Give Me Back My Five Bucks

How I saved 50% of my income in 2016

In my last post, I explained how I spent $34,700 in 2016 – which seems like a lot! But I also managed to save 50% of my income and increased my net worth by over $40,000.

Here’s how I did it:

A new job with a new salary

IMG_1770In the fall of 2015, I started looking for a new job. I was thankful to the organization for giving me the opportunity to get my foot in the door of an industry I knew nothing about, but I felt like 1) I was underpaid, and 2) in a position too junior for my skillset with no room for growth. I wanted more of a challenge, and yeah, I wanted to make more money. :)

After interviewing with a few organizations, I finally accepted a challenging role with my current company – at a compensation level that I felt was more appropriate for my experience. It’s a nice feeling to finally feel like your pay grade and your responsibilities are in line with your skills.

Related: When it’s worth it to take a pay cut

Within 3 or 4 months of being with the company, I received a small raise (yay!), and a bit of shuffling in my organization gave me the ability to start banking a lot of overtime hours for use or for payout (which is one of the biggest perks of the job for sure).

I took advantage of my work benefits

My company offers a small RRSP match as well as the ability to take part in the corporate share purchase plan. Both these benefits force me to save more through automatic payroll deductions, and with employer contributions included, I ended up with $7,000 in the bank that I hadn’t been saving the year before.

I increased my retirement contributions three times

I started 2016 off by saving $950/month towards retirement. Then I increased it to $1,200. Then $1,350. Then $1,685 – which is where it sits right now. I basically ended up almost doubling my retirement contributions, and found that it really had no impact to my lifestyle at all.

Related: Can you save too much for the future?

This was possible because…

I sold my house and went back to renting

IMG_9424Selling my townhouse and moving in with RD freed up a significant amount of money every month. My mortgage, strata fees, and property tax was costing me $1,380. Add in $250 for gas and parking at work, and that’s $1,630/month I was spending to own my home in the suburbs. Now that I live right in Vancouver? I pay $825 for rent, don’t pay for parking, and only need to fill up my gas tank once a month.

Some of that extra money went towards lifestyle inflation (like traveling and entertainment), but most of it went towards increasing my retirement contributions. :)

I am actively engaged in my finances

Prepping veggies for dinnerOkay well this is obvious! But I truly believe that keeping track of my finances in my Excel spreadsheet helps me save more. I always know how much I’ve spent in any given month, and the process of inputting purchases into my spreadsheet is a bit of a shame mechanism when you have to see it there for an entire year. :) And getting to input my savings transactions just gives me such a thrill. Yes I’m a nerd, and yes I know that most people won’t be as active with the finances as me. But as long as you are being truthful with yourself and you know where your money is going each month, that’s all that matters. I just probably take it to a whole new level that may not be totally necessary.

But being active with my money constantly shows me new and different ways I can save more money. For example, I was pretty pleased when I saw that I spent an average of $251.31 per month on groceries, knowing that I could definitely trim that down even further since we ate out at restaurants way more than necessary for about half of last year.

Mutual financial goals

RD and I have talked a lot about the future in terms of where we’ll be and what we want to do in the next 10 year, as well as how we see retirement. We have lofty goals, and those goals require money. Knowing we are on the same page gives me so much motivation to save money and make good financial decisions so that our future together can be healthy and happy. It also helps that we have very similar spending habits (although, RD is probably definitely more frugal than me).

2016 was a good year for me financially, and it will be hard to top. 2017 will be interesting as I have a lot of travel plans, and we are both saving diligently for a down payment for something, somewhere. :)

Did you meet your savings goals for 2016?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Chelsea says:

    wow, your savings rate and methods are inspiring! excited to read what and where that something is :)

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Thanks! :) We aren’t in any rush to buy anything, as we have a good thing going right now with our renting situation. Happy just to continue saving our money and wait out whatever is going to happen with real estate across the province.

  2. Alice says:

    Sharing some of your living expenses with a partner also helped quite a bit with your savings. $ 825 is your share of the rent not the actual amount. If you were single, you may not have saved that much and your rent would probably be higher than $825.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      If I were living on my own, my rent would definitely be higher than $825. So definitely living with RD has helped with my savings – it was a big factor.

  3. Tawcan says:

    Pretty awesome Krystal for saving that much and growing your net worth at the same time. Certainly helped Thst the stock market has been on fire the last few months.

    How’d the numbers look if you two decide to combine your finances together?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Thanks! :) RD has a government pension so isn’t as obsessed about saving for retirement as me. :) Because of that, and because I make a tiny bit more annually when you factor in my freelance income, my savings rate will likely always be higher than his … but not by much!

  4. Victor says:

    Wondering why you didn’t rent out your townhouse considering how desperate renters are in Vancouver these days?

  5. Mr. Hansen says:

    Nice blog, It’s well written. Thank you!

  6. It really amazes me that you are able to save 50% of your pay cheque. I am not a huge fan of budgets, but after see quite a few people who are able to save 50% -70% of their pay cheque, I starting to be motivated. Maybe 2017 is the year that I start creating one.

  7. APF Blogger says:

    Hi, Krystal. Thanks for the post. And amazing job reaching a 50% savings rate! Was hitting that rate a goal of yours, or did it happen more as a result of generally trying to reduce spending and increase your savings towards retirement?

  8. Scott says:

    This was very insightful and helpful. Glad I found your blog. Personal finance is something I’m trying to take charge of this year and it’s been slightly difficult trying to find out where to begin and get organized!

  9. Saving 50% of your income is really impressive. I’m glad you could cut your housing expenses significantly. Owning a home is great, but sometimes renting does make more sense.

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