Looking back at 2017 & ahead to 2018

With 2017 ending and 2018 kicking off, I thought it would be fun to look back at some accomplishments from 2017 and lay out some goals for 2018.

As I started to right these accomplishments and goals down I found they fell into three general categories and will approach both years in that manner:

  1. Financial (Personal Finance)
  2. Personal (Health and Family)
  3. Career (My primary job and this blog)

2017 Accomplishments

Financial (Personal Finance)

  • We grew our networth by 38%, which was awesome! Especially when you consider our savings rate dropped some in the second half of the year when we went down to one income after our son was born.
  • As mentioned above, we did go down to one income and had my wife stay home when our son was born in May. This is a HUGE accomplishment, as it takes discipline and the ability to budget/plan to make it all work.  So far, we’ve have hit the tighter monthly budget we’ve set for ourselves which has allowed us to maintain a savings rate higher than most people on two incomes.
  • Our average monthly after-tax savings rate was 48%! I’m super pumped about this considering half the year we only had one income.  While I expect this to be a fair amount lower in 2018, it was great to pad our savings in 2017.

Personal (Health & Family)

  • I became a father in May, which is the best thing that has ever happened to me, along with getting married to wife. It has been such a life changer but in all the best ways possible.  Being a dad continues to bring out the best in me and I am proud of how I handled it all in 2017.
  • Related to the accomplishment above, my wife was able to stay home with our son, so we are down to one income. This took some careful planning, budgeting, and life style changes but so far it has been going great and has appeared to be the best decision for our family.
  • I ran 500 miles in 2017! In my early 20’s I ran all the time but between life and some injuries there was a 4-5-year period where I barely ran at all.  Two years ago, I found a gym with great coaches who focused on getting my body strong again and it has really paid off.  The best part is my legs/knees felt great all year last year while running those 500 miles, cheers to more in 2018.

Career (My Primary Job)

  • In March of 2017, I received a 5% raise based on my performance in 2016. This helped with the savings rate described above as well as our decision for my wife to not go back to work when we had our son.  I think we did a great job of not falling victim to “lifestyle creep” and funneled most of the raise into our monthly savings.
  • This one was huge, right before Thanksgiving I found out I was getting a promotion I interviewed for earlier in the month. This promotion puts me at a manager level now in my company, something I have been striving for over the last two years.  This is a big next step for me and will hopefully give me another level of experience that I don’t already have.  Another great part, it came with a 10% raise, which should help us reach our financial goals for 2018!

2018 Goals

Financial (Personal Finance)

  • First financial goal for 2018, grow our networth by 12%. Why 12%?  This would get us to a pretty big milestone on our path to one of our biggest lifetime financial goals…I’ll just leave it at that.  I think with our savings rate and investment strategy that this is feasible even if the market performs significantly less than it did in 2017.
  • Our other financial goal for 2018 is to maintain a high level of monthly after-tax savings rate, even on a full year of one income. That goal for 2018 will be 35% monthly average after-tax savings rate.  Between my recent raise/promotion and our new one income budget, I think we can achieve this rate while at the same time living the type of life we want to live.

Personal (Health & Family)

  • My top personal goal in 2018 is to do everything I can to be the best husband and father possible. This includes spending more time with my family, reading more books, listening to more podcasts, etc.  I want to find more meaningful ways to connect with my wife and child as possible.
  • Another specific goal I have is for my wife and I to finish developing and implementing our Living Will, Healthcare Directive, and Power of Attorney, so we know James is taken care of is something was to happen to both my wife and me.
  • The big event for our family this year is that we hope to move closer to my job and into the house we plan to raise our family in, how exciting! I can’t wait to have a shorter commute to work.  Both my wife and I also can’t wait to be in a larger house so we have room to store things and don’t feel cramped all the time!
  • Lastly, in terms of my health I want to exceed my running accomplishment from last year and run 700 miles in 2018!

Career (My primary job and this blog)

  • With my new job starting at work on Jan 1, one of my main goals is to hit it hard out of the gate and make a good impression with my new boss and peers. I really want to identify areas where I can add value and make a positive impact in the organization.  I look forward to mid-year feedback on where I can improve and next steps.
  • With this new role, I have a team of two employees I now manage and lead, this being my first time in a people leader position. My goal is to be a good leader to these employees by giving them opportunities to excel and showcase their abilities, provide support where needed, and be someone they can trust to back them up, no matter what.
  • I really want to ACTUALLY contribute to this blog in 2018! I only posted twice in 2017 and that’s makes me sad considering how much I enjoy writing about our finances and being a dad.  I’m hoping to start with 2-3 times a month, but really at some point would like to post once a week.  This is a stretch goal for sure!

It’s hard to believe after the big year that 2017 was with the birth of our child, a busy job, first full year of marriage, etc.…that 2018 could go by any faster, but it’s shaping up to be that way.  Our son will be one in May, I’ve got a new role at work that looks to make me busier than ever, and we hope to move this summer.  I’m sure this year will fly by faster than the last.

I’m so excited for what lies ahead and feel great about the goals we have for 2018!

What big things did you accomplish in 2017?  What are your goals in 2018?

Thanks for stopping by!

Brad

The Day my Life Changed Forever!

This time last year, Labor Day to be exact, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our son!  The picture above is of the actual tests we used, how cool is that?!?

Anyway, this is the story of when I found out I was going to be a father and how it changed my life, forever!

The Story

It was Labor Day weekend 2016 and my wife and I had been married for just 6 weeks.  We had been trying to get pregnant since our wedding night.  We had just spent the weekend back in my home state of Illinois celebrating out recent nuptials with my family and those who weren’t able to make the wedding.  Heading into the weekend we knew there was a chance we could be pregnant but we honestly weren’t thinking about it much.

That was until Labor Day morning when my wife woke up feeling nauseous and queasy and we thought…maybe we are pregnant!?!

As we drove home later that morning my wife became more nauseous and at the same time our excitement grew.  The more we talked about it the more we convinced ourselves we had to be pregnant.  After what seemed like the longest 6 hours ever, we finally made it home!  We dropped our stuff in the kitchen and rushed upstairs to take the pregnancy test.  As my wife grabbed the test and prepared to do her “business”, I read the instructions so we would know what we were looking at.

After my wife did her “business” we hid the test under a hat so we could see the results together as a surprise.  We waited what felt like the longest two minutes of our lives, saying little and holding hands on the bed.  When two minutes finally passed we anxiously pulled back the hat and in a split second we were pregnant!  Not literally of course, my wife had been pregnant for about 5 weeks, but our state of knowing had changed in a split second.

From that moment on, everything changed.  We embraced harder than we ever had before, tears of joy running down our faces.  Words can’t even describe the feeling.  Looking back, words like joy, excitement, pride and the like don’t even begin to do justice to what we felt that day.  Something changed inside me that day, for the better I might add, and I haven’t been the same since.

How I felt about myself changed…

From that moment on I was a different man, seeing myself in a brand new light almost immediately.

  • First off, I had never felt more like a man in my entire life. I was able to uphold my end of the mating bargain and impregnate my wife.  For lack of a better way to describe the feeling, it felt manly!
  • But at the same time, I was more emotional than I had ever been. One morning I found myself watching a SportCenter segment on the Make-a-Wish foundation and all the sweet things these pro athletes were doing for sick kids.  By the end of it I was an emotional, teary-eyed mess!  In all honesty, I’ve been more prone to getting misty-eyed ever since.
  • My sense of responsibility also skyrocketed. I was going to be a father, my wife is pregnant, and it’s my job to take care of them.  All of the sudden I was acutely aware of the speed limit and much more likely to wonder why the person next to me was driving like a crazy person!
  • Lastly, my role as our family’s main provider became even more elevated in my own mind. I found myself more focused at work and even more conscious of our saving and spending habits.  Providing stability and being the rock for my family was my top priority!

I felt like a father from day one…

According to many books, blogs, and websites it is not uncommon for a lot of men to not feel like a father until months after their child is born.  For me, I felt like a father immediately.  From when our baby was the size of a poppy-seed to the day he was born and every moment since then.

I felt every feeling of fear, excitement, and anticipation during those 9 months of pregnancy.  Every single appointment and ultra-sound, I was there.  The first time we heard his heartbeat, I cried.  Every single ultra-sound, I cried.  Every night before bed I would read to my wife’s stomach, in hopes my son would know my voice when he was born.  I was all in from day one.

For any expectant fathers out there, I cannot recommend enough involving yourself in everything right from the beginning.  By the time your baby is born you’ll be so far into “dad-mode” your wife and everyone else will think you’re a natural, even if you are scared to death!

Far surpassed my wildest dreams…

I could have never imagined how profound an impact that day would have on my life.  It will always mark a significant moment in my life.  Below are just a handful of impacts I still feel today.

  • Having been married for only six weeks it was hard to imagine something could surpass the magic of our wedding day, especially so quickly. Finding out we were pregnant dwarfed anything I had experienced to that point in my life.
  • Until that point I had never felt closer to my wife. My partner forever, the woman I love, we had created a child together.  We were beyond thrilled that we got to travel this journey called parenthood together and have only grown closer since.
  • It also increased my need to plan for the future, which my wife will tell you was already quite high. Where should we live?  How should we save for college?  How do we fit having a child into our budget?  The list of questions went on and on, and they never have stopped to be honest.

Since that day…

Well first off, it’s been the best year of my life.  My wife and I have grown closer than I ever could have imagined.  Being a dad is absolutely the best thing ever!

Now we have a four-month old baby boy who is the light of our life and teaches us something new every day.  Labor Day 2016 was the start of the best and most important of my life, fatherhood.

I look forward to sharing the moments along this journey so far and those still to come, as I build this blog.

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a father?  How did it change you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Brad

Welcome to Fatherhood & Finance!

Welcome!

My name is Brad and welcome to Fatherhood & Finance!  Join me on my journey to becoming a father and working towards financial freedom.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you get something of value from the site and would love to hear from you!

Over the coming weeks and months you’ll see various articles on both Personal Finance related topics as well as topics related to Fatherhood.  I also hope that sometimes my posts will be focused on both!

Who Am I?

I’m a 31 year old Automotive Engineer who has loved all things Personal Finance for over 20 years.  My wife and I just gave birth to our first child in May 2017, so I just became a father as well!

My passion for Personal Finance started at 10 years old when I first discovered Thomas Stanley’s, “The Millionaire Next Door”.  My mother would read it to my step-father when we were taking long trips in the car.  For some reason the book spoke to me and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Why start this blog?

I hope Fatherhood & Finance will be an avenue to document, discuss, and further knowledge in 2 areas that play a very big role in my life: Fatherhood and the pursuit of financial freedom.  The latter has been a big part of my life for over 20 years and the former is just about to become the biggest part of my life for years to come.

Never having to worry about money, being able to do the things we love, and not having to work forever are just some of the things my wife and I seem to talk about everyday.  At a high level that is probably our definition of financial freedom.  Planning, researching, and thinking about our financial future and trying to learn more about the vehicles that can get us there are what drove me to start this blog.  My hope is this will be a channel for me to discuss all areas of personal finance, while engaging in dialogue and learning from those around me.

My wife and I welcomed our beautiful baby boy, James Robert, into the world on May 14th, 2017!  Being a researcher and planner by nature, I’ve read numerous books, taken pages of notes, talked to every dad I could get my hands on, and more.  My whole world currently revolves on being the best father I can be to James, while also remaining the husband my wife has come to know and love.  I’ll be documenting and discussing various topics as I experience them firsthand during my new journey in Fatherhood.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Brad!