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.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.
11 Replies to “Turns Out I Saved 73% of My Income Last Year”
I second that! “Good job 2015 Kara. You rocked it. High five.”
Oh, thank you so much! 🙂
Oh my gosh, wait, what??? You lived off of how much?? I know your grocery bill is low because of the catering job, but I’m super curious to know how much you pay in rent (and how I can find a place like that too, lol).
Seriously, amazing job. This is very inspiring. 🙂
Thanks! My rent is pretty cheap- COL in Austin is definitely rising each year, but is nowhere near east coast prices. I pay $625, including utilities. But that only applied to 6 months of last year- it was cheaper for the first 6 months. I live with 3 roommates though, and that’s not always great. I also pay the absolute lowest in car insurance, and only spend about $30 a month in gas. This year is looking like it’s going to be more expensive than last in a lot of ways, so there’s a good chance I won’t hit this number again.
Very impressive and inspiring! One thing I didn’t do was invest much because I was so focused on paying off my debt last year. This year I’m trying to split things up between saving and debt payments, then try to invest more after I finish paying for my wedding.
Paying off debt was absolutely my priority. I didn’t start investing until I finished off my loans. I’m lucky that I don’t have any major events coming up like a wedding, (congrats btw!) so I can channel my cash into investments. Were I in your position though, I think I’d do exactly the same thing!
Seeing what you lived on last year took my breath away. You deserve major high fives, every day, for the rest of the decade — at least! That’s so incredible. And yeah, that’s a majorly high savings rate to go with it! If I hear people say we can only save in that range because we make a higher income, I’m going to send them to this post. 🙂 But also, I’m super glad that you’re going easier on yourself this year. I hope you do end up earning more, but I also hope you’ll let yourself have more time to just relax, and maybe even some travel spending, too.
There’s just no way to maintain the pace of last year long term. And frankly it would be bad business to. I’d be chasing after pay that has a low ceiling. This year has got to be more relaxed. I’m going to Jackson hole in two weeks and Big Bend national park in April- vacations everywhere!
Wow that is an impressive number! Proof you can do anything when you put your mind to it.
Love the sentiment of ‘striving for happy’.
Thank you. Last year I was really focused on my financial goals. This year I’m more focused on my well being goals. ????????????
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