FI/RE Progress – Metrics and Whatnot

Good Day!

I decided today that I needed to do some high-level analysis on my progress in terms of FI/RE related metrics.

Namely,

    • Increasing income
    • Reducing expenses
    • Increasing savings/investing

You see, I know I’ve increased savings since Oct 2018 when I started this journey. However, I wasn’t convinced the other 2 had actually moved much despite my efforts to try to improve. Unfortunately, my hunch was right.

Thanks to YNAB, I have been able to pull awesome reports indicating my progress month over month, year over year, in very specific detail. Here’s the lowdown.

Income

Since October 2018 to November 2020, family income has trended down slightly. This is due to my COVID layoff in April/May 2020.

Chart showing decline in income
See depressing red trend line

If I remove the month of May 2020 from the data, there is a very very small upward trend. Despite efforts to increase income through a few different side hustle/savings initiatives, the overall family income has not really increased.

Reducing Expenses

Considering the amount of thought and effort I’ve put into reducing the family’s expenses, there has been very little movement here overall. I most-definitely underestimated the cost of big things and the impact those have on spending metrics (such as cars, roofs, etc). I think it would be  worse had I done nothing to optimize of course, but it seems my optimizations don’t have a ton of effect overall.

Note: This includes mortgage principal payments and other debt repayments pre-2020. I’ve considered removing mortgage principal payments from my expenses since I’m gaining equity into my property, but I’m not really sure I want to do that. Something to ponder over the Christmas break.

Expenses displayed as a negative value for visual interest and technical accuracy:

Chart showing expenses staying the same
See flat red trend line for lack of expense improvement

I would say that my compromising on things when it comes to my family has had a significant effect on expenses. For example, we spent 16k on a car that both Hubs and I could agree on. We could have gone with a much less fancy vehicle but we made the leap to get a hybrid for long term savings on fuel, and therefore paid way more for it because the options were so limited in our area. And, taxes. We sure love our taxes here in Canada / my province in particular… My original plan was to buy a beater under 10k.

I am owning this, as I didn’t put my foot down on the budget for a new vehicle. I feel like the health of our relationship partly depends on me being flexible in terms of family spending. And I love our new car and the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly, so there’s that.

On the bright side we’ve had no lifestyle inflation. Yay us!

Savings

After paying off all debt except our mortgage in January of 2020, my savings rate increased significantly:

chart showing increase in savings rate
Trendline of awesome in green!

This chart shows my personal savings rate – not the savings rate of my family which I’ve been reporting in my monthly stats. I decided that it is better to report on my own savings rate separately to measure my path to FI/RE, since Hubs has a pension and I really cannot rely on that to fund my own retirement. in the New Year, I’ll be tracking this separately to ensure I continue to make improvements.

Summary

This was a hard post to write. I wish that I had better news for myself in terms of widening the gap. At least we’ve gotten rid of our non-mortgage debt which is a great first step towards FI/RE.

Over the holidays I want to think long and hard about how the heck I’m going to make improvements. If we are unable or unwilling to reduce expenses, then the only other option is to increase income to have more to save and invest.

I’ve decided this is not a post to solve my problems, but instead a post to lay them on the table for consideration. I don’t actually know what to do next, but I expect it will involve some discussion with Hubs to show him the data and obtain his feedback.

-T

4 Replies to “FI/RE Progress – Metrics and Whatnot”

  1. Nice metrics to pull out of YNAB. At least you’re further ahead than many, just by taking the time to have a look at all the numbers. From an outsiders point of view, I think you have taken a lot of great steps forward. Paying of the debt and increasing your personal savings are great accomplishments. Now that you’re trending in the right direction with savings, it just takes time. Don’t go crazy trying to over optimize yourself. The growth is slow at the beginning, but it speeds up as compounding has time to work. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Looking forward to the kitty in the tree calendar for next year. LOL

    1. The funny thing was, I thought I WAS optimizing expenses! But in the end, my expenses really haven’t changed much after a few large purchases. I’m interested to see how things go after a couple more years of data. Maybe I need to ask for a bigger raise…I like the kitty calendar idea! Totally going to do that, hahah.

  2. Hi T,
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are making progress! I feel the same way in so many aspects. I’m doing stuff, but it feels like it’s not enough. Putting the throttle down would uproot my wife immensely. This hits home for me – “I feel like the health of our relationship partly depends on me being flexible in terms of family spending.”
    I tried too hard to get her on board and it backfired. Now I try to frame spending as a value judgement. It’s OK to spend, if we are going to enjoy it, use it, make our lives better.

    1. Yep, accommodating family is a sacrifice to FI but worth it 😊. I’ve only been doing this for two years and it’s a really long game so I need to keep that at the forefront. We can do this!

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