2016 Yearly Review and Look Ahead to 2017

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annual review, saving, financial coach, personal finance coach, financial freedom, retirementHappy 2017 to all the readers of ilovecompoundinterest.com!! Now that 2016 has closed out and we’ve started another new year, I’m doing what I promised at the beginning of 2015 and I’m sharing a yearly review which includes progress toward goals, annual investment review of the past year, and a look ahead to what 2017 has in store.

This exercise is really all about tracking progress toward our goals and a way for me to be honest and accountable to do the tracking and share about how it is going. We’ve been successful over the last few years in saving a large percentage of our income. This is in no way intended to boast or make you feel less than or that you are in any way a failure. Rather I want to continue to share through this blog how we did it and encourage you that you can too if you stick to your goals.

2016 Recap:

After retiring early in 2015 and moving to Ohio, I was looking forward to getting settled into a new chapter of life. At the start of 2016 I had done much research, soul searching and prayer regarding my next venture, which I had always thought would be as an investment advisor. Right at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 was when I realized that was not entirely what I wanted to do. There is much more need that people have in dealing with the day-to-day financial matters of budgeting, debt elimination, and then ultimately wealth building. Knowing this, I sought out and received certification in Financial Coaching. After several months of mentoring I launched my own practice as a Financial Coach helping people with the personal finances. This new venture has been fulfilling and challenging all at once, but I’m so glad I have gone this direction. Needless to say this past year is vastly different from 2015 for our entire family, but I can legitimately say it is so much better for all of us.

I’m not going to sit here like some other folks in the blogosphere and tell you how easy it was to start my own business, because it’s not easy! Has starting my business been a piece of cake, absolutely not! I love doing the coaching, but I have had some challenges in the marketing and business development front. I have no regrets and am already making new relationships and a network of other folks that will be helpful in connecting with potential clients. I’m also doing some volunteer teaching as well which is beneficial and fulfilling and might even generate some future clients. It’s really a long process of planting seeds that I might (or might not) harvest at a later date. But I really can say that I have found my true vocation. It took me a long time to find it, but I’m so glad I’m here!

Investments Progress and all the Numbers:

I also like to review our investments, saving, and net worth at this time of year as a measuring stick for us against our goals. While our family income was down by 38%, we were diligent with our budgeting and spending to still be able to reduce our expenses by 10% as compared to 2015. What that meant was there was less to go toward savings, but I’m not at all upset because we were still able to save 41% of our net income. This along with some good investment gains gave us a 17% jump in our net worth and put us over another net worth milestone (click on this net worth graph to make it larger to read and see our progress over the last 20 year).  A lot to be thankful for indeed! In fact, this year we earned about the same amount in investment gains as we did in income; which is the true beauty of compound interest doing its thing! And last but by no means least; I’m a true believer in giving away money (and time). For 2016 we were able to give away 12% of our gross income and I had the pleasure of engaging in many opportunities to donate my time (as did my wife). I haven’t tracked that part yet but who knows, maybe I will in the future.

Look ahead to 2017:

It’s great to look back and see what successes or disappointments we might have had, but we also want to look forward to the next year. As I’ve said in other yearly reviews, I’m not one to make resolutions, but I have made commitments that I’ve stuck to during the year which led to consistent changes in my life. Maybe it’s just semantics, but I prefer “commitments” over the hype of “resolutions”. If you haven’t made a commitment yet to save, that is absolutely the most important commitment to make that will get you on the road to financial freedom (assuming you have paid off any consumer debt already). Start small if need be, but steadily increase until you can even get to 20% of your income that you save and invest. We are living proof that this can add up over the years and propel you toward financial freedom.

This is also where I have typically talked about the new saving limits for the various plans (IRA, 401(k), etc.) for the coming year, but they have all stayed the same for 2017. This is the same thing that happened last year, which isn’t a big deal, but the major thing that I keep harping on is to save, save, save!

For me and my family in 2017, we’re going to continue to focus on our own saving and keeping our spending at a level that is in line with our income and future goals. It’s going to still be tricky this year since our income will be less than 2016. We’re not worried though. This is all part of our plan and the benefits of having some schedule freedom and more time with our son has been well worth it so far. I’m going to continue to work on business development for my Financial Coaching business and building more relationships with others that may have contact with couples or individuals in need of my services. Also, my wife has decided to start pursuing her master’s degree this year. I’m very proud of her and know that she’ll crush it! Should be another exciting year!

Happy 2017 and Happy Compounding of Your Interest!

And as always, if you enjoyed this information or know someone who would, I encourage you to share this post with them. And if  would like help taking control of the financial aspects of your life, please consider Aspelin Financial Coaching to help you be victorious with your money! Servicing clients in all 50 states via in-person sessions, video calls or phone consultations.