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I Had One Goal – Did I Meet It?

  December 3

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By: Allison Gray
By: Allison Gray

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.

Maintaining

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. 🙂

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30 responses to “I Had One Goal – Did I Meet It?

  1. I’m siding with your husband, folks do understand. And them I’m siding with you. As the twins get older, and more new bloggers come along, you’ll have an expanded community that has no idea who Budget Blonde is, unless you are out there and participating. I think the key is not stressing yourself out, because that does no one any good. So you might not be able to do as much as what you want to do, but that’s ok, too.

    I’ve got a bout s thousand goals rolling around in my head for next year. I hope I can dial that back to a few things and kill those few things 😉

  2. My 2014 new year resolution is to get more side hustles. I believe I am satisfied that I have already achieved my resolution. I got three side hustles: copyediting, blogging, and freelance photography. And next year, I am planning to add more and to learn website designing. So excited for next year.

  3. Don’t forget you also finished incubating two tiny humans, then birthed them, saw them through some serious health issues at the beginning of their lives, and have helped them grow and flourish, too! Those are big things that I don’t see anywhere on your list of giving yourself credit for. =)
    We all have years when just maintaining is hard – but those times will go and you’ll no doubt have a much easier year financially next year when you have a little less crazy on your plate.

  4. Give yourself some grace, Cat. Not only did you end up less in debt this year, you gave birth to two beautiful babies, managed to be a mom & run a business all at the same time! You’re the sole breadwinner, and I know how that feels, and the fact that you’re able to do it all from home while the hubs is in school makes you superwoman to me! It gets easier, and if I’ve learned anything from year during the years I’ve been reading your blog, it’s that you work crazy hard….and it pay off! Have a great Christmas!

  5. Hey Cat – sounds like you “maintained” nicely financially in 2014, but greatly progressed in other areas of your life (which usually pushes people back financially). That is a huge WIN in my eye.

    Will that be your goal in 2015, or will you be pushing it further next year?

    If you need any help with accountability and sticking with measuring your results next year, then our might find our 2015 savings challenge useful. Would be good to have you as part of the community!!

  6. Sounds like you had an amazingly successful year–congrats! I’m continually impressed with how much you accomplish while caring for those adorable beans! I definitely agree with your husband–you’re too hard on yourself (but I know I’m 100% guilty of that too, so I totally understand where you’re coming from).
    P.S. Super exciting about residency! Maybe he’ll be applying to some places in Boston :)?

  7. Looks like you had a good year! And please, please, stop being so hard on yourself! 🙂 I think it must be a “girl” thing, I do the same thing and I don’t have kids. You do an awesome job of juggling it all.
    My goals for 2014 more or less crashed and burned. I think I had to grandiose ideas of what the year should look like without getting my mind in the right place first. I’m working to my next year my best and most awesome by kicking the shopping habit!

  8. Great job with the goals!! I cannot imagine doing all the work you do with twins, seriously!!! Babies are non-stop. I was just telling my husband how I need to be more productive (it was on a day that they both napped 3 hours at the same time), but then the next day was chaos. Even if they nap at the same time, it’s go go go until nap time and sometimes I just need to sit and do nothing.

    Also, who knew rent was so expensive (referring to the $6500 check you had to send out)?!?! We are debating breaking our lease at our apartment to move into a house. If we do it now, we will owe around $8,000 (breaking lease, deposit, pet deposit, first month rent, purchase washer/dryer, etc). Crazy!!! BUT, if we wait until our lease is up, we will owe $5900!!! It’s just insane. My husband totally wants to do it now, but I’m the more logical one and think we should just wait.

    Very curious to know what the future holds for your blog!!! 🙂

    Hope you have a great day today!!

  9. You have two healthy beautiful babies, a husband who works hard and will continue to work hard and you have your business that is supporting all of this. I know it sucks to not feel successful at everything, but you are successful at LOTS of things and you have to keep that in perspective. It’s easy for Type A people like us to kick ourselves and much harder to hug ourselves, but it looks like you need a hug right now. 2015 is a new year with new opportunities!

  10. You’re superwoman, and an inspiration to us all. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re doing beautifully! I think you should also give yourself credit for going back to dance classes, and carving out time for your own physical and mental health. You should be very proud of how together you have it 🙂

  11. I believe that you are accomplishing so much given your life’s circumstances. I hear you about worrying about Budget Blonde but you will figure it out and do what’s best for you in the long-term. Becoming a parent is such a life-changing experience and last time I checked there is no manual on how to even begin to balance life once a child, in your case, twins enter the picture. I’m here for you anytime you need anything!

  12. I’d say you accomplished your goal! I’m hard on myself too even when I know I shouldn’t be. It’s hard not to be hard….we’re easy targets! This last year my goals were to practice gratitude more, stay off my phone more, and something else that I can’t think of. What are the chances I accomplished that one?!

  13. You ALWAYS inspire me to push harder. Sometimes I wonder how you do it all! So great that you’ve been able to keep your financial goals while being self employed. I slipped on financial goals this year and I’m going focus much more on them next year.

  14. Whenever you start to get down on yourself just think about where you would be if you hadn’t been such a baller the year before—now that would be scary :/ I’m VERY impressed with what you’ve accomplished while keeping twins alive 😉

  15. I agree with The Hubs-you’re too hard on yourself!! You just move back to the U.S., your spouse is a resident, you have twins, you run a business with multiple parts to it. The fact that you did so well is a testament to your focus and tenacity. You more than maintained-you ROCKED IT!

  16. That is so absolutely wonderful! I am beyond jealous of your savings account and your accomplishments and hard work. I need some serious help. It seems that there is never enough money to go around. Despite having had a baby in May, I picked up a 2nd job to supplement our joint incomes. But really, there isn’t any “extra money” because the bartending job on the weekends just pays for daycare during the week. Not to mention, this was the Fall from hell. Water heater burst, washer died, dishwasher died, last 6 credits of school had to paid for.

    How do I come back from this debt? How do I enjoy life with hubs and baby while saving money? What is your simplest advice?

    Love reading your blog 🙂

    1. Girl you have to make more money. I know it sounds so simplistic but 2nd jobs or working at the mall for Christmas or things like that just don’t pay enough. Use your unique skills to do consulting, teach others how to do things, work around your house, take care of other people’s kids so you can spend time with yours, and charge a premium for it because you are worth it. I will write a post about this soon.

  17. Even though perhaps it didn’t go as you had planned, I think you did amazingly well this year! You moved, had twins and became a solopreneur! I didn’t make resolutions but I had a power word, which was mindfulness. I did really well until October then fell off due to my schedule just getting so hectic. Although my power word helped me, I missed making goals so I made some for the next year. Even though I need to hustle to make progress, especially since I am working and going to school full time, I feel good about it. Umm sort of. 🙂

  18. Maintenance can sometimes be the hardest part! It’s one thing to pay off debt or get in shape, but man it can be hard to stay in shape after the goal has been crossed!

    Loved your updates!

  19. Looks like you guys are doing a great job considering all the changes. Being in a tough situation like that really brings out the potential in people and it looks like you have a lot of that. Kids are definitely the most important thing because they grow so darn fast! Jobs and money making opportunities will be available until the end of time, so making time for the kids is essential.

    Here’s to an awesome 2015!

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