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.
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.
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.