My Financial Independence Journey: Monthly Update #14 (February 2018)

Early retirement and financial independence

Friends,

I hope you have had a great start on 2018.

My January was quite busy with work, but I managed to write a few blogs posts and I also had time to read great articles on other personal finance blogs. There’s a lot of good stuff out there!

The biggest surprise of the month came when one of my posts was nominated for the best money post of 2017 in the Rockstar Finance rumble. My post will be competing against an article from the legendary Physician on Fire in the coming weeks.

Personal life: What happened in January?

January was a busy month at work. I was staffed on a quite busy case with a relatively demanding client. I normally try to limit my working hours, but it just was not possible this month. I can really feel it on my mood in a negative way when I feel pressured into working a lot of hours. I guess it is a great motivation to achieve financial independence as quickly as possible 🙂

I am still trying to learn new things on the side of my job. I have started programming a bit for fun and also still spend time on playing the guitar.

Additionally, I have signed up for Steve from ThinkSaveRetire’s course on how to become successful with a blog, which I am looking very much forward to.

Financials: How am I tracking on my early retirement goal?

First savings rate of the new year falls a bit below expectations, but it is still in an acceptable range.

In January, I managed to get a savings rate of 32% (actually, it was 37%, but I am no longer including my emergency savings in my total net worth, so I am writing off the amount in this month and the next). I consider it an acceptable savings rate. However, I would like to push my savings rate above 50% this year, and we are still relatively far from that.

I feel like achieving a 50% savings rate will be a bit of struggle this year due to having relatively high fixed monthly costs (especially with a wedding coming up this summer). At the moment, I feel a bit like this in terms of my savings rate:

The wedding is already much more expensive than I had hoped, so I definitely expect a few months with disastrous savings rates.

MoneyMow savings rate over time (%)

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My take-home income was 32,741 DKK (4,677 USD) and I managed to save 10,313 DKK (1,473 USD) resulting in the 32% savings rate.

As you can see, my January savings rate is a bit below my 12-month rolling average of roughly a 40% savings rate.

This month, I will start visualizing my net worth better using graphs rather than just text and tables.

Let’s have a look at the numbers:

My total assets including pension of 459,325 DKK (65,618 USD) was an increase of +10% up from last month.

I am 10.2% of the way towards my early retirement goal of a net worth of approximately 4,500,000 DKK (642,857 USD) up from 9.3% last month.

Next month, I am expecting a further increase in my net worth due to yearly dividends being paid out.

In the graph above, I have also shown the investment returns for peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies, stock indexes and pension (cash and home equity do not generate investment returns and are therefore not available)

As you can see, all of my investments grew in January.

Stock indexes grew steadily by 1.0% despite EUR appreciating against the USD that normally impacts my investments negatively.

Peer-to-peer lending investment is once again increasing with steady returns showing an increase of +1.0% again this month. I have invested a bit more in peer-to-peer lending at Mintos at the beginning of this month. I want it to make up roughly 15% of my non-pension investments.

Pension is the worst performing investment, but still satisfactorily delivers 0.6% this month.

Cryptocurrencies had yet another absolutely insane month with several crashes and rises. I am waking up every day expecting to have lost it all, but as you can see, my cryptocurrency portfolio is still performing really well with a monthly return at 38.1% for January. Cryptocurrencies are becoming a bigger share of my net worth at close to 20%, which I believe is a bit too much, but I’ll stay in for a bit longer and then start withdrawing some cash to rebalance the risk a bit.

Blogging: How did key metrics develop on MoneyMow?

This month, the blog grew quite a lot once again, and I am thrilled that it keeps growing each month:

  • Visitors: Visitors are still in four figures and increased with 31%
  • Page views: Page views are getting closer to 10,000 per month, and increased with 27% in January
  • Facebook likes: Facebook likes are at 1,601 up from 1,427 last month
  • Twitter followers: Twitter followers are at 670 compared to 504 last month
  • Newsletter growth: The number of people following my newsletter continued rising this month with 24%

I am still very happy with the growth, and I hope to keep it coming, but I have also noticed a slowdown in the growth in the first few days of February. I hope that I’ll have enough time this month to push it further!

Focus areas for the previous and coming month

In my yearly 2017 update, I decided to pursue five objectives related to health, mind, net worth, savings rate and traffic. During this year, I will follow up on how I am progressing on these:

  1. Health: I set out to meditate at least once per week and exercise at least twice per week. I have managed to exercise twice per week, but I have not managed to meditate once per week.
  2. Mind: I have set out to read six new books in 2018. I have a vacation coming up in a few days where I expect to read at least two of them, so I expect to move on this point despite having not moved yet.
  3. Net worth: I expect to grow my net worth above 750,000 DKK this year, and I believe I am tracking fairly well towards that goal.
  4. Savings rate: I strive for an average savings rate of at least 50% – let’s just agree that I am not quite there yet 🙂
  5. Traffic: I have to write a weekly post and push MoneyMow above 10,000 page views. So far, I have managed to write weekly, and I am also on track to reaching 10,000 monthly page views.

For February, there’s a few things I want to succeed in:

  1. I would love to get close to 50% in savings rate, but as I am going on vacation for two weeks in the beginning of February, I do not necessarily expect this to hold – a key goal will be to keep the vacation costs relatively low
  2. I want to keep the good track record of working out twice weekly
  3. I want to keep on writing weekly articles and do my best to push the site above 10,000 page views

Favorite posts of the month

As tradition has it, I like to point a few good personal finance posts that have inspired me during the month out:

  • Talk about Finance wrote a great post about single stocks vs. index funds, which made me think about my own strategy. I’m sticking with my index funds for now, but nonetheless interesting perspective.
  • Mrs Smelling Freedom wrote a great post about whether or not you should invest in Bitcoin. I invest in it with the expectation of losing it all, but I still highly with the points she makes.
  • Ten Factorial Rocks wrote a great post about net worth bias. I like his point about not focusing too much on net worth. Firstly, because it can seem discouraging to see the high net worth numbers of other bloggers that you might never be able to “compete” with – but also because the net worth numbers on e.g. Rockstar Finance are highly skewed towards a certain group of bloggers that are not representative of the general (world) population.

That’s it for the month of January.

As always, please make sure to let me know if you have any questions or comments for my blog.

Thanks for following – and have a great February!

Onwards,
Carl

6 comments

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6 comments

PiggyBanki February 26, 2018 - 17:45

Congratulations, a 10% increase is definitely a success!
I also have in mind a relatively low amount to be considered FI (around EUR 750k for me and my family) but many people say it is too low. How do you justify your “low”amount (650k USD?)? Are you planning to live in Denmark? I am just curious 🙂
Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Carl @ MoneyMow February 27, 2018 - 23:25

Thanks a lot, PiggyBanki!

I am planning to live in Denmark – at least a large part of the year – but I also expect to take advantage of spending time in low-cost countries a part of the year.

For me, 700k USD would be more than enough assuming the markets continue with the historical returns. However, I don’t expect to retire 100%, so I will most likely always have some sort of income anyway (e.g. from this blog).

Where do you expect to live? 🙂

Reply
Mrs Smelling Freedom February 12, 2018 - 19:31

Hi there!
thanks for the mention 🙂
I have to say you clearly had a successful month. A 10% growth in net worth is a great achievement, and your traffic growth is pretty impressive. well done
Mrs SF

Reply
Carl @ MoneyMow February 14, 2018 - 11:46

Thanks a lot Mrs. SF! I’m trying my best, but I would wish I could dedicate even more time to growing the blog. It also seems like you have good growth on your blog – I really like the way you do your monthly reports with the clear goals and smileys. Looking forward to following you in the future!

Reply
Quynh February 6, 2018 - 22:59

Are you able to do travel hacking in Denmark to help offset the travel costs? My husband and I use miles and points from credit cards to lower our travel expenses.

Reply
Carl @ MoneyMow February 7, 2018 - 10:06

I am only able to do limited travel hacking, since we Denmark doesn’t have the same credit card system as many countries abroad. We only have a few credit cards with points to choose from and the points’ usage is limited to a few options.

However, I get a lot of miles from traveling with work, and I do spend those on hotels mostly, so that’s the only travel hacking I do 🙂

Reply

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