My Journey to Financial Independence and Retiring Early

2016 Financial Recap & 2017 Goals

Happy New Year! I’ve decided to do something very scary for me, but I’m excited to share. I’m going to break down all of the my savings and expenses for 2016. In 2017, I’m planning on doing monthly reports so that you can see how I budget each month to be able to save towards my FIRE goal.

Despite all the doom and gloom around 2016 on social media, I’ve personally had a fantastic year. I moved in with my boyfriend at the end of 2015, was able to travel to Kenya with my mom in February, head over to Greece & Italy in September, and participated in a few photoshoots (yay, side hustle!). I also started The Fire Drill in 2016 which allows me to share my goals with all of you! So without further adieu, here’s my progress…



Net Worth

The green bars are assets, the red bars are debts, and the black line represents total net worth (assets minus debts). I started the year with a net worth of $32,100 and ended with a net worth of $70,400. That’s +$38,300 and a 120% increase! Just two years ago, my net worth was negative, so I am super proud of this progress. My debts include my student loans and whatever varying credit card expenses I have that month. In 2017, I want to KILL my student loans. I am so tired of those red bars holding me down.

2017 Goal: Hit 100k net worth

Student Loans

I only paid off $2,800 this year. 🙁

This is changing in 2017 – I still have about $25,000 left to go and my goal is to eliminate the rest of these loans over the course of this year. This also means I need to back off the investments. Sigh…

2017 Goal: Pay off student loans


I did want to hit 100k in investments by the end of the year. While that didn’t happen, I did hit $100k in assets! I’m super close to meeting this goal in early 2017. I did not have the cash to fund an IRA for 2016, but I did max out my 2015 IRA, 401k and HSA. So I saved $26,900 and about $10,700 is due to market appreciation, dividends, and company matching.

2017 Goal: Hit $100k in investments


Whoa, January! That was such an expensive month! I started a side hustle that month and spent $3k in inventory and probably another $500 on other things related to that. I also bought two tickets to NYC (on the way to Kenya), paid a down payment on our safari trip, paid 6 months of car insurance and bought new tires. Phew! All other months were relatively normal in terms of spending. In November, I did a “no spend” month in which I tried to only pay for necessary expenses. I still bought some unnecessary things that month, but I still count it as a success. In 2017 you’ll get the breakdown at the end of each month of what I spent money on in detail.

Overall, I spent $22,019.87 in 2016, which is $7,354.89 less than I spent last year. But, since I didn’t pay rent this year, it’s about the same. Here’s everything I spent money on in 2017:

  • Auto & Transport: $3,084
    • Gas: $900
    • Insurance: $1,394
    • Service/Parts: $784
    • Parking/Public Transport: $6
  • TV & Internet (including Netflix/Hulu): $844
  • Cell Phone (Cricket): $420
  • Side Hustle Stuff: $6,150
  • Groceries: $1,484
  • Dining Out & Bars: $1,386
  • Entertainment: $144 (Apparently, I’m easily entertained lol)
  • Fees (annual fees from credit cards, foreign ATM fees, etc.): $418
  • Gifts/Donations: $976
  • Home (furniture, cleaning supplies, etc.): $830
    • I also received my security deposit back from my apartment so Mint subtracted $595 from this amount.
  • Utilities (bills left over from 2015): $139
  • Health (Invisalign payments, doctor’s visits, dentist): $2,300
  • Personal care (hair products, hair cuts, makeup, etc.): $243
  • Pharmacy (I think this is mostly hair products that I’ve been hoarding…, razors, soap, a few prescriptions, etc.): $413
  • Pet: $140
  • Travel: $2,200
  • Shopping: $1,408

2017 Goal: Spend less than $20k & be better about splitting transactions properly


This is the income I received after taxes plus my pre-tax contributions. This also includes side hustle income, which I have yet to pay taxes on. Basically, it’s cash in-hand + money put straight into investments, which totals $54,244.74 for 2016. My goal is to secure a promotion and increase side hustle income in 2017.

2017 Goal: Hit $60k

All charts above come from Mint. If you’re not sure how much you spent this year, how much you made, or any of these other metrics, I encourage you to sign up for Mint or Personal Capital now. I have almost 6 years of data now and can go back and tell you what my spending/income was for each of these years so quickly. They are great tools for budgeting and actually taking a look at what you’re expenditures are so you can work toward making positive changes. Just try one, they are both free!

Do you guys track your spending? Did you meet all of your 2016 financial goals?

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