2015 Finances – Where Did Our Money Go?

2015 finances

It’s that special time of year where I get to pour over the numbers and check out how our 2015 finances did. 2015 was a hectic year for the FI Big Sky family. We dedicated most of our time to the kitchen renovation– and it’s still not complete. But it is mostly complete and very functional. While we are happy to have done it, I am not sure it is a project we’d undertake again.

We also had a monster storm last year, so we had our roof replaced in the spring. Immediately after having it fixed, another storm hit and laid some major lumber on the new roof. Fortunately for us, it only meant a dinged gutter and the manual labor of getting the monstrosity into a portable dumpster.

In other news, to help keep our sanity during the renovation, we undertook planting and caring for our first garden. There is a community garden a few blocks from our home and purchased plot for the season where we planted zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, and four kinds of tomatoes. It was more than we could eat and we had to pickle, can, freeze or give away whatever we couldn’t eat fresh.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience that yielded positive financial and healthy results. Now that the successful yet expensive year of twenty fifteen is over, we’ve readied ourselves to spend much less in 2016. Check out the table to compare our 2014 finances with our 2015 finances and expected expenses in 2016.

Expense Category 2014 2015 2016 Proj
Mortgage (incl. property tax and insurance) $14,600 $14,890 $13,500
Home Improvement $85 $19,785 $300
Lawn & Garden $795 $215 $420
Home Supplies $205 $235 $240
Recycling $168 $168 $168
Water/Garbage $575 $595 $600
Gas $615 $508 $480
Electric $485 $480 $480
Internet/Cable $590 $480 $480
Cell Phone $275 $1,450 $840
Auto Payment $15,205 $2,640 $0
Car Insurance $1,360 $1,540 $480
Gas $1,140 $625 $480
Auto Maintenance + Services/Parts $970 $450 $600
Car Registration/Parking $495 $145 $115
Bus Pass $0 $44 $264
Travel $690 $570 $1,200
Food $4,720 $4,015 $3,900
Health Insurance $1,530 $1,265 $1,320
Health & Fitness $700 $670 $600
Personal Care $405 $300 $360
Pets $1,800 $750 $800
Gifts & Donations $2,135 $1,800 $2,400
Shopping $1,555 $635 $600
Education (Treehouse) $230 $150 $300
Entertainment $430 $240 $240
Other $672 $270 $233
Total $52,430 $54,885 $31,400

There are so many caveats to these comparisons,* so I’ll just go through them since it’s not a perfect apples to apples comparison:

The cellphone category is high in 2015 because Motorola is a turd company and we had a month-long fiasco with them involving Mrs. FI’s broken phone. We ended up just getting her an iPhone 5c and we’re going to sell her current phone (they sent a new model after a month of ineptitude so…mo’ money!). I will also sell my Motorola phone (which hasn’t broken, but I’m not taking my chances!), so this should help to balance out the cost of her new phone and whatever phone I choose to get.

Other 2014 oddities include having cable for three months before wising up and dumping it, as well as paying to park my car at work for the times that I didn’t ride my bike. We also bought our 2005 Toyota Matrix in 2014. This set us up to haul Russell around, let go of Mrs. FI’s lease in October of 2015 and made it even more necessary to ride the bus. We made a lot of changes to our 2015 finances like increasing our after tax pay for 2016, becoming a one car family and other little changes. Our 2016 plan involves not having huge expenditures (no new cars, no remodel!), and see how much we can really sock away. If we’re serious about retiring in 2025, 2016 will be a big year to limit expenses and hopefully improve our earnings. *The total amounts are correct and those are really the most crucial numbers when it comes to our savings rate.


Paychecks: $62,500 (post tax)

401ks (Contributions + Match) = $9,180

Savings Interest Income: $16

Tax Return: $2,659

Birthdays/Christmas: $200

Car: $400

Credit Card Cash Rewards: $237

Misc.: $266

Total: ~$75,500


Investments: $47,500 (IRAs, 401ks, Prosper)

Cash Accounts: $5750

Total: ~$53,250

2015 Savings Rate: ~28% (we put $465 extra towards mortgage principle)

2016 Target Savings Rate: 60%

As you can see, our savings rate wasn’t great. But considering we paid to have our roof replaced and did a kitchen renovation, we’re confident we can meet a 60% savings rate for 2016 (barring a giant disaster). I’m excited to finally have a low spend year since we started tracking our money in 2013. In 2013 we bought our house, 2014 we bought our car, and 2015 we did the roof/kitchen. Finally, in 2016, we will not do anything to match these expenses.

So there you have it. What are your 2016 plans? Did 2015 go well for you or did you fall short of expectations? Let us know!


  1. LeisureFreak Tommy

    Seems kitchen remodel is something we share. We have started but I am not excited about everything we have planned to do. Of course always trying to keep our budget in mind. When we were on our FI quest we concentrated on maxing out our 401K and then once my daughter’s college loan was paid off putting the same allocation into Roth IRAs. Life happens like storm damage or other surprises and the path to FI isn’t always a straight line. It is impressive how your budget for 2016 turned out by making the decision on the single auto route. Shows how making a single FI change can have huge positive impacts. Happy 2016!

    1. Post
      Mr. FI

      Hi Tommy,

      I swear I responded to your comment like a week ago. We’ve been having a couple server issues that are now corrected, so perhaps that’s why. Have you already reached FI? It sounds like it! If so, kudos. Now you’re in for a real treat with the kitchen remodel 😉

      We’re still working on kitchen details. Hopefully it’ll be wrapped up before summer hits so we can just enjoy it. Certainly the path to anything isn’t a straight line, and with our FI goal 10 years out, much could happen. If the stock market performs like this for 5 years, forget about us retiring in 10. Ah, but such is life.

      Thanks for dropping by. I will have to check in on your kitchen progress in the future!

  2. Mrs PoP

    I think we had very similar 2015s. We also replaced a roof (on our duplex). Kitchen remodel is not yet complete, and we are glad we did it, but not sure we’d do it again until after FI. It’s just too hectic to try and do all this while working full time. =/

    2016 is going to be finishing up the kitchen and then hopefully attacking the 40-year-old Mercedes Benz that’s been sitting on our pool deck waiting to be restored for the last 18 months. (We are nothing if not classy…)

    1. Post
      Mr. FI

      It does sound like ours! And agreed, sacrificing every weekend for months to work on the remodel was no fun. If we had no work obligations, we probably could have done it in 3 months–maybe less. And the car project sounds like it could be fun. But of course, anything that has multiple parts can be frustrating to work with haha.

      Hope you guys have a productive 2016!

  3. our next life

    Happy new year! By now, I bet you can’t wait for your kitchen to be done, and I hope you’ll still share the after pics! In terms of savings rate, you could look at it in terms of home equity, and say that you increased your net worth by increasing the value of your home. That’s my silver lining spin. 🙂 But I’m sure you’ll hit your goals in 2016! Good luck!

    1. Post
      Mr. FI

      Yes, we are ready for it to be done. And we will definitely share the after pictures!

      One benefit of doing the remodel and increasing our home value is that when we get it re-appraised, we should fall to an 80% loan-to-value ratio which would allow us to cancel our private mortgage insurance on the house. That would be a tidy $145 saved each month. The reason I don’t include our home in net worth is because it’s a liability in my mind, and like in 2008, could see it’s value plummet at any moment. We don’t plan on leveraging our home into a rental or anything in retirement either.

      But to each their own. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. mrsssc

    Looks good! Impressive! I have to tally up our numbers – I’ve been enjoying a few weeks break and I figure Monday is a good day to add everything together. Becoming a one car family is a impressive goal! We had a couple of large expenses in 2015 and I am really hoping that 2016 will be seriously boring – financially!

    1. Post
  5. Fervent Finance

    The accountant in me wouldn’t include the principal part of your mortgage payment in expenses since it’s a wash on the balance sheet (net worth). Great job though keeping your expenses really low excluding the work on the house! I alone spent about $32k in 2015, excluding debt pay down.

    Are you guys going to jack up the 401k contributions in 2016 since you will have much lower expenses? Take care.

    1. Post
      Mr. FI

      I don’t actually include our home in our net worth. However, I did point out that we made some extra payments on the mortgage for the purpose of savings rate. I only did that because I track those extra payments in a way that Mint doesn’t count them as an expense or anything really.

      And we have already upped our 401k contributions for 2016. We were only doing the minimum to get the company match (8% for Mrs. FI, 4% for me) but we’re both at over 10% now. We’d have to sock away roughly 45% to max our 401ks (not possible). I choose to max our IRAs instead. I’ll keep tweaking our 401k contributions as we go though.

      1. Fervent Finance

        Ahhh gotcha – I see that now in your net worth. When I got into the FI mindset last year I wasn’t able to contribute to a traditional IRA so I went straight to maxing out the 401k instead. Need to get as much as my money as possible pre-tax living in Manhattan where income taxes are so high. Great plan guys – wish you the best in 2016.

        1. Post
  6. Claudia @ Two Cup House

    Wow! Your expenses are so low–that’s awesome. Excluding mortgage and student loan payments, we are coming in at $30k for 2016, but I know there’s room to challenge some expenses. Happy New Year!

    1. Post
      Mr. FI

      Yeah–it’s nice to have no debt obligations outside of the mortgage. Knowing we could shave off roughly $10,000 a year once it’s paid off helps me know our retirement number should easily cover our expenses even if we add a child or two to the mix. 🙂

      I am constantly looking at ways to cut our month to month obligations. The rest is fine-tuning when it comes to food, entertainment, etc.
      Hope you guys have a great 2016!

Comments are closed.