Our 2014 Spending: How Did We Do?

Our 2014 Spending How Did We Do - picture of man's hands counting cash

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The year is finally coming to an end, which means I’ve been doing all kinds of year-end stuff with our finances – things like organizing my receipts in preparation to do our taxes, going through the various statements that have to do with our rental properties, and also assessing our financial situation for the year.  I’ve gotten a lot done, but I’ve also learned a lot as well.

First of all, I never really got into the swing of using Mint to track our finances when it first came out, but I did recently start using Personal Capital.  In case you didn’t know, Personal Capital is a free service that allows you to track your spending and investments in one place.  I linked all of our retirement and bank accounts to it (it was easy), and it quickly spit out a ton of information including our net worth, details on our different stock holdings, and detailed category spending.  I absolutely love it.

Our 2014 Spending

First of all, our spending stayed in the acceptable range as far as I’m concerned.  From what I can gather using Personal Capital and my own bank statements, we completely lost around $1,200 this year.  I have some vague idea of where we spent that money based on my credit card statements, but I cannot tell you what we spent it on.  My guess is just random stuff – things the kids needed for school, random relative’s birthday presents, stuff for our house.  I honestly don’t know.

Still, I don’t think that’s terrible.  I do budget $200 per month to spend on miscellaneous, so we basically used up half of that to pay for random things.  I also discovered, however, that the other half of our “miscellaneous” category was literally eaten up by grocery spending this year.  Why, why, why does this keep happening to me?

Retirement Savings

I am happy to report that both Greg and I maxed out our Roth IRAs this year.  I am also going to max out my SEP IRA, but I am waiting until we do our taxes to see how much more I can add.  I got close, but my guess is that I can contribute another $1,000 or so (since I am self-employed, I can contribute up to 25% of my earnings to my SEP IRA).

Greg is not really in love with the retirement options at his new company, so we might reconfigure our business set-up so that he can begin contributing to his Vanguard SEP IRA again, although that is still up in the air.  We are considering other investment options as well, but we’re currently just in the brainstorming phase.  (Check out the instagram page of Netotrade.com for some inspiration!)

Debt Payoff

We are mostly debt-free, but we owe money on our primary residence and two rental properties.  We pay the mortgage on our home ourselves but our renters pay the respective mortgages on our properties.  Here is the total amount of debt paid off on each one from the beginning of 2014:

  • Primary Residence: $12,200 paid off in 2014
  • Rental #1: $6,900 paid off in 2014
  • Rental #2: $6,500 paid off in 2014

Since the mortgages on these properties are all on the smaller side, that really is some great progress.  I just signed both of our renters onto a new lease on November 1st, which is also music to my ears.  One of our rental families has lived in our rental for five years!  They are excellent, and I hope they stay forever.

Our Goals for 2015

I will probably create a list of comprehensive goals for 2015, but I’ll outline them here first.  For starters, our plan is to continue creating a zero-sum budget and trying to stick to it as much as we can.  Anyone who says they stick to their budget 100% all the time is lying too, by the way. #Truth

Second goal: Our plan is to continue maxing out retirement accounts so that we can quit working one day.  Awesome, huh?  Honestly, that is my goal.  I am tired…tired…tired of working.  I wasn’t made for this.  Heeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllpppppp……

Third goal: We are going to travel more.  So far, we have a few cool trips planned with credit card rewards next year.  In January (for my berfday), we are going to St. Maarten and the tiny island of Anguilla I can’t wait.  Second, we are taking our kids to Jamaica during my daughter’s Spring Break.  (Related: How We’re Going to Jamaica For FREE Next Year) I’m reaaaaaaaaaaally excited about this one because I arranged for my parents to come as well.  They have never been to an all-inclusive resort, and I cannot wait to see how much they love it.  And remember when I mentioned we would have five days this summer to do something?  We decided to spend 3 days in Las Vegas and two in San Diego.

So, there it is – a recap of how 2014 went and our 2015 goals in a nutshell.  Right now, our main plan is simply to “stay the course.”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

How did your 2014 go?  Did you meet your spending and saving goals?

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  1. This would be our first full year of not working, so l am curious as to what that means tax wise. We sold our primary house, but the last 2 rentals we have, we will keep, and like you, hope these 2 renters stay for a long long time. Congratulations on a great 2014, and hope the next year is even better! I know we are under budget for 2014 since Malaga is turning out to be cheaper than Malta..yeah!

    1. Yeah for lower expenses! I’m sure that doesn’t break your heart =)

  2. Congrats for 2014, well to be honest I finally have a budget that is working, I am quiet good of follow it with amount, not so good on areas, maybe a week I spend more into bookshop and fun stuff, other on grocery!!!

    1. Good job on getting your budget to work! Ours needs occasional tweaking too.

  3. Smart move contributing to the SEP IRA. I’ll be doing the same with my blog earnings so that we end up lowering our tax bill.

    1. That is my main retirement account since I’m self-employed.

  4. My debt increased significantly due to some necessary home renovations ($7,000), some modernizing but cosmetic renovations ($5,000) and $2,200 in vet bills for an aging dog. I was almost debt free except for my car payment but now I am drowning again.

    I hope to be debt free by 2018. I could do it faster but I save as much for retirement as I put on my debt because not saving is just too discouraging and all the debt is locked in at 2.99% on my HELOC. Retirement probably got 2 years later for me because of the new debt.

    1. Sorry to hear that your debt increased! Maybe you could make a few changes to pay it down quicker -like picking up a side hustle or cutting down your expenses slightly?

      1. I have made lots of cuts but the debt is so large that it will take time to pay off. With the stock market down right now I plan to buy some of my favourite Vanguard ETF if I come up with any extra money.

  5. Looks like a good year! I like the 25k paid off the mortgages. Hope 2015 is just as good if not better!
    The Stoic

  6. Next year one of my major goals is to max out my IRA. I have never done that and I really and going to throw all extra cash towards it to make it happen. Congrats are all your financial victories.

    1. I like maxing out retirement if at all possible. I know my future self will thank me.

  7. Nicely done Club Thrifty household! Your upcoming trips all sound fabulous too.

    We’re in much the same boat for 2015–we need to stay the course. Nothing major for us to update or change, just maintain. I think most of our goals this year will be non-money related since we’re pretty much set on frugal auto-pilot.

    1. Yeah, same here. I think we did well this year, but definitely want to tighten up our spending next year. I don’t mind staying the course, but I don’t want to let spending get out of control =)

  8. Being almost debt-free is still something to be grateful for this year, Holly! Don’t worry I know that you’ll completely pay it off this month or next year. We still have next year. I know we are in high spirit and very excited to start anew. So let’s make use of this energy to pay off our debt.

    1. It will take more than 11 years to pay off our house at this rate. That’s fine with me for now, but we might speed it up slightly in the future.

  9. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track everything and it’s worked pretty well for us the past 2 1/2 years. There really is very little variation in our spending and very little unexpected expenses. Even month-to-month categories fluctuate very little. We did add a couple of car loans this year which isn’t fun but the rock-bottom rates I got on it (between 2-3%) makes me feel a little better about taking out the loans and has allowed us to increase the amount we invested. Next year we’ll be more focused on increasing investments and continuing to pay down debt slowly but surely.

    1. Sweet! Sounds like that works for you. Our zero-sum budget takes care of everything by keeping us accountable.

  10. I am excited for the trips you have planned next year!! Especially because you have already taken care of them this year, which makes them even more enjoyable. We did well in 2014 except for that big surprise expense, but other than that, we made a lot of changes like cutting cable, changing our phones and our grocery store challenge that helped our bottom line a bunch.

    1. You win some…you lose some! I hope 2015 doesn’t come with any surprises for you =/

  11. Very nice Holly! We’re pretty much in the same boat and staying the course for the most part next year. We maxed out our Roths and have a little bit more we’ll be able to put into our SEPs to max them out – just waiting to see what the final number is. We do need to start ramping up saving for a car next year as the last thing I want is a payment!

  12. Nice work Holly! I haven’t maxed out my retirement account yet this year, but that’s because the tax man is bringing down the axe over here. With some property purchases and a huge stock sale, it’s going to hurt. If I do have some money left over, I will fill them up. 2014 was really good and I hope to bring that over to 2015!

  13. Well done! Maxing out both of your IRAs and paying down over $25K on your mortgages is HUGE. At least it would be for me. 2014 was a big spending year for us, mainly related to medical and home expenses. Big plans for 2015 though, using a mint.com/excel hybrid tracking system for now.

  14. If 2015 can be a repeat for us, I’d be really happy. That whole not having to work thing is a huge goal of mine too. I’ve heard great things about St. Maarten. Can’t wait to see your trip report.

  15. My miscellaneous budget usually goes to food too 😉

    Your upcoming year of travel looks pretty rockstar. I’ve done quite a bit this year since discovering CC rewards and am hoping to find more ways to make it happen next year.

  16. That was quite a trip through your financial landscape! I had to find a bench halfway through. You are one BUSY woman! I love how you make it so amusing, though. From anyone else, financial disclosures can be pretty dry. Congrats on 2014 AND 2015, you guys! Enjoy! 🙂

  17. Awesome progress and excellent goals! We made a lot of improvements this year, but I hope to make even more in 2015!

  18. Love this post and how detailed it is. I hope you don’t mind me stealing this idea so that I can track how we did for 2014 🙂

    2015 sounds like it will be a fun year for you. Love the amount of traveling you are going to do!

  19. Our 2014 was pretty spectacular… We started down our new financial path just one year ago (well two days shy of a year) when we paid off my husband’s student loans, to the tune of $17,000 from money we’d been hoarding in cash. We made way too many other changes to share here in an attempt to not to clog up your comments… new jobs, new state, new house, new baby… you get the idea.

    One major change for next year will be maxing out retirement accounts instead of sending the money to taxable accounts. I’m still a little leery of how we will extract the money once we reach FIRE, long before ‘retirement age’. But I hope this approach will help us get there faster to enjoy the fruits of our efforts.

  20. Nice progress on your mortgage! I think we did well, all things considered. I’m interested to do our taxes and see how things shake out. The goal for 2015 is to save for a home down payment, which we’ve already started doing. And to stay debt-free, that would be great too 🙂

  21. Your vacation plans sound awesome!

    We’re looking into budget tracking software for next year, so thanks for the recommendation for Personal Capital, I’ve heard good things.

    I think we’re on track this year. Next year we’ve added more spending for hanging out with friends and cut back on some other areas that weren’t so important. Should be a fun year!

    1. Try it! I was stressed about hooking up accounts but it wasn’t bad at all.

  22. My husband and I like to take advantage of credit card rewards. We got two new ones that have a fee and it is waived the first year. We received $500 worth of travel advantage each. We have never gotten a card with a fee before and plan to cancel it before the year is up. Does this mean we have to use the miles before the year? I am thinking more of maybe using it in a few years for a special anniversary trip.

    1. Hi Chris!

      Do you mind telling me which cards you got? That way, I could give you the best answer possible.

      1. Chase Sapphire and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select

        1. Your American Airlines miles will not expire for a total of 18 months after you stop earning them. Your Ultimate Rewards points, however, will expire when you close your account. Make sure you book your hotel with your UR points ahead of time OR simply cash out your UR points for a check in the mail and use those funds to book your hotel. You could also transfer your UR points to a hotel or airline that you want to work with (Hyatt, Marriott, or IHG perhaps) and that will extend their life until you are ready to use them.

          1. Thank you.

  23. It sounds like 2014 was a great year. Those trips sound great! We’re planning on moving really soon, so I have no idea what 2015 will look like.

    1. Oh, the suspense! =) Hopefully it goes great for you!

  24. Oohhh, lots of trips, yay! As you know, we went to St.Maarten and Anguilla last year. Take your own snorkeling gear, if you can.

    1. Yep, I have some cheap stuff! Definitely bringing it.

  25. Looks like the you’ve had a great year overall, Holly. I’m in the process if reviewing our 2014 and overall I think we did fine. We sold our home, had to rent for awhile (lost every darn bid we placed) and are in the process of buying a new home (fingers crossed) so everything seems a bit wonky but on our normal expenses were stable so I’m not expecting a big surprises. Love the trips you have planned for next year and your parents will love being pampered at the all inclusive resort. 🙂

  26. Sounds like you did a pretty darn good job in 2014. I can’t to start with a clean slate for 2015 and re-do my goals for the year.

  27. Nice work! Awesome job on securing more travels and taking your parents! So cool. I am still calculating things, but I think I paid off around $10k in debt this past year, on a minimal salary!

  28. catherine says:

    I’m really only focused on paying off our debt at this point.Everything else is sort of obsolete. We managed 20k in principal debt this year which is decent but I’m hoping we can manage even more in 2015!

  29. Doesn’t it feel good to feel good at the end of the year and have exciting trips to look forward to?!? I’m hoping to pay down more debt in 2015, since I won’t have any major events to save for. 2014 was a bit slower than I’d prefer but still it was progress 🙂 Congrats on your great year!

  30. “…we completely lost around $1,200 this year.” I know where it went…vacations! You guys are traveling party animals. 🙂 When you go to St. Maarten you absolutely have to go spend a few hours at the international airport located on the island. They have a beach there with a restaurant/bar that people hang out at while they watch the planes fly in and take off. Sounds boring but how the airport is situated next to the beach area makes the planes fly in so low. Feels like you could jump up and touch them. And the jet blast from the planes that take off literally blows people down the beach. Google it and you’ll pull up some wild videos. It really is incredible…worth the taxi drive over there for the afternoon.

  31. 2014 was pretty lame – I was the only income earner for more than half of it. Fingers crossed for a better 2015…!

  32. I’m jealous of all of the travel you’ll be doing!! Good for you guys:-) Keep being an inspiration to the rest of us Holly!

  33. This blog post might have just put me right back on track in a major way, with the manner in which I look at my finances. I mean, straight off the bat, I know I’ve wasted a ton of money on fruitless things, especially in 2014 but I had never once thought to utilize any programs or tools to help me keep track of the good and/or bad, that I am doing to my life economically. I’m definitely going to have to check out the, “Personal Capital,” platform that you used. It sounds great!

  34. Great year! Your trips for 2015 sound awesome!

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