Early Retirement Journey Fall 2018 Investing Updates and Reports

Single Girl Money | Dec 2018 Savings and Investment Update

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I ain’t got no friends, so I thought I might as well post this now. In case you’re just joining us, here’s a little bit about me.  I am a single 30-something, openly Christian, hesitantly immigrant-y, human woman. I love watching TV while eating takeout, and I want to retire early. I currently work as a consultant in a tele-health call center making around $40/hr. I started my professional life in 2015 at the ripe ole age of 31 after a few false starts. I spent 2016 paying off about $10,000 worth of credit card debt. I spent 2017 paying off about $20,000 in private student loans; I still have about $300,000 in federal student loans for which I am currently on an income-based repayment plan for the next 25 years, give or take.  I started really getting into savings and investing late 2017 when I stumbled upon the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community.  In 2018, I made the decision to try to save for a sabbatical and maybe if all goes well continue the journey to early retirement.  Along this journey, I give all sorts of updates, just like this one.

This is the December 2018 Update of my savings and investments balances, i.e. my personal capital. I don’t call it net worth because my massive student loan debt keeps me at a negative net worth and frankly that’s discouraging.

I am getting a little faster at Excel, so this update did not take quite as long to chart as my September 2018 Savings and Investment Update.  We’ll utilize a similar structure here as well. Let’s get into it!

Let’s quickly recall some budget items:

2018 Savings goal: $37,000/yr (2017: no goal)
Monthly savings contributions: $3115/mon


My projected investment goal for the end of 2018 was $90,200. I contributed as planned, but I lost a significant chunk of my contributions as of 12/20/2018. It kind of sucked honestly, and it made me doubt this investing thing. I had been planning to update my stock allocation since my first quarter update, but since it was doing well, I didn’t feel as compelled. Once I saw the loss, I got a little more motivated. This is NOT what you are supposed to do, but I did. My brokerage’s advice blog said not to react emotionally to market fluctuations, but if you do, then do half of what you want to do. I heeded that advice. Both my 401k and brokerage accounts were allocated at 90/10 stock/bond. I changed my brokerage to the recommended 68/32 allocation (based on an early retirement age of 42).

That being said, you’ll notice the dip in my investment balance.

Total Investment Balance: $83,815

Investment Losses – $10,000

It’s been a hard pill to swallow. By my calculations, I’ve lost about $10,000 in four months. This is a lot considering I just started and it seems as though people with much larger investment portfolios haven’t lost as much proportionally.

Investment Balance (08/30/18): $83,981

Contributions (Sep to Dec 2018): $9,956  (not including employer contributions)

Investment Balance (12/20/18): $83,815

Savings and Investments

When you add in my Safety Net Fund + Regular Savings and Checking, my savings and investment balance is bumped up a bit.

Total Savings and Investments: $120,285


My savings goal was $37,000 this year, I did contribute at least that much, but because of market losses, that is not necessarily reflected in the end of year balance.

For some perspective, here’s how far I’ve come.

Dec 2017 (investments only): $51,333

Dec 2018 (investments only): $83,815

Difference: $32,482 (contributions of at least $37,401)

This is actually a little bit less than where I was at my September 2018 update. Womp, womp. I still have about $5,000 in savings that need to be transferred to my investment account, but I’m holding on to it for now until I get used to the loss. And as I have all year, I still have about 1 year of expenses as a safety net, in case of job loss or if I lose my mind and make a run for it!

So that was 2018, my first year in FIRE, my first year blogging about FIRE and my first year with a defined savings goal. How did your 2018 go?

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  1. Hey great post as always.
    I am all about retiring early and I’m currently making plans for it myself.
    What age would you like to retire?

    1. Funny you should ask… I’d like to retire by 35 (my next birthday in the spring). 🙂 If I am able to save as I have done 2 of the last 3 years, I might be able to FIRE when I’m 42. With just maxing out my 401k, I could do it by 50. What about you?

  2. That’s a great goal. I’ve been working on early retirement also and since I’ve switched over to thinking of my blog as a business instead of a hobby, I know that I’ll be earning a full time income from it instead of working for someone else. And because I love it so much, it doesn’t feel like work.

    1. You certainly have the confidence. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

  3. You definitely have the skills and talent to do the same. Looking forward to your progress also.

    1. Mmm, thanks I don’t know about that though.

      1. You have the skill. What you lack is the confidence.
        Also you’re a great writer and your blog is very good. Could generate a livable income.

        1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I, unlike the stock market, like to use past history to inform future decisions. I have made $0 in 10 months!

          1. Chris says:

            Hey MERJ,
            Don’t look at the stock market dip last year as “making $0 in 10 months.” You maxed out your 401(k), which is awesome. You may cheer up if you make a similar bar graph, but instead of showing your portfolio value, show the number of shares you owned throughout the year. This graph will steadily climb throughout 2018, and then climb even more in December when the shares went on sale! That’s another way to look at it. When the market goes down, you don’t lose shares. But you can suddenly buy more of them with your same 401(k) contribution amount for that pay period, and that’s what you ultimately want – tons and tons of shares! Also, dividends are steadily paid out even if the share price dips. Be proud of your achievements last year. The 401(k) is arguably the best first choice to sock money away for retirement, and you took full advantage of that. That snowball is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger as you move towards your retirement. And every now and then there’s a sale!

          2. Thanks, Chris! I really appreciate the feedback. I didn’t think of it that way. And you’re right, now that there’s some distance between what I saw as a loss, it is awesome that I was able to max out my 401k!!! How did I forget that?!

  4. The only thing holding you back is your self doubt. Keep learning new skills and you’ll make it to wherever you want to be.
    Would you like to make income from your blog if it was possible?

    1. Would I like to earn income from all the blood sweat and tears I pour into this blog? 100% Yes. Am I willing to do more than I’m already doing? Doubtful.

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