Celebrating the small financial victories....

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Mudpuppy
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Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:17 pm

I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.

tbradnc
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by tbradnc » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:28 pm

In the mid-1980s I opened up my first mutual fund account with a company called "20th Century". I dutifully mailed in a $25 check each week, and recorded every transaction in a composition book and would call at the end of the day every day to get the closing price and calculate how much we gained or lost that day.

I very clearly remember big market days when our account value would go up or down somewhere in the $5 range.

Fast forward 30 years and now on big market days our account values go up or down several thousand dollars. I have to pinch myself sometimes because nothing in my life prepared me for this - I just worked hard and saved my money.

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yatesd
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by yatesd » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:46 pm

After paying down some debt I just raised my 401K to maximize contributions. I hope to have a 6K car loan paid off by March. Then I will focus on adding extra payments to my student loan. Yay, to small victories! :happy

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by bayview » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:03 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:...I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
Well, I will give you a big "woo", because that's a big deal. :beer

My/our personal financial victory is that DH officially retired from an industry that had grown corrupt and cynical and was slowly killing him, and he's now a happy putterer, keeping the home fires burning, while I continue to work quite happily (estimated retirement in ten years.) After several years of cautious financial diplomacy (second marriage for both), we have finally merged incomes, bank accounts, goals, and retirement plans and work as a team, something that we never were able to experience in previous lives. We're not rich and have no expectations of becoming so, but we're happy, and we're facing in the same direction, and life is good.
Happy holidays to all, with hopes for prosperity, or at least contentment, in the New Year. Keep on truckin'. :sharebeer
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

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in_reality
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by in_reality » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:33 pm

Mudpuppy wrote: My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club.
One comma better off than you used to be. Sweet and tasty! Beautiful! Well done!!!

Now keep it up and don't go soft!!!!

Calm Man
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Calm Man » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:56 pm

Congratulations on your achievement and thank you for all of your contributions to the forum. One "warning": I assume the assent to the black has included an increase from equities. It is possible that a decline can occur and bring you back into the red but don't despair if that happens as all will be well down the road.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:13 am

in_reality wrote:
Mudpuppy wrote: My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club.
One comma better off than you used to be. Sweet and tasty! Beautiful! Well done!!!

Now keep it up and don't go soft!!!!
I think what might actually be more sobering than reaching the 1-comma club though is realizing I have more right now in money market, I Bonds, IRA, and 457b than my dad made in 4 years when I was a teenager. And what is scary is if my dad realized that, he'd never stop asking me for money (I joke that I learned my money skills by counter-example).

And I've already taken the standard Boglehead advice about saving raises. Earlier this month, I increased my 457b contributions by the very unexpected 1% cost of living increase we got. I hadn't expected to get it, so I'm not spending it. Might as well sock it away for the future.
Calm Man wrote:Congratulations on your achievement and thank you for all of your contributions to the forum. One "warning": I assume the assent to the black has included an increase from equities. It is possible that a decline can occur and bring you back into the red but don't despair if that happens as all will be well down the road.
I had to change my holiday travel plans at the last moment, so today I was just puttering around the computer and doing some end of year tasks. My main financial task for today was to review my AA and see if a rebalance was needed, but nothing was outside of trigger bands. I suspect my accounts are still small enough to not swing too far out of balance, given that my monthly contributions are based on my desired AA. But I also adjusted my 2014 contribution percentages in the 457b to bump up bonds and international by a few percentage points each, to get those two areas closer to my desired AA, even if they haven't quite yet reached my trigger points for rebalancing.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Shalashaska » Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:46 am

I lost my job and was unemployed for a good portion of 2012 and 2013. That was really hard on me financially so I don't have much to share as I'm on the road to recovery but thanks for sharing your story OP. It's a lot easier to relate to stories like yours and keep the faith than it is reading about other Bogleheads that are far beyond me finance wise.

I guess my victory was finding this forum. I've learned a ton from reading this forum over the last few months and I look forward to learning much more. Hopefully one day soon I'll have a success story of my own.

Merry Christmas!

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by DieselEngineer » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:49 am

Shalashaska wrote:<snip>
I guess my victory was finding this forum. I've learned a ton from reading this forum over the last few months and I look forward to learning much more. Hopefully one day soon I'll have a success story of my own.

Merry Christmas!
This was a victory for me, too. I knew that I wasn't handling my affairs as good as they could be handled. Reading here helped me develop a sane and, most importantly, simple investment plan with confidence.

ETA: I've been on the BH path for almost a year, now. Sitting down and figuring out my financials is no longer a hand-wringing, sleep-depriving experience. My two biggest mistakes pre-BH were assuming diversity meant may funds and maintaining an asset allocation in each type of account rather than maintaining one asset allocation and placing each type of asset where it made the most sense.
Last edited by DieselEngineer on Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Went from 14 funds to 4 Funds - TSM, TISM, F, and G!

Mudpuppy
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:15 am

Shalashaska wrote:I lost my job and was unemployed for a good portion of 2012 and 2013. That was really hard on me financially so I don't have much to share as I'm on the road to recovery but thanks for sharing your story OP. It's a lot easier to relate to stories like yours and keep the faith than it is reading about other Bogleheads that are far beyond me finance wise.

I guess my victory was finding this forum. I've learned a ton from reading this forum over the last few months and I look forward to learning much more. Hopefully one day soon I'll have a success story of my own.

Merry Christmas!
Sorry about the extended job loss, but good to hear you are recovering. I think the hardest part about reading some of the other congratulatory posts is seeing how they got from here to there, particularly when my own "here" is still pretty small.

And discovering this site a few years ago was a big one for me too. About the only thing I knew before leaping in here was that I made a massive mistake buying a home when I first got a stable job instead of finding a better rental (I needed OUT of the rental I was in at the time, but another rental would have been so much kinder on the finances). I was clueless about how to make lemonade out of my particular lemon, but then a friend directed me over to here. It's been a slow and steady slog ever since.

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frugaltype
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by frugaltype » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:20 am

I try not to think about the three comma club. I hope just to stay in the two comma club :-) And it has taken me decades to get here.

I think you're doing very well.

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SC Hoosier
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by SC Hoosier » Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:26 am

Hitting a new savings record this year in terms of dollars saved, by a large margin. Wahoo! All of it is going into Roth and 401k. The rest of my Baby Steps are done!

Merry Christmas!

SC Hoosier
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IMD801
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by IMD801 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:46 am

Paying off one of my 5.8% interest student loans last week.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by montanagirl » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:38 am

tbradnc wrote:In the mid-1980s I opened up my first mutual fund account with a company called "20th Century". I dutifully mailed in a $25 check each week, and recorded every transaction in a composition book and would call at the end of the day every day to get the closing
I began with 20th Century too, not sure why. Were they no-load funds?

I began saving even though I had lots of bills, and it made a difference in the way I felt about spending. Without savings I was depressed about every penny I spent. With savings I knew some was to be spent, some to be saved. I think it's important for people to get in the saving habit early on, then learn to regard the savings as an asset worthy of respect and even pride. It's sort of a thing apart from me now and I wonder if I could ever get myself to spend it.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by travellight » Wed Dec 25, 2013 11:48 am

It is good to celebrate the small victories. Most of the larger assets/portfolios started out as small ones. My NW was negative 5 digits when I was 28. Congratulations to all who are making progress on their path.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by jollystomper » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:45 pm

a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Congratulations on accomplishing small financial victories - always celebrate them as they will continue to build to something bigger. Without them, folks start following the "get rich quick" philosophy that leads to worse troubles. It is the "small" victories we accomplished over the years that led to where we are now.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by poker27 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:17 pm

I remember no too long ago I was ecstatic over a $1 raise that came with a promotion. At that time I couldn't afford/ think I needed health insurance. This year I will make close to 10x what I made 7 years ago. I didn't have much of an education, so I needed to do things others wouldn't ( thankfully I became aware of that at an early age). Work holidays, overtime, mop the floor, travel, whatever.

Petunia
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Petunia » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:33 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
I'm so glad to hear your home value is recovering, Mudpuppy. Home prices in my area are on the rise so much, that I am sneaking up on 100% LTV! It certainly does feel nice. Another year like this one, and I might even be in a position to sell, pay closing costs, and get some of my down payment back. Here's hoping :beer .

Best of luck to you in the new year!

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frugaltype
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by frugaltype » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:34 am

caroljm36 wrote:
tbradnc wrote:In the mid-1980s I opened up my first mutual fund account with a company called "20th Century". I dutifully mailed in a $25 check each week, and recorded every transaction in a composition book and would call at the end of the day every day to get the closing
I began with 20th Century too, not sure why. Were they no-load funds?
Another one here. They got a lot of good press, which seemed to be justified for awhile. They really marketed to the small investor. I haven't even thought about them for awhile. I remember when I sold them, I had pages and pages of calculations for those very numerous small investments.

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/mar/08 ... s/fi-26673

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:57 am

My 'small' financial victory turned out to be a big part of my wealth today. When I worked for GM all I knew about investing was I could buy GM stock at a discount. But when I left there and went to a university they had TIAA-CREF as their retirement program. My only choices were CREF stock and TIAA Traditional. Without knowing much about either I had enough confidence in the country's future to go 75% CREF stock, the most they would allow at that time. But a couple years later they removed the 75% restriction and I went 100% CREF stock. How much less would I have today if I had leaned to TIAA Traditional instead?
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by 5buffalo » Thu Dec 26, 2013 2:02 pm

My small victory: I got a nice raise this (past) spring, and under different circumstances would have spent it on "lifestyle creep." Instead, I actually REDUCED my personal expenses, and invested the entire raise.

I never talk about money with friends, so I owe my motivation almost completely to this forum - thanks! :moneybag :beer
The feeling of security that I get from my savings is much better than cable TV or riding in taxis.

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nedsaid
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by nedsaid » Thu Dec 26, 2013 2:11 pm

I had a similar experience to TBradNC. I started my first mutual fund at the same company at about the same time. In fact I still own that fund. I dutifully sent in money as I could.

I also have the same experience of seeing my accounts fluctuate sometimes by thousands of dollars in on day.

It shows what systematic savings and investing can do if you give it enough time.
A fool and his money are good for business.

GeauxBR
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by GeauxBR » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:50 pm

Our 2013 victory was paying off medical debt from the birth of our son, also while finishing up our 6 month emergency fund. I've already set the automatic drafts to max out our first roth in 2014 with these savings.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by gouda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:59 am

2013 was the year I re-discovered my love for reading, particularly for business/career and investing/personal finance-type books. This year, I read at least 3 books each quarter from these genres and am hoping to bump it up to at least 2 books/month in 2014.

Probably not the "small financial victor[y]" OP was asking about, but I'm grateful to have started reading for pleasure again after a multi-year hiatus!

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by travellight » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:47 am

by 5buffalo » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:02 am

My small victory: I got a nice raise this (past) spring, and under different circumstances would have spent it on "lifestyle creep." Instead, I actually REDUCED my personal expenses, and invested the entire raise.

I never talk about money with friends, so I owe my motivation almost completely to this forum - thanks! :moneybag :beer
The feeling of security that I get from my savings is much better than cable TV or riding in taxis.
congratulations, 5buffalo. That is so true about the feeling of security is better than riding in taxis, lol. I almost always use public transportation when I have a choice. I told a friend of mine (who is worth about 8 million) that I took the public bus to get from LaGuardia to the upper west side NY, at around midnight, through Harlem, for under $3, rather than just cab it like normal people do. He said he would have done the same thing, for his own health. The thought of the taxi dollars flying out the window as he rode into town would have given him high blood pressure he said, lol.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Cat Herder » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:51 am

I started the year with roughly 5000 in my 403b and am ending it with over 30,000 between my 403b and Roth IRA. All are invested in low cost index funds. As you can imagine, my "Victory" is getting serious about investing.

I also moved my emergency fund to a higher yielding, more user friendly account. Not a big deal in raw dollars, but every little bit helps.

I thank the members of this forum, including the authors who gave me the knowledge necessary to get serious. Without cracking a couple of books earlier this year I likely would've just used my surplus money to buy cool stuff and to pay down my mortgage.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Fallible » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:18 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.
...
This is nicely in keeping with the BH philosophy to stay the course and invest for the long term, which is made up of those small but hugely important victories. In fact, they make up life and being able to recognize them and celebrate them is, I think, a key to happiness.
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by cherijoh » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:24 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
To the young Bogleheads: keep in mind that many (if not most) of the posters who have large portfolios and/or paid off mortgages, found the Bogleheads forum much later in their investing "career" than you have! You have an incredible advantage just by knowing the importance of living below your means and investing in index funds at a young age. In addition, starting out with significant student loans for an undergraduate degree is a fairly recent phenomenon, so many older Bogleheads may never have had to deal with having a negative net worth unless they got into trouble with credit cards.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by LPSpecial » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:38 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
Thank you for posting this. I am frequently discouraged when reading many of the posts asking for portfolio reviews. Many of these folks are far better off financially than we are. However, everything is relative and in our world we are doing just fine.

Our small victory is to save $75 in our Roth Ira's every paycheck. It's not much, but it's movement in the right direction. :sharebeer

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by ajcp » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:50 pm

cherijoh wrote:
Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
To the young Bogleheads: keep in mind that many (if not most) of the posters who have large portfolios and/or paid off mortgages, found the Bogleheads forum much later in their investing "career" than you have! You have an incredible advantage just by knowing the importance of living below your means and investing in index funds at a young age. In addition, starting out with significant student loans for an undergraduate degree is a fairly recent phenomenon, so many older Bogleheads may never have had to deal with having a negative net worth unless they got into trouble with credit cards.
+1. I opened a mutual fund and roth IRA when I was 18, but then didn't touch it at all until this year (24). So I'm kicking myself a little for not continuing to invest at least over the years, but I'm still way ahead of most people my age.

My first victory was finally investing the money I've saved. My second was learning more about where I'm investing my money, and moving it from my original funds (which weren't too bad, but were too bond heavy for my AA, plus I prefer separating my stock and bond funds to having one do it all fund) to Vanguard's.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Emeralds » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:02 pm

After several years of aggressively paying down student loan debt and building up my savings, my net worth finally crossed into positive territory for the first time last November 2012. That was an important milestone for me.

My 2013 financial victory is that I started contributing to my 401k plan. It's only a small amount of money for now but just getting started feels great.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:47 am

Mudpuppy wrote:I thought I would post this for the benefit of the others here who are just starting out and might get discouraged with the reports coming in over the next couple of weeks of more established portfolios. It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.

My personal financial victory for 2013 is finally going from being in the red (when considering house value and mortgage in net worth calculations) to joining the one-comma club. I am still underwater in the mortgage (LTV ratio is currently 140%), but my other assets have accumulated enough to counteract that. I felt like giving a little "woo" when the Net Worth column in my spreadsheet stabilized in the black instead of waffling back and forth across the $0 point a couple of months ago. So I thought I would share that little victory, and invite others to share their little financial victories for 2013.
Even here I don't think many of us are or will be in the three-comma club, but aiming high is a good thing! :beer

I started off in the red myself, although I didn't have to overcome an underwater mortgage. (Nor did I ever realize any eye-popping appreciation from a hot market house--I've owned one house that after 15 years is worth about 30% more than I paid for it here in flyover country).

Congrats on hitting the black, even if it's a little temporary. Time and persistence are your two biggest allies. At times it will seem slow and dreadful, but just keep going one step at a time. I was in my mid-late 30s with about 15 or so years consistently investing before it "felt" like I was seeing commensurate progress.

No doubt it is hard in the beginning. You should congratulate yourself first and foremost for taking those initial difficult steps and sticking with it long enough to see the first fruits appearing on the horizon.

Don't be discouraged by the success of others (who are likely much older than you and probably got there by diligently turning the crank for decades). They are the evidence that a prudent financial gameplan can result in success. It rarely comes quickly or easy, but it is doable.
Don't do something. Just stand there!

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Call_Me_Op » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:05 am

Isn't 3 comma's one billion dollars or more?
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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by sschullo » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:07 am

Many of us so-called successful investor experienced disappointments of getting fired or laid off, not making enough, injured on the job, dealing with cancer, losing a million after starting late in life from zero and yet did many things right through it all, living frugally, volunteering, do your part to make a better world, never buying new cars, saved consistently, learned from bitter mistakes and yet saved enough for a comfortable retirement.

NEVER compare yourself to others. Value your experiences, all of them, some are terrible with real pain in the short-run, but in the long run they are valuable assets that you truly own.
Public School K-12 Educators: "Ask NOT what your annuity sales person can do for you, ask what you can do to be a Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY)."

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:27 pm

I opened my first mutual fund(s) - two accounts for an eye-popping $10 each! Similar to a few of the previous posters - the mutual fund company Twentieth Century Investors accepted accounts for as little as a fractional share would open so say about one dollar. It was a no-load mutual fund company that charged an eye-popping flat rate of 1% on the expense ratios. I stuck with them until I accumulated enough to transition to TRowePrice's $250 minimum or $50 monthly debits, then Fidelity's $2,500 minimums and ultimately made it over to Vanguard which back then required a steep $3,000 to buy-in. Still, it was a good experience because little investors really couldn't catch a break back then - either be subjected to front-end upfront loads of 4% or more plus high expense ratios or stick with fighting the hyenas in the full service or discount brokerage world where a transaction could cost you $35 at Schwab and up at the full wash firms.

Today, investors have it much easier with low minimum investments of $1,000 available to you and all the investment knowledge available at your fingertips, in the early days it was the wild west of Money Magazine, writing in for prospectuses and reading books in the library.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:50 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Today, investors have it much easier with low minimum investments of $1,000 available to you and all the investment knowledge available at your fingertips, in the early days it was the wild west of Money Magazine, writing in for prospectuses and reading books in the library.
I think the CA Savings Plus Program wants to go back to the early days. The only public information is the expense ratios and "watch lists" (investment options that SPP considers to be "not performing" and may be removed in the future). They provide a summary of investment options on the account page (login required), but it's more a detailed fact sheet than a prospectus. The fact sheet also no longer contains the underlying fund structure for their funds-of-funds, just a list of the fund managers for those underlying funds. Since the SPP funds are not public, you can't go elsewhere to get the information either. You're also not notified when the composition changes, as I discovered just now because the large cap blend and the bond blend funds have changed underlying compositions dramatically since I looked at them in January, but I received no emails or letters about it.

This makes it very difficult to monitor SPP funds using anything other than the SPP website. On the other hand, it is a government 457b plan, which has plenty of benefits to outweigh the deficiencies of the SPP website and the lack of detailed information on the SPP funds. When I have a little more weight in the account, the self-directed brokerage option (which they also make getting information about rather difficult) will likely be a better way to go.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by abuss368 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:19 pm

Keep at it. It will take time but eventually it adds up and will start to compound faster. It hits you when you notice the investment earnings and fluctuation are larger than the amount of new money you invest in a year.
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by SkierMom » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:26 pm

Cheers Mudpuppy!

What a wonderful, optimistic post. I love it.

Cheers to all of us on the right path, taking in those small victories.

Woo-Hoo!

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by SkierMom » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:30 pm

a government 457b plan, which has plenty of benefits to outweigh the deficiencies of the SPP website and the lack of detailed information on the SPP funds. When I have a little more weight in the account, the self-directed brokerage option (which they also make getting information about rather difficult) will likely be a better way to go.
Yes, highly likely. My government 457b plan self-directed option is a huge pain with tedious amounts of instructions and restrictions. THere are about three of us in the agency (of about 2,600 total employees) whom I am familiar with that have thrown in the towel on the self-directed option.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:13 pm

SkierMom wrote:
a government 457b plan, which has plenty of benefits to outweigh the deficiencies of the SPP website and the lack of detailed information on the SPP funds. When I have a little more weight in the account, the self-directed brokerage option (which they also make getting information about rather difficult) will likely be a better way to go.
Yes, highly likely. My government 457b plan self-directed option is a huge pain with tedious amounts of instructions and restrictions. THere are about three of us in the agency (of about 2,600 total employees) whom I am familiar with that have thrown in the towel on the self-directed option.
Just curious since your location is listed as Lake Tahoe, is this the CA Savings Plus Program (SPP) self-directed option? If so, what caused people to throw in the towel? I'm most concerned about hidden account fees and excessive trading fees (e.g. it would make no sense to buy in with every monthly contribution if they're going to charge $x per fund bought, it would be much better to plop it in the SPP funds each month and then buy in once a year if that's the fee structure).

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by nebraskaman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:27 am

This will be the first year I will be using my tax return for something other than paying off credit card debt. I can't tell you all how excited I am to do my taxes (who says that?!) so I can get that check and actually save the money!

Celebrating one year of no debt except for a small student loan and mortgage, saving 13.5% pre tax with match to 401k and 20% post tax in Roth/Savings accounts. Only in the one comma retirement savings club currently. Two goals to hit by 35 (1.5 years) are 6 digits in retirement and maxing out the Roth (only at 1800 a year right now).
The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:52 pm

Just as an update to my thread, I finally had a chance to compare my start-of-the-year projections for 2013 to my actual year-end numbers. This let me see the factors in "getting out of the red". It also gives me a bit of a sanity check into how reasonable my projections are.

One factor is income. Mostly through picking up optional side projects at work, I made $10k more after taxes and 457b contributions than I was expecting. Obviously, I can't count on side project income since those come and go, but I hadn't realized how much I'd done through side projects until I looked at the annual tally. I plunked most of that into I bonds in November (woo, itsy bitsy fixed rate) and also upped my 457b contribution by a bit more than the unexpected cost-of-living raise that came at the end of the year.

Another factor is home value recovery. I include home value and mortgage in my net worth calculations simply because the house is the largest chunk of my assets and the mortgage is my biggest debt at this point in my life and career. The house value grew $25k more than I was expecting. Although I am still underwater by a large margin, I no longer feel like I'm drowning, which is always good for morale and for the net worth calculation.

Likewise, another factor was market performance. Since I use a conservative 5% ROR for investment growth and this year's market greatly exceeded that, my projections for retirement account balances were not correct. That's just to be expected though. I'll stick with my 5% projections and hope that any major dips are smoothed out by major gains like 2013.

On the expense side, my projections for most of the expenses were pretty spot-on. The only blip was the unexpected expenses from my elderly relative having to stay with me while she is in a wheelchair, since her home is not wheelchair accessible and I am the nearest relative who does have a wheelchair accessible home. It's still cheaper (and most would argue healthier for the relative) than an assisted living facility. It may cause additional expenses this year if the doctor says the wheelchair is permanent instead of temporary, and we have to remodel her home to be accessible.

So a massive market dip, massive housing decline, or a great deal of expenses for the elderly relative could still swing me back into the red this year. On the other hand, my opportunities for advancement (and increased pay) at work are looking very high for 2014. My willingness to pick up optional side projects that benefited both my immediate team and the next level up has caught the eye of the next level of management, particularly since the others in my immediate team were not so willing to step up and help.

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Re: Celebrating the small financial victories....

Post by NightOwl » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:04 pm

Mudpuppy wrote: It can be hard to be starting out, looking at a small portfolio and still working on accumulation, while being surrounded of news of mortgages paid off and people joining the three-comma club. So here's to celebrating the small financial victories, particularly when one is just starting out.
Mudpuppy,

Great thread starter. About a year before I joined Bogleheads, I got my act together and aggregated all my accounts on Yodlee, including my student loans. Once everything was linked, I took a deep breath and clicked on "Net Worth Statement": a big red $80,000, and that's without a mortgage (I'm a renter). Negative 80 grand, but it still felt freeing, because I wasn't just guessing anymore, and I could address the problem.

I have a screenshot of that red $80k, as well as a screenshot of the first time my net worth showed up in black. Now I'm working toward that other club you mention, but I think it's the "two-comma club" ($1,000,000). There may be some three comma folks (billionaires) here, but if so they're quiet about it, and I would be too!

NightOwl
"Volatility provokes the constant dread that some investors know more than we do, making us fearful of ignoring such powerful price movements." | Peter Bernstein, "The 60/40 Solution."

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