New Years Eve is finally here. I can’t believe it’s almost 2014. This year has completely flown by and I’m sure it will only get faster from here.
A lot has changed in the past year, and if some of you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve been completely swamped the past couple of weeks – so much so that I haven’t written a new post in over a week. That’s unusual, when I typically write two posts a week. For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I just moved to Boston. We were living in New Jersey, but moved for work reasons two weeks ago after Mrs. 20s finished her graduate degree (literally three days after she finished). Needless to say, it has been a crazy month.
Despite the insanity, the move symbolizes the rest of the year for us. It’s been one of change, growth, and progress in a lot of ways. For sake of convenience, I’ll update you on what has happened in 2013 in key areas of my life, leaving the juicy details of our finances for the very end.
In December of 2012, I started my new job. Remember my excitement over the new job? This was a career change by all standards. I had previously worked at a University for several years while working on my graduate degree. While not the highest paying job, my university job did provide me free tuition and a way to pay my way through grad school (and Mrs. 20s too). In the Fall of 2012, Mrs. 20s took a different job (remember the post about her taking a huge pay cut for reasons of potential advancement?) that was actually located out of Boston. She was allowed to work remotely until she finished her school, but that meant that Boston was in our future. I agreed with this move because New Jersey was never a long-term plan.
Her change in jobs and the upcoming move to Boston forced me to reconsider my career plans and that ultimately led me to my current job just before 2013 started. Financially it was a smart move for the time, but it also offered huge potential for advancement. I work for a small company (currently have 8 employees between two offices), and I was jumping into a key role for the organization.
2013, in terms of my career, was an adjustment phase. I used to work a job where I did the same thing over and over again. Day in and day out. I eventually optimized my tasks so much that I could do them in my sleep. Zzzz. And if I wasn’t literally sleeping, I was definitely bored.
I wasn’t being challenged in my old job, and my new job was just the opposite. In 2013, I had to learn a number of things. How to communicate effectively, how to work with challenging coworkers, and much more. The best part is that I thoroughly enjoyed 2013. There were many frustrating moments, but I absolutely love tackling new challenges.
I’ve learned that my brain always things about doing things efficiently as possible. Whether it’s buying groceries and going from one end of the store to the next, doing everything possible to avoid going down the same aisle twice or something more complex – I love being efficient. It may be my downfall in some areas, but it’s certainly an asset that has helped me excel in my new job.
On top of all the positive change in 2013 when it comes to my employment is the huge increase in salary. When I switched jobs, I got about a 30% raise from my previous job. Starting tomorrow, I got another 10% raise for next year. In other words, my salary has increased 50% in a little over 1 year. Granted, it’s much easier to get a higher percentage at the beginning of your career when you don’t make that much, but it’s still some decent progress.
This has been one of the areas where I have struggled. While I have still had some nice highlights from this past year including being featured on major media websites like Yahoo, US News, and others, I fell short in terms of my ambitious goal. 2012 was an awesome year in terms of online growth, and 2013 was more of maintaining that level. No advancement, but I didn’t go backwards either.
I didn’t come close to my 2012 revenue from this blog, but I came to appreciate the small victories and I can only focus my energy on a couple of things each year. 2012 I focused all of my energy on earning money online and 2013 I focused on my career. I hope to have a better blend of the two for 2014.
This is a category that I think entrepreneurs often forget about in their efforts to earn more money. 2013 was a very busy year for Mrs. 20s and I. Perhaps more so for her since she was working full-time and also finishing her graduate degree. We were still able to prioritize our relationship in certain ways. We both enjoy quality time. Despite how busy we got, we always hung out together at night before going to bed. We also celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary this year and hung out at one of our favorite vacation spots: Maine. Taking an anniversary trip (even if it’s just for a weekend) has and always will be a priority for us. Despite one of the busiest years in recent history, we enjoyed many great moments together.
Last, but certainly not least is our financial growth over the past year. 2012 was a big year for us to be able to increase our investments significantly (from practically zero to something decent), and 2013 wasn’t too bad either. Not only did we pay for Mrs. 20s graduate degree in cash as we went (avoiding student loans again – success!), but we also maxed out our Roth IRAs, put money in Mrs. 20s’ 403(b) and even managed to save a little for our future home. Saving a down payment for your first home takes a while in the Northeast, especially if you want to avoid PMI. 20% of a home in the midwest, where Mrs. 20s is from is practically nothing. 20% of a condo in Boston is a different story. Luckily, we are both content with staying in our apartment for a couple years.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s no better single indicator of financial progress than your net worth. While we were not able to increase our net worth another 50% in a year’s time, we did come pretty close. It’s much harder to maintain the 50% growth per year after the first year or two since you need more growth to maintain the same percentage of the growth. I’ll calculate our net worth tomorrow for the official 2013 end of year number, but I would estimate that we’ve seen at least 35-40% growth in our net worth this past year. I know that our net worth growth rate will continue to deteriorate, but if the market continues to perform well, we may be able to maintain a 35% growth next year too.*
*I don’t share my net worth for security reasons, but please know that a 40% growth rate is very easy to accomplish when you don’t have much in savings. But, even if it doesn’t calculate to a lot of benjamins, a 35-40% growth rate is still good. Too many people delay savings until mid-career and they miss out on the benefits of compound interest. I share these percentages to show that anyone with an average salary can increase their financial position.