Here is a quick exercise that will probably make you feel a little uncomfortable.
(1) You have all just done your year end wrap up posts, so you should have a pretty good idea of what it cost to be you in 2016.
That number is a cold hard fact, as honest an accounting as you have let yourself perform. There is no woulda/coulda/shoulda done different in that figure, no “I’m gunna” do better.
(2) Now if you’re a proponent of the 4% rule multiply that number by 25.
Alternatively If you’re outside the US OR think the 4% rule paints an overly optimistic picture, multiply that number by 40.
(3) Subtract your net worth.
The result is an indication of how much further your journey towards Financial Independence has to take you, based on your actual spending patterns in 2016.
(4) Finally work out how many more years worth of current consumption that journey looks like, based on your actual 2016 figures.
This exercise gives you a rough indication of where you are at, assuming nothing changes.
We all plan on saving more, getting a pay rise or a better job. Some of us even do it.
We also expect our kids will move out of home one day, that we won’t have to financially support elderly parents, and we won’t need to act as the “bank of Mum & Dad”. For some of that also proves to be true, for the rest life happens.
Share your answer to #4 if you care to, but don’t feel obligated to. The goal of the exercise was to provide a reality check on where we are at today, so we can set realistic plans for our futures.