Income & Net Worth Update: January 2016


Well! Interesting start to the year, net-worth-wise. I spent more than usual this month, and the markets were, um, exciting. At the very last second, however, a rebound day in stocks, combined with a higher than usual freelance income, did keep me from having my very first net worth decline, so that’s something.




Income Sources

$2557.43: Full-time job (net, after taxes, 403(b) contribution & insurance premiums)

$25.00: Swagbucks

$25.60: Interest (this will be the last month this number is so high, because I had a promo)

$120.00: Freelance writing. During this first month of my freelance writing career, I took on a few small gigs for practice. My hope is to increase the $$-per-article quickly.

$51.43: Cash back from credit cards (Unusually high because of a reimbursed hotel trip and also because I’d been saving up points for a while to meet a redemption threshold on one card)

Total net income: $2836.43

I am sooooooooo close to my first ever Adsense payout — next month, I think/hope? I’ll also have income from Ebates in February. Anyway — how did I save/spend this income this month? To the numbers!

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.35.29 PM


  1. Personal/medical was huge this month, mostly due to my efforts at unfrumping (thanks, Amanda). I stocked up on supplies at the drugstore, bought teeth-whitening strips, got a haircut, went to the dentist, and spent $145 on yoga & barre classes for the semester.
  2. Gremlins were also on the big side. I paid for my passport renewal (won’t have to worry about it again for 10 years) and sent money, as I occasionally do, to a ‘zine I subscribe to (remember zines? Well this one is still going strong. It charges at cost for paper and postage and I send them $$ when my account gets low.)
  3. Slush: pretty normal. I bought a couple of movie tickets and a yoga mat, went out to dinner once, and went to see a play.
  4. Clothing: I bought a pair of wool-lined clogs to wear at the office after I take off my wet, snowy, icy, muddy boots in the morning. They are fabulous. #noregrets.
  5. Travel: This was the unreimbursed portion of my travel costs earlier in the month.
  6. I added two new sinking funds: one for buying summer produce ($50/month) and one for freelance taxes (20% of whatever I earn each month.) [ETA: I forgot to add the freelance taxes fund to the spreadsheet, will do that next month.] I am currently enjoying the heck out of my summer fruit purchases from last year and glad to be planning ahead for the picking and preservation season.
  7. Gifts: this was actually all charitable donations to local causes I support here in town.


(I am flat-out stealing this idea from Kate at Goodnight Debt — I really like the idea of checking back into my recent past to see where I was exactly one year ago.)

January 2015 — It was my first debt-free month! I was also embarking on the save-50% project, so I’d set up a very tight budget focused on saving as much as possible. It went pretty well that month, although I did take money out of my travel savings account to buy plane tickets for spring break.

January 2014 — Let’s see what I can remember, because this is from before blogging. I went on a really awful job interview, I know, and was starting to worry about what I was going to do after my contract ended in June 2014. Looking back at my payment screenshots, I still had about $11000 in student loan debt left, even after I made a payment that month of about $2000. Of course, I had no retirement savings, even though I turned 35 that month.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.35.45 PM

Notable here: I decided to do the 52-week savings challenge as a way of slowly re-filling some of my cash EF. I can’t get too worked up about it since I have a whole stack of cash in my down payments fund that obviously could be used in an emergency. Meanwhile, I moved most of my taxable brokerage fund, and a couple thousand in cash, into my Roth IRA during the market drop, nearly maxing it out for 2015, which I’m pleased by; it turns out I was more anxious about how empty it was than I knew. Plus, I got it over $10000 so I got to roll it into the cheaper version of the Vanguard index fund I use.

Overall, January 2016 was a good month; spending higher than normal but offset by extra income, and none of the spending was on random and unnecessary stuff. I didn’t make it over $35K, obviously, but that wasn’t my fault and I’m not concerned about the markets much since all this money is for decades from now. Thanks to the uptick on the last day, plus the freelance work I did, I squeaked out a net worth increase of $127.12, for an overall net worth of $34407.23. But more pleasing to me is my 53% savings rate for the month. Tough to argue.

Fingers crossed for a decent February; I’ve had car issues two years in a row due to winter problems, so that’s my main concern right now.

21 thoughts on “Income & Net Worth Update: January 2016

  1. Yay barre classes. I went to one the other night and now I’m almost too sore to walk.

    I like Kate’s flashback thing too. Seeing progress is always motivating. 🙂

    What type of interest is the $25.60 from?

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I suspect my barre class is not as hardcore as yours since I’m sore, but not that sore! The interest — $5.60 of it is just from my Cap One 360 savings accounts. Until I canceled it a couple of weeks ago, though, I also had a separate checking account with Santander that I got with a special promotion where you got $20 each month if you used direct deposit and bill pay. That was a great deal, $240 a year, but it was stressing me out because of all the time it took to move money between that account and my primary account. I decided I didn’t want to totally switch to Santander so I just canceled it and let the $20/month interest go.

  2. Linda says:

    The flashback is a great idea. I’m just starting out in so many areas of debt repayment, emergency savings and retirement savings. It’s difficult to view my small gains as bigger positives than I currently perceive them to be.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, month by month it can be very undramatic so it’s a great idea to look back a year or two or five to see how far you’ve really come. Good luck with your journey! I feel like I’m just starting out too, sigh, but it’s good to see progress.

  3. I love the “unfrumping” project! I think stuff like that, although kind of costly, can give you that extra pep in your step to keep going the rest of the year!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s such a great term 🙂 And yes, I felt like it was important to start the year off on a good note.

  4. Leigh says:

    The flashbacks are SO motivational! I love watching your progress and your low spending. Although I was pretty frugal this month, compared to normal. Yay for grad school eating up so much time I can’t spend money…

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I love watching myself progress but also others progress! And yes, it’s kind of nice to be so busy you can’t be tempted to spend 🙂

  5. THIEF! Just kidding 🙂 Flashbacks are one of my favorite parts of my monthly updates.

    Congrats on your promotion to admiral shares! and Way to stay positive! (see what I did there). It helps when higher spend months align with higher income months. In both my 3-check months last year, I had big expenses come through. I found it frustrating that I couldn’t get ahead, but so thankful that I didn’t fall behind!

    Request: Can you make your charts bigger? You know how much i love numbers and I can barely read the numbers!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      LOL. Thanks for not having me arrested 🙂 Re charts, answered this on twitter but for anyone else who is reading: I don’t know what is going on with my charts this month! They are usually bigger, and also capable of being enlarged if you click on them. I’ll look into it before the next update.

  6. Hannah says:

    Oh flashbacks are fun! I won’t be that good at financial flashbacks, but I feel like I could remember quite a few life events!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hah, with a toddler I bet you could do some great flashbacks to a year and two years ago!

  7. “Unfrumping”…I love it! And could probably stand to do some of that myself. I have been wondering how I could get more wool onto my body this winter. Wool-lined shoes sound great! Congrats on your savings rate, freelance work, and net worth increase this month.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! And the shoes are great. They’re clog/slippers I got from LL Bean.

  8. Congrats on a great income month! My fingers are crossed for your AdSense payout, and also that your car hangs in there this winter. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! My adsense is currently at like $97, so I just need to make $3 this month…should be doable 🙂

  9. I have a bunch of money pending at Ebates. Not that I’m not grateful for referral bonuses, but it’s annoying that we have to have $5.01 of actual rebates. Other sites I’ve seen don’t have that, I think. I know Mr. Rebates doesn’t. Wouldn’t be such a big deal, but Ebates rarely has the best rates. Eh, I’ll just keep looking. Every so often the site surprises me with the best percentage.

    I’m glad you got shoes you like. Regret over shoes is no way to live! Seems like you had a pretty good handle on finances, which is all we can ever really hope for.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I use ebates for buying contact lenses, among other things, so I rarely have that issue. What’s your favorite site for rebates if you don’t think Ebates typically has the best rates?

  10. As your income continues to rise (and I’m willing to bet it will), you’ll be one of those people who manages to save a greater and greater percentage of it. It won’t all go towards lifestyle inflation (though I got a chuckle out of the “unfrumping” – nothing wrong with that : )

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I hope so! And the unfrumping has been the right call — not even really that expensive.

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