Looking back at 2016/2017 (tax) year

So the tax year has ended and it is time to look back and see how it went. It took me a bit longer to get this written up – partly work related, but mostly because of my ISA. On the last day of the last tax year I threw all my spare cash into the ISA, knowing full well I would need to take some of it back out to pay the visa bill. Why? Well if I can get even a few extra pennies in, it all helps, and I have a psychological barrier about taking money out from that ISA so I know I will do everything I can to avoid it.

How did it go?

So, the all important question. Looking at the financial position I am in now – I honestly don’t think I could really have asked for it to have gone any better – other than winning the big one on the Premium Bonds or lottery of course! My savings rate was poor (remembering that it doesn’t include my 10% salary sacrifice into my company pension, or my basic rate tax relief in my personal pension) for what I want, but hey, I had some great holidays, an rather large unexpected tax bill, and bought some stuff πŸ™‚


So, most importantly, where did all that money I spent go last year? In most expensive first order….


So this won’t be a surprise to most UK based people, and even less so to any other Londoners out there! The mortgage (and related insurance) was my biggest expense over the year. More than double any other expense of the year, this really is the killer. Ouch. Yes, we could move somewhere smaller, further out etc. and half that – in fact if we hadn’t moved here I would be mortgage free. I wouldn’t have been happy though. There is enough space for us now to not only live as we want, but also to put up our friends and guests when they come to stay, which is very important to us. The next target will be to not need the insurance (open to a question on need but…) – however I want to feel secure knowing that if anything happened to me my other half would be ok. Once my liquid savings (i.e. ISA) are greater than my mortgage balance, or close to, then I can stop and invest that extra. I am not sure I am brave enough to just cancel it and self insure.

I really do need to think about how best to try and reduce this whilst keeping the ISA savings going – a real trick. The mortgage isn’t up for renewal for over a year, and depending on the rates it’s likely we will go for another 5 year fix, in which case the more I can do now to reduce this then the better.


Yes – you read that right. My second biggest spend last year was holidays – money that probably should have gone into my ISA, but I spent it on a number of holidays. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! I have some fantastic memories that will be with me for as long as my memory lasts. This isn’t something I do every year (and don’t plan to), although it is about the journey as much as the destination! Could we have done the same travelling cheaper? Without a doubt we could – we didn’t need to spend as much as we did, but heck – you only live once!


Maybe a shock for some people, but the catch all pot was the third largest. Now this includes my tax bill, as well as a one off purchase I made. I don’t expect either of these two to happen this coming year so I am hopeful that this can be a lot lower this year, but the category will remain.

The rest….

As I look through the remainder of my tracker there is no other one individual item that really springs out – with one possible exception. Alcohol. If I add up all the money I have spent on Alcohol it is rather a large number. Oh well, I enjoy it! I will try and reduce it a bit, but not sure how successful I will be!


So… then what does that do to my savings overall? Well, I’ll get the number out of the way first. My overall savings rate for the tax year was…..


Not great (add in my 10% salary sacrifice, tax credit in pension and it would go up a bit), but this was hit hard by Novembers -111% savings rate and the tax bill in December. Take those out and it would add more than 10%. But I can’t so it is what it is.

Update: After great supportive comments from both Rory and HoSimpsonΒ on this savings rate, I decided to see what would happen if I included all my bonus, company pension and tax rebate on my private pension. I don’t usually include this as to me it isn’t “real” money. The pension contributions and rebate I don’t “see” as they don’t go through my current account. My bonus this year was in my bank account for less than 8 hours before it had been transferred to my pension! So what did that do to my savings rate? It took it to a shade over 41%. Wow. That has made my day!

Across the board, all of my savings vehicles have done pretty well (a more detailed post to follow), and by a freak of timing, my bonus that went into my pension got in the pension before the tax year end, but didn’t show online when I took the snapshot. Why is that so good? It means that in effect I just lump it at the start of the year and we see how we go – I may have just invested a huge lump of cash near the peak of the market, but as I can’t get at it for over a decade, that really is kind of irrelevant).

I am disappointed in myself in terms of how little I put into my ISA last year but then that is partly down to the tax bill, the purchase and several personal circumstances that threw some curve balls (all the more reason for having the emergency fund!).

Despite the low savings rate (compared to the FI community anyway!), the markets were very good to me – more so than I ever expect to see again, but who knows.

Non Financial “stuff”

So what about the non financial stuff then? Well I didn’t set any specific goals here, so this is a bit haphazard!

Health: I am pleased that I had managed to lose a small amount of weight (I suspect I may have put it back on but haven’t braved the scales yet!) but not as much as I would like, but then I don’t put the effort in, so only myself to blame on that. Every few months I swear that I will do more exercise, but somehow I just don’t.

I’ve also been cooking even more healthily using some of the dieting cook books I have, although I still sometimes suffer from a lack of energy (consistent long working days can take their toll). Hopefully I can fix this during the course of this year

Work: So work hasn’t been going too badly – the usual ongoing challenges and work, I got a “met” on my appraisal – pretty much the best I could have hoped for to be honest as it was my first year in the new company. Sadly this meant no pay rise, but that won’t deter me. I am looking forward to the new year and throwing myself into it with gusto to try and build on my career goal of a promotion by 2020 (it is getting harder the higher up the ladder you go!). Steady as she goes. The hours are starting to ramp up again which isn’t great, and hence my posts are coming at the weekends, but it pays the bills, and that is why I get paid what I do, and the bonus I do. No overtime but they compensate for it that way I guess.

Friends and Family: So the family side has been a huge focus over the last year for various reasons, and sadly to the detriment of my friends. Fortunately I have a great bunch of friends who understand the circumstances and, so far, haven’t held it against me! I am hoping to be able to get a more level playing field this year, but who knows what may happen.

As I seem to be one of the few who only does a tax year review, I wont ask how your year was!


Author: fireinlondon

Fighting the high cost of living in London

9 thoughts on “Looking back at 2016/2017 (tax) year”

  1. Hey FiL,

    To save almost 20% of your salary despite living in LONDON is no easy task. I have a few friends who are “financially savvy” compared to he average joe and can hardly save 5%.

    Apparently bar drinks cost Β£20 apiece instead of the Β£5 up north πŸ™‚ ? Good luck on everything will keep in touch


    1. Hi Rory,
      Thanks for popping back! πŸ™‚ London can be a difficult place to save if you are not careful, however there are a lot of free things you can do as well, you don’t have to spend the money, but sometimes that is part of the fun! You got me thinking – I will also calculate if I include my company pension and rebates and bonus, lets see what that looks like as well!
      Yes, drinks can be a touch expensive. The Christmas Winterland in Hyde Park I had to go to last year (don’t ask why..). 2 small beers (less than a pint) and 2 hot ciders… Β£22. On a recent pub crawl, a pint of Brewdog Punk IPA was Β£5.85. 1 pint. You don’t even get to keep the glass.
      I can see why Weatherspoons and Sam Smiths pubs have such a following in London – the beer may not be the best, but by heck it’s cheap!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shame about the pay rise. Better luck next year!
    Don’t despair about the savings rate though. I know firsthand how hard it can be to stick with it month in month out. The most important step in the journey to FI is the first one, methinks πŸ˜‰ Once you’re going in the right direction, you can go quicker or you can go slower, but in the end it’s just a matter of time before you get there.


    1. Hi HoS (Hope that abbreviation is ok!),
      It is a shame, and a little disappointing, but over the years I have found the only way to really get good pay rises is either at the start of your career or by moving companies! Having said that, I really do like where I am so hopefully next year will be better – either that or I negotiated too well when I joined πŸ˜‰

      You are spot on – the very first step, the first direct debit into your savings / investment / extra debt repayment is the most important one. I want it now, but I know I need to learn to be patient! πŸ™‚


  3. It looks like you had a great year. Once you pay off that mortgage is sounds like you’ll be able to save a ton of cash. I know when I got rid of my mortgage my savings rate jumped to 65%. So definitely something to look forward to in the future πŸ™‚


    1. Hi MSM,

      Thanks for dropping back by! Yes – given everything I couldn’t have asked for anything better financially πŸ™‚
      The mortgage is the real killer at the moment – London house prices aren’t cheap and we took out a pretty large mortgage to move to where we are, I am not expecting to be able to clear it before my target FI date of 2025, it is simply too large, and I want to have some savings. Without the mortgage then I guess my savings rate would hit upwards of 65%, but for now I am balancing savings into tax free shelters and trickling the overpayments in.
      I don’t for one minute regret moving to where we are, but I recognise the impact it has had on the finances!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. @Rory hit the nail on the head – it’s pretty awesome that you save such a high percentage of your salary living in London, be that 16% or 41%! πŸ™‚ Well done!

    Brewdog up north isn’t the cheapest but it is a decent pint. I must try to home brew something similar to the Punk IPA which is my favourite. I also like Brewdog’s Elvis Juice but it’s pretty strong at 6.5% so better in small quantities!

    You can often get decent/interesting ales from new and local microbreweries in Weatherspoons but the ones in town are always heaving, so not places I tend to frequent when I’m out with friends.

    Anyway, it was a very good year, hope the next (tax) year is just as good and you get that pay rise in the bag!


    1. Hi Weenie,

      Thanks for popping by again πŸ™‚ It is good, the bonus definitely helped, although that does remind me why I am doing it as I am still stuck working this evening (16 hours and counting today…!)

      The Brewdog is a nice pint but one advantage with London is the number of microbreweries around which is handy, but if you are able to homebrew Punk IPA I will be truly impressed! There are some great different brews around – the strongest I have tried so far is 14% – that was lethal!

      I’ve not been in a weatherspoons for a while so may well need to explore again!

      Well I am hoping so – if I can hit my savings goal of 30% from the current 16% I will be in a truly amazing place!



      Liked by 1 person

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