Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 Look Ahead Part 1:

Well 2015 is just around the corner and I have been thinking a lot about my goals and what I want to accomplish next year so I thought I put some of those thoughts in writing. After the new year I'll probably have a post wrapping up 2014 and a separate post on my final goals for 2015. This post is just an early look at what I am thinking budget-wise for 2015.

My net income from my day job for 2014 will probably end up at about $63,000. My only other sources of income are interest on bank accounts (trivial) and dividend (which are automatically reinvested through my FRIP) so I generally don't include them in my income. For now I will assume that I will make the same amount next year, which is probably conservative for a couple of reasons: 1) I will get a raise in March 2015, 2) I got a raise in March of 2014 so I will be starting off at a higher wage this year, 3) work is going to be very busy and I will likely need to find a way to do weekly overtime.

The following are my budget items for 2014 with my projected performance for the year and how I think it might change next year.

Phone: Little Over 
I am on a contract so for the time being so this will remain unchanged. I think during the summer I can revisit and try to find a cheaper plan.

Groceries: Under
Through November I have averaged a little less than my budgeted amount so maybe there is some more room to reduce this next year.

Car: Over
My car loan payment and insurance are set values but unfortunately I did not include maintenance in my 2014 budget causing me to overrun. Next year I will need to factor in maintenance and I also may switch this category to generic "transportation" and include my vanpool dues and gas budgets all into one just to simplify.

Movies: Under
In 2014 I had this line item to account for Netflix and occasional DVDs purchases or visits to the movie theater, but I no longer subscribe to Netflix so I think I will just roll this over into the "other" category.

Dinner/Drinks: Over
I overran this budget a lot early in 2014 but cooled down this fall. I think I will need to be strict about this one. My girlfriend loves to go out and complains when I don't take her. I have no problem going out to eat but I think we need to be more selective about where/when we dine and especially avoid $15 glasses of wine. One change that will help greatly for 2015 is that I will start including dining while on vacation as part of my vacation budget. Its a lot harder for me to stay on my regular monthly budget when on vacation but with a separate vacation budget I can plan for that separately.

Other: Way Over
This is my most vague and most overrun category. I am not sure how to clean this up, I don't really want to break it up into multiple lines but I may think about breaking out regular payments like the gym. I will probably need to up this budget for next year.

Health: Under
This budget is for copays and deductibles but I didn't use it at all in 2014, who knows what will happen in 2015.

Clothes: Met
I expect this will be the same next year.

Student Loan: Under
This budget will see a significant ($200) drop for 2015 because this year I paid off one of my student loans bringing my monthly student loan payments to $85.

Gas: Under
I was under on this item for 2014 due to my use of the vanpool, I will probably roll this up into the transportation category.

Travel:  Little Over
This is going to be a big budget for 2015 because my girlfriend and I want to go to New Zealand! I'll need to evaluate how much that trip will cost and factor in any other possible vacations.

Cash: Over
I may need to boost this budget for 2015. Its a vague category as the money I withdraw usually ends up going towards drinks, lunches, or "other".

Rent: Over
This will go down from 2014 due to moving to a slightly cheaper place. I will also need to change how I account for this, right now I pay the whole rent and my girlfriend pays me back but sometimes the distinction between rent and utilities gets muddled. I may make one rent/utilities budget.

Utilities: Way Over
I significantly under-predicted the utilities for 2014, and accounting has gotten confusing after my girlfriend and I moved in together. I think I might join this budget with the rent budget.

Vanpool: Under
I will probably roll this up into one transportation budget.

Well I definitely have some work to do, both in the sense of maintaining my budgets better throughout the year and cleaning up how I account for various expenses. One particular aspect I need to improve is my awareness of where I stand with my budget as the month progresses. Right now I usually end up looking at my monthly expenses after the month is over, this makes it hard to adjust you expenses throughout the month. I personally do not like any budgeting apps I have tried but I can certainly see the advantage of being able to keep up with your budget on the go. Perhaps I can find a way to keep track on my phone.



  1. Have you ever thought about buying dividend stocks? A lot of other financial bloggers seem to advocate that - the dividends are a nice stream of income

    1. I do actually invest in dividend stocks, about half of my portfolio is in dividend stocks with the other half is my 401k. My dividend investing was very minimal in 2014 because I was focusing my attention on paying down my student loans but I hope to get back to dividend investing in 2015.