A Recap of 2017: You Win Some, You Lose Some

A Recap of 2017: You Win Some, You Lose Some

2017 was a big year!  Now that it’s coming to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on goals from the past year and decide on some new ones.

Thoughts on Setting Goals

You hear it all the time, but make sure you are setting SMART goals.  That is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.”  When you have a specific goal in mind, it’s much easier to focus on that goal.  Measurable goals allow you to see progress (like dollars paid off).  If it’s not achievable or realistic, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Relevant goals are ones that are worthwhile, well timed, and in tune with current needs or desires.  Finally, you have to put a deadline on the goal, or it may never be accomplished.

This Year’s Victors

Win: Start a blog about frugally luxurious living.

Not only did I start a blog, but YOU are here reading itThank you!

Win: Find a partner who shares my values and wants to work toward a future together.

September 10, 2017 at the Buford Dam near Atlanta, Georgia

It wasn’t a specific goal for the year, but it was an important life goal.

Mostly a Win: Make a career move.

I polished up my resume, nailed my interviews, negotiated for an increased salary, and made a solid career move.  However, we’ve had some changes to the team over the summer and my role changed into one that potentially no longer supports my long term career goals (still to be determined). I’ve spoken to my manager and am planning for either another move in 2018 or a new title and pay bump to reflect my increased responsibilities.  We’re giving it some time first for me to figure it out.

Win: Travel somewhere every other month.

It wasn’t the “perfect” win with exotic trips scheduled exactly every other month, but we all know the secret to a frugal trip is flexibility.  Also, family is a huge priority, and I’m thankful I got to visit them five times this year in addition to seeing them when they were visiting Florida.

Huge Win: Pay off my 401k loan.

That was a goal I was planning to accomplish by the end of 2018. I am definitely excited about it since it was a year and a half ahead of my target date.

Win: “Max out” my Health Savings Account (HSA).

I was originally only contributing $50 per paycheck to my HSA.  I didn’t add this goal to the list until half way through the year, after stumbling across Mad Fientist’s post about all the perks of an HSA later on during retirement.  You can contribute tax-free dollars, get tax-free growth, and take tax-free distributions for any qualifying medical expenses for you or your dependents.  I signed up at the end of February, so I was only allowed 10 months of contributions (March-December).  My employer contributed $500, so I only had to contribute the other $2,300 to max it out.

The Survivors

Soon to be a win: Max out my Roth IRA for 2017.

I have until Tax Day 2018 to finish this goal.  I started contributing earlier in the year, but didn’t get to the max yet.  Since I can still do this in 2018, I pushed this one out.

Met my original goal, missed my stretch goal: Max out my 401k for 2017.

The 401k limit for 2017 was $18,000.  My original goal was to save $10,000 throughout the year in my Roth 401k, and I was half way there half way through the year.  However, after reading the Simple Path to Wealth and doing a mid-year check-up, I noticed my income was going to be significantly higher than last year thanks to renting out my house.  I switched to a traditional 401k to try to limit my tax liability and to add in some diversity for tax strategy planning later since all my retirement accounts were Roths.

Missing this goal was a combination of not starting early enough with higher contributions (my company allows a max of 75% per paycheck, which is what I set it to at the tail end of the year, but I should have raised it sooner) and not making as much as I had anticipated on my bonus.  Either way, I was less than $2,000 shy of the $18,000 goal.  Nothing to scoff at!  I’ll get it next year.

A bit of commentary…

Even though some of my financial goals didn’t quite make it, it is important to remember that financial resources are finite.  If you want to travel, you likely won’t be able to save as much.  If you want to become financially independent faster, you may need to make some heavy cuts to spending.  It all depends on what you value and what your priorities are.  I definitely don’t regret my trips, which “cost me” my other financial goals but add far more colors to my life than one shade of green.

The Casualties

Loss: Hitting my target income.

At the beginning of the year, I had set a somewhat arbitrary (and not SMART) income goal for myself based on projections and where I wanted to be.  Looking back, it was definitely a stretch goal that was dependent on far too many things.  Even if it wasn’t a “win” in that I hit the magic number, I still pushed myself harder this year, and it financially paid off.

Loss: Getting back into my gym routine.

I consider this my biggest failure of the year.  While I lived in Michigan, I was right on pointe and spent at least three nights every week in the gym.  I was strong and sleek, loved the classes and the camaraderie, and enjoyed working out with the trainers.  When I moved down to Florida at the end of 2015, I didn’t like the local gym.  It felt dirty and the classes were too slow.  I bought stuff for my new home and cancelled the gym membership, thinking it would be such a frugal win.  I used the equipment a bit, although my routine was thrown off, but I missed going to classes and working out with my trainers.  Then I started to rent out my house, and I didn’t have access to the equipment for a chunk of the week since guests would come and go.  By the summer of 2016, all routines were lost.

This summer, I started a membership at a new gym.  It was $30 a month not well spent, because I haven’t put it to good use and wasn’t excited about the classes (they still weren’t as fun as the classes I had in Michigan).  I’ve lost my routine and my schedule, although my partner has tried to help me get back into it.  We’ve been enjoying working out together.  The end of the year has gotten better, but the damage has been done.  I’ve already bought a pair of larger jeans. 🙁

Total Loss: My vegetable garden.

Apparently there are “black thumbs” over here.  I might try to plant some tomatoes or peppers again next year, but oregano was the only survivor and has overtaken the rest of the garden at this point.  There’s only so much time in the day, so I think this goal will be put on hold.

Goals for 2018

Establishing a solid marriage with my partner.

Even though our wedding isn’t until the summer, it’s important to me that we’re building a strong foundation.

Getting back into my gym routine.  Also, eating better.

2018 will be the year I get back into my routine.  This is a huge priority.  I only have one body, and money can’t buy good health.  I have all of you to hold me accountable.  Also, I have a special dress to fit into.  Hopefully a little extra motivation. 🙂

Making a solid career move.

I’ve already started reaching out to other areas within my company and brushing up on my networking skills.  I’ve also focused on learning the new processes to help meet the needs in my current area.  We’ll see how it goes!  Either way, it’s important that it’s a real decision, not something I “fell into” or “got stuck with.”

Frugal travel.  Quantity still to be determined.

Last year’s goal is unrealistic for this year.   With a wedding and lots of family coming into town, I want to take plenty of time off to spend with them.  That’s more important to me than a trip I could take any time later.

Unfortunately, corporate America only rewards my service with three weeks off a year even though I’ve been with my company for five years now. 😉 January is Camp FI in Gainesville.  We bought Disney passes this past August, so we are going to take full advantage of them until they expire.  I also want to add in FinCon in October.  After that, any weekend trips and vacation time are fair game, but there’s not exactly much left.

Maxing out my 401k.

I get paid bi-monthly and have already got my contribution set to $770.83/paycheck.  (That’s the 2018 IRS limit of $18,500 divided by 24.)  This should be an easy win, especially since I’ve been living this way a couple months now.

Maxing out my HSA and getting investments set up.

There are a lot of benefits to having an HSA down the road.  The max for 2018 is $3,450.  Since my employer contributes $500 per year, I only have to contribute $2,950 to make this goal happen.  I’ve already set my contributions to $122.91 per paycheck.  (That’s my contribution of $2,950 divided by 24 paychecks.)

My plan allows me to invest in a Vanguard index fund, but only once I have over $2,000 in cash. (Some thresholds are as low as $500, but not mine…)  I plan to set up investments in April once I’ve accumulated enough to not lose all potential gains to the $3 monthly fee.

Maxing out my Roth IRA for 2018.

I am planning to use my tax refund and any extra AirBnB income for this goal.  If I am unable to accomplish it during the 2018 calendar year, I can still make the contribution through tax day of 2019.

On the fence: Paying off the truck loan.

If I want to reach all my financial goals this year, I better up my game!  If I wasn’t busy trying to put my money toward all my other goals, this goal would be easy.  However, based on the time value of money, I’ve decided I’m better off long term if I invest in the market first since my interest rate is so low, so I’m prioritizing my retirement accounts instead.  My financial resources are finite, and my planned savings will already by taking up about half my salary (that’s a solid “paying myself first”).  Then I want to make sure I’m enjoying my life and doing the things I want to be doing, like travel and visits with family.

There’s no need to scrimp like a mad-woman for the sake of knocking it out early, especially not with all my other financial goals, but I will definitely direct any leftover funds into the car loan rather than frittering them away.  I originally wanted to pay this off by the end of 2018, and it’s still a possibility (especially if I get a large raise or an unexpected windfall).  However, I’m not at the point where I’d want liability-only insurance, which in my mind is the only real benefit to paying it off.  Whether or not I pay it off, I will likely make a solid dent. 😉

Goal: Pay off 30% (18% comes from the normal payments).  Stretch goal: Pay off 50%.  Super stretch goal: Pay off in full.


What are your goals for 2018?

2 Replies to “A Recap of 2017: You Win Some, You Lose Some”

  1. we would like to finish our purge of accumulated crap that shares our home. we’ve been good about selling but need to get some momentum in throwing out. this will be a big year of trying to maintain the fun in life without mrs. smidlap needing a full time job report to “the man.”

    good luck with the getting hitched. our biggest savings from that event 15 years ago was catering our own booze. open bars can bust a budget.

    1. Yes, I love the feeling of purging everything unnecessary from your life! We already try to keep stuff to a minimum in the house with AirBnB guests in and out, but I’ve noticed a pile accumulating in the garage that I keep meaning to give away in my Buy Nothing group.

      Thanks for the tip! The wedding will be at a local resort on the beach. We wanted to make it as easy as possible since everyone is traveling from out of town, so everything will be in one place. We’ve only invited family and a couple close long-time friends. The wedding math says to keep it small. 🙂

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