I have never been one to make New Years resolutions. I have in the past written down and achieved different goals, but they have never started on January 1st because it was a new year. I just jump right on and begin as soon as I have that motivation instead of waiting until “tomorrow” or “next week” or “next month.”

In the case of my “No” Spend November, I am so glad that I didn’t wait until an easier or more convenient time (or the new year). I waffled on pulling the trigger because of our trip to Hawaii and then the holidays, but our finances look so much better than if we had waited and continued on autopilot for another two months.

We have made such major strides in the last two months that I would not have even thought possible back in August when we had to dip into our emergency fund. I want to hold on to this momentum and keep it going through 2018, so I’m setting a big goal for us this year. I made the mistake after paying off my student loans of letting up on the intensity after the big goal was achieved, and I’m still kicking myself for the additional money we *should* have saved in the intervening 4 years. So this time, I am harnessing the success of the past few months and going to hang on to it for dear life.

2018 Big Goal: Achieve A 50% Savings Rate

We saved 22% of our incomes in 2016, and 23% in 2017, which should have been a bit higher, but life happens. Hence a 50% savings rate is about double what we have done in the past, but right at what we achieved for the month of November. I could have set a 30% savings rate goal for us, and I would be very confident in us reaching it (8% of our savings rate will come from pretax money that we never see in our bank accounts). 50% is a big, huge goal for us, and one I’m not totally confident we will reach, but I strongly believe in setting reach goals for yourself, because they will push you further than you would go otherwise.

Pushing yourself on a hike is always worth it.

In the past few months, we have both gotten raises, and that money will go directly to savings, but the biggest thing that will get us to that much higher rate is continuing to fight lifestyle inflation. It’s amazing how much money can be spent even without paying for cable, clothing, or other material goods. This year we will be spending money on what matters and cutting out the noise of what really doesn’t.

Did breakfast out every weekend taste good? Of course. But was it worth over $4,000? Absolutely not. 

With a larger income (right about at median for our area) comes larger opportunities to spend money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Putting away half our income will be so much more satisfying than any meal out.

So how do we plan to get there? To more than double our past savings rate, we have to be serious.

1. Continue to share our monthly savings rate here on the blog. 

I’ve found that tracking our spending – and then sharing it – has made a huge difference in how I pay attention to day to day purchases, and zero spend days have become a game to drive costs down as much as possible. I will also update and continue the monthly financial posts to keep up on short and long term goals.

2. Keep cooking meals from scratch. 

This was a game changer for us in 2016. We had really gotten out of the habit and it had cost us a ton of money over the past few years. Our food bill should be thousands of dollars less in 2018. I would also like to work on my baking skills to get to a point where we aren’t buying any bread products from the grocery store.

Christmas Eve dinner – homemade pho and bahn mi

3. Max out my IRA for the first time. 

It’s a little embarrassing to put this down because I feel it’s something I should have already been doing. Regardless, it is on the list for 2019 and I see no reason for it not to happen. We will hopefully get one set up and automated for my husband as well.

4. Continue my clothes buying ban. 

Pretty self explanatory. I still have plenty of clothes and shouldn’t need any more this year, though some will get totally worn out in the coming months and get me closer to my goal of a minimal wardrobe. I will need a new pair of running shoes at some point, but I’m undecided on what I want to do about that. Unfortunately, that is one thing that isn’t so great to buy used or get as a hand me down.

5. Pay off our real estate investment.  

I had originally hoped this would have happened in 2017, but thanks to our back to back to back months of extraordinary expenses, we still have a few thousand left to go. This should be paid off this winter and then we can be on to putting money toward the next one. Every quarterly payment we receive goes straight back to where it came from, so we don’t plan to keep any income from it this coming year. These payments will be key to our future financial independence, but the best place for them now is as a reinvestment, much like a stock dividend.

6. Visit the library. A lot. 

I’ve been making a habit of visiting the library pretty much every week to load up on a giant stack of new books for our son. I’d like to keep track this year (even $1/book) and see how much we “save” by using the library. I’ve been most reading ebooks lately (still checked out from the library), but I’d like to get back to physical books. I currently have The Simple Path To Wealth on hold to read next.

Libraries are filled with such fun, free stuff

Along with visiting the library, I want to search out more free entertainment for us near home. There are so many free places to explore that are just as much fun as things that aren’t free.

7. Get serious about travel hacking. 

We have had our Alaska Airlines credit card for about 5 or 6 years now and have managed airline travel about once every 18 months through normal spending, but now that we have three of us traveling, we burn through points a lot faster, and we’d like to do bigger trips once or twice a year now.

It was totally awesome to pay $98 for 4 round trip tickets to Hawaii, and I want to do more of that. Bringing along my husband’s godfather as babysitter made the trip so much better and we hope to bring him along in the future. In order for more travel not to eat into our savings rate, we will be opening a few new travel cards to cover the miles we need. I’ve opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred* in my name and will be referring my husband once we meet the minimum spend.

Fantastic park in downtown Hilo, HI

We will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2019 and are planning to take a two week trip somewhere, and while we haven’t decided where yet, we’re seriously considering an overseas trip, which would cost quite a bit more out of pocket than we would want to spend. Travel is awesome, but only when we don’t spend a boatload of money doing it. Let me know if you have recommendations for a two week long trip in November; we are open to suggestions!

*If you’re interested in opening one of these cards, I’d love it if you’d consider to use my referral link.

So where do we begin?
Our pivot on our spending began slowly a year ago with reducing our breakfast and lunches out and replacing them with cheap home cooked meals instead, but our focus really began with the “No” Spend November I challenged us with. Writing down every single purchase and tracking no spend days made it clear where our savings rate really could be if we were intentional about every dollar we spent.

Today is January 1st and the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge begins for us in earnest. I hope that in having a very focused January, we will learn new ways to cut our base costs that will continue on through the rest of the year.

I am sharing our big goal everywhere – here on the blog, on social media, and in real life in hopes that this outside accountability will push us to do better than we ever thought possible. I’m excited to see what 2018 brings.

Do you have any big goals for 2018? I’d love to hear about them. 

59 thoughts on “Our Big Financial Goal For 2018

  1. Um that food looks amazing. I’m coming over for dinner!

    Such an awesomely ambitious goal, and you’ve got some solid steps to make it happen! I’m sure it’s no surprise that I love #6 😉 The library saved me over $550 last year-that’s insane!

    1. It was amazing. You ever find yourself in Seattle and I’ll cook for you 🙂

      The library is definitely the most fun part of this list!

    1. That’s an excellent goal!! Calculating my per day interest on my student loans was definitely a huge motivator to pay mine off faster.

    1. Please do!! That was my goal with sharing – I can’t pretend I didn’t say it 😉

      It’s funny, in the FIRE community, it doesn’t feel like a super high savings rate, but compared to most – and compared to our past years – it really is.

  2. Congrats on your 22% and 23% savings rate already, that’s incredible. 50% is a monumental goal, remember you’re still crushing it even if you don’t get there because your income (and tax liability) goes up as you earn more. We’ve never quite hit 50% but have still done okay.

    Spot on for the cooking, incredible savings to be bad there!

    1. Thank you! I’m not sure we can reach it this year, but I wanted it to be enough of a stretch goal that we really have to work at it all year. No matter what we’ll do better than if there was no goal.

  3. Love doing stretch goals, something I picked up from you. I really like #6 the library. I am starting to read more and really enjoy reading on my Ipad vs physical books. Not sure why that is but I read more often and faster. I also have started to consider ordering paperback versions of books that I find really good that I would like to lend to friends or coworkers. Which would cost me, even more, money seeing I’d be buying the same book twice. When in reality I could get them from the library for free. The Simple Path To Wealth is next on my list. Really have to challenge this one and see what avenue I should take. Also, 50% savings rate is very impressive!

    1. I’ve switched to mostly reading ebooks and the biggest reason is how transportable they are. No more traveling with a bag just for books 🙂

  4. GREAT goal! We challenged ourselves to the same goal for the first time in 2017…and it’s one of the best things I think I’ve done. Best of luck and I look forward to following your progress!

  5. Such ambitious goals, but very realistic ways to achieve them! It’s amazing what a difference a few small changes, like meal planning and using the library, can make. I’m in awe!

    1. Thank you! Our grocery bill has gotten SO much smaller in the past few months and we aren’t missing the way we were eating at all. Though it does take some more planning and time to be sure.

  6. Those are some really strong and focused goals! We’re tackling the January Uber Frugal month as well, even when we know Mr. E’s birthday is coming in the middle of it.

    Here’s to a whole, marvellous new year!

    1. My husband’s birthday is this month as well 🙂 happy birthday to Mr. E!

  7. I’ve already spent money on books this year but it was for a good cause! I wanted to support the first woman to translate Homer’s The Odyssey and the Kindle version was $3.99 yesterday (looks like it’s up again now, unfortunately, but I still think it’s an important work to support: http://amzn.to/2lIrWcH).

    Reading this, I decided that we should stretch our savings goal just a bit more, just to see if I could manage it. Happy New Year!

    1. It’s definitely hard to talk myself out of book purchases – that is certainly a worthy one!

      I’m glad to hear you stretching your goal! I think you’re almost guaranteed to end up further with a stretch goal, even if you don’t quite meet it (as long as it’s in the ballpark of reality as to not seem hopeless).

  8. 50%!?!?!?! YOU GOT THIS

    Those goals are absolutely inspiring. I really appreciate the cooking meals from scratch resolution! I am actually the man cook in our household and I absolutely LOVE cooking dinner every night. Not to mention it gives me lunch the next day:)

    Good luck on all your goals!

    1. That’s the goal!! My husband cooks a lot when he can, but since he works 50+ hours a week and I work 32, I make most of the meals during the week 🙂

  9. Such a great goal and you’ve so clearly outlined how you can make it happen! Supposedly Europe is pretty cheap in November (off season), but the weather isn’t the best then. I believe the Frugalwoods spent their Thanksgivings in Europe for a couple of years pre-FIRE days.

    From my travelling two weeks justifies no more than 12 hour travel time each way. We travelled once for 24 hours each way, and it was way too much for just two weeks. (Though I may be doing it again this May, so we’ll see!)

    1. Hmmm yeah you have a point about the time change. We actually LOVE traveling off season and don’t mind the weather since it’s rainy at home that time of year anyway 😉

  10. 50% is an awesome goal! You guys are making tons of progress and I am enjoying reading about it. We are doing the Uber Frugal Month as well!

  11. Best of luck in crushing those goals!

    The Chase Saphire Reserve has done amazing things for my family. I think I love it almost as much as my son (but not as much as my daughter). We put a ton of business expenses onto the card. As a result, we were able to cash in 225K worth of miles and fly first class to New Zealand last year (free).

    Wrack up those points and enjoy the anniversary!

    1. Wow. That is incredible! New Zealand is definitely on the list of possibilities!

  12. Man you are a busy mama! I am so impressed with your energy and commitment. I bet you will achieve your 2018 goals!

    1. Yeah, I am constantly busy. I don’t quite know what to do with myself when I try and sit down and relax 😂

  13. Love the post! Cooking at home more and going to the library are two that we really need to work on. I think if you get good at both they are in no way a sacrifice but actually a joy!

    1. Exactly right! The best kind of frugal things make your life better than before 🙂

  14. Great goals! You should definitely be able to reach 50% savings once you pay off your real estate. I hope you reach it and will be checking in on this blog. I like your honesty.

  15. Awesome goals!! We love going to the library. On top of borrowing books and DVDs, they also offer free workshops on gardening, cooking and storytime for the kids. We started to take our son to storytime when he was 3 months old and it’s a great atmosphere to be in. You should definitely get great use out of your local library.

    1. Unfortunately, library story time always seems to be at 10 or 11AM and I work til 2 🙁

  16. Love this post and your transparency. For the first time this year, one of my goals is to actually open a ROTH IRA let alone maxing one out! I love your point towards lifestyle inflation. Since I’ve been on a budget and determined to pay down debt, my habits have actually shifted from wanting things to wanting to pay my debt off faster. It’s almost to the point that I am little impatient but it’s weird what habits come out of wanting to get out of debt. Now I don’t even see what I used to perceive as lacking e.g. new car, hottest phone, etc.

    1. Just make sure to keep that fire once the debt is paid off! I’d say that was one of my biggest financial mistakes in the last 4 years or so – just letting up. Way harder to claw your way back than to just stay at that same level.

  17. I’m halfway through a “no buying” year. I’m also an avid runner so that can be tricky when the time comes. If you need fresh running shoes, I’ve always been happy with runningwarehouse.com close outs. You pay almost half price for last year’s models. I have no financial interest in the company, it’s just my go-to.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I’ll need a new pairs in a few months so I’ll definitely check out that site when the time comes. After some discussion with others, I’m moving running shoes into the “fitness” category instead of clothing because it really is a health item.

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