Slowly Sipping Coffee

2015 Wrap-up and 2016 Goals

2015 was a pretty good year in a lot of ways for our household. Here’s a brief summary of the year’s financial picture, as well as our December numbers. Let’s begin with a quick over all summary.

In 2015 our savings/investments went up $155,976. Not too bad, but not great since most of that was just us putting in new money.  You can see from the graph that there was a big dip, followed by a recovery, then a flat to downward trend that helped keep that growth slow.  However, I still think we are on track to hit our FI number in mid-2017, if stocks can manage to grow just a little bit.

Instead of doing a full budget breakdown for December, I’ll note that we did well. Our finance picture was pretty boring, which I’ll take any time. Some anomalies not seen in previous months are noted below.

Yearly HOA = $815 Yep, HOA dues. But I think they do a great job with their festivals that they host for Spring, Easter, 4th of July, Fall, Halloween, and Winter. We also get a lot of use out of the pools during the summer.

Extra gift/entertainment = $450 – Miscellaneous gifts, and costs associated with holiday hosting of family.

Car registration = $79.50 – Yep, cars cost more than gas each month. Shocker…

Groceries = $509 – Some extra was put in the ‘entertainment’ category to account for Christmas and New Year’s feasts. Most of the alcohol for those events was covered in November.

Overall we spent $7148.11.  Without daycare and mortgage that is $3419.77.

To wrap up our 2015 expenses for our first full year of tracking – we are looking at a FIRE estimate of  $58,800/year – which comes out to about 8 grand more than we expected at the beginning of the year… What caused this jump? Well, we replaced the AC for $7k, a broken shower door for $1.3k, garage door for $440, AC drain repair $440, and I think that might have been it. That is roughly $9k in home repairs, and yes, some we could have gone the DIY route, but not the big hitter of the AC.  We do have some buffers built in to account for these repairs in the future but it does have us thinking about renting, or even possibly building so we could get a good 7-10 years “problem free”. Gah!! There will be more to come on these choices later.

How does this break down as to where the money goes? On average we spend $644/month on groceries and $173/month on pets.  Pet costs will likely go down, as we had expensive medical bills for Harley, and adoption costs for our lovely greyhound, Lola. Although, Quinn, our second dog is 15, so it could be pricey this year depending on her health.  Miscellaneous shopping was $204/month, and House miscellaneous was $1120 – definitely bad due to the AC.  In total, we spent $113,025 this year (includes 12,000) for allowances.

Lola - resting

Lola – resting

More resting. Greyhounds "rest" a lot...

More resting. Greyhounds “rest” a lot…

We did not reach our goal of saving $150k this year, but we did save $135k or 90% of our goal in 401ks, 529s and personal investment accounts. Not too shabby.  This is actually the first year I didn’t max out my 401k. I got close, but since those accounts are already “big enough” for what we need in “real” retirement, we focused on our pre-retirement gap savings. We both took full advantage of the employer match and again got close to maxing out those accounts, but at this point, that’s not where our savings is focused.  That gives us a savings rate from our take-home portion of 47.8% and that’s pretty darn close to the 50% we aimed for.  This is just $4000 shy of savings Mrs SSC’s entire take home salary, so overall, I’m pretty excited about that.  This year, we will try again for the elusive $150,000 savings goal!!!

For kicks, I thought I would look at where we are in terms of FI goals.  Taking after Eat the Financial Elephant I’ve plotted our savings in terms of the 25-times rule.  So you can see that now we are at about 17.5 times our yearly needs, and by early 2018 we should be at 25 times.  This projection assumes investment growth of 4% and that we save at the same rate we did in 2015. As you may know, we may enact our Lifestyle Change prior to reaching the 25x number, due to an increase in quality of life.

Progress Chart

Progress Chart

How could our quality of life increase you ask? Time, lots more time… Currently, between the commute and 9/80 work hours, I get to see the kids briefly in the morning as I get them ready for daycare and then for about an hr in the evening when I get home. That sucks. With Mrs. SSC being unhappy in her current position for a myriad of reasons, we’re actively pursuing other opportunities for her. While it would make sense for me to stay at my job until mid-2017 when my work/pension 401k vests, I realized that I’m fully vested in the larger of those accounts, so the amount left on the table would be pretty minimal in exchange for an increase in happiness. The Frugalwoods just had a great guest post on that exact subject, which I’d recommend clicking over and reading. It provides great perspective on achieving happiness on your way to your FI number, but I don’t want to spoil it.

That was our year and December wrap up along with our 2016 goal. Our plan isn’t too exciting other than stay the course and keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve analyzed what the effect would be on reaching FI if we went ultra frugal and cut more stuff out of the budget, and we’ve decided the increase would be so minimal, that it wouldn’t be worth it currently. So, until something dramatic happens, we’ll just keep plugging away at saving, and trying to find something more fulfilling for Mrs. SSC.

28 thoughts on “2015 Wrap-up and 2016 Goals

  1. Justin @ Root of Good

    Great job on (mostly) hitting your goals or at least coming very close in 2015. I’ve always said it’s better to try to save a ton of money and fail because at least you saved something.

    I can also sense your frustration with work consuming all your time with the kids during the week. Huge motivator that pushed me to retire early. My mom was over this morning and commenting how nice it is that I get to spend time with our kids while they are still at home (something my dad never did – he’s still working!).

    Best of luck in 2016!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree that trying to go big and failing by a little still leaves you saving a lot. Plus it is just on the edge of a reachable goal, so we have to keep focus on it and actually work to achieve it.
      That’s great you have the time with the kids while they’re home. It des go by really quickly…

  2. amber tree

    Hey SSC,

    looks like 2015 was a remarkable good year. You hit almost your savings goal. Even more important, the 25 times expenses is getting closer and closer for you.

    I can only agree that the quality f life improves if you get to spend more time with the family. We just had a nice one week holiday where I got to play more with the kids. It was great.

    I hope Mrs SSC quickly finds a new meaningfull activity


    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I enjoyed the time off during the holidays and getting to spend that with family and the kids.

      Even though we knew it was a stretch goal, it still pushes us closer and closer to our number. Interestingly, that opens up so many other possibilities the closer we get.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! Yep, it still is good chunk towards the end goal, and nothing to scoff at. Here’s to hopefully seeing a repeat this year!

  3. Tawcan

    $135k or 90% is pretty awesome regardless. Not too many people can save that much money each year. I really enjoyed reading the latest Frugalwoods post too.

    Looks like your 2016 will be a great one and if you continue doing what you did in 2015 you’ll have a great 2016.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, it’s a good number even if we didn’t hit our target. Glad you liked the Frugalwoods post, it was nicely done as far as perspective on staying happy while working towards FI.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, and congrats! I’ve got another 18 months until I’m 100% in my “pension” style 401k, which is the smaller of the two, and then my “work 401k” was 100% vested as of January last year. :)
      It opens a lot of interesting options, realizing that if we left, I wouldn’t leave the lion’s share on the table.

      Agreed, here’s to a great year for us all in 2016!

  4. Elephant Eater

    Thanks for the link!

    We both have pretty cushy work situations but still are with you in looking for ways to move up our exit date from the full-time work force. We’re both very financially conservative but with the Mrs. recent health problems and seeing how fast little EE is growing and changing we’re continuing to see more that we only get one shot and while we could make more money later, there is no making more time.

    Congrats on your success in 2015, best on the big decisions ahead and hope you all have a great 2016!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      We realized again last night how cushy we have it. We were both looking at 2 jobs in CA and when we were discussing the pro’s and cons, the cons were that it was a 5 day work week, so even though it starts later, we’d be losing 2 days off a month, rent would be ~2.5-3x what we pay now, for half the space, and while we’d be near topography, great weather and all that, would we actually have more family time or not than we have now? Oh and taxes… ahhh, the extra taxes… We haven’t decided yet what to do, but it did reiterate that beyond the long commute, and lack of topography, there is still a lot of good going on with our situation.

      At the least it inspired us to take advantage more of those 3 day weekends, and plan short trips around here at least once a month while we’re still here.

      Hope your 2016 turns out great as well!

  5. Tyler

    Sounds like a good month/year you had. I spend much of my time not thinking about how long I need to work in order to retire, but instead how much work I need to do to reach the joy of doing what I want to do when I want to.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s a good way to look at it too. Personally, I really like my job and could keep doing it and stay happy for at least another 5 years or longer. Especially if oil prices go up and I could get to a role where I get to propose and drill wells again. So, for me, it’s more about wanting more free time to spend with family. Even when we hit our FI number, essentially, that means we can either move somewhere and not work, or get some side sort of jobs an not worry about the amount of income. Or try something different like a park ranger somewhere that pays $30-40k/yr but you live in a pretty area.
      Lots of options, but it’s easy to lose focus on that aspect sometimes and make it seem like its all about the end game. Especially after reading the Frugalwoods post, it reiterated, why wait and not start trying to change our happiness factor now. For me, that’s just being more active and diligent during my time off, and for Mrs. SSC that would be trying to find something more satisfying in terms of work.
      We’ll see what the future brings.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Lola has been great since we got her. I think she’s finally getting relaxed and settled into retirement. I actually caught her napping in the grass last weekend.

  6. OnlyKetchup

    Your 2015 was pretty darn impressive! Great Job! You give me a good benchmark to aim for in 2016. Thanks for the link to the Fruglawoods guest post, was a great read as well.

    1. Mr. SSC

      I’m glad you liked the Frugalwoods post. It resonated with me, so I thought, why not share it? :)

      The good thing about setting a high benchmark is that even if you don’t quite hit the target, you still get great results just for aiming so high. Good luck with your 2016 targets!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Fortunately, except for the commute and shortened time with family, I’m pretty happy with where I am now. Mrs. SSC isn’t in that boat though, and I can relate because that’s how I felt about work before I left my last company. With our industry in the toilet currently, there aren’t quite the same options to preserve sanity for her. Regardless, we’ll probably make a big change in August even if we can’t find her different work in the meantime.

      Good luck to you finding something to help with your sanity in the meantime! :)

  7. Our Next Life

    I definitely call 2015 a success for you guys, especially given all the crazy lay-off stress you’ve had to deal with. I have a good feeling you’ll hit those targets this year! It’s interesting seeing how many of us are revisiting our timelines, and rethinking major aspects of our plans as we learn more and more about what’s really important to us, and what we’re willing to do to prioritize that stuff. Let’s hope we all have an awesome 2016 and can have some of those choices get a little easier for us. 😉

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! We’ll see about those targets this year, a lot will depend on whether we are both employed all year, as well as how our bonuses (if there are any) will be affected by this downturn. Also, there may be a big income change in the fall if not sooner so that could affect it too.

      I hope we all have an awesome 2016, whatever that may look like for each of us!

  8. LeisureFreak Tommy

    Your goal accomplishments are very impressive and deserve congrats. Not hitting the huge savings goal isn’t a big deal when you shoot for the moon. You hit very high. Far more saved than we ever did in our working years.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! I agree, I’m not so focused that we didn’t hit our goal, but that we did so well in savings. I was truly impressed because I honestly didn’t think we would be able to get that close to that goal.

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