• Late Start Earner

2021 End of Year Reflection

It's been awhile since my last post. I got really busy at work and also felt unusually cranky calculating monthly spending while also writing about it in my limited free time. Going forward, I'd like to use this website to explore ideas around work-life balance, productivity, and other topics.


While I was not actively blogging, financial independence was still top of mind. I am grateful for the many finance conversations my partner had with me to get on the same page. Dropping down to a single income in September was a change for us both, and it took awhile for us to get a picture of how we were doing and what goals we wanted to accomplish. Together, we

  • cut down on everyday spending by opting for simpler dinners instead of takeout, leaving room in the budget for more special occasions out;

  • reduced college costs in half by making plans for my partner to take general education requirements at a nearby community college at a fraction (12%!) of the cost of primary university;

  • made outdoor wedding plans that are both Covid-safe and budget-friendly, allowing us to have an intimate celebration with our loved ones.

I'm shocked that my net worth continued to grow throughout the year, even after completing major investment goals.

It is now nearly $650K, a large increase from $400K at the beginning of this year. Here's an approximate picture from Mint.com:

As of: 12-22-2021

In 2022, here's my rough annual budget and goals.

In the order of priority...

(📈 = pay with RSUs, 💰 = pay with bonus, 💵 = pay with regular paycheck)


🔴 📈Taxes (2021): $30K

✅ 💰💵 Retirement Contributions: $60.5K

  • +$20.5K: Pre-tax 401k Contribution

  • +$6K: Self Roth IRA Contribution (via Traditional IRA Backdoor Rollover)*

  • +$6K: Partner's Roth IRA Contribution (via Traditional IRA Backdoor Rollover)*

  • +$28K: Roth 401k Contribution (via After-Tax Mega Backdoor Conversion)*

*If not available due to 2022 tax law changes, then invest same amount into taxable brokerage account

🔴 💵Fixed Expenses: $50K

✅ 💵Emergency Fund: $5K

✅ 📈529 Plan College Fund: $20K

✅ 📈Taxable Investments: $60K

🔴 💵Discretionary Spending: $40K

  • $25.6K: Joint Spending [$2,133/mth]

  • $7.2K: Personal Allowance (me) [$600/mth]

  • $7.2K: Personal Allowance (my partner) [$600/mth]

🔴 💵 Pre-Marital: $5K

🔴 💰Wedding: $10K

🔴 💵 Medical: $1K

✅ 💰Debt Payoff: $10K

🔴 💵 Renovations and Repairs: $10K


Total: ~$300K


I'm slightly concerned that this budget runs fairly tight against my expected total compensation for 2022. Once taxes, other salary adjustments, and stock market volatility (RSU values) are taken into account, our planned expenses may exceed my after-tax income. If that's the case, we'll have to forego a combination of: Pre-Marital, Wedding (scaling back further), Debt Payoff, and Renovations and Repairs.


With this plan, I'm on track to hit long-term FI goals

My long-term goal is to hit Coast FI by 2025, Financial Independence by 2030, and to have the primary mortgage paid off by 2035 by continuing payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage. Once we hit Coast FI, it will open up options for us to choose a different career path that is less dependent on the paycheck. Psychologically, this would feel wonderful!

But I've learned that FI is not an escape.

My main focus lately has been work-life balance, and learning how to preserve WLB in order to have the energy for the people and experiences that I love. More on this in another post :)

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