Humble Beginnings

Greetings and welcome to Save or Swim! This is Mr. SoS at your service. I had the idea for this blog a couple years ago, but let life get in the way of my desire to begin writing. The lesson learned is to make time for the things that are important. Right now, you, dear reader, are important to me and that is why I am here. Our goal is to share with you our journey toward financial independence, early retirement, and provide savings and swimming tips along the way.

Why Save or Swim? When I was trying to come up with a name for my blog I thought about my life, my passions, and the things I love the most. I am a lifetime swimmer and my wife, Dr. SoS, is also a swimmer, but having raised four kids while putting herself through school, she is also an incredible saver. In 2001, I swam in my first open water event and I was instantly hooked on the sport. The unique difference between pool and open water swimming is that when you are out in the open water you cannot just stop swimming to rest. You have to follow the advice of Dory in Finding Nemo when she says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” I believe there are parallels between swimming back to shore and staying afloat in personal finances. Thinking along those lines brought to mind the phrase Sink or Swim1. In open water swimming you either sink or swim, but all of us have an even better choice with our personal finances. We can save or we can swim and in the best of times hopefully we do both!

Over the past couple years, the the thing I found most amazing about my fellow personal finance bloggers is their candidness about their personal finances. Most share their monthly net worth. This is insight into our path to financial independence, but in my case it is even more about being held accountable to my personal financial goals. With that, I am laying my cards on the table for the first time. Fellow Save or Swimmers, let us take our first look at our start toward financial independence. This is our net worth as of the end of May 2017.

NET WORTH: 2017-06-01
Cash Savings $11,146.58 -3.4%
Cash Back $589.31 7.0%
Brokerage $32,426.12 4.5%
Retirement $415,798.03 4.0%
MOST 529 $2,193.69 9.3%
House $317,834.00 -0.1%
Cars & Boat $50,539.00 -2.4%
TOTAL ASSETS $830,526.73 1.9%
Credit Cards $15,274.81 6.8%
Car Loan $25,500.00 -2.3%
HELOC $30,495.78 -0.0%
Mortgage $202,474.30 -0.6%
Student Loans $221,713.95 -0.1%
TOTAL LIABILITIES $495,458.84 -0.2%
TOTAL NET WORTH $335,067.89 5.3%

I created my first net worth spreadsheet a couple months ago. I track the balances of all my accounts at the end of business on the last day of each month. Here is a little information about each of the categories shown in the table above.

Cash Savings
This is the total of all our checking and savings accounts. This amount also includes our emergency fund, which is held in high-interest savings accounts.

Cash Back
We use credit cards for all our purchases. I know all the Dave Ramsey fans are cringing at this point. This is the current total cash back balance on our credit cards. I use this as an additional savings account.

Did I mention that I trade and invest in stocks? This is the account where I make more money with my money. I created this account with money that my former employer paid me to retire.

You name it we have it. This is the total of two IRAs, two Roth IRAs, a 403b, and a 401a account. Once Dr. SoS gets her practice off the ground we will add a 401k to the mix.

MOST 529
When Baby SoS was born I decided to begin investing in a 529 account. This money can be used for any school related expenses in the future. I started the account when she was born beginning with depositing $100. Each month I add another $100. Then on each birthday I have the account set to increase by $50 per month. My rough estimate is that by following this plan and figuring a 6% growth rate this account will total over $175,000 on her 18th birthday. That should help a little.

As I mentioned, the SoS family resides in a house on a small lake in the Midwest. I am certainly glad we are past the housing crisis of 2008 and that our house is slowly and steadily increasing in value as houses on the lake sell for increasing amounts.

Cars & Boat
We own three cars and a boat. One of my daughters drives my previous car. This car and the car Dr. SoS drives are paid off. Before Baby SoS was born we decided my little two-door coupe would be a serious pain with a car seat. We ended up purchasing a new sedan with four doors that gets good gas mileage. With regard to our boat, I did not want a boat and the added expenses that come with it. I am an open water swimmer after all. Earlier this year, Dr. SoS found a great deal on a boat and we paid cash. As much as I did not want one, I have to say that it is nice to take the boat out and cruise the lake on cool morning and evenings.

Credit Cards
With the exception of two accounts at 0% we pay our credit card balance each month. This brings me to SoS Financial Goal #1! Before the end of 2017, we will have all our credit cards paid off completely.

Car Loan
This is loan for the baby carrier. It is a 0% loan and I pay more than the monthly amount due so we will pay it off early. By my calculations we will have the car paid off in another 2.5 years by the end of 2020.

HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit)
This is a loan we have against the equity in our house. The benefit of a HELOC is that you can claim the interest you pay on your tax return. Each month, Dr. SoS and I discuss using the cash in my Brokerage account to pay off the HELOC. Meanwhile, I pay the minimum amount due plus all the interest charged for the previous month. This way I reduce the balance each month by the amount due on the loan.

I bought our house in 2011 and in 2013 we refinanced to a 15-year loan at 3.125%. The monthly payments are outrageous, but it sure is nice to watch that principle go down each month while our equity goes up. At the current payment we are set to have the house paid off by 2028-11-01.

Student Loans
Without student loans we would be halfway to a million dollars in net worth. Does this amount seem excessive? It is. Read Introducing Dr. SoS to learn the story how this enormous student loan came about. This will most likely be the last of our debt to pay off, but with persistence and dedication I believe we can have this paid off around the same time our house is paid off.

Subtract our massive liabilities from our meager assets and you arrive at our current net worth. As of the first day of June this totals $335,067.89. Due to some investments I made and a boost in the market we are up 5.3% or $16,783.80 since the end of April 2017. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

Until next time keep saving and if you cannot save, at least keep swimming!

Mr. SoS

1 Sink or Swim – “Succeed or fail, mainly according to the competence and diligence of your own effort. In the 14th century and for some time thereafter it was ‘float or sink,’ probably reflecting the fact that few people learned to swim then and also reflecting a stronger role for fate in one’s success or failure. Chaucer had ‘flete or sinke’ in ‘The Compleynte until Pite’ (c. 1368), Thomas Starkey’s ‘England in the Reign of Henry the Eight’ says: ‘They care not (as hyt ys commynly sayd) ‘whether they synke or swyme.'” From “The Dictionary of Cliches” by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).


  1. Hi there Mr. and Mrs. SoS! I stumbled on your blog in the Rockstar Finance Directory this morning. I also recently just started a blog and had been added to the list and decided to check out some other newbies! I love your transparency with displaying your net worth. I have thought about doing this myself but haven’t gathered the courage just yet. I am pursuing financial independence and early retirement also.

    I can relate to the student loan situation. My husband and I made the last payment on about $100 K of student loan debt last year. The majority of which I accumulated while completing a doctorate myself. It is nice to “meet” you both and I look forward to your updates.

    Nicole (FrugalChicLife)

    1. Greetings Nicole! I just checked out your great blog. For just recently starting a blog, you sure have quite a bit of great content!

      One of the things that I liked most about personal finance bloggers is their transparency with money. Most of us grow up sheltering how much we make, how much we spend, and ultimately how much we are worth. I am not quite ready to share this information with close friends and family, but anonymously to complete strangers, sign me up!

      I enjoyed reading and, but once I finally calculated our net worth I decided to begin blogging. We have a ton of debt, but we have a goal to work our way through it. Documenting this process while providing advice along the way will hopefully help many others. Your six-year journey is inspirational and I would love to look back six years from now and see our student loans paid, as well.

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