As I’ve mentioned, I subscribe to Dave’s YouTube channel, and just as he did last year, this year he talked about goal setting. I printed out the Goal Tracker worksheet again and began writing in my goals for 2018. Last year, we didn’t reach all of our financial goals, but we did reach some of them:
Build our initial 2017 budget spreadsheets. – goal met Dec 2016!
Pay off at least one of our five remaining debt balances. – Paid off two of them before the flood hit and then added one back
Increase our giving category by at least 1%. – increased by 2%
Even though this isn’t the progress I was hoping for, it is still progress despite the 2017 we had. We’re moving on and praying 2018 is better.
Dave says, “You’re gonna go where you look”, and he’s absolutely right. I wasn’t a competitive water skier like Dave, but when I was young, my dad set about to teach me to ride a bike. I hit every mailbox on our street because I kept fixating on them (afraid I would hit them). Finally, my dad said, “Stop looking where you don’t want to go and start looking where you do want to go!” I did end up learning to ride a bike, but I had a lot of bruises and scrapes till I listened and changed my focus.
Well, we’ve changed our focus. With bruises and scrapes in tow, the flood was a wake-up call and we need to get radical about some things. With the added debt incurred last year, our initial goals were pushed back even further. Then, when we moved back into the house, it made us sick how much extra space and extra stuff we have. Something about living in a tiny hotel for months on end will do that to you.
Still, we wanted to keep the house because it seemed “easier” to put off our goals a little longer. Then, we decided to run some numbers and realized putting off retirement investing for even another year could potentially cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars… and two years, well, the number was ridiculous! We weighed three options – two of which would allow us to keep the house, but would mean we would spend the last couple years of our teenagers’ high school careers working two jobs in a big house with all our stuff sold off… and would still cost us hundreds of thousands in retirement savings potential. The third option is to sell the house and take advantage of the equity to catapult us ahead in the baby steps. Of course, all three would come with their own set of sacrifices and we needed to weigh what was most important to us from every angle.
Dave says you should have a big why. Seeing the numbers and writing up the pro/con lists really changed our perspective. We want a different legacy than the one we’ve been careening toward. Hanging onto the house does not take us where we want to go. In fact, it potentially keeps us stuck in old patterns. It isn’t worth the mental, relational, emotional, physical, or monetary costs to keep it. So, we’ve written a new plan:
Write the vision; and make it plain… [Habakkuk 2:2]
FINANCIAL GOALS FOR 2018
- Increase giving by another 2%
- Time: By March
- Will use part of our annual merit raise to accomplish this.
Build our initial 2018 budget spreadsheets through August. – done!
- July – Complete through December.
- Have monthly budget meetings with husband.
- Will set an appointment for these each month.
- Reduce the debt using the debt snowball and current payments (ave. reduction of $1,200/mo)
- Time: till house sells (see below)
- Will accomplish this with bi-weekly zero-budgeting.
- Time: By August
- List house on the market by June.
- Purge stuff from every corner of the house – have already begun.
- Sell and donate as much of our stuff as we can – have already begun.
- Cash flow repairs and home preparations – waiting for bonus & tax info to set budget for these.
- Find a smaller place and pay cash to replace furniture.
- Pay off remaining debt, fully fund emergency fund, and invest 15% in retirement accounts
- Time: @ closing – hoping to reach baby step #4 no later than August
- Getting through baby step #4 is more important to us than whether we rent or buy for our next dwelling.
- Cash flow college expenses for two kids.
- Rework budget and set new goals once we move – update this list as we go!
I plan to continue posting our monthly progress updates, so stay tuned!