2015 Year In Review – Spending


2015 was the first time Mrs. Groovy and I ever tracked our spending for an entire year. And we engaged in this somewhat laborious task because we plan to retire in October and we need the answer to one fundamental question: Have our savings surpassed the Mustachian Threshold? Do we have at least twenty-five times our annual spending?

Now before I divulge our 2015 spending, I need to introduce a disclaimer. We only tracked the spending done with our net pay. We didn’t track the money withheld from our paychecks for retirement, taxes, Social Security, and Medicare. And we decided to exclude this spending from our tracking for one simple reason: Roughly 98 percent of the spending associated with these payroll deductions will be gone in retirement. In other words, this spending has no bearing on whether our plan to retire is mathematically sound.

So, here, without further adieu is our 2015 spending.


And here’s the breakdown of that spending by category and subcategory.

Twenty-five times our annual expenses (25 x 32,385) comes to $809,628. And I’m happy to report that our savings have surpassed the Mustachian Threshold—by a comfortable margin. Prior to 2015, we were fairly confident we were on track for FIRE, but we weren’t sure. Now that we have concrete spending numbers, we’re more confident than ever about our retirement plans.

Final Thoughts

A side benefit of tracking your spending is that it allows you to see if your spending reflects your values. Mrs. Groovy and I really value financial independence, travel, spending time with family and friends, and being kind to our fellow Americans. Did our 2015 spending reflect these values?

To find out, I threw our payroll deductions back into our spending mix and ranked the top 10 spending categories. Here are the results.

  1. Financial Independence (contributions to 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRAs, HSA, and brokerage account): $65,850
  2. Income/Payroll Taxes: 18,744.93
  3. Food: $3,719.98
  4. Travel: $3,592.35
  5. Gifts/Charity: $2,970.91
  6. Property Taxes: $2,177.28
  7. Dental: $2,128.50
  8. Car: $2,125.94
  9. HOA: $1,800.00
  10. Electricity: $1,428.00

If you exclude non-discretionary taxes and food (hey, a man’s gotta eat), our top three spending categories are financial independence, travel, and gifts. Awesome. These are things we highly value and it is reassuring to see that our spending in 2015 reflected that.

The one area that needs improvement, however, is in spending time with family and friends. For dining out and entertainment—a crude measure for spending time with family and friends—we spent a combined $851 in 2015. Not good. We can afford to up our game here and do more socializing. More happy hours, movies, barbecues, and miniature golf with family and friends will mean a more nourished soul.

So that was our 2015 spending. We confirmed that we reached the Mustachian Threshold and that our spending largely reflected our values. How was your spending in 2015? Did you make progress toward financial independence? Did you spend the most on the things you valued the most?

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    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Maggie. Thanks for the kinds words. Yes, hitting the Mustachian Threshold is pretty amazing. Our big advantage, though, was geo-arbitrage. We moved from high-cost New York to low-cost North Carolina almost ten years ago. And Mrs. Groovy was able to keep her New York job (and salary). So we were very lucky. If we stayed in New York, I don’t think we could have pulled it off. Good luck in your quest for financial independence. It looks like you and Mr. T are well on your way.

      P.S. Mrs. Groovy and I think Montana is the most beautiful state in the union. But we haven’t been to Alaska yet. And I have this sneaking suspicion that Montana might drop to second once we make it up there. Stay warm!

  1. These updates are great motivation for a person such as myself that is on a much earlier leg of their journey!

    I enjoyed learning about the moustache threshold and I’m going to start applying this methodology to my yearly review.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Josh. Awesome! I’m glad I could help. Mrs. Groovy and I didn’t wake up financially until our early forties. But once we figured out the means (save money) and the goal (achieve the Mustachian Threshold), it wasn’t too hard. It looks like you figured out things way before we did. Good luck on your road to TMT.

  2. I hadn’t heard of the “Mustachian Threshold” before but I like it. MMM inspired I guess, I don’t read that blog too often, but I like it. Brings the 4% Trinity Study rule to life quite simply. You’ve done an amazing job with keeping your expenses down. Hard to do that when you have a healthy income and you see the toys other people are buying for immediate gratification.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Mr. FS. Thank you for the kind words. Yes, the Mustachian Threshold is definitely MMM inspired. I know he didn’t invent the 4% rule, but so many bloggers reference his articles about it, I figured I go with the flow and use his moniker to coin a handy shorthand for it. It kind of has a ring to it. And, yes, it is hard to keep expenses down when immediate gratification abounds in our society. But Mrs. Groovy and I are very lucky. I’m not a car guy, and she’s not a jewelry, clothes, and shoes gal. Were it otherwise, and I “needed” a monster F150, and she “needed” a hundred pair of shoes, we would be years away from the Mustachian Threshold.