2014 vs 2011 – finances three years into blogging

WordPress tells me that I have been blogging for three years as of today! I thought it would be fun to take a look at where my finances then :) At the end of April 2011, my net worth was $72,871.59 and I was 22 years old. Here’s how that broke down:

  • Checking accounts and foreign cash: $13,808.19 (now $7,964.73)
  • General savings: $17,170.19 (this is what other people would call an emergency fund, but I’ve always called it general savings) (now $20,949.23 since my expenses are a bit higher)
  • Down payment savings: $10,379.65 (cleared out – I now own a condo!)
  • Car savings: $6,213.45 (cleared out – I bought my car! I can’t believe I have had it for almost 4 years. It’s still practically new.)
  • Car loan: $5,902.60 (my parents advised me to take out a car loan and auto-pay it out of a savings account to build up credit. I took out a 12 month loan that had had almost $900/month payments, which my parents thought was crazy, but I didn’t see any reason to pay on the loan for much longer than I needed to. I will just pay cash for any future cars now that I have credit history.) (paid off after 12 months exactly)
  • Traditional 401(k): $5,524.06 (now just over $77,000 – higher than my entire net worth three years ago!)
  • Roth 401(k): $2,048.32 (now around $5,500)
  • Roth IRA: $10,620.79 (now just over $30,000!)
  • Other retirement: $7,361.38 (now just over $8,000)
  • Taxable investments: $5,648.16 (this was about ~$3,000 in a bond fund at Vanguard and the rest was my first batch of RSUs from my employer that I kept)
  • Total: $72,871.59

Isn’t that cute? I hadn’t gotten into the habit of contributing the maximum to my 401(k) yet (2011 was the first year that I did and I decided to do that a few months into the year). I first contributed to a Roth IRA in 2010 and I started contributing monthly in 2011 before getting a bonus a few months into the year and finishing off the full contribution.

My overall net worth is about 4x higher three years later! I now own about 50% of a condo and my investments are up from $31,202.71 to $148,000, up almost 5x.

My expenses are pretty comparable to where they were in 2011. My expenses in 2013 versus 2011 was a difference of about $440/month, about $200/month of which is from increased housing expenses.

I know what I’m doing with my finances a lot more now than I did in 2011, which was part of why I started my blog. I feel like I have a plan with my finances and no longer wonder what I’ll do month-to-month with my savings since I’m just following my plan. It makes things pretty simple. It probably helps too that my life situation has been reasonably stable over the last couple of years, since I bought my condo in June 2012. I think that the next three years will bring new and exciting changes to my finances as I get closer to 30.

I think that in April 2017, my net worth will have doubled from April 2014, as will have my investments and my condo will be paid off. Maybe I will be trying to figure out joint finances at some point in the next three years with my boyfriend. Maybe I would sell my condo and we would buy a place together. A lot will probably happen in the next few years! Maybe between the two of us, we could be millionaires in the next three years :)

Readers, how have your finances improved over the last three years? How do you see them changing in the next three years?

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  1. #1 by joneslshante on May 4, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    Since I have been following your blog, you have motivated me to want more. So I have been saving and cleaning my credit. I believe these are two important things to do and then I kind start really looking at buying a condo(it’s just me) and other things. I want a car, but since I began to be smart with money, now is not the best time. So reading your post has allowed me to want more and be smarter with saving and spending.

    • #2 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:30 pm

      I’m so glad I motivated you to want more! Definitely think about the car hard before buying one. If you live in a reasonable-sized city, you can probably use car sharing services and save a decent amount of money. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t bought a car.

  2. #3 by plantingourpennies on May 5, 2014 - 1:26 am

    $78K at 22 years old… wow! Even though we managed to start our Roths in undergrad, we definitely weren’t there and I was still in grad school at that point. It took us a few years out in the work force to really find our groove, since we truly work better financially as a team. But we have seen some significant growth in the last 3 years, from 191K to 716K (3.75x), and are hoping for a another 2x multiple or so over the next 4-5years since we’re not counting on the insane market gains of 2013 repeating anytime soon.

    • #4 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:32 pm

      $72k! But still. I started saving for retirement in undergrad too. I had about $32k in cash when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.

      Sounds like you guys have done pretty well over the last three years too! :)

  3. #5 by nicoleandmaggie on May 5, 2014 - 6:23 am

    At 22 and 25, I think our collective net worth varied between -10K and 10K, mainly because I got paid in lump sums at the beginning of each semester. (We did pay off DH’s student loans that first year though.)

    In the past three years of blogging, our networth has grown, but I’m not sure how much.

    • #6 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:33 pm

      You’ve been blogging for almost four years! And it looks like you’ve paid down about $100k of your mortgage in that time.

      • #7 by nicoleandmaggie on May 5, 2014 - 7:35 pm

        oh, much more than that… the blog has been around a lot longer than the mortgage posts and we made a BIG prepayment prior to starting them

  4. #8 by NoTrustFund on May 5, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    Unconditionally the best motivational blog I have been a member of. Leigh’s work with spreadsheets she’s shown us is the best. I can’t say how much my portfolio has been improved only because my computer drive crashed. I can say she has helped direct me to a great gain I’m sure.

    • #9 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:34 pm

      Awww thank you! That means a lot :) I’m sorry about your computer drive. Do you have a backup system?

  5. #10 by Luis on May 5, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Time really flies! It’s been really enjoyable following your blog through the years. Thank you!

    • #11 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:34 pm

      Thanks for sticking by my blog over the years!

  6. #12 by Marvin on May 5, 2014 - 5:03 pm

    Congrats on the progress! It’s amazing to see how much you’ve accomplished over a long period of time.

    • #13 by Leigh on May 5, 2014 - 7:35 pm

      Thanks Marvin! Hope you have had good progress over the last three years too.

  7. #14 by Trader on May 6, 2014 - 6:42 am

    Really amazing! great job in your financial side of life. Keep going, I’ii keep reading :)

  8. #15 by Holly@ClubThrifty on May 6, 2014 - 7:20 am

    I don’t track as closely as you do, but our finances are a lot better than they were 3 years ago. We were still paying off debt three years ago!!!
    Great job…you’re obviously doing awesome!

    • #16 by Leigh on May 6, 2014 - 6:56 pm

      Oh wow! You guys are definitely far better off now if you were still paying off debt three years ago!

      Your house is worth about half of what my condo is…and you have a four bedroom house. That’s amazing! It definitely makes the scale of things different.

  9. #17 by Alicia @ Financial Diffraction on May 6, 2014 - 10:04 am

    I think this is one of the main reasons I blog (though technically a spreadsheet would do)… it allows me to look back to where I have come from. It’s hard to see the process month after month, but when it gets tallied up, it looks very impressive.

    You’re rocking it :) Good luck on doubling your net worth in another three years!

    • #18 by Leigh on May 6, 2014 - 7:03 pm

      Actually, this is one of the reasons I keep spreadsheets! I have data going back just over 10 years covering my spending and bank transactions and balances. It’s really cool to take a look back and see how things have changed over the years. I can’t believe that 4.5 years ago, I only had $32k in the bank and now have over 10x that!

  10. #19 by NoTrustFund on May 6, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    You’ve come a long way! You also seem to have acquired another another commenter without a trust fund :-)

    • #20 by Leigh on May 6, 2014 - 7:06 pm

      Thanks! I thought that was you with a different email address! :)

  11. #21 by TJ on May 6, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    ” I will just pay cash for any future cars now that I have credit history.) ”

    You sometimes can get a better price if you get a loan because the dealer gets a kickback from the financial company. So just get a loan and pay it off a month later….

    I personally keep my auto loan because it is dirt cheap rate (1.79%)…way less than my mortgage after deductions.

    • #22 by Leigh on May 6, 2014 - 7:53 pm

      Sometimes. I definitely didn’t in that case. The rate was 4.99%. I didn’t pay that much in interest since I paid it off in a year and didn’t finance a lot, but still not worth keeping for very long at that rate. Now that my credit history is better, I probably could get a reasonable interest rate that I wouldn’t pay off early – you’re right.

  12. #23 by Joshua R on May 13, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    Wow, great job! I started blogging a few years back as well. On January 1st of this year, I was finally able to quit my day job and write full time. I’ve been loving it. While I no longer work 40 hours per week, I make far more than what I made back then and, like you I’ve become a more financially stable individual who prides myself in planning and good decision making! Great job again, you’re an inspiration!

    • #24 by Leigh on May 14, 2014 - 7:47 am

      Wow, that’s awesome! Congrats! I am not that interested in writing, so I doubt I will quit my day job to write anytime soon, but kudos to you for accomplishing your goal!

  13. #25 by Evan on May 16, 2014 - 7:51 pm

    Wow! I love running into old posts to remind me where I have been. I always wonder how non-personal finance nerds do it! With no detailed account of the past I wonder how they know they are doing the right/most efficient things?

    Completely jealous that you started saving while in undergrad!

    • #26 by Leigh on May 17, 2014 - 6:53 pm

      They probably have no idea if they’re doing the right/most efficient things and don’t really care. That’s my guess at least.

  14. #27 by John Pham on May 31, 2014 - 10:09 pm

    Hi Leigh, just found your blog and I am very impress at how much net worth you have gain in the past 3 years. I am also in my mid 20s and I am in almost the same situation like you. My net worth has grown for the past 3 year, that’s because I am currently working in the Middle East so the income is high. Although I wish I tracked my net worth 3 years ago like you did. I just started my blog and tracking my net worth, but reading your post and goals give me inspiration and motivation. It’s hard to find people @ our age that is finance savvy. My website is not good as yours, and I can’t do any spreadsheet yet but will try to learn. Hopefully I can get some pointers from you. Hope to hear more about your progress.

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