Friday, December 28, 2007

A Look Back at 2007

2007! The first year I started keeping track of my finances. I graduated from college in May of 2006 and took what I consider my first real job (current job) in September of 2006. Now I have worked for an entire year and have made significant financial progress.

I started keeping track of my finances more in depth in August of 2007. Back then my net worth started at $2,952. I know have a net worth of $5,321 for an increase of 80.25%. That is quite an increase. My best month was December which accounted for almost half of those gains.

2007 wasn't just a good year for my net worth. This was my first year out in the real world after college and I want to take a look at some things I did right that I am proud of and some things I did that were probably bad ideas.

First lets take a look at what I did right this past year:
  1. I began the year by opening a traditional IRA. I contributed 5% of my salary a month into the IRA until I was able to start contributing to my 401k.
  2. Once eligible to contribute to my company's 401k in September, I took full advantage. I contribute the maximum amount needed to recieve the company's full match.
  3. I opened an online money market account and funded it with $1,000 for emergencies through automatic savings.
  4. I got engaged to a beautiful woman who I love with all my heart. I can't wait to get married next year and spend the rest of our lives together.
  5. I took a nice vacation with my girlfriend (now fiance) to Mexico. A great experience and well worth the money to enjoy a vacation with her.

Now lets take a look at the things that could've gone better:

  1. I racked up quite a bit of credit card debt through the year before I got serious about finances. I paid for last christmas with my credit cards. I overspent on christmas trying to impress my family with the money I now make. I also paid for the Mexico trip with a credit card. I now know I would have been better off saving for things before I spend money on them and not racking up the debt.
  2. I bought a new bike and took out a loan to pay for it. The loan is at 0% interest and will be paid off so I won't owe any interest on it. I still count this as part of my current debt. The bike was an impulse purchase and if I would have waited a few weeks I probably would not have bought the bike.
  3. I opened up a stock brokerage account and tried trading stocks without really knowing what I was doing. I felt like I've read alot about investing but I ended up losing over a thousand dollars. I funded the account with $1,700 and now have about $600. I now plan on leaving the money in the stocks I currently have them in and earning dividends and hopefully seeing some appreciation over the next year. However, I absolutely will NOT add any more money to the account this year. Once I have a better financial base, I will consider trying to invest in stocks on my own. If I had not tried jumping into the stock market prematurely, I would have a net worth of about $7,000 instead of $5,300. In the long run this will be an inmaterial amount but currently, it would have been nice to have that much less debt or that much more into my retirement account.

So, I generally feel like I had a good year. I made some good progress and since tracking my finances have increased my net worth and lowered my credit card debt. Hopefully I continue to make good progress in 2008.

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