2016: Review of a Green Year

Goodbye 2016, you’ve been a great guest!

The last 365 days comprised my first full year in the pursuit of Financial Independence. And with that as my inspiration the year did not disappoint. (I would attribute some 2016’s success to this site holding me accountable, but primarily the overall FIRE community pushing me to new adventures.)

=SUM(Monthly Expense Reports)

Tracking spending has been vital to my early success. So important that I decided to “publicly” share my spending to let people witness my mistakes (bad!) and join in my victories (yay!). Now with twelve months on record I have compiled that data into this interactive chart below.



Goodbye Forever Sallie Mae/Navient/Citizens Bank

Something you won’t be seeing in ANY 2017 Expense Reports is a line item for Student Loans. To say it another way, I AM FREE FROM MY STUDENT LOAN DEBT! After $105,000 in payments, the shackles are in the trash as of May and likely already at the dump. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. 🙂

What does that mean for 2017? Well, if you look at the chart, Student Loans accounted for 24.74% of my spending last year. Turn that expense line into an investment line and watch my money start working for me! That’s nearly 15,000 little green George Washington’s working for me, adding to their population, where they will eventually grant me Financial Freedom!

Stuck in (N)eutral

The other big expense last year came in the shape of a ferocious sculpture of steel: a 2014 Toyota Prius. After foolishly buying an expensive car a few years after graduation, the climate was right to dip my feet into the pool of purchasing a car. (This time with FIRE in mind!)

An expensive purchase, yes, but not quite a mistake in my mind. With the state of my old car, repairs and longevity were a concern. And with a new job requiring a bit of travel, everything culminated in this $16,000 purchase.

Like the Student Loans, this line will not be seen in 2017, meaning that population of 15,000 GWs should be joined by 16,115 of their closest relatives. (Are you considered your own relative?) You remove these two categories from the chart, that is over 50% of my expenses, and over $30,000 I will need to reallocate! 2017 is going to be beautiful!

€uro Party

I almost forgot our trip in October, despite it being the most incredible few weeks I’ve had in years and years. So after the BIG 2 and number three, Housing, last year’s major contributor was a multi-week trip to undisclosed areas of Europe. (Location hinted via various vacation photos)

Being our first expensive, complicated and lengthy adventure, it proved to be worth everything that we put into it and then some! Hopefully the next adventure is a little closer, time-wise, and easier to prepare.

Don’t change little town.

Moving On

Getting away from expenses, and inching forward in life: I applied, I interviewed and won a Brand New Job! Without the goal in mind to achieve FIRE I may have never even ventured into the job market. But unhappy with my role and pay after 7+ years at Company A, I moved onto Company B. (Oddly, both three-or-four letter acronyms.)

After careful calculation over commute time/cost, benefits, 401k perks, base pay, bonus structure and overall fit with my career, I submitted my resignation. Not easy leaving friends behind, but I still see them. (What I miss most is the ping pong table.)

With my financial stability I was able to take a micro-retirement, no matter how unproductive it proved. And now with six-months at Company B, I would make the same decision every time. (Getting a fat end-of-year bonus helped!)

Quick ###s

  • Maxed out my 401k contributions for a second year: $18,000
  • Maxed out my Roth IRA for a third year: $5,500
  • Just missed maxing my HSA for first year: $2,750
  • Blog comments 2016: 10
  • Blog posts: 27

Slow (?) ###s

Thanks to some surprise income, improved  401k matching and mindful spending, 2016 leaves behind an encouraging Savings Rate when taking into account the big red line items above.  When all the maths are completed, my Savings Rate for 2016 is: 19%

(Remove those big ticket items, and I could triple that savings rate in 2017!!!)

With great markets, and improved asset choice, I nearly doubled my Net Worth in 2016. Instead, I barely missed out on my end of year goal and ended up only increasing “my number” by a mere 85%. 🙁

Just kidding: I increased my Net Worth 85% in 2016!!! Happy Happy Joy Joy!

A New Beginning

So now that it’s a new year, it’s time for a fresh start.

2016 proved to be amazingly prosperous, turning the barren soil of the new year into something beautiful and green. And with the same dedication to FIRE and support from friends and family, here is to turning that fresh tilled soil called 2017 into something even more magnificent and vividly green.

4 Replies to “2016: Review of a Green Year”

  1. Wow, that’s fantastic! Getting rid of student loans feels great. If your savings rate for 2016 was 42%, just imagine what it will be for 2017! You’re well on your path towards financial independence. Good hunting.

    1. Thanks David! Now with that student debt gone… the itch to kill the mortgage is becoming stronger everyday. Math just doesn’t work though. BUT, starting this year I will be tossing more than the minimum into the payments. Slow and steady… slow and steady.

  2. Congrats on a great year! I am *ahem* much older than you, but likewise just starting out on a journey to get control of my finances and gain FI (and am also a new blogger). I am super hopeful that I will be able to FINALLY kill my student loan by 2018. Here’s to 2017!

    1. Thanks Michelle! I don’t think you are *much* older, a little older and much wiser. 🙂

      Good luck with the student loan! I bet you kill it before December rolls around!

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