By: Revanche

2016: Our year in review

January 9, 2017


2016 highlights


The good

My day job income stayed the same, PiC’s increased a little. My competitive side HATES that mine stayed the same but my realistic side knows that was part of the deal of accepting the job with more risk. With more risk, I should remind myself to be glad the job is still alive and kicking!

We focused on our areas of our side money project which generated the funds to send much needed support to friends who’d hit rough patches: severe illness, loss of loved ones, injuries.

We didn’t splash out on a jumbo loan for a bigger house, nor did we add a second dog to the pack. I wanted to but reined in those currently unsupportable desires. Reminder, I need early retirement more than I need to take on more responsibility and I don’t want the guilt that comes with taking on more dependents than we can truly care for.

1. Debt reduction is saving. We refinanced our mortgage, freeing up our cash flow, halving our interest, and sending more straight to principal. We had the original mortgage for 4 months of the year, and the refinanced mortgage for the remaining 8.

See what a difference the lower interest made:

From January to April, we paid $3,628.05 toward principal and $4,151.61 toward interest. The next 8 months on the same loan would have seen $7,256.10 toward principal and $8,303.22 toward interest for a total of $10,884.15 (P) and $12,454.83 (I), or $23,338.98 spent by year end.

Instead, we paid $6,985.28 (P) plus closing costs, and $3,510.48 (I), totaling $10,613.33 (P) and $7,662.09 (I), for a year end total of $18,275.42.

Savings: $5.063.56. This was one reason we absorbed this year’s financial hits a little more easily than we might have any other year.

2. Automatic savings. We reduced our automatic savings rate to increase our cash-flow once JuggerBaby started going full-time at daycare. Hard to believe we held out for 2/3 of 2016 on a part time schedule but that saved another tidy sum.

We maxed out PiC’s 401(k), my IRA, added $10,000 to JuggerBaby’s 529 plan out of savings, and saved 25% of our income after that.

The bad

We had all manner of unbudgeted expenses this year and had to dig into savings. I HATE touching savings. We absorbed them but this removed $25,000 from our assets. *grouse*

Also, I secretly wanted to bump up our savings rate. Wait, let me rephrase that. I wanted to bump up our savings rate in secret and see if anyone (PiC) noticed a change in our lifestyle. This might be an unethical human case study but c’mon! Never mind, though, that didn’t happen because – see Spending.

1. An unexpected on-paper-only change meant our taxes cost more than $13,000.
2. We had to replace a car earlier than planned which came with a lot of unplanned maintenance: $4,000.
3. PiC has a health thing: $7,000.


  • This was a great travel year: Seattle, Hawaii, SDCC, FinCon! We flew with JuggerBaby and it didn’t kill us.
  • My sewing kit and I bonded this year over torn seams, preloved toddler shirts falling apart, and crafting new pockets for PiC’s pants. I’m 0% crafty so these tiny successes were a big deal for me.
  • I celebrated ten years of blogging and don’t feel like hanging up my keyboard anytime soon.
  • I spent quality time with longtime blog friends, and made new friends, at FinCon. All bonuses in a trip with no clear purpose at the outset.


  • I was sick with one virus or another for ten months of the year. That’s 83% of a full year being sick but not being able to call out sick because you can’t just call out from being mom, wife, or dog-mom. Professionally, I can’t take sick time because I have zero backup. It shouldn’t have been any surprise that I took so long to get better after each infection.
  • We broke the baby. We fixed the baby (yay) after breaking zir (whoops).
  • Coming to terms with Dad.


Plan for 2016

  1. 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.
    DONE and DONE. We hit our first Major Milestone this year, and saved 30% of our income counting all forms of saving. 
  2. Finish the last steps of our estate planning.
    DONE. Oh my goodness, we FINALLY completed this one. Now we have to finish transferring all our assets to the trust.
  3. Decide on JuggerBaby’s college savings vehicle and set up a savings plan for zir.
    DONE and it was easier than it looked to be, at first.


  • TOTAL MONEY – Our Net Worth increased by 34%. Exactly half of that was updating our real estate valuations, the other half was saving cash and adding to our investments.
  • DIVIDENDS – Our last dividend payouts for 2016 were later than expected so I didn’t have time to pull together a report before we traveling. I’ll publish our next updates on a April / July / October schedule so I’m not publishing all reports in the first half of January which is BOR-ING. Besides, I shouldn’t have another dividend payment until February so there’s no point in reporting before them. At our last dividend update, we had a grand total of $434.50 in dividend income and I projected a final total of $600. Our final 2016 year end total was: $710.60! Yay, I beat projections!
  • SIDE MONEY – $855 was earned from Swagbucks, Mr. Rebates, and ebates; $2920 was earned from Craigslist sales making a total of $3775 in alternate income.
  • BLOG MONEY – $200 was earned by the blog which goes toward expenses (hosting, FinCon2017, etc). It’s a LONG way from paying me for my time.

Hello 2017!

  1. MONEY – Save 30% of our income, PLUS max out PiC’s 401(k), my IRA, an IRA for him, and
  2. MONEY – Organize our retirement funding for tax and income efficiency.
  3. MONEY – As part of the above, research the backdoor ROTH IRA and decide when would be best for us to do one. I think I’ll need our CPA’s help running some numbers for this.
  4. MONEY – Decide if we’re going to hoard more cash (investing it) or pay down more mortgage, then do it.
  5. LIFE: Mail hand-written letter to one of JuggerBaby’s surrogate grandparents every month. We always send hand-written thank you cards to the loving surrogate aunts and uncles who think of zir or send lovely thoughtful gifts but I’d like to be more proactive in this area, and sharing a bit of life in a more meaningful regular way instead of reacting to their generosity or hoping we can visit.
  6. LIFE: prepare one New Baby Care Package to send to an expectant mother friend per month. The first half of the year is spoken for! This is a hobby though sometimes I think it’d be a fun job.
  7. LIFE: travel will definitely be happening this year, that’s not a question. The open questions are: how much of it can I travel hack and will we enjoy it all? I’ll be setting up a travel calendar to address these questions.

:: What were your bests/worsts of 2016? How’d you do this year with spending and saving your money? Did you remember to make time for life? 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

18 Responses to “2016: Our year in review”

  1. Sense says:

    Oh no, I missed the broken baby post while on the South Island for a trip…hope all is well now!

    Good job in 2016 (even with all of your setbacks!) & best wishes for 2017. πŸ™‚

  2. Congrats on a notable year! I said yesterday you rock, and you do! All that good stuff while dealing with the stress and illness? Rock is not a strong enough word for you.

    After a year of just sticking to the purchase price on our home and rentals in our net worth tracker, Jon suggested I check Zillow. After all, the purchases were all years ago. The appreciation was ridiculous, though, and so I figured I needed to discount them….which got me about back to those original values.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Easy Street: Week One of our No-Spend January ChallengeMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks, Emily, I appreciated and still do appreciate the vote of confidence.

      I’ve never asked Zillow what it thinks our home is worth, I only go by the official appraisals done for the loan application process, but now I’m curious!

  3. Joe says:

    Oh man, that was a rough year. You pushed through so that’s good. Nice job accomplishing your goals with all the distractions. Hopefully 2017 will be better. Your plan looks good.
    Good luck in 2017!
    Joe recently posted…See How We’ll Generate Passive Income in 2017My Profile

  4. SP says:

    Happy new year! The mortgage refinances was an awesome move for your finances – should make for an even better 2017 and onward.

    Your 2017 goals look solid – best of luck with achieving them all!
    SP recently posted…Accounting for the new carMy Profile

  5. RAnn says:

    Sounds like you are doing a great job.
    RAnn recently posted…2017 Financial GoalsMy Profile

  6. Overall sounds like a great financial year! You reached all of your goals despite the unexpected expenses. Which is more than I can say for us. πŸ˜›
    Taxes are the worst. The husband’s work didn’t withhold enough–we’re going to end up owing over a grand not because of my self employment, but because of shoddy accounting from his W2 employer.
    I like the letter writing goal. I need to do that myself, especially since my Facebook engagement is limited to business.
    FF @ Femme Frugality recently posted…Personal Finance Insights from Self-Employed WomenMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It was good for our finances, sort of, but pretty bad on a personal level. Since I’m so emotionally invested in our money, I guess that puts me a neutral for the year πŸ˜€

  7. Sounds like you persevered despite illness and a few other hazards. Great job! And those are some wonderful goals for 2017, particularly the life ones.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…6 Types Of Debts You Can’t Kick Out In BankruptcyMy Profile

  8. That’s awesome you were able to withstand a $25,000 hit, although I would be crabby too about having to take that much a hit from my net worth.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #177My Profile

  9. Emily is right.. You ROCK! I don’t think I would have been able to handle being sick and wearing the many hats your wore. I wish you all the best in 2017!
    Sylvia @Professional Girl on the Go recently posted…Net Worth Update – December 2016My Profile

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