Over the past month or so I have really neglected this blog. My apologies for doing so. I think it is probably a combination of the end of the semester, trying to do my own academic writing (which was sort of successful), and just the fact that I don’t think I have anything interesting to say. I think I am a bit spent and the last couple of weeks were good to kind of stay away from the blog. I don’t plan on abandoning it. I enjoy writing about the topic, but I might scale back for a bit. Once I committed to posted 3 times a week, then 2, and it really has been 1-2 times per week for the past year or so. Posting once a week is far more than a lot of blogs do, but I don’t want to be one of those personal finance blogs that flame out. Plus, I have some other things I certainly want to discuss.
Anyway, let’s move onto the subject of this post, which are some financial goals for 2019. However, as I was writing this post I never updated my goals for 2018 to see if I met them. So before I go into goals for 2019, let’s review 2018 and see how I did.
On January 5, 2018, I wrote that I had 5 basic financial goals.
- Pay down 10% of my debt. SUCCESS! The forgiveness of my student loans certainly put me above 10%. I actually was in danger of going backward because I borrowed money on our house to pay for our adoption.
- Contribute 20% of our income to savings. SUCCESS/FAILURE! The reason I say that it was both is because we didn’t contribute 20% to our retirement savings, but we paid down almost $13,000 in mortgage principle. If you include that mortgage principle our savings rate is about 25% so that is my explanation.
- Save 15% of Mrs. ROB’s income. FAILURE. Most of our retirement savings come from my income. However, we did start an IRA and 403b for Mrs. ROB. However, we were only able to save about 10%. Not a bad start, but we could’ve done better.
- Fourth, don’t go into more credit card debt. SUCCESS. For the most part, we have avoided going back into CC debt. I have fully paid off the balance by closing date of each month. I am thinking it will be the same way next month, but January is always a very weird month financially for us because Mrs. ROB doesn’t get a paycheck until February and we don’t have extra money coming in from extra courses until then. In other words, our income is reduced significantly during that month and this year will be a challenge.
- Fifth, add more money to our emergency fund. FAILURE. Part of this failure is because I used our emergency fund to clear some debt and then used the rest to focus on money for adoption, which I had no idea we would be doing this year. So now I am trying to build that up again.
So 2018 was a mixed bag in terms of financial goals. We took some steps forward and some steps back. The big thing that threw a bit of wrench into our plans was adoption. That was not something we were expecting, at least so soon, and we have had to adjust some things in that time. Based upon these changes I want to think about some different goals for 2019. And I promise to have an adoption update soon.
2019 Financial Goals
First, I want to be a bit more systematic with my goals. I feel like I am all over the place with my goals. I am trying to do too many things at once. I am trying to save, pay down debt, plan for adoption expenses, and even devise more money to pay down our mortgage. It is too much. I need to just focus on one goal at a time. So the next goals I write are the ones I want to do in order.
Second, I want to build our emergency fund to a specific figure and then stick that in a CD or something so that it isn’t touched. So my first specific financial goal of 2019 is to hopefully save a specific amount of money in an emergency fund that I will just basically put in a CD and just leave it there to grow and never to be touched unless it is a true emergency. My emergency fund will be about 3 months of current expenses. It might actually take me all year to hit that goal, but it is the one thing I want to work on for sure. If I put it into a specific account where I can’t get at it or there will be penalties I am much more apt to NOT touch it.
Third, I want to put more money in our adoption fund (if needed). The reason I say as needed is because we currently have a specific amount set aside for an adoption that should cover most of our expenses for it. But the longer this process goes on the more we think about doing other things to improve our chances, which might require more money. I would like to add another 10k or so to our adoption fund. I don’t know if that can be done and I hope I don’t have to do it, but we will do what is necessary to be parents.
Fourth and probably finally, I want to begin to pay down our home equity loan. I am currently making payments on it and it slowly but surely going down, but when I hit the other 2 goals every extra dollar I get will go down to pay down this debt.
This year really has to be the power of focus. One goal at a time, one step at a time. One of my biggest problems is that I try to do too many things at once. I have too many research projects going at once. I have too many financial goals. I have to learn to do a better job of focusing. So job one is to focus on a single goal and that is emergency fund. If I just do that then I will have been successful, but let’s see if I can reach for more goals.