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
In 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.
This was possible because…
I sold my house and went back to renting
Selling 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
Okay 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?
2016 was the first full year in a long time where I’ve shared expenses with someone and it has been split evenly. I’ve never done a recap like this before on GMBMFB, but since it was so easy to separate out my numbers, I thought I’d show you exactly how much I spent this past year, as well as what the monthly average was of how much I spent – down to the penny.
I actually did struggle with sharing this much information on my blog, but I want to be open and honest with my spending – to you, but mostly to myself. Plus, anyone could have come up with the numbers below, based on my monthly recaps. It was an eye-opening exercise though, to add up my monthly numbers … it’s also a bit embarrassing to see that I spent over $1,200 on non-athletic clothing and shoes when my budget for the year started out at being $500. :)
Related: 2016 Annual Goals Recap
Note that the lines in orange are expenses that we share 50/50 – and the numbers you see below are my portion of the expenses.
(Rent, Utilities, MSP, Insurance, Cell Phone, Internet)
Our hydro bill will fluctuate but I don’t see much of a drastic change, and we are frugal with the amount of heat we use (which is why I put this bill in with the fixed expenses). I’ll be looking at getting a cheaper internet rate in the next couple of months, but other than that, I don’t see my fixed expenses changing much for 2017.
(Food, Household, Entertainment, Clothing, Travel, Car/Transportation, Personal Care, Fitness, Gifts)
The numbers are a bit skewed for 2016 because I bought a Macbook Pro, which set me back about $3,000, and we did a crazy amount of overnight travel this year (about the equivalent of 2.5 months when you include weekends). Although, I anticipate my travel to cost more in 2017… which is why I want to save in other categories. Ideally I’d like to see my expenses under $30,000 for 2017.
I made my budgets quite generous in 2016, and I didn’t hold back on my spending that much. You can see that for yourself in the Entertainment and Clothing categories. :) I’m hoping to get these back down to a more reasonable monthly average for 2017, especially now that I have almost every piece of cold weather athletic gear I can think of (except a winter coat – waiting on sales!).
It surprised me to see how much I spent on Gifts, as I thought I was fairly frugal in the giving department (plus for the most part, my friends and I don’t really exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas). But I booked a long weekend getaway for RD’s birthday last year (I plan on doing the same for 2017), and I bought a spa day for my sister and I which was about $500, so it makes sense – I’ll just have to increase my Gift budget for 2017 because I don’t see that changing much.
I’m fairly certain our Groceries and Entertainment budgets will drop considerably. The first 6 months of the year we often went out to restaurants (Entertainment) instead of cooking, or went to the pricey grocery store since it was closer to our house, because we weren’t as organized as we could have been – and that definitely changed during the last half of 2016 when I took over all grocery shopping and cooking duties. :) I’m also going to work harder at buying what’s on sale (and not necessarily just what we like to eat).
My Car/Transportation budget will also decrease for 2017 once I stop driving to work. I’m being transferred to another office location, and will have to start taking the SkyTrain to work. My company will be reimbursing me for the monthly transit pass, so that will cut down on the cost of random transit trips, gas, car insurance, and wear and tear on my vehicle.
I’m fairly pleased with my spending for 2016. Take away the price of my laptop, and I’m at $31,700/year. Trim a few of my other expenses, and I should be in good shape to hit my $30,000/year goal for 2017. Hopefully.
2016 also saw a nice increase to my salary, which in turn saw an increase to my savings rate – which now sits at about 50%. But I’ll talk more about that later this week! :)
Adding up my monthly numbers and looking at my spending on an annual basis really made me more aware of where I can trim my budget and where I should be more generous. I’ll definitely be doing it again at the end of 2017, and I’m excited to see how the numbers compare!
Do you know how much you spent in 2016?
With 2016 winding down, I thought I’d share how I did with my annual goals for the year. It has been a pretty crazy 12 months – completely different in almost every way from 2015. I have a new job, a new house, a new boyfriend, and a new future to look forward to.
My biggest achievement this year was being able to really, truly enjoy life and spend money on the things that I value – like being outdoors and traveling – all while saving over 50% of my income. I attribute this to staying on top of my monthly budgets, and working hard at increasing my income this year. I’ll be posting more about my final 2016 numbers in January. :)
Anyway here is how I did with my goals this year:
- Stay debt-free. CHECK! I took on zero debt this year.
- Save at least 50% of my income. CHECK! There’s still a few numbers I have to calculate, but it looks like I’ll end up saving about 55% of my net income this year.
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! Including my employer’s matching contributions, I was able to save $1,700/month towards my retirement.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. CHECK! I really tried hard this year to anticipate large expenses at least one month in advance. I also made sure to update my budgeting spreadsheet once a week with any purchases and/or transfers from my accounts.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. FAIL. Nope I didn’t even try. If I were smart, I would have done it while RD was away for work for 5 weeks, but I didn’t think it would be a true experiment if I didn’t include him and his expenses. So I stalled, and then felt bad for subjecting him to a bare-bones budget, and just ended up not doing it.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. FAIL. Yep, this was a huge fail. I spent well over $2,000 on clothing and shoes this year. In my defense, most of the spending was in pursuit of athletic endeavors and investing in cold weather outdoor gear, which I’m okay with it. But I still failed this goal spectacularly.
- Make my body strong. CHECK! I finally gave up on the idea of becoming a runner, and didn’t run more than a 10km distance all year. Instead, I focused on hiking, rock climbing, yoga, spin class, field hockey, and lots of walking. As a result, I lost 10 pounds and two pant sizes (not my intention, but I’ll take it!), and feel so much stronger.
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. CHECK! We went on a 3-day hike of the Sunshine Coast Trail in Powell River, and it was amazing.
- Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I was horrendous at this earlier in the year, and am actually embarrassed at how many times I ended up buying lunch. But I’ve never been interested in spending the time to pack lunches or meal prep, and I was really frustrated with our cooking situation at home. We were still sharing cooking duties and grocery shopping, but those were two tasks that RD absolutely hated. So after work, we often found ourselves without a plan and too lazy to go grocery shopping. That led us to going out to eat often, and then not having anything for lunch the next morning – which was such a waste of money. So in the summer, I took over all cooking and grocery shopping duties. ALL OF IT. I now do all of the meal planning, prepping, cooking, and shopping. In exchange, RD does all of the household cleaning (and the dishes). This works perfectly for us because I honestly love cooking, and RD has a higher standard for a clean house than me. :) I’m really proud of how we were able to divide up the household tasks without argument, and came to an arrangement where we are both really satisfied.
- Stop going to coffee shops. CHECK! I started getting up earlier for work to make coffee in my french press. This eliminated any reason to stop at a coffee shop on my way to work. Of course, I still went out with my friends if I was socializing or traveling.
- Eat less dairy. CHECK! I made a lot of vegan recipes this year (we own 4 cookbooks and they’re all vegan), using a different variety of substitutes, or just leaving out dairy altogether. It was an interesting experiment, and I’ll definitely keep it up. But so far the only dairy products we’ve completely eliminated from the house is milk and butter.
- Read 12 books. CHECK! I read 18 books this year. Are we GoodReads friends yet?
- Bring more creativity to my life. PASS. I didn’t really do this. I had a few crafty projects on the go, and did a bit of colouring, but I don’t feel like I’ve really found my creative outlet yet. Someone told me that cooking could be my creative outlet, as I really love trying out new recipes and experimenting to make them better. Which I suppose is true.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. FAIL. I thought about it and started asking around for quotes, but didn’t actually end up going through with anything. It’ll be something I’ll be really thinking about for next year.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. PASS. I registered for three events, but ended up being busy at the office one day, so ended up only getting to two of them.
I’ll be posting my annual spending recap and goals for 2017 soon. :) Hope you all have a great holiday break!