I’ve finally gotten motivated to pull our 2016 numbers together and put them out there for your voyeuristic perusal. That’s not true, Mrs. SSC did that about a month ago, but I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated, so there’s been a delay. For those of you that don’t care to see charts or hit the nitty gritty, the summary is that 2016 was no 2015 in terms of savings. The overall outside 401k investing sums were down, however, I am happy in the fact that it wasn’t from lack of saving, rather we essentially piled it into cash in the event we suffered double layoffs. That didn’t happen, thank goodness, and instead Mrs. SSC took a teaching job with a huge paycut and we’re all happier as a result. That’s pretty much 2016 in a nutshell. Below I’ve put together more details on where our money went and a chart on how it compares to 2015, and what we plan to change for 2017.
2016 Spending: Investments
First things first. Oour Vanguard savings only amounted to $24k this past year. But wait, how was it that low? We’ve essentially been auto investing, what gives?! These were literal questions I also asked Mrs. SSC when I heard that low number. She reminded me about the $26/barrel oil prices this time last year, massive layoffs at her company and many others, fears of layoffs at mine, and that these occurrences scared us into ratcheting up our cash on hand. This along with the fact that I didn’t get a cash bonus last year (hey, I’m happy I am still getting a paycheck, and it is called a bonus) also helped contribute to that low number as ~90% of the take home from that goes straight into Vanguard. Then factor in Mrs. SSC taking a job with a 6 figure paycut and no paycheck for 3 months, and yep, that’s how those sorts of things happen. Because – life.
I won’t disclose cash saved sums, but we’re good for covering expenses for a solid year or more at this point. So, at least we were still saving even if it wasn’t getting invested. However, I don’t like having that much cash sitting around just losing value, so now we get to decide what to do with it. More to come on that in a later post. I also changed my 401k and almost maxed it out, along with the 7.5% contribution from work. I’d cut it down the past 2.5 yrs anticipating putting that money towards Vanguard style savings, and while that’s happened, I realize that having it automatically go into savings works better, and we can access that prior to 60 if things hit the skids anyway, so that was upped. I have it set so I should just max it out next year or get really close , so there’s that bump to be gained. I didn’t calculate my 2016 total 401k savings, and neither did Mrs. SSC, but I estimated mine was ~$30k with match, and Mrs. SSC’s was close to $20k with match since she quit halfway thru the year.
2016 Spending: Big Hits, FIRE Calc’s, and 2015 Comparison
Our spending for the year was ~$102740, compared to ~$113k in 2015. Not too bad, that’s quite a drop, except that a good chunk of the 2015 spending was related to home repairs that we weren’t hit with nearly as hard in 2016. Remember that $7k A/C unit? I do… Ugh… The silver lining is that based on our FIRE calculations, and removing all the drivel like daycare and mortgage, cleaning help, etc… we would spend about $3950/month or around $47,400/yr. That still falls within our target of $55k/yr so, woohoo for small wins.
Other areas that were big spenders this year, $9600 into the college funds for the kids, $12,100 into allowances for us to split, $24340 in mortgage, and $19737 in daycare. Yes, daycare is falling and is finally not always neck and neck with the mortgage! Our plan is working, woohoo!
Groceries were in the gray area at $7,100 which is around $590 per month. Not bad for a family of 4 but we feel like we could probably do better, so that’s a short term focus goal.
2016 Spending: Changes in 2017
What’s coming up for 2017 for the SSC family? Probably big spending in travel, as we have a 2 week vacation to MT/ID later this summer as a recon trip for a potential landing spot when we enact our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC). Also Mrs. SSC’s brother is getting married in North Carolina, so we’ll travel for that, and it seems like there is some other big travel somewhere lurking about. Maybe a Florida trip for the family? I don’t know.
There’s always the potential to have to replace the other A/C unit, as they were the same age, so that could be a big expense in 2017. Which begs the question, is a home warranty worth it, and should we get one, please weigh in and let me know your experience with them. I would appreciate it. We got a new dishwasher recently (already in 2017 spending) that led to some hilarious Money Pit style expenditures, keep an eye out for those in the January spending report.
Speaking of our spending reports, I’m done calling it a budget, we’re making some new categories there as well. These include family adventure, blog costs (separate from general shopping and this came about from FINCon’s high cost, and other little costs here and there that have been adding up at least in Mrs. SSC’s eyes), Mrs. SSC’s work costs (I think of it as an expensive hobby that also pays decently, but there are a lot of things she’s paid for out of pocket like books, seismic data, and other things that should be covered, but just aren’t), and charity. We have been tithing more at church and other places and will have that column in there as well.
Beyond all that stuff above, there aren’t too many changes to be made in our household this year. We’re planning to up our Vanguard contributions to $4k per month which puts us back on track there and it’s upped from ~$3500 that we were originally going to target. Yep, already moving the goal posts. Also, as I mentioned we have a chunk of cash that we are going to invest so that will be a nice boost. I’ll outline what our options are in a later post and get your opinions about what we should invest it in. Exciting! Yeah, that’s about it. Just keep on monitoring spending so it doesn’t get frittered away and we say, WTF?! Where did our money go?!
Hope you have a great 2017! Let me know if you have any thoughts good or bad towards home warranties. I think we may get one, especially after the dishwasher boondoggle, I mean adventure!