Apparently we are halfway through the year already, so it’s time for another quarterly goal check in already. I only set one main goal last year (and promptly forgot about the others I had set previously). This year, I decided to be intentional with my goals like I have with the rest of mine life.

By making these goal check ins on a quarterly basis, it’s not so long in between updates that I’ve completely forgotten about what I’d set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year.

We’re halfway through the year now, and even without looking back at my written goals, I know I’m doing pretty well so far. That said, the practice of going through and checking them off one by one has been really good for me to stay on track.

One of the first reasons I started this blog two years ago was for the accountability factor. While I’ve since then found community to be my favorite part of blogging, having accountability to help reach my goals has been huge.

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Money Goals

1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.

We are so close to achieving this goal, but I’m not convinced that we will quite make it. Through May, we were at a 46% savings rate (exactly our average for 2018), but June was a very expensive month. We, of course, had more vet bills, and then we spent a lot of money on materials as my husband has started to replace our back fence. Living on a park greenbelt is awesome until you have to eat the cost of the entire fence because there is no one to share it with.

One long stretch of fence

We also paid for a pricey hotel for our impromptu weekend to Leavenworth, pre-paid the Airbnb for my grandmother’s annual birthday trip this fall, and I pulled the trigger on my plane flights to FinCon. Really, I can’t think of a place where June was actually cheap. Except for the garden because we didn’t spend any money there and things are starting to ripen.

Our food bill won’t reflect a lower cost though even with the garden produce because we also paid for a portion of the quarter cow that we get every year. Instead of getting a full half to split between our three families all at once, though, we could split it so there will be another $300 bill come July or August. Absolutely worth it though, as I am willing to spend more money on local, humanely raised meat.

2. Max our my IRA again.

Well on my way here! I may not make my reach goal of fully funding it by the end of the year, but I should absolutely max it out by the April deadline. Considering 2018 was the first time I ever maxed it out, I’m feeling pretty good here.

My husband still has a ways to fund his as well, but he is contributing to it every month. I can’t decide if I want to go traditional or Roth with both of ours, so we have a mix. I’ve talked it over with him, and he’s good with just letting me run with the investment stuff. At minimum, though, he does know what’s going on.

3. Continue to increase charitable giving.

2019 marks the first year where I’ve shared my giving percentage each month. I haven’t wanted to share specific dollar amounts or where that money has gone (with one exception so far).

I consider my “giving” to include both traditional 501(c)3 charities as well as more personal situations like the one linked to above. For me, giving is all about helping people and that doesn’t have to be tied to a specific way to go about that.

My only rule for giving is that any gift is completely devoid of strings. Once the money has left my hands, it’s to be done with as the receiver pleases. If a gift comes with strings, it’s really about you and not the receiver.

4. Total food expenses under $1,000/month.

Well, this one is a hard fail. I’ve yet to have a month this year that’s landed under this dollar amount. I’ve gotten close a couple of times – under $1,100-$1,200 – but never in the three digits.

Clearly, spending on food and drink is our Achilles heel and I am well aware of that. At the same time though, I’m reasonably happy with the amount of money we spend now. Would I prefer if we spent $200 – $300 less on average? Yes. But we spend significantly better than we used to and are (mostly) intentional about it now.

Leavenworth meals are worth it

5. Travel hack to keep Iceland spending to a minimum.

120,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards points, check. (The Chase Sapphire Preferrednow 75,000 points sign up bonus – and the Chase Business Inknow 100,000 points sign up bonus). I’m more than a bit jealous of those bonuses though, because they were 50K and 80K when I signed up for them.

95,000+ Capital One Venture points check. I had considered opening the Barclay Arrival Plus with their 70,000 point sign up bonus, but they recently discontinued the card. Whoops. Too late.

This is the second time I’ve taken too long to decide about a card and I should probably learn to make a decision faster. The first time was the 100,000 point sign up for the Chase Marriott card when it first debuted. I opened one for me but missed the extra point deadline by a couple of days. Just looking now this card is showing a 100,000 point sign up bonus again, so we might just have to open a second one after all.

Clearly, I am a pretty low key travel hacker, but it has saved us a ton of money over the years, especially on Hawaii trips. Iceland is known to be very expensive though, so I’m already looking at ways to use the points we have.

We aren’t going until winter, so I may open another card or two before then to continue to soften the blow. If anyone has any budget Iceland tips, I’d love to hear them.

View from the free (with points) hotel we stayed at in Kona, Hawaii

6. Make a college funding plan for the kiddo.

Nope, still haven’t done this. We have a couple separate accounts opened for him, but I don’t have any real plan here.

The one plan I have is to pretend to keep paying daycare costs once he starts kindergarten, but that’s over a year away yet. I know we won’t cover 100% of his college costs, but we will pay a good portion. Hard to know what things will look like on the college front in fourteen years though.

7. Consider paying the mortgage off early.

Definitely still considering this. I’ve slowly inches up the amount we’ve been paying over the past year or so, but it’s still a small amount compared to the total amount we still owe on our mortgage. We’ve cut two months off the very end of the mortgage though by paying just a tiny bit extra, and that has been surprisingly motivating.

I think if our mortgage was smaller or our income was bigger, I’d look at this more seriously. But where we are at now, even hitting it all out wouldn’t make it go away in two or three years. For now, I think I’ll just keep inching our way closer and celebrate each month that drops off the end.

Even if we don’t pay it off any earlier, it will be done when we are fifty four since we bought our home so young. Knowing it will be done on the early end feels good, but forty or forty four would be so much better.

Life Goals

1. Complete a two year clothes buying ban and set parameters in place for beyond.

Today marks two years and four months of a complete clothes buying ban. Odds of making it to three years seem low, but two and a half is going to happen. Considering I first set out to do this for just one year, I’m pretty dang pleased with how long I’ve been able to keep it up.

Eventually, though, I will have to supplement my wardrobe with things (namely undergarments) that I can’t get as hand me downs. I did get a five pack of underwear through a birthday or Christmas gift card at the end of last year, but otherwise, I’ve just worn what I already owned. That can’t last forever, so I’m going to need to make a post-ban plan at some point.

Still can look good without buying new clothes 😉 

2. Have phone free time with the family in the evenings.

Oops. Does this count if I’m reading a book instead? We are all over the board on this one. On days we hang out with friends or neighbors, we do really well and have technology free nights altogether.

On days we’re just hanging at home on work days though, we end up putting on a show for the kiddo at the end of the night for an hour or so, and I’ll be either reading or on the phone. Definitely one I need to work on some more.

3. Get outside at least once a week, even in the winter.

It’s not winter, and the days are generally good now, so this one has been really easy. Like, every day outside time easy. I’ll pick this one up as a goal once the weather gets less nice in October or November, but it’s just life right now.

I did complete a 100 hours outdoors challenge back in May and ended the month with 112.5 hours outside. I’d say we are doing very well here while the days are so long and so lovely.

Easy to be outside on a day like this

4. Lose 25 pounds.

After far to long of treating this like a “nice to do” but not a real goal, I got serious about it in June. Before my son was born, I had the time and bandwidth to track my diet closely and work out 5-7 days a week. Clearly, life is different now so I need a different strategy.

5. Read 30 books.

This is another goal like the outdoor one that I really didn’t need to set. Or, I should have been more ambitious and set a 52 book goal like I’d initially considered.

As of today, I’m halfway through books 25 and 26, so even that 52 book idea might well happen this year. These days, I’m usually reading one book on my Kindle (often a re-read) and one hard copy book that I’ve checked out from the library. Current reads are City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare and Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker.

Blog Goals

1. Set a future calendar for Monday posts.

Well, I did a reasonable job on this for a while, but it’s dropped off. I have a general sense of what I’ll be writing on Mondays for the next month, but it gets really fuzzy after that. (See: I have absolutely no idea).

Once a month is my detailed financial update and once is a guest post, so there really are only two or three posts a month that I have to really think about in terms of content. That structure has been more helpful than a long schedule of post ideas, at this point.

When I first started blogging, I was worried that I would run out of things to write. Two years in, however, I realize that will never be the case. The trick will just be to actually write the posts that I want to get out. It’s funny how the more you write, the more you have to say.

2. Get two posts ahead for Monday content.

This one sure is a good goal. Ha. I’ve gotten better about writing my posts slightly ahead, but not this far ahead. At this point, I feel like I am successful when I have posts written two full days ahead of posting them.

Each time I actually get a post ahead, I don’t keep writing on that same schedule. Instead, I just skip writing days until I am forced to write again. Perhaps I’ll manage this someday, but it sure hasn’t happened yet.

Where I oftentimes write my blog posts this time of year

3. Grow the reach of Women’s Personal Finance Wednesdays.

This is definitely happening. I’ve seen steady growth with the referrals out on my Wednesday posts and I love it. I’ve also been told a number of times that people have found new favorite blogs through these features, and that’s about the best feedback I can get.

4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste. 

I write about this often enough as part of other blog posts, especially Friday’s Frugal Five, but this is a good reminder that it’s time to write a more focused post here.

My last specially sustainability and zero waste post was my Q&A on Earth Day. Considering this was over two months ago, I’m overdue.

5. Do NOT let this blog turn into a business.

This goal in particular has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind these days. Two years in, I have made very little money on this blog, and the back end “business” end of things has been very low priority for me. I have yet to spend any time on SEO or setting up plug ins etc. I hardly have an email list.

I still have no real interest in spending a lot of time on the tech side of things with the blog. My biggest goals are still to create community and stay accountable to my financial goals. But in order to make an impact in terms of sustainability and the amplification of women’s voices in the personal finance space, the more people I can reach the better.

I wrote more of my thoughts in this post last week, but I’m starting to think a little harder about the money making part of blogging and search engine optimization that gets my words in front of more people. And those things don’t have to mean that I put in more hours than I already do, just that they can be more efficient hours.

I still don’t know where I’m going to land, but I will be 100% transparent here if I do anything different on that front. Above all else, my goal is to be candid and authentic in all things that I share on this blog. But does that mean I can’t be paid for the endless hours I spend on this passion project? I’m not sure it does.

Did you make 2019 goals? How are they going a halfway through the year?

35 thoughts on “Quarterly Goals Check In: June 2019

  1. Hey Angela great post! It seems like your making good progress on your goals. Your savings rate is so close to 50%, even if you guys had a difficult month with expenses at least you have six months left in the year to recover. Darn fence they can certainly be costly! Maxing out my investment accounts is a future goal for me as well, I wish you all the best in this you can definitely do it. I commend you on the clothes buying ban, not sure I could do it. For me I would need to ban books and dvds they are my down fall. Thanks for sharing this with us, I’m rooting for you guys to achieve your goals. Take care Matthew

    1. Books used to be a serious issue for me but I’ve gone to fully ebooks + hard copy library books now. Well, except for all the kid books that populate every room of our house 😂

  2. It’s always fun to hear about other’s goals and accomplishments. It sounds like you are making great progress, too!!! It’s inspiring to read about.

    As far as the kiddo’s college savings, that is very much like retirement savings – the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be. I feel like we did pretty well saving but my teen will be off to college in a little over a year, and now, I can see that the money we saved isn’t going to stretch quite as far as I had hoped. *sigh*

    1. Holy cow, next year?? I didn’t realize your oldest was quite that close to college!

  3. i’m not sure if we have any firm goals as we fly by the seat of our pants on this stuff, albeit in a positive direction mostly. i think i’ll be running one or two more races this year to make up for the bad one. i bought one of those fitness tracker GPS watches a few weeks ago and that’s been interesting. the heart rate feature is the most useful thing for me so far. i still have to upgrade the operating system of our 2010 macbook to use the downloadable stuff like sleep quality and all that.

  4. Why do you need a fence if you’re backed up to a green belt? Can’t you just have an open space?
    Your food spending is pretty high. Is it due to eating out?
    Anyway, looking good on most goals. Saving rate is good too. Not 50%, but still much better than 99% of US households.

    1. Two large dogs 🙂 Plus the privacy because there are trails back there.

      And food spending is ALWAYS high, but much much lower than it used to be 😉 quality food at home plus eating out (especially when we travel).

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I’m new to blogging and accountability is a good motivator for me. For my kids’ college savings, I have their accounts setup through– invested in Vanguard. It’s a good way to have family help out, too!

    1. Everyone talks about family contributing to college accounts but I have yet to convince any of ours of that!

  6. Those Chase bonuses are pretty sweet. Like you, we’d signed up for two of each of those cards…but when they were 60k and 80k respectively. Still, I’m not too bummed. Both those bonuses seemed pretty darn high at the time.

    We’re going to struggle to hit our savings rate targets now that our income has gone down, and we’re back to being a single income household. But maybe things will improve enough with the mortgage paydown that we can still hit the % we’re seeking.

    Even if you don’t hit the exact 50%, I think a couple percent here or there isn’t going to move the needle. Getting in the neighborhood with your expenses & savings is probably good enough, I think. Best of luck through the rest of the year.

    1. Yeah, I’m coming around to the idea that in the ballpark is “good enough.” I’d maybe feel different about it if we had a specific close end target like you do though.

  7. Great post and congratulations on the high savings rate! You are making excellent progress on your goals. I seem to be hung up on that 5 – 0 number myself. I need to change a few things so I can get into the hardcore 60s% and 70s%.

    Back in January, I wrote out my goals for the year. I had read something about how one should focus on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than goals/benchmarks. Who knows?! I still explicitly wrote them out and will be revisiting them shortly. I think the behavior focus has been helpful though, namely automating processes or developing routines so I’m not expending mental energy on the minutiae.

    I hear ya on the blog monetization stuff. I am also currently writing for pleasure, but maybe that changes down the road. The marketing, SEO, etc. is a daunting learning curve, I feel clueless. I signed up for a wordpress meetup later this month. Any pointers on self-study resources? It seems like there are a ton of ecourses now taught by FIRE bloggers. I don’t really feel like spending a few hundred dollars for someone’s youtube videos, but maybe that’s a bit unfair…

    1. I’ve found having concrete goals has helped SO much. And we could get to the 60%+ savings rate, but we’d have a lot less fun that way, so we won’t be going there 😉

      As far as learning SEO etc I actually highly recommend Julie and Cody’s course (I just wrote about it last week). It’s closed for the first round but it’s SO helpful. Googling and learning as I go was so overwhelming I just left it alone. Granted, that worked well for me for the first two years, but that’s because I’ve paid for WordPress business and otherwise just left my site alone 🙂

  8. I am impressed at your high savings rate with your simultaneous ability to take those trips. We are not even close to that savings rate, a bit more than half yours, but we are also failing to take the trips. Ironically, since we have a ton of hotel points thanks to my wife’s pre-baby work travel, we really have no excuse. They are just sitting there like an asset that is not gaining value. She was a consultant for a lot of years, but that also meant I saw her 2 days most weeks until she was too pregnant to travel that much.

    1. Time to go use those hotel points!! Buying our house in the bottom of the market and subsequently having a very low mortgage for our area is a huge part of our ability to save so much (plus minimal childcare costs for our area).

  9. Great progress. I hear you on the “getting a post ahead” problem. If I ever find myself ahead of schedule, I do exactly as you described, fill the gap with idle time until I feel the pressure of needing a new post. I guess these blogs don’t write themselves.

    1. Ha exactly. But I think in some ways needing to blog more regularly keeps the creative juices flowing. So it’s not all bad.

  10. 46% is pretty darn close to 50%, so I think y’all should still feel pretty freaking amazing about that. And overall it seems like you’re moving towards the mark on the rest of them too, so kudos!

    Also, I totally see how these quarterly check-ins are great for accountability. It’s got me reconsidering how I make use of goals in general.

    1. That public accountability with blogging is great for actually making goals happen 🙂

  11. My goals are usually fitness or training based, and I reached a few of them this year already! I beat a few of my fastest times on hills in my area on my bike, times that I set four or 5 years ago when I was just a young’un. It makes me feel good and reminds me that age is just a number

  12. Your goal progress looks great! I think sometimes it’s important to set huge goals because even when you don’t quite reach them, the progress is remarkable.

    1. Exactly right! Like if I’d set a 30% or 40% savings rate goal we’d have hit it, but probably barely.

  13. You’re making great progress! We just recently maxed out our retirement accounts, too, and are on track to do so again this year. My other goals could use more attention though: less phone time and more exercise. Think I will set a midyear goal to do some regular personal writing, I feel that’s missing from my life.

    1. Funny how the money stuff can be easier than the rest of the more “personal development” kind of goals.

  14. I didn’t really make any goals other than a vague one to read more. Which is an iffy progress at present. I’m reading more than I did last year, but last year was abysmal, so that’s not saying much. Dunno when I stopped reading as much. Maybe when I went on a diet and realized I snack too much when I read?

    It’s great that you’re making progress on those goals. And thanks for the Marriott link. I can only get 75k point if I sign up through a regular link, so I may use yours instead.

    1. Huh. I wonder why the discrepancy between the bonus amounts? Or maybe it switched again? Who knows. And I went through a period of a few years where I read very little, but I’m back at it now!

  15. Ok, seriously excellent work here. My hunch is that if you can get below that $1,000 mark for food, you will also trip that 50% savings rate goal. Our monthly food bill has ratcheted down because of the focus on the heavier plant based diet and cutting back on our alcohol intake. Since
    we are both well over 40, alcohol intake/enjoyment has taken a steep decline. My partner has been killing it on fishing trips lately so we have been eating a lot of local, line caught protein. Since we have separate finances, I don’t see the fuel costs hit my budget. 🙂 Nice work on the clothing ban. I feel like underwear and socks shouldn’t count.

    1. Underwear and socks will definitely be the things I can’t get around eventually 😉 And I know we COULD tighten up our food spending a bit more. But apparently it hasn’t been a super priority. Clearly.

  16. Keep up the great work! Never a bad idea to consider paying off the mortgage early, my friend. We LOVE no longer having that payment each month (though property tax and insurance of course, continues…)

    Phone free time is important in our house too. That’s one of the reasons I don’t engage as much as I should in the blogging community — never any time at home (as we’re setting THAT example for the kids) and at work, well, there’s work…

    1. That’s the rub, isn’t it? Even once the mortgage is gone you still have to keep paying for things 😆

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