Wrapping Up 2016 Goals and Financial Updates

Wrapping Up 2016 Goals and Financial updatesWoohoo! It’s time to wrap up 2016 and usher in 2017. Happy New Year! Are you excited about 2017? Personally, I’m a bit nervous because the economy is doing too well. How long can this euphoria last? I really think the stock market will be quite volatile over the next few years. We’re staying invested for the long run so I just need to not pay attention to the stock market so much. Anyway, we might as well enjoy it while the good times roll.

2016 was a great year for us. The S&P 500 index gained about 10% and a rising tide lift all boats. The real estate market in Portland also did very well in 2016. Our finances look great as a result and I hope you had a good year as well. Okay, let’s see how I’m doing with my 2016 goals and then I’ll go over our cash flow for the year.

2016 Goals

Non Financial Goals

Improve Fitness (Pass!)

I got a Garmin Vivofit 2 for Christmas last year and I’m using it to track my activity level. It’s been a year and I liked keeping track of my general activity level. The device reminds me to keep moving and try to get out more. I had a terrible December, though. We had a few snow days and it’s just been really cold this month. Our activity level is way below normal.

Anyway, I did pretty well over the previous 11 months so I still accomplished my goal of exceeding 6,000 steps per day. Over the last 12 months, I walked almost 2,500,000 steps and that averages to 6,654 steps per day. Yes!

For 2017, I’ll set more fitness goals and try to be more active on a day to day basis. Maybe 7,000 steps per day would be an achievable goal next year.

Control my triglyceride level (Pass!)

I had my annual physical exam a few weeks ago and I was pretty nervous. My triglyceride level has been higher than normal this year. My doctor increased the dosage of my medication earlier this year, but my triglyceride level was still elevated (around 250). We also went to Thailand for 3 weeks in November and ate a ton of delicious food. I thought my test would come back with bad results for sure. However, I was wrong and got a good surprise for once. My triglyceride level is now about 100 and that’s acceptable. I think the big difference is that I began going to the gym regularly again when RB40Jr started kindergarten. We’ve also tried to eat healthier at home, but that was put on hold when we went to Thailand. Anyway, I’m very happy that my lab results are looking good. Whew!

Try 6 great restaurants (Pass!)

We completed this goal in October and we ate at a bunch of really great restaurants in Thailand. It’s been a fantastic gastronomic year for us. It was fun to try new restaurants too. If I didn’t have this goal, we’d probably stick with our old favorites. Next year, I need to set a few fun goals, too.

Take an extended trip to Thailand (Pass!)

We had a great vacation and you can read about our 3 week Thailand trip here.

Saving for this trip was made easy by Digit. Digit deducted a small amount from my account every few days and I didn’t notice the “stealth” saving at all. Check out my Digit review if you don’t know about them. We saved $7,608 in 2016 and I think Digit is an awesome way to save for a trip. The balance was more than enough to pay for our trip and we’ll have a bit left over to send to our Roth IRAs. Nice!

Attend a conference – (Pass!)

I went to FinCon in September! It was a great trip and I met many awesome bloggers. Next time, I will make an effort to talk to the brands more. All in all, it was a great trip. If you are a personal finance blogger, you must go at least once. FinCon will be in Dallas in 2017. I don’t think I’ll make it next year, though.

Visit a national park – (Pass!)

We went camping at Crater Lake in July. Crater Lake is a caldera lake which resulted from a volcanic eruption and subsequent collapse of the empty magma chamber. It is the deepest lake in the US and the deep blue color is breathtaking.

For 2017, I’d like to visit another national park so we’ll probably set the same goal.

Start a non-finance website – (Fail)

This one is getting punted to 2017… but I did have some practice writing about travel during our Thailand trip!

Financial Goals  

Invest $50,000 in our tax advantaged accounts (Pass!)

In 2016, we invested $56,100 in our tax advantaged accounts! Whoa, that’s a lot of money saved.

  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $18,000
  • Joe’s i401k: $22,500
  • Our Roth IRA: $11,000
  • RB40Jr’s 529 plan: $4,600

Maxing out your 401k and Roth IRA every year is the easiest way for an average Joe to become a millionaire. If you’re not contributing $18,000 to your 401k, then you should try to increase your contribution as much as you can in 2017.

Increase Dividends to $11,500 (Fail…)

This year, we received $10,789 in dividend income. That’s just a $200 increase from 2015 and it was quite a bit short of my goal. The main problem is that I sold off some stocks and haven’t invested the cash yet. I thought the stock market was too high and due for a big correction. In 2017, my main priority would be to invest the excess cash in good dividend growth stocks and increase our dividend income.

Surpass $50,000 in RB40 Junior’s 529 account (Pass!)

RB40Jr’s 529 did very well in 2016. It’s worth $54,225 at the end of the year. I’m planning to transfer this account to Vanguard in 2017 to take advantage of their low fees.

Increase Net worth by 3x risk free rate (Pass!)

The 10-year US government bond yields about 2% in 2016. So my target net worth increase for 2016 is 6%. The stock market started off slow in the first half, but really picked up steam after the election. The S&P 500 index gained about 10% in 2016 and our net worth benefited from that. Our net worth increased from about $2 million to $2.29 million this year. That’s almost 15% and it was way above expectations. It has been a really good year for investors.

The end of the year is a good time to check your target asset allocation as well. The US stock market has done very well this year and it might have thrown your asset allocation off track. We’re a bit heavy on the US stocks as you can see from this chart from Personal Capital. It’s probably a good idea to rebalance some money to international stocks at this point.

If you need help keeping track of your finances, try using Personal Capital to manage your investment accounts. We have many accounts and Personal Capital helps us see the big picture quickly. Also check out their awesome retirement calculator. You can read my review here – The Best Free Retirement Calculator.

2016 Cash Flow

Normally, I go over our monthly cash flow here, but this time I will just give a summary for December and go over the whole 2016 instead.

December summary

December worked out well for us. Our income was very good because Mrs. RB40 got a little bonus from work and my online income was good as well. The total income for December was $8,816 which is much higher than our average of about $5,500/month.

However, our expense was also higher than usual due to home maintenance. Also, Mrs. RB40 got a new pair of new glasses and nice glasses are not cheap. Lastly, Christmas was a bit more expensive than usual this year because we took the chance to replace some of our worn out household items and I splurged a bit on gifts. All in all, we spent $5,538 in December. This is also higher than our average of about $4,500/month.

Now, let’s go over the 2016 cash flow.

2016 cash flowTake Home Income (target > $5,000)

Our monthly take home income target was $5,000 per month and we came in just above that at $5,058 per month. There are areas that need improvement and I will work on it in 2017.

  • RB40’s paycheck: $70,626. She got a nice raise in 2016 and her steady income was very good for our household.
  • Rental income: $1,974. The rental income was not that great, but at least it wasn’t negative. I’m not sure if we will see much improvement in 2017. I raised the rent a bit, but we also have to repaint the exterior next year. There are just a lot of repair and maintenance on the duplex.
  • Online Income: $29,210. My online income decreased about 20% from the previous year. I’ll need to hustle harder next year and bring it back up. This will be one of my goals for 2017.
  • Dividend income: $10,789. Dividend income was pretty good, but we need to ramp it up more.
  • P2P lending: $456. This one was lower than I hoped. That’s why I’m slowly taking the money out of our P2P lending account. I’m planning to invest with RealtyShares next year because I think real estate lending is more secure than uncollateralized lending.
  • Misc income: $3,720. Miscellaneous income was pretty good in 2016. Most of this was from our tax refund.

Expense (target < $4,500)

Our monthly expense target was $4,500 per month and we were right on target. The challenge in 2017 is to keep it at this level. We live a very comfortable lifestyle and I don’t think we need to spend much more than this unless there is an emergency. I’ll just go over the average in this section.

  • Housing: $2,268/month. This includes the mortgage, HOA, and property tax. Housing is 50% of our expenses and that’s too much. We won’t be able to decrease this unless we move to a cheaper area, though.
  • Cash Allowance: $150/month. I’m using the credit cards much more now because we’re building travel reward points. The cash is mostly used by Mrs. RB40.
  • Groceries: $472/month. This is up about 20% from 2015. The grocery bill will probably continue to increase as our kid grows.
  • Transportation: $103/month. This is gasoline and car maintenance. I’m happy with this level of transportation expense. Our car should last many more years so I’m not budgeting for a replacement vehicle yet.
  • Pet: $24/month. The pet food is part of the grocery so this is mostly pet sitting when we’re out of town.
  • Child/Dependent: $307/month. Our kid expense is down a bit from 2015 and it should continue to decrease for a couple of years. This was mostly pre-school and clothes. Now that Junior goes to public school, we can use the money for lessons and extracurricular activities.
  • Bills: $247/month. Electricity and insurance (auto, home, term life, and umbrella).
  • Healthcare/Medical: $189/month.
  • Entertainment: $224/month. Gym membership fee, eating out, etc… We probably could improve in this category.
  • Misc: $523/month. Hmm.. There are just too many things in this category. I probably should break it out more.


Extra Savings: $6,623 in 2016 (in addition to the $56,100 in our tax-advantaged accounts.)

I had a higher number here in previous months, but I moved most of this to our tax-advantaged accounts. The $6,623 left will sit in our bank account for now to beef up our liquidity.

Can Mrs. RB40 retire?

This is a new section I’m adding for 2017. I want to see what happens if Mrs. RB40 stop working full-time. Basically, I will remove Mrs. RB40’s income from our spreadsheet and stop contributing to our tax-advantaged accounts.

Drum roll please … for 2016, Mrs. RB40 still would have to work.  Wah Wah Wah… 🙁

If I remove her income, then we’d had to come up with $7,904 from somewhere to cover our expenses. We could withdraw this from our savings or she could work part time to bring in about $650/month. I’d be fine with taking this from our retirement account because it’s just 0.4% of our net worth, way below the 4% safe withdrawal rate. If I can bring up my online income next year, it should look a lot better.

2016 Wrap Up

Overall, we had a great 2016. Our cash flow was pretty good and our net worth increased much more than expected. I also accomplished most of the New Year goals so that feel awesome. Life is good and I can’t wait for Mrs. RB40 to join me in early retirement. I’m pumped up and ready for 2017! There is a lot of work to be done and it will be an exciting year on all fronts.

Did you have a good 2016 and accomplished your goals? Are you ready for 2017?

Happy New Year!!! 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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53 thoughts on “Wrapping Up 2016 Goals and Financial Updates”

  1. Hey RB40,
    Looks like you did well with the majority of your 2016 goals. Well done! It’s tough timing the market and being on the sidelines with a cash horde. I’m in the same boat at this point and missing out on some juicy dividends.
    Take care,

  2. Sounds like 2016 was a great year for you and your family. Although I have to admit I was waiting for you to say that your wife was going to be joining your in retirement. Sounds like she’s super close though. Here’s hoping that 2018 she joins your in retirement 🙂

  3. Glad you had a good year. I just quit working, so I’m looking forward to 2017 as an early “retiree.”

    Your rental income was pretty low (although you obviously built equity). Do you think it was worth the hassle of managing and maintaining the property?

  4. Joe,
    Congratulations on your year of success. Some diverse goals, and lots of travel. Nice going! I’ve made some personal health goals too. My cholesterol has fluctuated a bit so I’m making some diet changes that I’m hoping will help. Tough though, so many temptations every day.
    Happy new year!

  5. Thanks for being so open an honest with your financials. I am very interested to see how others are doing with their financials too. I love to keep track of my own net worth and chart it anyway I can. All the best for 2017

  6. Great job! Especially getting the Triglycerides down to 100. That’s amazing. I am still working on it and exercising everyday and no red meat. Will be setting up appointment for blood test in January. I hope I can see similar results as yours. Wish me luck 🙂

  7. It feels to me that the “shortfall” (given the conditions) might be close enough for Mrs. RB40 to make the leap anyway.

    Taking a step back, I see:

    – Net worth of ~2.30 million. I know it’s never this simple, but rule of 4% on $2M is 80K a year… and you are very frugal.

    – An income source (online) that covers a large percentage of your expenses. You wouldn’t need to draw down much on that net worth.

    – Given your mortgage payment, your expenses could drop in half. I don’t know how many years you have left on it, but from following your blog it is probably far less than 30. What would your expenses be if you refinanced the remaining balance for 30 years?

    I’m not saying that you *should* declare that Mrs. RB40 can (or can’t) join you in early retirement. I’m simply suggesting that it *is* probably very possible depending on your risk tolerance and flexibility of underlying mathematical assumptions.

    • We talked a bit last night and she’s not quite ready to make the leap yet. She needs more security. I think once the healthcare policy has been worked out and our passive income increased, then she might be more receptive. Her job is still okay.
      Our mortgage is about $1,300/month. I think we have about 20 years left… I’m not sure. We probably won’t be here that long. Personally, I think she could retire and work part time. It would be less stressful for her and she will have more time to do the things she wants. Work just takes so much time.

  8. Were you fasting during your previous triglyceride tests? Makes a big difference, I think.

    We are going on a road trip to Seattle/Vancouver in January, would like to stop in Portland for a couple of days. What restaurants or kid activities would you recommend?

    Happy New Year!

    • Yes, I fasted. This is some kind of genetic problem. I’m not fat and I eat relatively healthy.
      Kid activities in January – I’d say OMSI and maybe the Children’s museum. Not too many things happening in the winter. Maybe go to play with the snow on Mt. Hood.
      Restaurants – ?. What kind of food do you like? 🙂

  9. That’s a great year with a lot of green! I look forward to reading your goals for next year. I also look forward to making some of my own. What, it’s December 29th?!? I’d better get to it.


  10. Joe, congrats on a great year! I am blown away but what you have accomplished both personally and financially. I love that Mrs. RB40 is so close to retirement. Aside from maxing out the 401K at $18,000 remember that after age 50 you can contribute an additional $6,000 annually. It is a ‘catch up contribution.’. Just one more thing I look forward to as 50 looms. Hope 2017 gets off to a good start for you and your family.

    • Thank you! We’ll keep that in mind, but I’m pretty sure we won’t have much earned income when we’re 50. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  11. What a great 2016 Joe! 56k into tax advantaged accounts and a 14% portfolio increase is nothing to sneeze at! That’s a pretty great year in my opinion!

    I haven’t tallied up my own numbers yet, but they should be fairly similar. Dividends will be higher for me (closer to $48k), but online income will be lower. 😉

    Happy New Year Joe!

    • Thanks! Next year I’ll keep a very close track of our passive income and do a monthly update. 2017 should be a good year. Happy New Year!

  12. Yes, glad to see you’re moving Jr’s. 529 $ into Vanguard for college. We never did 529’s tho, too pricey. Just remember to move $ earmarked for college out of stocks by high school. Too risky to lose. Also, financial aid is going to want more of savings in his name, compared to parents name. They take a higher %.
    Vanguard is great, they will write out a tuition check in your name or the school’s. Lots to learn before the time comes. Keep your fingers crossed for some free money=scholarships.
    You are too young to be worried about triglyceride levels. Well, perhaps not! Happy, healthy New Year!

    • Right now we have everything in stock. We’ll probably move to bonds when he gets to high school. We’ll see how it goes. My triglyceride level is not normal. Must be something in the genetic. I’m pretty healthy otherwise, though. Happy New Year!

  13. It looks like 2016 overall was a great one for you. I definitely think you could increase your online income by $7,904! 🙂 I can’t wait until she joins you in early retirement – that will definitely be awesome!

    2016 was great for us. We’ve been RVing all year full-time and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that! 🙂

    • I can’t wait either. Life will be so much better for everyone. I really need some help with the site too. You guys are living such a great life now. Happy New Year!

  14. Looks like a great year Joe. I wouldn’t worry too much about not hitting the dividend goal. Looks like we are in the same boat on that goal too. I got a Fitbit for Christmas so a few of my 2017 goals will be fitness focused. Got to stay healthy right? 🙂

    Happy new year!

    • I feel like I need to get the money invested, though. I don’t like sitting on the sideline while stock is shooting up like crazy. 😀 Yes, put some fitness goals in there!

  15. Wow, what a fantastic year you had, Joe!! I remember Mrs. RB40 wasn’t pushing to quit her job just yet since she still enjoyed working – is that still the case?

    Hopefully 2017 provides another great year for you and your family. Looking forward to your “non-finance” website to come out as well!

    — Jim

    • Thanks! Mrs. RB40 is thinking more about ER now. She is not quite ready to retire 2017, but maybe sooner than 2020. Happy New Year!

  16. Thanks for the detailed breakdown of your progress over the las 12 months. It’s really inspiring to see how you and your family have been able to gain ground. The best part for me too is that your goals are diversified across a lot of areas of life. I think that kind of well-rounded success is best for quality of life and it sounds like you’re benefiting.

    Also, the FitBit data is need – it’s cool how exercise is becoming so quantifiable. I’ve been using the Nike Running Club app to track my own fitness and it’s been a great help.

    • Thanks for the complement. 🙂 Yes, we need to have fun too. Life is not just about money. 2016 was a great year and I hope 2017 will be even better.

  17. Drum roll please….. hilarious! 🙂

    I’m pretty sure you can increase your online income by $8,000, or 25% in 2017 if you wrote more and optimized. I didn’t have much traffic growth at all in 2016, but I went deeper w/ a couple partnerships and did some consulting work that helped a lot. Hence, I’m bullish for 2017 on the online income from for all of us!

    It’s painful to draw down from principal. But, I’m sure she can retire if you guys really want. Then you’ll have ANOTHER writer!


    • I’m pretty sure we can grow our revenue more too. I have been a bit lax over the last 2 years. Next year I will really focus on income growth. That’s what I told her. I really need help with the site and she can do the redesign and all kind of things to improve it. Happy New Year!

  18. Well done Joe for meeting your financial and health goals. Keep pouring savings into dividend stocks and you should quickly get to having Mrs RB40 retire!

    What is your plan for the 529 account? For my kids, I stopped adding contributions once it reached $60,000. With your son so young, there is plenty of time for the value to grow, plus there are so many options for college (community, state, out of state, ivy league..). If he is as good as you with money, then he may be able to pay his way through scholarships.

    Good luck for 2017!

    • We’ll keep adding about $4,000/year to get the state tax deduction. I hope he can get some scholarship. That would help a lot. We can change the beneficiary on the plan so we could gift it to the younger generation if he doesn’t use it.

  19. It sounds like you had a pretty successful 2016! I need to start keeping track of my goals, but from what I can tell, we reached all of our financial goals for 2016, so that’s a win.

    I’m super jelly of your food costs. That’s our largest expense and we’re still fighting to get our budget as low as possible. Hopefully we can do that during January, which is our Uber Frugal Month.

    • Great job with your goals! We spent a ton on food in December because we didn’t eat out at all. We ate out way too much in Thailand. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  20. We hit the bulk of our financial goals this year, missed a few that have a smaller bottom line impact and punted them into 2017.

    Great work Joe – big increases in your net worth with a huge trip to Thailand as icing on the cake.

    Enjoy the new year!

  21. Great work on the goals this year Joe! I understand the frustration with the rental properties not bringing in what you hope and planning for more expenses (exterior painting). We always seem to get in a good place with all our units rented – and then a big expenditure comes up. Glad we get to watch the mortgage go down each month with others paying for it though! I’m considering one of those fitness trackers too. My son got one for his birthday in December and he is logging in his activity levels. It may be on the 50th birthday list this spring 😉 Happy New Year!

    • Repair and maintenance just cost so much on our duplex. But you’re right, it’s nice to see the mortgage go down and the property appreciate. 🙂 The fitness tracker is pretty cool. I really like the Vivofit. You don’t need to charge it so often like the other trackers.

  22. Congrats on the great results from the Triglyceride test! I’m sure working out more regularly the last couple months was a big plus.

    The real estate market has been pretty solid in Charlotte as well, although I don’t think quite as hot as Portland. Our investments are entirely in the stock market so we saw some pretty good gains in 2016 as well. Hopefully underlying economic growth picks up the next couple years to drive further gains in the stock market!

    Congrats on a great 2016!

    • Thanks! Great to hear from a finance professional that you’re bullish about the market. 🙂
      It seems like everything is going so well and people are starting to get exuberant.

  23. Congrats on a great 2016!

    “Personally, I’m a bit nervous because the economy is doing too well. How long can this euphoria last? I really think the stock market will be quite volatile over the next few years.”

    I am with you here. I feel like we are due for a correction of some sort, but I am trying to convince myself not to time the market because the research says I don’t know what I’m doing.

    • Timing the market didn’t work well for us in 2016. DCA would have worked better. Oh well… We’ll just keep averaging in with our 401k. It’s so much easier than trying to time the market.

  24. Joe – In previous posts, you mentioned that you were waiting toward the end of the year to make your Roth IRA contribution. When did you end up making that contribution? And did you end up investing it or leaving it as cash in your Roth IRA account, especially with the market being so high right now ?

    On a separate unrelated question, when Mrs RB40 retired, what do you plan to do for health insurance ? Is that factored in to your early retirement calculation?

    • Yes, I moved a lot of money into our 401k and Roth IRA over the last 2 months and just invest it. It’s not a huge percentage of our portfolio and it’s just easier to invest it right away. Looks to me like the stock market will keep climbing in 2017, but if it crashes that would be fine too. Who knows what’s going to happen.
      I just wrote a detailed post on health insurance that I’ll post next week. It looks like we’ll have to pay about $200/month with subsidy, or $650/month without discounts. Either case is manageable at this age, but I think it will increase as we get older. Health insurance is a tough issue.

  25. Awesome year-great job on hitting so many goals! And I agree that having only a $7k shortfall is great, and easily manageable with part-time work if that’s the route you wanted to take. I’ve done my assessment of most of my goals for the year, although the financial ones need to wait until the quarter closes and I get my statements. I’m looking forward to running the numbers next weekend! Here’s to a great 2017

  26. Joe, what a great year! To only need to make up ~ $7000 short if you remove Mrs’s income and contributions is such a manageable amount.

    And maybe your triglycerides are good BECAUSE of your trip to Thailand? ? Maybe wishful thinking.

    I haven’t gone over our annual round up yet, that’ll have to wait till next week but I share the feeling that the market is too exuberant right now and I’m not eager to push a lot of cash into it at the moment either. I’ll carry on with our usual contributions (401k, IRAs, 529) but I’m still holding back on the dividend portfolio. I may have to ask for a bit of your advice on that one of these days if you have twenty minutes to spare!

    • Thanks! I think we should be able to make up the short fall if I work smarter in 2017. There are just a bunch of stuff we need to do.
      The market is high, but it seems to keep getting higher. I think at this point, we need to keep averaging in via the 401k and IRAs. I’m also searching for good dividend stocks, but it’s tough to find a good deal.


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