I’ve been blogging, tracking, and publically posting my net worth for almost five years. In fact, my very first blog post back in March 2012 was a net worth update. Back then, I had just graduated from university the previous May, I was working my first job and had only made about six payments on my $38,000 in student and car debt. I had almost no extra money to put towards my debt, I was only earning about $38,000 total, and I was living in a small studio above my husband’s sister’s house.
So much has changed since those indebted, impoverished times, that I thought it would be a good idea to look back on the past five years and consider how far I’ve come so that I can plot my financial course for the next five years. Here’s a quick look at how much my net worth has changed in the past five years.
Let’s take a look at where I started with my net worth, and the progress I made, year by year:
March 2012: -$21,472
2012 was my first year blogging, and as you can see, it wasn’t a full year. Back then, I was making about $38,000 per year and living in a studio apartment above my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) sister’s house. The rent was cheap at just $350 per month, which is good because cheap is what I needed.
My minimum payments on my debt ($301 student loans and $205 car loan, I think I’ll remember those numbers forever) were eating up about 25% of my net income at that time, and I was striving to pay at least $1,000 per month on my debt. Paying that much towards my debt every month was rough, but I kept at it.
By the end of the year, I had gotten my total debt owing down to $20,000. I had a big income tax return to thank for my significant reduction in debt, plus those $1,000 per month payments. In that time I had also gotten engaged and moved from the studio apartment into a 400 square foot cottage that I was house sitting for a relative. The rent was a little more, but we had the whole property to ourselves.
Jan 2013: -$7,428 (+$15,744)
The beginning of the year 2013 was dominated by the fact that I was getting married. I ended up spending about $3,500 on a backyard wedding, thanks to the help from many friends and family. Being frugal with my wedding freed up my still meager income for debt repayment. I had gotten a small raise but was still earning less than $40,000 at my full-time job and had just started to freelance, I earned around $6,500.
Fortunately, I got an enormous income tax return, which I put towards my debt, along with my New Brunswick Tuition Rebate, which also went towards my debt repayment. I was still managing to pay around $1,000 per month towards my debts.
All of that money going consistently for my debt for almost two years led to the biggest thing I accomplished in 2013: paying off my debt entirely. I paid off my student loans in June, right before I got married, and my car loan in October, officially declaring myself debt free.
Jan 2014: $8,316 (+$17,795)
Once my debt was paid off, I set my mind to building up a big emergency fund and starting to save for retirement. I got a decent raise at work and was now making around $44,000 per year, plus my freelance income had risen to about $7,500, which was a nice bump.
Once my debt was gone, my husband and I decided to partake in a little lifestyle inflation. We moved out of the 400 square foot cottage, which we had discovered not only was uninsulated (hello, expensive power bills!) but also right on along a busy recreational trail that was a favourite of ATVers in the middle of the night.
We moved around the corner to a three bedroom house on a river, which was overkill but beautiful, and still affordable at just $900 per month.
In 2014 my husband and I also made the difficult decision to move back to Halifax, and we saved a boat load of cash to cover the relocation and ensuing unemployment.
Jan 2015: $26,111 (+$18,794)
In 2015 my life changed completely. My husband and I moved back to Halifax, and our finances went through a major upheaval. Our expenses went way up, and our income took a nosedive while my husband searched for work. Fortunately, it was only temporary, and I was able to cover the budget deficit with my freelance income.
After three months of unemployment, my husband got a good job earning much more than he was making in New Brunswick, and I got another small raise at work. My freelance income also climbed a little bit.
While our wages increased, our expenses also increased, in particular on the housing front. Halifax is much more expensive than the small town in New Brunswick, and we ended up moving into a two bedroom apartment and paying around $1,700 per month including utilities.
I also gave up my ability to claim the New Brunswick Tuition rebate, since I wasn’t earning money in New Brunswick anymore, which meant I was giving up a few thousand dollars.
My big goal for 2015 was to save for a house, and I funneled all of my extra cash into that goal. I ended the year with $16,873 banked.
Jan 2016: $44,905 (+$18,794)
In January 2016 I was ramping up for a long couple of years of saving for a house. My full-time income had taken a 10% jump, and my freelance income was taking off. For the first time, I was earning close to 40 or 50% of my full-time income on the side. All of this money only went one place: my house fund.
Between January and July, I managed to save $16,760 for my house, bringing my savings to $33,633. While I had planned to spend at least another year saving for a home costing around $315,000, I managed to find the perfect property for just $270,000. I dropped all of the cash I had and moved in at the end of July.
The last six months of 2016 passed by in a blur. I had one goal: replenish the money I had borrowed from my RRSP for closing costs. I achieved this goal before the end of the year, finishing off 2016 with the following net worth:
Jan 2017: $73,741 (+$28,836)
Which brings us to today. I finished out 2016 with a new home, a higher income than ever before, and a net worth of $73,741. That means I’ve improved my net worth by about $95,000 in the past five years. You can read all of my net worth updates here.
I don’t know what the next year is going to look like, but I do know that I need to take some time to consider how the next five years of my life are going to unfold.
What has your net worth looked like over the past five years? I want to know!