2019 was one of those years that made us wish we spoke multiple languages fluently because there isn’t a word in English to fully describe it. Sure, we could call it amazing but that doesn’t quite capture the weight of it all. Like previous years, we walked into 2019 with a single word guiding us—believe.
We committed to walk and act in belief that what we were doing was the right thing for our family, business and community. Some people call this being purpose-driven. Others refer to it as living with intention. Whatever you call it, we stand before you as a living testaments of it’s power.
Look, we have to make a hard stop here because otherwise, this 2019 recap will turn into a sappy sermon of sorts and aint nobody got time for that. The absolute last thing we need is a microphone and a whisper from the Holy Ghost before we’d be out here looking like Ka…nevamind.
So let’s jump into it shall we?
For background, you can take a peek at our 2019 plan to get a general idea of where our heads were a year ago. The gist of that plan was that we recognized 2019 as our first full step into entrepreneurship and were embracing the idea of “eating what we kill“. Given 2018 was a slow and awkward stumble into full-time entrepreneurship, 2019 gave us an opportunity to really try it on for size.
Here were our personal financial goals for 2019
So how’d we do? Well, as expected with a lofty goal, it was a mixed bag. We maxed out our employee sponsored 401(k), opened and funded our self-employed 401(k) and maxed out our HSA for the year. Combined, this means we were able to save $46K away in 2019. When we include employer match, our total savings for the year were $51K.
We did not contribute to our Roth IRA and only made a $100 contribution to our son’s 529 college plan. To be honest, that Benji came from his grandfather as a Christmas gift but we chose to invest it, instead of adding to his growing toy collection aka death traps aka toe killers aka clutter.
So why didn’t we hit our goals?
Well there are several reasons but basically life happens and building a business is really really difficult. After a year of living in our new home, we needed to get better settled all while our business was growing quickly which required us to spend money on today instead of tomorrow. If we’d chosen to park that money in any of our tax-deferred accounts, we would’ve had to endure some significant stress to fund our day-to-day life. We don’t take it lightly how fortunate we are to be in the position to truly make saving at a high degree optional, but even having the option doesn’t make for easy decisions.
Overall, here’s how we ended the year.
Our net worth grew $132K pretty much exclusively driven by our stock portfolio and savings. This makes sense since we are heavily invested in index funds and 2019 was a banner year for the market. Our investment property value was flat YoY (year-over-year) while our primary home grew in line with the zip code [a few percentage points]. This further strengthens our decision to sell our [debt free] rental to recoup the cash and invest the proceeds into other vehicles.
Moving on, let’s take a look at our business goals for 2019
Here’s where things get interesting, starting with our rental income.
After our mid-year review, we made the decision to begin the process of getting out of real estate [for now]. We explained our decision to sell already so there’s no need to go over that again. With that said, we more than cleared our rental income goal, netting a smidgen under $80K from the sale. This was in addition to the rental income we’d already collected from that unit from January – September [$3,600]. The proceeds went towards funding our self employed/solo 401(k) with Vanguard, paying off personal and business debts, home improvement and a quick getaway to Austin, TX.
Looking at our other goals, we consolidated our insurance to a single provider and set aside all the funding we needed for capital reserves to fund any short term repairs. However, shortly after we hit our threshold [$8k] we got an email from our management company stating we needed to replace the A/C unit so it pretty much gutted the money we’d set aside.
This didn’t upset us too much though, because considering the new A/C unit was going into our other debt-free rental, we didn’t mind spending the money because technically, the tenant was buying the new unit through their rent payments. Now that we’ve decided to sell that rental, we get to pass a new A/C unit onto a new buyer which strengthens our list price and gives us even greater confidence it will sell quickly, assuming we price it correctly.
If you’re unfamiliar with real estate investing, this may seem a bit icky and come across as if we, the landlords, are exploiting tenants. The fact of the matter is, the tenant gets to live where they want to live, have the flexibility to leave, don’t have to manage repairs or carry the debt behind the property.
In return, the perks of being landlords are tax deductions, potential appreciation on the property value and rent collected. We’ll miss those perks but we won’t miss the complexity of the business or the risk incurred of being property owners. Today, what’s most important to us is creating mental headspace to pour more into this platform and other, more lucrative business interests.
Our goal in 2019 was to earn $50K through r&R and unfortunately we missed that goal by a longshot earning just over $18,000 in revenue. That number includes product, affiliate and sponsored content. If you’re thinking that’s low and unlike any of the sensational articles you’ve read about bloggers raking in big bucks, then you’re absolutely right!
But honestly, much of this was a deliberate decision. We certainly could’ve done more to drive sales of our e-book, joined and promoted countless affiliate programs and pitched ideas to brands for more sponsored content. It just didn’t feel right. Instead, we made the decision to think long-term, placing chips on the value of our brand and reputation over the value of any one product or income stream.
In hindsight, our revenue goal was not well thought through. We relied on our corporate experience with forecasting and created it before we even had a product, brand partnerships or any speaking gigs. But the last 3 months of the year were a reminder that the traditional ways we were taught to think about growth are irrelevant in this arena.A single article, email or DM on Instagram can change everything…quickly! Click To Tweet
It’s silly to try to predict it. All we can do is keep showing up and doing what we do well. That being said, we’re excited to be starting 2020 with a handful of opportunities that have already exceed 2019’s total revenue with more on the way.
Considering we live well below our means and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, we’re optimistic that we’ll be in a position to catch up our savings and investment goals. So are we comfortable with taking a lower-cased L in 2019? Absolutely! Who wouldn’t be satisfied with casually saving $50K+ in a year!
Aside from revenue, we did attend FinCon in 2019 and followed up our 2018 win for Best New Personal Finance blog with a win for Blog of the Year. As of today, we have plans to attend the 2020 conference in Long Beach, CA and we’re hoping we can just make a vacation out of the whole trip since we’ve been craving west coast vibes.
Also, in 2019, we attended several screenings of the Playing with Fire documentary and were able to meet hundreds of you [our readers] in the process. We’ve so enjoyed meeting some of you, hearing about your wins and helping you all think through your challenges. It’s helped us to crystallize our vision for future meetups and organized events in the future.
That’s all for now. In our next post, we’ll share more about our business and personal financial goals for 2020. The best is yet to come
Mr. and Mrs. r&R