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The Year of Becoming an Adult

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Hubs and I have been talking a lot about different life things lately.

This year has been a big turning point for our family. We’ve really committed to the decision to get rid of our debt and we’ve made huge improvements in this area (yes, we still have an enormous amount of student loan/medical debt, but we’ve eradicated all credit card debt and drastically slashed our license fee debt, while also lowering our interest rate and making big progress on our car loan debt).

And as the end of 2014 draws near, we’ve been discussing big goals for next year. After some  discussions, we have decided to declare 2015 The Year of Becoming Adults!!!

Now, this may sound strange. Yes, husband is 32 and I will be turning 31 soon (my birthday is on New Years Eve!), so if you look at age you would certainly think of us as “adults.”

But you guys know all our dirty little secrets. You know we’re not full-fledged adults yet….at least not from a financial perspective.

In 2015 we’re hoping to change that!

Right now (and through March 2015 – one full year of blogging), I am going to stay steadfast in putting every extra dollar toward debt. I’ve talked before about how at that time I might reassess things and move at a bit slower pace. We have decided that with at least some of our “extra” money (currently put toward debt), we are going to make some big strides toward becoming more adult.

  1. First, we’re going to make a will. This is not going to be fun and I am not looking forward to it. Part of the reason we decided to make 2015 the year-of-adulthood is because I don’t want to deal with this type of paperwork as the holidays approach (maybe not an adult way to handle the situation but, hey, I’m working on it).
  2. Second, husband will get life insurance (hopefully!). I have my life insurance all in place, but we have had a LOT of struggles with getting him insured. After some talking, we’ve decided to put it on hold right now. Hubs’ medical mystery illness (discussed here) occurred at the end of 2013 so we want to get past the 1-year mark, hoping that this will make a difference and improve our chances of getting him covered. We’re also probably going to go with a different company than the one we’ve been dealing with, but we’re still looking into options.
  3. Third, we’re going to open retirement accounts. You may recall that after we paid off our last credit card I created a new savings category called “savings for Roth IRA.” So I already semi-started this by at least setting money aside on a monthly basis. In 2015 we’ll actually open an account and get this all started on an official basis.
  4. Finally, we’re going to open college savings accounts for our girls. We haven’t talked exact numbers yet (regarding #3 and #4), but at least some money will be set aside monthly (probably in a 529) as a college fund for each of our children (we have 2).

I know this all flies in the face of a Dave Ramsey-eque model of debt eradication.

For any who are unfamiliar, Dave suggests having only a $1,000 emergency fund while working on eradicating debt. He also advocates stopping contributions to retirement and kids’ college accounts while in debt reduction-mode.

Honestly, though, the idea of not doing these things (i.e., saving for retirement especially, and putting at least some money aside for college) scares me. We just came up with our grand 2015 vision and haven’t talked numbers yet. Plus, its difficult to talk numbers when our income is so variable and I’m on the job market and could potentially have a big change in income in the coming year. This is something we’ll have to sit down and discuss at length in the coming months.

But numbers aside, I just wanted to let you guys know about our plans. I know these thoughts and ideas are going to ruffle some feathers because the goal of this blog is debt-eradication and switching gears from full steam ahead to a lower gear of debt-reduction is not necessarily a popular decision.

I haven’t decided what I’ll do come March 2015 in terms of blogging. I love the support and advice I get from you all and if readers are interested in me continuing at that point (with the knowledge that debt reduction would be done at a slower pace) then I may continue to write and contribute. But I don’t want to upset readers and/or cheapen the mission of this site in any way by taking sole focus off of debt-reduction.

We’re not at that point today so it’s not as if any big decisions need to be made right now. I just feel like I want to be honest and open with you all, as you have been so supportive of me on this journey. I want you to know where it and I, as a person, are headed.

Do you have any big goals or resolutions for 2015? What financial goals are you currently striving toward?

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

Latest posts by Ashley (see all)


16 Comments

  • Reply scarr |

    I hope getting wills is listed as number one because it is what you hope to accomplish first! Since you are almost an adult 😉 I don’t have to lecture you about the importance of these legal documents.

    2014 goals were mostly in regard to paying off student loans. We met several milestones paying those dang loans down. We have about 20 months left woohoo. We hope to bulk up our emergency fund in 2015 and keep paying down student loans.

    I look forward to updates about your 2015 goals, and I want to hear from you for as long as you are willing to post! I bet once you are able to step into a position you may not have the time to contribute as often or even much at all – but whenever you decide you are ready to leave BAD I sure hope you stop by for life updates when possible!

  • Reply Financial Fan |

    I think those are very worthy goals, Ashley…and very adult! I think you will see that you will be able to still retire a lot of debt, while putting money to other meaningful goals.

    I hope that you will stop by this blog occasionally, even if you decide to quit blogging regularly here. Four bloggers began here and two faded, and we don’t hear much from Hope anymore on actual debt reduction. I want to thank you for all the work you have done, crunching the numbers and putting it all out here. It’s obvious you put a lot of time into your posts.

    I must say, I hope the owners of this site will carefully consider future bloggers for staying power. I know that it can be a tough crowd here! A single person with debt would be a good prospect.

  • Reply KLM |

    I think this is a reasonable approach. One of the nice things about 529s for the girls is that you can also suggest that your family contribute to them for birthdays and holidays, rather than getting another outfit or whatever. We haven’t quite trained our families on this yet, but maybe someday!
    Likewise, I think it’s a good habit to get into saving for retirement. You may not want to fully fund the Roth IRA for both of you, but putting a little away is a good idea.

  • Reply Joe |

    Long term planning… awesome, great!
    We did our life insurance and 529 opening at around the same time (in terms of the kids’ ages). Still have to work on the will, thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Theresa |

    I think that sounds like a great plan. While I appreciate Dave Ramsey and the focus on debt elimination that he has brought to the personal finance world I do not think he is the be all end all. I really hope that you are done paying off your car and the license fees by March!

  • Reply Meghan |

    Ashley-

    These sound like great goals. Unless you are too busy, I hope you will consider staying around past your one year debt pay-down, I agree with the others that I enjoy reading your story and obviously understand a need to slow down the debt repayment plan. (And who knows, maybe after a few months you will get tired of seeing those numbers move slowly and will do short bursts of high powered debt pay-down with breaks every few months!)

    The real thing I wanted to comment on here was to think carefully about the 529 accounts. Not saying you should not consider putting money aside for college, I think it is a great idea, however consider whether you want to use a 529 account. At only two years old (and especially with you having an advanced degree) it is easy to assume that your girls will go to college. Probably they will, but if one of them decides that college is not for them it will be quite difficult to get your money out of that 529. Meanwhile, if the money were in a different type of investment account, then if your high school graduate decides to do something else, like start their own business, you will be able to offer them that money for start-up. Just something to consider, if you were planning to open retirement accounts I am sure that there is a professional financial adviser who would be willing to show you options on college accounts as well.

    Cheers,

    Meghan

    • Reply Theresa |

      Ashley you should definitely do your research on 529 plans but I believe if one of your daughters decides to not go to college you could reassign the funds to the other daughter.

  • Reply gloria-victoria |

    Set up the education plans to allow others to contribute. Let it be known that instead of lavish Christmas and birthday gifts, that they could contribute to these plans. I would suggest a Coverdell account since you don’t know where you will be living and you do not know what educational path or school your children may go to. They may not want to go to your school.

    The Coverdell Education Savings Account allows individuals to deposit up to $2,000 per year in an educational savings account for an eligible beneficiary.

  • Reply Judi |

    Good for you, these are all really great goals. As a reader I hope you keep blogging here through this new chapter in your journey. I know this blog is dedicated to blogging out of debt but getting out of debt is just one of the steps in complete financial wellness. It’s been nice to have a variety of bloggers to have to relate to on various levels. I find your story most closely mirrors my own with abundant student loans, and when the journey out of debt will take years I think it’s smart to make progress while also putting the rest of your finances in order. I’ve learned so much from your story already and from the comments it would be a shame to see you go. However, if this blog became to much of a burden with a possible new job and kids it would be understandable.

  • Reply Den |

    Sounds like a mature and thoughtful discussion – great! I love that you and hubby are flexible enough to change course when your life changes. Being rigid and staying with a budget just because you started that way is a recipe for disaster….so kudos for your flexibility and open mindedness! Just try not to change course too often as then your focus gets scattered – maybe a review/revision/update with the hubby every 6 months???

    I would love for you to continue writing in this blog. I enjoy your posts and appreciate your candor.

    We too continued to contribute to our retirement during debt repayment and I’m glad we did…..we also recently updated our wills using legalzoom.com. A basic will was $69 for each of us…..we’ll probably go with a trust as we get older, but for now, a simple will gives us peace of mind.

  • Reply Kili |

    Hi Ashley,
    I also would like to continue reading about your journey after the 1-year-mark.
    I definitly do understand the idea of also focussing on other areas further down in your journey.
    Best of luck!

  • Reply Jenna |

    Great goals – go for it! I hope you’ll stay on blogging about your debt paydown while balancing it with other financial goals – that’s a worthy prospective and one that I favor. Best of luck pursuing these goals!

  • Reply Alexandra |

    First – I love the actions you’re taking to “become an adult,” and I appreciate the reminder that my husband and I still need to create our will and get life insurance on him. Second – I would love to hear from you as long as you would like to contribute. We all know that getting out of debt doesn’t happen overnight or within a year in most cases, and I think it will be nice for readers to have someone to relate to that’s still trucking along. Your writing clearly appeals to a lot of us! Thanks for taking the time to share your efforts and progress!

  • Reply Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore |

    Ashley,

    Those goals sound reasonable to me. I am on a debt elimination journey too, but am still trying to save money in my EF and am still contributing to my retirement fund (to get my employer match). Thanks for sharing your goals!

  • Reply V |

    Thank you thank you thank you for considering retirement. This is really really important, because just like debt but on the reverse side, the power of retirement is compounding interest, which takes time! Unlike debt, however, you are limited on your ability to contribute to retirement accounts, so for me, unless you are almost underwater with debt, I think deferring retirement savings is dumb. You are young and likely to have increasing salary, especially if you get full time employment such as you are looking for, then you can ramp up your debt pay offs (do this before you get used to the new income, it’s far less painful), but there are max contributions to retirement accounts so don’t let time slip by you because you won’t get that back!

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is a really good point (regarding max contributions for retirement & paying down debt before getting used to a higher income)! Thanks for the comment!

So, what do you think ?