Personal Finance

Yearly Financial Review: 2016

2015 financial review here.

This post is of course, a little late. I’m posting my 2016 financial review primarily because in early January 2018, I’ll review my finances for 2017 and wanted a point of reference for the years prior. I believe reviewing your finances on a yearly basis is enough of a balance for most people to check that they’re going in the right direction and to implement changes in the year ahead. I did this at the start of 2017 but didn’t actually make a post for it, so it’s coming every so slightly late…now more for fun and interest than practicality!

The major expense in 2016 were taking an overseas vacation and starting my business. I saved an emergency fund from $7,218 to $9,862 and added $3,576.99 in funds to my retirement account. My net worth declined from $1,930 to negative $11,565, primarily as a result of starting my business. At Dec 2016, I held zero personal investments outside of my retirement account.

Regarding short-term debt (i.e. debts excluding student loans etc), 2016 ended with slightly over $2,400 in credit card debt. By contrast, I accrued $259 in bank account interest. Long term liabilities included my Student Loan ($31,539), Business Loan ($15,000) and other loans ($21,500).

Average costs of living in Australia for a single, under 35.

Whenever I look at the average cost of living statistics for single males under 35, I’m astounded by how inexpensive living in this capital city should be. According to popular websites, a large number of people manage on less than $25,000 AUD per year – but the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a 35 year old (or younger) living on their own spends an average of $42,640 per year. In terms of income, the median disposable income for under 35 year olds living alone is  $50,388. Australia is a wonderful country – but damn is it expensive at the moment. According to consumer surveys it is 20% more expensive than Vienna, 13% more expensive than Nagoya and 10% more expensive than Toronto.

Income & Expenses for 2016

Total income for the year: $42,515. A chart showing source of income is below (other income represents a side hustle editing manuscripts)

Total expenses for the year: $44,189 Net deficit: – $1,674. The chart below breaks down all expenses proportionately (plus it’s very pretty!).

Above: Doughnut chart of expenses for 2016. Mmmm, Doughnuts. Top 10 categories are listed in the Table below.

Top 10 expense categories (these made up 94% of expenses)

Housing Food & Groceries Travel & Vacation Auto Health & Insurance
-$11,070 -$9,639 -$5,241 -$4,751 -$4,466
25.1%  21.8%  11.9%  10.8%  10.1%
Clothing & Personal Care Entertainment Professional Development Utilities Gym & Fitness
-$2,431 -$1,396 -$1,052 -$1,032 -$807
5.5%  3.2%  2.4%  2.3%  1.8%

 

The category ‘Other’ includes Alcohol & Bars (not the sleazy ones! $768), Other ($628), Gifts ($527), Fees & Charges ($264), Investment Education ($52), Public Transport ($52),.

As the chart above shows, the top three categories by a country mile were Food (groceries and eating out), Housing (rent, utilities, furniture, kitchenware etc) and Vacation/Travel (flights, hotels, AirBnB, hire cars, public transports, meals, experiences, meals etc.)

Housing: This was mainly rent expense, house sharing with a woman who owned her own home. At the end of 2016 I moved to a studio apartment near the city so there is a bond and some furniture expense (sofa) in this amount too. Rent for 2017 will be way higher, but the improvement in living circumstance and proximity to work (2hr commute vs 30min walk or 7 minute bus ride), totally worth it.

Food & Groceries: A great way to save money is to reduce discretionary purchases. Of course, I’ve gotta eat, buy soaps, toothpastes, tin foil etc. but I reckon I can do better than I am. I spent $5,144 on groceries and $4,595(!) eating out. I had a goal of reducing eating out for 2016 to < $3,000  and totally didn’t get there.  Finding the average grocery expense in Australia is difficult, stats are available for Food spend, but not food plus all other grocery items…if you know where to find this info let me know in the comments below! I suspect I am above average in my grocery spend :/

Travel & Vacation: I took my first major overseas holiday ever in 2016. Previously I’d been to Singapore with my girlfriend at the time, but never elsewhere. Living on a gigantic island like Australia can be a little isolating from the rest of the world, so it was wonderful to travel to Austria and Hungary for a few weeks. In fact easily the best few weeks of my life so far. It was expensive ($5,241) but totally worth it.

Auto: In 2015, I predicted my non-recurring Auto expenses were around $4,148. In 2016 total Auto expenses were $4,751 including an interior repair that shouldn’t recur. Damn I love my car.

Health & Insurance: There were a couple one off expenses in this area, which almost certainly won’t recur! My insurance plan went up quite a lot but a benefit was that I received a fair amount back in terms of rebates.

The chart below shows my monthly expense for the year:

Month of greatest income:  December $6,121 ????

Month of least income: September $1,546

Most expensive month: December ($6,990) ????

Least expensive month: May ($2,253)

Cashflows

The Free Cashflow chart below shows super clearly where I took my hits for the year – my Vacation around June and business expenses which started in September and continued throughout to December. One of my goals for 2017 was to create more positive cashflows month in, month out! You can see also I spent more than I earned 5/12 months of the year and made only marginal gains in a further 4/12 months of 2016! Hopefully 2017 was a better year!

 

Summary

I spent slightly more and earned slightly less than the average Aussie under age 35 living alone…with a bit of fortune, a large chunk of those expenses will help me earn an income in 2017 and beyond. I also had some unreal experiences in 2016, traveling, blogging, finishing a Masters degree and starting my own business. I didn’t start investing outside of my retirement account but 2017 will be a more interesting year in that regard.

When I think about where I can cut down on my expenses without sacrificing quality of living (primarily, not living in a share house again) I can probably make some headway in food & grocery expenses, health & insurance and vacation and travel. I won’t be skimping on my health or insurance, but I changed to a less expensive insurance plan for 2017. In terms of travels, I still really want to be in Japan sometime in 2018 and think an overseas trip every two or three years is a real luxury. Aside from 3 weeks off in 2016, I still haven’t had a large chunk of time on vacation since starting my PhD & Masters degrees in 2012. So I can’t wait for 2018!

Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

10 thoughts on “Yearly Financial Review: 2016

  1. Better late then never 😉
    I can’t wait to read your 2017 report early next year to see the difference 2017 made for you.
    To answer one of your questions I’d guess I spend about $50/week on groceries – that’s everything from food, toiletries, and anything else you can buy at a supermarket. Total guess though and hopefully I’ll have some more solid data on this early next year.
    One question for you though “According to popular websites, a large number of people manage on less than $25,000 AUD per year” <– which popular websites? I need to meet these people. I think I do pretty well sitting around $31,000 per annum, but hey if I can easily knock 6k off that show me the way!

    1. Late for sure haha. I’m impressed you’re getting by on $50/week for all your groceries! That’s inspiring for me to trim the fat for sure. Even $100/week is excellent.
      The websites I found that number from were for people interested living in Australia, like people moving here from overseas to study etc. A few universities in my state list living expenses at around $25,000 p.a. – I don’t think it’s at all realistic unless you’re living off 2min noodles and in a share house of 5+ people! There is even a Government website that lists the minimum cost of living at around $28,000 (studyinaustralia.gov).

    1. I do -.-
      Most of it was fuel, then insurance and government rego fees. I’ve thought about downsizing to a VW Polo but I can’t see the savings – I’d have to spend $8-9k to save about about $1000/yr on fuel.

  2. This is pretty pretty pretty late but I enjoyed reading it and look forward to 2017. I agree with you that cutting back on eating out is key in making this whole thing work. I have the same propensity to hit up some restaurants with the fiancee and that can cut into the free cash flow for the month pretty quickly.

    I’m eager to see how the business is changing things in 2017 and want to congratulate you on the masters degree.

    I hope you get to Japan in 2018 and tell us about it because it’s a country I want to get to someday but haven’t yet.

    1. I commented earlier but had a few issues with my site so it got wiped…Glad you enjoyed reading the update Time and totally agree – super late! A stand out for me is your point about seeing income/expenses as producing a free cash flow – I suppose it’s similar to savings rate in the end. That’s such an important part of generating financial freedom!

      Thanks very much for your congratulations on the degree – awesome to have finished it. If I get to Japan in 2018 I’ll let you know what its like 🙂

      Best wishes for 2018!

  3. A very interesting read WF30. 2016 sounded like quite the transformational year, which should hopefully show in your 2017 update 🙂

    When I read your health insurance it did seem a bit expensive, so I’m glad you’re switching. We spent around $3k from HIF for hospital cover, which we thought was pretty good.

    You’re right about time off, it’s really important to have some. You can’t go back and get the time back to have a break.

    Looking forward to 2017’s update 🙂

    Mr DDU

    1. Transformational and a little expensive in some ways ha. Health expense was high but mainly with one of expenses in 2016. My insurance is much better this year – after the rebates it costs $280 p.a. It is relatively more expensive compared to more common plans up front though.

      Thanks for stopping my Mr D. and best wishes for 2018!

  4. Given your vacation was “easily the best few weeks of my life”, maybe try and focus on how you can have more of these types of weeks? All work and no play makes jack a dull boy and all that.

    One of the major realizations I had was that 4 weeks off work each year was not nearly enough.

    1. You’re surely right ETF bloke. Once work is up and running I’m planning to give myself 6-weeks of leave a year. Taking a real break from work does wonders for the soul. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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