Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Year In Numbers: A 2008 Retrospective

2008 was an incredible year for the United States, the world - and of course me personally. I achieved a lot in terms of improving my personal finances. I learned a great deal since I started this journey last January, and it's amazing to think how far I've come and how far I have yet to go. It's an exciting, difficult, but positive journey and I can't wait to see what the future brings.

And now, 2008 in numbers:

$0 - The amount I paid in bank fees this year. A key reason for this was switching most of my banking to ING, but I also didn't overspend my checking account as I had regularly in the past (to the tune of $2,633 in overdraft charges, late fees, and service fees, which also happens to be close to my current IRA balance).

3.598 - This is the amount of shares I automatically purchased through dividend reinvestment in my FFNOX fund. Even though this is a tiny amount - purchased around $19 per share - this represents the first real example to me of true passive income beyond piddling savings account interest. Simply by owning these equities, I earned dividend cash that gave me something of additional value (in this case more shares). This was a big moment for me conceptually as a beginning investor.

12 - In the last year - just 12 short months - I have increased my knowledge of investing, the economy, frugality, retirement planning, and everything having to do with personal finance infinitely from where I was back in December in 2007.

57 - The number of personal finance blogs and websites listed on my sidebar. You were all extremely helpful, positive, and informative, and I know that my journey would have been much, much more difficult without your daily advice filling my Google Reader. And this is not to ignore the innumerable members of the Snowflake Revolution, whose dedication to strategic debt reduction and saving is truly inspirational.

$1,000 - It's a nice round number to use as a first goal for everyone's emergency fund, which is a personal finance must. I built my EF up to $1,000 earlier in '08, emptied it for what I feel was a great reason, and am glad I currently have it sitting at $907.

$2,501.72 - This is the amount that I used to buy into my first-ever investment in the stock market, the FFNOX index fund in my Fidelity Roth IRA. A banner day.

$3,342.25 - This is the amount that I paid in debt reduction for the year.

$4,684 - This is my current total assets. Considering I had literally $0 for years this is an infinitely fantastic improvement!

$28,076 - This is the total debt that I finished the year with, which is actually $873.25 more than a year ago. Though some of this can be attributed to the interest on my student loan, the majority of it represents additional debt incurred by me. This is one significant disappointment for the year and something I have to concentrate on further in '09 and beyond.

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