2009 was an incredible year for be in terms of income. Since graduating college in 2005, I had at most made $30k per year, with months of the year usually dedicated to unemployment sans unemployment checks and freelancing to fill in the gaps. As much as 2009 was not a perfect year, my income this year hit approx. $70k before tax. So I made more than double what I’ve ever made before. That’s the good news.
My spending also increased in 2009. I spent $35k this last year, according to Mint. This included unnecessary splurges which I likely rewarded myself due to my promotion. Next year, I’m going to create a budget and stick to it, as my goal is to save 30% of my after-tax income, about $15,000 assuming my income remains the same (which odds are it won’t). I’d really like to save $20,000 next year, but to do that I’d really have to force myself to be frugal. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I’ve never done before. I might try, especially with Mint’s budget tool and my new iPhone helping me keep my finances in check each month.
To save $20,000 in 2009, I’d have to save $1,667 each month. Assuming my take-home pre-tax pay is $66,000 (which I like to pretend is $33,000 after taxes) I have $2,750 a month to spend. That leaves me with just $1,083 a month of spending money if I really want to save $1,667 per month. Again, this is certainly possible. I’m really inspired by blogs like Under $1000 a Month because if a family of 4 can live off less than $1,000 a month (!!!) then so can I. Right?
Well, I’m not sure I can. My mental health therapy is expensive, as are the meds I will likely be on in 2010. That’s my biggest cost that I’m not willing to give up. I’ve already cut back on voice lessons, though I’m taking a dance class which is $60 / month. And my car may become a wreck in 2010 (with 170k miles on it, I don’t know how much longer it will last) which could mess up the whole savings thing.
I figure I have $800 in set costs (rent, bills, gym, car insurance) and then anything else on top of that which is vital… food, gas, new tires, etc. All-in-all it doesn’t seem like I can live on less than $1,000 a month. Well, I could, but that would mean NO therapy and no dance lessons (and definitely no laser hair removal package, which I’m almost sure I am going to purchase in early 2010 for $300 / month over 12 months.)
My goal for 2010, though, is to seek out ways to live frugally, besides my set expenses, so I can save a lot. Maybe not $20,000, but it’s not so bad to make that my goal. I’ll aim to save $1,667 a month and budget for this as possible. If I can increase my annual income with additional freelance work, all the better. I count my interest in as well, so if my stocks happen to perform well and my P2P accounts happen to stop defaulting, I might hit this goal. Who knows. I do want to focus on keeping my budget in check. If I can save AT LEAST $1,200 a month in 2012, my networth will hit $50k, which is really my main goal for 2010. I read somewhere that at 30 your savings should be at the amount you want to live on for one year of retirement. I’d like $80k a year in retirement, so I want to hit $80k in savings by 30. Which is going to get totally messed up by my potentially going to grad school… but it won’t exactly help matters if I’m out of a job either.
Anyway, here’s to 2010 being prosperous and smart for me and for everyone out there reading this little blog of mine. 🙂