Last summer, I shared a post about the first four years of my journey towards financial independence. If you are new to my site or would like a refresher, I went from being in debt to a net worth over $500k in 4 years. Well, another year is in the books and its time to provide an update on my Journey to financial independence.
Year 5 – The Journey Continues
The past year was jam-packed. Some highlights include a new job, scaling up some 14ers (tall mountains in Colorado), going to my first FinCon, attending CampFI, quitting my side hustle as a property manager, being on a half dozen podcasts, and buying another rental property. Oh, and I saw Hamilton… Twice.
It was also a great year for building wealth. My net worth skyrocketed by $116,722.79 between June 2017 and June 2018. After five years of hustling and offensively building wealth, my net worth stands at a respectable $625,246.83.
The S&P 500 was up over 10% during that time which helped my net worth considerably. The graph below tracks my net worth from the beginning of my journey (June 2013). I started manually tracking my net worth after graduating college in a spreadsheet. Over the past year, I’ve switched to Personal Capital, which an awesome free tool.
Compound interest is real and wonderful. I’m starting to notice it daily. My stock portfolio sometimes goes up or down more in a single day than I make per paycheck. In the past two months, my net worth increased an additional $25k which put me over $650k. This lead to MSN featuring my story – Man goes from negative net worth to $650,000 in 5 years.
That’s right, in just over five years I went from being in debt to having over $650,000. I am now 28 years old. Looking back, I don’t think the ’23 years old me’ would ever dream I would be where I am today.
I owe my success to working hard, having a clear focus, and taking action. There was definitely a bit of luck involved as well. However, I adopted an abundance mindset and didn’t let limiting beliefs stand in my way.
By focusing on the ‘big three’ (housing, transportation, and food), I’ve kept my cost of living in check. House hacking by far has had the biggest impact on my ability to save, invest, and build wealth. I also drove my car until she was 20 years old and traveled over 200,000 miles.
How I increased my net worth over the past year
Digging a bit deeper into the numbers…
My mortgage debt dropped by a little over $25,000 in the past year. The best part about this? My tenants are the actually paying for my mortgages. Well, except for rental property #4. This property sat vacant during the renovation process and zoning battle with the city. Moving forward, tenants will be paying off all of my mortgages.
But that still leaves about $91,700 to account for.
I also maxed out my 401k ($18,500) and contributed the maximum amount to my Roth IRA ($5,500) as well. Which leaves about $67,700 discuss.
Well, I also bought my 4th rental property at the end of 2017. I assume the property’s value increased by $20k even though I spent more than that on the renovation. Recent sales comps suggest my assumption is conservative.
Most of the remaining increase came from the stock market going up. I also buy a low-cost index fund every week. Savings, my employer’s contribution to my 401k, and dividend income dividend income make up the rest.
Also see: 6 steps to saving a 6-figure net worth
Other life changes
My life has changed a lot over the past year. Some changes are financially related while others are more lifestyle and personal.
Dumped my side hustle
Last August, I gave up my side hustle as a third party property manager. This was a lucrative gig and a great learning experience. I am grateful for this experience and have no regrets about my time spent hustling.
However, this part-time side hustle evolved into something that looked more like a full-time job. The company almost tripled in three years. As a result, I was the main point of contact for a few hundred people. My email box was being flooded at all hours of the day and night. There was constantly something requiring my attention which resulted in little to no downtime in my life.
I was burning the candle on both ends as people often say. Between a day job, the side gig, and growing my own rental property portfolio, 100 hour+ weeks became the norm. This was not healthy or sustainable for a long period of time.
Somewhere between age 26 and 27, I realized my energy level was dropping. Gone were the days of being an energetic 23 year old with an endless supply of energy.
All the hustling had caught up with me. I was constantly tired, stressed and quite frankly, burnt out.
Burn out is a major problem in western society. In fact, I think most people are burnt out and don’t realize it. I know this was the case for me. My burn out was pointed out by several family, friends, and co-workers. I eventually noticed this problem as well.
Society has never been more demanding. Technology keeps us ‘plugged in’ at all hours of the day. It’s almost impossible to ‘unplug’ these days. Do yourself a favor and ‘unplug’ from all technology for at least one hour a day.
Burnout is something my buddy Grant and I have discussed on several occasions. He shares a great post about how he recovered from burnout. Check it out if you are dealing with burn out.
I have a new (old) job
In February, I started a new job. Actually, I went back to my first employer. I left this company on good terms back in 2014.
Since then, I’ve stayed in touch with a couple of my former coworkers. One of them reached out to me at the end of 2017 and mentioned they may have a job opening. I was on a short list of people they were interested in hiring.
At the time, I was not actively looking for a new job. This was probably the only unsolicited offer I would have entertained; I was content where I was.
However, I always enjoyed the caliber of people at my first job. Leaving the company last time was not easy for me, however, there was no opportunity for me to advance my career previously.
So, I accepted their offer and rejoined my old team. The work has been challenging and I’ve enjoyed a nice bump in compensation. The only downside is that my commute is horrible.
I bought rental property #4
I bought a new property. That brings me up to four properties and seven doors. I closed on my fourth property (a triplex) back in November. Since then, there has been a lot of headaches. Sure, the renovation process went smoothly.
But, the city has been a nightmare to deal with. There was a lot of red tape and an unnecessary zoning battle that I fought and won. Long story short, the city had no records of my property and claimed the property was not compliant with the zoning ordinances. They were wrong.
As I mentioned, I won but I also lost. While I fought the zoning battle the property sat vacant. I needed to clear the matter before I could legally move people into the other units. Sure, I could have operated illegally but I’m not willing to take that kind of risk. So, I bit the bullet and carried the place with no rental income for almost 10 months.
Long term, the property will be great. I have two tenants living in the place now and expect a third tenant in the near future. I think I bought into the neighborhood at the right time. Starbucks recently announced they will be opening a new location a block from the property. Sounds promising for the long-term trends of the neighborhood.
Less driven by money
Over the past year, I have discovered I am less driven or motivated by money. I am not financially independent; this still a goal I am pursuing.
However, I have come to the realization money does not buy happiness. This is something I’ve known for a long time; I’ve never banked on FI or FIRE bringing me happiness. I guess you could say that I have confirmed what I already knew.
Today, I am less likely to take on a new project or side gig for an extra buck.
More driven by purpose and fulfillment.
These days, I value my time and happiness above all else. Monetary gain provides less fulfillment. I’m still fiscally responsible, frugal and don’t spend frivolously.
I also still work for a paycheck. Though, honestly, I wish my time and energy was spent on other activities. The idea of leaving the office behind is enticing. I look forward to a corporate detox one day. I plan to start my detox by hiking the entire Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine). I also would like to do some extensive travel abroad and take some downtime to enjoy with family and friends.
Helping people and giving back to society has been on my mind a lot more. Last year, I spent a decent bit of time fundraising for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Also, I’ve had a burning desire to start a non-profit for a few years now that focuses on feeding the homeless. I would love to have more time to volunteer and help improve my community, however, I am simply tapped out.
Often, I find myself dwelling on purpose, fulfillment, legacy, and the meaning of my life. I firmly believe we are all on this planet for a reason and to do great things in life. I also believe we are also responsible for figuring out our purpose. This is something I have committed a great amount of thought to and may write more on in the future.
The greatest form of wealth is health
Lastly, I have spent more time focusing on my health. The highest form of wealth is health. What good is it have all the riches in the world (or even a nice nest egg), if you do not have your health to enjoy your wealth?
During my intense hustle over the past five years, I let my health go; this is something I regret. My eating habits went downhill and I stopped working out. This caused me to gain 20-25 pounds.
I’ve slowly chipped away at the unwanted weight, but it’s not easy. In general, I am trying to eat better and eat less. I am walking more and rediscovered my passion for biking. Moving forward, I plan to take better care of myself. Health is the ultimate wealth.
What has changed in your life over the past year? Are you moving forward towards your goals? Or rather, are you sitting idle? Worse yet, are you going in reverse? Have you made positive changes in your physical and financial health? Are you living a life of passion and fulfiment? Or is life just passing you by?