As someone who works with numbers for a living, I tend to enjoy using and creating spreadsheets. Years ago I created several spreadsheets to track and project our portfolio. At that time the FIRE movement didn’t exist, at least to us, and we didn’t have a firm number in place as a goal to work towards. All we knew was we were saving for a retirement that was based more on age than anything else. Remember our so called “advisor” had us pegged for a late 60’s or early 70’s for retirement.
I have kept track of our year end tally for every year since 2001. When I look back, I am amazed at how far we have come in 17 years. Especially because while we have always been pretty good at saving, it has never really been a high priority for us until now. The fact that we are close to passing into 7 figure territory on our portfolio goes to show that time is just important of a factor as the amount you save.
This is also a great working example of the power of compound interest and how things really take off when your money begins to work for you.
Ending portfolio balances since 2001:
2001 = $ 4,486.42
2002 = $ 13,581.17
2003 = $ 20,524.63
2004 = $ 64,570.85
2005 = $ 85,541.74
2006 = $ 245,964.78
2007 = $ 256,281.40
2008 = $ 210,095.94
2009 = $ 279,350.57
2010 = $ 342,349.80
2011 = $ 371,895.95
2012 = $ 446,833.24
2013 = $ 555,419.29
2014 = $ 716,364.23
2015 = $ 683,846.03
2016 = $ 755,072.95
2017 = $ 892,700.60
2018 = $ 831,479.42
As previously reported, we were the beneficiaries of some really good market timing and that really gave us a boost in 2006. However, to counter that fortunate timing, we also spent some hefty amounts of cash on homes, furnishings, cars, and of course, our RVs. All tolled, these purchases have been very significant and cost us upwards of $200k since 2006. And that’s just the down payments, never mind the monthly payments and interest that comes along with it. In fact, 2008 is the only year that our portfolio decreased because of market conditions. The other years are related to sizable purchases.
We can look at these purchases in hindsight and feel like they had a negative impact on our portfolio. I wouldn’t classify all of them in that manner for a couple of reasons.
First, our home purchase provided a great location for our family and a great school for our son. Our home has appreciated in value significantly and our equity has more than doubled in a relatively short period of time. In that respect, this was a worthwhile and profitable investment.
Next, our RV purchases haven’t been in vain. The first one was a bust, but it helped us confirm that RV life is what makes us happy. The purchase of our second RV is a long term investment in our future. It’s the home we will be living in for years to come; albeit a home that depreciates.
The other stuff like new cars and furniture are things that I would classify as frivolous and negatively impacting our portfolio. Much of this stuff was probably unnecessary. Now that our large purchase days are officially behind us, excluding college for our son, we will look to rebalance our lives by selling these items and gaining back some of what we lost.
Our stated goal is to have $1.5M in cash and investments which will allow us to live off $5k per month for the rest of our lives. The projection I put together at the end of 2018 had us achieving this goal sometime in 2025 or 6 years. Mrs. RVF and I both agree that 6 years is a timeframe we are not comfortable with. We are going to set a goal of 5 years maximum. This should be a very achievable goal as we cut back expenses and look to move into our RV once our son leaves for college. This move will allow us to pare down significantly and save a lot more money each month. We have already increased our savings rate from 10% to over 20% as of the end of May.
We will continue to look for ways to save so we can keep driving our savings rate higher. And while market conditions are always in a perpetual state of flux, we will continue to look for opportunities to take advantage of sell-offs to gain some long term advantage.
This was the first time in a few years that I took the time to go back and look at our financial history. It’s a great exercise to reflect and learn from mistakes of the past. It’s also a great time to look at everything that has been accomplished to this point of our lives.
Moreover, it’s great to know that we have a goal and the means to achieve it. If we can stick to our plan and hold ourselves accountable, we can start living our dream in just 5 years, if not sooner. That would be a great accomplishment!
What is your FI number and how do you track your progress? Leave a comment below with your methods and any ideas.