Progress to Freedom 35: 2015 Annual Update

The sun sets on another great year

The sun sets on another great year

Year end round up time: I thought I’d compare our financial situation over the last two years and see if tracking our expenses publicly and in more detail made a difference in helping us level up our frugality and reach our goals.

 

Expenses

Average Monthly Expenses

Category 2014 2015
Housing $2,800  $2,300
Heir Care $0  $440
Travel $400  $420
Health & Fitness $330  $360
Groceries $300  $255
Utilities $95  $145
Transportation $160  $145
Eating Out $110  $50
Fur Care $110  $80
Misc $130  $80
Total ~$4,500  $4,275

I pronounce no major difference on the big stuff, and some wins on the smaller stuff.

Big Stuff

Reduced housing spending is the big win, that came from refinancing our mortgage, not from any change of habit we made. Decreased housing costs were offset by the addition of child related expenses. A summary of one year of baby expenses is interesting enough for it’s own post; it turns out the majority (~90%) was paying for daycare, everything else was relatively cheap (no $1000 robotic folding stroller here). Childcare costs will increase as we go into a full year with neither of us on parental leave. Every now and then, having unprotected sex has consequences 🙂

Child related spending displaced travel as our second largest category of expenses (first-world-problems and all that). We spent ~$5000 last year on travel; someone tells me this isn’t too bad, and thanks to aggressive travel hacking we managed to take nine trips for three people with that amount. Either way, it’s a big chunk of our spending, and one I don’t see it being reduced immediately.

Not As Big Stuff

We managed to slash our eating-out costs in half, and reduced our grocery spending by 15%. I think we’re eating better and more lavishly than ever before, so this was a win-win. It’d be easy to discount the relatively small amounts involved, but reducing our food costs by $100 a month means we can feed ourselves for the rest of our lives with $90,000 saved, instead of needing over $120,000. We reduced the amount of money needed for early retirement by over $30,000! I will count that as a victory.

A few other small wins in reducing dog related expenses (mainly starting DIY grooming), and reductions in our driving and miscellaneous expenses were offset by increased bills and utilities, mostly associated with the cable company not buying our annual threat to cancel our internet if they don’t continue their new customer promo rate (they finally yielded at the end of the year).

On the transportation front, we went from one of us working from home and the other biking to work, to the other one working from home while one drives to work; if we kept this silly multiple mile commute thing up, we’d consider buying an electric car; instead we’re hatching plans to reduce or remove the car commuting. The only way to win the commuting game is not to play.

Income

2014 Average Monthly Income: $17,000
2015 Average Monthly Income: $20,000

We spent like drunken sailors, and got paid by even drunker sailors.

It’s tempting to argue that reducing our spending wasn’t as big of a deal as our increased income. By keeping our expenses low, we’re able to sock away as much money as possible. My new favorite saying is “make hay while the sun shines”. We don’t expect these ridiculous salaries to last forever, and lifestyle inflation is a horrible thing to undergo.

Increased income is still pretty nice, and at least part of that has to do with quitting our jobs, and finding new ones. Maybe we should quit our jobs again this year and see what happens. Freedom33 also has a nice ring to it right? Even if it isn’t a round number.

How I felt comparing reducing spending vs increasing income

How I felt comparing reducing spending vs increasing income

Savings Rate

We finished the year with a savings rate of 78%, or 81% if you count mortgage principal payments as savings. Our goal was to try and hit a 80% savings rate, and we’ll call it successful. If accounting tricks are good enough for large corporations, we’ll say they are good enough for us.

Net Worth

2014 Year End Net-worth: ~$700,000
2015 Year End Net-worth: ~$875,000

Flat markets meant we lacked headwinds to help us get richer. Combined with a large (by our standards) charitable contribution timed to improve our tax situation, our net-worth increased for the year by less than the difference between our income and spending.

Progress to Freedom35

Financial Independence and Early Retirement Goal: Q1 2018. On Target

Our aggressive estimates say we could essentially retire now, while our most conservative projections say we have to keep working until 2020. We’re happy to split the difference in the middle and say we are on track to meet our goals.

We’ve been having a lot of fun and think we are doing pretty well. We’ve lately been toying with the idea of pulling the plug even earlier (we wouldn’t be the only ones), or setting ourselves up for new adventures in exciting places. We’ll keep you appraised on our thought processes. Thanks for reading!

As the sun rises on a new year, we're hatching plans to make life more awesome.

As the sun rises on a new year, we’re hatching plans to make life more awesome.

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9 Responses

  1. Great year guys! Huge net worth gains even with equity markets being basically flat.

  2. Congrats on a great year, you guys! That’s still a pretty great net worth increase on the year, despite the lack of tailwind from the markets. Congrats on hitting your goal of 80% savings rate. (I think counting mortgage principle is totally legit, btw. One iteration of our net worth calculations — we have three versions — includes home equity.) Look forward to hearing about how your plans evolve! The last week of market stupidness kind of erased our head start, and means we’re back on track to quit in two years… but that could all change quickly. 🙂

    • The MC says:

      My mind has been all over the place in regards to how our plans are evolving. It would be nice if the markets would skyrocket and make the decision easier, but I suppose I’ll have to do tough thinking on my own 🙂

  3. Jessica says:

    This is a big post! Congrats on all the 2015 progress, and I’m still very impressed with the detailed accounting you 2 keep – for years too. I’m also really happy to read your blog as a fellow Canadian (even Torontonian?) expat. It’s fun to see what Canadians are up to in the world. 🙂

    Not a complaint, but for some reason, your posts don’t come up on my WP reader like everyone else’s, so I don’t really know when you update. If you can change that by tweaking a setting or something, please do! Merci. xx

    • The MC says:

      Torontian expats indeed. Thanks for following. I’ll double check the WP reader settings. It might be because we are self-hosted, but I’m not sure.

  4. First time visitor – nice job on tracking toward FIRE. It’s amazing that you were able to save 80% of your income in 2015. I know the markets haven’t started the new year the way any of us would like to see, but as you build your nest egg you are saving at a very fortuitous time.

    • The MC says:

      It would be good timing if we wanted to stay in the accumulation phase for a little while, but we are getting impatient to pull the plug earlier. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Stephen says:

    Great year! I wasn’t so lucky but i still gained!

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