How We’re Making 2018 Kick Ass

Making 2018 kick ass doesn't need to be tough

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.

Some of it’s tied up in equity in our home, which makes me feel a little bit better. But much of it was spent on things like our wedding, our mini-moon, and furnishing our house.

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.

To hit those long-term goals, we’re continuing to pay down our mortgage. We know it’s not necessarily the best return on investment, but a lot of managing money isn’t about the math.

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?

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  1. 2018 is going to be great for me too – albeit expensive, since my wife is due with out first son in April! We’re definitely planning and bracing for all aspects of having a child, including the financial part. I’m maxing out my HSA and researching on how to do a dependent daycare FSA.

    1. Congrats on your expanding family, that’s very exciting for you 🙂 Sounds like you’re doing all the right planning.

      April babies are the best!

  2. It sounds like 2018 is going to be exciting. Once the initial expenses (such as wedding, honeymoon, house downpayment, furnishing,…) are done, you start seeing your networth quickly increase.

  3. You’ve got a fantastic year planned out and I can see just how much you intend to enjoy the ride. Most of our travel plans are on hold in 2018, except for FinCon. This year we’re focusing on the house build and on selling our current house.

    1. Thanks Mrs. G!

      Houses will definitely put a damper on plans in the short-term. I’m really enjoying watching the Fight-O-Meter you guys have though, so at least the whole process is entertaining!

      See you at FinCon!!!

  4. This strikes me as a good balance between traveling and settling into the home. There are years of tremendous transition, which 2017 sounded like for you, and years of finding and solidifying the new routine.

    Btw, I just hopped over to your “Digital Nomad” post and,as a bit of a homebody, can totally relate

  5. I love this! Such clarity of vision.

    2018 will be a spendy year as we are renovating our kitchen after 2 years of living here . Hoping we can long term continue with one car even if we wind up starting a family (my husband also has a motorbike) – time will tell!

    1. Renovations can definitely get expensive! Hopefully you guys have been saving up a bit for that, though 🙂

      One car with a family seems like it may be tougher but having a motorbike would definitely ease that a bit. I’m sure you can make it work, but handling the inconvenient moments will be the true test!

  6. 2018 sounds like it will be an epic year for you!

    Lots of great traveling- whereabouts in California are you thinking of?

    We are in LA/San Diego right now and LOVE IT (well San Diego moreso). Also went to Palm Springs last year and liked it a lot too!

    1. It should be great! 2017 has set the bar high for sure though haha.

      We’re going to LA area in April, and then northern CA for a wedding in late June.

      We used to live out in Los Angeles area, in Redondo Beach, so we’re super familiar with it. Staying just a couple miles from our old apartment!

  7. Every Year is the year of opportunity. At the end of the day it depends on you.
    Once Steve Jobs said this famous lines.
    “Everyday When I wake up in the morning. I look in the mirror and think to myself. If it is the last day what I wanna do.” Forgive me I really don’t remember the exact lines. I hope you get the point.
    Everyday is a great opportunity to start something new.
    Really great Post DAVE
    I hope this year is as productive as it can be.
    Keep up the good work.

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