Goals…apparently they still exist this far into the year, but I have to admit, they aren’t top of my mind most of the time these days. To be perfectly honest, simply surviving the year with our mental health mostly in tact seems like the biggest goal of all. Anyone who says their life hasn’t been changed (for the worse) hasn’t really been paying attention.

That said, life does go on, and some of these goals still do matter to me, so I’ll continue to do these quarterly check ins. I may not be terribly worried about accomplishing them all, but it does ultimately feel good to know some things in life are still on track and not irrevocably changed.

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Money goals

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

Through July, we’re sitting at a 45% rate for the year. That said, we both downshifted to 80% time at work, having a weekday off each week, so our income has been pretty well reduced through the end of the year. I don’t expect to hit 50%, and I’m really okay with that in a way I haven’t in the past couple of years that I’ve tracked this goal.

With everything going on in the world, continuing to save a chunk of our income, staying employed, and balancing time at home while homeschooling the kiddo, even a twenty percent savings rate through the end of the year would be okay with me (though I expect it to be higher). If 2021 gets back to some semblance of normal, maybe I’ll push this one again, but for now, I won’t be.

2. Max out my IRA again.

This was done back in April, for which I am very glad for. Perhaps someday this will be an easy goal, but it’s still pretty difficult for me when I’m balancing other savings goals at the same time.

April saw $950 in 2020’s IRA, and I’ve steadily added to it since then, sitting at $2,225 now. Considering I have another seven months to max it out, I’m feeling pretty good about this goal right now.

3. Get more intentional with my giving this year.

Now this goal is one I’ve cared about even more in 2020. With so many out of work, sick, and now homeless due to relentless wildfires, I feel so lucky and blessed with our situation and feel the absolute need to give back to others. The longer I keep this goal in mind, the easier it gets to send more of my money each month to causes I care about. Life is hard, even for me, but my money can help make it a little easier for others, and that is important, now more than ever.

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

How about under $2,000? Ha. Granted, we are slowly starting to downshift on our food spending, it will likely not be under $1,000 a month for the remainder of the year. This, however, is partially intentional, as we’ve been spending more to stock our larder as well as continue to support our local restaurants.

With reduced income, we need to be a little more intentional here, and we’ve adjusted back some to fewer expensive take out meals. Food prices are up as well though, and we are buying more local, sustainable meat than ever before.

A day’s garden harvest in September

5. Hit next $100,000 net worth.

Well. We somehow hit this at the end of June, which was wildly unexpected. The stock market and the real estate market continues to be wholly disconnected from reality. We are somehow already halfway to the next $100,000 net worth mark.

I had meant to celebrate this, but we never did. Perhaps the next one? Though, I honestly do expect things to tank before we get there, but who knows now. I definitely am not one to time the market.

Tracking with Personal Capital

It’s been more than 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.

Life goals

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

This one has been easy peasy with COVID. I may go into the office a couple of days a week now, but I dress more casually than I have in years, as that time is pretty much spent in a solitary office, rarely seeing another person for more than a couple minutes at a time (both of us masked).

I have plenty of nice dresses shirts to wear to work, but I rarely put on dress pants these days. Thanks to that, the ones I own will last much, much longer than I expected, as will my nicer shoes, which I only (sometimes) wear on office days. And the more I learn about fast fashion, the less I want to go back to buying new clothing, maybe ever.

Longtime favorite shirt (also in black)

2. Have a minimum of two internet free days a month.

This has not been happening, and I’ve slipped back into bad habits of spending too much time staring at my phone. Other than our camping trip in July (which feels like a million years ago now), I haven’t really spent any days offline. True, there have been days where I’ve spent less time online, but not nearly enough fully disconnected.

I need to get back to this. This is the point of checking in on these goals, because I honestly hadn’t even been thinking about this one. Now that I have, though, I will make sure it happens this next month, even archiving Women’s Personal Finance for the weekend so I can take a true break from the internet and social media. For those of you in the group, please keep me to this one.

3. Fit in three great workouts a week. 

This has been more like two times a week, so I have a bit to go here. Once the smoke is gone again, I plan to hit the exercise part hard. The kiddo and I ran a 5k together earlier this month, and I ran two other times this week without my heel giving me too much trouble, so it appears that these sandals that my sister bought me are really making a big difference, more than I would have guessed.

The husband also lead a weight lifting routine with me, our roommate, and the couple of friends in our “bubble,” and we’ve all decided we want to make it happen more frequently. I’m sore today, and it feels good. It also felt good to keep up somewhat with bigger guys, realizing I’m not terribly behind here.

So so proud of him!

4. Eat vegetarian or vegan 2/3 of my meals.

The six day vegan, grain free “fast” I did back in July really helped me here, and I’m finding myself eating less and less meat and dairy, almost all of it locally and sustainably sourced. Sine my reasoning to do this line up with this guest post Bethany wrote for me, I don’t feel the need to go this route 100%, but much less makes it easier to pay the cost of the local food.

5. Read 52 books.

Well. I’m at 34 books right now, which means I’m not quite on track here. Honestly, when COVID hit, I found myself having such a difficult time staying focused on books, and that hasn’t entirely gone away. I have found myself loving audiobooks though, so my book number is slowly ticking up again, mostly thanks to those. (Shoutout to the library because audiobooks are expensive).

My favorite book as of late has been Blessing The Hands That Feed Us by Vicki Robin, and I have a review half-written. Again, that accountability of putting that out here so I finally finish up that post.

6. Continue quest of less plastic and closer to zero waste. 

Growing, cooking, and baking our own food makes using less plastic a lot easier. The garden helps a lot, especially this time of year, as there is no plastic involved in walking out to the front yard to harvest some produce for dinner. Canning for the winter is also plastic free, and I’ve steadily been filling our pantry with our pickled and jammed garden produce.

This has been balanced with take out waste as we continue to support our local restaurants. We’ve eaten outside a couple of times, but for the most part, we are still picking up and bringing food home. Sustainability and zero waste doesn’t – or shouldn’t – live in a silo, and the people cost is something I take into consideration with my choices as well.

Blogging goals

1. Stay two posts ahead for Monday content.

COVID has sure changed blogging for me this year. Instead of working to stay two posts ahead on Monday content, I’m skipping the posts altogether. As I wrote back in July, publishing just one or two Monday posts a month has held true.

In January, I would have been so frustrated and stressed out that I’d dropped the ball with this blog. Now, I’ve given myself the grace to step back a bit. I’m still here, clearly, but letting the blog fall firmly back into hobby category has been a relief.

2. Plan to take another blogging break at the holidays next year. 

Maybe? I’m not sure I need this in the same way since I’ve cut down on my Monday content. I do want a couple more guest curators for my Wednesday roundup, so perhaps it’s time to reach out now. If you’re interested – even if you aren’t a blogger – please let me know!

I may still take a break at the holidays, but I won’t feel any pressure to have posts waiting for me to publish upon my return. Who knows what the holidays will look like this year; certainly not Iceland on New Year’s Eve (but maybe I’ll finally finish writing up the rest of that trip).

3. Grow the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group to 20,000 members. 

The group is now at 19,500+, up from 17,000 in July. To celebrate that milestone, we as a group will be deciding on a couple of organizations to collect donations for. There are enough of us now that we can make a really big impact, and I’m excited to see what we can do as a group.

I honestly love this space so much, and I am so humbled to have created such a dynamic Facebook community. I may have stumbled into things initially, but I now guard the group fiercely to make sure it continues to be a welcoming, inclusive, wonderful space for my members.

4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste. 

I recently added this to my Purple reminders. I have a post on camping partially written for Ecofrugals, and I need to just finish it. Kristine and I were so energized about creating the site in mid-February, and then COVID came crashing down around us. I’m still so glad we started the site, but someday soon I hope to spend some more time helping grow it.

5. Be intentional about any changes to this blog.

Well, the downshift has been intentional. Other than that, I’m not sure much has changed here, which I am completely happy with. More than three years in, Tread Lightly Retire Early has become a nonnegotiable, important part of my life, and I’m so glad that Retire By 40 wrote that “Start a Blog” post back in the day that kickstarted this journey.

Are you still tracking for your goals this year, or has COVID completely derailed them?

16 thoughts on “Quarterly Goals Check In: September 2020

  1. I love the two internet-free days a month goal. I don’t think I’ll be ready to even implement that next year, but I want to keep it in mind for my future. And yes, July does feel like a million years ago!

    I’m very impressed with 34 books this year, let alone the goal of 52! That’s so ambitious, though I understand that with audiobooks you can multi-task.

    I recently revisited and revised the goals I set at the beginning of the year, and I was actually surprised by how many I am still on track for despite COVID. I removed some and added others, but overall I was achieving a good number. My most recent goal I added is hiking every weekend this fall, which I have done for the last three weekends!

    1. I was over the 52 last year! But audiobooks have been the best this year – my brain can’t think separate thoughts when I’m listening ☺️

  2. I am seriously considering having internet free days as well. Some days I feel my phone is an extension of my hands 🙁

    I too agree that if we survive 2020 with our mental health intact, we would have achieved a great goal! It’s ok to step back a little. I know what burned out is like in my job – I definitely don’t want to experience it with my blog. You’ve done so much work for the Facebook group and this blog – thank you

  3. For motivation on your sustainability posts – check out Green Willow Homestead. Kelsey is one of my favorite people. She also has a podcast called the Positively Green podcast. Highly recommend 🙂

  4. You are on many exploratory paths in life right now and I enjoy seeing you discover them and then provide us feedback. Well done on trying out the more vegetable based diet while still supporting local farmers/butchers. This is how we should all be in my opinion, better for supporting both local and the environment.

  5. I think the one thing I did that feels somewhat prescient now was an instinctive thing. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to set any concrete goals at the start of the year. It just felt like not the year for it though I had no idea why I felt that way. I did later set some targets but it was really more of a list of things to do.

    Then of course with the pandemic it felt less important than ever to set artificial goals I wasn’t feeling strongly about.

    It is nice to reflect back and see that even though I didn’t set goals as normal, I still pushed myself to accomplish useful things that Future Me will be satisfied with even on an ad hoc or opportunistic basis. Like the refi – I normally would have forced that to happen but instead let it happen much more organically than usual. It’s not done but so far it seems reasonably on track for a decent projected outcome. I also didn’t foresee deciding to sell the rental but that’s also in progress now and I couldn’t be happier.

    There is so much I couldn’t have forecasted about this year, good and bad, and it’s helping me to have a year “off” from goals to be kinder to myself. Also therapy! I never could have foreseen finding a good therapist and making the commitment to invest in myself would have been so valuable, especially because so many therapists before this were a bad fit, but I’m glad I was open to the idea and that the stars all aligned on that front as well.

    1. Talk about perfect timing to choose to have an “off” year. The biggest thing will just be to survive this year mostly intact. ❤️

  6. Since there is not going to be much travelling anytime soon, I am taking the money we would have spent on a vacation and socking it away in our Roth IRA’s. This may change next year, but for now, this is what I am doing.

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