December 2015 Finance Report and Why 2015 Rocked

My first “finance report” and I’m late!  By now, nobody wants to hear about Christmas things or New Years plans!  I’ve really got to step up my blogging game.  The good thing is that this is my domain (literally) and I can do whatever I want here!  Tough cookie said the wookie…I’m posting a holiday post.

December was a pretty good month.  I’ve had the most net income that I’ve had for the past 6 months, which is interesting considering that it was Christmas.  I haven’t exchanged gifts with people in years, but I did splurge and buy myself and three friends a copy of Rocket League.  I also bought and made most of our family dinner so that my brother and his wife didn’t have to fashion together yet another holiday dinner themselves.

For New Years, I took my SO to Allegany State Park, where we spent about $20 each for a cabin and $20 each to have the people we were meeting buy/make all of their food in their ridiculously amazing “cabin”.  My dog Bruce exceeded our training expectations (hostile towards some dogs), and by the end of the trip, he was sleeping with his new best friends on the couch like all the other dogs.  $40 for a short getaway, fun dog training session and all you can drink booze?  Sure!  Our cabin was so cheap because I have a New York State Access Pass paid for by the state for being a combat veteran.  We also invited two friends of ours who luckily were able to come on such short notice.

That about wraps up our holiday fun…so let’s get down to the numbers.  I’m really debating posting my broken-down income, since I know that eventually somebody from my job will see it and it will cause some sort of commotion, so I will just post my net income, what I spent money on, my net worth, any investment contributions and my investment gains/losses.

Net Income (with the previous 4 months)

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Booyah!  3rd consecutive increase in net income!  It’s almost like I know what I’m doing around here.  I attribute it to making more money due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill finally paying me to go to school, and being more careful than ever about spending money.  How careful?

Spending

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Food was much higher than usual, because I made Christmas dinner for the folks and also had a party at the house with tons of booze.  But, there were tons of leftovers and January’s food budget is probably going to benefit from that.

Travel was our trip to Allegany that we haven’t gotten reimbursed for by the state, yet.  How the Access Pass works, is that you pay full price up front and they reimburse you the discount later after you show them your pass.  This should be down to  ~$85, which was split between me and three other people…so it should be $21.25, really.

Utilities are gas, electric and internet.  Each around $30-$70.

Home costs were a one-time deal.  I picked up a $5 table and a $75 set of four chairs off Craigslist so that people could actually sit down when they came over for our gathering.  A novel idea!  Previously, we could only have a max of about 5 people sitting down in the house.  Now, we can have 11!  (My SO picked up two stools from work that they were throwing away).  The remaining costs went to Home Depot for a little spray paint set to fix up the table a little bit.

Auto & Transport actually seemed a little high to me, and I had to double check.  But, yeah, that’s how much the Prius cost me.  $53.97 for insurance and $29.33 for gas.  It wasn’t my best month of bike commuting, because it has been snowy, rainy and cold.  I’ve also driven around more than usual, visiting family and taking that 160mi trip.  No big deal, it’ll get made up for later.

Entertainment is generally a one-off thing.  I bought that 4-pack of a game so that I could play with a bunch of friends…and local co-operative play at the same time with my SO.  Seemed like a good purchase for what is (so far) 72 hours of gameplay…and probably much, much more in the future.

The rest would be your general stuff.  I bought another year’s worth of a Usenet sub, my monthly Digital Ocean hosting, identity theft sub (which I need to cancel, because I get it free at work) and some refunded ATM fees.

Overall, not a bad month.  If it wasn’t the holidays, I would have saved ~$250 more, but whatever.  We had a good time.  I feel like we skimped on other parts that weren’t as valuable so that we could afford what was valuable to us, so I’m very happy about that.  And even with the holidays and earning less than last month, we still spent even less than last month.

How about my 2015 net worth history?

Ending 2015 net worth: $113,733.63

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That crazy dip in the graph is because Mint apparently forgot about what I owed on the mortgage and was still counting what the house was worth.  Just know that from January-April, my net worth should have been less.  Since I can’t really estimate it, I’ll just say that January-April was $86,993.53…which was what the end of May was.

2015 net worth increase: 30.7%

That’s pretty good considering:

  • I wasn’t as savvy about spending money as I am now
  • I did a complete apartment remodel down to the studs with brand new, fancier materials than I should have

Sure, there were some ups and downs in spending and income…but overall, I consider 2015 a success.  Before this month is up, I’d like to write down some financial goals for this year, which means I may break my “deposit what’s leftover” mentality…and go for “deposit first, figure out how to survive” mentality.

What did I learn in 2015?

I learned to not be afraid to do most house repairs or remodeling.  There’s a YouTube video for just about everything, and there are tons of forums online to help you along the way…where you can post pictures of your problem and talk about how to solve it.  When I ran into my first problem renovating, I gave up too fast.  The problem?  A plaster ceiling that was caving in.  I caved and called in a very inexperienced (in business) but friendly and promising contractor.  He said he could fix my ceiling for really, a pittance.  $150.  He obviously did not know his prices very well.  Then he walked around to the rest of the torn-up apartment, saying he could do this and that on the cheap.  It turns out, he was only good at drywall, and could only work 30-45min per day.  It took forever, and non-drywall work was either wrong, wrong and must be fixed, or just plain dangerous.  I eventually had to fire him due to a bunch of problems and him having no time to fix them.  What ended up happening?  Everybody else was FAR too expensive to finish the apartment, so, it was just me and my tools and YouTube.  Guess what?  Everything was fine.  Sure, there are some crooked tiles and the crown moulding was put on straight flush with the wall (oh THAT’S what the 45-degree angles are for on the sides…) but it’s fine.  Nobody gives a shit or notices.  In fact, I get genuine compliments and people ask if I can help them out at their places.

I can survive and thrive when buying so much less.

Instead of buying new video games (for the most part), I wait until they’re $1-5 at Steam and get really good at the games that I have while I wait.

A basic home gym instead of a gym membership to the mega-building is just, if not more, satisfying and convenient.  Nobody is there to grunt at me (or be grunted at!).  Nobody is judging my shitty form that I’m trying to work on.  I can pop down to the basement gym in 5 seconds on a whim, then come back up in another 5 seconds and have a protein shake and a shower.

I lost my desire for eating out.  I sort of miss being served, but that’s about it…ha.

I haven’t spent a nickle on movies or TV for the entirety of 2015…yet, I’ve probably seen everything that most people have…and more.

I learned that I suck at sticking with “good enough”, but there’s hope for me yet

Case in point, my stone bathroom tiles when I could have gotten a bath fitter and have done the work in a day.  My projector when I had a TV.  My electric bike when I have a road bike.  I feel like my savings are eaten up by these “splurge” items.  However, each one seems to have a justification.  The tiles add value.  We watch the projector every day and have friends over for movie nights instead of going to the theater.  The electric bike may or may not pay for itself.  Still, I’m not the frugal genius that I see myself as…but I’m getting there.

With a 30% increase in net worth over the year, even with all my hiccups and a home renovation, I’m pretty happy with it.  I’d give you guys a back of the napkin 2016 goal for my net worth increase, but that’s just not how I roll.  I plan on a followup post where I will put down some concrete, achievable goals for this year.

How was your year?  Do you feel good about it?

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2 Responses

  1. I really need to start charting our net-worth this year, just to be able to see the change. It has to be satisfying!

    • effyoumoney says:

      Yes, knowing that you’re heading in the right direction is a good feeling. I can’t recommend either Personal Capital or Mint enough for these graphs and insights into spending. I don’t think I’d be able to micromanage a spreadsheet for very long.

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