2022 has been a a hallmark year for us. After living in Sweden for 2 years, we set our sights on the USA. We decided that we wanted the USA to be our home, got business approval, went through the Visa process, and relocated to the USA; all within 6 months.
2022 was the year that we started to pursue “settling down” with our sights set on a post-FIRE life in a forever home; getting to The Land of the Free bought us one step closer. Getting to the place that we’d been dreaming of shattered some grass-is-greener preconceptions, of course. But now that we’re seasoned travelers we expected this and we know that we’ll acclimate after the 6 month mark (which is right now).
Goals have been hit, perceptions have changed, and we’ve become new versions of ourselves along the way; more refined and wordly versions; building out our mental maps of the world with each cross-border relocation.
2022 Financial Review
- £443,383 Networth (+£138,804)
- £376,655 Excluding House (+£128,948)
- £161,025 Contributed
- -£20,206 Interest Earned
- £151,268 Pension (+£14,506)
- £23,394 Contributed
- -£8,513 Interest Earned
- £225,377 Pre-Pension (+£114,457)
- £127,233 Contributed
- -£14,376 Interest Earned
- £66,724 House Equity (+£9,853)
- £10,389 Contributed
My net worth flew past the £400k milestone. This is, of course, because it isn’t my net worth anymore, it’s our net worth. I need to get used to saying that.
When the SavingNinja household moved to the USA back in June, we finally combined our finances. It no longer made sense to keep them split as my wife is not working full time (yet) and she forefeitted her career as a teacher for us to move to the USA and for me to get a bigger salary.
Combining our savings saw around £55,000 added to these figures, mainly from my wife’s equity in our UK and Swedish house.
This year saw an absolutely massive contribution amount of £161k, this would have been huge even if we disregarded my wife’s contribution; it means that in 2022 we deposited more than half of what our total net worth was at the beginning of the year into savings.
This came from a combination of investing our Swedish house sale proceedings and a relocation bonus.
These contributions carried us through the worst market conditions that we’ve experienced to date. However, we still lost £20,210 in the financial market turmoil by the end of the year. I hope to see this recouped as soon as the market recovers.
Over to the graphs.
Total Net Worth
There was a huge spike in June, then up and down the big dipper of 2022, ending on a down. Our pre-pension investments also overtook our pension investments in June, woohoo!
Interest vs Contributions
These are my favorite charts as it really shows how the market performance is effecting the portfolio. As you can see in the interest stacked chart at the bottom, ending the year £20k lower happened mostly in December.
In both October and November the portfolio surged by over £15k per month, recouping the losses from -£31k in September. But then December saw another £20k drop pushing the portfolio into the red.
Looking at the interest earned in the lifetime of my investment journey (starting in 2018), it’s looking pretty bleak. I’m still up £33k since 2018, but in September I was 1 bad month away from being below £0 for my portfolio lifetime… I should have shoved it into a current account instead, eh?
We’re £20k off being where we were in November 2021 for portfolio lifetime earnings.
Let’s see what my goals were for 2021 Reviewed and see how I did.
1. Move or set up for a move out of Sweden (A+)
Goal definitely achieved!
In February , I got business approval to relocate to the USA. It took 2 months from deciding last Christmas to do this to make a case for the business and get approval; then after just over 3 months of applying for a Visa, we moved to New England last June .
2. Try to get to the US (A+)
3. Master 1 algorithm a week (F)
Complete fail, I lasted about 4 weeks. As soon as I found out that my company would sponsor us to relocate to the USA, I figured there wasn’t much point in doing this anymore. I also had very little time as I was rushing to finish my second technical book. Now, I’ve restarted this journey as you never know when you’ll need to interview again. I’m trying to do an algorithm a day on Grind75 .
4. Read nothing but foundational learning books (A)
Last year, after reading Naval’s book, I decided to boost my foundational understanding of the world by reading nothing but non-fiction for a whole year. I’m happy to say that I succeeded and it was a great experience.
At first, I missed my fantasy novels, especially as I read mostly before going to sleep, but soon I found books that were informative, and interesting. I learnt so much and I feel that with forcing myself to do this, I’ve gained a new found love for learning from reading. And although I won’t be restricting myself to purely non-fiction going forward, I think at least half of my books will be learning based ones. My wife also joined me on this journey and feels the same.
Here’s all of the books that I read in 2021 from best to worst. Some were so bad and long that I couldn’t finish them.
The Order of Time (This book blew my mind and I couldn’t put it down. It was as gripping as any epic fantasy, very well written.)
There’s still a long way to go to build out my general understanding of the world at a foundational level. I focused on history and science a lot in 2022, I need to pick up some books about economics and mathematics. As I failed to finish the two last books, I’d like to learn more about Marxism too, I’ve been recommended Karl Marx book , but I seem to not do as well with older reads, I find them generally not well written and boring.
5. Release version 1.0 of my app (F)
This is the second year running that I’ve completely failed this goal. I didn’t even get close. I stopped working completely on this app when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to release it while living in the USA until I get a green card. My Visa only allows me to earn income for the company that has sponsored me. I’ll probably not add this goal again for a while.
6. Reach £300k invested assets (excluding property) (A+)
Goal achieved. Even if my wife and I didn’t combine our finances, this milestone would have been hit.
I’m pretty happy with what we’ve achieved this year. Even though the markets did not perform, we invested the most into the stock market than we ever have by a long shot. We also moved across the atlantic into a property that we’d never seen in person with our cat in tow, achieving a lifelong dream in the process. Thanks 2022!
Goals for 2023
This year I’d like to focus on two things: travel and my wife.
With travel, I’m going to assume that I won’t get laid off and we’ll be able to stay in the USA, if this doesn’t happen things will of course change a lot. For Mrs SavingNinja, let my explain what I mean…
Since moving to the USA, we vowed to keep having the possibility of working remotely. We want to move to our dream remote homestead before we FIRE. To do this, we’ll need to make sure that we can both work remotely so we can continue to support ourselves and invest while we start living our next, rural, life.
My job as a software engineer / engineering manager is already remote but my wife, both in Sweden and the UK, has always worked as a teacher in schools; switching to a remote gig requires a bit of reinvention.
This year, we’ve tried a bunch of things, some that didn’t do too great, and others that show promise:
- Opening up an Etsy candle shop
- Editor for books and technical blog posts
- Remote English as a language teacher on Preply
- Freelance International English Literature teacher for US IB kids (usually private school)
- Self publishing Kindle author
The candle shop didn’t do too well, too many cheap candles coming from China. Number 2, 3 and 4 are bringing in steady income which is growing. Self publishing shows a lot of promise.
My wife working isn’t to make ends meet, it’s to bring her fulfillment, and as we’ve found out this year after she has released a 3 part series of short stories, she enjoys writing more than everything else. The income from self publishing is far below her other ventures right now, but the possibilities and fulfillment factors are far better.
Being a self published author doesn’t just require you to write, you have to… Research, edit, advertise, create and manage mailing lists, websites and newsletters. It’s a full business, and I’ve decided to join her on this journey. This is why I’d like my goals this year to focus on my wife, and growing this business together.
1. Release two full length novels
I’ve not yet released a fiction book, I’m still in the research phase but I plan to write a full length novel this year. This book will be published under the same pen name that my wife is using. The goal is set to 2 full length novels as my wife plans to release one too.
One of my life-long goals is to write a fantasy novel, these books won’t be in that genre, but it will be good practice!
2. Earn $1000 from total book sales
This is an ambitious goal for a new author with no mailing list, but I think with a bit of luck, and if we manage to publish before mid-year, it could be achievable. Income from my 2 existing technical books won’t count.
3. Visit 3 national parks
We’re living in America, we should make the most out of it! We’ve also spent $100 on an annual national park pass, so my frugality monster wants to get the most out of it. We’ve got our sights on Arcadia in Maine, revisiting Yosemite in California, and road tripping to a middle America national park.
4. Contribute at least $100,000 into pre-pension savings
I want to contribute at least $100k from my pay check into investment accounts in 2023. Who knows if we’ll be able to stay in the USA? We need to save as much as we can from my American salary while we can. I plan on upping my contributions to $10k per month in February and hopefully sticking with it.
It doesn’t make sense to set net worth goals anymore as these will be achieved according to the whims of the market.
5. Exercise 3 times per week as a default
I’ve been up and down through out the years with exercise. For the last 4 weeks I’ve been exercising every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I hope to continue that as a default for the whole year and make it a life long habit.
6. Don’t buy anything new
We’ve both felt that we have made a lot of purchases this year, it was to be expected as we arrived in the country with nothing, but we definitely went a bit overboard. We’ve challenged ourselves to not buy anything new for 2023. These are our rules:
- Our groceries will remain the same
- We’re allowed to buy anything if it’s second hand from a thrift store
- We can make an exception if it’s smart dress for a wedding (We have an Italian wedding to go to in the summer.)
Our biggest challenge will be not buying anything that’s a good deal from Costco, but most items are much easier to thrift in the USA, especially clothes.
If we end up needing to buy something new, we’ll add it to a list and share it with you at the end of the year.
I’ll be very happy if we achieve all of these goals. They have taken a very different shape to my previous yearly goals . I think it shows that we are maturing and becoming more fulfilled; our goals are no longer total net worth targets, or promotion and relocation related, they’re based on health, fulfillment, and travel; with a healthy contribution target.
Midway through this year we should be able to start our green card process, we’ll be one step closer to moving to our rural life. Maybe next year we’ll have some goals revolving around that!
I hope you all had a good 2022 and are looking forward to what 2023 might bring.
What goals have you set?