2014 in review
I don’t really feel like summarizing 2014.
My goals were vague. There were a lot of unknowns going into the year. My job turned out to be a lot less personally fulfilling than I was hoping. We weren’t sure if we were going to look at houses – in fact, we didn’t really plan on it. We didn’t budget much, intending to spend the money was “saved” by living in a cheaper neighborhood on exploring our new area and doing fun things.
My tracking spreadsheet for 2014 doesn’t give me the complete information I want, so I adjusted it for 2015. I think it is going to work a lot better for us. Here is what I have for 2014 highlights:
- Our net worth increased by $132k, with about half of that in retirement account balances, the rest cash/home equity. I’ve decided to use the purchase price of our house as its value, unless there is a drop in the market.
- Our total spending was about $94k, excluding closing costs, downpayment, 2013 tax bill, mortgage prepayment, but including mortgage principal payment.
- A large chunk of spending (about $25k) was home maintenance (furnace, bathroom fans) and a few furnishings. This should be a little less next year, then flatten out to $5k-8k per a year long term average after that.
- Our total food spending averaged about $1000 a month. This is obviously way higher than necessary, and tips more towards eating out than groceries.
- My estimate of our total 2014 tax bill (federal + state) is about $74k. This is unusually high, since we had some one-time income. But it is an insane number! It would be even higher if we didn’t itemize and claim mortgage interest / property taxes.
I’ve looked at the detailed spending numbers. In general, I’m OK with them. I see some easy areas to reduce for 2014 (food and wine mostly – we intentionally had an indulgent first year in the bay area). I see some areas we’ll increase (travel!). It wasn’t a bad year money-wise. Seeing our net worth increase makes me less worried about spending a bit more than I’d like in some areas. Still, I want to be sure our money is tracking our values.
From a non-financial perspective, here is what happened in 2014:
- We moved into a new apartment in a new city (technically in December ’13)
- We both started new jobs that were significantly different than our 2013 jobs
- We bought a house! It turned out to be a pretty straightforward process.
- I quit my job and accepted a new one. This is the first post-college job I quit for reasons other than moving far away.
- We did minimal traveling: 2 visits to my home, 1 to T’s, one to Portland, and 3 backpacking trips. Plus some work trips for each of us.
- My mom had heart surgery to correct a hole in her heart. Everything went really really well.
- I ran in an overnight relay race and had a blast. My running was otherwise pretty much crap.
- I read about 30 books, and the ones I rated 5 stars were: And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini), Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Anthony Marra), Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro).
- My favorite non-fiction books were The Future of the Mind (Michio Kaku) and I’m feeling lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (Douglas Edwards). I listened to both of those as audio books, mostly while running or commuting.
There were definitely good points, but overall, 2014 was a frustrating year for me, mostly driven by my job angst. Beyond the day-to-day things that were frustrating me, many of the people I shared my job frustrations with turned it back on me and made me feel like it was my fault I wasn’t having a good experience. “Oh, you just need to do X, that’s what I did!” “You just have to have the right attitude!” This was really demoralizing. The only person that I felt had my back 100% of the time was T. It did get better as the year went on, but it really had nowhere to go but up.
All in all, we made it through a year filled with changes. Budget honestly wasn’t a priority, but we will pay more attention to now that things are stable,
I’m really glad to welcome 2015, and more importantly, to start a new job. I like the feeling of a new year, of a fresh start, of a chance to set new goals and think about the next 12 months.