<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: December, 2017
 

Archive for December, 2017

2017 Year in Review

December 31st, 2017 at 04:26 pm

I started the year two months into a new job, as a financial planner at a wealth management firm. The first two months (Nov & Dec 2016) had been doing tax-related calculations (my strength as a CPA) and learning some of the systems and procedures in the office.

I started really diving into the spreadsheets we use for financial planning at the firm in January, and I was assigned my own list of about fifty dedicated clients (as well as providing tax support for the other clients serviced by our office).

In January, I was still going to the gym and working with a personal trainer, but I started experiencing bouts of severe fatigue. By February (with an overload at work due to tax letters—we don’t do taxes, but as a wealth management firm, we provide our clients with an annual summary of what forms to expect), I had given up going to the gym. By March, I had decided to consult a chiropractor specializing in metabolic disorders (I had some adrenal fatigue as well as an increase in my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms). I checked out three and started working with one weekly in April, continuing through September, by which time the excessive fatigue had been mostly resolved. I’m still not as energetic as I would *like* to be, but neither am I feeling compromised the way I was back in the spring.

I kept my nose to the grindstone at work for most of the year—I hardly took any days off for the first six months. I got to attend the American Institute of CPAs conference in June in Las Vegas, which was a great experience hearing talks by people whose work I have been following for years now (although I really didn’t see anything of Las Vegas outside of the MGM Grand conference center). A highlight of this was being “life-planned” in a demonstration by the “father of financial life planning” as part of a two-day pre-conference workshop I attended. As a result of attending the relatively small pre-conference workshop, I had people to hang out with for meals, some of whom I am still in touch with. We also had a company retreat in Richmond VA in September.

On the “fun” side, I spent most of a week in Los Angeles visiting my sister, and I went on one overnight B&B trip locally over the summer, and I was invited to spend another overnight visiting a friend from grad school who was staying at a cabin in the woods along a creek. I hadn’t seen that friend in person in 25 years, so that was a great visit. I also hosted an annual visit from a friend who comes down yearly to see a play at the PA Shakespeare Festival with me.

Other than the travel (which was a lot for me compared to recent years, but not compared to what I used to do in my 20s and 30s), I saw a lot of movies (over a dozen for entertainment, and another six as part of a lecture series I attended on Religion and Art—six weeks of one lecture and one film per week taught by a retired professor of religion), two plays, one ballet, three "circus" acts (including one by Cirque de Soleil), and four choral concerts (my best friend sings in two choirs).

I went to nine or ten business networking events, four events for the new Food Co-Op I joined and four meetings for our local neighborhood association, two political events (the Women's Day March and a tax day rally), and I took a one day art workshop. I went to events at friends’ houses about once a month, meals with friends at restaurants at least once monthly, and to religious services about that often as well.

I originally had three big goals for 2017, which I eventually reduced it to two. The original three were 1. Job performance (technical mastery of systems and procedures at new job, CFP exam study); 2. Taking care of myself (eating healthy, exercising consistently, sleeping enough, and meditating daily); and 3. decluttering at home. The decluttering goal was the one I abandoned.

Overall, I made good progress at mastering the new job, but I was overly optimistic in thinking that I would be able to complete the CFP exam coursework and take the exam while learning everything at the new job. I did complete another one of the basic courses, however, and I did well enough at the job to get an overall positive evaluation and a raise.

I also spent effort taking care of myself, but instead of getting into shape, I managed to get out of shape because of the adrenal fatigue and stopping going to the gym. (I know I made it sound like I did a lot but I think I wrote out just about everything I did since I was in bed between 6 to 7:30 pm about 4 nights out of the week for at least half the year, and I still find myself in bed really early 1 or 2 nights a week.)

I did an ok job of getting to bed earlier and of meditating regularly, practicing on 277 days for about 10 minutes per day.

This month, I took myself to a physical therapist after experiencing unusual pain in my Achilles tendon after a two-mile walk, something that I have always been easily able to do, and I have developed a plan to get back to exercise in the new year. I also allowed my generally good diet to deteriorate over the holiday season, so it’s back to clean eating habits tomorrow, starting a month on the Whole 30.

In terms of finances, I had a very good year despite some bad spending habits (buying too many books on the Kindle, in particular). My net worth increased by $63,666—a 13.5% increase, and my overall assets are now very solidly over half a million.

Overall, it was a good year, and I am very happy that, other than Buffy’s brief bout of pancreatitis back in the fall, there was nothing significant to report with the furkids this year. Bridget turned 13 in October and Buffy hits that age in March, so they really are getting to be seniors. My previous kitties (Phoebe and Teddy) died at 13 and 14 respectively, so I am praying that my current “kitty matrons” remain in good health throughout 2018.

20% bonus, 3% raise

December 28th, 2017 at 08:40 am

Today I got the email I've been waiting for all month: info about my annual bonus (first time in my 30-year working career that I've worked for a place that gave bonuses) and raise.

The bonus is given on a company-wide, not individual basis. Each year there is a revenue target, and if the company meets it, we all get the 20% bonus.

The raise is determined individually, and I believe that 3% is the standard raise unless one achieves a new certification or changes roles within the company or has some other special achievement.

With the bonus, I'll be able to pay off a chunk of credit card and loan balances and will meet my debt reduction goal for the year, hooray!

Year to Date

December 1st, 2017 at 10:21 am

My debts have stayed fairly steady--the usual beginning of the year decrease when I take some extra money (required annual distribution from an inherited IRA) and use it to reduce the debt, followed by an increase over the year as extra bills mount--things outside the ordinary budget I can't really afford at my current salary but feel are worth the expense (paying for my CFP coursework, long-term care insurance, some household improvement stuff) so that by the end of the year, the debt ends up back where it had been around the beginning of the year. It's just that less of it is in the mortgage and more in the form of other types of low-interest debt. Fingers crossed that this coming January I can reduce the debt below what I have been able to do in past Januaries so that next year is a permanent reduction. Depends largely on what happens with year-end bonuses. If the firm I work at meets its revenue target and pays a bonus this year, that could mean a larger inflow this January than previously (I've never, ever, worked at a place that paid bonuses before, but this firm does, but not every year, and they can be a decent size) and a permanent reduction in debt. That is my goal, but obviously not something I control.

Fortunately, the increase in assets more than compensates for the fact that the liabilities are flat YTD--over a 40K increase in my accounts as well as an 8% increase in my estimated home value, for a net worth increase YTD of over 50K.

Of course I, like everyone else, am waiting for the other shoe to drop on these high markets. My boss (who routinely ends up on the Barron's list of top 100 financial advisors) thinks that, while there will undoubtedly be a correction at some point, the markets are not unreasonably overvalued, so that while we may see a 10-15% dip lasting for a month or two, he is not expecting a long-term bear market.

Of course, with all the crazy on the political scene, who knows what will ultimately happen. I was following all the politics avidly early in the year and it was just too much. So now I focus locally--there's an active group in my neighborhood, the Mount Airy Neighborhood Association, and I go to their meetings when I can. Think globally, act locally and all that.