Financially speaking, 2017 was kind of…meh. For a personal finance blogger – even though I didn’t start until April – we saw a lot of money leave our lives.
2018 Will Be a Year of Balance
2018, however, is a different story for us. This year is all about balance.
The finance nerd in me would absolutely love to spend no money. But the realist in me knows that’s just not going to happen, and we’ve got trips and other things to plan and look forward to.
We have expenses that we know we’ll be incurring later this year, and will save for those.
Finding balance can be a tough thing. It’s easy to go overboard in both directions. Kristin and I have disagreed on finding this balance in the past, but we’ve continued to communicate about it.
Doing so has helped us get to a point where we both feel very good about both our short-term and long-term goals.
2018 Will Be a Year of Saving
In the short term we want to save up for a second car. This is our first priority as far as savings go. A second car will be a huge boon for Kristin, and a good quality of life improvement.
I’ve been against a second car for a while – we’ve made one car work, albeit with some tweaks and headaches – for a year and a half now.
Moving into our home, though, pushed us away from reasonable public transportation, and has put additional stress on our schedules.
We also need to bulk up our emergency fund a bit more. When we moved into our house, our living expenses increased. Our emergency fund that lasted us many months previously won’t go as far, and is on the lighter end of where we’d like.
Over the next few months we’ll focus on building that up to a place where both of us feel comfortable.
2018 Will Be a Year Of Travel
We’re also going to travel more this year than we did last year, which we’re both excited about. I’m not about the full-time travel life. I love our house and want to enjoy spending time in it.
Every now and then, though, we need a break. In addition to trips to Maryland (where we are right now,shout out to our friends!!!) and California in the spring, we’re planning on trips to Portland (TBD on timing, this one is kind of tricky) and Florida (Tampa, and then Orlando for FinCon).
As an aside, if anyone wants to meet up on any of these trips, let me know!
Traveling in 2018 will definitely be a higher expense than we had in 2017.
And 2019 is going to keep up that trend. Last year, we skipped a big honeymoon after our wedding in favor of a mini-moon.
Looking at trips to warm destinations in the winter, all of the places we wanted to go were restrictively expensive. Our initial plan was to go somewhere this month or in January, but that was off the table.
So instead, we’re planning a trip to Europe for early 2019. It’ll be Kristin’s first visit, and my first time back in over 10 years.
We’re tentatively planning on Ireland, Scotland, and England (figured we’d stick to English-speaking countries for this trip), and I’m super excited to go back to the other side of the pond.
2018 Will Be a Year of Planning
Our very long-term goal is early retirement. I’d love to be done in our 40’s. Kristin’s goal is 55. Our numbers aren’t that far off, and I think we can hit our target numbers in our 40’s.
If we hustle over the next few years, we’ll have a paid off house in our 40’s also.
We’re forgoing potential gains (based on historical stock market performance) for a guaranteed earlier loan payoff date.
We’ve also committed to maxing out Kristin’s 401(k), and will focus on maxing mine as well. My work situation is somewhat up in the air. As a consultant, my work is only semi-guaranteed for a few months at a time – but they do want to extend my contract!
With that in mind, we can hope to max out my 401(k) as well.
Whether or not that’ll happen though is another story.
2018 Will Be a Year of Autopilot
The number one way we’re doing all of these things, though, is to put all of our money on autopilot. We know what we need to save to hit our goals.
Taking that off the top, before we can even think about spending that money, will help keep us on track.
Periodic increases to my 401(k) contribution will help speed along our retirement saving. Kristin’s ESPP is our new favorite savings tool.
Each paycheck, a portion of her pay is taken out to go toward the ESPP. Then at the end of every quarter, stock is purchased at a discount. We sell it immediately, and instantly get a 15% return – minimum – which we will use for short-term savings.
It’s coming out of Kristin’s paycheck so it’s already “our money”, but it doesn’t FEEL like our money. We don’t miss the money because we don’t see it until the lump sum we get four times a year.
Since we’ve already got a plan for how we deal with windfalls, we know what we want to do with the money well in advance of actually getting it.
2018 Will Be a Great Year
2017 was awesome – probably the best year of my life so far. It started in turmoil with a layoff, but things turned around quickly.
Honestly, 2016 was a pretty damn good year, too, and last year had a ton to live up to. This feels the same way.
We’ve got a plan, we’ve got everything set in place, and now all we need to do is enjoy the ride. Life’s a lot more enjoyable when you know where you’re going and have goals to hit. It’s rewarding and challenging and stressful and incredible.
This year will be an awesome year, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure of that.
How are you making 2018 kick ass?