When we began this Financial Independence journey 7 months ago, I wrote down a very long list of immediate goals on a yellow legal pad. I, frankly, didn’t know how long it was going to take to check off everything on the list, but it really didn’t matter at that point as long as we were working on checking off the boxes. As 2017 has come to a close, I have begun to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row and are ready for 2018.
That meant pulling out the trusty yellow note-pad (I can’t help it, I am a lawyer and I love yellow notepads). A quick survey of the list and I realized we had checked off just about every box! With the exception of two items; 1. Paying 2017 Estimated taxes entirely, and 2. Paying off our devices with Verizon to reduce our monthly bill. The taxes we are still working on and since we are not paying interest on the Verizon devices, I chose to pay off other debts first.
The following is a summary of what we have been able to accomplish in less than six months:
- Cut Cable
- Purchased Fire Sticks and use Hulu & Netflix, instead.
- Cut Verizon bill by $25
- Analyzed previous 3 months expenses which allowed us to:
- Reduce spending on food by 50%
- Reduce energy costs
- Find multiple areas of other savings
- Opened Vanguard retirement account for Wendy
- Increased savings rate to 20%
- Opened solo i401k for Wendy to begin contributions for 1/1/18
- Paid off multiple accounts to create significant monthly savings:
- Tuition Wendy
- Tuition Maddie
- Dentist bill
- Wendy’s Car
- Multiple credit cards
- Cancelled gym membership (twice!)
- Set up additional retirement accounts for Curt
- Sent in paperwork to max out contributions beginning 1/1/18
- Cancelled water delivery service – savings of $120.00
- Looked into removing PMI from mortgage (a refi will be on the 2018 list)
- Inquired about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for Curtis
- Paperwork ready to send in the lenders (on the 2018 list to complete)
As of December 31st,2017 we have seen a total gain in our net worth of $46,689.00. That’s simply AMAZE-BALLS!
The net gain is due, in large part, to the significant reductions made in our monthly spending. Going forward the reductions will continue to help us fund our retirement accounts, while at the same time reducing our taxable income. (HUGE!) (Which also leads to additional savings – WIN!)
If you had asked me six months ago why we were not contributing to retirement, my response would have been that we could not “afford” it. It’s quite likely, that if you are currently not putting more into your retirement, you believe the same thing. Friends, listen-up! Those are limiting beliefs and limiting beliefs have the power to keep you stuck. Instead, try something different. Try focusing on what you CAN do.
It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering either. Start small. Focus on small areas and build upon those. I truly believe that most people, even those who live paycheck to paycheck and who are convinced there is no room in their budget, have areas where they spend unnecessarily. (If you simply do not believe me, track every single penny you spend in a month. If you can’t do a month, do week. There is waste there – I will bet money on that, and I am not a gambler.) So, start there, and then create a simple goal. Let’s say you start with $100 a month. Then the next month increase that by a small increment. Then keep going. Then move on to a different area and repeat the process.
Write each of these goals down and track your progress. Then review them often. Focus on your accomplishments and keep moving forward.
This is how we started and now, a little over six months later, we have a full page of a yellow legal pad checked off. For 2018, we have a brand-new page full of UNchecked boxes. I look forward to next December when we are here again and we are able to announce another full page of checked-off boxes. I am even more excited to see what each of you has checked off!
Share with us some of your checked and unchecked boxes – we would love to send you some encouragement!
Love and Prosperity,