Did you make 2018 financial goals? My husband and I discussed some ideas over our holiday break and we decided on 2 solid must-achieve financial goals for the year. If we complete them early, we’ll move on to 2 additional goals that are on our radar.
Our 2 Main Financial Goals for 2018:
1 – Finish the will.
Shame on us for dragging our feet on this for too long. We even bought an online package years ago, but have since decided that we will have a lawyer draw up our will, medical directive, and power of attorney documents to make sure everything is in place legally. We sought the advice of many friends and the general consensus was that going through an attorney would be to our benefit. I have started calling around for fees and hope to have this complete by end of January.
2 – Save $10k in a savings account, specifically earmarked for medical expenses.
I won’t rehash our health insurance story here, because I have written extensively about it and INCLUDED OUR NUMBERS. We hit our Annual Household Portion (kind of like a deductible) of $10,000 with Medi-Share in 2017 when our daughter had an unexpected medical condition arise that required multiple tests, 3 surgeries, and medication. The doctors are pleased with her progress, but it was a wake up call that a medical condition can happen to a seemingly healthy person at any time. We blew through our health savings account, and now need to save another $10k so we’re not caught off guard if another emergency were to happen. This will take us most of the year.
Read our Health Insurance Story:
- What We Left Traditional Health Insurance
- Why We Chose Medi-Share, an affordable solution to traditional health insurance
- An Update on Medi-Share – September 2017
2 Additional Goals:
If we save the $10k early, we’d like to work on the following 2 goals.
1. Move up the Student Loan Payoff Date.
This is our very last non-mortgage loan and we send an extra payment every month as part of our Debt Freedom Plan. If nothing changes, this loan will be paid off by end of 2019, but I’d love to move that up and say adios to this loan!
2. Save for a camper upgrade.
We bought a used pop-up several years ago and it was one of the best decisions for our family We absolutely adore camping, and we’d like to upgrade to a travel trailer. We’ve been researching what we want in the trailer and we want to pay cash. We’d like to start saving for it in 2018, if possible. If not, we’ll start saving in 2019.
The Guidelines for 2018:
1. Be Exceptionally Frugal.
I don’t want to use the term extreme frugality, because that sounds absolutely horrible. However, we could use a year of extra thriftiness to find any extra funds to accelerate the $10k. Non-necessities might take a back seat–for this year. I want to focus on being content with what I have and I’m pretty sure I’ll survive.
2. Choose Thrift First
I want to challenge myself to rethink our purchases by taking advantage of more cost effective solutions, like borrowing, buying second hand, or just making do with what we already have.
This is going to be a daily challenge for me. While I love thrift stores, I can be easily swayed to run into Target, TJ Maxx, and/or Kohl’s when I feel like I need something. Often, I could have saved myself a trip if I had just looked in one of our closets for a solution.
I’m curious to see how much we can save and also how creative we can get by making do with what we already own or looking for things at a thrift store.
3. Plan our Spending
We will control our money, rather than our money controlling us. By planning our expenses each month to predict purchases, I hope to avoid impulsiveness.
4. Earn Additional Income
You can only cut so much from a budget, so to increase our cash flow, we’ll need to earn extra income by growing our small business and growing my blog.
5. Apply any Found Money to our Goals
I’d like 2018 to be the year that we clean out our clutter. I want to go through our basement, closets, and garage to look for unused items that we can sell. I’ll apply that money to the debt.
What We Won’t Give Up:
My motto has always been “living well on less” and now it will be “living well on (even) less”. However, there are a few things that we will not give up so I will need to include them in our budget.
We don’t travel extensively, but we do like to get away. We work hard and really relish our time away and most of the trips we have planned for 2018 will involve our pop-camper.
Some of our favorite campgrounds:
We will need to cut back on dining out, but it is unrealistic for me to say we won’t eat at restaurants this year. I’ll do my best to follow my own advice, 10 Ways to Save When Eating Out, and we will bring snacks, bag lunches, and drinks on road and errand trips to save money. My kids tend to be dying of thirst when we’re standing in line at a store that conveniently has a display of over-priced refrigerated water at the check out line.
We do budget for dining out and this year, we will need to be more diligent about staying within that budget.
3. The Girls’ Activities
Our girls are quite active with swim team, Girl Scouts, and school activities. We feel strongly about the positive impact being active has had on them. They have made amazing friendships, and being active is teaching them life lessons about sportsmanship, hard work, and time management. As long as they enjoy these activities and do well in school, they can continue on and we will include them in the budget.
Our Debt Freedom Plan (an update):
In 2013, we found ourselves with a lot of debt and not enough cash flow. It was a tough year, but our Debt Freedom Plan was born and has been our guiding light ever since. We loosely based it on Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Step process, but modified it to address our needs. We added steps and have made changes to it over the years, but this plan has kept us focused on our goal of complete freedom from debt. You can read my original post: Our Debt Freedom Plan Begins
Read all of the updates:
(Exact numbers have been omitted at this time.)
- Save a starter Home Emergency Fund
- Dave Ramsey suggests to have a starter emergency fund of $1000 while focusing on paying off non-mortgage debt. We are self-employed, so we chose a much higher amount. It’s not quite 3-6 months of expenses, but will do until we get to #6. The purpose of a starter fund is to cover any sudden expenses so that we don’t go into more debt when dealing with them. It has come in handy many times and if we need to use the money, we pause extra debt payments until we get back to our fund amount.| DONE
- Increase business emergency savings. | DONE – 6/1/2014.
- Cash flow necessary business expenses and renovations. | DONE 2015.
- Pay off all Non-Mortgage Debt. Our non-mortgage debt was in the six figures when we started this plan and included 5 loans. We are using Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method.
- 2018 Update: We’re still working on this step. We’ve paid off 4 loans, and we’re making an extra monthly payment to the final loan, a student loan. Our estimated payoff date is by the end of 2019.
- Increase our emergency funds for the home & office to 3 – 6 months worth of expenses. We’ll use the payment that goes to our non-mortgage debt to build up our emergency funds.
- Increase retirement contributions to at least 15% of gross income.
- We took a controversial step and stopped contributing to our retirement plans in 2013, so we could focus on steps 2-4. I had been regularly contributing to my retirement funds since I was in my mid-20’s, so this was really hard for me, but we needed the funds to slash our non-mortgage debts. The good news is that the consistency we had prior to 2013 allowed us to build a decent amount in our retirement. The bad news is that we were in our prime earning & investing years when we stopped contributing…just more motivation to complete these steps as soon as possible to get to #6.
- Start college funds for our two girls. We’re way behind on this, but can’t worry about it now!
- Pay Off Mortgage Debt.
- Cash flow a family trip to celebrate. Not sure of the location, but the trip will be EPIC.
- Breathe & consider investment options, such as real estate.
There are days when I’m frustrated that things aren’t going as quickly as I would like, but then I look at our family balance sheet and realize just how much we have paid off since 2013. I have posted our new goals on the refrigerator, along with a debt payoff tracker to keep us motivated and remind myself that every single financial decision, no matter how big or small, really affects our ultimate goal of financial freedom.
- Get a FREE Family Balance Sheet Excel spreadsheet
- How to Achieve Your Financial Goals (tips from the achievers)
- 5 Steps to Crush Debt + a FREE Debt Payoff Tracker
- 2017 Debt Freedom Plan Update
- Our Debt Freedom Plan (2013)
What are your financial goals for 2018 and beyond? Let us know in the comments and if you don’t know or haven’t thought about it yet, spend some time THIS week developing your goals.