Huzzah! We are done with 2020! What a huge relief.
In some ways, 2020 was a great year for me. It was also simultaneously a horribly wretched year at the exact same time.
The first few months of the year were off to a fantastic start. I started getting settled into St Louis, was meeting new people to hopefully start up new friend groups, met and started dating my most wonderful boyfriend, and started feeling like I was on solid footing with the new job.
And then the pandemic hit. Suddenly I couldn’t explore the city and all the fun things it has to offer, I couldn’t see my boyfriend in person for a long time, all the social activities stopped so I couldn’t meet people, and my job had us work from home for the foreseeable future.
Personally, things weren’t so bad. I binge-watched the entire Marvel movie series, conquered Terraria, got a new bike and rode nearly 100 miles on it, watched Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, and learned how to make a mean latte. The only person in my family to get sick was my estranged biological father and he pulled through. My family welcomed a new baby cousin into the fold.
I’m upset I didn’t get to do a lot of things I wanted to do. My first year living in St Louis and I wasn’t able to attend a Cardinals game in person. (Shush to all you other baseball fans out there that tell me that’s no great loss!) My boyfriend and I have yet to meet each other’s families in person. I wasn’t able to attend my friend’s change of command ceremony. There was no CampFI for me in 2020 for the first time in years. I miss getting to see my online friends and meeting new people. Some Zoom meetings helped, but I think we’re all sick of online meetings by now.
As I write this on January 10th, 2021 is not off to a great start but I am hopeful that those denying reality will come around and be held accountable for their actions by the full extent of the law. The vaccines rolling out for Covid-19 also look promising and I hope that means we can find our new normal sooner rather than later this year. I leave you with a meme before getting into the nuts and bolts of my spending review for 2020.
This year was one of my most expensive years ever. I have become what some in the more frugal circles of the FIRE world would call a “spendypants”. I think I am perfectly ok with that title. Being a “spendypants” means I live in a spacious apartment with room to work on most of my hobbies (and room to work from home without totally losing my mind). It means my apartment is nicely decorated and functional. It means my clothes fit and look nice. It means I have a car that works without leaving me anxious I’m going to break down somewhere. It means my boyfriend and I have a lot of fun on dates doing things like playing video games, eating brunch, and going to the local ice cream parlor. (Or, at least it did in the first 3 months before we had to move all of our dates online.)
|Housing||14,249||1 month of higher costs from old apartment in HCOL area, 11 months at $1,125 to rent a 2 bedroom, 1 bath unit in a nice enough area of St Louis in easy commuting distance of work.|
|Food||7,054||Average of $587/mo which is much higher than years past. I attribute this to feeding myself and my boyfriend for most of the year. He’s very worth it — and also worth noting some food outings were covered by him.|
|Car||5,997||Minimal gas expenses, but a lot of repair costs and then the payment for the new car bought in September.|
|Internet||1,320||Medium fast, unreliable internet from Spectrum. It drops all the time and I hate it but they’re the only ones who service my building. Ugh|
|Phone||1,244||Google FI bill that includes paying off my phone for most of 2020. I’m saving up for a new one now.|
|Utilities||1,177||I live in a historic building with giant windows that aren’t energy efficient at all. Costs are super high in the winter and super low in the summer when I love having all the windows open and the air off.|
|Support||1,950||I send money to my sister each month to support her endeavors as a missionary around the world.|
|Pet||969||Bartholomew was expensive this year with two vet visits, one to clean his teeth.|
|Blog||1,518||Costs of hosting the blog, support work, and various subscriptions I use to do things like graphics and email list.|
|Games||111||I bought a Switch game or 2 and a Steam game (the aforementioned Terraria).|
|Entertainment||812||Mostly things like streaming services and Patreon dues for various people to encourage their continued creation.|
|Shopping||4,516||Furnishing the new house, some clothes, some shoes, bullet journals, books, and kitchen stuff.|
|Fees||1,816||Annual credit card fees, a missed payment or two fee, and lots of other little stuff that added up.|
|Misc||2,400||Expenses that don’t fit anywhere else.|
|Travel||86||Hilariously and sadly low 🙁|
|Gifts||2,211||Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, just because I’m thinking about you gifts, flowers, etc.|
|Hobbies||1,219||I think I bought some fabric and counted cross stitch stuff to keep me occupied while sheltering in my home.|
|Health||1,975||Things like the dentist and medicine in case I got sick.|
Total expenses: $49,347
Thoughts on Expenses:
2020 was a very weird year for my budget. My food budget went up thanks to my experiments with a local CSA, a meal sharing plan with a few people in my neighborhood, meals ready to eat from a meal prep place, and feeding my boyfriend on occasion. My car expenses were lower than normal when it came to buying gas, but higher with unexpected repairs and a car purchase in September. My side hustle expenses were way lower after I stopped pretty much everything but the blog. Expenses went way down, my happiness levels went up, and my stress levels far lower. I spent a lot more on things like gifts and charity this year. I was blessed to not lose my job, so most of my first stimulus check went to places like my home church, their fund for any congregation members in need, local charities in St Louis and any organization on the ground with a good plea (like an organization working to support unhoused people in St Louis). Health expenses were up compared to the last few years of virtual neglect. My teeth are looking great now! Shopping was higher as I allowed myself to actually buy new clothes that look good on me and fit me. I also bought things for my apartment like cookware, knives, dishes, a rug, paintings and other art, and matching décor. I’ve spent a lot of time in this apartment over the last 12 months and love that it feels like home. Travel spending was hella low. With the coronavirus keeping me home, I didn’t get to do my annual overseas trip or any number of domestic trips like I normally do. I miss my friends!! And finally, reoccurring expenses like Netflix, game subscriptions, and Patreon donations were not only higher, but actually existed. This is the first time I’ve had anything of the sort and I’m glad I do as they’ve collectively provided a lot of entertainment with friends over the course of the year. Going forward, I’ll evaluate if I want to keep them, but I definitely don’t regret sharing my Netflix with my sister so her family could be entertained.
W2 Pay: $81,133.41
Non-W2 income: $7,800
This includes things like selling my car, any money from the IRS like my stimulus or tax refund, and side hustle activities. I’m pretty sure I managed to sell about $100 worth of things on Etsy this year. Yay me!
Well, this year was a roller coaster for the ol’ net worth tracker. I started the year at $213,000 and ended up with a net worth of $284,033. Check out this ride:
The market went on a pretty steep dive with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Most every month after that it went steadily back up. In some months it kinda diddled around and didn’t do much, and some months shot up like a rocket (looking at you October to November!). I thought for a second I might cross the $300k mark before the end of the year, but the market wasn’t that insane. I think it’s crazy that I could spend just about $50,000 in one year and still see my net worth go up $71,000. Now we get to see what the market does when it catches up to the reality that a large chunk of the US is suffering from being laid off and can’t pay all their bills. Oh, and civil unrest is always great, too. I have a feeling 2021 will be very interesting. I’m also including a screenshot of my total net worth journey below. I feel it’s important to show the entire picture.
The power of compounding is clearly visible. It’s also fascinating to see the decisions I made play out in real life. You can see the long slog of steadily saving, the fluctuations around my adventures in real estate, the recovery year in 2019 and now the return to steady savings. Side note, the little dots at the top of the lines always remind me of kiwi seeds. Thanks, Mint.
At this rate, I’ve achieved CoastFI from my investments alone. However, I also have a pension from my old job and a pension from this job (provided it’s not taken away before I retire at 55 to be able to stay on the employee health care plan).
So to wrap up a crazy and wacky year.….. personally, life was pretty good. I met the love of my life, my family was healthy, my job is secure, and my net worth steadily going up.
I only wish that were true for everyone. Stay safe!
Max @ Max Out of Pocket says
Nice work toning down the side-hustles and focusing on other things. I have heard overdoing it can turn you into a burn-out scene. I briefly thought about getting into some, but decided my progressing career is enough to keep me happy.
Healthcare looks good. I got hit by the dentist as well this year!
Happy New Year!
Max @ Max Out of Pocket recently posted…Health Savings Accounts – Part 5: Do Your Employer’s Contributions Stack Up?
Didn’t you earn 90k in 2019 according to your 2019 Recap post? I thought if you earn over 75k then you don’t get stimulus check?
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
The first one was based off my 2018 income. Not entirely sure why I got the full one the second time around. But I don’t think it would’ve fully phased out with my income
Bit of a delayed reply, but the stimulus check cut-offs are based on AGI (adjusted gross income). So if you made a gross income of 90k in 2019 and contributed the full amount of 19,000 to your 401k or other pre-tax retirement account, you would have an adjusted gross income of 71,000, which qualifies for the stimulus.
You should try Mint Mobile! Google Fi is really only good for people who travel internationally a lot, otherwise it can be on higher $$ side. If you pay for 12 months up front at $240 + tax/fees, you get a 10GB data + unlimited talk/text. So works out to $20/month!
I’ve been using it for nearly a year and love it!
You’ve got a lot going on (furnishing a new place, new car) that are sort of “one time” expenses—I wouldn’t be too worried! You’re still growing your net worth plenty. Perhaps most importantly, quoting you:
“So to wrap up a crazy and wacky year.….. personally, life was pretty good.”
That’s what really matters in the end. Glad things have been on the up trend for you. And reaching CoastFI is great news!
As another commenter mentioned, Jenni and my own parents have all found MintSIM to be a pretty good service. They have some less expensive plans with lower commitment periods and a little less data, too. Jenni has also found 1 year Red Pocket pre-paid SIMs via eBay (new) to be quite a good deal as well when they’re around $200.
Chris@TTL recently posted…4 Charities for Racial Equality (and Our January 2021 Budget Review!)
NZ Muse says
What a year!!! Congrats on reaching coast FI!
NZ Muse recently posted…Money & marriage: Navigating the awkward conversations and more