2015 came to an end and 2016 will have great things to come. This past year has been a huge one for me personally and I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings with it. Since I’ve started writing my blog I’ve learned a lot about saving/investing for retirement. I’m also trying to get into the hobby of photography. I’ve had a lot of big changes throughout the year which I’ll go over in this blog post.
In April I became engaged with my beautiful fiancé. We had a lot of fun over the summer/fall since being engaged which involved doing a lot of camping, riding on boats with family/friends, going to the state fair (which was the first time for me since I was a little kid). We also did some hiking (maybe I can get her to do a high peak with me next year), some bike riding, went to Florida for one of her best friend’s wedding, and did a lot of house maintenance/upgrades.
In November I became a Microsoft Certified Professional. I passed the 70-411 test which is the Administering Windows Server 2012 test. The test was a lot of studying however investing in yourself is a great way to add to your skill set and makes you more desirable to your employer. Also for people like me who work in a constantly changing field, it shows that you can still learn and not become stagnant with older technologies. Also with new knowledge becomes greater opportunity in your career and better efficiency which leads me to my next achievement this year.
A huge achievement for me this year is I started a new job this December. I can say I was very comfortable with my old job of almost 7 years, enjoyed what I was doing, and wasn’t really looking for another job. When it comes down to it though, I work so that I can provide for my future wife, future family, and someday enjoy my life doing whatever I want to do (being financially independent). My new job will allow me to start putting away even more money towards my retirement than I was able to before getting this new job. I plan on living the same type of lifestyle and putting most of my extra money that I’m earning towards my retirement and savings goal this year. I’m sure that kids will be right around the corner after being married so I want to be used to not having a lot of extra money to blow on things I don’t need. Also with my new job I work 30 minutes less per day, have a 30 minute shorter lunch break, and 10 minutes less travel time to and from work. Therefor I’m getting back 80 minutes per day. That’s 6.6 hours a week which is equal to 346.6 hours a year. That likes getting an additional 8.65 work days off per year in extra time.
During black Friday I ended up purchasing a Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens. The reason I purchased the camera is because I want to have high quality pictures from my wedding/honeymoon in December of 2016 and also to take high quality photos while doing outdoor activities in the years to come. I’ve come to realize there is a lot to photography outside of just point and click taking pictures. The features I love from this camera so far are the built in WiFi, the flip screen, and the great quality of the camera. Nikon also has a phone app called Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility which allows you to use your phone as a remote to take photos. You can also upload photos from your camera directly to your phone to upload to Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you use.
Another thing I’m really excited about is my brokerage account. I’ve really enjoyed learning about new ways to invest. I’ve only invested in ETFs so far on my own as I want to invest in multiple companies and not gamble my investments in single company stocks. Sure I’m not going to get rich overnight however I’m not going to lose all my money overnight either. Some people disagree with investing in just ETFs and not single company stocks however, I know of companies such as Enron and Volkswagen which make me not want to invest in a single companies stock. Another reason I invest in ETFs is because it doesn’t cost me any upfront fees to purchase my Vanguard ETFs and the fees are low. My fees are from .05% to .15% depending on what ETF I purchased.*The industry average ETF expense ratio is .55%. Vanguards average ETF expense ratio is .13%. If you invested $50,000 and left it in for 30 years, made 6% returns, you would save $32,801 just in expenses. Now just say you had $100,000 and left it in for 30 years at 6% returns. You would save $87,584 just in expenses just by going with Vanguard and not a different companies ETFs. Another reason I have this investment is because I’m going to need to have some sort of income from 55 to 59 ½ other than my 401K and Roth IRA. Vanguard has been my choice for ETFs so far.
This past year has been a great one for me both in terms of having fun with my fiancé, enjoying my life, and investing. I can only imagine what can be accomplished in 2016 if I keep trying to improve my goals. Next year I want to put more money into my personal brokerage account, max out my Roth IRA ($5,500 for me) and put in my company match into my 401k. I want to continue to enjoy time with my fiancé, family, and friends. Some new things I want to do in 2016 are get better at photography, learn about real estate to buy and rent a house, and also renew my VMware VCP certification. Also the biggest and best change I’m looking forward to in 2016 is to be able to call my fiancé my wife!
*Vanguard average ETF expense ratio: .13%. Industry average ETF expense ratio: .55%. Sources: Vanguard and Lipper, a Thomson Reuters Company, as of December 31, 2014.