It’s August 12, 2019 – a year of progress…
I only started the blog in May 2019, but I thought I’d do a quick look-back on things that have changed in my financial life. The graph pictured above is my 22seven net worth tracker. As you can see, it’s gone steadily up for the last twelve months.
This is potentially a brag post, but I want you to appreciate how insane this graph is for me.
This is what my net worth graph looked like this time last year.
That’s quite a contrast, isn’t it?
There are some things to note about the data. The first graph (2018-2019) basically starts from zero because I switched banks last year. For some reason, I deleted all that previous data collecting under my previous bank accounts. They were a bit of a mess and also overlapping my new datasets.
It also looks in the first graph like I began at zero and got a big influx. That was just me adding stuff like my retirement annuity account to my 22seven app. I didn’t start from literal zero.
I was earning decently and regularly at a fulltime gig for eight months in 2018 and I’ve been freelancing since. My saving and upward net worth trajectory have continued despite being a freelancer again.
I went to Europe in June and it’s not impacting my trajectory. Saving is magic.
Then and Now
The second graph is a pretty accurate visual of my financial life before I began seriously saving. It’s a real testament to what a gigantic impact saving can have on your finances.
I was making about the same amount of money last year; I just never saved any of it. It proves, to me at least, that what you make isn’t as important as how you treat it. I treated incoming money more like Christmas bonuses than a salary. Around lean months like January and February, when I had no payments coming in, I would manage to stretch what I had. I clearly wasn’t incapable of saving, but my head wasn’t in the game.
If I had a payment to look forward to, I tended to spend it before it arrived. It’s as if the money may as well not have happened at all. I was arguably much better with money when I was broke.
The only encouraging thing about this graph is that I didn’t go under zero (very often). When I did, I thankfully didn’t have the ability to get too far into debt.
What I’ve learned
- Saving is a priority rather than an after-thought. Saving, for me, didn’t happen by accident. When I wasn’t paying attention, spending happened.
- I’m still a happy and functional person without my previous level of spending.
- I get as much pleasure from saving as I did from spending.
- I’m not an extraordinary case. I’m not even what I would think of as ‘hardcore’ about saving. This is just me no longer standing in my own way.
- In many ways, I’m very lucky, but I’m also like many artists, dealing with a constantly changing work situation. Saving, even when it is your only plan, is still a plan.
And the final point is, again, about progress – or what may seem the lack of progress.
The first graph illuminates the point to me that the more I go up, the more incremental my progress. It’s the same progress I’ve always made, logically. But the same R5000 that doubled my net worth a year ago now looks like a blip in scale to the rest of the graph. It can be frustrating. We’re impatient and the only guarantee we have about our financial hopes and dreams that they will take time.
I think everyone can take a bit of encouragement from this drastic change in patterns. It looks drastic, compared to last year, but mostly, saving has just become more automatic and less of an argument. Even when I can only save the minimum every month, even when I can only maintain and not dig into my progress, that’s still progress.
Whatever your strategy and however you’re feeling about your progress right now, just give it a chance. Time makes all the difference.
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