2019 year in review

It’s just barely still January, so now’s a perfect time to finally wrap up with the 2019 posts!

Books I read

I don’t put these in any particular order, just write them down as I finish them.

New books I finished

  • Educated, Tara Westover
  • Fed Up, Gemma Hartley
  • Work Optional, Tanja Hester
  • Blue Horses, Mary Oliver
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
  • House of Light, Mary Oliver
  • Blue Iris, Mary Oliver
  • The Renaissance Soul, Margaret Lobenstine
  • Red Bird, Mary Oliver (are we sensing a theme here?)
  • The Art of Stillness, Pico Iyer
  • Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan
  • How to Stop Time, Matt Haig
  • All the Single Ladies, Rebecca Traister
  • Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig
  • All Over the Place, Geraldine DeRuiter
  • Time’s Convert, Deborah Harkness
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood
  • Deep Work, Cal Newport
  • China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan
  • Rich People Problems, Kevin Kwan
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid (this was one I was thinking about for a while afterwards)
  • Why I Wake Early, Mary Oliver
  • How to Be Everything, Emilie Wapnick
  • The Defining Decade, Meg Jay
  • Playing with FIRE, Scott Rieckens (honestly I enjoyed the book much more than the documentary. There was room for nuance in the book rather than “to get to FIRE, you need to have one of you quit your job (??) and also go move in with your parents and also make some choices you’re deeply unhappy about”!)
  • The Library Book, Susan Orleans
  • Long Life, Mary Oliver
  • The Financial Diet, Chelsea Fagan
  • Atomic Habits, James Clear
  • Devotions, Mary Oliver
  • The Other’s Gold, Elizabeth Ames
  • What If This Were Enough, Heather Havrilesky
  • Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport
  • A Conspiracy of Truths, Alexandra Rowland (I honestly was not a fan of this one, which felt like a slog to get through)
  • Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
  • Goldenhand, Garth Nix
  • City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Across the Wall, Garth Nix
  • Strange Planet, Nathan Pyle
  • Good and Mad, Rebecca Traister
  • New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

Books I reread

  • Bloodhound, Tamora Pierce
  • Mastiff, Tamora Pierce
  • Spindle’s End, Robin McKinley
  • The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
  • Sabriel, Garth Nix
  • Lirael, Garth Nix
  • Abhorsen, Garth Nix
  • Clariel, Garth Nix

49 books instead of 52—just shy of my goal for the year. Honestly I’m going to blame moving for that since that was a good 6+ weeks where I really didn’t have the time or headspace for reading. It’s also slightly frustrating that I had multiple books unfinished at the end of the year, but oh well, I guess they’re just padding my 2020 numbers!

Also, obligatory #librariesaretheshit because I think I can count on one hand the number of books I bought over the year.


It has come to my attention that I’ve been doing math things wrong, and it turns out you can’t just average out your savings rates each month for the year and get to your savings rate (aka the 50% I reported in my last post). You have to actually add up all the money you spent/saved and calculate the rate from there? 🤷‍♀️ Something about one month might weigh more than another because of super high spending or income, etc. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

Math is dumb. There’s a reason I do any of this shit at all, and that reason is spreadsheets and automatic formulas. If I had to actually calculate anything out myself, I would not at all be a money nerd. No one has time for that math shit.

What I spent this year

So, with that said, a new chart and savings rate calculation for the year:

Total Average
Rent $10,983.87 $915.32 It’s extremely refreshing not to see a total of $12,600 like it has been for the last few years!
Rent fee $29.00 $2.42
Internet and utilities $676.07 $56.34
Groceries $1,568.83 $130.74 Combined food spending was $2440.15
Restaurants/bars $871.32 $72.61
Gas $246.57 $20.55 All told, my car cost me $1194.54 for the year
Car $266.97 $22.25
Car insurance $681.00 $56.75
Renter’s insurance $83.00 $6.92
Transportation $188.70 $15.73
Barre membership $1,258.53 $104.88
Stupid tax/barre fee $47.70 $3.98
Misc dues/subscriptions $539.03 $44.92
Entertainment $182.19 $15.18
Misc household goods $283.89 $23.66
Personal care $229.26 $19.11
Clothes $1,544.25 $128.69 Yikes, this was a lot higher than last year
Other shopping $2,126.26 $177.19 Also higher than last year, thanks in part to a some big-ticket items, like an iPad
Vacation $1,779.90 $148.33
Gifts $317.62 $26.47
Charitable giving $531.68 $44.31
Annual fees $358.95 $29.91
Blog and related events $851.20 $70.93
Medical -$133.45 -$11.12 (Don’t worry, I just got a bill for about this amount from the sleep doctor that I’m going to have to call them about 😑)
Taxes $569.00 $47.42 The goal is to absolutely NOT repeat this situation for my 2019 taxes. Refunds only, please!
Work conference $78.43 $6.54 Food and drinks coffee since my company only paid my registration fee
Moving $544.30 $45.36
Chorus $301.82 $25.15
Phone $506.68 $42.22
Total spending: $27,512.57
Paychecks and other income $24,293.03 $2,024.42
Retirement contributions $21,539.74 $1,794.98
Side hustle income (second job) $4,909.92 $409.16
Other side hustle income (Rover) $248.00 $20.67
Credit card bonuses and cashback $1,089.26 $90.77
Taxes $3,395.23 $282.94 This includes not only my tax return, but gifting myself the money I’d set aside in a savings account for taxes back when I was a 1099 employee at my second job
Moving $710.00 $59.17
Total income: $56,185.18
Total saved: $28,672.61
Savings rate: 51%

The year in money

Money goals were a fairly large part of my 19 for 2019 goals. I’ve written about those exhaustively, but it’s fair to say I crushed it last year. I made about the same as I did at my second job the year before, and I found a third source of income. I got a raise and title change at my full-time job. I not only maxed out my 2018 Roth IRA in calendar year 2019, but I maxed out my 2019 Roth as well. Which means my tax return this year can go toward my 2020 Roth instead of being a catch-up contribution!

2019 saw improvement over 2018. I spent less in 2019 (in no small part because I’m paying less for rent now!) and had a higher savings rate: $27,512.57 versus $28,629.03 and 51% versus 42%. I made a lot more, too: technically my paychecks/other income decreased drastically, down from about $30k in 2018, but my retirement contributions were up $6,500 to make up for that. Total income in 2018 was $50.6k versus the $56k for 2019. I’ll take those trends, thank you very much!

Top posts

I’ll feel more like a serious blogger if I do this, right?

Top posts of 2019 by views:

Gotta love that sorta-not-really SEO making three of those top posts repeats from 2018! Top posts actually written in 2019 were:

I was a far lazier blogger in 2019. Oh well!

Other notable things

I tried so many new things this year (at least one a month!), as chronicled in my quarterly goals updates.

I got a bike membership and now I occasionally bike places instead of walking.

(I got running shoes and now I occasionally go for a super quick run instead of opting to spend two hours for a barre class and the commutes there and back. I don’t know who I am anymore 🙃)

With my dad, I visited my brother in Amsterdam and crossed off a major bucket list item.


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Last Sainte-Chapelle photo…for now

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I lived with Gwen for a few months this year!

I was going to put “a floof in my living room to prove it,” but the original caption was “A fluffy jerkface,” which is always an appropriate caption for cats

My partner and I took multiple trips together, but most of that was family trips. We spent a fantastic weekend in Roanoke, VA, which also happened to be our first trip with just the two of us without family or friends we were hanging out with and/or visiting.


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Given the fact that we were on vacation for two straight weeks right before moving in together, going on vacation again a week after moving was…not the smartest idea we’ve ever had, even though we planned it before we knew when we were moving. We still have lots of work to do to unpack and be fully moved in and we could’ve spent those three days at home working on those things instead. But it turned out a three-day weekend in the mountains was exactly the thing we needed. Physically removing ourselves from our stressful, cluttered apartment and spending time out in nature on physically-demanding hikes let us reset and come back home ready to tackle everything we still need to do to finish merging our two apartments’ worth of stuff (okay okay, yes *I’m* the one who needs to get rid of things) 💪

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Oh, and my partner and I moved in together! Which also meant I moved out of the apartment I’d been in for five years, since a few months after I graduated from college.

Goodbye to this view
And to this one (already messy from the first stages of packing up), which was the first (and only, so far) room I’d ever had to myself. And boy do I miss that ridiculously large closet. And the huge room. Our current one is definitely a step down in terms of space!

We started looking at rental properties, and the search continues to this day. Elsewhere, because DC is too goddamn expensive.

Of course we hiked. A lot.


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It was a cold but beautiful weekend for hiking (and oh wow am I out of shape 😅) ☀️

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If you squint hard enough, this almost looks like that iconic scene from the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, right?

There were way fewer #DCMoneyNerds hangouts this year (partially because people keep leaving, partially because I am too busy and tired to find the initiative to plan something), but I did go to CampFI Mid-Atlantic and FinCon this year.

On to 2020

Overall 2019 was a pretty great year. Stay tuned next week for my 2020 goals!

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