Over the past year or so, I have become much more interested in personal finance. Last summer, I started using a program called YouNeedABudget [http://www.youneedabudget.com] to track all of my spending. Doing that, I've managed to stop accumulating debt. I also have a debt spreadsheet that I use which allows me to snowball [http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/] the payments to my various debts.
As you can see, my minimum payments are around $500 and I'm adding $200 extra towards the debts. The result of this is that I will be completely debt free in a little over a year. Combine both of those and I will be living within my means without any debt next winter. What is a young guy to do with his money then?
The answer, of course, is to start looking at retirement which is a tricky topic. I've been reading a lot about retirement in the past few weeks. I've mainly been looking into one question: How much should I save in order to retire? That is a hard question to answer, it seems. Luckily, I follow some smart bloggers. Mr. Money Mustache covered how much you should shoot for in retirement in his post The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement [http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/] . Using his math, I've arrived at a number to shoot for. If I had $1,000,000 in my retirement accounts, Hilary and I could retire and never work another day. That's a big number but thanks to the power of compound interest, I think that it's doable. In fact, I think that I could hit that by the time I'm 60 (maybe even earlier). Why do I think that? I crunched the numbers using Networthify [https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement?income=70000&initialBalance=31000&expenses=58100&annualPct=6&withdrawalRate=4] . If anything, I think that's a conservative estimate since the stock markets have averaged about 8% growth over time and that graph is assuming 6% average growth.
So that's my next goal: retirement. Hopefully, I'll be able to save enough and even retire early!