As we celebrate new year’s, let’s look back and see how we did (financially, of course) in 2017. There’s good news and then there’s some bad news. . . Let’s start with the good news: I don’t have any credit card debt (woo hoo!), I contributed 15% to my retirement (including the company contribution), I fully funded my health savings account (HSA), our net worth increased by $56,000, we cash-flowed Mark’s private school tuition (after May), stayed on budget (basically – see miscellaneous comments below), and debt is $16,323 lower (still have mortgage and auto debt) – did manage to pay off my car note in 2017 though. We spent less than the national average on food, housing, utilities, transportation and entertainment. (see chart below)
The bad. Even though we stayed on budget (basically) throughout the year, the miscellaneous category was a big problem – more later in the post. We spent a lot on healthcare – medical care is really expensive (thank you captain obvious) – seems odd since they are still “practicing” medicine. The mortgage debt doesn’t bother me too much (for now) – but I am disappointed that we still have an outstanding car loan – see my post about top 5 regrets.
I analyzed my miscellaneous category and realized that I have gotten lazy and included too much in this category. When I re-analyzed I realized that some of these charges should be categorized as housing (e.g. new stove), transportation (e.g., car taxes) and entertainment (e.g., vacation).
My new plan in 2018 is to set aside money into a separate bank account and pay these “miscellaneous” charges from that account. Most of these charges are recurring – even if they don’t occur every month (e.g., vacation). I am going to auto-draft the same amount from each paycheck and hopefully this “sinking” fund will pay for these miscellaneous charges – some of these charges are unavoidable (stove quit) and some are discretionary (vacation). However, both are a part of life and I should set money aside monthly – to do otherwise is whistling past the graveyard (i.e., ignoring the obvious).
|our %||National % per BLS|
I will provide a little commentary for each category (note the above percentages are after income taxes – remove federal and state income taxes (but not social security) before doing your own calculation).
1) Housing – pretty much in line (a little better) but I hope it gets better in 2018 because we replaced a stove and a couch in 2017; those were fairly large additions to this category that I hope don’t get repeated next year.
2) Transportation – a little better than average – which is kinda surprising because we still have a car loan – see my separate post on cars.
3) Food – a little better than average – which is also a little shocking because we could/should do better in 2018 – especially eating out at restaurants – see below a separate post on food.
4) Insurance/Social Security – kind of a weird BLS (bureau of labor statistics) category – we are actually under-budget here but I think that’s actually a bad thing because it means we should contribute more to our retirement. Including social security is a little odd but that’s the way the BLS did it. See below a separate post on social security.
5) Healthcare – in line with the national average – at least we fully fund our health savings account (HSA) each year and get a bit of a tax break by paying for medical bills and prescriptions from the HSA – it also serves as a sinking fund and doesn’t impact our monthly budget (e.g. take-home pay) – because it’s funded via a payroll deduction.
6) Entertainment – a little better than the national average – probably because I’m a cord cutter, but we still spent a fair amount on vacation expenses and other entertainment (Go Braves!)
7) Charity – a good bit higher than the national average. I’m a Christian and believe that the Bible strongly encourages us to give to others – especially to the church – in order to help the needy and tell people about God. We are supposed to be Christ-like and God was a giver – John 3:16 – just sayin’
8) Miscellaneous – a good bit higher than the national average – this is mostly due to Mark’s private school tuition – a choice I will definitely make again in 2018 because I know how much better Mark does when his education is specialized for his ADHD.
Let’s compare to how the rich spend their money.
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Happy New Year!