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Net Worth Update: December 2019

Welcome to another monthly Net Worth update! This time it’s Net Worth December 2019 edition:

For those that are new, I will be posting these on a monthly basis to show my progress towards Financial Independence.  The purpose of these is not to brag, or show off what I have, merely to show that little by little, even over the course of just 28-31 days, much progress can be made.

In addition, by tracking and posting this on the blog where everyone can see, I’m hoping this helps to hold me accountable to my goals. Where slip ups and unchecked spending can easily be passed off by keeping it to myself, with other people watching it should help to keep me in line! (Nothing like trying to avoid public humiliation to keep you motivated!)

If you haven’t already, check out last month’s report from November.

December

Wow, last month of the year and it was another good one! Lots of activities and travel during the month so let’s get into it!

We left off last month right after the Thanksgiving holiday. My partner and I traveled home a day early to avoid a treacherous snowstorm (I found out that others who traveled in our direction were delayed up to 3 hours that day… whew). The return a day early also allowed us the time to buy a small Christmas tree and decorate our cozy apartment for the holidays. It’s been nice having them up all month!

After that, my partner had a choir concert so her mother came up to visit. We also ended up going to see a play based on Mozart (history, nice!), so I can say I got very cultured that weekend!

The following weekend my partner had to work her side hustle one day, but afterwards we went out and celebrated a recent financial milestone of hers with some all you can eat sushi! If that’s not an amazing way to celebrate, I don’t know what is 🙂 I think it’s important to celebrate the big milestones along the path, so we certainly splurged on this one!

We also finally got to cash in on those $2 tickets I bought back in October to go up to the top of the Washington monument. It was such an incredible view! With the Newseum closing its doors at year end we also made a point to visit and walk through so it was great to get my first and last visit there before it closed. Always love my history!

Lincoln Memorial and Virginia behind it!
Jefferson Memorial is hiding here but there’s the Tidal Basin!
View of the Capital!

After a great couple weekends in DC, it was time to head home for the holidays again. As always, I love this time of year where I get off work somewhere between 1-2 weeks so I can just relax and spend time with family. My partner came up as well so she had double the dose of family fun this year after Thanksgiving! 🙂

This year we added in a fun day of sightseeing to break up the vacation by taking a quick day trip to Niagara Falls to see the beautiful waterfalls from the Canadian side. So gorgeous! After fighting through the border traffic we followed that up right after to go see the Buffalo Sabres play a hockey game that night. My dad got free tickets through his work and offered them to us since we’d be out there. Score!

Horseshoe Falls!
American Falls!
Sabres took on the Bruins, great seats!

After a wild month, we came back to DC a little early so my partner could work a few days and we ended up enjoying a nice quiet New Year’s Eve on our own. It was simply wonderful. I hope your December and New Year’s Eve was just as good!

New Years Eve walk down at the brand new Wharf!

Net Worth

December breaks down as follows:

No Personal Capital screen shot as I totally messed up and forgot to take one before the markets changed again. Looks like you’re just going to have to trust me that this is what it is!

It was more of the same in December as its been all year with the markets on a tear and ending at or near record highs. Aside from some planned December spending, this month seemed to be just more of the same all year!

Cash: $33,363 – $2,713

Due to my above average salary I have a lot of excess cash coming in. See the income section below to view what I bring in.

A large increase here, though that is largely offset by the increase in credit cards spending that will need to get paid off in January. One of my December paychecks was much bigger than the other as the 401K got maxed out so there was a little extra to my last paycheck!

I’m still not certain for what I want to do next year with this account, so I suppose it’ll still sit in my high-interest savings account so I’m at least making something off it.

401K: $104,634 – $4,469

Contributions this month totaled $1,432 (Employer Matching included).

With those contributions this account was officially maxed out for the year! Though I have this account pretty automated at the moment, it’s always nice to officially max it out and fully take advantage of the immediate tax savings. My post comparing my tax returns shows just how much you can save in taxes by contributing more to pre-tax accounts.

I take the simple approach to investing and have about 90% of this account in stocks (70/30 Domestic/International), and 10% in bonds.

Roth IRA: $20,110 – $480

I maxed out this account last month, so this was pure market gains.

With the new contributions this account is invested 85% in VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market) and 15% Cash/Bonds.

Brokerage: $16,218 – $568

No contributions here, and can’t imagine there will be any this year. But perhaps I’ll resume contributions here next year!

I originally invested $12K into the account, $10K in the low fee VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) and $2K in a high yield dividend paying stock.

HSA: $7,896 – $138

$212 of this was my own contributions which also maxed out the HSA as well! Though on a much smaller scale, this account is amazing especially considering it is triple-taxed advantaged.

All my funds here are invested into a REIT.

Auto Value: $6,317 – ($195)

KBB value for my 2014 Ford Fusion with 90,000 miles on it.

2,000 miles were put on the car this month to close out the year. The trip home and out to Niagara Falls were the primary reasons for this, but well worth it!

Looking back at December 2018, it looks like I put around 15,000 miles on the car this year. That’s a lot of driving. Most of the miles were commute miles, but all the hiking I did and other car trips I took this year certainly added up as well. I look forward to the days when I’ll have a much shorter commute (or none at all! 🙂 )

Credit Cards: $(2,624) – ($2,173)

I pay off my credit cards in full every month so this is just the monthly balance. By doing this I build credit and get free travel rewards and cash back while paying the credit card companies nothing in interest!

Woah that’s a big number! Trust me, I didn’t go off the rails, just about all of this was planned out well in advance. I’m working on the Southwest Companion Pass so this was all in relation to that!

As always, see below for the full breakout of spending to see how I did against my budget.

Monthly Expenses:

It was a big spending month to close out the year… but when you consider that over half that spending was related to planned donations and other holiday gifts it puts it more into perspective and doesn’t look that bad!

Monthly Rent $1,200:

$1,200 is my portion of the rent for the 1 bed, 1 bathroom apartment I share with my partner.

Utilities/Internet $52:

We have a flat $15/each monthly water bill. We also got a great introductory rate on internet (the lowest bandwidth option) for $15/each per month. The remaining was my portion of the electric for $22 (we don’t pay for gas). Electric was a couple bucks higher this month as it’s starting to get cold down here!

Groceries $98 / Restaurants $126:

Another low grocery month as we spent nearly a week out of town. Believe me, these low grocery months aren’t sustainable! We’ll get back into our normal range in January I’m sure.

Restaurants were a little more expensive, but still within a good range. We went out a few more times this month given all the hustle and bustle. It’s tough to plan out meals for home when you aren’t here much!

Auto Insurance $0 / Auto Fuel $171 / Transport Other $93:

After paying for 6 months up front in July I’m now covered through January 2020, so no more expenses here on the year.

Lots of miles driven this month (2,000) led to a bunch of fill ups. The trip home and to Niagara Falls were the main reasons for this cost, but there were a decent number of commuting miles as well.

I decided to rename this 3rd category “Transportation Other” going forward. It’ll basically hold any other transport related expenses, (like metro card fill ups, toll pass replenishment, parking charges, etc) that had typically been going in the “Misc” category before. With a monthly metro fill up becoming standard, I felt that these should be broken out separately to track better, and this seemed like a good place to put them, as there usually aren’t too many expenses here to get mixed up with.

That being said, the costs this month were $60 for metro fill ups, $25 for my toll pass replenishment (EZPass) from the trip to Niagara, and $8 for parking on the Canadian side of the border while we played tourist.

Cell Phone $0:

I’m still under my parents plan so this is my portion of the bill. I pay my parents directly up front for 6 months at a time. I covered my July-December 2019 costs in August so no more expenses this year from me.

Medical $0:

No medical costs this month.

Entertainment $125:

$98 on drinks at various bars. Mainly with friends from home as we went out a couple times, and also with my partner as we had a drink out and about on New Years Eve before settling in at home for the night.

$12 to split a ticket with my partner to visit the Newseum before it closed. Tickets are normally $24 each, but we got totally lucky when we were waiting in line as the people in front of us had an extra ticket and gave it to us for free! Lastly $15 for monthly Spotify to round it out.

Travel $69:

This $69 expense was the card opening fee for my Southwest personal card. As with last month and the fee for opening the business card, I decided to place the cost here as the only reason I’m paying it is to help me get the Southwest Companion Pass next year which will save me a lot of money in travel for the duration I have it.

Gifts/Donations $2,047:

$1,800 in donations that I had been planning since the beginning of the year! Glad to finally have done this after having to write the reminder in every month… haha.

I think I picked some worthy charities, 6 of them, with $300 going to each. It felt good to know some of my money is going to make an impact out in the world! One of the places I donated was my high school (why it means so much to me here), which also was fully matched by my company so the gift was doubled!

The remaining $247 was for Christmas gifts for the rest of my family members (not including the monthly Spotify subscription I purchase for my siblings that I list in Entertainment).

Misc $88:

Miscellaneous costs include $33 for a renewed year of this domain name. Has it really be 2 years already!? Guess I’ll be back again next year 🙂

In addition, my partner and I split a small Christmas tree and stand for $23 each, and spend $32 each on various items around the apartment, including a door mat, coffee grinder, and a slide on door seal to help keep the apartment a little warmer!

Savings Rate

Here’s the overall picture:

*Note – Take Home is my after tax pay (what shows up in my bank account). 401K is only my contributions. 401K Match is my company’s 4% match. HSA is both mine and employer contributions (my employer contributed $750 in January).

33% to close out the year, which led to a 61% savings rate on the year! Definitely not bad all things considered. The expenses fell just north of $30,000, which I was hoping to stay below, but it is what it is. Next year will be the one!

The $50 in Other Income came from coming in 3rd place in one of my fantasy leagues. Remember, I spent $150 for the two leagues back in August, so I didn’t quite make my money back this year. Oh well, not every year will be like last year where I came in first and second place and won a whopping $775!

December was yet another amazing month in what has been a truly incredible year (both personally and financially). We’ll save more on that for my 2019 recap post, but thanks to everyone who has been following along the journey!

If you want to see how I’ve done in past months, check out my Net Worth Updates page to see over a year’s worth of reports.

How did your December turn out!?

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6 thoughts to “Net Worth Update: December 2019”

  1. looks like you’re a western new yorker. we live in the heart of buffalo. that’s great you have such an early jump on this whole saving and investing things. you’ll have lots of options relatively early in life. good luck.

  2. Great pictures. I have been to Washington a handful of times over the years and hit most of the spots: Memorials, Capitol Building tour, White House tour, Spy Museum, Smithsonian Museums, etc. But I have never been to the top of the Washington Monument. I’ll have to do that next time I’m there! I remember those same views from Niagara Falls. I went in 2011, simply stunning.

    Almost 61% savings rate for the year is outstanding. I finished the year right about 53% which I was happy about. Now I’m inspired to top 60% this year, but I’m not sure if that’s possible haha.

    1. Yea you definitely should! It’s been closed the past couple years for repairs but when we saw it re-opened we jumped on it. Need to reserve them pretty far in advance though! I’ve been to Niagara a couple times and am amazed every single time.

      53% is pretty amazing though way to go!! 60% is a big step up you got this! At the end of the day it’s just a number though, don’t sacrifice too much to try and get there haha

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