| Real Life Strategies for Building Wealth


This is the third year I do Chris Guillebeau’s annual review; I just never told you much about it.

Last year, I told you about my ‘words for the year’ (part of Chris’s approach to goal setting that I appreciate a lot). In 2012, my words were ‘reach and influence’. For 2013 my words were ‘health and wealth’.

How did I do? Remember, the words are just something around which the story of your life unfolds. I’ll tell you the story, you judge how the stand worked.

Basically, the fully fledged review consists of two questions:

What did go well?


What didn’t go that well?

Here is my 2013 review. Note that there are probably other things that did go well in my life, or not, but these are outside my control so have not been mentioned here (again following Chris’s lead on this one).

What went well in 2013?

In some sense 2013 was a wonderful year; loads of progress was made mainly in the ‘wealth’ area. Here comes a list of what I believe went well (in no particular order):

  • We paid off all our consumer debt; all £100,000 of it. Our last payment was on February, 5th. I’ll never forget this moment: I was teaching a class on research methodology to about eighty Masters students; it was 10 am and I got a message from John saying ‘Done and dusted!’. The feeling of relief, pride and optimism is indescribable!
  • I got a personal chair! Yep, I became ‘Professor of Science and Innovation Dynamics and Policy’. A very welcome development, indeed! Some people tried to call me ‘Prof’ and some of them are still alive; I still receive post addressed to ‘Professor Maria Nedeva, Senior Lecturer’ which makes me laugh. Already discovering that having a personal chair is a tad over-rated!
  • We did the roof on our house and installed solar panels. I know, probably not the most exciting development on the planet but we are very pleased anyway. This was the penultimate large, structural expense on the house; the one left to do is the kitchen and we’ll see about this one. This costs us about £20,000 ($32,800) altogether and the way energy prices are going we count it as a great investment.
  • We have new investments! Because we held to the healthy money management habits we discovered and developed while paying off debt, we have about £30,000 ($49,200) invested (on Nutmeg and the House Crowd) and £8,000 ($13,100) liquid and ready for opportunities.
  • We have earned 50% over our regular yearly income from side hustle. Yes, things are looking up and we have earned considerable amount from ‘side hustle’.
  • We have increased our regular income by about 20%. This is a combination between my Professorial salary increase, my increase for becoming Head of Division (several Departments) and increase in John’s income.
  • We’ve increased our net worth by £69,000 ($113,000). Feeling very proud about this one!

Looking at all we have achieved financially in 2013 it seems to me we are on target to achieving our mad goal of making £2.5 million by October 2018.

Other things that went well are:

  • Our youngest son is doing really well at school. We went to parents meeting a week ago and I felt so proud – he is not only exceeding his target marks but all teachers were saying how great he is to teach. One of them told us he would like 30 clones of him to teach :).
  • John  and I are still a great team. We’ve always worked well as a team but this was slightly shaken around the debt and its repayment. Now we are a great team again.
  • We managed to change the structure of our wealth. Remember I was telling you that it matters how much is you wealth but that its structure matters even more? I am very pleased to report that we managed to change the structure of our wealth: we sold one apartment in Bulgaria (inherited) and have rented out another one (ours); we have been renting out a room in our house and will do it again after Christmas; and we have liquidity for opportunities. Great!

What didn’t go that well?

I regret to say that mainly things in the health area didn’t go well in 2013. These are:

  • I have been overworking. Yes, the closer to Christmas and the break it is, the more I realise (feel) that my life is completely out of balance. I work between 10 and 12 hour days; sleep little and have no fun in my life. Even this blog is becoming work rather than the fun it used to be. This will need to change.
  • I have been overly stressed. This is in line with my previous point, really – I feel stressed and am starting to feel ill. You know the drill: a virus one has a problem shaking off; dropping off to sleep while reading; being a grouch.
  • I have put weight on. I tell my trainer that I’ve started looking like a meatball; and it is true. Stress, long hours sitting and writing and my age – a recipe for disaster.
  • I haven’t been exercising as much as I need to feel well. Well, this is self explanatory, really.

How about these words, then?

My words for 2013 were ‘wealth and health’; I’ve done rather well on the ‘wealth’ side and failed rather miserably on the ‘health’ side. For the next year I’ll have to bring my life back into balance.