2016 has been an interesting year. We were talking about it as a family around the dinner table and my daughter said she’s glad to see it come to an end. Both my wife and I asked her “why.” She recapped a number of bad events that went on in the world this year, terrorists, shootings, celebrity deaths, etc.
I reminded her that every year has its ups and downs. I could never recall a single year that was just great the entire year. She agreed, but still was looking forward to 2017.
That I know if often a feeling shared by many people. As the calendar turns to the New Year we get to hit once giant reset button.
I also like to think tragic events, elected officials, deaths, etc. certainly shape our lives, but ultimately it’s up to us as individuals to make the best of it, we are not helpless bystanders with no control. I have met my fair share of people who subscribe to the way of thinking, but I’m not one of them and nor do I want my children to fall in that bucket either.
I just realized I never did any check-ins on my goals I set for 2016. I think that’s partly why we didn’t really achieve the kind of success we were expecting. It was also a big transition year for me personally. Starting a new job, in a different industry after working for the same company for over twenty plus years.
I have to admit it took some time to adjust, and digest. Understanding and dealing with changing work relationships of people you spent 40 plus hours a week with for years, and now never speaking with them again. Meeting a whole new group of people and walking a tight rope of building new relationships. It has certainly changed my perspective on some things.
Let’s recap the goal I set for 2016:
Increase Income – I have a number of solid searches leads in the works right now to return to full-time employment. I am also working on my plan B side hustle too, I don’t ever want what happened to me this year to happen again. I have to admit it was a great learning experience for my three children on many levels. The power of being financially responsible, having an emergency fund, and the non-guaranteed nature of working for someone else.
Increase Income Update – I landed a new full-time role in January. It has its pluses and minuses. I took a 20% pay cut but also gained back a number of hours. I have less responsibility than my last role and am no longer on call 24/7 365 days a year. A big win for my personal/ family life.
For the most part, when I leave work, I leave work. My commute went from 50 miles round trip a day to 18 miles. Another win for my time, wear and tear on my vehicle and sanity. Since my commute is now mainly back roads and I don’t have to deal with any highway traffic. So overall it has been great, just need to adjust for the 20% of salary.
Replenish Emergency Fund – Once income increases we want to replenish our e-fund. Most people advise 3-6 months as a standard. I’m thinking more like a year.
Replenish Emergency Fund Update – This is an area we have not succeeded in 2016. We’d like to have the security of the larger cash cushion.
Build Wealth – We want to increase our college saving and retirement savings. A Pretty straightforward goal for 2016, pay ourselves first.
Build Wealth Update – We have increased our overall net worth this year. Retirement and college savings are up and the mortgage is down. That’s a great thing.
Educate – Continue to help prepare our three children for adulthood. We are in the middle of driver’s education, SATs, college selection. Three teenagers keep you busy. In addition to continuing to spread the financial literacy message whether helping individuals, school district, lecturing, etc. No effort is too small.
Educate Update – We have acceptance letters for a number of colleges for both my son and daughter. Including some pretty impressive scholarship offers. No final decision has been made we are still waiting on a few outstanding responses. We do feel like we have prepared them so good so far. Now the big decision looms.
I’m three years in on my committee in my school district and have been named the financial literacy chair. I have two speaking events booked for 2017, and hoping to book more during the year.
Looking ahead to 2017
2017 is going to be uncharted territory for us. We will have two children heading to college. Our commitment all along to them has been to help them as much as possible and to educate them to avoid debt while obtaining higher education.
College applications are out and we have already received a number of acceptances, but waiting for all results before making any final decisions. We continue to look for “free money” opportunities via scholarships and grants.
Obviously where they attend school will play a big role on our 2017 finances. What additional cost will we take on associated to college, moving them in, parents weekends, travel expenses, etc?
We’d also like to get one more family trip in before August. We do have a number of reward miles banked to help defer the cost. So 2017 is going to be a year of changing and redefining goals as the year progresses and decision get made.
With all of that in mind here are the goals as of December 2016 we look to accomplish in 2017.
Maintain Wealth – We would certainly like to build wealth, and increase our emergency fund in 2017. I think it’s certainly possible, but I categorize this goal as maintaining wealth because I don’t want any old habits to creep back in as we approach high school graduation, prom, and college, etc. All events that will involve money.
Cash Flow College – As straightforward as you can get. We do not want to take on any debt or have our children do so if possible. We will need to tighten our spending belts to accomplish this goal.
Help Others – My wife and I want to continue to volunteer our time. She has plans to spend a third year volunteering for Operation Surf and I plan to continue my commitment to my local school board and local coalition.
Declutter – This has been a goal for the last few years. When people thinking of decluttering the often related it to physical stuff. We still have a share of “stuff” to clean up. We also want to include decluttering things that are no longer important to us. Invites, events, time killers like social media, etc. I think you get the point. We just want to stay focused on things that are important and we value or add value to our lives.
When I think of those things, I wonder where blogging fits into it. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired as of late. I do enjoy helping others, and understand the blog has a much further reach than working with individuals or speaking to a group. But, working with people directly and speaking to a group is much more energizing than blogging.
We’ll see where this goes. I still think this year, navigating college for twins could be helpful to others out there. So we’ll see how it goes.
Wishing you a very peaceful end to 2016 and a very happy New Year!
How was your 2016? What are your big goals for 2017?