Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 $38K Savings Challenge...December Update and FINAL TALLY

Every year I keep a close eye on our monthly expenses and our monthly income.
Our income is mainly the salary my Hubs draws from his job.  We have money taken off each paycheck from the top to put into savings, before we even get our hands on it.  This money that's taken goes into various pots....life insurance, health insurance premiums, long term care insurance premiums, investments and retirement savings.  It's automatic so we are never tempted to NOT put it into savings or these other categories.

Once the automatic savings amounts, plus taxes and medical/dental/vision premiums are taken out, it leaves what we get to "live on".  From this amount we budget for bills, both monthly and irregular bills(semi-annual, annual etc.) and our variable bills(like food, eating out, clothing  etc.)  Anything left over once our monthly expenses are paid, I put aside into an interest bearing Savings Challenge account.

For 2016 I am continuing my Yearly Savings Challenge.  I am raising the Goal amount to $38,000 this year, $8K more than my goal for last year.

On to the December report.....
I have posted my December End of Month $38K $AVING$ CHALLENGE Totals.
Check out the Savings Challenge page tab at the top of the blog for the specific numbers HERE.

I have 2 goals each month.....
The 1st is to actually finish each month in the black and not the red.
The 2nd is to hit the targeted savings amount of $3,166.66.

I have to report that we finished up December with a surprisingly to me large amount, given the challenges this month.
The extra amount we ended the month of December with?.......$3650.62


We had $3265.80 left over from our income after our monthly expenses were deducted.
Other monies received in December totaled $384.82.  This was interest made on non-retirement accounts, a tiny car insurance refund, 2 stock dividend checks, blogging revenue and $9.15 in spare cash I didn't spend on groceries in December.

This brought us to our gain of $3650.62
Since we have no debt, some of this goes into savings, not all. As it's January 1st we need to fund the $3K high deductible of our health insurance plan for 2017.

As for the expenses this December, here are the good and the bad side of things....


*  Phone charges and internet were approximately the same as last month(Within $1 or so).
*  The water bill was $4.37 lower than last month's bill.
*  The gas card bill was $150.28 less than November's bill. Not that less gas was purchased really, it was just put on the Master Card instead. Plus after Hubs' accident he wasn't driving to work or anywhere else for that matter. ;-)
*  Cash withdrawals were $200 less than last month.  This was due to Hubs being incapacitated and not leaving home so he really didn't have much opportunity to spend money.


*  The credit card bill was up $347.65 from November's amount. Not a surprise really, being as some Christmas spending went on it this cycle.
*  The electric bill was $128.09 more than in November.  Two reasons for this-December is colder so the thermostat got nudged higher plus with Hubs living on the daybed in the living room I have to keep the downstairs warmer 24/7.  I usually don't heat downstairs very much at night when everyone sleeps upstairs.
*  We had a $10.04 balance on Daughter's Louisiana medical bills that showed up this month that I paid.  I knew it would come eventually as I knew they had under billed something.
*  There was a Kohl's charge bill for Christmas purchases I paid in December.  Not too bad at $281.12(I also used some Kohl's gift cards I had to pay part of the total and $281.12 is what was left on the balance.) Plus I'll be getting $60 of this back in rebates on some small appliances which were part of what I bought.
*  There were $154.00 in cash gifts made at Christmas so another small drain on the income for December.

The Food Budget costs for December are in another post, which is located HERE.

Since we have a High Deductible Health Plan I like to reserve some December savings for the following year to help cover the $3,000 deductible that kicks in January 1st.
The $3,651.47 saved in December will be split thus-$1,960.28 goes into the 2016 Savings Challenge to get me to my goal of $38,000 saved and the remaining $1,690.34 of what was saved last month stays in the checking account to help with the high deductible costs.

With 12 month accounted for, our Savings Challenge Grand Total for 2016 is $38,000.00.

FINAL THOUGHTS on December---

Compared to December 2015 we saved $327.70 MORE and put $184.72 MORE into savings this December. 8-)
We have $38,000 saved from our regular take-home pay for the challenge.  This is an amount in addition to our retirement accounts, for which we have monies deducted from Hubs' pay before we receive his check.

THOUGHTS going forward into January of 2017----

I will continue to do this Yearly Savings Challenge in 2017.  Not sure yet what my targeted amount to save will be as we haven't finalized our budget.  Our food expenses will be more than they were in 2016.  Energy costs are going up here in 2017(both state gasoline taxes on each gallon purchased(actual cost of gas is a variable each month too, as well as the cost of electricity from our utility company).  Add in that property tax rates are also rising slightly over last year's rates.  We also have to bump up College Boy's college fund as the percentage rate at which the state colleges costs have risen have out paced the little bit our monies there have grown over the last 5 years.  He also had a 1 semester internship and we don't know yet where in the world that will be happening so room/board/transportation costs during that semester are a big black unknown at this point.  I am figuring it won't be cheap on our wallet.  8-(

So how was your December financially?
Did you spend less than the income you had in December?
Did you stay within your budget or not?
What did you do with any money leftover at the end of the month?
Did you pay off any debts or put extra toward your mortgage principle or into savings, in an emergency fund or a retirement account?
Or did you blow it on a want?

If you posted your financial progress on your own blog, leave a link in the comments so we can go check out your progress too and celebrate or commiserate with you!

I hope this year was the one were you cleaned up your finances and paid off your debts.
That you planned to set something aside if you didn't already or increased what you banked now for your future self.
Or paid extra on the principle of your mortgage if your house isn't already paid off.

Live below your means and keep some change for a rainy day....because no matter how sunny it is in your life now, dark clouds come along and you'll be glad you have that umbrella to keep you dry.



  1. Awewsome that you were able to save so much, despite DH's accident and recovery. I continue to live on a reduced to retirement projected income (anticipated to kick in March 2017) My severance package includes 6 months of full salary, I am living off 1/2 of that, eeking out a year's retirement. I also am able to save some of this reduced income, have added a second income stream, am working towards a third. All extra monies are stuffed into my savings account. I hear you about the high deductible. Do you not have a HSA option? I set aside funds every year, to ensure that I have $6000 in my HSA-the max I will incurr for deductibles. With my now former career ending, I will need another position that offers medical benefits for me (and the 4 kiddos as option # 1) come Sept 1. I am fortunate not to have to work for income (any income from the 3rd income stream will be savings) but rather, benefits. It's a nice position to be in.

    1. We have an HSA account but I am holding that to help pay for medical costs to bridge between when Hubs retires early and Medicare. It will be needed more then and we can cover medical OOPs now within income.
      So what is your second income stream? You've got your pension as your first and the new career is your third?

    2. Sluggy, yes, my pension will be the first, the second one, newly added, is being my son's conservator, for which I gain an additional 29% of my former career's salary. I can more than live off of my retirement, just carefully as always. The extra 29 % makes life a lot easier and ups my savings capacity, bringing my net up to 81% of my former salary. The 3rd income stream will be my new career, for which I know the earning potential is about 48 % of my former career's. I think I am headed in the right direction. : )

  2. Good work Sluggy! Is there a particular reason you pick $38,000 as your savings total or is that just how the budget works out? I ended up being in the black for December and am happy with that. I also don't pay property taxes in Dec. and Jan. as I am on a 10 month plan plus I will receive a tax rebate in a day or two. Those amounts will get tucked away with some interest earned on an investment coming due this month. On the down side I don't have a budget that is set in stone yet as my pension cost-of-living increases won't show up til the end of January and some bill increases (like gasoline) have already begun. I should have everything sorted by the end of January.

    1. $38K was a bit more than my goal in 2015. It started the year at a $40K goal but then when it looked like the Daughter was moving back in I backed it down to $38K just in case. I might back the 2017 goal down a bit from $38 at this point.
      It's hard to figure a workable budget when you have unknowns like your COLA on your pension. Our big unknown at the moment is when will Hubs be able to go off disability....will it be before that benefit drops to 70% of salary or not? That's the biggest wild card here for now as a 30% income drop would be significant.

  3. Awesome job hitting your 2016 savings challenge! We were over a bit on our December expenses, but I built in an extra "slush" into our Christmas budtet, as that's pretty typical December spend.

  4. Good job. I was able to increase my net worth by ~20% over 2016. Since I desire early retirement, I am throwing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into retirement and non-retirement savings.

  5. I know you'd do it! Great job Sluggy!!!


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