2016 has been a rough one for many. Have any of you seen this meme floating around the interwebs?
(Here’s one source, but I’ve seen it on multiple accounts. It’s everywhere.)
Makes me chuckle. Although 2016 has been tough in many regards (and I have a year-end wrap-up post in the works with more info on my 2016), it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, I’ve had a pretty good year when it comes to my financial goals.
In the beginning of 2016 I set these financial goals for myself and my family:
- Save $10,000 for down payment for a home.
- Save $5,000 for an emergency fund.
- Put $30,000 toward debt.
These were pretty lofty goals at the time they were set. But then our income just exploded.
I ended up working all summer (an extra 3 months worth of income), I taught an extra class one semester, and hubs landed some big contracts in the Fall.
Without any major financial set-backs this year (*knock on wood*) we managed to hit these goals out of the park!! I’ll explain each in more detail below.
- Save $10,000 for down payment for a home. Once this goal was set, I really put it first above all else. Initially we were going to start looking at homes in May, but we pushed it back a bit when we felt we needed more time to save up an EF, etc. We found “the house” in August and it was a long process, but when all was said and done we finally closed in early November. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to save the money in-time when we were shooting for a May timeframe, but by the time November rolled around we had more than enough saved for our down payment. With the money we saved (+ a generous gift from my mom) we had just over 20% to put down. We also had some cash reserves still on-hand that came in quite helpful when we needed to buy nearly $4,000 worth of “stuff” to get moved into the house (e.g., refrigerator, blinds, etc. See this post for details).
- Save $5,000 for an emergency fund. This goal was so important to me, personally. This was the real reason why we delayed our house hunt from the beginning. We had our $10,000 saved up, but had nearly no emergency fund and I felt like it was just a recipe for disaster to buy a home with no money on hand. After we pushed back our original “house hunting” date, we were able to continue to stack money (again – I picked up work over the summer and additional classes in the Fall, too, which really helped in this regard). As I type this post, we have exactly $5,085 in our dedicated Emergency Fund and I consider it fully funded for the time being. Eventually we’ll try to bump this up to a full 3-6 months ($5,000 is about one month for our household…maybe 2 if we really stretch). But while we’re still in the process of debt repayment we’ll leave it at $5,000. I did have some comments on the house post that mentioned making a separate house-related EF (especially given the age of our home, etc.). I’ll address that more in my forthcoming 2017 Goals post. Look for that post likely next week sometime.
- Put $30,000 toward debt. This is just such an obscene amount of money to pay toward DEBT in a single year! It’s crazy to think about how many families are struggling just to get by on $30,000 total annual income. When I first started blogging here our household income was just under $50,000. Thinking of that time (and there would have been zero chance we could have put a full 30k toward debt) compared to where we are now…I’m just amazed. Life has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, but we’ve been blessed in the financial realm this year. Check out our December Debt Update table:
|Place||Current Balance||APR||Last Payment Made||Last Payment Date||Original debt, March 2014|
|Navient - Federal 2 (unsubsidized)||$11071||5.80||209||December||82433 (all school loans, combined)|
|Navient - Federal 3 (subsidized)||$8621||5.80||25||December|
|Navient - 2 (subsidized)||$8537||6.55||33||December|
|Navient - 7 (subsidized)||$7232||6.55||28||December|
|Navient - 8 (subsidized)||$6402||6.55||25||December|
|Navient - 9 (subsidized)||$8537||6.55||34||December|
|Navient - 10 (unsubsidized)||$16135||6.55||2020||December|
|Balance Transfer Student Loan #2||$3000||0% (through April 2017)||$1000||December||$7650|
|Balance Transfer student loan #1||$0||0%||-||Paid off in March 2016||$5937|
|PenFed Car Loan||$0||2.49%||-||Paid off in January 2016||$24040|
|License Fees||$0||2.5%||-||Paid off in April 2015||$5808|
|BoA CC||$0||7.24%||-||Paid off in June 2014||$2220|
|Mattress Firm||$0||0%||-||Paid off in May 2014||$1381|
|Wells Fargo CC||$0||13.65%||-||Paid off in May 2014||$7697|
|Capital One CC||$0||17.9%||-||Paid off in March 2014||$413|
|Totals||$75,171 (Nov balance = 78,345)||$3399||Starting Debt = $145,472|
With our last large debt payment from December 2016, we’ve managed to cross the finish line on our final financial goal of 2016. We have officially paid over $30,000 toward debt this year!!! See below (with a previous goal check-in post found here):
Some months were up and some were down, but the highs and lows all averaged out and still allowed us to hit this monstrous goal we had set that didn’t even seem feasible in January of 2016 and yet, here we sit at the end of 2016. Mission accomplished.
For anyone casually stumbling across this blog (as well as long-time readers – thanks for sticking around!!), I just want to stand on the top of a mountain and shout: I’M A REAL PERSON. A NORMAL HUMAN BEING JUST LIKE YOU. THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL OR OUTRAGEOUS ABOUT ME AND MY SITUATION. IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!!!!
Three years ago, I never would have believed I’d be sitting here today having annihilated nearly half of our debt!!! It’s a pretty incredible things and more great things are on the horizon.
How have you done on any 2016 goals? Are you taking stock and making plans for 2017 goals??
Hi, I’m Ashley! Arizonan on paper, Texan at heart. Lover of running, blogging, and all things cheeeeese. Late 30’s, married mother of two, working as a professor at a major university in the southwest. Trying to finally (finally!) pay off that ridiculous 6-digit student loan debt!
CONGRATULATIONS! If I lived close, I would take you out for a celebratory drink. 🙂
Looking at your list, the last debt you paid off was March 2016; it may be awhile before you pay anything else off, so will seeing those numbers go down be enough to keep you motivated? I know you were excited to see the number start with a 7, and people are motivated by different things. Know that we are still here cheering you on!
I loved your “year of being an adult” goals so I tried to emulate that. My husband & I got our wills done, but I still haven’t consolidated my old 401(k)s – like you, I’m trying to find a financial advisor that I trust/click with. Work (and life) has been crazy the last part of the year so I haven’t taken the time to make an appt. I take that back: I made an appt w/the financial guy at my credit union – even left work early one day – and he never showed up!
In addition to getting my 401(k)s consolidated, we need to find life insurance for my husband; he’s retiring this week (eek!) and doesn’t have any life insurance beyond what he had at work. This is going to be the second task on his retirement to-do list! I also want to get burial plots purchased this year. And there’s always the goal of saving more money! 😉
Happy New Year!
It’s been awhile since our last debt was paid, but I’m still feeling the motivation. I’ve made visual cues (like debt thermometers) that have helped keep me motivated. And our next debt to be paid off will be in just a couple more months – planning to get that balance transfer loan paid off by March 2017.
Congrats on taking on your own “year of becoming an adult” goals! : )
Congrats, Ashley!!! This is AMAZING progress! You continue to be an inspiration… your dedication to get rid of your debt is on a whole different level. Way to go! I can’t wait to see how 2017 plays out for you!
Super proud of you for ending the year with a strong debt payment. You’re making great progress and really staying focused – it’s pretty amazing that you’ve been able to maintain the intensity while going through life changes/house changes/job changes. Cheers to 2017!
Thank you!!! I really thank the readers for their encouragement and support! As a long-time reader, you’ve really helped keep me on course over the years! : )
Awesome! Keep up the great work…..and pretty soon you can start dreaming about what you will do with all your extra money once your students loans are paid off!!!
We really want to pay off our house!! I don’t know that we’d attack the house debt with the same vengeance as our other debts, but that would be our next goal (along with bulking up retirement and probably enjoying more “life” things like vacations and date nights, etc.P)
Congrats again Ashley (and fam), amazing work.
As far as 2016 goals, I attained the one that I really wanted. I promoted at work and advanced my career one step further (yay). Financially, I’m not quite where I want to be as far as amounts in my liquid savings accounts, but life happened as it usually does, and I was able to navigate with no problem. 2017 shall be interesting though…
Congrats on the career-related gains! Hopefully that translates to some tangible financial gains, too! : )
You are such an inspiration Ashley, seriously.
2017 for me will be a year in getting my debt under control. I want to pay off my credit card by March. Then get stuck into my personal loan. My debt is sub $30k in total, and while I don’t have the income that you do, I know that it is doable.
You can do it!!! March is right around the corner – good luck with eradicating your credit card debt!!
Congratulations on not only accomplishing, but exceeding your goals! I think that’s one of the best reasons to set goals. Once you set them, you usually realize you can exceed them. I hope you can take a moment to celebrate.
Ashley, could you please tell me what software you are using to track your debts and budget?
I’ve used YNAB since shortly after starting to blog here. I love the simplicity and ease of it. I wrote a whole review of it (see here: https://www.bloggingawaydebt.com/2015/03/review-of-ynab/ ). At the bottom of that post there’s a link to try it free for a month if you’re interested : )