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2021 Year In Review

“How do you measure a year in the life? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee?”

I started The Best Interest on December 16, 2018. It’s been three years!

And this also marks three years since I’ve been tracking every single expense in my budget. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. 

There are a few ways I measure a year at The Best Interest.

Today’s post will be a year-in-review for both the blog and for my personal finances. There will be lots of fun numbers. And I’ll show you how my preaching works in practice.

To get your bearings, here’s the Year 1 Review.

And here’s the Year 2 Review.

Thank You!

Thank you. Yes, you. Thank you for reading.

I don’t write here because of financial gain. I write here because you’re reading. And because it’s incredibly fun and you readers make it rewarding.

Every small compliment you’ve given me is extremely meaningful. I love answering your questions and your Tweets. So again, thank you for being here.

Some Stats

Back in 2020, over 160,000 people stopped by The Best Interest. For 2021, my goal was 500,000!

But something funny happened in early 2021. My traffic coming from Google got choked down to a trickle. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to get that traffic back.

No matter, life goes on. The Best Interest still attracted over 200,000 people in 2021, most of whom did not find the site from Google, but instead heard about The Best Interest through word-of-mouth and social media.

I published 95,000 words in 2021, spread over 65 articles. And that doesn’t count the articles on CNBC, MSN, the Motley Fool, and other websites. It was a fun and productive year!

Writing and Podcasting

It’s hard for me to pick just one or two articles that exemplified 2021. But the following two articles received the most feedback and were shared on some nationally-recognized websites. Add these to your reading list 🙂

I started The Best Interest Podcast back in February and published 37 episodes. The podcast has been on hiatus since October, but for good reason. Namely, I’m taking it in a new direction and needed time to understand where the many moving pieces would end up.

I hope to be back behind the podcast microphone in early 2022!

Budgeting

Another year, another streak of tracking every single dollar using YNAB. If you’re looking for a smart present, YNAB is a great idea.

Note: you and I both get a free month of YNAB if you end up signing yourself (or someone else) up with the link above. No extra cost to anyone involved. You get a 34-day trial, and then an additional free month. That’s two months to figure out if you like it!

Below, you can see a snapshot of my YNAB journey from November 2018 until now. During this 3+ year period, I’ve used YNAB to budget and track every dollar that I earn and spend.

My YNAB journey from November ’18 until now. Debt in RED, Assets in BLUE.

2021 Quarter 4 Review

I’ve been publishing quarterly net worth updates in 2021. Here are the first three:

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

…and here’s my data for the fourth quarter of this strange year.

Personal Spending

In October, November, and December, I spent $3404, $3537, and $4321 respectively. That’s an average of $3754 per month.

It’s my highest quarter this year. And December isn’t quite done yet! Ahhhh!!!

But is it a problem?

  1. This spending is occuring after I’m putting away money into my 401(k), Roth IRA, and taxable brokerage account. I save first, then spend.
  2. After saving for retirement and paying taxes, my takehome income covers my spending. Not by a ton. But it’s covered.

In other words, I’m safe. I save for retirement (good), pay my taxes (good, but not fun), spend my money (that’s why money is there!!), and still have a tiny bit leftover (safe).

The Best Interest’s Spending

The Best Interest spent $1600 in Q4 2021, but earned a similar income. No profit, no loss.

And in the coming months, income from Money Mastermind should start rolling in. More on that below!

Net Worth Update

  • I earned about $12,000 in take-home W2 income in Q4. I spent $11,250 and invested another $2,000. That’s right. I lost cash this quarter. Don’t worry though. My emergency fund is still healthy enough to cover 6+ months’ living expenses.
  • My home equity went up by $2400.
  • I contributed $1,500 to my Roth IRA
  • …$500 to my taxable brokerage account
  • …and $6,500 to my 401(k) account. That’s a $8,500 total in new investments.
  • But did the investments within those accounts grow? Barely. My investment growth is about +$2,000 since my last check-in.

Nevertheless, any growth is good growth.

Cash-$1250
Home Equity+$2400
New Investment Principal+$8500
Investment Growth+$2000
Total+$11650

And thus, another positive quarter is in the books. I saw an $11,650 overall net worth increase in Q4 2021.

Fun Projects…

Looking backward…wow, 2021 was a crazy year! As I progressed day-by-day, 2021 didn’t feel all that special. But now looking back at all that happened—I’m kind of shocked!

Here are a few examples…

Money Mastermind

I had an idea in July. I wanted to ask a bunch of money experts to write about their favorite topics. We’d tie those topics together in a book. We’d publish the book to the delight of many readers. And the authors would all share the book’s revenue.

That idea came together swimmingly in the form of Money Mastermind!!!

Over 30 writers came together in the book. We cover over 100 unique money topics.

We’ve published an ebook version here.

And a hard-copy version here on Amazon.

Grab your book today! For the ebook, you can use code THANKYOU to save 30% on your copy.

The NYSE

I got a chance to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in early December. Here’s the cool story!

FinCon 2021

I went to FinCon in September, representing The Best Interest. It’s a conference by and for financial content creators.

It was a blast! I met dozens of awesome and admirable people, including many who I’ve known digitally for years but never met in person. The speakers and presentations were inspirational, and I even got to sit on a discussion panel myself!

Hope to see some of you at FinCon 2022!

Monkey and Darts and Stocks

At the beginning of 2021, I started the inaugural Monkey Dartboard Invitational. Here’s the background if you’re unfamiliar.

As of this writing, the results are as follows:

  • The monkeys are up 29.58% on the year.
  • The Russell 3000 (the target index) is up 18.19%.
  • The S&P 500 is up 23.78%
  • The “alpha funds” that I tracked are up 8.75%

Yes, the monkeys destroyed the professional funds—29.58% vs. 8.75%.

And yes, the monkeys outperformed the baseline index funds. Random stock-picking monkeys have that potential.

Advisors Monthly

I started a newsletter service in June 2021. I wrote monthly newsletters for financial advisors who didn’t have the time. The content was fun, interesting, and pertinent for those advisors’ clients.

For 6 months, Advisors Monthly was great! But with my upcoming career shift, I couldn’t continue it.

Still…nothing ventured, nothing gained!

And On a Personal Note…

I can’t publish a 2021 review without a huge thank you to Kelly. I love you and can’t wait to marry you in 2022 🙂

2022 and Beyond!

2022 will be an exciting and uncertain year for The Best Interest.

As I wrote last week, I’m starting a new career path that’s 100% focused on helping people with their finances.

In some ways, this will be good for The Best Interest. In other ways, it’ll be new and strange territory. And that scares me!

But as with much in life, my plan is to do my best and work hard. That strategy has worked before, and I hope it will work again!

Thanks again for a phenomenal 2021!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, Subscribe to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

-Jesse

Want to learn more about The Best Interest’s back story? Read here

If you prefer to listen, check out The Best Interest Podcast, or listen to me on a bunch of other people’s podcasts.

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