Man, what a year 2017 was, what a year indeed. We thought it had gone fairly well. Our new Lifestyle Change schedule was amazing, we bought the land to build our house on when we pull the plug in 2019, or 2020, and I got to go to my first ever FinCon! Plus, I got to the end of the year and had extra vacation and thought, “Man, it felt like I’ve already taken a lot of vacation!” There were lots of good feelings all around.
Then we tallied up our total spending for the year, and womp, womp, the rain clouds moved in and shut down our parade. While we had been having a great year from a lifestyle perspective, our spending had been going on a tear, kind of like the stock market.
We both sensed it in January when we replaced our dishwasher and it cost an additional $300 in plumbing fixes that were discovered during installation. Mrs. SSC prophetically said, “I hope this isn’t “the year of spending…”” Well, it was. Where did our spending get derailed, how close were we to our FFLC (Fully Funded Lifestyle Change) budget, and how bad was it? Well, it wasn’t pretty that’s for sure.
Where Did We Go So Wrong?
For starters, our FFLC budget is a target of $55k per year once we leave the workforce. We don’t budget, as much as we track spending. However, tracking is great looking in the rear view mirror, but not so great for in the moment sort of “keeping things in check”. I think that could be one way we got off the rails, was by tracking rather than staying as vigilant about spending as we usually are. This could be predicated by us being so “close” to achieving our FFLC number and being able to leave the workforce that we might have gotten a little too comfortable or maybe just too lax with asking, “Is this a want or a need?”
I recall a few times during the year when we were like, “It’s a definite want, but I’m okay with that.” Maybe that was it. Feel free to let me know what you think it could be in the comments.
Homes are Assets! *sarcastic font*
Let’s start with the biggest category and that would be the house. Home maintenance, repairs, upkeep and more came in around $14.5k this year. Wait, that should read, “came in around $14.5k this year?!?!” What?! Oh yeah, it was rough. It started with the dishwasher ~$900 and that led to $300 worth of plumbing repairs that needed to be done, that were discovered during installation. Joy! That was followed by the fence replacement for ~$3k, 14 yr old carpet upstairs replaced for $5k, eradicating termites and spraying preventative stuff around the foundation was ~$2.5k. Also, I tore out an old side deck but underneath was all mud so we needed to put down sod, and also get our front beds mulched, trimmed and some maintenance on our sprinkler system which all added up to ~$2.2k. We also finally repainted upstairs and the master bath for $300 and about 15 hrs of our time. Each, not combined. This house is stupid big…
The Weed Eater Saga
Then our weed eater died. I spent a few hrs replacing the ignition coil, but then the carburetor had issues and I couldn’t get it going. After calling around I realized it wouldn’t be much more to get a new weed eater than to fix this one. So I shopped and found a good deal on one. That turned into a major fiasco. It showed up with the motor covering cracked due to poor packing, so I contacted customer service for a replacement and shipping label to return this one. Multiple emails and a full 3 weeks later I’d heard nothing so I called and waited for 50 minutes to find out my ticket never “officially” got started, so they started it. A week later they sent out a replacement, and when it showed up, I had not one, but 2 new weed eaters! Seriously, 2 in the same box!! Possibly 3 because neither they nor Fed Ex has contacted me to pick up or return the original damaged one. Long annoyance for the win?
Pets are Expensive!!
Next up in more kinds of overspending that could happen in FFLC is the pet category. We adopted not one, but two dogs this year! Yes, while we won’t be doing that every year, we are now a 3 dog household. Zoe was adopted early in the spring, and quickly got the nickname Money Pit. She had some stomach issues and after 2 visits to the vet (~$300 each) we found out it was hookworms. After she finished the medicine, and 2 more vet trips (~$300 each) we found out it wasn’t just hookworms, she has a poultry intolerance. So, switch to Costco brand dog food with beef and sweet potatoes and she’s as right as rain. It only took about $1200 to figure out… Aye, yi, yi… In December, Mrs. SSC decided I needed a therapy dog/snuggle buddy/best friend in the house, whatever you want to call it, so we started looking for another dog. Smaller, cuddlier (not like our two 60 lb cats we have now, lol) and a good family dog.
We found Jack, a beagle, red heeler mix that was a Harvey rescue. He was microchipped but the previous family didn’t want him back, so we got him. He’s been a dream. Loves to cuddle with me on the couch, or my chair, loves to see me when I get home, or even just back from a run. He loves the kids and is great with them and the Greyhounds. He fit in perfectly and has been amazing to have around.
We even finished the last mile of my #ARStreak run together. He did great, and we even kept up a 10:22 min/mile pace, which I’d say was awesome for the first time trying out running with him. Still, that was another $400 between heartworm meds for a year, new crate that fit him, bed, adoption fee, etc… Well worth it in my opinion, but about $1600 or more in pet costs we hadn’t anticipated last year.
Canyon Lake Costs
Our Canyon Lake plan cost us approximately $60k to get up and running last year. The land was $55k before taxes, sellers fees, HOA dues, etc…, and our initial home design, tree survey, topo survey, and soils investigation cost another $2k.
We’re still designing the house, and while we’ve gotten the floor plan complete, we are still dealing with lights and electrical layouts. We also found out it will be about $100k over what we had initially estimated for cost. While this isn’t a deal breaker, it will mean we push back our date to 2020, maybe 2021. It just depends how much we buckle down and get back on the “baller saver” end of the spectrum.
Wait, There Were Also “Wins?”
There were some wins though. Our groceries were spot on all year, woohoo!! All the rest of our numbers panned out as expected, so that was pretty sweet as well. Even our tank adventure ended up only costing us $400 as the rest of the family came thru and pitched in. Yeah!!
All in all, 2017 was still a great year. Sure, monetarily it seemed like a dumpster fire but we learned a lot from it. One thing was that maybe this should be our P10 scenario and our previous years are more like a P90 scenario. If we can get our target number to reflect a P50, we should be good. Some years will suck and we’ll spend more, and some years, we’ll crush it and come in under. Either way, we know we need more of a cushion in some categories than we have built in now. Plus, we plan to stress test the FFLC budget this year, but I’ll talk about that in more detail in an upcoming post. If I had to sum up 2017 in a sentence, I’ll revert back to John Prine and say, “pretty good, not bad, I can’t complain, but actually, everything is just about the same.”
I hope your 2017 was better monetarily than ours, but I hope it was as great as ours felt. Any thoughts on what could have caused so many overages, or was it “life being life” and just a spendy year? I’d love to hear your take on it!