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New Year Resolutions – 2014 Results and Starting Fresh in 2015!

With 2014 almost wrapped up, Charlotte reminded me that I should update my 2014 resolutions and create new ones for 2015!

New Year Resolutions 2014

Here were my goals at the end of 2013 for the new year:

  1. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2014.  That’s $11,000 overall.
  2. Get the car fund up to at least $10,000 by the end of the year.  It’s at $3000-ish right now.
  3. Invest or set aside at least $1,000 a month ($12,000 over the year) for one of the targets mentioned above (either one or a combo of a SEP IRA, rental property, or a child fund).  This is on top of our normal budget.
  4. Budget appropriately for at least 3 vacations – a cruise in January, a summer vacation of some sort probably in July, and the Board Game Geek Board Gaming Conference in November…those will be our minimums.  We’re probably looking at about $4000.  Vacations are the only we we stay motivated overall.  So this may seem wasteful, but it is super important to us in order to accomplish everything else.

Results as of December 10, 2014

Here is where I stand so far:

  1. We maxed out both Roth IRA’s!  Yay!  CHECK
  2. The car fund is officially at $10,400, woot!  CHECK
  3. We were at $5800 in mid-November and got it to $8800 as of today, but even if the rest of December is amazing, I doubt we will get all the way to $12,000.  So, FAIL, but I am still extremely happy.  Why?  Because our overall income dropped by about 20% this year, but we still saved a heck of a lot.  Woot for budgeting!!!
  4. We ended up fitting in several vacations without breaking the bank – a cruise in January, a New Orleans trip in July, another cruise in August, and we attended the Board Game Geek Convention in November.  CHECK  The total came to $4700.  If you were cynical, you would notice that we would have hit $12,000 for the third resolution if we had used this money there instead…but you know what?
Blows a Rasberry

Yep, that’s my answer to my own question. ;-)

New Year’s Resolutions 2015

Our future is still somewhat unclear.  We are still contemplating buying a new rental property or investing in a SEP IRA or something similar.  And we are still thinking about maybe having a kid in the next few years.  With that in mind, here are our next goals:

  1. I’m repeating myself for the third year.  I want to max out both Roth IRA’s for 2015.  That’s $11,000 overall.
  2. Our 2007 Prius rolled past 130,000 miles this year.  In case our car dies sooner than 2017 as planned for, and the interest rates can’t be locked in at less than 1% again, we want our car fund at $15,000 or more by the end of 2015.  It’s at $10,400 right now.
  3. Our rental home was built in 2004, so one or all of the big systems will break soon.  We’ve gotten it to $4100, so I’m shooting for $10,000 by the end of 2015.  That should cover a new air conditioner, water heater, and oven all at the same time if necessary.  Just crossing my fingers on the roof, lol.
  4. Invest or set aside at least $500 a month ($6200 over the year) for either one or a combo of a rental property, a SEP IRA, or a general fund.  This is on top of our normal budget.  This is also on top of the $8800 we have now.  I want the total to be $15,000 by the end of 2015.
  5. Back to health stuff, I’m aiming to get back on the wagon.  I’m going to exercise for at least 30 minutes 100 times in 2015.  That comes to about 8-9 times a month.  I know this sounds like it should be easy, but I have no idea how much I may have exercised this year, so I figured I should start by simply staying accountable in some way.  The dog walking during pet sitting may help.

Overall, that means we need to set aside at least $27,700 for the goals above, and I need to get my butt in gear.  That’s about 25% of our gross income on top of our normal set asides.  Let’s root for one hell of a 2015!!!

What do your New Year’s resolutions look like?

2014 New Year’s Resolutions – 10 Month Update

It’s been more than 5 months since I publicly checked in with my goals for 2014.  Here is the official 2014 New Year’s Resolutions update.  ;-)

Goals and Updates

My goals were very money-orientated this year.  Our online business slowed down a little earlier in the year, but we are compensating with pet sitting and sports officiating.

1. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2014 ($11,000 overall).

DONE! Woot!!! We sent over $5500 for each Roth IRA in early May 2014, so that was wrapped up.

2. Get the car fund to at least $10,000 by the end of 2014. It was at $3000 at the end of 2013.

DONE!  Although I did buy my new Honda Fit this year, our account had reached $10,000+ before that.  We ended up not using any of it either since we skipped a down payment.  My car loan is at 0.9% interest, so we aren’t in a hurry with it.  I could never pre-pay and still end up only losing $325 in interest over 5 years…

My New 2013 Honda Fit!

Still loving my personal TARDIS. ;-)

3. Invest or set aside at least $1000 a month ($12,000 over 2014) to use for a SEP IRA, another rental property, or for having a baby.

This may not be an attainable goal this year, but we have socked away $5800 so far.  This is the goal I will devote a good financial November or December to…

4. Budget for 3 or more vacations – a cruise in January, a summer vacation in July, and the Board Game Geek (BGG) Convention in November. We were aiming for $4000.

Carnival Cruises

DONE

We took a 5 day cruise in January that ended up costing about $1500 total. We took a New Orleans trip in July that cost $550 for 5 days. We also cruised in August for 7 days for $2080.  BGG Con will run us around $500 too.

So the “3 vacations” part is definitely covered and we haven’t and aren’t using our emergency padding to fund them. But we did absorb some of the costs since our “vacation” savings account was emptied in New Orleans.  That slowed down progress on goal #3, but not by too much.  We’ve already socked away nearly all of what we had absorbed…

How are you coming along with this year’s goals?

2014 New Year’s Resolutions – 5 Month Update

With May 2014 all wrapped up, I thought it would be a good time to check in on my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions.

Goals and Updates

Since my goals were very money-centric and we are not making as much this year as in the past, I’m super happy with how we are doing thus far! I probably won’t be able to get everything saved that I was aiming for, but we are staying on track:

1. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2014 ($11,000 overall).

DONE! Woot!!! We sent over $5500 for each Roth IRA in early May 2014, so that is wrapped up.

2. Get the car fund to at least $10,000 by the end of 2014. It was at $3000 at the end of 2013.

DONE! I bought a new Honda Fit that we were going to empty this account for, but now we aren’t going to use this money for my car after all. My car loan is at 0.9% interest, so we may be sending this $10,000+ to our mortgage company instead since we still owe around $200,000 at 4% interest there…

3. Invest or set aside at least $1000 a month ($12,000 over 2014) to use for a SEP IRA, another rental property, or for having a baby.

This may not be an attainable goal this year. We are making about 2/3 of what we were, so this “extra” is building up very, very slowly. But we’ll keep throwing what we can at it.

4. Budget for 3 or more vacations – a cruise in January, a summer vacation in July, and the Board Game Geek (BGG) Convention in November. We were aiming for $4000.

Cruise Joke

DONE – sort of…

We took a 5 day cruise in January that ended up costing about $1500 total. We have booked a New Orleans trip in July that will cost about $500 for 5 days. We also booked a cruise for August that will cost around $2000. BGG Con will run us around $500 too. I’m hoping that I end up covering my costs for FinCon14 by sharing my comped room (I am one of the organizers of the Pre-Camp).

So the “3 vacations” part is definitely covered and we aren’t using our emergency padding to fund them. But we are absorbing some of the costs since our “vacation” savings account will be empty after New Orleans. That slows down progress on goal #3.

I’ll consider Goal #4 completed 100% if we still have our targeted emergency fund amounts PLUS some significant progress done on investment money by the end of the year.

How are you coming along with this year’s goals?

2014 New Year’s Resolutions – 2 Month Update

With nearly two months down and just ten to go, I figured it is time for my first New Year’s resolutions update of 2014.

New Year’s Resolutions 2014 and Updates

Our goals for 2014 are very money-oriented, and it hasn’t been a banner year so far…just average.  Don’t be too surprised if this doesn’t seem like the most inspiring post ever.  That said, I’m really happy about what we’ve accomplished so far.

1.  Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2014. That’s $11,000 overall.

As of this morning, we have $2245 set aside.  That means that we are slightly better than on track.  I consider that a win for now.  :-D  We’ll keep setting aside 80% of our monthly extra towards this until it hits the magic $11k number.

2.  Get the car fund up to at least $10,000 by the end of the year. It was at $3000 at the end of 2013.

Well now it’s at $4400.  Again, it seems that we are on track.  Yay!  We’ll keep throwing $500 a month at this and polish it off towards the end of the year.

3.  Invest or set aside at least $1,000 a month ($12,000 over the year) for a combo of a SEP IRA, rental property, or a child fund.  This is on top of our normal budget.

Yeah…we haven’t put even a penny towards this extra $12,000 yet.  Our extra has been put towards the other two goals so far.  When we reach those, hopefully this one will be way easier to catch up on.

4.  Budget appropriately for at least 3 vacations – a cruise in January, a summer vacation of some sort probably in July, and the Board Game Geek Board Gaming Conference in November…those will be our minimums. We’re probably looking at about $4000.

We successfully budgeted the money for the January cruise, went on a great trip, and have $175 saved so far for the next one.  I think this is not the goal we need to concentrate on since somehow, we always find the money for planned trips.  This one may just take care of itself.  :-)

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?  Still on them?

New Year's Resolutions

Reviewing Life Priorities for 2014

I just turned 31 a few days ago.  :-)  My birthday always makes me want to review my life and make sure I’m generally moving in the direction intended.  I know nothing ever goes perfectly to plan, but I think it’s important to have a track in mind.  My first step has been to truly think about my overall life’s priorities.  Here is what I’ve come up with…it sounds simpler than it is, lol.

Priorities

  • Connecting with Others
  • Growing as a Person
  • Early Financial Independence

So, those three little phrases seem to summarize all of my wants in life at this point.  When I wrote them down, I was pretty happy that it is a short list.  Then I realized that the main two points are ongoing.  That was only depressing for a few seconds…then I realized that I wouldn’t want to actually ever complete those steps.  I never want to be “done” connecting with people or growing as a person.  So it’s okay that they are forever.  :-)

As for making sure that I am on track, I started thinking about each goal individually.

Connecting

For connecting with others, I’ve been trying to meet more people regularly and keep in touch with the people I already know.  I remind myself every few days to reach out to a friend or family member just to check in.  That sounds easy, but being in the house for days on end with work has a tendency to make me disappear from the real world until the weekends.  So making sure to say hi during the week is important.

It’s also important to get out of my own head and try to really tune into someone else.  All of my friends and family members have stuff that they are trying to handle right now too, so it’s important to remember to ask about it and see if I can help.  Selfishness is the death of relationships.

Growing

As far as personal growth is concerned, I am attempting to change a couple of aspects about myself that I don’t like.  First, I am trying to be more forgiving.  I am a lady that can hold a grudge, so I am trying to give the stupid ones up.  I’ve reconnected with a couple of people so far.  We’ll see just how much I can let go over the next year.  Of course, I still have a line, lol.  I do know there are at least a handful of people that I hope not to ever have to deal with again simply because they sucked the life out of life if you know what I mean.  Luckily, they were not family or anything, so it’ll be okay.

My second attempt is to take the stresses in life way less seriously.  People who can roll with the punches are always the ones you want to surround yourself with…I want to be one of those people.  Freaking out about every little broken thing or wanting to pout when life doesn’t go my way is wasting way too much of my precious time.  I’ve gotten much better at just handling stuff as it comes and hope I’ll be able to get even better at it in 2014.

Saving

To reach financial independence, my husband and I need to save significantly while also lowering our regular expenses.  Our rental property and our Roth IRA’s are solid starting points.  We also need to invest or save a little more.  We are currently putting away an additional 10% a month while we figure out the best way to use it.  We’ll either be opening a SEP IRA or buying another rental property within the next couple of years.  As for expenses, we will keep an eye on the ones that can be cut and hopefully pay off our current mortgage in way less than the 29 years it has left.

What are your overall life priorities?  Are you on track?

New Year’s Resolutions – 2013 Results and Starting Fresh in 2014!

With 2013 almost wrapped up, I thought I should probably review my New Year’s resolutions to see how 2013 turned out…

New Year’s Resolutions 2013

Here were the goals I set out at the end of 2012 for the new year:

  1. Pay off the rent house by December 31, 2013. It had about $23,500 to go.
  2. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2012 by April 2013 (needed $8000).
  3. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2013 by December 31, 2013 (needed $11,000).
  4. Budget appropriately for at least 3 vacations – a one week summer vacation, the Financial Blogger Conference again, and the Board Game Geek Board Gaming Conference again.
  5. Continue staying active. My specific goal here is to get off my butt at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes all year long. Since I don’t want to be able to fail by just having a bad week, I have decided that this means that I need to exercise a minimum of 12 times per month to stay on track (144 times or more over all of 2013).

Results as of December 15, 2013

Here is where I stand so far:

1. We paid off the rent house, yay!

2. We maxed out both Roth IRA’s for 2012 early this year, woot!

3. We fully funded my 2013 Roth IRA in June AND WE FULLY FUNDED HUBBY’S IN SEPTEMBER despite zeroing out our emergency fund for dental expenses

4. We Budgeted for at least 3 vacations, check!

  • Our 5 day cruise was from August 31 through September 5 and we kept the total to about $1000 for both of us. *ONE DOWN*
  • I visited Salt Lake City, Utah from September 19-24 and kept the entire trip to about $350 including the plane ticket. *TWO DOWN UNEXPECTEDLY*
  • I helped to organize the Financial Blogger Bootcamp this year at FinCon13, so my cost for that trip was mainly the plane ticket and food.   It came to about $400 to be in St. Louis from October 15-20.
  • We also went to the Board Game Geek Convention 2013 and have the hotel reserved. We spent about $650 to spend November 20-24 in Dallas.

We rolled a lot of these costs into our monthly budget as entertainment costs, but we were also hoping to set aside $2500 in actual cash to reimburse ourselves by the end of the year.  We did that, but then we used half of it to book a cruise with our friend, John, in January.  Easy come, easy go…

5. Continue staying active. My specific goal here was to get off my butt at least 144 times or more over all of 2013.

Here is what I did:

  • 7 in January
  • 14 in February
  • 3 in March
  • 4 times in April
  • 20 times in May
  • 18 times in June
  • 25 times in July
  • 11 times in August
  • 9 times in September
  • 11 times in October
  • 9 times in November
  • 15 times in December so far

That’s 145 times so far, so yay!!!  DONE!!!

An Extra Resolution

We added in “getting our emergency fund back up to $10,000″ as a last minute resolution in September since we felt super broke and stressed when we had nothing in there after the dental bills.  I’m please to announce that we are at $10,500 now!!!  WHOO-HOO!!!

THAT’S ALL RESOLUTIONS ACCOMPLISHED!!!  That’s a first for me.  Yay!!!

New Year’s Resolutions 2014

Okay, so we don’t know what is next for us.  Either we want to buy another rental property, invest in a SEP IRA, and/or even plan on having a kid sometime in 2015…really, all roads lead to “we need cash”.  With that in mind, here are our next resolutions:

  1. Max out both Roth IRA’s for 2014.  That’s $11,000 overall.
  2. Get the car fund up to at least $10,000 by the end of the year.  It’s at $3000-ish right now.
  3. Invest or set aside at least $1,000 a month ($12,000 over the year) for one of the targets mentioned above (either one or a combo of a SEP IRA, rental property, or a child fund).  This is on top of our normal budget.
  4. Budget appropriately for at least 3 vacations – a cruise in January, a summer vacation of some sort probably in July, and the Board Game Geek Board Gaming Conference in November…those will be our minimums.  We’re probably looking at about $4000.  Vacations are the only we we stay motivated overall.  So this may seem wasteful, but it is super important to us in order to accomplish everything else.

So, that means that we’ll need to be saving/investing at least $34,000 over 2014.  That’s about 30% of our overall current income BEFORE taxes that needs to be set aside just for these resolutions!  That doesn’t even take into account everything else we like to accomplish like building up the emergency fund.  Fingers crossed for a great cash year or this will look pretty pathetic during the wrap up a year from now!

How did you do with your New Year’s resolutions?  Get close or did life get in the way?

Beating Sexism One Chin-Up at a Time

Backstory

In 2012, a couple of male bloggers had an unofficial chin-up competition at the Financial Blogger Conference 2012 (FinCon12).  At FinCon13 last week, this became an official FinCon competition, and around 10 male bloggers jumped up in front of the crowd and showed their chin-up stuff.  Women were welcome to participate too, but the few of us who could do any chin-ups at all were all sick or recovering, so no women participated.

I was totally fine with this…until one guy decided to get up and say something like, “That wraps up this contest.  Don’t worry ladies, the beauty competition is later this afternoon.”

Yeah, he probably didn’t mean anything by it, but for anybody who doesn’t understand why that was a temporarily idiotic thing to say, let’s boil it down really quickly:

Men = Grrrr, manly, physical prowess
Women = Pretty, wussy, boobs

At least, that is what every female in the room heard.  Heck, most of the men in relationships heard that too.  I swear, there was a group cringe.

Side note, later that day, four of us women had an impromptu push-up competition.  I know that at 26-27 push-ups, we were showing some grrr too.  I don’t mind admitting that men are built stronger than women overall.  I also don’t mind saying that I think women are generally better looking than males.  What I minded was some random dude deciding that all women could do was be pretty (or at least saying something that sounded that way to all of us).

Men have more going on for themselves than just muscles.  And women have more going on than just their looks.  I would have been absolutely fine with the whole situation if that one guy hadn’t said anything.  Heck, even his comment didn’t take away from the fun for me, but it did lead to a challenge.

The Gauntlet was Thrown Down and Picked Up

That said, Kathleen from Frugal Portland, immediately Tweeted her outrage and many started Tweeting back with similar reactions.  I made the comment that instead of being angry about, we should just get even.  The gauntlet was thrown, and Kathleen and I challenged ourselves to our own chin-up competition at FinCon14.

There are two rules:

1.  No steroids.  ;-)
2.  We each need to be able to achieve at least 10 chin-ups by this time next year in order to compete.  We want to represent properly.  :-)

My First Step in Training

So far, my first main step to training is to find a solid place to practice chin-ups.  There is no little bar to practice on in my house, and I don’t have a gym membership.

My husband suggested monkey bars, which seemed genius to me.  I scoped out the kiddie parks around our house – NO MONKEY BARS!!!  Those poor children!!!  That seems wrong.  Just slides, a playhouse, and swings.  What’s a play park without monkey bars and a see-saw?!  Anyway, moving on…

For now, I will be using the top bar of the sideways ladder leading into the kids playhouse area.  If I pull myself up all of the way, I still have a few inches of clearance before my head hits the bottom of the playhouse floor.

Wish us both luck!  Have you ever had a similar reaction to sexism/racism/etc.?  Just want to prove them sooooo wrong?