We made a pretty random assortment of goals this year. Well, by we, I mostly mean me since I’m the goal-oriented person in our family.
1. (Family) One restaurant night per month not related to the theatre
SUCCESS! We have season tickets to a local theatre, which we love and makes for a great date night. Last year, we always went out for dinner before the show and sometimes slept through parts of the show. So this year, we decided to try and decouple the restaurants out from the theatre. It has been going great! We have been staying awake through the entire shows and the restaurant nights have been way more fun too since we’re not rushing to get to the theatre on time. At this point, I would say that we have successfully decoupled these two things. We have also been aiming for a weeknight dinner out per month, which is super fun.
2. (Leigh) 100 barre classes
BEHIND! I set this goal last year and I came very, very close. As in, I was four classes short. I set this goal again this year since 100 is such a lovely round number. My stretch goal is 113 so that I’ll hit 250 total classes with this studio. Due to health issues, I mostly took Q1 off from barre classes. If I had been on track in Q1 to hit this goal, I went enough in Q2 to stay on track, but I wasn’t on track in Q1, so I’m a bit behind. (18 classes behind as of 6/18) Depending on how things go in Q3, I may be able to get back on track.
3. (Leigh) 10,000 average steps per day
ON TRACK! I’m going to call this one on track since I’m very close to being on track. January is always a tough month for 10,000 steps a day and then I had a cold in April, so that didn’t go the best either. I was at 9,923 average steps for the year so far as of the end of June, which is very close and substantially better than I was doing at this point in 2017 (about 8,500 average).
4. (Leigh) Pain-free life
PROGRESS! I’ve been tracking this in my bullet journal habit tracker since March. January was bad at close to 100%, but February was down to about 50% days with pain. March I got it down to 19%, which was amazing and April was even better at 17%. May and June haven’t been going quite as well though – up to 23% in May and 50% in June. I will not answer any questions regarding the pain, but I do want to start talking about it more as I feel comfortable.
5. (H) Two bicycle rides per month
ON TRACK! This is the goal I convinced him to set in January, which was a solid goal for the winter when the weather doesn’t cooperate every weekend. (He tends to not plan things and then we just end up hanging out, so I try to help him plan his priorities into our schedule.) In the summer though, he’s been going weekly. He’s on track to ride about 3,000 miles this year on his bicycles, which is comparable to the number of miles we’ll put on the car.
12 52 books read (31 so far)
ON TRACK! This goal started out as 12 books read for the year and I upped it to 52 when I read 11 in January alone. As of June, I’ve read 31, so I’m definitely on track with this one! This is the most number of books I’ve read since I started tracking on Goodreads back in 2014. I read a whopping 11 books in January and 7 in February – reading and Netflix have been my two main hobbies through the pain. My number of books read seems inversely correlated to the number of pain free days, which makes sense, as I’ve been going to barre more and getting outside.
I love finding personal finance tidbits in fiction books! For finance books, this year I’ve read: (1) Meet the Frugalwoods, (2) You Need A Budget, (3) The Financial Diet (If you’re going to read this book: get the hard copy, not the e-book version as the hard copy was really well designed and looks incredible!), (4) The Year of Less, and (5) Worry-Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons.
My favorite fiction books so far this year were: The Shell Seekers (by Rosamunde Pilcher), The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd), Miller’s Valley (Anna Quindlen), and The Atomic Weight of Love (Elizabeth J. Church). My favorite of the finance books was You Need A Budget.
7. (Leigh) Resume regular journaling habit – 50% of days
ON TRACK! When I was single, I used to journal every night before going to sleep, to get all of my thinking out of my head. Before I started that habit, it would take forever to get to sleep because I spent so much time getting caught in my thoughts. That definitely seemed to help reduce stress, so I’ve been trying to find new times of day to pick up the habit. 50% of days as a goal seemed like a solid figure to shoot for and it’s been going great! I hit the goal in March, was slightly under in April, and hit it again in May and June.
8. Max out all available retirement accounts
ON TRACK! We both contributed the maximum to our Backdoor Roth IRAs on January 1st and my husband has been contributing to his 401(k) every paycheck, getting the maximum employer match. He did get a partial refund of his 2017 contribution, but he reinvested it back into his taxable account immediately.
For simplicity and that the Vanguard money market returns are pretty solid right now, I’ve been keeping all of my personal cash at Vanguard in a money market account. My goal is to have about six months of expenses (by some definition) as a personal emergency fund, plus two years of Roth IRA contributions so that I can continue to make the contributions out of my personal funds without selling any stocks. I turned off dividend reinvestment in my taxable account to help with this too. There’s almost enough funds that a year of dividends should fund a Roth IRA. (Note that my husband and I are filing our tax returns jointly, which allows both of us to make IRA contributions assuming that we combined have $11,000 in earned income. This is a really great feature if only one spouse is working!)
9. Spend less than $X.
ON TRACK! We had a couple of spendy years in 2016 and 2017 between some remodeling, getting married and going on a wonderful honeymoon. So I set a low-hanging fruit goal of spending less than $X which is a large number and there’s no way we want to hit that number because if we did, we would also fail at goal #13. We have currently spent a bit under 40% of $X, so it looks like we are solidly on track for this goal, especially since I anticipate H2 being less expensive than H1 this year.
ON TRACK! Hah, this goal wasn’t very SMART. YNAB has been going great though! We are both very pleased with it. We spend much closer to my husband’s now-biweekly paychecks each month, so YNAB has substantially reduced my money anxiety without increasing his, which seems like a solid success!
11. Successful more money combining
ON TRACK! We decided this year after a lot of discussion that all income would get deposited into joint accounts. So far, things have been going mostly smoothly. I was really frugal in 2017, so that means that I’ve had to replace things this year like a worn out backpack that was damaging all of my clothes and too-small hiking boots that were several years old, which has resulted in some negotiation on how much personal money we each need from month to month. We have also been working on negotiating other money goals including joint investment allocations and the mortgage.
12. Open joint Vanguard taxable investment account
ON TRACK! We allocated some money for this goal in June at last! So that’s step one of the goal. Step two was figuring out how to allocate the investments in it, which we decided on 50/50 US/international stocks for now since we are also keeping a large cash cushion. Step three is figuring out how we want to title the account. Step four is opening and funding the account. I’m marking this as on track since it seems we should be able to figure this out this year still…
13. Live on H’s regular paycheck income
ON TRACK! This seems like a silly goal coming from two people who used to save 50% of their salary income, but when we each made half the salary income, that means dropping to one income means spending all of the salary if we don’t modify anything. So far, we’ve done this every month except January! We were on track to have a reasonable chunk to save each month until his employer decided to start paying him biweekly instead of monthly in Q2. We should still be okay with this goal though and we are saving the rest of the income (which is significant).
14. Have one month where 4% of investments more than spending
PROGRESS! This is looking like a stretch goal for this year… We would need a confluence of factors to result in a really low spending month with no irregular large expenses for this to happen. But notice that I didn’t use a possessive pronoun in the goal? So it’s possible that I will hit this personally – I did have a month that credit card rewards + 4% of investments covered 99.1% of my personal spending + half of our household spending. I’ll probably leave this on as a yearly goal until we hit it, and then I’ll increase the number of months of the goal each year. Our best month so far is credit card rewards + 4% of investments covering 80% of our combined spending. Even if we don’t have a month this year where we hit this goal, we’ve been making some substantial improvements over 2017 (our best month last year was 62% coverage), so I would still call it progress.
15. Reach $Y in investments
ON TRACK! We reached $Y in monetary assets, which was incredibly exciting! It looks like we could still hit it in investments at some point this year, depending on how the markets go and how much we allocate to cash versus investments for the rest of the year. This number is meaningful for many reasons, but largely because it will mean we are life insurance FI.
16. Estate planning finalized
PROGRESS! Ah yes, it seems this is a task that stays on everyone’s lists for too long. We started it originally because my husband wasn’t on the title of the condo. We’ve solved that problem, but we should still finish this. The money to pay for it is allocated in YNAB, we set up a new donor advised fund that is part of the strategy, and we’ve picked who we want to make our medical decisions. So there’s some progress here, but we need to follow back up with the lawyer we had contacted last spring, they need to draft the paperwork, and we need to make an appointment to go in and sign it.
17. Refinance mortgage
CHECK! All done. This closed at the Q1/Q2 boundary. We are both really glad we did this as otherwise our previous mortgage might have gone to 5% next year, whereas now we have the rate locked at 3.09% for five years and there are only 10 years left on the mortgage.
Readers, how are your goals going this year?