Considering January is almost over, I’m glad to finally check this off my list and finish off my year end reporting on our finances. It’s been long enough that I had completely forgotten that I’d already checked in on the end of my 2020 goals (though I still need to share – and finalize – my 2021 ones). December sure feels like a long time ago already, doesn’t it?

I think this last one was especially hard for me to wrap up because I’m just ready to move on from 2020 and not think about it for a while. If it wasn’t for the accountability of this blog – and the curiosity of knowing exactly where we landed for the full year – I probably would have just fudged the numbers and ballparked it. Now that I’m done with it though, I’m glad I did (similar to days I don’t feel like running, I suppose).

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Food and Drink

When the COVID numbers continued to spike and indoor dining closed to restaurants again (and the weather reduced outdoor dining options), I pledged to spend more money at our local restaurants. Well, we did exactly that.

Thanks to in car dining in Kirkland, the Eastside Doughnut Challenge in my restaurant support group, and generally eating more take out (and loads of visits to my favorite coffee shops), we ticked over $1,000 eating out in December, not to include some extra big tips for the holidays (that I included separately in the “giving” category). It feels weird to be proud of a high food expense number, but I am. We shopped locally for our groceries in a big way as well, which is why that number isn’t terribly small either.

Vacation Spending

Does a day trip out to Chimacum for my birthday count? We took the ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula on my birthday and spent the day going for a (new to us) hike and then had a fancy meal at Finn River (plus coffee on the way over, of course).

Really….it’s been too long since we’ve taken a “real” vacation. We took some days off in December, but we stuck around locally because, you know, COVID. If it wasn’t for Iceland way back in January (and a weekend to Whidbey Island in mid February), we would have spent very little on vacations in 2020. Maybe we’ll get to do more in the latter part of 2021? I’m not holding my breath yet.

Lots of local trail time instead


Doing more giving was a focus of mine in 2020, and we ended the year at an average of 5% a month. Just recently, I’ve realized I’ve perhaps undersold this to myself though because this doesn’t include the countless hours of volunteer time I’ve spent over the last year.

From my role on the Planning Commission, to time spent moderating the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group (and facilitating giveaways), to my Eastside Restaurant Support group (and giveaways there), I suppose I can’t count out the time and energy I pour out. Giving isn’t just about dollars, and I need to remind myself of that.

December 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)

Dec 2020Nov 2020Oct 2020Sep 2020Aug 2020Jul 2020Jun 2020May 2020Apr 2020Mar 2020Feb 2020Jan 2020Overall
Pet Care$101.76$29.59$73.95$315.03$102.02$904.85$102.37$233.53$186.28$221.55$310.88$169.30$2,751.11
Vacation Food$101.35$0.00$188.08$379.99$235.51$503.25$402.44$102.05$218.79$0.00$110.32$1,150.33$3,392.11
Savings Rate60%44%37%27%25%46%31%45%38%40%24%58%40%
Including Mortgage Principal64%51%44%34%32%50%37%50%44%45%31%61%45%
Giving %5%6%4%5%5%5%5%6%7%5%3%2%5%

Since this is the last update for the year, you can scroll over to the right in the table above to see the totals for the year in each category. We came in at a 45% savings rate (bolstered by another three paycheck month in December) for all of 2020.

I’m so glad that I worked through my frustration of not hitting a 50% savings rate in 2018 and 2019, even though we landed in the 40%+ range both years. With both of us working 80% time and purposefully spending more money on local businesses, we saved almost half our income in 2020. Wild.

Looking back at stressing about needing to use our emergency fund back in 2017 feels so far away now. A few years of being really mindful with our finances (and tracking every month) has really changed the game for us. That is all true, but we are also very fortunate to have stable jobs where we have stayed employed through this pandemic year. The K-Shaped recovery is a real thing, and I don’t want to ever forget that we are simply the lucky ones. We’ve made good choices, but we’ve also just been lucky.

Ps. We also refinanced our mortgage (we now have a 2.375% savings rate), so our monthly costs officially went down by ~$300/month, but as long as we’re in a good place financially, we will continue to pay our old rate + old overage.

As long as nothing changes for the worse with our finances, the refinance will shave three years off our mortgage (putting us at approximately 15.5 years left). It’s not a big priority for us to pay it off early with such a low interest rate, but I still want it gone eventually.

Personal Capital

It’s been more than two years since I initially downloaded Personal Capital and started actually tracking our net worth. While savings rate is still more important to me because it’s what we can actually control, there is something to be said for having a sense of your overall net worth (though also important to know NOT to look during market volatility if it would make you tempted to pull your money out).

I was unconvinced for a long time that I even needed to track our net worth, but I’m so glad that I finally set up an account where I could track it all. I especially appreciate being able to look at the graphs for individual area, like investment accounts and cash savings.

We have a bunch of separate accounts, so it’s really nice to see them all in one place. I’m also working on growing our overall cash savings, and Personal Capital aggregates them all across four different banks, which makes things a lot simpler.

If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth, I’d recommend Personal Capital for that purpose. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll also get a $20 Amazon gift card for doing so.

6 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: December 2020

  1. A 45% savings rate with a family of three, increased giving, and intentional local spending is incredibly impressive!!!

    We’re in such different life places that it’s hard for me to compare any of my budget lines to yours, but I really appreciate seeing what you spend so I can have at least SOME sense of what my financials will look like when I eventually get a pet, buy a house, start a family, etc.

    And now – farewell to 2020!!

    1. Yeah, childcare expenses were wayyyy down and our housing costs us less than a studio apartment these days because of when we bought + our latest refi. So it feels kinda like cheating 😜

  2. I think what i have begun to see the most with your posts is that you have learned to be kind with yourself and allowing the organic nature of life to take place. At the same time you still focus on the intentional restraint that brings you happiness securing your financial future. Keep up the great work

    1. Yes – that’s something I’ve worked on for the last couple of years and boy did it come in handy come 2020.

  3. Um, a donut challenge sounds exactly like my kind of challenge. Those look DELICIOUS!

    Feel you on the vacation thing. Normally, I go visit my best friend for a week in the summer and then we try to plan some kind of regional trip in the late-summer/early fall but obviously that did not happen this year. We did get to visit a couple new-to-us places in our province but it felt so weird to mostly just…stay home. But I guess it’s what needs to be done, right? I’m not completely optimistic that 2021 will see the return of travel/vacation, but I do feel like its on the horizon at least.

    1. The doughnut challenge was so fun. So was the salad challenge afterward 🙂

      And so much staying home these days…….

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