Well, life is certainly different than when I wrote up these goals back in January. Our world has gone topsy turvy, and I’m so glad that I’ve spent the last couple of years working on my SlowFI journey with a focus on living in the present. With so many long term goals behind me (degree, career, house, kid), I had a hard time pivoting to leaning into this phase of life.
I’m getting better at that, and it sure feels timely to have worked some on that, because all my goals are somewhat achievable still, due to the fact that they aren’t huge ones that look years out in the future. My heart aches for those who had big changes coming to them that are now cancelled on hold, and I hope for a future where we can get back on track, while keeping the good that has come out of this big life pause.
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1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.
This goal is definitely still a maybe after the first quarter of this year. For the first three months of 2020, We are right at a 46% savings rate, well within striking distance. If life were normal right now, I’d say we would have good odds of making that 50% mark, or at least be very close again for the third year in a row (both 2018 and 2019 were in the forties).
Life decidedly isn’t normal right now, though, so I really don’t know what the rest of 2020 will bring. We are both employed as normal for now, as is our roommate, but that doesn’t mean that couldn’t change in the future. With so much up in the air right now, I won’t be making any predictions for how the rest of the year will go.
That said, we aren’t really spending any month outside of basic expenses (plus a lot of take out), so as long as a) we don’t have a ton of vet bills b) we have a significant change in income or c) something else I can’t predict right now, we should do well with our savings again this year.
Tracking with Personal Capital
It’s been two years since I initially downloaded Personal Capital and started actually tracking our net worth. While savings rate is still more important to me because it’s what we can actually control, there is something to be said for having a sense of your overall net worth.
I was unconvinced for a long time that I even needed to track our net worth, but I’m so glad that I finally set up an account where I could track it all. I especially appreciate being able to look at the graphs for individual area, like investment accounts and cash savings.
We have a bunch of separate accounts, so it’s really nice to see them all in one place. I’m also working on growing our overall cash savings, and Personal Capital aggregates them all across four different banks, which makes things a lot simpler.
If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth, I’d recommend Personal Capital for that purpose. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll also get a $20 Amazon gift card for doing so.
2. Max out my IRA again.
Done! I finally maxed out my 2020 IRA earlier this month. I had considered more slowly finishing off the last $1,100 once the 2019 end date got pushed out to July, but I really didn’t want to start out with maxing out 2020 months late. I pulled some money out of savings to max it out when I did (thanks to extra high vet bills in 2019), but it feels good to be done with it. I consider the money put into my Roth IRA (I do half and half with traditional) as backup-backup savings, so I’ve kept some out of the market until I refill the savings account I pulled the last of that money from.
3. Get more intentional with my giving this year.
I set up several recurring donations that automatically get charged to my credit card now, and I enjoy not having to think about it each month. I also realize that by sending more money to a fewer number of smaller organizations, my money can have a bigger impact than spreading it out all over the place.
My giving has changed since COVID-19 though, with lots more money going to local businesses that are struggling with lost business through stay at home orders. With the massive change in our local and global economy, I’ve shifted where my giving is going, while keeping the recurring charges I’d already set up. We are spending more on take out that previously, and tipping much larger than typical, and I consider that extra tipping in my giving numbers now.
March, the first month since COVID-19 really impacted our area, saw that giving percentage almost double from February. We’re in a good place financially, so I feel driven to pass some of that along.
4. Total food expenses under $1,000/month.
February actually saw this goal happen. And then March more than made up for that savings, and April will look similar. As long as our favorite local restaurants are struggling, our food expenses will be up, so this goal is pretty much on hold for now. That, and when we are grocery shopping these days, we aren’t worried about sales, and there’s been a noticeable uptick in prices.
5. Hit next $100,000 net worth.
Is this goal still possible with the recent market downturns and volatility? We shall see. When I set this goal, I knew it would be somewhat up to the whims of the market, so I’m not married to making this one happen, since it isn’t within my control. We are continuing to save though (and some in cash), so maybe this will still happen.
1. Complete a three year clothes buying ban and set parameters in place for beyond.
Done. This happened on March 1st, and it was a bit underwhelming since by that point we’d decided to keep the kiddo out of preschool due to coronavirus concerns. I did write a bit about my clothing ban over on Ecofrugals, but this goal kind of got pushed to the backburner with more pressing concerns. That said, I have no plans to break it yet either.
2. Have a minimum of two internet free days a month.
This goal has been more successful – and somewhat easier – than I expected it to be. As of the end of April, I’ve had six internet free days (outside of Zoom calls, etc) – no social media, and no news consumption.
The most stressful internet free day was the one at the end of February, right when we had our first coronavirus death here in Kirkland and the first day things felt really “real” here locally. It was an odd, uncomfortable thing to learn information just from others sharing with me, and it didn’t feel great. Fast forward two months, and today’s internet free day felt much easier and more restful, more like they did pre-COVID.
3. Fit in three great workouts a week.
My plantar fascitis seems to finally be healing (albeit slowly), and I’ve been slowly ramping up my running as well. I tried to run three times a couple weeks ago and that was a bit much, but two twenty minute runs a week right now seem to be doing well for me. I’d love to do more, but I want to make sure I don’t go backward and end up not being able to run at all again.
Today also marks my ninth day in a row of a daily yoga practice of a minimum of twenty minutes. While I’d love to have time for longer videos, I’m finding that I can carve twenty minutes out of every day (so far). Instead of very rarely fitting in an hour long session, I’m really enjoying the daily nature of the shorter ones.
4. Eat vegetarian or vegan 2/3 of my meals.
Doing well here. Most of my dinners have meat in them, but most of the rest of my meals don’t. This goal is usually in the back of my head, but it’s become more routine to pick the vegetarian option. That, and working from home makes it all too easy to choose cereal for lunch.
5. Read 52 books.
This goal has slowed notably since we landed ourselves in a global pandemic. I’m currently – slowly – making my way through Kitchen Literacy, which is a fabulous book, but I’m finding my brain having a hard time focusing for very long on it. It’s definitely a good thing that I have that library book indefinitely, because I sure haven’t finished it in a timely manner. The last (e)book of The Clan of the Cave Bear series is a bit easier, but they are long books, and I’m still not reading as much as I used to. I am listening to more audiobooks though, and for some reason I’m having an easier time with them. Definitely glad for Audible these days.
6. Continue quest of less plastic and closer to zero waste.
I’m finding this a bit more of a challenge these days in some ways. Namely, many places aren’t allowing reusable containers right now because of virus transmission concerns. That said, I’m still doing things like buying coffee from local coffee shops – even breaking my “no disposable cups” rule – because I feel that right now, supporting them is more important. I talked quite a bit about that in this recent podcast episode if you want to hear more of my thoughts there. Overall, the quarantine life has a much lower environmental impact though.
1. Stay two posts ahead for Monday content.
I’m currently one post ahead on Monday content right now, which feels like a serious win considering the whole no-focus-during-a-pandemic thing. Maybe someday I’ll get back to two posts ahead, but I’m quite happy with one.
2. Plan to take another blogging break at the holidays next year.
Taking a blogging break during our trip to Iceland in January was the best idea ever. I’ll be doing this again this year, but I haven’t decided when.
3. Grow the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group to 20,000 members.
The group is now at just shy of 15,000 members! Perhaps we will hit 20,000 members this year. As always, it’s my favorite place on Facebook, and the main reason I still stick around on that platform. The women are absolutely wonderful, and it feels even more important now that we aren’t able to have that social connection in person right now.
4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste.
While I’ll clearly still be writing more about sustainability and zero waste here, Kristine and I launched Ecofrugals in February! I haven’t had the head space to spend a lot of time on that site lately thanks to *waves at state of the world* but I’m looking forward to diving in more again soon. I think I’m almost ready.
5. Be intentional about any changes to this blog.
In “just keep swimming” mode right now, so this goal is easy. Sticking to my three weekly posts, and leaving it at that for now.
How have your goals changed with COVID? Goals definitely feel…weird, right now, but I’m glad to have them for some grounding.
20 thoughts on “Quarterly Goals Check In: April 2020”
Nice update on the goals! You’re doing well, so keep it up! I’ve had a similar reading goal, but I’m not where I’d like to be with it, though mine wasn’t as specific as yours. Stay safe!
Thank you! Yeah, I’m definitely behind on reading.
i think our new goal is to go somewhere, anywhere this year. at least the portfolio looks strong.
HA. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Love your openness and accountability, even when things go topsy-turvy. We are feeling fortunate to be healthy and safe so far. The finances are still mostly on autopilot except we are more focused on spending locally whenever we can. Also focusing more on improving our non-financial resources. Eating healthy, exercising and growing our own food are key priorities right now. We’d also love to go anywhere as a family when things look better!
Prioritizing non-financial resources is definitely something we’re focusing on too (though financial ones as well). I’ve been thinking about you all – you’re in a unique spot to weather all of this.
There’s been ups and downs to where we are for sure. Happy to share more… but when?! Here’s hoping to getting together sometime when things are better.
Maybe we could hop on a phone call one of these days? Would be nice to hear from you!
Yeppers, my goals have changed. I was signed up and ready to complete a Master Naturalist course, Space Camp, and Tough Mudder. Then Coronavirus came in and busted up my good time! These are summer opportunities so there is still a slim chance they could occur but its hard to have hope when staring into the ugly mug of Coronavirus statistics.
OOF. Talk about needing to pivot with goals this year. A tough mudder has been on my someday list for entirely too long.
Thanks for sharing these goal updates as usual! I’ve been wanting to come up with a couple of big goals to accomplish by or around my 40th birthday in the fall. Some of those look highly unlikely (running a half-marathon in public with people), but could be adjusted to a less-fun version where I run it on my own anyway. I’m still pondering. Our county is having a virtual 5K this week that I signed up for, with the fees going to a group of local small businesses to help them through the days.
Yep, the takeout restaurant bill is definitely higher. The good thing for us is we were in a solid habit where eating out or carryout was so rare (maybe once a month) that now we feel a little more able to support a local biz once a week or so. I wish we could do it more!
Fingers crossed you can do something fun for that milestone birthday! I keep thinking about doing one of those virtual runs. Haven’t decided how much I’d enjoy that.
A virtual run definitely misses the fun of running in a group! But I still enjoyed it and tried a little harder than usual. And if the money’s for a good cause, that’s great.
Yeah, I haven’t run an actually race in SO long. I kept meaning to sign up for one, and now I can’t lol
You are crushing your yoga practice. Proud of you! It seems you have clear direction and whatnot with the others as well. And take care of that foot. I admire your vision to create big things like your group supporting local business and your women’s facebook group. I seem to have a hard time committing to big things since retiring, not in a bad way if that makes sense. After 3 years, I feel like I’ve finally caught my breath after “running” hard for so long. One of these days, I’ll take on a big project again, but in the meantime, I’m gonna cheer on the people I see doing the work, especially the ones like you are working so hard to make the world a better place. Have a great rest of the week!
There is NOTHING wrong in not wanting to tackle the big stuff. A lot of life lives in the wonderful everyday.
Agree re: the idea of goals feeling both weird and grounding right now. Our didn’t change in terms of substance, although the approach looks different — especially with the one related to the student loan. It didn’t feel right sending money to a debt that is frozen and not collecting interest during such a weird time. The goal is to eventually send all the cash to the loan, but for now, I feel better keeping it in our savings account.
Glad to hear your plantar fasciitis is starting to feel better — I feel your pain there (literally). Good call to take it a little slower getting back to running. I’m pretty sure part of the reason mine took so long to get to where it is now in healing is because I was too stubborn to stop haha.
Yeah, hanging on to that cash seems like the right choice right now.
And… my heel is definitely taking longer to recover as well because I just can’t sit completely. But at least it’s headed in the right direction.
Thanks for the update! Maybe it’s time to take out the vision boards, because I know I’ve hit a few of mine too.
Thanks again for the inspiration!
Do it! 🙂