If there were a longevity award for personal new worth tracking, I probably could get an honorable mention at least. By the end of last month, I have been tallying my net worth religiously at every month end for more than five years, including four full years at this blog.
It is quite a ride by itself. As shown in the bar chart below, our saver's mentality did most of the tricks in the first three years, consistently adding about $5,000 a month. Then, we booked a six-figure gain in the fall of 2005 during when we sold our house and relocated to Asia. Thereafter, we started to have a more balanced portfolio of income streams. Our three income pillars, namely day job income, business income and investment income, are collectively delivering $20,000 a month on average since 2006.
When we started the journey, I estimated that it will take us until 2016 to break the million dollar mark. Obviously things went much smoother than we could ever imagine -- we are likely to cross $800,000 in two weeks, and knock out $1,000,000 no later than the end of 2008, a full eight years ahead of schedule.
Will $1 million gives us the necessary financial independence? Over time, we have drawn the following conclusions:
1) One million dollars alone is no guarantee of decent life forever for a couple in their early 30s.
2) But, given the fact that we have put efforts to establish reliable alternative income stream from our sideline businesses (Perfect Future Publishing Co. and Expat Service Co.), taking a break from my 9-to-5 life is not that much a financial stretch.
3) At the same time, we also realize that our safety margin is thin by definition if I choose to quit my highly-paid job, especially with another 50 years or more ahead of us.
So, by the time we arrive at our million-dollar milestone, we might need to choose between a few more working years to increase the margin of safety for our semi-retirement plan, or immediate relief from the corporate world but taking some risks afterwards.
That thing aside, a more fundamental question is: what should we do after we hit the magical seven-figure number in 2008? Will we find more interesting things to do to live a full life?
I learned more and more about myself as I grow up. I know I can quickly excel in areas that interest me -- over the years I have been successful in many different disciplines, including math, computer programming, customer service, corporate finance, people management, personal finance and creative writing/blogging. It also means I lack long-term dedication to any of them -- I cannot imagine I will work in the same line of business for more than five years. Equally important though, I realize the importance of family and relationships, and am living and expect to continue a balanced lifestyle.
Likewise, my wife is taking the same attitude about work/life balance. She has been very supportive of my career so far, moving with me over the years. She is also getting used to the stay-at-home mom role, while also getting a lot of fulfillment from her part-time job as a trainer and her involvement in some non-profit organizations.
Back to the question of our plan after 2008, honestly we don't have an answer yet. In the last few months, my wife and I have been discussing several choices after our financial independence, including a part-time consulting practice/professional training firm, a more formal online business, or more charitable efforts. Gladly, we still have a year or more to figure it out as this journey is et to unfold in a different dimension.