I'm encouraging everyone to open up more and talk about money, so I'll get the ball rolling.
I feel like this image sort of summed up how I feel about money.
No matter how much progress you've made, it always feels like there's more to go.
But if you don't stop and celebrate the wins, you never will, and if you quit looking forward, you won't keep making progress. So I'm going to start doing that a little more regularly, and since I'm encouraging you all to start talking more about money, I figured I'd get the party started.
You've probably already seen a bunch of these year end reviews, but hopefully this one looks a little different... and possibly more relatable.
Let's start with 2018
2018 was the year for the birds. I can't say it was my favorite year, but part of that is what led me to starting to Penge. So I'll take it. :)
I had some major financial setbacks, like my husband losing his funding from school, me losing my job temporarily, blowing through more of my emergency savings than I'd have liked to, and realizing that I'd kinda screwed up my IRA (or rather, hadn't actually been doing anything with it for the last 2 years like I thought I had).
I also didn't reach my goal of paying off my student loans. Which according to all of my careful planning was going to be totally possible.
But it wasn't all bad.
All of these things forced me to actually get smarter about money. Starting with finding secondary incomes. It became my best year every for consulting and freelancing. (Can't wait to pay that tax bill soon.) It forced me to get creative and think about the things I was spending money on. Is it actually worth it? I found so many things that I was able to cut, or find cheaper alternatives. Like my car insurance. I switched to Root and ended up saving 45% while getting the exact same coverage. And they even took care of switching everything! It was amazing!
I also started to take my financial investing seriously, and decided to actually learn what the heck an IRA is and how it all works. I realized I can't just automatically draft money into the account, and hope it works... I actually have to tell it where to invest the money. Seems simple, but I ended up over-complicating it. And that's when I started talking to more people about money and getting their help and advice to actually make things work.
I got a new job with a raise and AMAZING benefits, including 401k with matching, and they pay 100% of my premiums for health insurance for both me and my spouse. Big win!! Oh, and my husband got his funding back!
Overall, it was a year with setbacks, but some restructuring that was great, especially when I was able to increase the income that was going into that new and improved system.
What's coming in 2019
So now that we've all survived 2018 ( 🙌), what's next?
Here's what I'm working on this year financially.
1) Regularly sharing my progress to keep myself accountable, and to make money seem less intimidating to talk about.
I talk a big game about communicating more about money, but I know it's hard. I struggle with it too, and I want it to be better. So I'm going to practice even more this year, by sharing more about my struggles and progress with money... kinda like this post!
2) Bring up my emergency fund.
At one point a few years ago, my savings were high enough to get me through at least 8 months of expenses, and that felt fantastic. Then I bought a car, and that went way down. I slowly started to build it back up, but then I blew through quite a bit of that in 2018. Although I've got it up, it's still not to where I want it to be. So my goal is to have it back up to about 8 months of living expenses.
3) Increase my 401k contributions to 18% (excluding my 6% match).
I'm currently around 13%, and I'm trying to slowly increase it so it doesn't feel so painful to "lose" that money. My goal is to increase it another percent every other month, or whenever it feels natural, to end up at 18% by the end of the year. (Mark my words, 2020 is going to be the year of the aggressive 401k investing.)
4) Develop passive income.
I've gotten pretty good at finding ways to make money with side jobs (writing, consulting, odd-jobs, etc. But it's all work that requires me to put in time to make money. I want something that I can put a lot of time in up front, and then pull back while still making money... aka passive income. I have a few ideas for this, from content and product creation to app development (Penge??) and more. But I really want to focus on making it happen this year.
5) Pay off my student loans.
I'm so close and I'm in the home stretch now! This is the year I'll make it happen. Depending on if I cash in on my stock options with work, I might even pay off my car. I'm not getting my hopes up on that just yet though.
6) Track my spending better.
I know there's a million apps out there to help me track my spending, but I've never really enjoyed any of them. I'm going back to manual spreadsheet tracking to help me keep an eye on my spending each month and be more intentional about those categories. This isn't even really for the goal of cutting back on spending, it's mostly to see if my money is where my mouth is. Am I actually putting money toward the things that I say I want to be doing? Or am I leaking a little out in a bunch of areas that I wouldn't have actually called my priorities?
So Penge community, will you keep me accountable? Each month I'll do an update and let you know where I'm at. Feel free to comment and chime in with your goals, and I'll keep you accountable too!