curious builders

Two Years of Financial Updates


For the last two years I have tracked my personal expenses and savings rate. I have tried to publish monthly updates but I often did so with a huge delay — the latest batch came in ~ 10 months after I had spent the money.

Although my updates have not been as regular as I would have liked, the experiment has taught me a few things.

My overall journey went like this:1

If you want to read about why I started this experiment you can do so here.

The early days (Nov 2021 - June 2022)

The first few months were my best ones. I saved the most and I stayed on top of my finances. Things were new and exciting. This is usually how any experiment goes for me (and it’s a miracle I have continued this long). I cut down on lots of unneeded spending and I had to grapple with a few small challenges here and there.

My big takeaway from these early days is that inspecting your spending habits is an extremely valuable exercise. Once I started tracking I started thinking more consciously about what I was spending money on. And that alone is worth a lot.

If you want more money in your life, start tracking your expenses and the rest will follow almost naturally (but as you’ll soon see, it’s easy to fall back into old habits).

Taking time off (July 2022 - December 2022)

In 2022 I decided to take 3 months off work to travel. I knew this would be an expensive thing to do but I also felt it was the right time.

Here are some of the arguments I used to convince myself:

  • I was working at a job where I had built up a good reputation. Meaning I could ask for time off and I was likely to get it.
  • I had no big responsibilities.
  • I also wanted to move out of my apartment and combining that with a longer travel could help me save a bit on rent.
  • I had saved up a good amount of money and part of the reason I had was so that I had the freedom to not work for a while.

So I went to New Zealand for an extended period. And it was wonderful.

The chart clearly shows the impact of travel and moving:

And what it does not show is that I was also without pay for three months. An expensive adventure indeed.

Was it worth it?

I don’t know. I still find it hard to judge these things. What I do know is that I will remember this adventure for the rest of my life.

Indie hacking (January 2023 - October 2023)

Around the start of 2023 I got really caught up in the Indie Hacking community. For a while I believed I would start a business and that would be how I achieved financial freedom. The allure of that dream is that you don’t have to reduce your spending. You just have to build something people want.

Turns out that is hard and not something I truly want to do (right now). But for a large part of 2023 that was what I was chasing. I had lots of fun developing and learning new things but it was also too stressful.

My deep dive into indie hacking put saving and investing on the back burner. You gotta spend money to make money, right?

That meant no regular check-ins for a whole 10 months. I still saved and invested a good portion of my income (way more than most people) but this period also saw some lifestyle creep.

The first dip was a bit of leftover expenses from my trip and moving to a new apartment. The second dip was a three-week vacation to the Alps.

Some lessons learned

Tracking my expenses has been a valuable experiment. Looking back on the data and my updates I can see the decisions in my life that cost me a lot of money. Without this I would be flying blind.

When I started this experiment in 2021 I did not know what to expect. My initial goal was a savings rate of 50%. I achieved that some months but failed others miserably.

In the last month or two I have re-focused my energy on my own finances and my journey towards financial freedom. So I expect to continue this experiment for a while. It is a good way to hold myself accountable.

On one hand I think many of the challenges I faced during this experiment are universal. Ingrained spending habits, difficulty putting a value on things and experiences, discipline, a mindset shaped by consumer culture, etc. But on the other hand, I think many of my challenges are also very personal. Your spending patterns and bad habits will be different than mine.

With that in mind, I think you should run the experiment yourself. Track your own life for a bit. It has been extremely valuable to me and I’m certain you will find some value too. It may be the best financial move you can make to help yourself.

Tracking your own expenses will help you see where you are burning money. But for me, the more important part is accountability. My monthly savings rate keeps me accountable. As I have already described, it didn’t always work. But it worked more often than not, and I think I have to thank my tracking for much of the wealth I have accumulated over the last two years.


  1. Green dots indicate a savings rate above my goal of 50%. Orange below the goal. Red for negative savings rates.