FI Personal Finance

Why I’m Finally Revealing Our Annual Spending (Plus an Announcement!)

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It’s finally happening…

After more than two years of blogging, I’m finally taking the plunge and revealing our annual spending! 😱 That’s right—it’s happening! 

If you’re wondering what took me so long and why I changed my mind, I’ll share all in this post. I’ll also reveal how this led to a new, exciting idea for Eat Sleep Breathe FI. (See my announcement later in the post!)

Why I hid our annual spending

Initially, I was very reluctant to reveal our annual spending. That’s because doing so would also reveal our approximate net worth. (Going by the 4% rule, you’d just have to multiply our annual spending by 25 to figure it out.)

Since we’re not comfortable sharing our net worth, revealing our annual spending was also a no-go. (In Why I’ve Never Posted Net Worth Updates, I discuss why we keep our net worth private.)

What changed my mind

I had solid justifications for keeping our annual spending secret. No one was pushing me to do it, and I could’ve safely kept our numbers secret. So why did I change my mind? 

It came down to two important factors that gnawed at me until I finally caved:

1. Transparency

I try to be transparent about as many things as possible—both here on the blog and in real life. I strongly believe that sharing our experiences and knowledge is a good thing. It’s how we, as humans, grow and break down barriers and taboos.

That’s why it didn’t sit right with me to keep our annual spending private. It’s such a key part of our journey to FIRE, and there’s so much learning to be gained when we share openly. 

2. Gratitude

Some of my favourite FIRE bloggers have very generously shared their spending reports:

I’ve learned so much from these bloggers and wanted to pay my gratitude forward. For me, following their lead and sharing our annual spending was the best way to do that. 

I came to see that I had the rationale and desire to reveal our annual spending… all I needed was a way to do it without giving up too much privacy.

The solution

After giving it some thought, I realized there was a way to accomplish what I wanted: I could reveal only our essential spending and keep the discretionary spending under wraps.

This would allow me to share the most useful parts of our annual spending without also having to reveal our net worth. It’s the perfect win-win! 

I was thrilled to finally share our annual spending, and got to work on the post… and then I had another ‘aha’ moment:

The big announcement! 🎉

As I worked on my annual spending post, I realized that I could turn it into something bigger and more useful. I thought: why not create a collection of annual spending reports, but standardize them so they’re easier to compare? 

Also, instead of just sharing a bunch of numbers, why not liven it up by turning it into an interview series? (I’d always wanted to start one anyway, and, as far as I could tell, this idea hadn’t been taken yet.)

Out of that came my idea: the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series! I’m so excited to create and share this crowd-sourced resource with the FIRE community!

Introducing the series

I ended up writing an entire blog post to explain the what, why and how behind the series. Please check it out and let me know what you think! 👍

Back to our annual spending reveal

Well that was a bit of a detour! Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about our annual spending reveal—that’s coming right up. Essentially, everything in this post was a very roundabout way for me to say:

  1. I’m finally revealing our annual spending.
  2. I’m starting a new interview series.
  3. Our annual spending reveal will be the inaugural interview in the series!

That’s right—I’ve interviewed myself to kick off the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life series. I figured it’d be a good way for me to test out the format before I invite all of you to join in.

If you’re ready, you can jump to my interview here: How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in Vancouver? (As a Family of Four). I hope it’ll be the first of many interviews in the series!

If you’d like to participate in the series (I hope you will) fill out this form or read the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life series intro to find out more. 😁

Share your thoughts

Phew, that was a lot to reveal in one post! I hope I didn’t lose you there. If you’re still with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts: Are you open with your annual spending? Why or why not? Also, would you be interested in joining my new interview series? (I hope you are!)

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Shashi
    January 27, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Congratulations on the new series!

    Although we have been tracking for spending for the last seven years, I don’t think we have discussed it with friends more than a couple of times. Usually, it has been with friends who were moving from the US to Canada.

    I think your new series will help people in the FIRE community as well as others who are planning to move within Canada or move here from another country. Wish you the very best!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 27, 2021 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Shashi—thanks for the comment and kind words. 🥰

      Believe it or not, I’ve never discussed our spending in detail with family or friends. I don’t hide it, but oddly, it’s just not something that gets discussed much!

      The FIRE community on the other hand, is more than happy to talk about annual spending! That bodes well for this series. I would be thrilled to see this series fill up with interviews from all over the world!

  • Reply
    Gean @ F.I.R.E. We Go!
    January 27, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Loved the idea and we’re looking forward to helping the community as we are willing to share ours – thanks for starting! Now I will go read the other post 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 27, 2021 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Gean—your support never fails to warm my heart. Thank you! I’m excited to interview you and share your expenses and FIRE journey. I’m sure you and Kristine will have lots to teach us!

  • Reply
    Ana
    January 27, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Your new series idea is wonderful! I haven’t seen that around either. It will give many the opportunity to compare living costs and pick up on some new strategies for managing finances. I love how revealing your numbers in a post was the spark for a new venture. We never know where inspiration will come from.

    I’m honestly surprised that your monthly expenses are so similar to mine living in Florida. I would have thought that living in Vancouver would make everything much costlier. Then, again, you’re very smart with your money. I wish I could say we’re keeping our monthly food budget in the $500-$600 range but the pandemic has us seeking comfort in our pantry. 😋

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 27, 2021 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Ana—you’re right, it’s funny how inspiration can come out of nowhere. I really hope the series will catch on and be of interest to the larger FIRE community, especially newcomers. Tackling expenses is one of the easiest ways to get the FIRE journey started, and I have no doubt that my interviewees will bring loads of valuable tips!

      I’m also surprised that our expenses are similar to yours in Florida! Back when I started my FIRE journey, it felt like we’d never be able to frugal our way to the low expense levels of US FIRE families. Your comment helps me realize how far we’ve come (even though we were already very frugal). Thank you for the comment—it made my day!

  • Reply
    Torrie @ To Love and To Learn
    January 27, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Have you seen The Six Figures Under blog? They aren’t retired, but she shares all of their numbers monthly and annually, and it’s super helpful!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 27, 2021 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Torrie—I’ve never read Six Figures Under, but I just took a peek. I love that their tagline is “Personal finance made public”. And wow are they ever public… they share ALL the numbers! Yet another blog I need to start following. 😊 Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply
    Chris @ Mindful Explorer
    January 28, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Looking forward to the series

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 28, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks, friend! I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  • Reply
    Bob Wen
    January 28, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Chrissy, your new series will be useful to many people, and help answer that question “how much do I need?”, and also providing numbers to compare against, with the bonus money saving ideas.

    I was wondering if perhaps the cost of owning a pet should be included. Although owning apet is optional, once you do, it becomes a very important part of the family, as do the ongoing costs. Just offering this up as something to think about.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 28, 2021 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Bob—thank you for reading and for the nice comment. 🙂

      As a dog lover, I absolutely agree with you that pets are an essential expense once you have them! However, the tough thing with including pets is that they can be a significant cost, and yet not everyone has pets. So it could make the numbers quite inconsistent… which weakens the usefulness of the comparisons.

      However, your point is valid… so what I’ll do is add an optional bonus section. This is where interviewees can share their numbers and tips for expenses that aren’t included in the series. I think that’ll actually be really fun to read, so thanks for helping me come up with the idea!

  • Reply
    Mrs FDU
    January 28, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    What an exciting time!
    Would absolutely feature if you’d have us 😊 we are very transparent (maybe too much haha!)
    Can’t wait to read your ‘interview’ !!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 28, 2021 at 9:09 pm

      Hi Mrs. FDU—yay, I was hoping you would want to be interviewed! I have a weird fascination with international FIRE stories, so this series helps me to scratch that itch. 🙂

      Thank you for commenting and volunteering for an interview. I’m working on the final touches to the interview template and will be in touch soon!

  • Reply
    Chris@TTL
    January 29, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Chrissy! Awesome!

    I’ve popped open tabs to read the explanation on the interview series and the first entry (y’all!).

    And of course “… favourite FIRE bloggers…” … “TicTocLife” 😀

    Aww. Jenni blushed. I saw her do it. 😉 Thanks for the mention!

    Before reading the method that you’ve figured out to share—without sharing too much—I’ll add some of the issues we had and our decision to share what we have about our spending / savings / net worth.

    We’ve got all our numbers out there, in detail. The only thing that isn’t exact is some of the figures that could be abused by nefarious parties if they ever tried to represent us (think: taxable income levels, sometimes used for identity verification purposes).

    That ties itself to… we’re anonymous writers. Though we use first names, I think we’ve made it sufficiently hard for folks to figure out who we are. We both think most people are good and have positive intentions, but we try to retain some anonymity on the internet. I know that you “came out” before, so that’s a big contrast to our situation.

    With our anonymity, we also don’t have friends/family reading our writing. Taking that further, there’s only a couple friends who have a sense that we’re FIRE—though both of us not really working throws up some red flags, no doubt. In the age of a pandemic, it’s less obvious, since so much of our social circle is working remotely anyway. Still, people are catching on here and there.

    With that said, we each have family/friends which we’d feel uncomfortable with knowing our financial state. We’ve accepted that it’s a possibility they’ll find out, but are avoiding it. Unfortunately, some folks could have nefarious intentions.

    I can understand why you might want to avoid sharing exact details and also have some folks in real life know about them.

    On the flip side, in the positive column, something Jenni and I discussed to offset the aforementioned risks is that we could lead by example within our social circles and family. We might become the folks that are known to offer good financial direction. I think there’s a lot of value in being that couple/person/family. But, there’s certainly risks and potential anxieties with it too.

    Anyway, thought you might appreciate an understanding ear (eyes?), and I hope you guys wind up with more of the “positive” side of this equation as you take on a little risk to be more transparent.

    Cheers!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 30, 2021 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Chris (and Jenni)! It’s awesome to read your thought process in sharing your numbers. You were wise to not share any info that might be used nefariously (you just never know).

      Yes, it makes a huge difference that I’m not anonymous. I tried to be, but I failed at it, ha ha. There is such a freedom in blogging anonymously (as is clear when contrasting your situation to mine).

      I used to be really anxious about friends and acquaintances discovering my blog and finding me out (my family is all on the same page, so they knew from day one). Interestingly, as I’ve revealed my blog and podcast to more people, I find they mostly just don’t care! I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it showed me I was worrying about it too much!

      Thanks for the interesting discussion and for all the helpful content on your blog. Keep up the great work over there!

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