My 2016 Year In Review


I hadn’t thought about doing a year-in-review post like this until I started to read some of the other blogs out there and thought this would be fun.  Since I didn’t start the blog until August 1st and hadn’t created any goals for 2016, shame on me.  I thought I’d share the highlights and lowlights of my financial and personal life for the year instead.  


  • year in reviewI’ll start with a new family member to the Mustard Seed Money extended family.  My nephew was born December 19th, and I have to say he is a cute one.  He was a few of days late but arrived just before Christmas, which was perfect, although his mama was ready for him to join a little sooner.  We plan to spoil him with lots of affordable gifts.


  • With the excitement of the new extended family member to Mustard Seed Money, I’m sorry to report that we also lost two members of the extended family.  My Grandfather-in-law passed away in March, and my great Aunt passed away in October.  While they both lived long lives, we definitely miss both of them.  


  • food, year in reviewI just found out today that I won a contest that I had forgotten about.  I got an email stating that I had won a $25 gift certificate to my favorite restaurant.  When I say favorite restaurant, I mean a restaurant that I’ve frequented for the last 30 years.  I’ve never won a contest before, so we’ll chalk this up to just another part of a great 2016.


  • From a financial standpoint, our net-worth increased by 34% this year, excluding our home and 529.  I exclude both of these since I don’t have any plans to use the equity to live off of, and with the 529 plan, I am hoping that my son is able to go to college and utilize it.  While I understand that some people include this in their net-worth since these are assets, I prefer not to.  If down the road we need to use them, I can be pleasantly surprised.  In comparison to last year, we are behind the 40% increase in net-worth from the previous year.  I’m definitely not going to complain as it makes sense when you think about it.  Even with the stock market up and our savings rate staying about the same since our net worth increased from last year, it’s harder to see a bigger increase.


  • year in reviewOur savings rate was 66.5% which was virtually unchanged from last year’s 66.4%.  I was hoping to see that this would creep up to 70% this year, but unfortunately December was a more expensive month than I had anticipated.  Running through our expenses, I had forgotten to calculate the payment that would need to be made for our property taxes.  This pushed us below the 70% savings rate, which we had been above throughout the year.  I do believe if we can cut back a little bit on restaurants, that we can easily hit our 70% figure in 2017.


  • year-in-reviewI joined a gym in December and have already lost 4 lbs and 3 weeks.  Not too shabby, right?  More importantly, I enjoy going.  Back in the day, I use to be athletic, or at least that’s what I told myself.  I could run a sub-6 minute mile, dunk a basketball, and played AAU baseball.  I even finished in 2nd place in the region for a weightlifting meet for my weight class.  Those days are long gone when I could get away with devouring 20 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets with fries and then washing it down with coke without gaining any weight.  I can no longer do that.  I am about ten pounds from where I should realistically be.  For far too long, I was going to the gym but wasn’t seeing the results because I wasn’t pushing myself enough.  On top of that, I didn’t enjoy the work out because it was pretty boring.  Pushing weights on a machine and walking/running on the treadmill was pretty boring to me.  This bootcamp that is next to my workplace has given me the push that I badly needed.  My workouts are no longer stagnant.


  • The fun 10% of my portfolio is beating the market by 4% for the year.  This is a slight improvement from when I beat the market by 3% last year.  The best three performing stocks for me were XLE (Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund) in February at the low and then continuing to own Berkshire Hathaway and AWK (American Water Works).  AWK has been my favorite stock that I’ve ever owned.  It has gone up 250% in five years.  By far, the best stock that I’ve ever owned.


  • I can’t mention my stock portfolio going up without highlighting my dud of a pick in Chipotle.  Ugh.  This stock still hasn’t turned around from the price that I bought it.  I thought Chipotle would bounce back much quicker and the stock would quickly rebound.  Clearly my hypothesis was incorrect.  Traffic in stores remained down.  They had to use a ton of promotions and giveaways to get people back in their restaurants.  For a while, I felt like I was the only person in there.  I tried to frequent it a lot myself, and have finally noticed that traffic in the stores has started to return.  I went today at 1:30 pm, and the length of the line gave me some hope.  So while I’m not happy with the performance to date, I still think that there should be an uptick with some of their future endeavors.  The company plans to open a fast-casual pizza shop, Pizza Locale, and hopefully one day, serve breakfast burritos, and then maybe we will see the return of consumers to quality-sourced food.


  • year-in-reviewWe went on our first cruise with our son to Canada/New England which was incredibly beautiful in September.  My wife and I love to travel.  I never traveled before I got married.  Sure I went to Mexico once but really never went anywhere.  Once we got married, I traveled to Brazil, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and Europe.  I caught the travel bug, but with a super active kiddo, we haven’t been able to do as much traveling.  But, it’s okay.  I love playing with my son.


  • year-in-reviewI started a blog.  I’d been talking about it for years and have finally did it.  No more excuses.  Looking back, it’s one of those things that I wished I had started much earlier.  I have been reading blogs for at least the last ten years but never had the guts to actually write myself.  Since I started to share, I have found an incredibly friendly community and have learned so much more financially than I knew before.  I have to say, blogging has become one of my favorite hobbies.

So readers how was your 2016?  Share your highlights with me below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


  1. It sounds like you had a very successful year. Our year was similarly successful except I need to work on the exercise a bit. Age is starting to catch up with my diet. I will say one thing about kids and travel. The more you do it the more the kids will get use to it. The more they are the easier it will be. Happy new year.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…My New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

    • Thanks for the great advice of traveling with kids. I think we have been a bit scarred with our son not traveling well the past three times. But now that he’s older maybe he’ll be better.

      Thanks for the great advice as we’ll definitely take it into account 🙂

  2. Nice overview, I’m also working on my own, just waiting for the market close today. We seem to have a lot in common, like blog launch and the December gym membership 🙂
    Your savings rate is fantastic, if you keep it up you will get FIRE-d in no time! All the bests for 2017!
    Roadrunner recently posted…Battle of Dividend Stocks 2017My Profile

    • Sounds like we’re living parallel lives between the blog and exercise. Great minds think alike 🙂

      I would love to be FIRE-d sooner rather than later. I plan to play with the numbers this weekend to see if I might be able to move up my FIRE timeline 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!!!

  3. It looks like you had an excellent year! I find it fascinating how so many of the little things go hand in hand. Once you start improving one part of your life, the other parts start getting better too!.

    It looks like you are well on your way to being healthy, wealthy and wise. Great job on the blog, I really enjoy following along. Hope you have an ever better 2017.
    Doctor in Debt recently posted…How a Personal Line of Credit Saved Me From a Cash Crunch.My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Doctor in Debt. You are absolutely right that the little things add up and it feels like a snowball of success over time if you do things right 🙂

      Here’s hoping that 2017 is even better!!!

  4. Great recap-looks like you had a wonderful 2016! Hopefully your 2017 goes just as well. Eventually the kids get older and like to travel just as much as the adults. I know my 9 and 13 year old loved our road trip this past spring, especially the 13 year old. He’s looking forward to our next one in 2017. The one year old hated being in the car and yelled half the time 🙂 but I know that will get better as he gets older.
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…Planning a Fun and Frugal Family New Years Celebration for under $30My Profile

    • Yeah our one year hates being in the car longer than about 90 minutes. So we’ve been trying to stick close by although I’m trying to convince my wife that we should expand our travel next summer. We’ll see how he’s doing by then.

      Thanks as always for stopping by and sharing!!!

  5. It sounds like you had a great 2016! I’m super jealous of that savings rate! We’re hovering around 50% right now. I’m confident that we can increase our savings rate as long as we’re more conscious about what we eat and what we spend.

    We had a very, very busy 2016. We celebrated one year of marriage and became homeowners. The home part was extraordinarily expensive and exhausting, but it was worth it. I’m hoping we can save more money in 2017 now that things have quieted down around the Picky Palace. It’s my goal to hit a 60% savings rate, which would certainly help with our student loan payoff plan!
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…How I Avoid Getting SickMy Profile

    • Sounds like you had a fantastic year if you celebrated your first year of marriage and became a homeowner.

      50% is awesome especially in your first year of marriage. Awesome job. Keep up the hard work as I’m sure you’ll reach the 60% savings rate in no time.

  6. Sounds like an amazing year overall! I’m definitely impressed by the incredible savings rates you’ve been able to keep up even with a little one at home! I’m going to keep my 529 plans in my net worth to give me that little boost, heck…I’ll keep my home equity in there too. 🙂
    Making Your Money Matter recently posted…ST302: College Saving EssentialsMy Profile

    • I see the argument for both sides of including homes and 529 in the net worth and excluding it. For me making my net worth be a little lower gives me the motivation to work a little bit harder 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and hope 2017 is great for you and your family!!!

    • For me I use an after-tax savings rate. So whatever I actually received divided by the amount that I spent. For me it makes for an easy calculation from Personal Capital.

    • Thanks for sharing Mrs. COD!!! We are definitely blessed to be able to save this much and we are doing everything we can do be good stewards 🙂

      I hope 2017 is great for you and your family!!!

  7. MSM, if I have an award for the most discipline saver, you will definitely be on my short list. A 70% saving rate? I am speechless and can’t find an adjective to describe such discipline. Congrats on this amazing achievement. Keep it up and you’ll be FIRE ready in no time.

    For me, I had a great year too and broke the million dollar net worth mark this year, so I am definitely happy about that. This great performance is aided by my 28.5% return on my investment portfolio and a 38.5% increased in my net worth.

    Happy new year and let’s try to do even better next year.
    Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…My 2016 Year End Performance ReviewMy Profile

    • I think I might trade my savings rate for your investment portfolio return. 28.5% is fantastic and a net worth increase of 38.5% to push you into millionaire status. Awesome stuff Leo!!!

      Hope 2017 is even better for you!!!

      • Happy New Year MSM,
        I was reading this post again and noticed that you have a play portfolio, but it seems like you have mainly indexes or industry group ETF in there. I always thought that play portfolio are the risky ones. I don’t have a play portfolio, but I have a few play stocks. Sadly to say, they are not 10 baggers, but more like zero bagger stocks.
        Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…The Isaved5k $2,017 Giveaway During 2017 – January 17, 2017My Profile

        • I do have a play portfolio that I’ve had for a couple of years now that is only 10% of my total portfolio. So nothing that’s going to take me down if I make all wrong picks like my Chipotle pick 🙁

          I was fortunate to beat the market again this year. I should probably look further back than two years to see how I’ve been doing but for the last couple of years I’ve been doing well. How well I’ll need to research. But then again isn’t that what everyone says in a bull market.

          Hope you and your family had a great New Years!!!

          • We had a quite and unexciting New Year. Hopefully yours is a bit more exciting.
            Coincidentally, I also have Chipotle in my portfolio too. So I guess I’d have to classify that as part of my play portfolio then. Chipotle used to be the Cinderella in the stock market up until 18 months or so ago and now everyone is treating it like the ugly sisters. Hopefully the fairy god mother (or the new CEO) shows up and turn it back into a princess. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with the ugly sisters.
            Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…The Isaved5k $2,017 Giveaway During 2017 – January 17, 2017My Profile

          • I hope Chipotle turns it around. But then again I’ve been saying that for the last 18 months. My position isn’t huge so it doesn’t really impact the portfolio too much but it would be nice if it started to go back up 🙂

  8. Great year it sounds like. Congrats on that savings rate. Really impressive.

    I was on the fence over the summer about pulling the trigger on some Chipotle stock. Looks like it hasn’t worked out for you so far – but I think in the long run they will go back up. Delicious is delicious after all….
    Freedom 40 Guy recently posted…2017 Goals – Big Job Change in the Works?My Profile

    • I agree Chipotle is delicious. I seem to frequent Chipotle at least once a week so I felt like it made sense especially in light of the attractive share price. I’m hoping that it comes back sooner rather than later. Although it was nice when the lines weren’t as long 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Francesca!!! Don’t get me wrong I’m very happy that we’re able to save so much. I was hoping though that we could bump it up just a little bit 🙂

      Hope you and your family have a great 2017!!!

  9. Hey! Chipotle stock was up 71 cents yesterday!! 😉
    Looks like you had a wonderful year…and a 66.5% savings rate is AMAZING!!! Plus you got a cruise out of it. I would say that is a successful year indeed. I have to echo your sentiments in regards to blogging. This isn’t my first go at the blogging world, but it is certainly my favorite. This community never ceases to amaze me…I wonder why it took me so long to join in!! Cheers to you and your family – may you have a healthy happy New Year!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…2016 Financial Year In ReviewMy Profile

    • Every penny counts with Chipotle at this point 🙂

      I’m so glad that you joined the community I definitely love reading your blog and your terrific insights.

      I hope you and your family have a great 2017!!!

  10. Congratulations on a great year and that high savings rate! I’m glad to meet your new nephew. He’s got some nice hair for a new born!

    So happy you’re part of this community – you may have started in August but it feels (in a good way) like you’ve been around much longer. Happy new year to you and your family!
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Groovy Blog Stuff from Our Groovy Year 2016My Profile

    • Thanks for the kind words Mrs. Groovy. I have definitely enjoyed being part of the community and have learned so much.

      I hope you and your family have a terrific 2017!!!

  11. I am so glad you decided to cover your year in review – I loved reading it. I am really motivated by what others have accomplished. Your savings rate is amazing – congratulations! I am in agreement about calculating net worth to exclude equity in the home and 529s. Very wise. As you mentioned, consider the 529 money a windfall if/when you determine you won’t need all of it for college. Very happy new year!
    Amanda recently posted…Time Money and Choices – What it Really Looks LikeMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing Amanda. Thanks for the kind words it has taken a lot of work to get where we are but it feels like it’s beginning to be a snowball and getting easier with each year.

      On top of that it sounds like we’re on the same page when it comes to calculating net worth 🙂

      I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2017!!!

  12. I feel you on the weight gain problem! Since I turned 40 everything I eat sticks to me like glue… Hubby and I have taken up squash – hopefully it will help keep the situation under control 🙂
    I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and wealthy 2017 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing Mrs. Smelling Freedom. I have friends that play squash and love it. I’ve heard it really gets the competitive juices flowing. I’ll have to ask to join in next time I hear about a game.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  13. Amazing score, congrats! 66% saving rate and +34% NW increase are huge financial achievements! We’re kind of “in sync”, similar SR and NW increase (mine is a little bit larger)!
    Congrats again and keep up, especially with blogging – I love your blog 🙂

    • Sounds like you had a monster year with your net worth rising so high. I hope 2017 is a great year for you and I plan to enjoy reading some more posts on your site!!!

  14. What a great year, MSM! Your savings rate is really impressive! Even if you didn’t reach your goal, that’s a killer savings rate.

    We didn’t have any real concrete savings goals for 2016 besides maxing the pre-tax accounts, which we did. I’ve decided to set the bar higher for 2017 to increase the savings beyond the pre-tax accounts.

    I also need to hit the gym harder after the holidays (congrats on the weight loss!). My plan is to get there more and work on getting back to a better diet with more veggies!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Kickoff of my No Spend MonthMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Amanda. That’s awesome that you were able to max out the pre-tax accounts. That’s going to go a long way towards reaching your goals.

      I wish there was a way that you could exercise and not change your diet. I’d eat cookies all day and pass on the veggies 🙂

      Anyway hope you and your family had a great New Years.

  15. I don’t know what more I can say than an amazing freaking year (outside of the unfortunate loss of a couple of family members). Call me crazy, but it seems like the theme of 2016 for you was pushing yourself and giving new things a hard look. You finally started your blog, you gave the gym a serious commitment, you crushed your net worth. Best of luck in 2017 and hopefully you can keep the momentum rolling!

    Dividend Diplomats recently posted…Lanny’s 2017 GoalsMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Bert. In hindsight I guess you’re right that we did accomplish a lot which at the time didn’t seem like much. Amazing how looking back on the year you realize what you’ve done.

      Hope you and your family had a great New Years!!!

  16. That’s a fantastic savings rate! And the net worth increase is amazing as well. Forgive the engineer in me, but a couple of questions if you don’t mind.
    – Is that savings rate based on your gross income or after income and payroll taxes?
    – On the net worth increase, was that mostly from market gains or increased savings?

    Good luck with the gym bootcamp. Although I run a good bit, 2016 has not been good for my waistline. So I may not be helping you out anymore with your Chipotle investment 🙂 Getting ready to start P90X3 on Tuesday.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…What Will FIRE Look Like?My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Mr. Need2Save!!!

      The savings rate is our after tax income. So from Personal Capital it was just our expenses divided by total net income.

      With that said since it was net I didn’t include our 401k or IRA contributions in the savings rate, although in hindsight it may have increased my savings rate.

      To answer your next question it looks like it was basically a 50/50 split between the increase in my savings and the increase in my investments.

      Anyway hope you have a great time with Tony on Tuesday 🙂

  17. That is an amazing savings rate! I have never tracked mine, so it is really hard to compare! Love the bootcamp too. I wrote a big paper on physical fitness bootcamps in my coursework leading to my dissertation. The findings showed the “family” or “community” built makes a huge impact on outcomes! Happy New Year to you and your family!
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Can an Hour on a Jet Ski Help Him Make Smarter Spending Decisions?My Profile

    • If you have Personal Capital, you can do what I did which was just take your expenses and dividend by the total income received. I didn’t make it any fancier than that and try to add in my 401k contributions and IRA contributions which probably would have boosted my rate. But it was super simple to see how of much our take home pay we were actually spending.

      That’s a really neat dissertation that you did and it totally makes sense. Having people cheer me on and likewise cheering for someone else is super fun.

      Anyway I hope you and your family had a great New Years!!!

  18. Congratulations on the great year! Your savings rate is impressive, very impressive. I really like your blog and its style, content, and thoughts.

    Our net worth was up 14.9% even despite some major hits to capital, about $50,000 for life. I also started a blog after reading on the internet for about 10 years. It’s been a really good creative outlet for me and I’m hoping to just get some ideas out there for discussion with the rest of the bloggers that have been sharing for years. I started getting serious this year with Personal Capital and continue to be impressed. I’m hoping to integrate some of the data/screenshots in as I do updates in 2017. I posted details in my End of the year update here:
    FI Warrior recently posted…Our $1,182,742.41 MistakeMy Profile

    • Almost 15% on your net worth is incredibly impressive. Any year that your net worth is going up is a good year for me 🙂

      I’m glad I’m not the only person that blogs as a creative outlet.

      I look forward to following along your financial journey!!!

  19. Mustard Seed Money. Congrats on a great 2016! Your savings rate is inspiring. Not something I can approach now with two kids in daycare. But definitely something I hope to achieve one day.
    Dividend Seedling recently posted…December DividendsMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Dividend Seedling. It didn’t happen over night but I’m sure once you get the kiddos out of daycare you will be saving a pretty penny.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!!!

    • We had perfect weather when we were there in September. High 70s everyday with sunshine. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

      You definitely need to do a road trip as it’s definitely underrated. I would much rather hike up in the Northeast than sit at the beach. But that’s just me 🙂

  20. Wow looks like you had an amazing 2016!! And great job on starting a blog!! I’ve thought about it many times and find that I never truly have the motivation to write that much!! I am starting a side-hustle in 2017 so we’ll see how that goes!!
    And your savings rate is amazing!!

    • Thanks for stopping by Ning. I have to admit that it took awhile and it wasn’t easy but I am definitely happy that I started a blog.

      Good luck in your side hustle in 2017 and you’ll have to share how you do!!!

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