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.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
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.
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.
5. Travel hack to keep Iceland spending to a minimum.
120,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards points, check. (The Chase Sapphire Preferred – now 75,000 points sign up bonus – and the Chase Business Ink – now 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5. Do NOT let this blog turn into a business.
Did you make 2019 goals? How are they going a halfway through the year?