PoP 2015 Spending Summary – Now With Kitchen Pics!

Our solar panels were probably our best money spent of the whole year...

Our solar panels were probably our best money spent of the whole year…

On our last balance sheet update of 2015, I noted that we had a significantly lower increase in our net worth in 2015 than we saw in both 2013 and in 2014.  And while in some ways that’s disappointing (we had grown nicely accustomed to increasing our net worth by $200K/year the previous two years!), looking just at our net worth as a summary of this year feels far more inadequate this year than in other years.  More than other years, looking at where our money went this year feels more important than ever.

2015 Spending Goals:

  • $50,000 on everything but the remodel

  • $20,000 on our remodel

  • $70,000 total

We spent $50K on everything in 2014, but wanted to challenge ourselves and set a goal of $45K for 2015 “non remodel” spending.  However, when we found out early in January 2014 that we had the chance to install a solar system (with large rebates), we changed our goal for “non remodel” back to what we spent in 2014, $50,000, but included the solar expense in that goal total.  For us, $50,000 seems to be a sweet spot that allows us to live a life that requires us to be conscious of our spending, but doesn’t feel too limiting, either.

2015 Actual Spending

  •  $46,772 on everything but the remodel
  •  $23,927 on the remodel
  •  $70,699 total

Looking at the total, we’re within 1% of our goal.  (Eerily that we were within 1% of our goal last year, as well.)  On the whole, that’s pretty good.  But looking at the total obscures things a little bit.

We’re over on the remodel, which (as a very goal oriented person) I’m not thrilled about (Mr PoP couldn’t care less).  What makes it worse (again, to me – not Mr PoP!) is that we’re not yet done and still have probably $3K in kitchen expenses ahead of us.  (Really, though – I’m probably more annoyed that we’re not  yet done than I am that we went over our planned spend…)  But we’re inching ever closer to finishing this project (which is still the biggest we’ve ever attempted together), and Mr PoP has not let me “cheap out” even as we also expanded to scope of the project at several points.  At every step we’ve considered our options, and generally ended up paying more for higher end materials than the bare minimum that would have been necessary.  The goal is that these higher end materials (like 12 gauge wire for all of our electric to replace the 14 gauge wire, opting for commercial grade tile, LED lights with an estimated lifespan of 25+ years, etc) will last longer.  Time will tell, but the goal is that this spending overage will be worth it in the long run.

On the other hand, we’re under on the “everything but” category.  Significantly under, actually.  And that’s all the more impressive for us when you consider that this number also includes the $5,869 in expenses we booked (the non-reimbursable portion) from having our whole-house solar system installed earlier this year.  So backing that out, our spending on everything that wasn’t “capital improvements” on our house was actually only $40,903, a number we consider a solid win.

Where Did The Money Go?

  • Mortgage: $13,874 – of which $6,533 is principal reduction
  • Home Maintenance and Repairs: $1,568
  • Kitchen Renovation: $23,927 – oof!
  • Bills for Primary Residence: $2,395
  • Total Home: $47,663  (a whopping 67.4% of the total!)
  • Groceries: $4,964
  • Eating Out: $3,175
  • Total Food: $8,139 (11.5% of total and higher than we really wanted, but within reason considering what our kitchen looked like for much of the year) 
  • Gas: $2,147 – much less than prior years, due in part to lower gas prices, and also in part to less mileage on the car
  • Auto Repairs: $2,222 – just under what we were projecting as our car ages and is now 10 years old with almost 120K miles on it.
  • Auto Insurance: $614
  • Car/Drivers License Fees: $58
  • Total Transportation: $5,041 (7.1% of total)
  • General Shopping: $3,604 – we still managed to buy a lot of “stuff” this year, including SCUBA gear and and iPhone for Mr PoP
  • Pet Care: $464 – an expensive year for Kitty PoP, mostly because he destroyed so many screens around Thanksgiving
  • Total Shopping: $4,068 (5.8% of total)
  • Deductible Medical Expenses: $1,635 – more than half of this is Mr PoP’s fancy new glasses.  Luckily he still LOVES them six months in (2% of total)
  • Gym/Fitness: $1,078 – covers our gym membership, my yoga classes, and race entries for a handful of road races for me
  • Media Subscription: $96 – Hulu
  • Media Non-Subscription: $137 – the occasional movie out, mini golf, and one-off purchases of media
  • Total Entertainment: $1,482 (3% of total)
  • Travel: $2,172 – lower than past years, but I felt like I couldn’t really enjoy travel with the kitchen hanging over my head (Mr PoP didn’t experience that at all and felt like he had a great year, travel-wise)
  • 501c3 Charity: $200 – lower than in previous years, but that wasn’t intentional
  • Tax Prep: $500
  • Total Miscellaneous: $2,872 (4.1% of total)
  • Total Personal Spending: $70,699

Looking and seeing that 67% of our total spending this year went into our house feels about right.  That’s probably close to the percentage of our weekend-time that we were able to devote to fixing up the house.  =)  And hopefully everything that we’ve put in to place should last for at least 30 years, if not more.

Looking Forward To 2016

Hopefully the kitchen will only cost us another $3K or so, not too much more.  We still need to:

  • buy doors (and pulls) and finish painting materials for all the cabinetry,
  • build, finish, and install the butcher block counter top,
  • buy and install a sink, faucet, and garbage disposal,
  • buy and install baseboards in the kitchen and living room,
  • and buy and tile the back splash.

Looking at that list, it’s kindof funny since for many people that would be a full kitchen remodel right there.  So in one sense, I know we still have a lot of work left ahead of us.  But on the other hand, I can’t help but look at how much we accomplished in 2015 and know that we are DEFINITELY on the downhill slope to completing this giant project!

For some perspective on just how far we’ve come so far with this remodel, here are a bunch of pictures mostly taken from the same vantage point.  They show where we started, “the vision” using my mad-MS paint skillz, and some steps along the way to where we are today.

image1 (1)

And technically, we have more cabinetry basically ready to install, but we need to finish up some grouting underneath those cabinets before they go in and sadly we haven’t been able to get it together to get the grouting done quite yet.

If 2015 was the Year of the Kitchen in the PoP household, the hope is that 2016 will be the Year of Sunny.  Remember that 40+ year old Mercedes Benz that we bought back in summer 2014? You may have forgotten, but given that it’s been sitting on our back patio all this time and we literally wake up to the sight of it through our bedroom sliding doors every morning, we certainly haven’t forgotten.  =)

She’s an absolute rust bucket, but we’re hoping that once the kitchen is finished (we do NOT want to overlap these projects), work will commence on Sunny.  The thing is, though, spending on Sunny will NOT fall into any category remotely close to an investment or be considered CapEx in the least.  We may as well be burning dollar bills when we drop money into her restoration since the value when done will probably not approach what we’ve spent on her.  So, to keep that in mind, Mr PoP has requested that we set aside $1,500/month in 2016 into a special Sunny sub-account that we’ll spend from for her restoration.  (That’s $18K for those keeping track!  Holy cow!)

Other “major” expenses that we see upcoming are small compared to those two items.  But are anticipating:

  • Another high-ish year of spending on our one car for major maintenance items since she’s approaching 120K miles
  • Spending ~$1K on getting “The Tree” pruned again since this summer it’ll have been 4 years since its last pruning.
  • High-ish spending on home maintenance if we end up finishing replacing the tile through the rest of the house.  Though we’ve already bought the tile and grout for the whole house, the remaining supplies and tool rental for removal of the old stuff will add up to a non-trivial cost to finish the DIY-installation.

We’re also going to go ahead and up the grocery budget since staying within it has been a miserable failure this year and we plan on having lots of people over for dinner once the kitchen is done.  So $400/month on groceries is the new goal instead of $350.

Other than those items, though… if we can keep “everything but Sunny and the remaining kitchen” to $45K in 2016, we’ll consider it a huge win.  Fingers crossed!

How was your 2015 spending?  Do you have any major spending plans for 2016?

18 comments to PoP 2015 Spending Summary – Now With Kitchen Pics!

  • We spent around $23K on our house this year and didn’t even touch our bathrooms. We finished the kitchen, the floors, window treatments, and most of the walls though (along with buying a few home organization furniture items).

    We want to do our bathrooms, but don’t intend to address them until late in 2016 at the earliest.

    • Sounds like you did a great job making your spending on your house go a long way in 2015! Our bathrooms are on the list of things to address as well (shockingly, builder grade 1980’s bathrooms haven’t gotten better with time…), but it’ll probably be at least 2 or 3 years until we get there. We will really need to forget how painful this reno has been before starting on those. =P

  • I love love before and after remodeling pics! Nice job making the kitchen so much bigger and roomier.

    I donno how much I spent in 2015. Gotta do some calculations!

    Deck off master bedroom is next for me.

    Sam @ Financial Samurai recently posted..Why You Need To Start Your Own Website TodayMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for the kind words on the kitchen. Looking back through those pictures, I just kept thinking about how it really was such a little cave compared to where we have it today. It’s kindof amazing how big you can make 1,100 sqft feel when you put your mind to it!
      Your deck plans sound great. I love having lots of outdoor living space.

  • You could just call it a day on the kitchen. Cabinets don’t need doors anyway!

    We spent about $35k excluding all debt payments, but including home improvements. Next year I want to get that down to $30k since we don’t have any big trips planned, our car insurance will be cheaper, and we aren’t planning any big home improvements.
    Norm recently posted..How Far Did You Commute? Our 2015 Commuting Methods By MileMy Profile

    • Call it a day? Nope. No way, no how. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, just the wrong time to throw in the towel!

      $35K in spending is great! What debt payments do you exclude and what’s the reasoning behind excluding them when you think about your spending?

  • I have no idea how much we spent, but considering that rent is 4K/month this year…
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Dear “broke” person on the internet,My Profile

    • Ooof. $48K in rent?!? Hopefully you’re not also taking a bath on paying your mortgage on your home without renters at the same time. When you move back to your home state, I’d be curious to see how much your sabbatical cost and whether you’d do it again knowing the exact cost.

  • We have renters covering our mortgage almost. And we would do it again in a heartbeat. We still have 65k left in our slush fund (down from 84k).

    As to how much it cost, in addition to operating expenses, I’m losing about 60k in salary, give or take. We’re making about what we made when DH was still in academia. But this is why we have savings.
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Dear “broke” person on the internet,My Profile

  • Love the progress! I can’t wait to see it all when everything is done. I’m enjoying living vicariously through you.

    Think of how luxurious you’ll feel when everything is updated and nice.
    Leah recently posted..ThankfulMy Profile

  • I know that we spent about $65K during the last 10 months of the year (good figures not available before that), of which about $16K was our mortgage and roughly $10K was daycare.

    Where did the rest of it go? Uhhh… not really sure. We wrote down every expense but didn’t categorize well enough IMO (there have been some, ah, discussions on the subject at casa FP). And since we were using separate spreadsheet pages for each month, I would have to go through and total up such information as we do have if I wanted to know, for instance, how much we AVERAGED on groceries (one of our few categories) and not just how much we spent in one particular month.

    I didn’t like the categories on Personal Capital and Mint doesn’t talk to my credit union well at all, so I am trying out YNAB this month. See, the problem with spending $65K… is that that’s all the money we brought home in those months. Zero net worth gain this year. Not acceptable!
    Frugal Paragon recently posted..How I Used A Hacksaw To Clean My DishwasherMy Profile

    • Good luck with YNAB! I know a lot of people love it, but the manual entry that many people consider its strong suit definitely wouldn’t work for us. Mr PoP is horrible with receipts and will completely forget that he has spent money so we need something that automatically captures everything. =)

      You do know with mint you can add and delete categories, right? We’ve added a couple custom categories and don’t use a good chunk of the preset ones since that level of detail doesn’t matter to us. (Books or Clothing or Personal Care? Who cares – for us it’s all shopping!)
      Mrs PoP recently posted..PoP 2015 Spending Summary – Now With Kitchen Pics!My Profile

  • What great progress on the kitchen – such an inspired and wise decision. Thanks for posting all the details of your financial year. It’s great to see where people spend/save. We bought a new house so our big 2016 spends will all be house related too. We have already started on updated flooring and painting but it’s amazing how many little things there are to do!
    Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada recently posted..Why Using a Credit Card Can Be a Good ThingMy Profile

  • Wow, that’s quite the kitchen remodel! The results so far look so much nicer.
    Kudy recently posted..Sunday Journal: Sobriety EditionMy Profile

  • Love the progression pics! The kitchen looks so much better!!! I can’t wait to see it all completely done but this alone is awesome. Congrats on all your progress!