Much to my dismay, another year is coming to an end. I know its cliche to comment on how seemingly fast a year goes by but 2017 really felt like a blink to me. Still, it was an exciting year that took me outside the country three times, brought the release of my second book, and saw me launching my own personal finance site and YouTube channel. 2017 also contained a number of what I like to call “financial wins” worth celebrating.
With that, here are four of my biggest money victories from the past year:
Growing my online savings
At the very beginning of this year, I shared some of my financial goals for 2017. Among them was my intent to make regular contributions to my online savings account. Well, I’m proud to report that not only did I make good on that goal but that my APY on said account rose steadily throughout the year.
When I first signed up for Discover savings account last year, the APY was a very solid .95%. Now that figure has climbed to 1.30% (fun fact: I actually typed 1.20% but apparently it’s gone up again since the last time I checked). Although this is subject to go back down at any time, watching the rise has only given me more motivation to stick to my contribution goal and keep my savings piling up.
Learning about the savers credit
While my online bank account has been a great place to store some short-term savings, my wife and I have also been diligent about preparing for retirement. This includes maintaining a 401(k) through her employer in addition to a Roth IRA of our own. In addition to the benefits this start-early plan will yield us come retirement, as we learned this year, there are some major tax perks to our savings strategy.
Upon doing our taxes this April, my wife and I were made aware of the savers credit. Essentially this allows individuals and couples making less than a certain amount of money per year to earn a percentage of their retirement contributions back in the form of a tax credit. For example married couples earning up to $37,000 last year would qualify for a credit equal to 50% of their contributions up to $4,000 (so a $2,000 credit). Additionally, for 2018, couples making up to a combined $63,000 will still qualify for at least a 10% savers credit. Plus, even though Roth IRA contributions are made post-tax, they still qualify for this savers credit.
Needless to say, this was an amazing discovery that really helped shrink our tax bill (which can be significant given my self-employment status). Of course, should we one day no longer qualify for such a credit, that would actually be a good thing. But, in the meantime, we’re glad to know it’s there.
Mastering credit card rewards
Last year, after learning to embrace the power of credit card rewards, I ended up doing pretty well for myself with the Discover It card. However it was 2017 when I really learned to master the credit game and rack up rewards. This culminated in me applying for yet another card, the Uber Visa.
Since receiving my Uber card in November, my wife and I have managed to accumulate more than $175 in cash back (including the $100 initial spending bonus). Meanwhile we’ve continued to take advantage of offers on all three of our main credit cards, which has allowed us to amass $250 in cash back on my Discover and receive a couple hundred dollars back from our PNC Visa. With Discover already announcing their rotating 5% bonus category schedule for 2018 and my wife and I planning some travel for the new year, we expect our credit card mix to really come in handy, allowing us to earn even more cash back in the new year.
Speaking of cash back, it was only a few weeks ago that I finally tried out a smartphone app called Dosh. In truth, I reviewed a lot of apps this year but, while Clarity Money and Mint might help me keep on top of my money, Dosh is the only tool I reviewed that actually allowed me to earn money. Best of all, the cash back it offers comes in addition to my regular credit card rewards and not instead of them.
Admittedly a lot of the money I’ve made off of Dosh so far isn’t even from shopping at their retail partners but from spreading the word about the app. Despite the fact that my video review of Dosh has seemingly become a place for others to drop their Dosh links, I’ve referred several people via the video, adding quite a few shekels to my account. Even if that weren’t the case, the deals that Dosh offers and its ease of use would have still earned it a spot on my 2017 “best of” list.
Speaking on a strictly personal level, 2017 was a good year. That said, 2018 is already shaping up to be an even better one as my wife and I have a few plans we’re working hard on. In any case, I hope your year was as rewarding as mine — and here’s to more financial wins in the coming months.