2016 Wins: A financial year in review.
(Author's Note: In all fairness, this post should probably be titled "2016 Wins: How we pulled up the nose of the plane and prevented our untimely financial demise.")
We began 2016 pretty obliviously and with a substantial amount of debt. In 2015, we had purchased a new car, gotten married, went honeymooning, settled some costly legal matters, unexpectedly replaced a water heater, and each of us had finished up a college degree funded primarily by student loans. In 2016, we spent a great deal on the homestead: New fencing was installed, and we had a plumbing emergency that set us back close to $3,000 (this emergency of course all went on the credit card). We also put a teenager through Driver's Education (which costs more than one might think) and continued to feed him (this also costs more than one might think!).
When I paused to reflect on our financial condition in late-August, I found that my daily habits added up to wasting substantial chunks of change on parking, lattes, gifts, and eating out. Just as bad, we hadn't been questioning our monthly expenses or looking for cheaper alternatives.
I used what I'd learned about my bad habits to make a plan. With that plan and some powerful motivation, I successfully ended my excessive spending. I have been reflecting these last couple weeks on what all we were able to accomplish after we changed direction in the final quarter of the year... And there are a lot of reasons to celebrate!
ELEVEN WINS FROM 2016:
- Credit Card Debt reduced by $3,129 between September and the end of the year (Yay, we paid off that plumbing!)
- Paid off $3,348 of car loan debt in 2017
- Pursued & received $360 in refunds from utilities & service providers
- Reoccurring payments reduced by $708 per month
- Revised our budget in November to speed up debt payoff
- Paid cash for holiday expenses, weekend trips, and some fun nights out
- Began reducing the sheer amount of stuff we had through Buy Nothing
- Refinanced our mortgage at a lower interest rate
- Made $750 worth of charitable donations to causes we believe in
- Created an ambitious plan for our money in 2017!
- Found an online community to cheer us on in our new healthy money habits and teach us how to do it even better!
Bonus wins: No paid parking in months, unplanned lattes are rare, and we've been trying to find meaningful gifts that don't break the bank.
There was bad news too of course. (Yes, even more than all that stuff crammed in the intro paragraphs.) We paid over $1,100 in interest on our consumer debt alone this year. Yeah. That credit card debt and car loan ain't free. We also watched our grocery spending creep into crazy expensive territory for a few months. There is a reason why we have our eye on the prize and an ambitious plan for 2017. I'm also planning to call the credit card company to try and haggle that interest rate (again).
What are you proud of as you reflect on 2016? Did you learn a new skill, get fit, spend time on something you love, invest in meaningful friendships, save money, read books about rad things, or become a better romantic partner? We would love to celebrate with you!