Well, I think I had some unfounded hope at the last quarterly update back in April that things would be more back to normal by now, but they clearly aren’t. COVID cases here in the United States are higher than ever, and I’m concerned what 4th of July gatherings are going to do to them in the next couple of weeks.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth even paying attention to my goals right now – just surviving a global pandemic is a big thing – but I do like the structure they bring, even if I’m not as focused as I expected to be. I’ll keep track of these through the rest of the year, but I’m working on giving myself grace and understanding that life isn’t normal this year, so it’s okay if my goal outcomes aren’t either. That said, many of these goals are going better than I would have expected, all things considered.
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1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.
We are currently sitting at a 46% savings rate through the end of May, when we clocked in at 50% for the month. I’m dropping back down to my part time schedule though, so our income will be shrinking again after July, which is a three paycheck month. Even so, this might be possible for the year still, barring any unforeseen circumstances (you know, besides a whole global pandemic, civil unrest, and everything else that 2020 is throwing at us).
While putting away a good amount of money toward savings continues to be very important to me – and feels especially so in the light of all the current volatility – my giving rate has felt even more important. I’m proud of our savings rate, but I’m even more proud of our increased savings. Life might be uncertain for us, but as we continue to be employed, giving back is even more important than those last few dollars in our bank accounts.
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.
I completed this goal back in April even though the deadline got moved to July 15th this year, which means, if you haven’t completed it yet – you’ve got nine days left! That said, this year is decidedly not normal, so if you aren’t maxing it out like you’d hope, realize that is perfectly okay. That, and a Roth IRA account can be used like a last-resort back up savings account, since you can take out the contributions tax and penalty free regardless of your age. For that reason, I’d need a pretty good reason not to max mine out and just let the money sit in cash in the Roth until I felt comfortable investing it.
3. Get more intentional with my giving this year.
Thanks to writing this post, I finally, finally, set up recurring donations for my church (which I’m now officially a member of, hooray!). I now have a few recurring ones set up for different charities, but I think I want to set up one or two more. I love having the money pulled automatically, because it doesn’t require any thoughts or to remember each month.
That said, it takes more planning up front to make sure I’m confident in where I’m sending my money. I still want to keep some discretionary dollars for when something new arises, but let me know if you have a favorite charity – I’m looking for another one.
4. Total food expenses under $1,000/month.
Not officially “giving” to have upped our take out each month, but it’s been an intentional increase to help support our local restaurants. We used to spend money on food like this in the past though, so it will have to be a conscious effort to pull back once things go back to “normal,” whenever that is.
I’m also doing more baking from scratch and harvesting from the garden, but thanks to increased grocery prices and interest in getting in and out quickly versus shopping sales, our grocery budget is up as well. Every other budget category is down though, so it feels okay that this one is up.
5. Hit next $100,000 net worth.
This goal actually happened. I was expecting it more nearer to the end of the year if it even happened, but thanks to a wild stock market – and added savings – we’ve hit that number already. This milestone also reminds me to be extremely grateful of our financial situation, and why I want to continue giving more and buying more locally – even if it costs us more money. We can afford it, and we are so, so lucky.
We’ve done a lot of work to get to where we’re at now, as well as have a decent amount of privilege. Privilege doesn’t negate hard work, but it’s a key that needs to be acknowledged, and one reason that giving back and being mindful of our situation is so darn important.
1. Complete a three year clothes buying ban and set parameters in place for beyond.
Thanks to a mostly quarantined life these days, I haven’t had any need to buy new clothes, or even get new hand me downs (though I have gotten a couple things). I wear casual clothes most of the time right now, and of those I have plenty.
July marked another month passing, and so now I’m at three years and four months in. Three and a half years is pretty much a given now, and even a full four years doesn’t seem impossible.
2. Have a minimum of two internet free days a month.
I had six by the end of April, but my Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group has made it feel pretty impossible to step away lately. We have had some great discussions on racial inequality and privilege lately, but it meant more administering of the group, and it was bleeding into my life in an unhealthy way.
After a chat with Sandy one night, she got me thinking about archiving the group to take a short break, like she does with hers every holiday season. Another person mentioned it the next day, and I realized I needed more than an internet free day – I needed a full weekend to recharge. I archived the group (which meant no one could request to join, post, or comment – making it frozen in time). I spent the weekend entirely off social media, and 95% offline all together. After that experience, I think I will do something similar as frequently as once a month, as it gives me a deeper break than simply 24 hours offline.
3. Fit in three great workouts a week.
Even with my heel injury, I’ve done a great job of this lately. Just this past week, I ran three days, and I did more than forty days of twenty minutes or more of yoga. I need to get back to the yoga practice as it’s gone a bit to the wayside in the last couple of weeks, but my exercise has been more front and center lately, which feels so good.
4. Eat vegetarian or vegan 2/3 of my meals.
I just completed a full six days completely vegan – the first five with no grains or alcohol as well – and I am considering how I’ll keep this routine in my life to a degree. I don’t expect to go fully vegan, or even vegetarian, but perhaps I will save my meat, dairy, and alcohol to the weekends. Better for me, better for my wallet, and better for the planet.
5. Read 52 books.
I’m still having a heck of a time reading physical books right now (granted, one of the books I’m halfway through is 828 pages long, so perhaps the series should count for double). I have been listening to more audiobooks though, so maybe I’ll still hit this total number by the end of the year – especially if I include the books we read to the kiddo at night, which right now is Harry Potter.
6. Continue quest of less plastic and closer to zero waste.
This one continues to be hard in the time of COVID. We are ordering more take out, which has higher waste than cooking at home or dining out. That said, our daily life at home continues to be reasonably low on the plastic and trash front due to the normal things we have in place like unpaper towels and using Pyrex containers instead of Ziploc bags.
1. Stay two posts ahead for Monday content.
Nope, this definitely isn’t happening. In fact, I’ve lost the one post ahead I still had back in April. Not only that, but I’ve now intentionally/spontaneously decided to skip posting at all on a couple of Mondays. While that might not seem like a big deal to some, I was proud of myself for doing it instead of rigidly sticking to a schedule when I needed a break. This blog is meant to be fun, after all.
After those couple of Mondays with no post, I’m thinking that I will only post once or twice a month on Mondays right now. I’m not up to be writing a ton about money right now with everything going on, and letting myself “off the hook” with publishing has definitely lowered my stress level a bit.
2. Plan to take another blogging break at the holidays next year.
Even with the occasional skipped Mondays, I do need to plan another official blogging break. A couple weeks off will do me well I think. Perhaps I should do it soon, as a celebration of hitting three years of blogging as of July 10th? Regardless, I will make note of it here before I stop posting altogether for a week or two.
I love this blog, and have absolutely no intention of abandoning it altogether, but in this wild time we’re living in, I need more space than posting three days a week, every week, allows.
3. Grow the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group to 20,000 members.
The group is now north of 17,000 members, and it seems entirely feasible that we could hit the 20,000 member mark by the end of the year. This goal is about reaching more womxn and welcoming them into a safe, intentional, positive space, so this goal secondary to the health of the group.
We’ve slowed down accepting new members – they have to answer ALL questions to be let in, and we’ve been faster to remove troublesome members. By not allowing those who cause drama intentionally, we protect the nature of the group, which feels especially important right now. No matter what, my goal is for it to be the one of the best, safest places on Facebook.
4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste.
The place I do need to be writing more on is Ecofrugals. Kristine and I sure chose an interesting time to launch a new website – mid February – but we are both committed to growing it over time. It just may be a little slower right now, but it is never far from our minds, and I feel strongly about its importance. But writing in general isn’t the easiest right now, just like reading.
5. Be intentional about any changes to this blog.
Like my last update in April, the blog is in no danger of changing right now, other than writing fewer posts. While life feels upside down and sideways, just continuing to keep this blog active feels like a great goal in itself; changes aren’t in the picture for now.
Are you still tracking for your goals this year, or has COVID completely derailed them?