They year is halfway over and I'm only just now writing a blog post about our goals. That's not because we didn't have goals until now. It's because we just had not had an opportunity to blog about those goals until now. We share our goals with you because we believe in transparency and we believe in the process.
Goals that seems small today have a massive impact over the long term.
We also want to leave a breadcrumb trail in our wake so that 10 years from now when we hit financial independence anyone who is curious can take a look back on our journey step by step. Finally, we want to show what a lifestyle built on these principles actually looks like. That life can be full and rich even while living a less extravagant lifestyle.
Goal setting is important in all aspects of life and personal finance is no exception. In fact, I believe that being financially fit is a keystone habit. A keystone habit is a habit that once you change it, you experience a positive butterfly effect on the rest of your life. Basically, positive change in a key stone habit creates positive change elsewhere in your life. I have found that having financial goals that are informed by a vision for my best life, keeps us motivated and on track. It helps us resist temptation and spend in accordance with our goals.
Goals are nonnegotiable okay? So if you don't have any right now, get them ASAP. Alright, now onto our goals for this year.
Save $36,000 in our retirement accounts.
Joseph and I started maxing out our retirement accounts in the spring of 2015. Before that we were contributing about half of what we could. Despite our moderate contributions, that number slowly crept up to $100,000 over the course of five years. Just two short years later we have doubled our, in large part because we have kept that higher contribution rate up. We also benefit from almost $15,000 in employer matching each year.
At the beginning of 2017 we had $166,000 socked away in our retirement accounts.
In our projects, we plan that our investments average eight percent over the long term. We are hoping to add another $30,000 to our account balances in market returns. But we recognize that the market can fluctuate widely on any given year so we aren't focused so much on the gains. Instead, we just focus on what we have control over, which is how much we contribute to our accounts.
Staying the course and maxing out our retirement accounts certainly been a challenge when our expenses went up because of the new baby and our income went down so that I could get out of a job that I hated. The pay cut was especially brutal because we had just taken out a loan to replace the rotting windows in our house with the plan that we would pay them off fairly quickly.
Pay off $30,000 worth of debt.
When we bought our house back in 2015 we didn't have any debt aside from our student loans. Then we bought a second car and did some repair work on the house and we suddenly found ourselves with $1 million dollars worth of debt. After I took a $20,000 pay cut to take a job that I love, we decided we needed to trim some of the debt fat from our lives.
So we have picked two debts that we want to focus on knocking down this year: our credit card debt and our window replacement loan. These two debts have fairly large payments so getting rid of them will free up some extra cash. After they are gone, we will still have around $35,000 in low interest debt that we intend to slow payoff over the next three years while we focus on our other financial and life goals.
Cash Flow a Family Vacation to Singapore
We were not planning on taking a family vacation to Singapore this fall when 2017 started. Really, all I was thinking about at that time was getting into a job that I didn't loathe as soon as possible. But it's kind of amazing how quickly life can change. That is why we highly recommend have a yearly budget that allows you to see what your entire year looks like.
Our yearly budget helps us see what our cash flow for the year will look like given our projected expenses. So when I got an alert for a cheap flights to Singapore for later in the fall, all it took was a quick consultation with our budget to know that we would have the cash to pay for it.
This trip to Singapore with kids will be our first big international trip. It is exciting and scary all at the same time!
2018 and Beyond
Because we budget several years in advance, our financial goals don't just stop in 2017. We actually have major financial milestones planned for the next seven years, when the the last of our student loans should be forgiven. We will be posting more about our extended financial and life goals so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, you can check out our family bucket list here for a list of adventures that we hope to go on in our lifetimes.
What are your financial goals for 2017?