2019 Financial Recap

2019 was the year of financial awakening for me. It was the first full year of living debt free and taking my finances seriously. It was the year I dived into the FI/RE movement and saved & invested the most in my entire life. It was the year I started my IG account @mywealthdiary to track my financial progress for the whole world to see.

Highlights of 2019:

I turned 26 years old!!

Travel hacked a trip to Greece with my boyfriend. We went to Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos for a total of 11 days.

Hit my 1 year anniversary at my new job!

Moved to a new apartment, which saved us approximately $1k a month. Pictured below is our previous, very expensive studio.

Went on mini-trips around the east coast (NYC, Maine, upstate NY)

Where did my money go in 2019?

Here is a diagram of where my money went (http://sankeymatic.com/build/)

My full-time salary flows into three categories:

  • Taxes: 23%
  • Retirement Savings: 21%
  • Income: 55%

I also had additional income from side hustles, as well as dividends and interest that helped me to increase my savings rate.

Net Worth (+$88,545.66)

I started 2019 with a net worth of $50,633.51 and ended the year with a net worth of $139,179.17, which is an increase of 174.88% or $88,545.66. This was the first year I seriously tracked my net worth every month, which helped me see my upward trend and motivated me to keep saving and investing.

Cash (+$16,393.14)

I’ve never had more than $2k in savings and didn’t understand the importance of an emergency fund. So I made it a goal to save a 6 month emergency fund of $15k. I also started using sinking funds to save for short-term goals, like Christmas gifts and travel.

401k (+$24,987.53)

I started a new job in November 2018, so I rolled over my previous employer’s 401k into a Rollover IRA and started a new 401k account at Fidelity. I was able to max out my 401k for the first time this year, and saw an overall increase of $24,987.53.

HSA (+$3,453.94)

This was the first year I’ve had an HSA because I was always under my dad’s health insurance. When I turned 26, I immediately signed up for my employer’s high-deductible insurance plan and started a new HSA account at Fidelity. My employer contributed $562.50 and I contributed the rest.

Roth IRA (+$8,244.41)

This is my second consecutive year of maxing out my Roth IRA!!

Rollover IRA (+$17,998.36)

My previous employer offered a pension that vested once I hit 3 years of employment. When I switched jobs, I received the pension payout of $9,155 and was able to roll it into my existing Rollover IRA. The rest of the increase was from the market change!!

Brokerage (+$17,556.08)

After maxing out my 401k, HSA, and Roth IRA, I contributed what was remaining into my brokerage account. The total I invested was $12,633.20.

Income: $102,537.07

In 2019, I learned about the value of side hustles and focused my energy on finding additional streams of income aside from my full-time job.

Full-time job earnings: $81,232.45

As part of my job as a business consultant, I earned $58,115.60 after pre-tax deductions and taxes. In addition, I contributed $21,750.06 to my 401k and HSA, which I consider income since it is money earned and saved. My employer contributed $683.66 to my accounts. I also get a phone reimbursement of $65/month as part of my workplace benefits, so my total amount received was $683.13.

Based on these numbers, my total earnings from my full-time job in 2019 was $81,232.45.

Side hustle earnings: $10,517.01

I made $1,384.32 on cash back and bank bonuses. These included cash back from Rakuten, a sign-up bonus from Chase of $300, and other credit card cash back deals.

I made $400 from research & surveys. I completed two research opportunities where I received $75 gift cards for my time. I also had a 45 minute interview where I received a $250 gift card.

I tried to be more minimalistic in 2019 by not buying new things and selling items I wasn’t using at home. I was able to sell $249.74 worth of items on Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace.

I made $6,985 from referring and promoting on my IG platform, mostly from SoFi Money and Personal Capital.

Other income of $1,497.95 covers gift card money and miscellaneous money.

Other: $10,787.61

As mentioned in the Income section, I received a pension payout of $9,155 from my previous employer. I also received $198.16 for keeping my emergency fund in a high-yield savings account. In addition, I reinvested $1,434.45 of my dividends back into my portfolio.

Expenses: $32,055.96

I spent a total of $32,055.96 in 2019. My goal was to spend less than $30k, but this was the first year of tracking every penny. This is now my baseline.

My necessary vs. discretionary spending shows that I spent almost $11k on things like travel, eating out, shopping, and gifts. My goal for 2020 is to keep expenses below $28k, which I am hoping is realistic if I can cut back on my discretionary expenses (pray for me, y’all).

My 2019 monthly average was $2,671.33. Here is a breakdown by category per month. Please note: some of these expenses are split with my boyfriend and only capture my half.

Necessary expenses: $1,758.32

Housing: $1,428.27

We were originally living in a luxury apartment in a 490 square foot studio that was $2,642.50 a month ($1,321.25 for my half). This is considered a good deal, since the actual price is $2,900 a month but was lowered due to concessions we received when we signed the lease.

When we learned that the rent would be going up next year, we decided to move to a cheaper apartment. In order to secure the apartment, we had to pay a broker’s fee of 1 month’s rent (bleh), first and last month’s rent, and a security deposit of 1 month’s rent. So we essentially had to pay 4 months of rent in June.

So all in all, we were able to save some money on rent, but had to pay the price for it up front. I am hoping that the housing costs will average down over time in 2020.

Utilities/Internet: $66.14

Water and heat are included in our rent, so we only have to pay for electricity and internet. Our electricity is usually pretty low (~$35-40 a month) and internet comes out to $52 a month, which my boyfriend and I split. Some months are higher and some are lower, which is why the average comes out to around $66.

Groceries: $155.02

I try to meal prep and cook at home as much as I can. I pack lunch for work every day and will only go out to eat on the weekdays if completely necessary. Otherwise, we will go out to eat on the weekends for enjoyment. $155 a month is pretty standard, as my boyfriend and I split the grocery bill.

Transportation: $78.73

I don’t own a car and live in a transportation-friendly city. Plus, I usually walk to work every day to save money and get my steps in! I will occasionally Uber on weekends if I go out.

Healthcare: $30.16

My healthcare costs are usually very low. This covers my copays and annual contacts supply.

Discretionary expenses: $913.01

Entertainment: $17.26

I normally don’t spend a lot on entertainment. We watch the occasional movie in theaters, but staying in and watching Netflix or having a board game night is our version of entertainment. We also consider going out to eat our way of spending quality time, so we will often do that on weekends.

Restaurants & Eating Out: $137.48

This is usually our “fun” budget, so we will go out to eat once a week or so. Never anywhere super expensive or fancy (unless it’s a special occasion), but we enjoy eating out.

Shopping: $168.68

My phone stopped working at the beginning of the year, so I had to invest in a new phone which is why my shopping spend was so high. I also bought some new clothes for my trip to Greece.

Travel: $164.89

In addition to our trip to Greece, we also made some small trips to NYC and upstate NY to visit friends and family. This added up in terms of travel costs, but definitely worth it!

Gifts: $337.61

Besides housing, this is my biggest expense category. This includes birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and money to my parents. I bought plane tickets to Canada for my parents for their anniversary and also send them money every month to help supplement their income.

Miscellaneous: $87.09

Here is a breakdown that shows where every dollar went in 2019.

Savings & Investments: $70,023.94

In 2019, I was able to save & invest over $70k! I was able to max out my 401k, HSA, and Roth IRA, fully fund my 6 month emergency fund, and invest money in a brokerage.

My 2019 pre-tax savings rate was 54.85%. My post-tax savings rate was 68.29%. I achieved my goal of saving more than 50% of my income!


2019 was a year of growth in terms of making money, saving money, and learning about how to manage money. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in a year, and I am excited to see what 2020 has in store for me!