I will admit that I get excited about this post and, and more specifically the data it contains, every year. This is the one time where I really get to look at all of our information, jointly as a couple, rather than just my income and savings. As Mr. SFF and I keep separate checking accounts and credit cards so I don’t see the whole picture until I make him sit down and give me all of his data. I try to get an update mid-year just to see now we are tracking but it is year end numbers that I like to see. Yes, I know how much he has saved as he moves money periodically to the joint checking and then I move the money to our investment accounts, but I don’t how much he has made and if this is a large percentage of his take home income or not. Since all of our benefits and 401(k) savings comes out of my paycheck Mr. SFF’s savings makes the biggest impact on our overall savings goal.
First, let’s review my numbers. My personal goal was to save 40% of my take home income. This was my goal last year as well which I hit right on the nose. For 2016 I was slightly ahead of our goal with a savings of 42.8% of my take home pay. And what is great about this number is the fact that I did a lot of year end donations out of my own individual accounts and was still able to keep the number above my goal. Yay!! Also, once we had the eye-opening realization last year about how much we spent on food I started to do more meal planning and therefore the majority of our grocery spending was coming out of my paycheck. So although it may not look like a great increase in savings, it is actually pretty good because my other spending categories were down.
Also not included in these savings numbers are the 20% I am saving into my 401(k) and the $5,170 that I saved into my HSA account.
The Combined SFF Household
Now to the true meat of things, how did we do as a couple/household? Last year we saved 28% of our total combined take home pay. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with this number and wanted to improve things for this year which is why I started doing the itemized tracking of our food spending (our biggest weakness) in hopes of making some progress there (more on this to come).
First of all, I set a sort of arbitrary number for how much money I wanted to save, an actual dollar amount instead of a percentage of our income. I took the previous year’s number and inflated it slightly to get a new goal. Well I can happily say that we CRUSHED this goal. Now we do have a pretty sweet income coming in from the rental property we purchased last year but we still saved significantly more than I expected and I am thrilled with this! If we can really maintain this savings amount over the next 3 years we really can make this Financial Independence goal a reality for 2020.
I am going to admit that our numbers might be a little gushy as Mr. SFF and I might categorize some things differently, some expenses come out of our joint accounts, and we have rental income. I am going to try to change things up for 2017 and track all joint expenses and all rental related income/expenses from the start of the year so that I only have to add in Mr. SFF’s numbers later on. I hope this makes things easier and a little more accurate. But that being said, we saved a total of $12,752 from our new rental property (woot, woot) and approximately 55% of our total income (including the rental income). Compared to the 28% from last year I am psyched about this number!
Our 2016 Food Expenses
Food is one of our biggest expenses. We still say that this is something that we aren’t willing to sacrifice too much and with me eating a gluten free diet this certainly doesn’t help. As I stopped my monthly food updates (it was becoming too time consuming) you might be wondering how things went for the full year. When initially looking at our total grocery store costs I thought we weren’t really do all that well as it turns out that we ended up pretty much exactly where we were at last year. For 2015 we spent a total of $8,583 on food and groceries and in 2016 we spent $8,858 so slightly higher. But that being said, this is actually a good thing. What? How can this be good? Well what this doesn’t include is our dining out costs. For 2015 we spent $3,471 dining out but we only spent $1,820 for 2016. So our total overall food costs went from $12,054 in 2015 to $10,361 for 2016, a $1,693 difference. Now I will be the first to admit we spend an obscene amount of money on food but at least we had a big savings this past year. I guess all of the meal planning and food tracking was worth it after all!
I am hopeful that 2017 will be even better than this year but even if things stay the same I will be happy. I did receive a promotion with a healthy raise in November of last year and can’t wait to have a full year with my new income because I should be able to save pretty much the entire increase (yay for avoiding lifestyle inflation!). Plus, I have more opportunities to earn commissions which will be a great addition to my base salary. So here’s to hoping things go well as February of 2020, I have my eyes on you!