Our Financial Independence Journey: 2019 End Of Year Update

Financial independence 2019 update

Happy New Year, friends!

I can’t believe we are now in the 20s. It’s amazing how time flies.

I hope you have all had a great start to the new year.

Like last year, it’s now time to wrap up 2019 with an end of year update.

It’s not only a new year. It’s also my third “blogoversary” with MoneyMow. This means I have now kept the blog alive for three years. This is my update number 36!

The year has had ups and downs, but mostly ups. When you look 12 months back, it’s incredible how much has happened. Our personal life, finances, career, and blog has had several changes.

Without further ado, let’s get to it:

Personal life: What happened in 2019?

2019 was yet another eventful year for us.

The highlights from 2019 were:

  • We became parents and saw our lovely daughter grow every day
  • I quit my job and started in a new job that is more aligned with family life
  • My wife has been on maternity leave for most of the year
  • We increased the income from this blog and as promised donated 20% of the profits to UNICEF (8,000 DKK/1,200 USD)
  • We attended some amazing weddings
  • We have held many nice gatherings for our friends and family (e.g. the christening of our daughter)
  • We traveled abroad for the first time as a family
  • I held my first public presentations on FIRE
  • MoneyMow blog traffic has increased by 100%
  • We have grown our net worth to nearly 3 million DKK (450,000 USD)
  • We have achieved a decent savings rate at 40% for the year

… and many more things I won’t bother you with.

For us, it’s been a crazy year. I thought 12 months was no time, but we have experienced more things than I thought looking back.

Financials: How are we tracking on our FI goal after 2019?

2019 has been the first year where I have felt the snowball starting to roll faster and faster.

Our net worth has increased steadily.

We have managed to keep a decent savings rate for most months.

Investment returns have been great across most assets.

My wife has been on (unpaid) maternity leave for parts of the year. This has had a very positive impact on our daughter’s well-being and development. But, it has also made an impact on our savings. The same will be the case for the beginning of 2020.

Getting a daughter has been a blessing, but it’s not free to bring a little kid into this world. This has also had an impact on our ability to save. You wouldn’t believe how many gadgets you can buy for a baby (or maybe you would)!

I changed my busy consultant job to a less busy job but managed to maintain my level of income. This means that my hourly wage increased substantially.

For early next year, I expect a bonus payment to add even more to our net worth.

Our average savings rate for the year ended at 40% (up from last year’s 29%). This is still below our target of at least 50%, but I’m satisfied with it given the circumstances of the year.

Our total combined net worth is now 2,941,346 DKK (452,515 USD), which is 28% higher than January last year (2,293,255 DKK/352,808 USD). We were so close to breaching the 3,000,000 DKK mark, but that will have to wait for 2020.

In total, we have added 648,091 DKK (96,886 USD) to our net worth this year. I am damn proud of this!

Of this total amount, 201,644 DKK (30,136 USD) comes from savings. 142,393 DKK (21,279 USD) comes from paying off our housing loans. 80,715 DKK (12,061 USD) comes from pension contributions.

The remaining 223,339 DKK (33,375 USD) are investment returns. A quarter-million DKK in investment returns! That’s cool. The average Dane brings home a bit more than 200,000 DKK per year. This means we now have annual investment returns equal to the average Dane’s yearly income after tax. I know the markets have been good this year, but it’s very motivating.

At the end of 2019, our liquid assets make up 31% of our total assets with a value of 904,405 DKK (139,139 USD).

Illiquid assets make up 69% of our total assets with a value of 2,036,941 DKK (313,375 USD).

Investments in 2019 were very good compared to 2018!

Stock returns ended at a whopping 23.4% before tax. Last year this figure was -2.6%. This is our best year investing in stocks so far.

Pension returns followed the stock returns and ended at a 19.8% increase for the year.

Real estate prices have been flat for the second year in a row yielding exactly 0% in value increase. The only increase here came from paying off the principal on our loan.

Bond return was flat at 0%. I know I shouldn’t act based on this, but bonds have been such a boring investment. Because of this, I have decided to go 100% in stocks in 2020. More about this in a separate post soon.

Crowdlending increased by 11.5%. Last year, it was my best investment with 12.2% in return. I still invest in several P2P lending sites and consider to invest in more in 2020.

Cryptocurrencies was once again a disappointment with 2.0% in return. It’s only a fraction of my net worth, so I don’t care about it anymore.

Last year I read analyses for 2019 saying that the year was expected to be a disappointment on the stock markets. This turned out to be completely wrong. This year, most analyses I have read say 2020 could become a great year like 2019. Should I be worried now? 🙂

For the full year, we have made progress on our three different financial independence goals:

For the first goal, we reached 62.8% (up from 36.0% last year). This means we soon have three years’ expenses in savings (liquid assets).

For the second goal, we are 41.6% (27.2% last year) of the way towards reaching our optimistic financial independence goal.

For the third goal, we are 10.7% (7.0% last year) of the way towards reaching traditional financial independence.

Overall, I’m very happy with the progress this year financially. As I said at the start of this post, this is the first year I experience the snowball catching up speed.

Blogging: How did income and key metrics develop on MoneyMow?

MoneyMow broke all records again this year.

I would have liked to be more active, but you guys have still read my content. I am extremely grateful for this.

This blog gives me lots of energy. I love hearing from you guys in the comments and on e-mail. It also gives some cool public speaking and interview opportunities.

The blog profits for 2019 ended at approximately 40,000 DKK (6,000 USD) of which I have donated 8,000 DKK (1,200 USD) to UNICEF:

I donate 20% of my blog profits to a charity each year. Last year was Save The Children.

This year, I decided to donate to UNICEF because they also help children all over the world. Children are the future of this world. UNICEF focus on health and education (amongst other things). Part of the solution to many of the world’s problems is through education of people all over the world. You will see MoneyMow being part of the UNICEF company donors on this list soon.

Using the profits from this blog to help other people makes so much sense to me. It’s another motivation to keep the blog alive.

The large improvement in key blog metrics for 2019 was surprising to me:

  • Visitors: Number of visitors were 138,795 up with 133% compared to 2018
  • Page views: Page views were 202,464 up with 75% compared to 2018
  • Newsletter: Number of people following my newsletter reached 366 subscribers up from 228 last year

I am very proud of this development. It’s not only surprising to me, but the fact that my posts were shown more than 200,000 times in 2019 is mind-blowing.

I owe you all a big THANK YOU for being part of our journey. It’s a lot of fun to hear from you.

I enjoy the positive and challenging comments. Promise me to stay connected in 2020.

It’s no fun without you 🙂

Onwards,
Carl

8 comments

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8 comments

Nick @ Total Balance January 3, 2020 - 14:01

Congrats on the nice snowball there! And your savings rate is quite impressive, still 😉 I’m sure 2020 will be even better! (I myself is very curious to see how the stock market is going to react. I’ve read those analyses too, which says that historically the year after such a great year typically follow the trend upward). I’m tempted to allocate more of my pension towards stocks too – but 100% is daring!!! 😛 but I think leaving the bonds isn’t such a bad move, given their weak yield 😉

I’m curious how this public speaking endeavor is going to work – what about the anonymity? 🙂

Reply
Carl Jensen January 5, 2020 - 16:48

Thanks a lot, Nick! I know 100% is daring, but I’m in this for the long run, so I’m 50% hoping for a great year and 50% hoping for a financial crisis (except the negative human consequences a crisis has) to get stocks at a discount 🙂

I actually don’t mind speaking publicly with my real name. It’s not really a secret I am pursuing financial independence, but I still prefer that not everyone I know follows the blog and reads about my income. I was considering going public, but I just felt it would be more of a hassle than it would be nice because I would have to explain and talk about it all the time.

Reply
Omar January 20, 2020 - 22:32

Hello Carl ! It is always nice to read you. I have a question: You say that ” I’m 50% hoping for a great year and 50% hoping for a financial crisis … to get stocks at a discount” which sounds very reasonable, specially with all these “all time highs”
on the S&P500 and so on… At the same time, I also saw that you have (just) the 1% in cash, meaning that in the moment of an eventual crisis you could not benefit that much of the discounts, right? 🙂 I’m about (just) 1,5% and I completely thing that it would not be enough 😀 What do you think? How could you get some stocks at a Black Friday price? 😀 Maybe selling the 3% that you have in crowdlending? Thanks for the feedback.

Reply
Carl Jensen January 21, 2020 - 16:59

I’m not really planning on timing the market – I have made horrible mistakes doing that previously 😉 Instead, I just plan to keep on investing relatively high amounts each month if a crisis hits.

Reply
Carles January 3, 2020 - 09:13

Happy New Year!!

Looking forward to more and more posts! It’s always very nice to hear you!

Cheers,

Reply
Carl Jensen January 3, 2020 - 13:41

Happy New Year to you too, Carles. Thanks for following our journey in 2019! 🙂

Reply
Thriving Willow January 2, 2020 - 22:09

Thanks for the 2019 update, Moneymow. Enjoyable reading about the amazing progress you have had this year. Amazing net worth increase by 600k+. Snowball effect, here we come!

Looking forward to reading more in 2020. Gz on the little one.

Reply
Carl Jensen January 3, 2020 - 13:40

Thank you so much for the kind words and for being part of the journey, Thriving Willow.

I’m looking forward to following your journey in 2020 too!

Reply

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