My First Full Year Working Towards FI: A Recap!

My First Full Year Working Towards FI: A Recap! - Butch on a Budget - Me kissing Cassie on the cheek

Even though it was my first full year really focusing on saving money, I didn’t feel deprived in the slightest. In fact, 2019 was a pretty big year that left me feeling really grateful for the life I have.

I switched jobs, traveled internationally twice (with some domestic travel in between), spent quality time with family and friends, saw great concerts and speakers, ate a lot of delicious food, AND got married. I had a very full, exciting, and joy-filled year, and saved a pretty good chunk of money at the same time. So, that’s cool.

Turns out, spending your money more intentionally (rather than mindlessly) leads to having more intentionally awesome experiences and a lot less stress. Who knew?

Here’s how I ended the year:

2019 Overview

Cassie and I got married right at the end of 2019, and don’t plan on joining our finances for a little bit (aside from a joint savings account for a down payment). This means that these numbers just represent my financial situation, perhaps next year the update will include the full family finances.  


My Income

Started the year off with a salary of $39,500

  • Earned a $500 bonus, and raise of $1,500 part way through the year
  • Switched jobs in July
    • This gave me a small pay bump ($2,000)
    • Higher 401K match ($980.20 extra, compared to previous match)
    • Cheaper Health Insurance
    • 457 plan available (tax advantaged savings available pre 59 ½)
  • Took up dog walking on the side starting in June ($3,896)
  • Dividends (~$250~)
  • Made all purchases on rewards credit cards (and paid them off in full each month) ($214.88)
  • Sold items we no longer needed, rather than keeping them around to take up room (~$200~)
  • Small amount of photography side work ($200)
  • Moved emergency fund savings to a high interest savings account mid-way through the year ($61.38 in interest)
  • Used the Ibotta app for cashback on groceries (especially alcohol) ($37.70)

My Net Worth

Net Worth on Jan. 1, 2019: $2,409

Net Worth on Jan. 1, 2020: $20,040

2019 Net Worth Change: +$17,631

Breakdown of My Net Worth:

$2,358.32Car loan and balance on my two daily credit cards that the autopay hasn’t paid yet.
$14,221.94Invested (403b, 457b, Roth IRA, and taxable accounts)
$4,014.89High interest savings account for emergency fund
$3,061.65Checking account for monthly expenses and sinking funds
$1,100High interest savings account for down payment

Big Purchases/Spending

  • Wedding Stuff (ring, proposal materials, custom suit, photographer, food, decorations & flowers, certificate/fee, etc.): $1,731.10
  • Eating out (hoping I can cut this one in half this year): $1,465.15
  • One-week trip to Ecuador with my two younger brothers as a graduation gift (Cassie and I paid for their trip, except their plane tickets): $1,308.77
  • 9-day trip to Phoenix to visit family: $863.05
  • Christmas: $531.37
  • London for the first week of the year (doesn’t include flights and first half of the trip, as that was in 2018): $443.72

Some Ways I Saved Money

Food
  • Cooking at home
  • Eating fewer meat-centered meals
  • Having easy/convenient backup foods for when I’m too tired to cook
  • Switching wines (thanks, $3 Whole Foods wine!)
  • Limiting ordering drinks out to special occasions (mostly)
  • Making my own coffee or snagging free coffee from the fancy apartment lobby where I walk dogs
Shopping
  • Stopped going into stores “just because” (looking at you, Target)
  • Library!
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights
  • Looked to buy used first via Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up, and LetGo
Other Ways
  • Building up my community
  • Moved my 403b investments to lower fee index funds to save longterm on fees
  • Bundling up in the colder months and living in a tank top in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs

Savings Goals for 2020

  • Save $12,000 towards a down payment for a house in a high-interest savings account, while still maintaining my regular investment contributions ($350 every other week).
  • Pay off the balance on my car loan by my birthday in March
  • Fully fund 3-month emergency fund with $5,400
  • Maintain sinking funds for known upcoming expenses

2019 was a pretty great year, and even though we are very early on in our journey to financial independence, we’ve already got a taste of the type of freedom it can buy you. One of the biggest changes from 2019 was that in October, Cassie left her job as the Director of Marketing at a software startup to start working for herself. There’s no way we would have felt comfortable making that shift without the solid financial foundation we had built up throughout the year.

Can’t wait to see what new adventures 2020 brings us!

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