2015 Year End Review

Someone once told me when I was younger that time speeds up as you get older. Being the 13 year old that I was, I pished at him and completely wrote off his words of wisdom.

Boy, was he ever right.

It seems like just yesterday I was struggling to remember to write ‘5’ instead of ‘4’ on my checks. But, alas, it’s already 2016.

2015 was an awesome year for me. In 2015 I:

-started off the new year in Australia with fireworks
-moved to a new city
-started a new job
-made new friends
-finally got my kitten
-got honorably discharged from the military
-turned 25
-went on an amazing trip to Ecuador

I want to say that I have no clue how this year will be able to top last year, but knowing my tentative plans for the upcoming 12 months, I think I’ll be able to have a good time. Just within the first week of January, I’ve started to plan a trip to Chicago to see friends and go to a Cubs-Cardinals baseball game at “historic” Wrigley Field, a trip to England (hopefully with my sister) to see the new Harry Potter play in West End, and numerous other small activities through out the year.

As you can imagine, all that travel and moving about didn’t come cheap. Thankfully, I have a great paying job that not only allows me to do all these fun things, but save aggressively for early retirement. Posted below you’ll find several graphics of my spending in 2015. After the graphics I breakdown the categories and analyze them for problem areas (things to work on this year), and areas where I successfully reduced my spending. Some of my findings surprised even me!

I’m also going to go out on a limb and talk about my income and net worth growth for the year. I want to be clear: I’m not revealing this information to brag. I realized that only getting information on the spending side of the house provides an incomplete picture. Some of my readers are people I’ve referred to the blog from real life (aka sharing about it on Facebook or through face to face conversations). I feel as though I’m baring an extremely personal part of me, which makes me a bit nervous. But, I know I’m not back in middle school or high school, and that no one will care besides a “huh, that’s interesting, good for her” type reaction. It’ll also be a fun test for me to see which of my real life friends actually reads my posts too 😛

2015 Spending:

My total spending for the year came out to be $39,306.30. My goal was to spend less than 2014 ($41,826.40), which I managed to beat by $2520.10. Good, but not great. My spending target for retirement is roughly $23,500, so I’ve got a bit more cutting back to do.

Perhaps I’m not being entirely fair in comparing the two years since they were composed entirely differently. 2014 I didn’t move, and I only took one big trip as opposed to paying for 2 trips. Also, while my spending might’ve been higher in certain months, I was also getting reimbursed for most of it. Maybe a better graphic would be of net spending/income.

Ah, here we go. This one makes me feel better. In this one, you can see that only in only ONE month out of the entire year I spent more than I earned.

(That would be January at -$826, although some months I cut that line very closely.)

January included a reimbursement to my sister for money spent on my trip to Australia. The next notable months were April and May, when I was busy accumulating moving expenses up the wazoo. I had several successful low spending months, and then came along my trip to Ecuador in October. December had a lot of one time big expenses like Christmas and car insurance. You can see my income spike in certain months, like March (tax refund), May (moving reimbursements) and December (bonus time!).

Category wise, my spending looked like this:

Home [$13,668.95] My rent was offset at the beginning of the year with my roommate, although that changed when I moved to a new town into a nice new apartment. I look forward to the day when my money goes to equity, not lining the pockets of an apartment complex. The mobility is worth it though.
Travel [$4,990.06] This includes the wrap up for Australia, all of Ecuador, and the beginning of my England trip next year. $5k for all that? SCORE!
Food & Dining [$4,426.80] For an average of $368.90/mo, this is higher than I’d like and will be an area to focus on in 2016. However, this includes all groceries, eating out, and alcohol, which I think is actually pretty damn awesome.
Shopping [$3,858.52] Definitely an area to work on. This includes all clothes, books, gadgets, gizmos and supplies for my various hobbies. I’m happy it’s not higher, but not so happy it’s this high. Darn you Amazon!
Bills & Utilities [$3,616.40] Internet, Phone and Utilities. This will definitely be lower in 2016 since I live in a newer, smaller, 3rd floor apartment, and I also cut my phone bill in half by switching to a new provider.
Auto & Transport [$2,878.10] Fuel, oil changes, auto insurance and any repairs needed. Not too shabby. Plummeting gas prices definitely helped here. Thanks, Obama.
Pets [$1,726.24] The cost of my adorable fur ball. He’s been so worth every penny. This year included the breeder fee and all of his kitten shots, which are one time fees. It’ll be interesting to see how much he costs moving forward.
Gifts & Donations [$999.74] Everything I bought for people or donated to various causes. Could it be lower? Yes, but I don’t mind spoiling my friends and family a bit every once in awhile. I love being the cool auntie who gives awesome gifts to my niece!
Fees & Charges [$691.72] $500 of this is the deposit for my apartment, so really it should be $191.72. Still not happy it’s that high but it could’ve been worse. 2016 will be lower.
Entertainment [$509.50] I am actually astonished it’s only $500. I feel like I went out and did way more than that, but I guess I didn’t. This includes things like going out to movies, concerts, and sporting events.
Health & Fitness [$476.08] Things like my gym membership, dentist and doctor appointments, and contacts. Some of these I could’ve used my HSA for, but I decided to save that for later.
Business Services [$221.95] The (minimal) cost of getting this blog up and running. Not too shabby.
Personal Care [$112.20] Hygenical stuff and haircuts, basically. Pretty good for a girl 😛

That about covers all the spending stuff. Now onto the good stuff: how much did I make last year? For the first half of the year, I had two jobs: working my boring yet high paid office job, and my slightly less boring but infinitely lower paying military job. I also was bringing in some extra money from renting my extra room to a friend.

My total income for the year was $86,707.55 before taxes! Not bad for someone who’s 2 years out of college, single, lives in the Midwest (aka pretty low cost of living) and doesn’t have any debt. That means that all of the $55,000 (ish) I got after taxes was all mine to spend. The breakdown in income categories is as follows:

Office Job $77,000: Including bonus, but not including employer match in my 401k and HSA
Military Job $1,753.76: I was done with military stuff in April, so this is only those 4 months.
Other $7,931.70: Rent from my friend, reimbursements for moving, and tax refunds.
Interest: $22.09: Money I earned from my cash savings accounts. Better than nothing I suppose!

My goal for 2016 is to break the $100k barrier in earned income. Not necessarily take home pay, but overall. I’m going to make this happen through a combination of raises from my office job, income from a rental property and money earned through a creative side hustle I want to start. Of course, all of this is a moot point after I win the $1.3 billion Powerball drawing on Wednesday (hah, totally kidding. But it’d be nice!) If I can raise the amount I earn, it will only help accelerate my timeline to FI.

Speaking of being FI, I’ll need a net worth of $587,500 if I’d like to quit my regular office job by the time I’m 35. I started out 2 years ago at age 23 with a net worth of $10,000. I’m proud to say that as of December 31st, 2015 my net worth was $82,981! I’ve achieved this through putting as much as possible into my 401(k), Roth IRA and some into my HSA instead of spending it on crapola I didn’t need. Here’s a chart from the last 2 years detailing my progress:

As you can see, my net worth has taken a bit of a tumble since the end of 2015. If I didn’t need to have such a big chunk of cash on hand for the property I’m buying, I would take it and front load my Roth IRA for the year as everything is cheaper to buy. But, I can’t do that right now, so I’m going to hang tight and not change anything. I have faith the market will go up.

According to my projection, I’m a month ahead of where I expected to be when I did the projection this time last year. Mad Fientist’s Laboratory says I have 9 years and 8 months to go before I can retire, which matches my own projections. I’m right on target with my plan (or maybe slightly ahead) and couldn’t be happier. Here’s to hoping that 2016 goes just as smoothly!

How did last year look for you? Any big plans for 2016?

12 thoughts on “2015 Year End Review

  1. Just stumbled upon your website through Mr. 1500’s site. I like it. I can tell the charts are from mint. =) I’m 27 (turning 28 in Aug), so it is cool to read about someone with a similar age as me striving for FI too. Food & Dining continue to be my Achilles’s Heel for my budget. But hopefully that will change once the house remodel is finished. Kinda hard to cook without a kitchen. Thanks for the great breakdown.

    • I love Mint. It makes everything super easy! Except when my accounts refuse to link. Then it’s terrible. I have a major problem with food & dining too :/ It’s so easy to go out with friends! Good luck with the reno!

      • Yeah, my first credit card was a walmart credit card. I use it all the time because I get 1% cash back. Unfortunately it doesn’t link with Mint. So my breakdown looks like I spend 40% on shopping, when actually most of that is home renovation and bills I have automatic payments on, and food and dining too (can’t forget about that).

  2. Hi FM. I just came across your blog via Mr. 1500’s site; I love your ambition! What financial tracking system do you use (loving those graphics!)? And how often do you plug the figures in, e.g. every time you buy something / once a month when your bank statement comes / etc.? I study my credit card and bank statements every month, but have no idea how much I’m spending on different categories.
    Many thanks.

    • Hi Nicky thanks for reading! All of those screenshots are through Mint. I monitor my spending and accounts constantly, but I only officially update my numbers at the beginning of each month. Then I compare them to previous months to see how I’m doing. I track each transaction in Mint, but I have a spreadsheet for general categories.

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