2017 Budget Year In Review

2017 Budget Year in Review

It’s that time of year again.  No, I don’t mean Christmas. I mean dusting off the transaction history for this past year from Personal Capital (link) and sifting through…(checking total amount of transactions)…2,097 transactions! Boy, what fun it is to calculate net income…yeah.

It has certainly been an interesting year.  The first half of the year was largely focused on travel, and mid-way through the year, Peter changed jobs and work locations.  Let’s take a look at the numbers and then we’ll provide a summary of the good, bad, and ugly.  Please note that we will publish only the percentages of our expenses compared to our after-tax income (or disposable income).  We earn our income through a variety of means:

  1. By both having full-time 9-6 type jobs.
  2. Rental income
  3. By side hustling for extra cash:
    • By renting out our spare bedroom on AirBnB (to get $20 off your first booking, let us know so we can email you a referral code). You might want to stay in our room if you are looking for a great deal in the Jacksonville, FL area!
    • We are also freelance blog and article writers covering anything from finance, travel, and book blogging. Interested? Please send us a note on our contact us page or email us!
    • We’re always on the lookout for side hustles, let us know on the comments below if you have any suggestions!

Ok, here goes.

What we spend most of our money on

Retirement Contributions – 34%

We each strive to save as much of our pre-tax income as we can, so we actively contribute to our companies’ 401K accounts each year.  We get between 6-8% company match for our contributions, so this is a no-brainer.  We also contribute to the Roth IRA, but we treat that as an investment contribution, so that is not a part of this number, or else it would be higher by a few percentage points.

Investments – 20%

We invest into taxable index funds (yay Vanguard!), and engage in a straightforward buy and hold strategy for all of them.  We’re not too big on international markets, so we mostly stick to US funds with either mirror the S&P 500 or the U.S. bond market.  Combined with retirement contributions above, we save or invest half of our yearly income, which is our primary goal every single year, and something we actively strive toward.  We call it the 50% rule and it has served us well for the past few years.

Mortgages -18%

The dreaded mortgage.  We have two of them, one for the house we live in, and one for our rental property.  We actually paid less this year, because we finally removed the extra PMO (private mortgage insurance) from our primary house.  We could only do that by having at least 20% equity in the house, so that removed a few hundred dollars this year.  Whenever possible, we also put in extra money to the mortgage for our rental property, so that we can take a few months/years off of the interest we have to pay.

Travel – 16%

We spent more on travel this year primarily because of our Alaska honeymoon in May, which was a combination of a seven-day cruise and six days of driving around Anchorage, Denali, and Talkeetna.  We still saved thousands of dollars on travel thanks to hotel points, airfare points, and frugal choices (cooking our own food instead of eating out every day, cheap airbnbs, deals on rental cars, etc.).  We’re going to detail how much we saved in 2017 in a future post, so stay tuned!

Dining Out – 3.8%

This has increased from last year, but not by much.  We prefer to cook at home to cut down on costs and gas, and we only go out to eat if we have coupons or if we’re traveling on the road.

General Merchandise – 3.6%

Mostly due to gifts and random stuff from Amazon.

Electronics – 3.5%

This is up from last year because of the flowering of our new video game hobby.  We have several consoles at home and over 50 games, but we find good deals here as well, to offset many of our purchases.  Having Elite Pro membership at Gamestop also helps some, with additional savings on games.

Groceries – 3.2%

We primarily use the budget grocery Aldi, and utilize BOGO deals from Winn-Dixie on the weekends.  We’ve pretty much stopped using Costco because we were spending a lot of money every time we went there, and it’s always packed, so we will only go there when we need to (mostly car related).


Every year, we make it a priority to invest and save at least 50% of our yearly income, and we hit that mark again this year.  The simplest way to build wealth is to invest what you don’t spend, and don’t spend what you can invest.  The biggest two expenses by far were mortgages (obvious) and travel, which we spent more on this year because of our Alaska honeymoon trip.  All in all, quite pleased with this year and hoping for better things next year!

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    1. Ruby Escalona

      We’re not including anything mortgage related towards our savings rate – purely the money that we are using for expenses as well as the savings from our index funds.
      We classify mortgage as a business expense (sort of) for our primary residence (as we are trying to house hack), and our rental unit. We technically don’t count the houses as assets either until they are fully paid off.

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