Our Financial Independence Journey: End Of Year Update 2018

End of year update

Happy New Year!

I hope you have had a great start to 2019.

It’s time to wrap up 2018 on MoneyMow with an end of year update.

This post marks my two year “blogoversary” with MoneyMow, which means I have now been blogging (relatively) consistently for more than two years. Time flies!

I always find it interesting looking back one year because when you live day to day you don’t realize how much actually happens during a year.

Writing this post was a great exercise in zooming out to look at the big picture and seeing the progress we are making in our financial independence journey.

Personal life: What happened in 2018?

2018 was a really eventful year for us.

If you had asked me twelve months ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would be writing these things now.

In 2018…

  • We got married surrounded by all our friends and family
  • We found out we are expecting a baby next year
  • We decided to go on a mini-retirement, which we are currently on and enjoying to the fullest
  • We were both promoted and got significant salary increases of 20-30%
  • We spent time with friends at different festivals, weddings, travels and other great occasions
  • Our financial independence story was featured in one of Norway’s largest newspapers, Dagens Næringsliv
  • We worked more than we would ideally like to, but we see it as an investment for now
  • The number of people following our journey on this blog increased dramatically with more than 100,000 pageviews in total
  • I started making some money on this blog and donated 20% of the profits to Save The Children

These are the highlights of our 2018 and we feel so lucky to have experienced all of this in one single year.

We know getting a baby in 2019 will probably turn our world upside-down, so we have been really happy to get married and take a mini-retirement before our lives change dramatically.

Financials: How are we tracking on our FI goal?

2018 has been a rollercoaster financially.

Our wedding and mini-retirement have both slowed our progress towards financial independence. However, looking back, we don’t regret any of it. Our memories from the wedding will last a lifetime and we are currently enjoying every second of our mini-retirement as young adults without kids, which we will never experience again.

Poor investment returns from our stock index investments didn’t really add positively to this.

On the other hand, we both got significant salary increases and a great bonus payout, which means it looks more positive than it could have.

We decided to combine our finances in October, which means that we now share everything and instead of tracking my net worth, we are now tracking our net worth.

Our average savings rate for the year ended at 29% (with December at 31%). This is obviously below 50%, which we would like it to be as a minimum. The biggest reasons for this was the lack of salary during our mini-retirement and wedding expenses. Both of these will be gone in the new year (and yes, a baby costs money, but not as much as a wedding or a mini-retirement 🙂 ).

MoneyMow savings rate over time (%)

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Our total combined net worth is 2,293,255 DKK (352,808 USD), which is 6.4% higher than January last year. In total we have added 138,000 DKK (21,000 USD) to our net worth this year. I would expect this to have been 200,000 DKK (33,000 USD) higher without our wedding and mini-retirement.

Liquid assets make up 22% of our total assets with a value of 518,786 DKK (79,813 USD).

Illiquid assets make up 78% of our total assets with a value of 1,774,469 DKK (272,995 USD).

Investments in 2018 were not as good as previous years and definitely also contributed to slower growth in our net worth.

Real estate prices remained relatively flat in our area, so the only increases in real estate net worth came from paying off the principal on our loan.

Pension investment returns decreased with -6.0% for the year, which is quite disappointing.

Stock investment return similarly decreased with -2.6% for the year with the last positive returns being wiped out in December’s crashes.

Bond investment return was flat at 0% since we just started investing in bonds recently.

Crowdlending was the best investment of the year with a return of 12.2%. I now invest in multiple P2P lending platforms and see similar returns on them all.

Cryptocurrencies was the worst “investment” of the year decreasing with -83.1%.  Luckily, I invested early a few years ago, so I have not lost a lot compared to my initial investment.

I know people say we will not see markets skyrocket in 2019, but I continuously tell myself that it is all about time in the market and not timing the market. I am therefore continuing to buy up shares each month.

In 2018, we also introduced our three different financial independence goals. This is our progress so far:

For the first goal, we are 36.0% of the way towards having three years’ expenses in savings with 518,786 DKK (79,813 USD) in liquid assets down from progress of 36.2% last month.

For the second and third goal, we are 27.2% (27.3% last month) of the way towards reaching our optimistic financial independence goal and 7.0% (same last month) of the way towards reaching traditional financial independence with 760,972 DKK (117,073 USD) in FI savings including 15% realized real estate equity.

Overall, we have progressed well on our three goals in 2018, but I hope that with more steady cash flow and fewer large expenses that we can improve this in 2019.

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

Looking at the numbers for MoneyMow going one year back, I have been positively surprised about how much have happened.

One of my posts was shared for the first time ever on Rockstar Finance in October (nearly crashing site) and our story was shared in Dagens Næringsliv in December (one of Norway’s largest newspapers – and nearly crashing the site again). Both experiences were fun, but also terrifying knowing how many people our story reached.

My revenue on the blog for 2018 was approximately 26,404 DKK (4,062 USD):

  • Affiliate programs: 12,269 DKK (1,887 USD)
  • Sponsored posts: 13,255 DKK (2,039 USD)
  • AdSense: 880 DKK (135 USD)

I was quite surprised by this number as it is much more than I ever thought I would be able to make blogging – and making money was never the purpose of the blog to begin with.

If I can make that amount with a few posts per week, I am wondering whether I could turn it into a full-time hustle.

The costs of running the blog amounted to 16,803 DKK (2,585 USD) and was spent on hosting, Facebook ads, editing, WordPress plugins and other SaaS products.

As you know, I donate 20% of my blog profits to charity, so on 28 December, I donated 2,000 DKK (308 USD) to Save The Children:

Being able to use the blog to donate to charity felt amazing! The rest of the profits will be spent on developing MoneyMow further next year.

The other blog metrics for 2018 surprised me positively:

  • Visitors: Number of visitors were 41,344 up with 553% compared to 2017
  • Pageviews: Pageviews were 115,764 up with 391% compared to 2017
  • Facebook likes: Facebook likes are at 2,942 up from 1,491 last year
  • Twitter followers: Twitter followers are at 931 up from roughly half last year
  • Newsletter growth: The number of people following my newsletter reached 228 subscribers up from 55 last year

I am really proud of those numbers and super thankful for all the support I have received.

Can you believe that pages on my blog were viewed more than one hundred thousand times last year? Or that more than forty thousand unique people have been on my site? I never imagined this little blog would get to numbers like that! 🙂

I have loved hearing from readers in 2018 who have said kind words, helped me find bugs on the site, challenged me and added lots of value in the comments. I hope you’ll continue doing that next year.

Thank you all for following my journey in 2018 – I hope you will have an amazing 2019!

Onwards,
Carl

6 comments

6 comments

Naresh January 20, 2019 - 04:00

Sounds interesting

Reply
Carl Jensen January 22, 2019 - 18:09

Thanks 🙂

Reply
Mikael January 3, 2019 - 08:30

Happy new Year, Carl!
So exciting stuff. Your blog is the perfect example of how I think FIRE should be reached – The journey is just as important and the mini-retirement is more worth the money, you could have added to your net worth. The same goes for the baby 🙂
Life is treating you good according to the blog. Hope 2019 will live up to this as well.
Best wishes.
Mikael

Reply
Carl January 3, 2019 - 09:43

Happy New Year, Mikael! 🙂

I’m happy to hear you like our approach. Being on the mini-retirement right now, it still makes so much sense to us. We have time to ponder what we want to do in life, prepare our new life as parents and also try out how an FI lifestyle is like when you only do what you want to do every day (and there’s both good and bad aspects of this, which I’ll write about later).

I hope you have had a good 2018 and wish you all the best for the year to come.

Best wishes,
Carl

Reply
Nick @ TotalBalance.blog January 2, 2019 - 10:22

Congrats on the yearly growth, and your savings rate isn’t half bad, considering your (crazy) money “spending spree” in 2018 😛

Looking forward to seeing your monetization progress. I have to admit, I’m not too fond of the highly monetized blogs, so be careful there 😉

I got a total of 539 visitors in 2018! HAHA! Got a little ways to go there, but I’m just glad to get a few weekly/monthly readers.

Just curious – how do you track your site “almost going down”? 😉

Happy new year!

Reply
Carl January 2, 2019 - 14:56

Thanks, Nick! 😉 No, I guess it’s alright. I’ll do my best not to make it “too monetized”, but I am also intrigued by the possibilities of potentially quitting work earlier and focus on the blog instead.

539 visitors is a great start! I didn’t have as many in my first months of blogging.

I’m not tracking it directly, but I got warning messages from my hosting provider on those days because I exceeded the pressure on the servers they allow – the consequence can be that they slow my site down to nearly-impossible-to-load or kill some features as far as I understand. I might have to upgrade to a better hosting account during 2019 in general 🙂

Reply

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