Another year has gone and now it’s time to reflect on our budget and if we accomplished our financial goals for 2016. But first, a general word on 2016–for most of the world, it was just a real turd of a year. The Syrian crisis, the terror attacks in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. Then Brexit, and the capper of Donald Trump being Donald Trump and enough people thinking “sure, I’ll vote for that guy.”
It was, as determined by the people, surreal.
For myself, I dealt (and am still dealing) with anxiety issues that I really hadn’t before. Something unique to our generation is these identity crises experienced at such a young age. There are lots of theories on our generation and why we are the way we are, to which I usually scoff. But I couldn’t escape the anxiety monster — though I now recognize that I’ve pretty much dealt with anxiety on some level most of my life and just thought that hyperventilating and constantly wanting to vomit was how most people dealt with things. Guess not.
Still, I can’t complain too much. The position of privilege my wife and I have been afforded can’t be forgotten and we are grateful that pursuing financial independence is a realistic goal for us. 2016 brought us that much closer to our early retirement date. And since this will probably be the last time I can say it, I will: “thanks, Obama.”
For 2017, I hope to branch out and possibly become self-employed. I took SEO auditing courses, web design, and through my current financial marketing job, hope to supplant those skills with content creation as well. I also mentioned in my last budget update that I will also pursue being a financial coach in 2017. If these pursuits turn out how I envision, I plan to leave my current job this spring. I want to take some career risks and what better time than when I am young, have no children, and have more money saved than the average 50 year-old.
A few other things to note before getting to the final budget totals. We had booked a trip to Europe as noted in 2nd quarter update, but due to them seriously altering our agenda, we cancelled and got a full refund. Turns out, if they change your agenda by more than four hours, you can get a full refund even on non-refundable tickets. Or at least you can with American Airlines.
American tried to give me the run around but as soon as I brought up their contract of carriage it was suddenly “oh yes, let me get that process started for you!” Funny how that works. So we’re looking to book a new flight but nothing is set right now.
Also, I switched up our insurance from Safeco to Allstate. Piece of advice: when researching insurance companies, they all suck according to consumer affairs. All of them. Sure one might have two stars and others 1.5 stars, but you’re gonna get screwed either way (apparently) and I might as well save myself $600 in premiums.
Alright, to the main event. As always, savings rate is key to figuring out when you can retire, so that’s included in the summary. Our goal was 60% and we damn near hit it. I will take that as a win. The left side of the table shows my budget projections, the right is our spending to date. New to my exciting budget table is a percentage of “spend to date.” For instance, I budgeted $480 for gasoline and spent $473 date; so 98% of $480. This chart is progressive and includes all four quarters.
|Home Improvement||$300||$272 (91%)|
|Lawn & Garden||$420||$306 (73%)|
|Home Supplies||$240||$209 (87%)|
|Cell Phone||$840||$820 (98%)|
|Car Insurance*||$480||$430 (90%)|
|Auto Maintenance + Services/Parts||$600||$25 (4%)|
|Bus Pass||$264||$262 (99%)|
|Health Insurance||$1,575||$1636 (104%)|
|Health & Fitness||$600||$1417 (236%)|
|Personal Care||$360||$415 (115%)|
|Gifts & Donations||$2,400||$2588 (108%)|
- Paychecks: $62,655 (after tax)
- 401ks (Contributions + Match): $13,400
- Savings Interest Income: $35
- Car: $1600
- Misc.: $757
Total: $78,447 (YTD)
- Investments: $95,975 (IRAs, 401Ks, Prosper, Fundrise)
- Cash Accounts: $12,030 (Emergency Savings/Checking)
YTD Savings Rate: 58%
2016 Target Savings Rate: 60%
Our investments did quite well this year. For our stock/bond holdings we had a cumulative return of 8.2%. Our Prosper account is returning 14.2% to date, and our Fundrise account gave us an average of 11.5%. A much better year than 2015 to be sure. We’ll see what happens going forward as there is uncertainty surrounding Trump (despite stocks climbing since he won the election), we don’t know how the EU is going to shake out, what long term effect Brexit will have, plus stocks are definitely overpriced right now. That’s why portfolio diversification is crucial!
We’re going to aim for the 60% mark in 2017, but I don’t expect us to hit it if I do venture out on my own as the income stream definitely won’t be steady at first. But I think short-term sacrifice for longer term satisfaction is good by us.
I do want to say thanks for following along in 2016. The posts became pretty sparse but we have some new content brewing. Lots of pans in the fire and what this blog looks like going forward may change… (ellipses for effect!)
How was your 2016? Excited for 2017? Share with us!