgage payment (principal and interest) is $1,104, insurance is $114, PMI is $144, and property taxes is $339. Utilities run about $300 a month, and this is split 3 ways.
As mentioned above, paying down the mortgage principal by roughly $20k will get rid of the PMI payment of $144 a month. Without any extra payments towards principal, my wealth grows roughly $530 a month through equity build.
Auto Insurance and Gas and Other Expenses
I usually fill up my gas tank one time a month because I don’t drive too much. In May and November, I have my car insurance payment of about $800. Car insurance is expensive!
For investment contributions, you will see in February, I contributed $5,500 to my Roth IRA, and in May, I put $6,000 to work in my business endeavors. Investment contributions aren’t technically aren’t expenses, they are a balance sheet transfer, but since cash is going out, I treat it as an expense.
These expenses are not a concern for me.
Day Job Paycheck Taxes and Investments
Everyone needs to pay taxes, and I’m no exception. With each bi-weekly paycheck, there is a number of things taken out, both pre-tax or post-tax. The main items I’d like to call attention to is the 401k and HSA line items. I’ve recently increased my 401k contributions and am maxing out my HSA account.
Overall Takeaways From My Income Statement
Overall, I’m saving a good amount of money each month, and I’m able to put that money to work in a variety of ways. A savings rate of 49% post-tax is very good, but can always be improved upon.
One thing I’m hoping to do is travel a little bit more in the second half of 2017. Like I mentioned above, this past weekend, I went to Vegas on a whim and had an amazing time 🙂 I’m looking to continue to travel around the Midwest and continue to widen my perspective on the world.
My Outlook on the 2nd Half of 2017
Going into the last 6 months of 2017, I’m looking to contribute another $5,500 to my Roth IRA, and also pay down the PMI on my mortgage. In addition, I have upped my 401k contribution to 10% of my salary, and will continue to build that account up as the year goes on. As I mentioned above, this will result in me putting another $25k+ to work for me.
I’m very excited for the next few months as I will hit the $100k net worth mark, and will hopefully be able to grow my wealth by another $30-35k by year-end. Also, I’m on pace for my first year of hitting $100k in income, so cheers to that! 🙂
Thanks for reading! It’s fun thinking about all of the different possible ways to build wealth. Hope you liked my transparency – it was a fun post to write! 🙂
Readers: how are your finances looking at the mid-way point of 2017? Are there any goals you are hoping to hit in the 2nd half of 2017? What are your thoughts on the direction of the market – both stock market or real estate market? Do you see any areas of improvement that I haven’t identified?