It may be the end of January before I’m finally publishing these goals, but I’ve had them written down since the beginning on the year and they have been informing my choices already. This will be my third year of publicly goal setting and sharing on the blog, and I’ve found that having them written down here and checking in quarterly has been a big part of me achieving those goals.
Beyond the goals themselves, the act of designing and sharing them here means that I spend time at the beginning of each year intentionally thinking about what’s important to me and what I’d like to accomplish over that time. In 2018, that was the one big goal of attempting to hit a 50% savings rate for the first time, and 2019 was about a whole bunch of different goals (and without intentionally realizing it at the time, finding my place in this time of life where five years from now look to perhaps be quite similar to now).
In 2020, while I have many of the same goals as 2019, in the big picture, I want to continue leaning in to this season of life and be content with where I’m at now. There are still many things I want to accomplish this year, but balance and contentment are at the top of the list. We’ve hit our stride financially, and while I want to keep pushing that, I won’t be chasing after the last dollar, nor will I beat myself up over a month where we don’t save as much as planned.
1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.
This will continue to be my big financial goal until we actually make it happen over the average of a year. So far, I’ve surpassed that during three paycheck months, but 2018 and 2019 both landed in the forties for the year.
As our incomes grow, we bank raises to savings and our investments and dividends also continue to grow, so I expect this savings rate will eventually just happen as long as we stay on track. Unlike previous years though, I’ve come to accept that we are at a point where saving around 40-45% of our incomes is very feasible, but hitting 50% is a big challenge. Goals are meant to be challenging though, and this one will continue to be a yearly one until we make it happen.
Tracking with Personal Capital
2. Max out my IRA again.
I started tracking my giving in 2018 and then began sharing the percentage in my monthly financial updates here in 2019. Over the past two years, giving has become much more of a habit, and like with anything else, it gets easier with practice.
This year, I want to take it one step further and get more intentional with my giving. Instead of spreading out my money to a ton of different places, I’m working on researching and choosing a few places to put most of my money. For starters, that is Revanche’s charities, Washington State Parks, local political candidates, and my church (where much of that money goes to serving our local community including the homeless day center on site / permanent shelter under construction).
I’ve set recurring donations so that they get an infusion of cash every month, but I will be keeping some amount flexible for when other opportunities arise. To be clear, my “giving” also includes things like sending meals to families with new babies / health issues / etc or other non official charity needs. Especially since the tax code changed, I keep track of all of this for me, not for tax filing time.
4. Total food expenses under $1,000/month.
Another one of those “forever goals.” Food is our Achilles heel when it comes to unnecessary spending, but we’ve come a long way from where we used to spend $2,500 a month on food and drinks.
We now land somewhere north of $1,000 and south of $1,500 most months, getting in under $1,000 just once in 2019. I’m really okay spending up to $1,500 a month, but without this goal in mind I know we would continue to creep back up to our old ways.
5. Hit next $100,000 net worth.
This “goal” might backfire on me since it’s not entirely under my control but at the mercy of both the real estate and stock markets. However, we are close enough at this point to hit that next milestone without any gains (and even a small loss) by the end of the year, so I’m putting this goal in. It will be fun to see that next number, but if it doesn’t happen this year, that means we’ve had a pretty big dip. We will not be selling though, so that number will happen eventually. Definitely the upside of no short term retirement goals.
1.Complete a three year clothes buying ban and set parameters in place for beyond.
When I published my goal last year, I didn’t even comprehend I could make it to three years and wanted to plan for “after” the two year mark. Clearly, I haven’t had to think about the after yet, and year three is just over a month away (March 1st).
Amazingly, this ban doesn’t feel like it’s quite at the end yet. I have no expectations as to when it will end at this point, but I’m not there now thanks to hand me downs from so many different people as well as a few key gifts. I couldn’t have lasted so long with just the clothes in my closet, and I’ve been blown away by how much I’ve received by others.
Everyone seems to be attempting to declutter, myself included, and because I’ve been so vocal about this ban and my interest in secondhand clothing, everyone seems to think of me before sending clothing off to the thrift store. Since a lot of that clothing eventually ends up in the landfill or as textile recycling, I’m more than happy to be that in between point.
2. Have a minimum of two internet free days a month.
This goal was inspired by Carbon Free Family on Instagram, who takes a 24 hour break every Saturday, which feels next level to me. Even having two a month is going to be HARD, to which my husband replied it’s apparently time to go camping. He is right though, as being off grid is amazing and refreshing – and also the only way I’ve so far been able to stay offline for a full day. This goal is definitely going to be the hardest one.
ETA: I was inspired by writing this post to get on this goal since I haven’t had an internet free day in January so far, so Sunday (yesterday) became my first one on a whim.
3. Fit in three great workouts a week.
Oh, the irony of finally getting around to writing this post today. I went on a great hour long run yesterday (just like I did the previous weekend, with other workouts in between), but this morning I woke up with excruciating pain in my right heel to the point where I could barely put weight on it.
Thanks to a lot of rest, ibuprofen, ice, and a long massage from a massage therapist friend, it’s feeling *better* but still hurts. I did some googling that had me hoping it isn’t plantar fasciitis because I’m already going stir crazy from sitting around today.
This goal is meant to be three workouts every week that are a minimum of twenty minutes where I sweat most of that time. I’ve been doing an awesome job of this lately with this in mind. I don’t have a weight goal for this year, as this one makes a lot more sense. As long as I haven’t really hurt my foot and can keep on running. Cross your fingers for me.
4. Eat vegetarian or vegan 2/3 of my meals.
I went back and forth a bunch before posting this between making this either 1/2 or 2/3 of my meals. I decided that since I’ve been close to half already, I’m going to push myself here and go for a full two thirds.
The husband and kiddo are big meat eaters, and I don’t expect to ever fully give up meat and dairy, but cutting back makes a big difference to my personal environmental footprint. With that reduction, pretty much all of my meat can be sourced locally and sustainably as well. Time to re-read Bethany’s guest post for inspiration.
5. Read 52 books.
I blew past my goal of 30 books last year (I read 55), but the vast majority of them were fiction. I adore fiction, so that isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I want to make sure I keep things a bit more balanced this year and read a minimum of twelve nonfiction books this year, or one a month (versus the nine I read last year).
I’m only halfway through my first nonfiction book of the year, while I’ve already finished six fiction books, so clearly I need to pay attention here. I do have a number of them on hold now thanks to a ton of recommendations I got on Twitter the other day. I was surprised at how many people were excited about my reading list post, but I loved writing about the books I read and may try and find a way to write more about them.
6. Continue quest of less plastic and closer to zero waste.
Enough said. I’ve definitely continued to push this direction, but it is hard. Really hard. I’m going for progress not perfection, but I feel more pressure here since so many people in the personal finance space look to me as the sustainability person. Ultimately though, that’s a good thing because it doesn’t let me get complacent and feel like I’m doing “enough.”
1. Stay two posts ahead for Monday content.
I’m currently only one Monday post ahead since taking that blogging break over Christmas, but I haven’t let myself lose at least that one. I’m hoping that I will get back to that two post lead time soon. It’s so easy to tell myself I don’t need to blog over a weekend when I already have a post in the queue ready to go, but I’d rather keep them for purposeful skip weekends when I’m busy doing other things.
2. Plan to take another blogging break at the holidays next year.
Taking a couple weeks off from writing was awesome. I’m glad to be back, but it was refreshing to step away during the holidays (and while I was sick, unfortunately). Being two Monday posts ahead is definitely what got me to take that time off, so clearly I need to keep that going.
I will definitely be taking another break around the holidays again this coming year, but I’m considering one for this summer as well. I was concerned that if I took a break I’d lose momentum and find myself taking even more time off, but that wasn’t the case and I’m enjoying being back into my regular writing routine.
3. Grow the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group to 20,000 members.
I think it was Emily over at Fierbird Finance who threw this out as a possible goal, and it stuck. The group is currently at a few more than 12,000 members, which means it will have to continue to grow quite a bit through the year to get that much bigger.
I’ve gone back and forth between making the group secret and mostly closing it off to new members to protect the wonderful community that it has now, but I also want it to be available for any women who want to learn and share more about their finances. The second inclination is stronger, and so far the group has stayed amazing as it’s grown. I’m hopeful it can continue to be so wonderful while expanding its reach to many new womxn this year. For those of you who are in the group, thank you for making it the most inspiring place on Facebook. I’m so glad you’re there.
4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste.
5. Be intentional about any changes to this blog.
Last year, one of my blog goals was to make sure this blog didn’t turn into a business. Thanks to Julie, her insistence over the last few years that income can increase impact, and her Gold City Ventures Blogging Course, I’m less gun shy about the money I make with this blog. I’ve come to realize that there are reason why making more money here could be a good thing, and that doesn’t mean the blog has to be a bigger consumer of my time.
That said, much like Purple, I’m an inherently lazy blogger when it comes to doing anything other than actually writing, so things really haven’t changed here since this time last year. There are changes I would in theory like to make, but they aren’t high enough priority for me to make them happen at this point. No matter what, my goal for my blog is to continue to write openly and honestly, and any changes I someday make will be made with intentionality.
Have you written down any goals for this year? How is it going so far?