2014: A Year in Review

Wow, 2014 seemed to go fast. I can’t believe it’s already 2015… but I seem like I say that every year. Time seems to go by pretty fast, and that is part of the reason I take a moment to reflect on the year for all of you. 2013, if you recall, was a year of transition, adjustment, and steady financial growth for us.

2014 continued with some of the same trends, and then threw us some curve balls as well: both good and bad surprises.

Housing

One of the biggest mile markers of 2014 is and will always be our recent home purchase. I’m excited to write a lot of new content for first time home buyers in the coming months, and share more pictures of our wonderful condo, but here’s a brief overview. After Mrs. 20s got her new job, we started shopping for a condo. Even after only living in the new city (and neighborhood) for a year, we knew where we wanted to live.

Our new home - the 2nd floor of this wonderful building

We were ready to plant our roots and now that Mrs. 20s had a stable job again, we got serious. I had been watching the market for 6 months (at least), so I knew what to expect – and we had to act fast when we found one that we liked. We actually found two condos that we liked (bid on both), and ended up getting the first when the first buyer backed out. It’s quite the story, and especially valuable for those of you who find yourself in a seller’s market.

Jobs

2014 wasn’t just about buying a home though – and it certainly wasn’t all positive. Mid this year, Mrs. 20s was laid off from her job. It wasn’t easy going through this, but it ended up being okay. She found a job as an independent contractor to get us through the summer, and then found the job that she currently has.

When given the opportunity, she always shines and after a year of ups and downs, Mrs. 20s ended up making a transition in her career that she wanted to, while also getting a nice boost in pay. It’s rare these days when someone can make as smooth of a transition into a new career path and even rarer when you don’t have to start at the bottom of the totem pole.

While Mrs. 20s’ job situation was unpredictable at best throughout 2014, mine was exactly the opposite. Another nice benefit of having dual incomes with no kids (aka DINK). When she lost her source of income, we slept easy knowing that we could cover most of our expenses with mine. I’ve been with the same organization for 2 years now and as it would happen – I received a promotion this past month.

Most promotions are a transition to a new role, and while this is true for me – it’s also a recognition of the responsibilities that I already took on throughout 2014. Looking back at my career change, it has paid off really well for me. I went from having a dead-end job with no possible advancement or annual raises to a job that has allowed me to climb the proverbial ladder faster than most. I could not have planned it any better. I have come really close to doubling my annual salary in the past two years. Not bad for someone who dropped out of grad school. :)

Finances

2014 was also a good year for us financially. In spite of some job hiccups mid-year, we earned more money than the year before and didn’t pay any money toward education – which was a huge expense for us in 2013 when Mrs. 20s was going to grad school. Remember how we paid for her grad school in cash?

This freed up a lot of money (most of which went to our home down payment). So, while our net worth went up, our liquid assets went down at the end of the year – understandably so. It’s still an adjustment to see that much of our net worth tied up in a property, but I also know that with our location and the type of condo, we have made a great investment. There’s no guarantee in real estate investing, but our situation is as close to it as it gets (think big city, in-demand neighborhood, great location, etc.)

While we accomplished a HUGE goal of ours when we bought our first home, we slacked in other areas – most notably retirement savings. With Mrs 20s losing her job where she had a 403b and then working 2 months as a contractor with no benefits (and my employer not offering retirement benefits), our options were limited to IRAs. We put some money away, but prioritized the home purchase at the cost of losing some compounding interest – but it was well worth it in our minds.

I have yet to calculate my net worth percentage increase (I still have to unpack out the other computer with the spreadsheet), but I know that we made some great progress. It’s really easy to track since I have been using Personal Capital to track my finances (you can read my post about the best way to track your net worth if you are interested). Now that the home purchase is done, I expect the next couple of years to be years of great progress.

2015 marks a new year, and as such, Mrs 20s and I are setting new financial goals. We will be hitting our retirement goals very soon, and saving for some upcoming home purchases. But, we will be doing some new things with our budget that I’m excited about and will be sharing with you all of the juicy details in weeks to come.

Readers, what are you most proud of in 2014?

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