Turns Out I Saved 73% of My Income Last Year

It’s been in the 80’s for the past week here in Austin. It feels like spring has sprung, even if the calendar still says February.

While it’s not quite spring, it is tax season! I’ve finally got all my W2’s in hand, and so I calculated exactly how much I earned last year. I earned $32,242 before taxes. $15,442 of that was taxed throughout the year (coaching and catering) and $16,800 was NOT taxed (nonprofit work). It was officially my highest earning year ever!

2015 was also the year I became debt free. I paid off $13,000 in student loans and then started saving like crazy. My number crunching has led me to an exact statistic: I saved over 73% of my income last year. 

Where did that 73% go?

Like I said, I paid off $13,000 in student loans last year. I added $2,000 to my emergency fund. I saved $3,000 for the taxes I will owe come April, and I put $5,500 into my IRA.  That’s $23,500 between savings and debt payoff.

That leaves me with $8,742 in earnings. I also got about $2,133 between my free efile tax return, birthday, and Christmas presents. That means….wait for it…I lived off of $10,875 last year!

With that $10,475 I paid rent, utilities, internet, food, unexpected expenses, car insurance and registration, travel and random things, like clothes and drinks out.


Looking Back at My 2015 Schedule

I worked a total of seven jobs last year. I worked a lot of seven day weeks, and spread myself really thin. I knew I was doing the things that would bring me to where I wanted to be, but it was really hard work. I didn’t spend as much with friends as I wanted to. I didn’t go on several trips I wanted to. I bought practically nothing, including food.

Would I say I loved every second of 2015? No, but in hindsight I totally CRUSHED last year!

It was a lot of sacrificing the now for the future. Well, the future is now baby, and I am so thankful for everything I did last year. I’m in a totally different place than I was a year ago. Not to mention two years ago. Hard work does get you what you want.

A 73% savings rate is Frugalwoods level. It’s Mr. Money Mustache level. It’s pretty darn high. And I’m pretty darn proud of myself.

The big question is, will I hit that savings rate again this year? I’m on track to make a little bit more money than I did last year, which is nice. I’ll probably bring home $35,000 before taxes, and more if I continue to cater my butt off.

I know I need to find balance this year. I can’t keep throwing all my time and energy after just money. I need to be building a career that will hopefully pay all my bills. I need to spend more time with the people I love and less time at work. I need to make room for happy, healthy spending in my life.

So while I have big plans for saving money this year, I am also declaring here and now, that I am not going to compete with my 2015 savings rate. Hitting a 73% savings rate is awesome. It’s not something I am aiming for this year.

I’m a frugal and smart person- my savings rate isn’t going to plummet in the name of balance. I want to keep building a financial safety net for myself. I am working towards FIRE. These things are important to me, and so my savings will remain a priority.

I’m just not going to try and specifically meet or beat my 2015 rate. I don’t need to. I’m saying “Good job 2015 Kara. You rocked it. High five.”

I’m also saying ‘Hey, 2016 Kara. It’s ok to chill this weekend and not cater. It’s ok to rent that hotel room with your friends for another friends wedding. These things make you happy, and happy is important.”

Happy is important y’all. If I stumble into a 73% savings rate this year, awesome. But I’m not striving for it. I’m striving for happy.

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