We aren’t really ones to make new year’s resolutions since we like to set SMART goals that can be broken down into manageable chunks. I like to use the first month of the year for reflection and goal setting. It usually takes us the first few weeks to mentally recover from the previous year and then consider where we want to go from there.
2018: a year of big changes and many successes
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about how 2018 went, but I do want to recognize that we made a lot of big changes in our life this year and had a number of successes. The changes that we made during 2018 will definitely impact our goals for 2019 and beyond.
In terms of changes:
- We moved from Michigan to Colorado for a new job. Then in a surprise twist of fate, Mr. Smith ended up negotiating a 100 percent remote job with his previous employer. So we got the best of two worlds. We get to live in a cool new city that’s in the Southwest (where I grew up) and he gets to work from home for a company that the likes.
- We decided that I would leave higher education at the end of the 2018/2019 academic year. For us, the decision was independent of the new job for Mr. Smith that required us to move 1200 miles away from my university. I have been unhappy in the job for quite a while and both of us were ready for a change.
- We decided to start the adoption process. After much reflection and discussion, Mr. Smith and I decided that adding a little person to our family would be great. Again, this decision was independent of the previous two changes, but it did inform what would come next for me after I stopped jobbing.
- Finally, we decided to set down some roots in Colorado and started the process of having a home built. With Mr. Smith working from home and the eventual addition to our family, we find ourselves in need of more space. The two-bedroom apartment is working for the moment, but we need a minimum of three bedrooms and after doing some looking at renting a three-bedroom apartment or house would cost about as much as purchasing a home.
In terms of successes:
- We maxed out all of our tax-deferred accounts including my 403b and 457, Justin’s 401k, and our HSA. It was a bit of a strange year with the move and there are a few things to sort out yet. Primarily, Justin also contributed to Colorado’s state pension plan and we need to figure out how all of that works.
- We ended the year with a 13 percent increase in our net worth. Considering the ups and downs of the market and the fact that we paid for the majority of the adoption and part of the downpayment for the house last year, I consider that a win.
- We did a LOT of traveling in 2018. We spent a week in Spain, 10 days in Alaska, two trips to Michigan, and a few weekend trips. After adding it up, we spent over 30 nights away from home during 2018.
- My family came to visit us a bit in Colorado. Our three-year-old niece came to stay with us for two weeks during the summer. It was a crash course in toddler parenting. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready. My mom and brother’s family came to see us at the end of October. That was a lot of fun!
- We both continued to prioritize our health throughout 2018. We continued going to yoga about three times per week and I even attended a 7-week long chakra workshop. After moving, we started going for monthly hikes. Exploring that part of Colorado has been a lot of fun. We continue to cook most of our meals at home and have cut way back on some of our indulgences.
the 2019 Goals
I’m dubbing 2019 our year of simplicity. Last year was a very busy year for us and we’re interested in getting back to basics for this year. What happened, in terms of changes, will certainly affect all of our goals for this year.
- max out our 401k and 403b;
- max our HSA, and
- buy/close on our new house.
We have been able to max out Mr. Smith’s 401k for the past five years and I don’t see that changing any time soon. It’s a major way for us to reduce our taxable income and, as a result, our tax liability. With me being part-time and only working next semester, I will only be able to max out one of my tax-deferred accounts. (Yes, I recognize the privilege in that statement.) We’ll also contribute the maximum to our HSA account. Again, this is about minimizing our tax liability. Also, with a baby on the way, we’d like to have as much saved as possible since you never know.
The builder has not broken ground on our home yet, so we don’t have a firm closing date. At this point, they are estimating late fall. One thing I like about this builder is that they require monies to be handed over at different parts of the process and all of these are part of the down payment. We gave them the earnest money deposit at the end of 2018. Next up is 20 percent of our selected options. The idea of handing over a smaller check at closing makes me a little less anxious about the whole process. I am looking forward to being a homeowner again.
Mr. Smith’s goals are simple: continue working for his employer 100 percent remotely.
My goals are a bit more involved. At the end of the academic year, I am leaving paid employment for the foreseeable future. I currently volunteer for the local pet food pantry once a month and will be researching additional volunteer opportunities later in the year. I also plan to continue blogging and working on different ways to promote my work here. Finally, my Etsy shop continues to grow and I’ll be working on that throughout the year. In short, while I won’t be doing W2 work anymore, I’ll still be busy. Plus, we don’t know when the baby will come.
health and fitness goals
In terms of our other goals, we’ll both continue working on prioritizing our health. This comes in two main areas for us: fitness/activity and maintaining a healthy diet.
My goals for the year include maintaining my yoga practice, continuing meeting my step goals (as of right now, I’m on a 14-day streak!), and developing a meditation practice. Currently, we do yoga three times per week at our studio. I would also like to add a home practice for at least two of the other days. Walking is a major way that I de-stress and take time to think about things. I’m averaging 8k steps per day and want to maintain this. As far as measuring these goals, I use an app called Achievement to aggregate all of my activity into points. For every 10k points I get $10. My overall goal is to be paid out at least twice during 2019.
Justin’s fitness goals are to continue being active 5 to 6 days per week. He made a lot of progress during 2018 and wants to continue using the momentum that he’s built.
In order to meet our goals, we’ll also be focusing on our food budget. Mr. Smith and I love to cook at home and are usually pretty healthy about it, but there is some room for improvement in this area. In terms of money, I would like to see us get our food spending down to 10% or less of our net income. In 2018, we were at 13% and I think we can do better.
travel and fun plans
In addition, we have planned quite a bit of travel for next year. Since we don’t know when we’ll be matched with an expectant mom or when the baby will come, we’ve decided to do as much traveling as we can now. Once the baby comes, as all new parents know, we won’t be as able to globe trot.
In 2019, we have two international trips planned. We’re going to Bermuda for a few days as Mr. Smith has a conference there. I’m tagging along since most of the trip will be paid for by his employer. We’re also going to South Africa in August. Last summer, we went to a charity event and “won” the trip. Now is the right time to use it.
I have two, possibly three, other trips planned. I’ll be heading to Michigan for a week during the summer to see my mom and friends. In July, I’ll be heading down to see my brother and his boys in Oklahoma for a few days. I’m pretty excited about seeing my nephews since I have visited with them in over a year. Finally, we’re in the planning stages of meeting up with some friends in Utah for a hiking trip.
Last, but not least, we’re going to two concerts in 2019. We’ll see Disturbed in January and I’m going to the Backstreet Boys in August. I’m pretty excited about both. Justin is a bit perplexed about us having tickets to two concerts in wildly different genres.
What are your goals for 2019? How will you work to achieve them?