We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle, probably.

In response to J$’s post on Budgets Are Sexy1 introducing the Million Dollar Club, I thought it would be appropriate to create a page dedicated to tracking our smaller, yearly goals on the way to becoming financially independent. After all, accomplishing any great task is all about the slow accumulation of a day’s worth of effort over time. Every day that we commit to making sure these things happen is a day closer to shedding our wage-earner cocoons and blossoming into millionaire butterflies!2

Right now, our cocoons are pretty damn sturdy. In progress bar form, we’ve only just begun to show some color in two important categories:

 

FI Number Progress - Goal: $600,000 liquid net worth

Debt Payoff Progress - Peak Debt: $378,228

 

But before we address the minute details of where we will send each paycheck to help those bars grow to the right, let’s see what pre-tax investments are actually available to Mr. and Mrs. Vigilante today:

The Most We Could Possibly Save Pre-Tax

 The VigilanteMrs. Vigilante
SIMPLE IRA$12,500 + 3% of salary-
Pension-9.3% of salary
457(b)-$18,000
Solo 401(k)$18,000$18,000
Traditional IRA$5,500$5,500
HSA$3,400-
TOTAL$39,400 + 3% of salary$41,500 + 9.3% of salary

Our ultimate goal is to fill all of those, every year, and then some. But with the knowledge that it’s simply not possible at our current income and expenses (especially with ~$1,850 going to student loans each month), we are committing to slightly less ambitious goals.

This is our pledge to ourselves to do the most that we can with what we have. The Vigilante Family will achieve financial independence in several short, easily digestible steps, starting with this 2017 pledge:

What We Pledge to Save in 2017

 The VigilanteMrs. Vigilante
SIMPLE IRA$9,100 + 3% of salary + any bonuses up to $3,400
Pension-9.3% of salary
457(b)-$18,000
Solo 401(k)All blog profit3-
Traditional IRAAs much as possible!As much as possible!
HSA$3,400-
Taxable AccountsAll remaining bonuses-
TOTAL$12,500 + 3% of salary + bonuses$13,100 + 9.3% of salary
Anticipated17,993 + tIRA/taxable$22,467 + tIRA

Other financial goals for 2017 include:

  • Renegotiate The Vigilante’s salary for ~25% increase.3 2/1/17: Failure! Well, mostly. Still got a fantastic ~17% raise, but it might be just shy of what I need to accomplish some of the remaining goals. Time will tell!
  • Refinance The Vigilante’s student loans for a lower interest rate and save more than $200 per month and greater than $20,000 in payments over the life of the loan. 3/1/17: Success! Refinanced for about a 1.3% reduction in interest rate, reduced payment of about $480/month, and total savings of about $22,000!
  • Finish maxing The Vigilante’s 2016 tIRA and contribute at least $1,900 more to Mrs. Vigilante’s 2016 tIRA to increase tax refund. 2/26/17: Success! We’ve scrimped and saved and – to save time on filing an amended tax return as I’ll describe in my next net worth post – actually borrowed a bit to achieve this goal. But it’s done!
  • Increase emergency fund to $8,000.
  • Add a deck to the house. 10/01/17: Failure! We are postponing this goal to the spring of 2018 to better enable us to accomplish the goals of emergency funds and tIRAs. The deck will be built in the spring to make sure our new baby doesn’t crawl out the back door!
  • The Vigilante will assume at least half of the mortgage payment from Mrs. Vigilante so that she can max out her 457(b). 2/2/17: Success! This was perhaps our most important goal, since the 457(b) can be drawn from in early retirement without penalty. It’s our most important account, so we’re happy to see it grow so fast!
  • The Vigilante will make a sincere attempt to assume all of the mortgage payment from Mrs. Vigilante so that she can max out her 457(b) and a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA so she can save insane amounts of pre-tax dollars each year. 6/25/17: Failure! It has become rather obvious that I could manage this, but we would not be able to save any more money at the moment because we’re struggling to get our emergency funds and tIRAs filled. So, no go this year.

Like J$, our goal is not necessarily to have a cool million at any point. Most likely, we will enter the two-comma club before we even retire…but the “M” word is completely optional. Our real focus is on having sufficient liquid net worth to feel comfortable saying “nah, I don’t give a fuck” to anyone who wants us to do anything that doesn’t involve raising our future child, spending time with each other and our friends and family, or otherwise enjoying our precious time.

If you’re ever curious how these goals are affecting our net worth, just take a look at our quarterly net worth updates!


Pledge Progress Last Updated 10/1/2017
Check back! This post will be updated concurrently with every quarterly net worth update and with every big step toward or goals in between!

  1. By the way, they are sexy, and I have the proof! Somewhere around our first date, Mrs. Vigilante excitedly suggested “We should make a budget!” and that, of course, led straight to the bedroom. Didn’t it, Mrs. Vigilante?
  2. There’s probably some joke to be made here about special millennial snowflakes, but I missed it. Feel free to harass me in the comments for this, Gen X’ers.
  3. Sounds absurd, but based on the factors at play, it’s a very reasonable request!

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