I never really embraced the idea of choosing a word for the year. I tried it in the past and was gung-ho for the first month and then forgot all about the word. However, 2019 was the first year that I found a word that I could stand by.
I adored my word and everything about what I was trying to achieve for 2019. I even kept this below image on my refrigerator. By the end of 2019, I achieved one major bullet point and the others will continue to be a work in progress.
My word was REDUCE:
- Non-mortgage debt to zero
- clutter/stuff that we don’t need
- distractions/social media time
- my half marathon time
- my impact on the environment
There were hits and misses on this list, and many are things that I will continue to work on, but let’s recap:
1 – Reduce non-mortgage debt to zero. (ALSO our 2019 Financial Goal!)
We knocked this out of the park. We’ve been working since 2013 to pay off a boat load of non-mortgage debt. I’ve writtien all about it over the years, and I decided on January 1, 2019, that this would be the year that we pay off the last remaining loan. I wanted to stop talking about it and I’m sure my husband wanted me to stop talking about it too.
On September 30, 2019, I woke up extra early and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Something was gnawing at me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I decided to be productive in those early morning hours and I updated our Family Balance Sheet and that’s when I realized why I was so antsy.
We had worked all year to send extra monthly payments to that final loan and on that early morning I realized the balance was finally at a level that we could pay it off with some of our savings. I ran upstairs and woke my husband up and told him the good news. He was not as enthused, but he’s also not a morning person. I decided to wait to hit “SEND” until he was up and alert. The last loan was his student loan and I wanted him to make that final payment.
That was a day we’ll always remember. We hugged and high fived and I sobbed for hours. It was a long road and we were finally non-mortgage debt FREE!!
Related Reading: Our Debt Freedom Plan Update (October 2019)
2 – Reduce our clutter.
I feel like I made a lot of trips to the thrift store to donate our stuff, but my house will tell you otherwise. This is a work in progress and I feel it will always by my goal.
3 – Reduce my distractions/social media time.
I took Facebook off of my phone and that was a good first step. The first week was the hardest, but now I don’t miss it. However, I’m still in love with Instagram and I just started a profile for Family Balance Sheet. I’m always late to the party…
What bothered me about my social media addiction is that I would scroll incessantly at bed time when I should have been reading an actual book. This will always be a work in progress and you’ll understand why it will be more crucial for me when you read my 2020 goals below! 😉
4 – Reduce my sweets.
I still eat sweets. The end.
5 – Reduce my half marathon time.
I ended up not running any races of any distance in 2019. I still hit the pavement regularly for exercise, but skipped the racing. I hope to sign up for something this year, but nothing is on my calendar yet. The good news is that I’m still running, just not racing.
6 – Reduce my impact on the environment.
After reading, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. (This is my referral Amazon link, but I found the book at the library.) I was pumped to reduce our trash. I have to hand it to the author, Bea, she has a clear line in the sand, because this is not always easy. That book has changed my outlook on reusing, recycling, making do, and rethinking one use products. This will always be a work in progress for my family.
Moving on to 2020!
Can you believe it? New year and new decade!
In 2019, I chose a word that encapsulated our financial goal for the year and other habits that I wanted to work on. In 2020, I haven’t been able to choose one word that resonates with me like REDUCE.
My outlook on our finances is a bit different now that we tackled paying off our non-mortgage debts. Also after turning 50 in the fall, I realized that I’ve crossed the imaginary line and now really need to be thinking about our retirement. It’s always been in the back of my mind, but we had our children later in life and we were so focused on paying off our non-mortgage debts. Now I feel like I can focus on our future–past child raising years.
I read a lot about personal finance and frugal living, two of my favorite topics, but I have not read as much about retirement in the sense of what happens when we retire. Also, because we had kids later in life, their college years and my husband’s retirement years could collide, so our official retirement could be pushed out further if we want to assist our kids with their college expenses.
As you’ll read in our Debt Freedom Plan, our #7 step is to increase our savings for retirement. But what will retirement look like? Are we saving enough? When can we actually retire? Will we be able to retire at the traditional age of 65?
We have things that we need to save for, like a new-to-us vehicle to replace our 12 year old van, some home maintenance/replacement projects, and a trip to visit friends in Germany. We will work on those things, but in 2020, my big goal is to focus on reading and researching strategies and ideas.
Our 2020 Financial Goals:
1 – Read, research, ask questions, and understand how retirement planning works.
This is a broad goal and goes against all of the goal writing rules, but I truly feel like this year I need to educate myself on all things retirement. My husband and I have been putting some money into retirement savings since we were single 20-somethings, but now we’re both married 50-somethings with 2 young daughters and I haven’t a clue how retirement actually works and when we can actually retire.
2 – Read, research, ask questions, and understand how we will pay for our daughters’ college.
We have not put a single dime away for our daughters’ education. They are both in middle school so now just might be a good time to come up with a plan on how to pay for their higher education. Whether my husband and I will be paying for all of it or a portion of it, all four of us need to develop a plan.
3 – Create an In Case of Emergency (ICE) binder.
For years, I have wanted to create a binder that holds all of our financial and estate information. Right now all of that information is scattered in drawers, binders, book shelves, and our safe. It needs to be organized and placed in one central location in case something ever happens to me or my husband..or for my sanity when I’m looking for some info.
Bring it, 2020!
We have savings goals outlined in our Debt Freedom Plan, but I have yet to determine what how much we’ll achieve in 2020. We will continue to work through that plan, but 2020 is the year of reading and researching for me.
Maybe I have a word for the year after all: READ
Did you chose a word for 2020? Share it in the comments!