Well, it’s been three months since my last update on our current financial goals, and what a decent quarter it’s been! Between the second and third stimulus checks and our tax return, we were able to make some definite progress on many of our goals (and even unexpectedly were able to completely cross one of the bigger ones off!).
Now, had we used ALL of the funds from those sources on just these financial goals, we probably would have *almost* reached every single one. However, the vast majority of that money has gone towards funding a dream I’ve had for awhile now, and that’s to start my own flower farm where I grow specialty cut flowers to sell to local florists and to people in the community in weekly bouquets. (If you’re interested in things having to do with our flower farm and homesteading goals and dreams, make sure you’re following my other blog.)
In case you missed the WHY and the basic rundown of each of these financial goals, click on over to the initial post that explains why we’re focusing on these particular categories and plans.
Note: There are affiliate links below to products and services mentioned, which means I may get a commission on any sale, at no extra cost to you.
Note on How We Track Our Financial Progress
For basic budgeting and household account maintenance, I use Mint, which I’ve used and loved for years. Recently, I’ve started using Personal Capital as well, which has many of the same features as Mint, but I like using it instead of Mint for tracking our debt reduction and investments, as I find their tools are a bit better for that. Both are free. (And if you sign up for a free Personal Capital account, we can both earn $20 if you go through my referral link!)
For a clearer snapshot of our financial picture over time, I started tracking our net worth via Google Spreadsheet in August 2018. It’s been a total game changer, and I highly recommend you read the post I did on the why and how of that process here.
Now that we’ve got all that preliminary stuff out of the way, let’s feast our eyes on the numbers!
Our 7 Big Financial Goals
Open up a brokerage account + invest $2,500
Our brokerage account is through Fidelity and is in their Total Market Index Fund (FSKAX). We decided to go with this option after reading The Simple Path to Wealth and from me doing extensive research about the FIRE movement (Financial Independence / Retire Early) over the years. While we’re not on track to retire super early at this point, we would still like to have the option for Matt to retire from traditional work when he’s in his 50’s if he chooses, which only gives us the next 15-20 years to actively be investing for that.
One of these days I really should do a post that breaks down our plans for early retirement and how we plan to accomplish that. Would that be interesting for you?
Anyway, here are the current stats:
- Goal Amount: $2,500
- Initial Amount Invested: $500
- Current Amount Invested: $1,600
- Progress Made This Quarter: $1,100 (44% of total goal)
- Percent of Goal Reached: 64%
Buy and pay off a new vehicle to replace the Buick
Originally we had planned to go a traditional route with getting our next car—we were going to put down as large of a down payment as we could afford on a solid used car from a dealer, and then we were going to pay it down as quickly as possible (like we did with our minivan).
However, an even better option presented itself to us—my in-laws were getting rid of their little Mazda, which would be the perfect commuter car for Matt to take to work. What made it even better was that they were willing to give it to us for a steal at just $3,000. We ended up using our second stimulus check to purchase this from them, so I’m beyond happy that we’re still able to be debt-free other than our mortgage!
- Initial Amount Saved: $500
- Goal Amount: We planned to go for something in the $8K-$10K range, but we ended up buying it from my in-laws for $3,000
- Amount Paid Off: $3,000 (GOAL COMPLETED)
Get each kids’ savings account to $500
Both Matt and I served missions for our church, and we want to be able to give our kids the same opportunity. We will encourage them to save some of their own money for this as well, but we want to provide a good chunk of it, too. If they don’t want to serve missions, this money will be used towards their higher education.
- Initial Amount (Kid #1): $222
- Current Amount: $392
- Progress Made This Quarter: $170 (34% of total)
- Percentage of Goal Reached: 78.4%
- Initial Amount (Kid #2): $203
- Current Amount: $363
- Progress Made This Quarter: $160 (32% of total)
- Percentage of Goal Reached: 72.6%
- Initial Amount (Kid #3): $204
- Current Amount: $350
- Progress Made This Quarter: $146 (29.2%)
- Percentage of Goal Reached: 70%
Make an extra mortgage payment (not necessarily all at once)
Besides the simple fact that I just love gardening and flowers and horticulture in general, one of the reasons I wanted to start the flower farm business was to be able to earn extra money to throw towards our mortgage payoff. While the farm hasn’t made any money yet, I plan to be putting about a quarter of what I make in the future towards paying off the mortgage.
In the meantime, I do what I’ve always done and rounded up my mortgage payment by about $15-20 to make sure that I’m paying a nice, even number every month, and I’ve also been throwing a little bit of extra here and there where I can (once again, largely thanks to the tax refunds and stimulus checks we’ve received lately).
- Initial Extra Amount Paid: $134
- Current Extra Amount Paid: $1,034
- Progress Made This Quarter: $900 (63.6% of total)
- Goal Amount: $1,415 extra paid toward principal
- Percentage of Goal Reached: 73.1%
Start contributing to my IRA again
The other goals have been a little easier to make progress on because they’re one-time donations to each fund. Setting up a monthly contribution to my IRA will mean an ongoing expense, which I just don’t feel prepared to take on quite yet, especially when we’re just in the stage of spend, spend, spend with the flower farm (and not making anything).
As long as this year goes somewhat well and I decide to continue on doing flower farming, I’ll definitely have something set up to do automatic contributions in the future. Until then, I don’t know that this will happen.
- Initial Monthly Amount: $0
- Current Monthly Amount: $0 (no progress made)
Max out Matt’s Roth one year
Thankfully both Matt and I put a decent amount into our respective retirement accounts in our twenties before we were married (Matt) and then before we had kids (me), so even though the amount we’re putting in currently is small, we still are about on track for retirement, at least at the traditional retirement age. In order for Matt to be able to retire early from the traditional workforce, we’ll definitely have to start maxing this out, but that’s exactly why we’ve set this as a goal :).
Currently we haven’t made progress toward this because once again, I don’t feel comfortable taking on another permanent monthly expense until we have more income coming in (or at the very least, less cash coming out for the farm).
- Initial Monthly Amount: $150 ($1,800 a year)
- Current Monthly Amount: $150 (no progress made)
Save up $2,000 for home improvements
House projects have definitely taken a backseat as we’ve been getting the farm set up and going, but we technically have made improvements, even if we haven’t been adding to the fund since my last report.
We’ve been adding lots of raised beds to the yard which would appeal to the right kind of buyer in the future (if we don’t end up staying here), and we’ve slowly been making progress on some of the home improvements we’d already started on, like painting the kitchen island. Once I’m done with the flower farming season (so, late fall and winter), I imagine I’ll become much more motivated once again to work on (and therefore save for) home improvements.
- Initial Amount: $20
- Current Amount: $20 (no change)
How are your financial goals coming? Were you able to make any progress thanks to stimulus checks or tax refunds?