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Financial Goals: 2017 & Beyond!!!

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For the past couple of years I’ve made our family’s financial goals public, sharing them with you all and tracking along throughout the year to see how we did (see 2015 goals here and 2016 goals here). We met our financial goals the past two years and hope this year will be no different.

2017 Financial Goals:

  • Pay $30,000 Toward Debt. This may seem like no big deal since we had this same goal last year and met it, no problem. But this year will be different because our salary is going to decrease a bit. Hubs is going back to school and mid-way through the year I’ll be leaving my part-time job. I’ve kept hinting that I have some news on the job front but I’m still not in a place where I’m able to share it. Probably within the next few weeks I’ll be able to elaborate on this. Overall, though, our salary will be down this year compared to last year.
  • Fully Fund A Roth IRA. Our first two years of debt payment were narrowly focused on debt payoff at the exclusion of all else. When I started my full-time job in August 2015, a 7% retirement contribution was required (and is matched by my employer). In the past year (we’re almost at the 3-year mark for our debt payoff journey), I’ve tried to add in a little extra balance. That means more of a focus on savings for retirement and on spending a little bit for fun (e.g., monthly date nights, kids’ activities, etc.). I’m still continuing to do my mandatory pre-tax retirement contributions (it goes into a 401(k) type thing, but the education equivalent…I think it’s a 401(c) or something??) I’ve also tried to separately put a little money into a Roth the past couple years, but we’ve only managed to do about $1,500 or $2,000ish each year. This year the goal is for us to have 1 fully funded Roth at the maximum allowance (I believe it’s still $5,500). In the future we’ll work toward having 2 fully funded Roths, but I think just having 1 will be a good goal for this year, as we still work diligently to reduce our debt.
  • Mom & Dad Getaway. This is still a very new and not fully fleshed out goal but one that has been floating around in my mind for quite awhile. For newer readers, hubs and I have twin 4.5 year old girls. One of our favorite (pre-baby) passions was to travel. We used to travel a LOT. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we have in our mind for why we want to be debt free: so we can have the freedom to travel! In February 2015 we set a goal to go on a cruise for my Mom’s 60th birthday and we did! We saved up for over a year and in April 2016, we went on a family cruise. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad we did it. But it kind of re-kindled this flame in my heart – this desire to travel with my husband! In the past nearly half-decade since we’ve had kids, we haven’t had a single overnight away from them. Not one. We love our kids, but I also think we’re now at the point that it would be healthy and good for us to have a little mini-getaway solo. It likely wouldn’t be for long (we’re thinking 4 days/3 nights) and it likely wouldn’t be extravagant (maybe drive out to San Diego since that’s only a few hours drive). So I’m sure it won’t be as costly as the cruise was. We don’t have defined or “set” plans in place, but we’ve talked to hubs’ mom about it and she’s volunteered to come out to Arizona and watch the girls for us so we wouldn’t have to be paying for childcare. I don’t know when this would be (maybe over summer; maybe not until fall), but it will happen sometime in 2017. It needs some work to make the goal more defined, but it’s a definitely goal we have for this year.

 

I know this is a get-out-of-debt blog, so some of the things I talk about (e.g., savings, spending) may be a little controversial. I am proud, overall, on how frugal we have been and how much we’ve been able to reduce our debt. I think ours is a success story. If we had less debt, we may have just been able to go gung-ho the whole time (we did for a solid 2 years!!!) and just eliminate the debt in its entirety. But with the amount of debt we’re grappling with, I didn’t think it was possible for us to be “gung ho” for a solid 5-6 years. I knew we would end up falling off the wagon. Therefore, we’ve purposely built our budget in a way where we can SUCCEED. That includes building in a little “wiggle room” for a monthly date night, weekly dance class for the kids, and having friends over for dinner every couple of months. These “life” things are important to us and we wouldn’t be able to make it through to the finish line if we didn’t allow them.

It’s been so encouraging to watch our debt shrink. We now owe $75,000 according to our most recent debt update. Here are our long-term goals:

2017: $30,000 toward debt payments

2018: $30,000 toward debt payments

2019: DEBT-FREE by the middle of the year!!!!

2019 still seems so far off! But then, we started this journey in 2014 and that feels like it was just yesterday! So I know 2019 will be here before we know it. We’re over half-way there!!! I hope you’ll continue to stick around while we’re on our journey. And I wish you luck on your journey as well.

 

What are your 2017 financial goals? Do you set annual goals for yourself and/or your family?


Enjoying Your Golden Years: Ways to Avoid the Top Retirement Home Buying Mistakes

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Choosing a place in retirement to call home is not a search to take lightly. Not only is it possible to end up in a place that is a poor fit for your lifestyle and personality, you can easily spend too much, go with the wrong financing alternative, or neglect to plan for the long term. Whether you hope to live in a retirement home or in a house that you buy, it’s important to head in with a plan, vetted by a personal finance adviser. Before you do any of this, though, you should look at kind of mistakes that others have made before you. You need to be careful to not repeat them.

Location

Whether you believe your home in retirement should be your own or like the idea of a managed retirement center, you can’t make informed decisions without experience. Buying without trying, however, is a common mistake.

Move to each location for a week to give it a test drive. There are all kinds of things that you can discover this way — that you don’t like the people, that you can’t stand being far from your friends and family, or that poor availability of public transportation makes your life more difficult. It’s even possible to find a location irksome for unpleasant noise levels or smells. It’s never a good idea to skip the trial part.

Know Yourself

If your friends have bought homes in retirement, you may decide that it’s the right choice for you, too. If you keep hearing all the time that West Somerset, Dorset, North Norfolk and other such places are the best for life in retirement, you may decide that there’s nothing left to do but to go to one of these places, yourself.

This is hardly the right way to go about building a life that makes you happy, however. Everyone has unique preferences, and you want to think about yours. While a coastal location might be very popular with some, you may personally hate windy locations, and the thought of storm floods may terrify you. Personally, you may prefer Liverpool city over West Somerset, for its Beatles connection (you can check it out online at EntwistleGreen.co.uk).

You may even decide that all your friends who have bought homes have ended up house-rich and cash-poor, and decide not to go down that path yourself. You need to exercise independent judgment every step of the way.

Don’t Underestimate Costs

Certainly, anyone would plan adequately for the initial payment up front, repairs, remodeling, maintenance, property taxes and so on. What they may forget, is how living expenses, transportation, healthcare and other expenses become more expensive each passing year. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to enlist an accountant for help finding out how much the actual costs will be over the next few decades. You will need to take these calculations into account when you plan to spend on a house. The more you need for day-to-day expenses, the smaller the home is that you will be able to afford.

Research Customer Satisfaction

Many retirement homes and communities think up innovative service offerings, and it can be easy to fall for them. Before committing to a location, however, it’s important to do considerable research talking to residents, looking online for complaints or lawsuits, and simply waiting to see how things develop. You don’t need to have your home waiting the very day that you retire, after all. Being an early adopter is never a good idea for a place that you need to go home in your golden years. If you are unsatisfied at some point down the line, it can be hard to find the energy to sell and move all over again.

Plan Ahead for Driving

Some retirement destinations provide easy access to public transportation, and others don’t — residents need to be able to drive themselves. Seniors can feel stuck in such locations, especially when they are no longer drive. It can also be a major source of annoyance to have no such easy access to important places nearby — stores, entertainment venues, places of worship so on. It’s always a good idea to be close to the places that you need to go to.

Consider Alternatives

Britain has many retirement villages — brand-new townships with every facility needed to be built right outside. It is one of the most important positives of these villages, that they also put hundreds of fellow residents within easy reach. Friends tend to be easy to make. Such villages are a viable and alternative to traditional retirement homes or flats where one is required to live one’s own. It’s important to investigate every alternative available.

Louise Fletcher has had a career in real estate ever since leaving school. Working in various positions, and niche’s over the years she has a lot of valued information to offer her readers.


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