2016 A Year of Unexpected Fortune

MichaelChallenge, Dividends, Family, FIRE, Giving, Habits26 Comments

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unexpected fortune

Did your 2016 turn out like you had anticipated?  Or, did you uncover a year of unexpected fortune like I did?

Let’s take a quick look at some of my wins and misses for the year.

Net Worth


For many of us, our portfolios increased healthily these past 12 months despite a downwards trend earlier in 2016.

The S&P 500 for 2016 ended up 9.53% and the Dow Index was up 13.28%.

Our net worth increased from $1,549,657 to $1,741,171 this past year.  That’s a $191,513 increase, or 12.4% by percentage.

I did sell off some equities along the way to build up some cash and plan to invest some of these proceeds into municipal bonds.


I can’t complain much considering I was preparing for a down year, however, even at a 12.4% increase, it still isn’t moving the needle at all towards my goal of $10M.  So, I’ll be doubling down efforts this year to increase income.

Am I worried?  Not so much.  I’ve got 10 years to bridge the gap and I assume the chunk of this will come exponentially.



We saved a little over $10,000 this year which is better than a loss (considering my limited income and ongoing investments).


We didn’t really save as much as I would have liked in large part because of my limited income.  It would be nice to have $25,000 this coming year as our income increases and get back to significant savings again just to keep the saving habit fresh.

Family Time


As you probably know, the largest reason I took an early retirement was to spend time with my family without restriction.

2016 was again a huge blessing, with a ton of time spent playing, laughing, yelling, with (and at) my kids.  Ages 4 and 2 are an incredibly fun age.  There are so many great things to do in San Diego and the surrounding areas (beaches, lakes, & mountains!).

Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most memorable – trips to Costco, story time with our good neighbor friends, or dancing around the house to Kidz Bop.  This time is finite, so I’m sucking up every last bit of these precious moments!

I was also blessed to take some time to re-connect with my wife in February.  We took a relaxing trip to Sedona, AZ, and spent some quality time hiking, eating great meals, and enjoying a couples massage.  A few months later we did a stay-cation in San Diego over the weekend.  We are very blessed to always have my wife’s Mom to come watch the kids during these little getaways.

Finally, we had an epic summer vacation in Mammoth, CA with our neighbor friends and had the chance to do some trout fishing with the kids.


I do struggle with frustration sometimes and at times it can come out harsh with the kids or wife.

I’m reading a new book called, Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, as recommended by my coach, Cathy.

Giving Back


Although I enjoy giving money away to special causes close to my heart, I decided to go one step further this year.  I volunteered as a youth coach over the summer at the Global Youth Leadership Summit.

If you have kids that are in their teens or close to, you owe it to yourself to check out this incredible program.  It teaches kids about self-confidence, leadership, compassion, and so much more.

I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve done in a long time.

I was also happy we took the time as a family to tour the San Diego Rescue Mission in person.  I’ve been donating here for well over a decade but finally took the time to see their facilities in action.  My wife and I felt it was important for our children to have this experience too in hopes they will realize how lucky they are.

This, of course, won’t happen instantaneously (especially with kids), but over time I’m hopeful they will find the natural compassion that lives inside their hearts.


I would have liked to do more random acts of kindness.

Exercise & Wellness


After a relatively sedentary lifestyle in 2015, I started playing tennis again after a several year hiatus.  It’s been great to get back into it, not only because it’s a good workout, but because it’s fun!  Remember me talking about pulling yourself to a goal vs. pushing?

Starting mid-January, I will be continuing my tennis classes once a week, and I also plan to play at least one additional day.


Although I’ve been exercising regularly, I haven’t been necessarily been eating as healthily as I could.  I’ve started decreasing my portion sizes recently, but I have a suspicion that I’m pre-hypertensive based on my most recent blood pressure readings.

I am planning to attend Life Mastery next Fall which focuses on wellness and energy.

The Blog


Financially Alert continues to grow slowly, but surely. I’ve learned a lot about blogging this past year and feel very fortunate to be a personal finance blogger during these times.  I continue to see a huge opportunity as I build the site and create related services or products along the way.

The blog has allowed me to share my voice in a manner that I was never really comfortable doing before.  And, just the past month, I started experimenting with video and intend to expand this medium further.

The blog also has given me the opportunity to turn my dream of becoming a financial coach into a reality.  Helping others to breakthrough is as satisfying as I thought it would be.  I also realized some key distinctions this year about the differences of coaching vs. consulting.  This year I may explore some consulting opportunities as well since I have some pretty good experience under my belt related to small business.

Attending FINCON16 was a fantastic highlight of the year.  There was so much awesome content, and being able to interact with other PF bloggers in person was memorable and worthwhile.


Although I’ve been focusing on creating longer post these days, I still need to bump up my content creation this coming year.  I’m hoping to do some of that video as it will take less time than writing a full 1500 word post, but still make an impact (hopefully!)

I also didn’t make a ton of money with the blog, but I at least cleared the thousand dollar milestone.  I am definitely exploring some additional affiliate opportunities for products/services I already use (eg. Personal Capital).

Final Thoughts

2016 was a memorable year of unexpected fortune in the markets, and rich in life experiences and interactions.  I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

I leave you with an incredible message from my mentor, teacher, and coach – Tony Robbins.

What he shares is so pertinent for us (the overachievers!) and how to really create a lasting impact in our lives.  Hint, it’s not about one-hit wonders, rather creating the necessary rituals/habits that add up to huge results over time.

I wish you and your family a stellar 2017 filled with prosperity, love, health, and fun.

Don’t settle for less than you can be in 2017!  You are awesome!!

Readers, how was your 2016?  What’s in store for 2017?  What are you most excited about doing, or are already doing?

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Hi, I have been blessed to take an early retirement in my mid-30's so I can focus on becoming a better father, blogger, and investor.

My goal is to help you find your personal path to financial freedom, and to enjoy the entire journey.

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26 Comments on “2016 A Year of Unexpected Fortune”

  1. What a great year! You’re really living the dream with quality family time and charitable giving of your time / money. Keep soaking the family time in, it’s precious. We have a 2 year old and another on the way. What a great time!

    Here’s to an equally great 2017!

  2. Hi Michael – I think your wins far outweigh your losses, congratulations on a great year! Two comments, I really love your ‘dashboard’ on your about me page. Snazzy and informative. Also, your comments about spending time with your children is spot on. These years will FLY by. Enjoy every second. Strange I should read this today as just yesterday my husband and I were talking about realistically how many years we have left to plan a longer than one week vacation with the kiddos. My children are 11 and 13 now. By the time the oldest hits 16 or 17 she may be a full time camp counselor or otherwise employed during the summer. We are planning now for an epic road trip in the next 2 or 3 years. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize the opportunity is gone. Best of luck in 2017. I signed up to get your emails … look forward to following your story.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! I enjoyed reading your blog the other day.

      You’ll have to give me inside scoop on the teen years soon!

      I wishing you a fantastic 2017 and hopefully an epic road trip sooner than later. 🙂

  3. It sounds like you did a lot of living in2016. 🙂 It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re around the kiddos a lot, but I’m sure they appreciate being able to spend so much more time with you. 🙂 And way to go on those gains! I’ve also been trying to get back in the wagon with better diet and exercise. I did eat way more veggies this year but I stopped my exercise regimen, which wasn’t good. Here’s to a healthy and active 2017. 🙂

  4. Got to love increasing your net worth by almost $200K w/out working!

    Did Tony Robbins read my About page by any chance? Back in 2009, I described my one word definition of happiness is “progress” and it’s been there ever since. Hmmmm.

    Great job picking up tennis. I love the game and would play every day if my shoulder and knees didn’t hurt.

    I get a sense you are itching to make more money for 2017. Like a lot more. Thoughts on being retired in a bull market? I have this great urge to hustle in 2017.


    1. Yes, being retired in a bull market is strange… the increased NW without working feels a bit like cheating! 😉 But, I suppose it was diligent saving and investing the prior years that allowed this unexpected fortune to emerge.

      I’ll tell TR to send you a royalty check… hah. And, yes, I’m itching to put my hustle on double time in 2017!

  5. Fantastic year! I haven’t been reading long but I feel a kindred financial spirit here. I’m also aiming for the $10M figure, though I wanted to hit it before retiring due to chronic health issues, and also want to spend more time with the kiddo(s?) because age 2 has been surprisingly fun.

    How did the kids like the tour of the Rescue Mission? Would there be an opportunity for them to put in some time helping out there any time soon, since they’re so young? we’re working on teaching JuggerBaby compassion and an understanding of exactly how lucky ze is, too, and I’d like to do that as early as possible.

    1. Awesome, Revanche! I need more $10M aspirations around me. Dom and Sam are already in the mix (though Sam may have quietly already gotten there).

      The kids enjoyed the tour of the rescue mission… especially the kitchen where they got a fresh hot roll from the oven! The only bummer is that the facility is 30 minutes away (without traffic). However, I’m hoping to do some other things with them in 2017 close to home (eg. beach clean ups).

      Have an epic 2017!

  6. Sounds like 2016 was a terrific year for you. Sounds like you were able to really create some quality time with your family. Sounds like you have optimized things and are really pursuing your dreams which is awesome to hear. Keep up the awesome work!!!

    I hope you and your family have a great 2017!!!

  7. Nice job Michael, sounds like you had a great year. 12.4% is nothing to sneeze at. Getting to 10 million without *exceptional* income or *exceptional* investment returns is difficult.

    I looked at half of our accounts this morning and it looks like we did pretty good (15.4%). Once I tally the other half, we’ll probably still be up a little over 15%. That’s not exceptional, but I still feel pretty good about it.

    1. Woo, 15% is awesome Mr. Tako! You beat the DOW and the S&P.

      Over half of more of my future $10M is coming from my unborn brainchild. 😉

  8. Great job in 2016! It’s nice to see your net worth increase, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m bracing for a volatile few years, though. It will be a roller coaster for sure. I think it’s awesome that you’re enjoying your time with the kids. They are only young once and they’ll go off to school very soon.

    1. Happy NY, Joe! Yeah, it’s a real blessing to have been able to spend quality time this year with my kids. It made it even better with a raging bull market. Let’s hope the roller coaster is fun. 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing Mike, it’s an open and honest account by you there and good on you for doing it like that..
    2016 was great and although similar to yourself I possibly spent too much it was a great year.. Looking forward to a big trip I’ve got planned in a few months then really getting focused on building towards FIRE after that 🙂

  10. Wow, wins and misses are an excellent way to keep a track of financial records. It was very inspiring to know that you planned your finances properly and was able to enjoy your year in a profitable manner and spend quality time with your family. Well you sure have given me some goals for myself, so keep coming up with such amazing posts. May you and your family have an amazing year ahead.

  11. Hi Michael, very nice post, it’s the first time that i visit your blog. Good job! It’s the first time but not the last one for sure. In the past year i reached some financial goals but for 2017
    i hope to reach what i lost and new goals (but the difficult part is to manage my emotions to do it).I have a lot of financial goals for this year. The most excited thing is that i’m working from home 🙂 See you soon Michael.

    1. Hi Brad, thank you for dropping by and the comment! I’m sure as a trader you must need to control your emotions on a regular basis to stay in the “game”. Best wishes for your financial goals in 2017. 🙂

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