I don’t know about anyone else but 2015 was a crappy year for us. Like seven plagues of Egypt crappy. There was the rain and hail storms that punched holes in our roof and siding. Then there was the economic downturn that cost my husband his job – twice. And then there was the family crisis that ended with bitter words and abandoned relationships.
Needless to say, I was more than happy to slam the door on 2015. But like most things that go bad, there’s usually some goodness that can be found in it. Some of what happened to us can be learned from in some way and that’s important.
Moving forward, one of my biggest goals for 2016 to take a close look at what happened last year and put it into perspective. So, without further ado, here are my resolutions for the year:
Resolution #1: Keep Our Asset/Debt Ratio Healthy
As I look back at our financial situation from 2015, I realize how vulnerable we were to the series of unfortunate events that befell us. We had our mortgage (good debt), student loan debt (semi-good debt), two car payments (not good), a line of credit and high limit credit cards (really not good). In total, we owed over $80,000 on cars, credit cards, student loans and a line of credit.
We also had investments and equity in our home but our debts far outpaced our assets. Looking back, I realize we were like a row boat with slow leak. It didn’t seem urgent enough to take action in fair weather but the second a storm broke; we were in serious trouble. Then there was the second, third, fourth, and fifth storms.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Timely) Goals
- We have cashed in some investments and have paid off $25,000 in student loans; $6,000 on a car loan; and $1500 on a store credit card – in total, we have freed up $1200 in money every month.
- We have put our home on the market and plan to pay off another $37,000 (a car loan, line of credit, and credit cards) in debt after it sells.
Resolution #2: Diversify Our Sources of Income
There are few ways better for recession-proofing your earnings than diversifying your income. I was actually pretty successful at it last year as I had freelance writing income, tutoring income, and my day job. Unfortunately, I had to let go of most of the work as things grew more and more chaotic.
My goal for 2016 is to start building up those streams again. While I don’t have all the specifics worked out quite yet, I am working on a plan.
- I will have a more concrete plan for diversifying my income in place by the end of the month.
- In the meantime, I am starting to put out feelers for more work.
Resolution #3: Start Rebuilding Our Retirement Fund
By the time we sell our house and pay off our debts, we’ll almost be starting from scratch. We will have paid off most of our debt – with the exception of one car loan ($20,000ish) – but we will have also cleared out most of our investments (also $20,000ish).
Since we’re both approaching mid career, we will have to be more aggressive with saving for retirement. It’s really important to me that we protect our futures in a way that we haven’t up to this point. I want to do things differently with our fresh start and the best time to start is right now.
- We will meet with a Certified Financial Planner within the next two months to help us decide how best to start out. Our needs and timelines are different now so we’ll need a good strategy to move forward.
- We will take advantage of the good stock prices and start investing in blue chip companies that pay dividends. We’ll do some research before deciding and then make our move – I’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.
Resolution #4: Use My Vacation Time & Travel More
Now that we’re starting over with a clean slate, we are in the rare position of being able to reset our priorities. While we’ve gone through some painful things to get where we are, we can really take the time to figure out what we really want now.
When I let myself think about what I want my life to look like, I keep coming back to travelling. More than nice clothes, fun gadgets, or random stuff, I want to go places and see things. Once we’re settled after the house has sold, I want to make some plans.
- I’ll make a list of places I want to go and rank them, according to preference and expense. Then I’ll create a timeline to make them happen over the next 5 years.
- Plot out my vacation days over the year so I can make the most of my time off and travel.
Resolution #5: Practice Better Self-Care
I have depression and with that comes some pretty serious challenges. When things get chaotic, one of the first things to fall by the wayside is self care. So this year, I want to develop some healthy habits. I want to start small and simple and build on my success. It will help me manage my depression and stay balanced.
- Get up to date on all my medical, dental, and optometry appointments. I have started this already and I’ve gotten all my dental work done. I still have to follow up with getting a physical and an eye exam. This will be done within the next three months.
- Start taking vitamins on a daily basis. I have capsules so they aren’t hard for my body to break down. It’s just a question of getting into the habit of taking them. Easy peasy.
- I also found that I still have hot yoga passes that I can use without costing any additional money. I will start going once a week.
- Also, a new discount gym chain just opened a location in my city. I can join for $20 a month with no contract obligations. I will start going twice a week and see how I feel from there.
Resolution #6: Spend More Time With Awesome People
I already know lots of awesome people but I’m at that age where a lot of my friends have full-time careers and busy families. Sometimes I can play phone tag for two or three days before I can get a hold of someone. This is absolutely okay but can be a bummer when you’d like to make plans less than three weeks in advance.
Soooo, I’d like to broaden my horizons and meet some new people to supplement my already fabulous friend crew. This means stepping outside of my comfort zone to boldly go to places I don’t usually go.
- I want to reach out to my fellow bloggers. There are lots of neat-o people roaming around the internet and there’s no reason not to get to know them. I can start an online conversation, meet up with the locals, and just generally put myself out there.
- I’ll join an art class, Meet-up Group, or some other group-ey type activity and start chatting with people.
- When I do meet someone cool, I’ll go beyond adding them to Facebook and forgetting about them. I’ll ask them out for coffee or find a way to continue the conversation.
So there ya go. My big goals for this year. Thanks for sticking it out until the end of the post (this was a whale of a post) and watch for progress updates every three months.