It has been a little over one year since we started the FI Project website and began documenting our family’s journey to financial independence. In many ways the idea of blogging about our journey has helped us stay focused and held us stay accountable. So here is an high level overview of where we started and where we ended up at the end of 2016. I did not put exact numbers in this post, so if you want that review our monthly update posts and project updates page.
Income and Work
One of the main reasons we try to keep some anonymity on our blog is that it enables us to be more honest about our finances in the hope that it helps tell our story and possibly inspire others. We both started out as public school teachers before moving into higher education and running a business. This year we brought in more income than at any point in our life. Our gross income was close to $150,000 for the year! While this is an amazing amount for both of us, it is even more amazing considering my wife left her full time job to start a business and work on her Ph.D. degree. On top of that we had our second child which kept her from doing much work for the second half of the year.
The amount of income we made essentially boils down to me working two full time jobs at the same time for six month out of the year, with a couple of side consulting projects thrown in. While I was happy to have the income and see so much of it saved, I hope to never work two jobs at the same time like that again. I think the thing that made this so tough was the the two jobs required similar work and cognitive exertion which led to very little down time and significant burnout.
We met our savings goal for 2016 by saving $60,680.19. I have always been a bit of a saver (think 15%), but never at this level. A lot of the new focus on savings is because of having a specific measurable goal we are working towards (FI). We essentially saved what is almost equivalent to the base salary at my current job. After taxes our savings rate is above 50% which keeps us on track for reaching FI in about four more years.
Our spending for the year was a bit higher than I would have preferred at around $65,000 but not too far from our $60,000 a year goal. I know there are many out there that look at our spending number and think it is way too high, but this is what work for us. We make conscientious choices on how much we want to spend to balance our current life goals and our FI goals. Sure we could probably cut this number down to $30,000 – $35,000 a year, but this is not the lifestyle we choose to live. I will say that we can cut expenses if needed actually provides a nice psychological cushion to our FI plan.
When I started this blog I had high hopes about how often I would post and provide updates, personal experiences, and helpful tips from our perspective. The truth is I fell far short of my goal I had, but I hope to improve this year now that life is calming down a little bit. I guess the nice thing is that I treat this blog just as a personal outlet to share our story and not as a side business. This gives me a lot of flexibility to post whenever I want without any pressure other than my own interests to share our story and anything that we find helpful. I know a lot of blogs, including those I really like to read, have made blogging a full time job and that is great, but it is not my goal. I don’t spend time monetizing our blog, and only have a few Amazon affiliate links of books that I truly find useful. My goal with that is to just hopefully break even on the hosting costs associated with this blog. I will admit that to my surprise this blog made $1,322 in 2016 which is crazy considering how little effort was put into any type of monetization. I can see where it would be tempting to start thinking about this website in those terms, but once it became a job I would lose interest very quickly. Part of that comes from the fact that I spend so much of my time writing already (academic writing), and I look at this blog as just fun writing where I can share with a much more informal approach. Regardless I hope I can share more in 2017 and if nothing else give the few readers I have our perspective and story as we work hard to reach Financial Independence.
So that is a really quick 2016 in review, posted a little later than I like. Up next I will share our goals for 2017 and our attempt to look at the end goal in 2021.