2015 Review

Hi everyone!

I thought I’d put my year in review for myself to look over, and for everyone else to pick apart…

Blog

As you can see from my first post, I didn’t exactly stick to my blog post goals in the beginning.  Once I got going again in October though, I’ve done pretty well!  Overall:  satisfied, but want to improve next year.

Travel

I definitely met my travel goals this year!  As I’m sure you’ve read by now, my trip to Peru was awesome, and I was able to work in a few other small trips too, including my roadtrip to DC.  Peru was really my first time travelling internationally.  I went to the Caribbean once, but it was a pretty typical family, resort vacation.  Not really my style.  Plus, I was only 12 at the time I think.  Doesn’t count.

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My 2015 travels.  BOS-PTY-LIM roundtrip, then a roadtrip to DC in the fall.  Of course, I hope next year’s map will have many more red lines!*

This year, I’ve already got a trip to Florida planned to see some family and bring the kiddo to Disney in March.  Again, not quite my style, but I’m sure it will be a blast.  Possibilities for 2016 include exploring Toronto, visiting friends in the Dominican Republic, maybe Iceland, visiting family in South Dakota and/or Oregon, and visiting a friend in the Peace Corps.  The domestic travel will be easy once I secure the Southwest Companion Pass.  I’m targeting March or April to achieve the pass.  The international travel is still up in the air.  Toronto will be an easy one, and kid-friendly.  Iceland isn’t actually too bad from Boston, is cheap, and I’d also be happy to bring the kiddo there.  The DR would probably just be the girlfriend and I (visiting some of her old friends from a mission trip).  Thanks to Southwest’s merger with AirTran, the Companion Pass will help us get there too.  My Peace Corps friend won’t be deployed until the summer, and he’s not sure where yet.  With a 2 year commitment though, I’ve got plenty of time to see whichever country he chooses!

(*Thanks to Great Circle Mapper for the awesome site!)

Miles and Points

For starting late this year, I think I did an excellent job earning points and miles for myself.  I was able to get plenty of rewards through normal sign up bonuses and spending, as well as start experimenting with manufactured spending (posts to come soon!).  In total, I earned over 150,000 points/miles in just the last quarter of 2015.  I’d say that’s pretty good.  These are mostly spread across United, Southwest, and American Airlines.  All useful, since I want to travel to, you know…everywhere.

My biggest win was absolutely taking out a Citi AAdvantage Executive, and funding a Citi Gold Checking account with it, earning 83,000 AA miles in the process, and currently waiting on an additional 50,000 AA miles which should post by March 2016.  I have a feeling my biggest win for 2016 will be the Southwest Companion Pass, but we’ll see when we get there.

Financial

My financial goals were a bit stagnant this year.  My year over year net worth actually dropped about $2,000 in 2015.  Verdict?  Have to buckle down on my saving, investing, and spending habits.

My total bill for the year was $32,700.  This is a full $4,000 above 2014, which I mainly attribute to my travel expenses and paying a little more out of pocket for school (paying off loans and paying cash for the last semester).  I also had more discretionary income towards the end of the year, as my income went up after starting full time work.  I can see exactly where that money went in about 20% higher totals for 2015 spending on “Shopping” and “Food and Dining” categories.  I know I can do better in those.

My savings increased only slightly, although the full time job starting in September helped a lot!  I put a respectable 25% of my paycheck into my 401k, which is great, since I didn’t even have the temptation, I never touched it.  If you’re surprised that 25% is “respectable,” you should see what some of the people over here are capable of…

At any rate, I’m fairly happy with my financial progress in 2015, but I also know I can do better in 2015.  I started tracking in income, savings, expenses, and the projected yield on my portfolio in 2015, so I’m excited to see where it goes.  As a professor mine always used to say:  “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Other Goals

So, the other big one is that I graduated college!  Obviously that’s pretty cool, and I’m happy I was able to do it.  If any friends/family are reading this, thanks so much for all the support.  It really meant the world to me and allowed me to finish school the way I wanted to.

Other than that, I didn’t have many other goals.  I have put some more time into my friends, family, and other relationships, which has paid off.  Now that I’m done with school, I’ve also taken some time to focus on what I like, who I am, that sort of thing.

2016 Goals

  • Dial back my credit card applications a bit.  I’ve also started “paying” myself $100 for every new account I get.  I deposit/invest $100 into my IRA, brokerage account, etc.  This does a good job of balancing my churning goals for traveling with my personal finance goals.
  • Volunteer at least one week, doesn’t necessarily have to be abroad or consecutive days.
  • See a new country.  Stretch goal?  3 new countries this year.  Canada should be an easy one.  Some day, I’d love to join the Travelers’ Century Club, just to say I did it.
  • Maintain posting (at least) once every week.
  • Live a little more in the moment.  I think I may be switching jobs soon, which will help.  Currently kind of bored/stressed.
  • Make more time for family.

This post is one part accountability, one part you all getting to know me.  Now that I’m out of school, my focus can shift more to travel and financial security.  If you’ve ever paid your own way through college, you know what I mean.  “I wanted to fund my IRA” is not a viable excuse on late semester bills.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this look into the Financial Hippie’s world!  I’ll make this an annual type of post, as I like looking at the statistics and everything myself.  Please feel free to ask questions and make comments!  I’m generally an open guy, so am happy to answer questions when I can.

Hope you had a good 2015, and that 2016 brings you to new corners of the globe, a bit of prosperity, and plenty of great memories!  Thanks for reading!

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