Last year, Clo Bare budgeted for a whole year only to find out she was consistently going over budget by about $500 each month when she did her yearly review. How did she solve this chronic-going-over-budget-ness? She implemented an annual budget to budget better. Did it help? In this post, she’ll share exactly how the yearly budget helped her increase her net worth by $153k in less than two years.
Guys, can you believe it? It’s already been two years since I started budgeting and a LOT has changed. Two years! Back in October 2018, little Chloe was venturing off into the world of budgeting to see what she could do with her money– and what happened?
- I went from being almost $70k in debt to less than $30k in debt.
- My cash savings increased from $1,400 to $11,000.
- I increased my total net worth from -$67k to $86k. That’s a $153k difference in just two years. I mean. Come on.
- I fell into the financial independence retire early (FIRE) community and started saving more than half my salary.
- And now I invest! And know what I’m doing!
It’s exciting. And that’s not all.
Let’s first talk about where I was two years ago. If you want to read the whole post that made me start my money journey, check it out at “I am $67k in debt”.
Watch How I Increased My Net Worth by $153k on Youtube
Before Budgeting: My 2018 Financial Picture
In October 2018, my financial picture looked a bit like this:
- I was $67,866 in debt.
- $9,899 of that was a car loan.
- $57,967 was a student loan with almost 8% interest
- I had $1,400.11 in savings.
- $630.35 in checking.
- My 401k had $10,242 in it and I put in about 4% of my paycheck into it.
- I brought in about $2,200 every two weeks from my full time job and I also did some freelance that brought me in an extra $200-$400 a month.
- No credit card debt.
- No real budget.
I was super spendy, spending upwards of $600 every two weeks just on eating out and drinking and being hungover! So I changed things. And after the first year of budgeting, without much knowledge of what to do, I achieved the following as of October 2019:
After Budgeting: My 2019 Financial Picture
- I was $51,185 in debt.
- I put down $19,460 on my debt– on average $1,622 a month.
- I refinanced my student loans to take my loan from 8% interest to 4.75% interest.
- Now I had a budget and tracked everything I spent.
- Stuck to my budget 8 out of the 12 months.
- Paid off my car loan several years early.
- I had $13,400 in my savings and $800 in my checking.
- Saved about $27,304 in my 401K and put 11% of my paycheck into it.
- I got a raise and then a promotion, increasing my salary by 16% in a year.
- I spent $63,583, or $44,123 after you subtract my payments towards debt.
Where I Messed Up: Not Having an Annual Budget
Not bad, but one of the things I realized when doing my budget review last year was that I still went over budget– like a lot. In fact I went over budget on average $507 a month, because I didn’t account for things like travel and once a year purchases.
What does that mean?
It means I wasn’t creating an accurate budget, at all. Random expenses would come up every month to derail the budget I set for myself.
How’d I solve this issue?
I decided to start doing a yearly budget to keep my monthly spending on track with my yearly goals. In that yearly budget, I created new categories like travel, special occasions, dating, annual credit card fees, and more to account for spending that doesn’t happen every month, but happens a few times a year.
To learn how to create a yearly budget, read “How to Create a Yearly Budget”.
Did it make a difference? We’ll dive into that in a moment, but first, let’s take a look at my financial picture as of now.
After an Annual Budget: My 2020 Financial Picture
- I am $29,821 in debt– a $21,364 difference from the year before.
- In just a year, I put down $22,115 on my debt, an average of $1,842 a month.
- I refinanced my student loans from 4.75% to 3.54%.
- Stayed within budget or under budget 19/26 pay periods, which is a 73% success rate.
- I have about $10k in an emergency fund.
- $63k is invested in a local real estate project.
- $69k is invested in a 401k, an almost $42k increase from the year before despite only contributing the max of $19.5k– thank you stock market and employer match.
- As of writing this, my net worth is $106k, a $173k increase from my net worth at the end of 2018. On my two year anniversary in October, my net worth was at $86k, which was a $153k increase in just two years.
- I sold my car for $10k, immediately invested it, and made about $7k from it– which means I actually made $17k from selling my car, which kind of sort of means I only actually spent about $3k to own that $20k 2015 Prius for 4 years. I can live with that. And likely, the more I make from having that money invested– I’ll really break even.
- I spent about $70,356 last year, but when you subtract the money I paid in taxes for my interest income and the $22k I paid on debt– I only spent $42,674. Which is LESS than what I spent last year despite having more expenses.
- With my interest income, Clo Bare income and regular 9 to 5 income, I made about $85k after taxes which means I lived off of about 50% of my take-home pay when adjusted for debt payments and tax payments. That is fucking dope.
The Verdict? An Annual Budget Helps Me Budget Better and Increase My Net Worth by $153k
Can we just take a moment to be proud of me? Cause I’m really fucking proud of me.
It’s so weird to think that this only happened because I decided to finally make a change.
If I hadn’t?
If I had waited just one more year? You can SEE on paper (or blog) all the growth I would’ve missed out on. I mean, I saw a $42k increase in my 401k in a YEAR. A YEAR. If I had stuck to putting in the minimum match for my 401k, I would’ve maybe had an extra $10k in my 401k by now.
Learn more about retirement accounts including 401(k)s and IRAs.
And that real estate investing? I never would’ve dreamed I’d be in a position where I could invest in real estate flips and it’s making me a crap ton of money right now.
And I actually spent less this year than I did the year before! Even though I’m making way more money than I did the year before, which means..
I Avoided Lifestyle Inflation to Increase my Net Worth
I AVOIDED LIFESTYLE INFLATION even though I now have a dog and live alone– I still spent less than I did the year before.
Now, I know I can’t take all the credit on that though. I only spent $3.6k on travel because of the pandemic– most of which will now be credited back to me in future travels. But even if I had spent an extra $1.4k that I had budgeted, I’d still have spent ever so slightly less than what I did last year, while still living a life that is more aligned with my values.
That’s pretty fucking dope.
Now, let’s dive even more into the numbers, shall we?
My 2nd Year of Budgeting: 2020 Spending Categories
Total Spent in my 2020 Budgeting Year: $70,356
Over Budget By: $322 ($437 minus the $112 from over paying on debt) or about $26 a month)
Fuck-Ups for the Budgeting Year Explained
I spent a lot more money on Clo Bare this last year than I intended, but that’s because I made more money on Clo Bare than I expected to. Because I started selling pet portraits, I had to buy quite a few supplies so while that skyrocketed my expenses, I also made money off of the portraits. So, most of the expenses came from standard things like domain renewals, hosting, ads, and painting supplies, but because I also started an LLC this year, there were expenses involved in that as well.
Technically, this isn’t even a fuck-up and I was actually under budget for the year. That $383 over budget in donations was mostly covered by a class I taught that I donated all profits to the Black Lives Matter organization. So, technically, that evens itself out and I’m actually under budget. Booya.
That’s really it for the fuck-ups, and are those really fuck-ups? I’d say no. I’m fucking killing it, fam. Not to brag, but I’m really jazzed up about these numbers.
But– shall we see how I did in comparison to last year for each category??? Yes, we shall.
Did my 2020 Spending Align with My Values while I increased my Net Worth?
Now you all know I’m a huge believer in values-based budgeting. So do I practice what I preach?
Let’s look at the numbers.
When you eliminate taxes as one of my expenses, since I don’t really have an option on paying taxes or not, you can see pretty clearly where my values are.
My Top Expenses Are:
- Debt, because I value financial independence.
- Home, because I value having a comfortable place to live in a location that I love.
- Travel, because even in 2020 (lots of hopeful bookings that got cancelled and credited), I really value travel.
It’s SO nice to see my money going to the places that I value most, and it really makes me feel like I’m living an aligned life.
Does an Annual Budget Really Work? What I Spent in 2020 vs 2019
That’s pretty great! I spent $1.7k less on entertainment this year– well, kind of.
I had two new categories this year that kind of count as entertainment though– Special Occasions and Dating. For special occasions, which includes things like birthdays, holidays, gifts, weekend visits, treating my friends– I spent $1,910. For dating, I spent $1,242. So while I spent less on pure entertainment, I spent more overall in the entertainment sector if you count all this as entertainment.
Nothing exciting here– although I did kind of think that I spent more money on groceries this year because of the pandemic. Turns out I didn’t!
I spent a lot less money on Clo Bare this year, and what’s interesting is my stats kind of boomed. In 2019, I spent a lot of money on social media advertising, as well as some nice photos and what else? I’m not totally sure. I love that this year I spent half as much and made three times more.
I cut those fancy gym memberships out of my life! And I don’t honestly miss them. Now I do BeachBody online and split it with my sister. The rest of those costs come from vitamins, supplements, massages, etc.
Huge increase because I now live alone. Worth it.
Holy crap. That’s insane. I spent $2.1k less on transportation this year. That’s in part due to the pandemic– I wasn’t really going anywhere. But I also sold my car in 2019, so I didn’t have to pay insurance or gas this year, which was pretty nice. I hope to keep this number down because transportation isn’t something I’d place high on my values list.
Ok, what? That’s insane. I spent $3.4k LESS on personal expenses in 2020. In 2019, I used personal as a kind of “catch all” bucket that I would use for dating and special occasions as well as my personal expenses like beauty and clothes. You can see I spent some of that $3.4k on special occasions in 2020 as well as dating.
I spent $6k less on travel because of the pandemic, and also because this year I actually tracked my travel expenses! In 2019, I didn’t have a travel category– I just kind of went on a trip whenever I felt like it. After realizing last year that I spent $10k on travel alone, I knew I needed to keep a yearly budget of it to make sure I didn’t blow as much money on travel. My goal is to spend about $5k in travel, so hopefully I’ll be able to do that in 2021– using all my travel credits from cancelled travel in 2020!
Killing it on the debt game.
How I Feel after Year 2 of Budgeting and Increasing my Net Worth by $153k
Overall, I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job at this whole getting financially fit thing. It’s nice to know that I have my finances in order, and it’s also just a crap ton of peace of mind knowing that if an emergency arose, I’d be able to handle it. That’s not how things were two years ago. Two years ago my emergency plan only involved credit cards and getting another job as quickly as possible.
I know I still have a lot to learn. As of now, I know the basics of investing, but I want to learn more so that I can maximize my investments and optimize as much as possible.
What’s Next on this Budgeting Journey? Rental Properties
If you watched the video from my October Spending report or read the post, you’ll know that I have decided to stop paying down my debt and instead focus on investing.
I’m looking to buy my first rental property in 2021, and I’d like to house hack– meaning I plan to live out of one unit and rent the rest. Overall, I’m excited about this but also nervous because it’s new! And a lot of responsibility! But I can’t wait to buy my first building, learn how to do that, and then sharing with all of you!
It’s the next step for my financial independence journey, and I’m pretty stoked about that.
In terms of budgeting, I plan to save more in 2021 in order to have enough money for a down payment. I want to have at least $30k on hand in addition to my $10k emergency fund, so I’ve got a bit of work to do.
What's your Budgeting Plan for 2021?
That’s pretty much it! I’ve got my budget ready for 2021, and I’m excited to finally start doing a yearly budget that follows the calendar year instead of my weird fiscal year that I created.
What are your 2021 financial goals? Share in the comments below, and if you liked this pose– do me a solid and share with your networks!