2017 is coming to an end, and it is time to gather the numbers and conclude on the first year of my journey towards financial independence and early retirement – and the first year of blogging at MoneyMow.
I can’t believe that a year has passed since I started on this journey. It has been a lot of fun, and as you will see below, I also think the results for 2017 have been highly satisfactory.
Personal life: What happened in 2017?
Overall, 2017 has been a great year with a mostly positive, but also a few negative highlights.
- Putting a ring on it: Technically, I proposed to my girlfriend in December 2016, but we have spent a great deal of time in 2017 celebrating our relationship and preparing for a wedding next year. We have been together for a long time, but being engaged somehow brought us even closer together than we were before. We have been a bit overwhelmed by all the things you need to consider for a wedding and how expensive it is, but I am looking forward to the new title as “husband” in 2018.
- Buying a house: Following our engagement, we decided to buy a house that we have spent a lot of time (and money) settling in to in 2017. We love our new place in the city close to everything and it is future-proof with space for potential kids, so we don’t have to move anytime soon.
- Getting a promotion: I was promoted at my job as a consultant which I was really happy about. Not only does it come with a lot of new exciting opportunities, but it also comes with a significant salary increase of roughly ~20% compared to the beginning of the year.
- Traveling to new places: As you might have noticed, I spent some time traveling in 2017. I spent a great deal of time in Southern Europe, Asia and North Africa lying on nice beaches, visiting friends and attending a few weddings abroad. It is one of the few things where I have a tendency to spend more than I budget for, and I know that I will have to learn to deal with this in the future.
- Losing great people: The saddest moments in 2017 for me was losing two great family members. Two amazing people who have been a part of my life since I was born sadly passed away this year. It might be a cliché, but you really find out how much people mean to you when they are gone. Losing a family member is extremely hard, but at the same time it gives you an opportunity to recollect old memories and to reflect on the bigger things in life.
When 2018 begins, I will remember 2017 as a mostly fantastic year, and I am coming in to the new year full of energy and a lot of motivation to continue my FIRE journey.
Financials: How did 2017 look in numbers?
2017 was my first year of saving and pursuing financial independence and early retirement, and I am loving it so far – and so is my net worth. I definitely had ups and downs with savings rates ranging from -3% (ugh…) to 66% (yay!).
But, the best is yet to come, and I’m ending the year on a high! In December, I got my yearly bonus of roughly 60,000 DKK (8,571 USD) after taxes together with my monthly salary meaning that I have a savings rate of 78% in December! My highest ever savings rate, but I guess it is not fair to compare with the remaining months where I don’t get a bonus.
My average savings rate for 2017 ended up at exactly 40%, which I consider a good savings rate, but I am striving towards an even higher one in 2018. Here’s an overview of this year’s savings rates:
MoneyMow savings rate over time (%)
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Let’s have a look at the development in my net worth from the beginning of 2017 until now:
My net worth including pension at the beginning of 2017 was 138,048 DKK (19,721 USD). During the year my net worth grew to 417,437 DKK (59,634 USD) – an increase of more than 200%.
As you can see from the figure above, my net worth is spread across different asset classes with pension and stock index investments being the largest. This year, I also added a house and cryptocurrencies to my investments.
With my new net worth, I am 9.3% of the way towards financial independence and early retirement, which I consider quite good for my first year of pursuing financial independence. The rate at which I will close in on the goal will hopefully only increase from here.
My take-home income for the year was 439,985 DKK (62,855 USD), and I managed to save 175,142 DKK (25,020 USD) resulting in the 40% average savings rate for 2017.
This also means that 63% of the increase in my net worth comes from savings and 37% comes from pension and return on investments.
Financials: How did my investments develop in 2017?
Nearly all of my asset classes yielded a positive return in 2017.
I invest through Mintos in peer-to-peer lending, which have yielded a steady return throughout 2017. I did not invest any additional funds in peer-to-peer lending in 2017. The return for 2017 ended at 12.2% before taxes (roughly 7.5% after taxes).
I started the year with only minor investments in stock indexes, but I have continuously increased my positions throughout the year. The return for 2017 ended at 12.2% before taxes (same as peer-to-peer lending).
I started investing in cryptocurrencies with limited knowledge about it all – and I still don’t know that much about it to be honest. I considered it a gamble like a lottery ticket and put a limited amount of money into it that I could survive losing. I have positions in Bitcoin, Ethereum and NEO, and so far it has been a great investment. The return for 2017 ended at a staggering 178.9% after taxes (!), since cryptocurrency gains are not taxable in Denmark – yet.
My pension is steadily increasing every month with employer-paid contributions. The pension has been invested in different ways, but is now invested in stock indexes that are similar to the ones I am investing in myself. Unfortunately, the return for 2017 ended at a disappointing -0.2%.
Blogging: Which posts were most popular in 2017?
I wrote 25+ posts on MoneyMow in 2017. I wrote fewer posts in the beginning of the year and a few more towards the end. I also published a few guest posts during the year.
The most popular posts of the year was:
- The 30 Fastest Growing Personal Finance Blogs Of 2017 – According To Data (10% of pageviews): I made a list of the fastest growing personal finance blogs by gathering data on the entire community through a few custom-made scrapers. Using data at different points in time, I could then see which blogs were growing the fastest. Most of the traffic came in the first few days since it was shared by many of the people in the PF sphere. I am planning a new list for the first months of 2018!
- Thoughts On Peer-To-Peer Lending: My Mintos Experience (4% of pageviews): I wrote an unbiased/unaffiliated review of my experience with using Mintos as a peer-to-peer lending platform. It was and still is a great experience!
- Financial Independence & Early Retirement Calculator: When can I retire? (3% of pageviews): Although not technically a post, I spent a lot of time coming up with my own preferred equation for early retirement and financial independence, and it seems like people like to use it.
- Why You Don’t Need Things – And A Few Things You Need (2% of pageviews): This was one of the first posts I wrote, and it was picked up by Steve at ThinkSaveRetire who shared it in his “Friday Feast”, which quickly gave it quite some traffic. It’s about how you should think about things and why you most likely don’t need many of your current things.
- How I Invest My Money: The Minimal Effort Investment Strategy (2% of pageviews): In this post, I showed how I invest my money. I have changed it slightly since then, so a version 2.0 is coming in the 2018.
It was a lot of fun to write those posts, so I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Blogging: How did key metrics develop on MoneyMow in 2017?
2017 was the first year online for MoneyMow, and I must admit that it has exceeded all expectations. Could I have spent more time writing posts? Yes. Could I have spent more time promoting the site? Yes. I could have done a lot of things to grow MoneyMow even faster. Despite this, I think the results have been overwhelming.
Visitors and pageviews on MoneyMow have been steadily increasing throughout the year, but especially in the second half of 2017 the traffic on the site has picked up:
I am still trying to push the site above 10,000 pageviews per month, but currently, I’m currently at a bit above 5,000 pageviews per month.
On social media, MoneyMow went from 0 to 504 followers on Twitter and from 0 to 1,427 likes on Facebook. An increasing amount of traffic comes from these channels too.
My newsletter grew from 0 to close to 100 subscribers during 2017.
Goals: Which goals do I have for 2018?
As all other personal finance bloggers, I will of course set some goals for 2018.
Before getting to the goals, I already know now that I will face a few financial challenges in the new year:
- I am getting married, and boy, you quickly discover that it is more expensive than you think. Even though it is a very low-key wedding, it will have an impact on my budget.
- My friends are increasingly earning and spending more money. I have to learn that it is OK not to keep up with them all the time.
- Just as in 2017, I expect to travel quite a bit, and I know from experience that this is one of the areas where I have difficulties staying within my budget.
With the awareness of those challenges, I have decided to pursue five goals for 2018.
Common for all of them is that they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). I only want to set realistic goals that I can measure.
I am going to make a half year update on the goals and potentially adjust them slightly up or down depending on the performance at that point in time. Here we go:
- Health: Meditate at least once per week and exercise at least twice per week to keep my mind and body healthy
- Mind: Read at least six new books in 2018 to become smarter
- Net worth: Grow my net worth above 750,000 DKK to progress towards financial independence and early retirement
- Savings rate: Strive for an average savings rate of at least 50%
- Traffic: Push MoneyMow above 10,000 page views per month to continue inspiring people about FIRE.
I will follow up on these goals as we progress through 2018. The five goals are my measurable goals, but of course, I also have other more intangible goals like being a super boyfriend/husband, son and friend.
These words conclude the first year of MoneyMow. I have been extremely positively surprised by how nice the personal finance community is. I have received a ton of positive comments, tweets and emails in the past year, and your support is a big motivation to continue the journey and continue writing on the blog. The personal finance community is very caring and supportive, and I hope to get to know even more of you in the coming year.
Thank you all for following my journey – I highly appreciate it!
Happy New Year to all of you – take care of yourselves and have a blast!