Up $30K, goal almost 70% complete, and closing in on $350K – December 2023 Freedom update

I’m at a new net worth high. In fact, a year ago in December 2022, I was also at a new high: $266K. Must be the so-called “Santa Claus Rally.”

This month I’m at $334K.  That’s $68,000 higher than this time last year and $166,000 left to go to hit my $500,000 goal.

If I can increase my net worth by $18,000 over each of the next nine months, I’ll hit the goal. Is that possible? Well, this month I’m up nearly $30,000 so… if the trend keeps up I just might make it.

But I also know how quick it can turn, so don’t want to take mental possession of it yet.

December 2023 Freedom update

I went to a Christmas market in Oslo last week

That was a lot of numbers. Here’s one more: I’m 67% of the way there.

Whether I hit the goal by the end of August 2024 as planned/hoped for or not, I’m gonna go ahead and give myself some grace. I’m doing so good.

December 2023 Freedom update

Good news: I completely paid off my 0% APR credit card. The rate was set to expire at the end of the month, but I went ahead and put every spare cent toward the balance. With that, my HVAC is completely paid off. I gave myself a 0% APR loan and paid it back at my own pace.

The danger is not paying off the balance before the rate expires, but that didn’t happen. It’s an easy pattern to get into, but I gotta say… when used correctly, you can’t beat a loan with 0% interest.

a snowy mountain with a building in the distance

Landscape outside Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Next, I’d like to finish maxing out my Roth IRA. I also recently opened an UTMA account for Beck, my one-year-old, with $100. It’s already got $110 in it after a month – a wild return.

Then there’s always the savings account to pad. So there’s no shortage of financial goals or buckets. Throughout this whole journey, I’ve found a little here and a little there has worked for me, with most of the focus on pure investing in low-cost, broad-market index funds – primarily FSKAX and VTI.

This month’s progress

The big money move was knocking out that HVAC credit card balance. I feel like I’ve been going on about that for so long. Well, no more. It’s done.

I really socked every spare cent into that. Other than that, I contributed to my 401k as usual and let everything else coast.

a cartoon of a man and a woman


Speaking of 401ks, I’m about to switch mine from a Roth 401k to a traditional 401k. Because I started contributing more than halfway through the year, the tax savings wouldn’t be significant, so I chose the tax-free option.

Because I’ll be contributing for all of next year (hopefully), I’ll go ahead and take the traditional route. Whether that’s best is an eternal debate. I figure it’s better to have a little here and a little there: another way to diversify.

I also got the deeds for more land parcels, so I now own six little plots of land, worth about $40,000. I’m gonna pause on buying land for a while. But it’s been a fun diversion. I’ve already gotten a few offers for a couple of the parcels. Oh joy, another mailing list.

To recap this month, I:

  • Kept investing in my 401k and HSA accounts
  • Paid ~$5,000+ toward my credit card (and now it’s done)
  • Now own six parcels of land worth over $40,000
  • Spent some money on a trip to Norway, but – worth it (feel free to check out the photos and follow me on Instagram)
  • Got some great gains from a strong stock market to reach a new net worth high

By the numbers

Overall, I’m pleased with this month’s progress. Paying off that credit card is symbolic in that it shows I can make a commitment—to myself—and keep it. It also shows how powerful it is when I shine all my attention on one thing.

For all the “little here, little there,” having one singular goal sometimes is also a complete strategy. For the next couple of months, I’ll return to topping up my various buckets: the kid’s UTMA account, the Roth IRA, and savings. I’d also like to challenge myself to turn up my 401k a notch in 2024.

CurrentLast MonthChange2023 Goal
Overall investments$241,704$227,539+$14,165As much as possible
Roth IRA$58,532$55,281+$3,251$6,500 (in new contributions)$4,000 so far!
Taxable brokerage + UTMA$3,238$3,067$171$25,000 (total invested)
Primary home equity + appreciation$58,072$53,557+$4,515$70,000
Raw land$40,400$27,400+$13,000No goal, just including for completeness 🙂
Credit card/HVAC upgrade$0$5,461-$5,461$12,708 (starting balance)COMPLETE!
Net worth in Empower Personal Dashboard$334,080$304,594+$29,486$500,000 (overall goal)Track your net worth with Personal Capital

It’s also cool that I’m closing in on $300,000 in investments. Really forward to starting my third $100K of stock holdings.

Long-term goals include:

  • Put more money into Beck’s UTMA 
  • Finish maxing out my Roth IRA
  • Build my savings account
  • Invest as much as possible
  • Switch to a regular 401k in January

And uh, work on goals for 2024.

December 2023 Freedom update bottom line

It seems like reaching my $500,000 goal next year is split exactly 50/50, like it could really go either way. It’ll take lots of significant gains and little room for error, but there is a path.

More realistically, I’ll probably end up splitting the difference and get close. But how close… is a question for next year, which begins in just a few weeks!

I will continue to share the journey! Thank you to everyone who reads these updates. Have a wonderful holiday and I can’t wait to share more.

Stay safe and scrappy out there! ✨


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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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