Confession: I don’t even really think it’s remotely possible for us to complete all of these this year, unless Matt gets a large raise at work and we actually make a decent profit this second year of flower farming. However, considering that I thought our last batch of goals would take us nearly 3 years and we completed almost all of them in 12 months or less, I figured I had nothing to lose by setting the bar high.
For some background info, we are currently debt-free other than our mortgage, and we keep our expenses low by eating almost all our meals at home (or taking packed lunches from home), bundling trips to save on gas, negotiating monthly bill amounts when we can, and not having any streaming or subscription services. We also are pretty good at just not buying stuff that we don’t need or that isn’t a priority. Period. My husband works full-time outside of the home, and I work from home very part-time for a local newspaper (around 5-10 hours a week is all). The two of us also own and operate a cut flower farm, where we grow flowers to sell in bouquets throughout the growing season. We make well under six figures a year, but we’ve also come to know that we’re perfectly content with living a frugal lifestyle, especially as it means that we’re more set up to accomplish big financial goals.
The name of the game for 2022 is apparently “Go Big or Go Home,” seeing as I’ve purposely set super high goals that I don’t think we’ll be able to 100% reach. While I’m all for making goals realistic, I’ve also been really surprised the past few years at how much financial progress we’ve been able to make on a middle-class salary, simply by limiting the amount of “stuff” we buy and tracking our net worth and goal progress every month. While I very well recognize that we might only complete 2 or 3 of these goals this year, I’m going for the “shoot for the moon and end up among the stars” philosophy here.
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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. More 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 a $20 Amazon credit 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.
2022 Financial Goals
Get rid of the PMI on our house payment
Okay, so I had to include at least one goal that was basically a shoe-in, since the rest of these are a little more daunting. Even if we just make the minimum house payments this year, we will reach the threshold so we can get rid of the mortgage insurance on our house. However, you do have to call to get this cancelled right when you hit the 80% mark, otherwise they keep charging you until your loan ratio is at 78%. So this DOES still require an extra step of effort on my part, but it’s one that I’m happy to make since it will be an easy way for us to then put an extra $35 towards our mortgage payment each month (since that’s currently what we’re paying towards PMI).
Add $2,200 to brokerage
Last year we opened up a brokerage account through Fidelity so that we could give ourselves more options for withdrawing money in early retirement that weren’t in our traditional retirement accounts. The goal last year was to open the account and invest $2,500, but we only invested $1,800.
For this year, I want to invest the $700 more I’d intended to do in 2021 plus an additional $1,500.
Take a trip to Hawaii
Back in 2020, we purchased tickets for a Hawaii trip in early April, but then the world shut down literally about 2.5 weeks before we were supposed to go.
This year, Matt’s parents are offering to book lodging for everyone in the family over a month period (where we all take turns going and staying in the place they booked), so our only big cost will be airfare and food. We’re (tentatively) excited about making this happen in June, and we’re just crossing our fingers that COVID will play nice and allow us to actually go this time!
Pay for new energy-efficient windows in cash
This wasn’t a totally planned line item (for this year, anyway), but we ended up lucking into an awesome offer since the company was looking to do an “advertising house” in our area, since they’ve never done work in this part of the state before. We knew we needed to do some major energy improvements to our old 1920 house anyway because our energy bills are truly INSANE, so even though this is a big expense, we’re both excited about how much this is sure to help our heating and cooling bills in the future.
We already paid half of the cash upfront for this (largely using money from our general emergency/savings fund), and we need to come up with the other half by April or May, whenever the windows get installed. Because of the insane deal we got because we’re the advertising house, I can’t actually say how much we’re paying for this, so when I do these reports, I’ll just say the percentage that has been paid off thus far.
Get emergency fund back up to at least 3 months’ worth of expenses again
As I said above, we decided to dip into our general emergency fund to cover the upfront cost of the windows, since we got a further discount by paying in cash rather than financing. Our emergency fund had also taken a hit in the months prior since we’d taken some out to finish up some long-term food storage prep we wanted to do and we also had an unexpected car repair in December.
All that said, we have a LOT of ground to make up again. I would be surprised if we got even close to meeting this goal this year, but I’m hoping that we’ll at least be able to triple what we have currently.
- Starting Amount: $2,200
- Goal Amount: $10,000
Get to month 48 in house payments
I will be truly shocked if we could make this happen, but to stay on track for having our house paid off in 15 years, we need to be paying off two years’ worth of payments every year that we own the house. Since we’re now in Year 2, we need to pay off until Month 48 if we’re going to even remotely have a chance.
In later years, I’m hoping that our income will be such that we can just pay roughly the same extra amount per year we need to in order to meet our target deadline (which I calculated in this post), but for these first couple years, we’re just shooting for the lower goal of paying off two years’ of payments (according to the amortization schedule) over 12 months. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but there you have it.
Contribute $1,200 to my Roth
We were finally able to max out payments for Matt’s Roth last year, so now it’s time for us to start adding to mine too. This is probably the least likely goal to happen this year, though.
Fully fund medical sinking fund to cost of deductible + $500
A few years back, we opened up several bank accounts to act as sinking funds, such as a general car repair and maintenance fund, a travel fund, and a medical fund. We’ve almost totally ignored many of those over the past couple years and have just been taking things as needed from our general emergency fund, but I’d ideally like to have everything separated out.
The first priority? Making sure we always have the full amount of our deductible as well as some extra in cash each year.
- Initial Amount: $0
- Goal Amount: $1,800
Turn a profit flower farming this year
I originally thought it might take us until Year 3 before we were able to be in the black with the flower farm, but if the crops in the high tunnel do well and I can find a florist interested in buying them, I think we should actually make a profit this year, even though it will be a very small one.
I have no idea how these will shake out this year (we very well could only complete 2 or 3!), but I’m excited to see where things stand in 12 months’ time. What big financial goals are you working on this year? I’d love it if you shared by dropping a comment below!