January 2014: Annual Savings and Monthly Financial Update

January first marked a new month and a new year, so although this is a financial update on our month, it’s worthwhile to spend a few moment looking at the year in review as well. In the past year, we contributed $9,500 to our Roth IRA’s and paid off a $12,000 student loan. So, although I feel the weight of a six-figure student loan balance on my shoulders, it feels good knowing that we have not only gotten rid of an entire loan — and one monthly payment — but we have also inched another step closer to retirement. I also like to look back at the year in savings, which CVS and Stop and Shop make easy because they tally your annual savings on each of your receipts. I love seeing my annual savings, but this year I took it a step ahead and compared it to how much I spent at that store, and calculated my savings rate.

2013 Stop & Shop Savings Tally: 

My last 2013 receipt says that I saved $3,023.91 in 2013.

2013 Stop & Shop Savings

My 2013 Grocery Savings

Mint.com tells me that I spent $6,599 at Stop & Shop in 2013:

2013 Grocery Spending

2013 Grocery Spending


That is a 46% savings rate on our groceries in 2013. Not too shabby! Although, I do wish that we didn’t spend so much overall — that’s $549 per month for groceries.

2013 CVS Savings Tally: 

My last 2013 CVS receipt says that I saved $749.61 in 2013:

2013 CVS Savings

My 2013 CVS Savings

Mint.com tells me that I spent $536 at CVS in 2013:

2013 CVS Spending

That’s a 140% savings rate at CVS in 2013! Now do you see why I pay attention to my last receipt?! I love it! And this is just based on my CVS card, even though I use my mom’s sometimes when there is an excellent deal. But it’s hard to tell how much of her $356.24 savings is mine and how much is hers.

 Monthly Financial Update

Good news: Our net worth increased! We started December at -$110,000 net worth according to mint.com. In December, I imported Mr. Stapler’s 401(k) into our mint.com account, which accounts for a $10,000 bump to our net worth, but it didn’t actually change our financial picture — just the picture in Mint. So, we have a very slight increase in net worth since my inaugural financial post in November 2013. Phew! We got through what is typically the spendiest month of the year without needing to dip into the emergency savings account. If you caught my New Years Resolution post, you will know that I am no longer happy with status quo and am aiming to grow our net worth this year, in addition to a few other things.


January 2014 Net Worth

January 2014 Net Worth

Cash: + $1,871

  • IRA: $4,524. I would like to put this in our Vanguard index fund and am telling myself that I’m waiting for a good market downturn to pop it into the fund. But that downturn either hasn’t happened or I haven’t gotten around to transferring the funds. Which just proves the point of many value investors’ advice that timing the market doesn’t work. In the three months that I was waiting for the “right” time to sock that money into our index fund IRA, that IRA gained 8%. By waiting, I have already missed out on $380 in gains.
IRA Performance from October 2013 to January 2014

IRA Performance from October 2013 to January 2014

  • Savings for Taxes: $7,515. I completely failed at getting our estimated taxes paid before 2014. Hopefully it’s not too late to avoid some penalty. We are working with someone, but the ball is in my court to get him the information. He sent me a sheaf of forms, and I haven’t attempted opening them to answer all the questions yet. I’m usually someone who attacks this sort of thing, but for some reason 36 pages of financial questions scared me off.
  • Emergency Savings: $7,085. I moved our surplus into a separate savings account (I love how easy that is in a Capital One 360 account!). This will hopefully get it out of my frame of reference and make it more “hands off” so I consider income-generating or cost-cutting alternatives instead of just thinking it’s fine to dip into it when we “need” it. That worked really well this past month, because as I look at our $100 shortfall on the day our credit card bill is due, I think of ways to pay the card without dipping into the emergency savings.
  • Annual Savings: $948. We automatically transfer money into this account every month, to make sure that we have funds to pay annual bills like life and disability insurance premiums and our vacation rental.
  • Checking Account: $3,800. 

Credit Cards: Yes, I know we spend an absolutely ridiculous amount of money each month on our credit cards! The balance is paid each month, and we have been reaping some great cashback rewards on some of our cards. It also helps us track it in Mint.

Loans: – $799.  This is how far a month’s worth of $1,300 minimum payments goes.

Investments: + $11,547.

  • Roth IRAs: $53,407. Invested in Vanguard index funds.
  • Rollover IRA: $2,043. Invested in a Vanguard target date fund. I felt pressure to diversify. Even though I’m not retiring for 30 more years and am perfectly happy with 100% of our investments in an index fund, I felt like I would catch flack for have no diversification if I didn’t have some more conservative allocations. But I’m still not convinced.
  • 401(k): $9,758. These funds are invested in a socially responsible mutual fund because the options didn’t include our beloved Vanguard index fund. The fund isn’t performing well, but Mr. Stapler’s employer matches his contributions up to a certain amount, so we are participating in the 401(k) program simply for the match — it’s silly to say no to a 100% return. Whether the investment itself makes money is just an added bonus, in my mind.
  • College Savings: $749. After an initial, generous gift from a friend, we have just contributed $25 annually to this account. It doesn’t perform as well as our Vanguard accounts and we need to prioritize debt payoff and retirement before Little Stapler’s college education. Even if we really don’t want him to take out student loans, there isn’t enough money to go around right now.

Property: No changes here. Same cars, same rental townhouse. Although, we do own a new speaker dock for my ipod (thanks Mr. Stapler!) and an awesome box of LEGOs, plus some other sweet toys.

January Goals: 

  • Earn $100 by the time the credit card is due.
  • Contribute $500 to the emergency fund.
  • Get tax information to the accountant, to pay our estimated taxes if it’s not too late to avoid a penalty.
  • Transfer the cash Roth IRAs into our Vanguard Roth IRAs.
  • Apply for Mr. Stapler’s loan forgiveness grant. (Each year he works in public service, our school will pay a portion of his student loan payments, but we have to apply for the program every six months.)

I’m curious … are your retirement investments diversified? And, did you happen to catch how much you saved on groceries last year? 

8 thoughts on “January 2014: Annual Savings and Monthly Financial Update

    • Thanks! It seems like it would be such a waste to miss out on our 2013 contribution. I think we’ll move our emergency fund there by April 15th regardless if we have an extra cushion. That way, it will have to be a true emergency for us to dip into it.

  1. For the 401(k) fund, any chance you could put it in a generic S&P index fund? My work doesn’t offer Vanguard as an option but I am able to allocate funds which have very good expense ratios, similar to those of Vanguard ones.

    For our investment accounts, they’re not really diversified (Mostly vanguard total market), but we’re also flush in cash as we save up for a house down payment (not willing to put that in the market now). Even if the market tanked tomorrow, we’d still be doing fine with the 20% or so in cash!

    • Unfortunately, they don’t offer anything like an index fund 🙁 We’re in one of the lowest expense ratio funds they have and it has good Morningstar ratings, but it’s still not the Vanguard Total Market fund so it’s hard to be happy with it!

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