2017 Goals And Plans

We made it to another year.  We had a great year last year and are looking forward to another wonderful year.  Here are some 2017 goals and things that we have going on.  What are your plans for the year?

Money

Our goal for money is to keep on keeping on.  We want to save for retirement a bit more and maybe for some larger projects, but nothing right in front of us.  Building our net worth in a slow and steady fashion is the goal.

We had considered the idea of a refinance of our mortgage to free up some cash flow.  This might still happen, but we put it on hold since rates started going up literally days after that post!  That’s honestly my luck.  It might be something to look at, but we’ll see.  I know many say rates are still low but I just have a thing against refinancing at a higher rate than I’m currently paying.  This is even more true knowing it wasn’t the case just a few months ago.

Exercise

I want to continue to go to the gym but I have a few different goals this year.  Last year, pretty much all I did was run on the treadmill.  I want to reduce the number of times I run, but offset it with different activities.  I literally lift no weights or do any other type of conditioning.  I’d like to be more well rounded in my exercise approach.

Vacations and Fun

We have a few things planned for the year:

  • February: Our winter mini-getaway to a water park located a couple of hours away
    Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

    .  The kids absolutely love this place and ask about it at least once a week.

  • April: We are heading to Florida for Spring Break.  We’re heading to the Tampa area.  We already have lodging all set up, and are finalizing our plans on getting down there.
  • Summer: We’ll be doing our traditional assortment of camping trips.  We’ve already booked Memorial Day and the 4th of July week trips.  We’ll have another  week long trip that we’ll book later, as well as filling up the rest of the summer with additional shorter trips.
  • Fall: We round out our camping season with a couple of colder weather trips.

Health

I never got around to a few of my checklist items to get done by the end of the year.  I really want to make sure to get checked up, as well as take care of some of the other items.  It’s obvious that my prescription has changed for my glasses, so taking care of that is something to do fairly early on.

On top of that, we’ll just pray that everybody else in our immediate and extended families stays healthy and accident free.

Church

We really don’t get to church very often.  By that I mean that we’ve turned into one of those cliche families that goes on Easter and Christmas.  Our kids really enjoyed Vacation Bible School, and I honestly feel that they need some of the lessons and principles from the teachings.  It wouldn’t hurt for me and my wife to go either!

Kids

We’re always excited to see our kids continue to grow and learn and mature.  They are finding their way with activities.  My son is in Cub Scouts and we’re having fun, so hopefully we continue with that.  He’s also getting into things like basketball, plus he still loves desigining and building.  My daughter continues to take dance lessons, and has started Brownies (Girl Scouts).  I’m sure by the end of the year they’ll both have more things on their laundry list!

We’re really looking forward to what the year ahead brings.  What do you think of our plans, and what do you have lined up for the year ahead?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

2016 In Review

Well, another year is almost in the books.  It’s pretty cool to look back and see how things went.  Here is our 2016 in review.  How was your 2016?

Money

From a money standpoint, things were okay.  I think we’re at that point where nothing big is going to happen too regularly. That’s good and bad.  On the good side it meant no major expenses or unexpected costs.  On the negative, it just means no big boosts or jumps like we used to have.  When I was younger, a 10-15% raise was common.  Now 2-3% is normal.  Also, back then, when I had smaller a smaller net worth, a bigger percentage gain could take place with just normal savings and gains.  Now, even when the dollar amount is much higher, the percentage gains are less.

Kind of boring and steady at the same time.  I guess I’ll take it. *lol*

Exercise

I had a goal to run as many times as I did in 2015.  I thought that would be a cinch, but as it turns out I just made it by the skin of my teeth, hitting the goal this week.  Last year I had a sore foot that kept me away for a couple of months, so I thought that I’d make up for it with a full year.  As it turns out, my wife and I both decided that when we’re camping, we wanted to enjoy the time with our families.  Therefore, we ended up doing less running which offset the time.

Still, it was good to be on track.

Camping

We had great weather and had a blast camping this year.  I already wrote a post on this, so I won’t go into too much further detail on this one.

Kids

The kids are both in elementary school now and doing very well academically.  It’s awesome to see them learn.  It’s also heartbreaking to watch them come home when they’ve had a falling out with friends, or didn’t do as well at something as they’d hoped.  While we want to see only good things for our kids, we realize that the ups and downs are a part of life.

Home

Not much big this year around the house.  We didn’t really do any big projects at all nor did we have any big repairs.  It’d be nice to do some updating, but there’s nothing that has to be done as a pressing need.

Pets

We lost our second cat early this year.  He always had issues with chronic constipation.  We were able to control it with occasional issues throughout his life, but he suddenly had issues that wouldn’t go away.  We got more and more aggressive with medication and remedies, but it wasn’t working.  It’s been lonely without him and it was a big adjustment going to a pet free environment for now.

Healthy

Knock on wood but the four of us are all healthy and have been so throughout the year.  Hopefully that continues.  My step-mom did have a big health scare earlier in the year with a pulmonary embolism, but she got some great care and is doing great!  That’s been a big blessing.

2016 In Review: Summary

We’ve been blessed with good health and happiness throughout the year.  We’ve had a lot of changes and we know that life will continue to bring them our way.  Staying together and working together is key, and we plan on doing so for what we hope is a great 2017.  Stay tuned for more details on what we have in store for next year.

Readers, how was 2016 to you and your family?  Please share in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

The Money Blahs And Blessings

I’ve had the money blahs where everything with money and finances seems just meh.  That probably explains why I haven’t posted too much.

There’s nothing in particular that’s bumming me out, but just sort of a collective theme that is part boredom and part feeling like I’m spinning my wheels.

Why The Money Blahs?

I’m all about making progress.  Moving forward and getting things done are great!  I love making lists.   I love setting and reaching goals.  Lately it just feels like with regards to money, things are not really moving or moving too slow to see.

  • We have a nice house in a nice neighborhood, but we haven’t really done a cosmetic update of any substance (beyond painting) in years, and things are starting to show their age and in some cases, are looking pretty shabby.
  • We keep an overall emergency fund and a car repair fund.  However when something like t he recent transmission problem pops up, it takes a big dent and it doesn’t get restocked overnight.
  • Our cars are both at or near 10 years of age.  We certainly save, but even after being car payment free, we’re still well short of being able to pay cash for one, let alone two, outright.  We’re actually starting to have conversations about what to do here, and realizing that we sort of failed on being able to cover the replacement costs is a bit of a downer.
  • Our camper is thirteen years old, and as much as we take care of it and as much as we get a lot of great use out of it, the fact is that it’s starting to come up with a lot of problems that a 13 year old camper that sits out in the Michigan elements for 365 days probably would.  We just spent a few hundred dollars getting some weather sealing done and fixing a few problems.  I don’t mind this so much in the grand scheme of things, because we haven’t put more than $100-200 per season into it in about five years, but when the bill hit during the same month as the transmission repair, the cost stands out more than it otherwise would.
  • We contribute toward retirement, which is great.  But as I look,  my retirement age seems to be getting a bigger number.  So, we make progress but not the progress I’d like.

Now, I’m done having my pity party.  I know I have a great job that offers me a lot.  I’m blessed to have been here for 10 years, and that it affords me a short commute and time with my family.

We could make different choices.   I could look for a better paying job.  My wife could start looking at jobs.  We could forego traveling and save money.  Trust me, I know there are options, and I’m by no means saying that we’re in trouble.

Seeing Blessings In Many Ways

See, I know that in spite of all the ‘problems’ (and I know that many would consider themselves lucky to have them) that I listed, that in the end, we’re still very blessed.  We have a great house that protects us.  Our cars run.  We have a camper that allows us to vacation many nights a year in a way that’s pretty affordable comparatively.  We’re able to save to do a more extravagant trip every few years.  We have enough saved to weather most emergencies.  Plus, we have enough retirement money saved that at least I can say ‘someday’ instead of ‘never’.

My wife and I had a great conversation the other day.  She could tell that I’ve been down for awhile and couldn’t mb-2016-09-cloudsfigure out why.  I tend to internalize things like this, not even intentionally, because I think that I often split our family roles with her as the nurturer and me as the provider, and I’d not been feeling like I’ve been pulling my weight on my end.

Voices That Need To Be Heard

Just talking seemed to work things out a bit.  It helped unravel some of the knots that I couldn’t figure out how to undo on my own.  I just talked.  We didn’t find a pot of money.  Still, I felt better.  Overall, I came away remembering the importance of being on the same page, being supportive, and lifting each other up when needed.  A gentle reminder that my wife had my back was what I needed to part some of the clouds.

Movie Analogies To The Rescue

In the end, just talking with my wife turned my focus from the negative back to the positive.  I’d been suffering from what I call ‘Mikey Syndrome’. In Swingers, one of my favorite movies, the main character is feeling sorry for himself.  His best friend scolds him: “You don’t look at what you have…you only look at what you don’t have.”

The conversation is an eye opener.  After he admits to himself that his friend was right, he starts approaching things differently.  Things wrap up with his newly found positive outlook helping lead to more positive things in his life.  It’s amazing how that works!

That conversation with my wife was an eye opener in the same way.

So, here’s hoping now for better things ahead!

Readers, how do you get over the money blahs?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Financial Goals: 2015 Review and 2016

Well, another year is in the books, and it’s time to look at our financial goals, specifically to see how we did, and how we’d like to see the year play out ahead.

Overall, we saw our net worth increase, but it was a disappointment in the fact that we fell short in a few categories, so the gain was not as I’d hoped, and was our smallest gain (percentage wise) in over six years.

I track our finances by breaking it down into several categories, first on the asset side and then on the liability side.  I will do the breakdowns by percentage, rather than list actual amounts.

Here is the breakdown for each major area:

Asset – Real Estate

We only have one asset here, our home.

2015 Goal: +3.8%
2015 Actual: +4.0%
2016 Goal: +2.9%

The value of our home, which I estimate by a combination of Zillow, actual sales in the neighborhood, and estimates from the city, was about on par.  Things seem to be slowing down a bit now that prices have largely recovered from the crash, so I’m lowering the pace a bit, though still projecting an increase.

Asset – Autos / RV

2015 Goal: -11.6%
2015 Actual: -23.6%
2016 Goal: -17.4%

We have two older cars (2007 Buick Rainier and 2006 Pontiac G6) as well as an older RV.  For the cars, I largely use the Kelley Blue Book Private value, and for the RV, I have a straight depreciation method.  I had thought that by nowmb-201403stacks the decline in value year over year would decline, but apparently older cars lose a lot of their remaining value around this age.  I’m basing our projections on keeping our current ‘fleet’ and projecting somewhere in the middle of last years values for the estimates.

Asset – Liquid Assets

2015 Goal: +14.2%
2015 Actual: -1.5%
2016 Goal: +33.0%

These are things like bank accounts, non-retirement brokerage accounts, CDs, and other accounts that could be converted to cash relatively easily.  I’d projected a modest increase, but we ended up with a small decrease.  This was largely because I’ve ‘written off’ a bit of the amount in anticipation of replacing our HVAC system, which we’ll have to do in the next couple of years, and also had to do with the volatility of the stock market. I’m being optimistic for 2016 in that I think we can add to our savings more aggressively and hoping for some improvement in our portfolio.

Assets – Retirement Accounts

2015 Goal: +12.0%
2015 Actual: +4.2%
2016 Goal: +12.9%

We cut back on our contributions a bit to avoid a potential IRS penalty depending on our tax situation this year.  That’s since been covered so we’ll be making up the difference, meaning our contribution level will be a lot higher, and I’m hoping that performance is a bit better.  Our investments are more aggressive since we’re still 20+ years away from retirement, so our investments here under performed the market.  Hoping for a turnaround.

Liabilities – Mortgage

2015 Goal: -7.0%
2015 Actual: -7.0%
2016 Goal: -7.6%

We’re not paying extra so as long as we make our regular payments, the projections here are pretty simple and easy to predict.  We were right on track, and since the balance is declining and the amount to principle expands every month, the impact will be better for 2016.  That helps our net worth!

Liabilities – Student Loan

2015 Goal: -18.4%
2015 Actual: -18.7%
2016 Goal: -23.8%

We only have one small student loan that doesn’t have much time left.  With a fixed rate around 2%, we are currently making the minimum payments.  We’ve got just around 4 years left, and we’d consider paying it off sooner, though that’s lower on the list of priorities.

Total – Net Worth

2015 Goal: +15.9%
2015 Actual: +8.3%
2016 Goal: +17.7%

I was disappointed that we didn’t at least hit double digits, but it simply wasn’t meant to be.  Maybe I’m setting us up for even more disappointment by being even more aggressive, but I don’t see it that way.  I want to make up the difference and a good year will help us do just that, so I’m going to put it out there and shoot for the stars.

Readers, how did your 2015 go and what are you setting as goals for 2016?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.