At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post called “Our Only Goal for 2014” where I explained that my only New Year’s Resolution for 2014 was to maintain, maintain, maintain. In years past, I made huge goals about maxing out IRAs and saving thousands of dollars and destroying debt all at the same time.
I knew that this year would be completely insane. I knew we’d have the babies. I knew it would be my first year of self-employment. I knew we’d be moving. I just figured with all the unknowns I would just try to not go into debt and just do the best I could.
Preparation Made it Possible
The only reason I was able to accomplish this “maintain” goal in 2014 was because I prepared like crazy the year before. Last year, in 2013, I worked so hard and I was able to save more than $20,000 because I basically had two full time jobs at the same time. I had my teaching job at the university in Grenada and I had a full fledged online business which was bringing in more income than my teaching job. I was exhausted from all of that work, but it was well worth it because I was able to split up all that money into the babies’ $10,000 savings fun, my $7,000 moving fund, and my $5,500 IRA.
I Used It All
I used every bit of that (well, except for the IRA of course, which I won’t touch until I’m old and gray(er)). In order to get our apartment here in New Jersey, I had to overnight a check for $6,500 which was for 1.5 months of rent, a deposit, and the broker fee. So, there went that moving fund in an instant. The babies’ fund was definitely spent on the babies – mostly healthcare since they totally maxed out our health insurance with their NICU stay and then the diapers and wipes and who knows what else. It’s all been a blur.
So, here is some evidence of our “maintaining” our finances this year.
- We paid off our credit cards in full every single month. There was not even a moment where I was worried I wouldn’t be able to. We’ve been credit card debt free for quite some time now, and we don’t intend on going back down that path.
- We did not touch our emergency fund. We were actually able to cash flow several major purchases, including recent ones like $700 for two car seats and $700 for a big car repair all in November. (Yes we bought very expensive and ultra safe convertible car seats and are totally fine with it.)
- I contributed $100 to my IRA each month and will try to max it out if I can after I pay this quarter’s taxes. It really depends on where I stand after talking to my accountant but hopefully it will be possible.
- I brought my student loan principle down by $1,000. Obviously I did way better on this in 2013 but at least it’s not worse than when I started.
What Could Have Gone Better
- We ended up relying on some student loan income from Hubs this year. I can support my family on my business income, but it was starting to give me some serious anxiety as my income fluctuated throughout the year. For example, November was one of my highest months of income ever, but May was the worst in all of my years of working online. My income can support us without much extra, but when I have to figure out how to pay for a $2,000 board exam hubs has to take next year, the student loans come in handy.
- I wish I could have tracked spending better. I dutifully provided monthly budgets but fell off the wagon for October and November. I “tracked” it myself by monitoring my bank account, paying my bills, and was secure in the fact that we were not in debt, saving, and paying our bills. However, I tend to lose track of the small things, like why I spent $60 at Rite Aid and where did the cash go from that random $200 ATM withdrawal. I just find it very challenging to balance it all and feel lucky to just get the payments out on time. I hate that feeling, the feeling of just being totally overwhelmed but it’s sort of my state of being at the moment.
- I wish I would have spent more time developing Budget Blonde as the primary part of my business. During “crisis” times when lots of stressful things are happening (which was pretty much my entire year) I was really leaning on “solid” income, that being my writing income which is steady and something I can count on. I’m sad that this incredibly demanding year left me losing touch with my main site and some fellow bloggers. I was not being as active of a member in the community as I have in past years. Hubs said I am too hard on myself and that people understand I have twins, but the twins are my life now and they can’t be my excuse forever. I’m not sure what the future holds for Budget Blonde, but I do know my kids are growing at lighting speed and I don’t want to miss a minute of it. More on this topic soon, of course.
Tell me about your resolutions that you made at the beginning of this year. Did you keep them? Do you have similar ones for next year? I’m going to write another post about my goals for next year. 2015 will be another interesting/hectic one with lots of expenses since Hubs will finally be applying for residency in September (!!) after 5 years in medical school so stay tuned. 🙂