The State of Our Financial Union: 2016 in Review

Hey hey ho ho 2016 has got to go!

Or it’s already gone.

I thought it would be interesting if I did a little walkthrough of this year in personal finances.  It’s good for us to reflect and if you’re looking for ideas/encouragement/are just bored and want to read something, here it is!

As you know, generally, I refrain from sharing very specific numbers.  I am sure we can all understand.  I think you can de-mystify money and talk about it openly without having to paste your income all over the internet.  While it works for some people (and I certainly love reading those blogs and listening to those podcasts!) it just doesn’t work for us.

How was 2016 for our finances?

Um, we spent all of our money.  Not really, but sort of.  We bought: a new furnace, a new water softener, a new washer and dryer, a new (used) car.  All of them except for the dryer (we felt like the set should match since we’re selling) were emergencies.  And we paid for them out of our hard earned savings and if I thought about what that dollar amount equaled, I would need to take to bed or breathe into a bag or something because OMG WHY DID 2016 HAVE TO KILL ALL OF OUR APPLIANCES?

Oh, and I almost forgot (how could I?).  WE HAD A BABY.  Also an expensive thing.

We saved a lot of money.  

  • We maxed out our HSA because that allowed us to lower our taxable income.  And because we knew that we were going to spend it all on Critter’s birth.  Marcus did some serious math at the end of 2015 to figure out what medical plan would make sense for us based on projected birth costs and deductibles, out of pocket maximums, premium payments, etc.  We ended up selecting a HDHP with an HSA because it was the lowest-cost for what we knew we would need.
  • We saved 10% in my Roth 401(k) and 11% in Marcus’ which continues to be the least gratifying activity of my entire life.
  • After all of the spending that took place as outlined above (again OMG), we still managed to save an additional 5% of our income.

We re-did part of our budget halfway through the year.  Realizing that we were spending TONS on groceries and not nearly as much going out with friends (or in general), we reallocated $40 per month towards groceries and took that out of our allowances.  This was a pretty painless change.  We also realized we were spending MUCH less on gas because I only drive to work three days per week and on the weekends, we just aren’t as far-ranging as we once were.  And that whole thing where gas prices were super low last year.

I stopped buying new clothes in August.  And I committed to purchasing only things to replace worn-out items.  I wrote about it here.  I will confess that in December, I purchased one more piece of employer-branded clothing to wear with jeans because I was wearing my pullover every single week and if being able to wear jeans to work when I want to hasn’t been one of the best life-improvements in my year, I just don’t know what is.  I will also give a shout-out to that third pair of yoga pants I bought in November.  It really has made my laundry-life SO MUCH BETTER.

Otherwise, where not purchasing new clothing is concerned, I will say this.  We have started going to our local mall from time to time so that we can walk with Critter in the late afternoon.  Whenever we go I am SO OVERWHELMED by the sheer amount of things that are being sold.  I have already removed two grocery bags of clothing from my closet and my shelves and drawers are still so full.  At the end of the year, I had managed to save an additional $130 from my allowance, that probably otherwise would have gone to…you guessed it…clothes.  Instead, it’s just not.  I still don’t know what the ultimate end result of this experiment is but it probably has to do with having less of everything.

We gave away $$$.  I know I have spoken about it before, but we do have a specific line item in our budget for charitable giving and it continues to be my favorite part of the budget.  We spent all of it.  Obviously.  There was also a point in the year where Marcus received some bonuses and I received a raise and we made another small gift because I truly believe that the Lord provisions us with what we need and when we are blessed, we need to bless others.

All in all, it was A Year.  Even though it didn’t turn out quite the way we had planned, I’m still (we’re still) proud of how it turned out.

If there are specific topics you want to hear more about (and if you don’t, it’s okay!), feel free to leave a comment.  Otherwise, if there are any financial celebrations you want to share, I’d love to hear about those too!


7 responses to “The State of Our Financial Union: 2016 in Review

  1. Always appreciate the openness you have towards sharing your financial goals and realities. Bah to all those appliances! And, I hear you when the mall is now overwhelming. Hard to imagine that would ever be possible. And yet, it is!

  2. Is it weird that I like budgeting and moving things around?

    I actually save and put aside what our health insurance deductible is so that we have that when the time comes. We used very little of it last year and thought – YAY! Should I move that into Travel?! Emergency Fund?!

    I am so lucky we have it because we’ve come across some dental work this year that I never ever thought to put into the equation. Emergency fund it is! 🙂

  3. The 10% for ROTH of your income, were you already do that? or did you jump 0 to 10%? Curious on if you would encourage someone to ease into it, or just make the change and then live with the difference? Also, is your charitable giving a percentage, or a dollar amount? As a single gal I do an okay job at saving, but I can always do better, and would like to get into the habit of specific charitable giving, but haven’t gotten to that point yet.

    • HI! Obviously you and I both know that I’m not a financial planner, but I thought I should preface my note by saying that, as well as the fact that this is not financial advice!

      I have always contributed 10% to my Roth (and yes at the very beginning it was obnoxiously painful). This might be a bad analogy, but I feel like budgeting is like dieting, and you sort of know what style you are. You might be an all in at once person, you might be someone who does better by increasing your contribution by a percentage over a period of time. At the end of the day, I know that for me personally, whatever motivates me to save the money ends up being the right way and it can be different (all-in versus progressive) at different parts of my life.

      The charitable giving budget is a set dollar amount versus percentage (I’ll just be honest, I don’t know why). It’s helpful for us in two ways: if we know what we need to save for that, we do it, and if we know we have the money there, when the opportunity arises we feel comfortable to give freely. With that in mind, I don’t think there is anything wrong with just giving $5 here or $20 there to different causes, fundraisers, etc. if that is what makes the most sense to you. Literally any gift of time or money that you can give to the organizations you care about matters.

      Great questions! I hope this is helpful!

  4. Pingback: The State of Our Financial Union: 2017 is Here | Tenaciously Yours,

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