2015: Our year in review
January 15, 2016
The good: I took an extended (for Americans) maternity leave with only partial salary. I needed every minute of that time to recover from LB’s delivery, so I’m grateful that we fought to make that happen.
We hosted family and friends throughout the year, traffic to our wee abode was easily four-fold higher thanks to the draw of a fresh-made baby. This wasn’t cheap between feeding them and housing them but we managed to stay within budget.
We even traveled and enjoyed some of it despite the massive increase in gear and logistics. Lowering expectations made a big difference.
The bad: Dad’s costs went up in the second half of the year because he lost a significant income source but he chose not to tell me. I only knew because I spotted that some utilities weren’t being paid on time. Rather than get into a fight with him over it, I paid the bills, grumbled to myself, and went on with my day.
We had to buy a LOT of diapers. I thought an average of 11 diapers for a newborn was outrageous until we met our newborn. Which doubly makes me want to beat people over the head when I hear them classify diapers as “non-essential”.
I wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible but it turns out “possible” ended much sooner than anticipated. Formula is NOT cheap.
The good: We maxed out PiC’s 401(k) contributions.
My 2015 IRA contributions were automated, as are my 2016 contributions.
We saved 25% in cash, aside from retirement funds, the whole year and made a huge mortgage prepayment.
The rental is currently taking care of itself where expenses are concerned. Rent pays for the mortgage, the HOA fees, the minor repairs and the property management, with a little left over to pay for any future major repairs.
The bad: I secretly wanted to increase our savings rate to 30% or 40% but that was a flight of fancy.
The I don’t know yet: We keep looking at other properties and speculating if we may be better off moving into a slightly bigger place. No matter what we attempt to buy, though, because I refuse to take out a jumbo loan, we’d need at least $600,000 in hand, minimum, for a down payment. We have a healthy net worth but it’s based on a good balance between all our holdings (cash, bonds, stocks, retirement funds, mortgaged property). We aren’t going to sink all of that into a single property.
- We have what seems to be the healthiest baby. Though ze is a carrier monkey and I’m not pleased by that, we are so incredibly grateful for hir health and happiness. And that ze’s stopped yelling at us all the time.
- Marriage is work, but it remains work worth doing. I know it isn’t for some people and there’s no shame in that, I am well aware that we are ever so lucky in each other and am grateful I found a person I actually enjoy enough to see days, weeks and months on end without wanting to run away to a silence-bound commune. (This is my reaction to spending lengthy periods of time in the same space with most people. Except friends because friends aren’t people, they’re friends.) This wasn’t something I ever saw in the cards for myself but on the whole, it was a pleasant surprise.
- Which leads me to: friendship is work too, and it’s equally worth the effort. As the anti-social introvert most of the time, even I invest time and energy into the relationships with people who are kindred spirits, to borrow a phrase from Anne of Green Gables. We are amazingly lucky in our friends, and that the internet exists for me to make friends through! My track record of making friends in person in a new place is a solid zero for one. More specifically: We had long meaningful visits from dear friends we haven’t seen in ages, this year, come to visit us, meet LB and dote on hir. It was such a wonderful gift.
- I did a podcast with Jessica Moorhouse
- My relationship with Dad continues to have ups and downs, and there was a huge dip with this year’s lack of income. Not because of the money itself but because he continues to hide critical information from me. We had a very frank conversation about how that absolutely must stop. It was stressing me out so much that you’ve never seen LB’s room so tidy and picked up. I can only hope he keeps his word.
- Out of that conversation came the realization that if I want anything to be done about my Sibling and the living situation, I will have to force it to happen.
GETTING THINGS DONE
Plan for 2015
- Keep saving 25% (minimum) of both our incomes as long term savings; this leaves 75% for all expenses, ours, LB’s, dog’s, my family’s, etc.
– We did this.
- Cashflow LB’s expenses via the savings we already put aside and continuing to take that out of our cash designated for regular expenses. Basically this means cutting back on our regular expenses to allow for LB’s.
– Sort of. I got greedy. I banked all the budgeted childcare money for LB and cashflowed the daycare money out of our regular expenses instead of pulling out of the savings meant for childcare. Things got a little tight but uh, I managed. (I have a problem. I know.)
- Streamline our money management. We got on Mint this year which is starting to work ok. Though their habit of duplicating transactions is nutty-making. I’m now testing a joint email account for our bills and household accounts so that we both have access to incoming bills and other financial information – very important.
– Yes/no. We streamlined a lot of the management through Mint but it’s still an imperfect system. The main goal, though, was to not feel like I didn’t have control over our finances and between Mint and our joint account, we’re closer than ever to a working joint system.
- Get on that estate planning.
– Nearly done! We have a lot of the paperwork done, we just have to make some final decisions on key people.
Plan for 2016
- Save 25% of our income. If we stay on track with regular income and barring any catastrophes, we should come within shouting distance of a Major Milestone Net Worth Number in 2016.
- Finish the last steps of our estate planning.
- Decide on LB’s college savings vehicle and set up a savings plan for hir.
SOME 2015 NUMBERS
- Our NW increased by 23%.
- LB’s savings hit $49,000 this year.
- My retirement portfolio to date has managed an 8.8% rate of return over 9 years: $73,000 in contributions and $26,000 in gains.
- 2nd household annual expenses ran closer to $20,000 this year than usual. (That sounds like it shouldn’t be much but we’ll pay near that amount again for childcare, or more, this coming year, on top of all our usual HCOLA expenses.)
- In 13 months (Nov 2014-Dec 2015) we made $2071 in side money.
:: What were your bests/worsts? How’d you do this year with life/saving/spending?