Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a fun and safe night yesterday.  Me and my wife did the count down at our friends’ home.  We enjoyed our time there with the company of many of our close friends.  

As you reflect back on what you have accomplished in 2013, here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin this new year:

  • Has your overall happiness increased?
  • Are you more physically healthy?
  • Have you accumulated more wealth?
  • Are you more appreciative and content with what you have?
As I reflect back on this last year, I realize that it has been an incredible year for us and my best year to date by far.  

Me and my wife started the year off as newlyweds.  We quickly sat down to have the “money talk” and decided to join our finances together completely and honestly.  Working together, we have decided to take saving and investing to the next level.  

More travel and more happiness
Studies continue to conclude that spending money on experiences like travel is much more fulfilling than purchasing material things.  We’ve done a fair amount of traveling in 2013.  We have been able to take advantage of amazing credit card offers to travel for free without ruining our credit.  Last I checked my official FICO score was over 800.  We recently visited Asia for free thanks to frequent flyer miles and hotel points.  Hopefully we will be able to make room for more travel in 2014.

This year, we found ourselves more content and appreciative of what we already own.  Not buying useless crap that loses value immediately has helped keep our home decluttered.  By being more immune to the lure of consumerism, we've been able to be more conscious of our spending. 

We have been focusing more on purchasing products that provide lasting value.

Saving more money
We started the year by shopping for new car insurance and switching to Geico.   We’ve been able to cut out wasteful spending drastically and keep our costs low.  We are organizing all our bills with Manilla, paying our bills as soon as we receive them, and have completely eliminated that “oh shit” feeling when it comes to our finances.  

We’re still doing fine without cable or satellite television.  I continue to regularly negotiate my cable internet bill and have finally stopped renting my cable modem.  I found an excellent new barber (my wife) and haven’t paid to get my hair cut in over 6 months.  We’ve optimized our ability to kill our electricity bill and just purchased new low flow shower heads to reduce our water bill.  We’re still using our garment steamer and haven’t paid for routine dry cleaning in over 2 years.  

The most important part of saving more for us is that we haven’t been sacrificing our quality of life.  Saving more allows us to consciously choose what to spend money on.  This also allows us to put more money to work for us in investments.  

Investing more
This year, we have simplified our investments, which have reduced the stress of active investing.  We both continue to max out our Roth IRAs.  I’m continuing to increase my 401K contributions slowly and should be on track to finally max out my 401K in the next few months.  Once our tax advantaged accounts are maxed out, we will continue to invest in our taxable account.  Here's an update on our investments as we start 2014: screenshot taken today

I can't guarantee that our investments will continue to increase at a rapid rate, but I can guarantee that we will continue to make regular contributions.  We won't be touching the money in our investment accounts for over 10 years.  I'll continue to update our investment progress towards financial freedom.

Staying physically healthy

We have been consistently eating in for lunch, and eating out less for dinner, which has not only cut out eating unhealthy foods, but has really fattened our bank accounts.  Instead of eating processed foods, we try to focus more on eating organic foods, less meat, and more vegetables. 
With the sun setting much earlier now, I've added proper lighting to make bike riding safer

One of the healthiest changes I’ve made this year is deciding to ride my bike to work at least 2 days a week.  I have been biking to work consistently, despite the heat, the cold and early sunset.  Eating healthier and exercising consistently has helped me improve my energy levels drastically.     

Let's make 2014 another meaningful year

As we start 2014 and my third year blogging, I want to take the time to thank you all for your continued support.  Your comments and emails motivate me to continue to write new posts.  I want to send a special shout out to my wife, who continues to be my biggest supporter as well as the editor-in-chief of Relentless Financial Improvement.  As I wrote last year: I wish you all great health, financial success, and emotional well-being this new year.  

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