2012 was one of the greatest years of my life, even though it ended with a very sad event when I lost my best friend in December. Last year saw many major life events. I moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Clearwater, Florida in the hope of starting fresh. I accepted the fact that my grandfather's Alzheimer's means he no longer knows who I am. And, I mourned the loss of my very best friend of 24 years. Consequently, we canceled our 7 day cruise, so there were no major vacations last year (still, I had to pay for that cruise, so hardly any savings in that category). Even though I am no longer "gainfully employed" in the traditional sense, I found earning opportunities through mystery shopping while juicing my rental income by keeping a lid on expenses.
I had 5 big goals for 2012:
- Lose at least 24 pounds. For the first time in a long time, I did manage to lose weight over the year, but I failed to lose 24 pounds. My weight went from 245 at the beginning of the year to 230 on 12/31. I lost 15 pounds.
- Increase my net worth by $50,000. That was easy: my net worth increased by $74,020. I shifted most of my retirement assets into a Self-Directed IRA which invests in real estate. While my properties will be listed at the price I paid, the rent I receive (less any expenses related to those houses, of course) counts as an increase in my worth. But once again, the biggest contributor to the increase was in reducing debt. I reduced my overall debt by over $49,000 in 2012.
- Reduce utilities expense by 10%. In 2011 I spent $2,722 on electricity, natural gas, water/sewer, Internet and phone. In 2012, I spent $2,760 on utilities, basically the same as last year. But, almost $600 of that went to pay deposits on my new utilities. Let's call this line neither success nor failure since technically I did reduce my utility usage by 10% but in cash outlay I did not.
- Reduce credit card/LOC debt by $36,000. Not quite: I reduced it by $32,354. No excuses here. I could have made a couple changes in December to achieve this goal, but decided to keep cash on hand rather than apply it to debt.
- Purchase 1 rental property. Through my Self-Directed IRA I purchased two. Success!
I am proud of the progress I made, but I know I can do better.