Year End Wrap-up: Debt, Income, and 2017

 

One of my favorite times of year is the end of the year. I get to sit down and look at my numbers, appreciate my gains and rue my losses, and I get a shiny new spreadsheet to do it all again next year! So without further ado I’m going to break down my overall finances beginning with my least favorite part, debt.

Debt: Going Down

2016 led me to the realization that I am in a ton of debt. 2015 was expensive, to the tune of over $10,000 in credit card debt alone. On top of that I finally wrapped my head around the fact that all of the other debt besides the mortgage is debt that needs to be dealt with immediately rather than letting loans play out to their maximum length.

To be honest I don’t have good numbers for the beginning of the year because I wasn’t tracking everything as closely as I am now. What I can say is that all told I was probably in a little over $70,000 in debt. Once I actually started tracking it and formulated a plan that number started to drop. I’m now carrying less than $58,000. That is a huge swing for one year. I’m still trying to eliminate the remainder of the credit card debt and I expect tax return season to finish that off. I’m looking forward to pressing the advantage and eliminating as much debt as possible in 2017.

Investments: All Wins, No Losses

This year’s investments have all gone well and this is the first year that I will be able to post $0 in realized losses which is exactly what I like to see as I’m fairly risk averse. That said I’ve diverted almost all of my available funds to paying down the debt.

Lending Club: +6%

Lending Club has done very well. I started using their automated investing tool and increased my risk by accepting a small amount of more risky loans. I have had some defaults but overall it is producing very nice results.

 Betterment: +6%

Betterment has been mostly flat all year until the elections after which we have seen a run up on the stock market. As a larger buy and hold part of my portfolio I expect it to fluctuate but steadily gain over the long term. I also harvested my first tax-loss in the account which will save me money on my taxes this year.

Options: +9%

My stock options strategy was my star for this year. The mostly flat market allowed me to run options all year long at little risk. This is also the first year that I ran options solely on [SPY]. We will see what the market hands us but so far this has been a great investment with further potential. I even pulled some dividends and those shares have appreciated. I am going to adjust my strategy next year to take on a bit more risk and possibly switch brokers (currently paying $5 a trade which is far too much).

Vanguard: +6%

New this year to my portfolio is a stake in Vanguard funds to diversify the building of a passive dividend stream. I got in before the after-election run up so it has already posted a fantastic 6% gain. Though just a matter of luck and a tiny fraction of my investments I’m extremely happy to have this post a gain so quickly.

Income Streams: 4%

To wrap things up is the most important number (to me). This is the percentage of my target income stream that I have accomplished over the year. Some quarters were much better than others but all together I’ve achieved 4% of the required passive income for me to officially retire. Given the small amount of post-tax money that I have invested this is a fantastic number. I’m looking forward to pressing onward in 2017 and working my way toward my own passive income retirement.

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