We did it! My husband and I have officially reached our financial goal that was set in the year 1999.
Our goal was to reach $X dollars in net worth by the age of 40 so that we could be financially independent, with zero debts and a certain specified standard of living. It was meant to take ten years but took 4 years longer.
Truth be told, we weren't even sure if we could reach that goal in our lifetime. It was a long shot. A very long shot. Vividly remembered the scene then. I was pregnant with our first child. Financially, we had two home loans to take care of then. We were also planning to take a loan to buy a used car because the family was growing. We set down our goals, specifying the amount of net worth we will attain, the type of car we will drive, the house we will live in and even right down to how many vacations we can afford per year. I had it typed out and we both kept it close to our hearts.
Then life took over. Our second child came along. I quit my full-time job to stay home with the kids so it was down to only one stable income - my husband's. My husband was expatriated and the family moved a couple of times. We were repatriated.
But not a day went by when we didn't keep to this dream and faith that we would be financially free and independent one day. On hindsight, I think it was a combination of a frugal, prudent lifestyle; regular, sound stock investments and pure good luck that helped us.
To reach one's goals, it has to be measured. And measured we did. Every month, I would update our Net Worth Chart on my husband's pay day. I would then share it with him and we could discuss for a while what happened in the month and what plans we have ahead. For 14 years and counting, we did that. That's how we know: small actions done consistently can yield big results too.
Our net worth grew 8.5 times during the period, with an average of 20% per year but that didn't come without some bad years. At its worst, net worth grew a mere 2% in 2008 (even including salary and dividends) because our stocks were beaten down by the financial crisis. At its best, and in the very next year 2009, net worth played catch-up with a 50% increase! We held on to our belief that stocks are the way to invest Warren-Buffett style and bought more when share prices were thrashed.
It helped very much too that we had a few years of expatriation where almost everything was paid for. That was the "good luck" part.
Our lifestyle hasn't changed much. Our idea of never over-indulging has rubbed off on our children. So, even though we have lived the "rich" expat life, we did not have much culture shock adapting to living in a cosy apartment or eating hawker food when we returned to Singapore.
I think for our next goal, it is to allow my husband to pursue his interests without having to hold a "job" job. It is time to go back to the drawing block again. I can't wait.