Back in January, I shared our financial goals for the year, just as I have done for the past few years. Perhaps some of you detail-oriented readers noticed that after my first quarterly report, I stopped posting progress reports for 2023.
There were three main reasons for this.
First, our lives were turned upside down in April with the premature arrival of Naomi, and all semblance of normal life went out the window during her 6-week NICU stay, after which we were just trying to figure out how to now be parents of four kids (including a newborn with special needs) on top of flower farming and full time work. So the second quarter went ignored because of time constraints.
Second, when my husband lost his job in August, the name of the game was simply “financial survival,” not working towards financial goals like we had been before.
And third, now that we’ve decided over the past month and a half or so that we are going to take our flower farm full time, our priorities have ENTIRELY shifted financially, and only some of our original goals still seem relevant, like finishing paying off our credit card debt and getting our emergency fund built back up (once things have stabilized with our flower farm income next year, that is).
What We’re No Longer Focusing On
Paying Down Our Mortgage
For the past couple years, I’ve done yearly mortgage payoff posts in November, but I’ve decided not to do one this year because we’ve already decided we’re not staying in this house — we know we’ll be looking for more land to expand our farm, so it doesn’t make sense to keep sinking extra money into paying off this mortgage. Once we find our farmland and (hopefully) build a home on it, that is likely the house we’ll plan on staying in for the foreseeable future (our “forever home,” if you will), so it makes sense to only pick up making extra mortgage payments at that point.
FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early)
Almost three years ago, Matt and I decided we wanted to really pursue FIRE, or gain enough financial independence so that Matt could retire early from the traditional workforce. Our plan with FIRE was never about retiring from work period — we just wanted to be able to pursue other things that interested us, namely: the flower farm.
Now that we’ve decided to pursue flower farming full time right now instead of waiting, our original dream of reaching financial independence so that we could do what we wanted to do didn’t really make sense anymore. We’re already DOING what we want to do. Sure, we don’t know how successful we’ll be at it yet, but we think we’ve got a sound business plan and are excited to see how that dream pans out.
For the time being, our focus isn’t so much on building up our investments (retirement or regular stocks/brokerage) as it is on building our business. Once the business is built up and is turning a significant profit (as we think that it can), we’ll start beefing up those retirement and stock accounts again, but they’re not a priority at the moment.
What We ARE Going to Focus On
As mentioned above, our focus has basically shifted to 1) making sure our flower farm business continues to be profitable and can fully support our family, and 2) having a thick safety cushion in the form of a robust emergency fund and no consumer debt. We’ll kind of be working on both of those goals simultaneously, although the second clearly is dependent on the first.
It’s an interesting thing being in such a season-dependent business. There’s definitely kind of a “feast or famine” thing some months with income, but luckily, the careful budgeting I’ve been doing the last two years has really helped me to learn to have a job for every dollar and to make sure we’re covering all our bases, including savings and paying down debt. Luckily the credit card debt we had at the beginning of this year because of various home updates/repairs and appliance replacements (new windows, plumbing issues, new dishwasher and new dryer after the others broke) is about half of what it was in January, and I’m hoping to pay it off in February thanks to our (expected) tax return.
And our emergency fund, which I would have thought would have been pummeled once Matt lost his job, has actually largely been untouched, mostly thanks to unemployment and thanks to the flower farm being more profitable at the end of the season than anticipated once we decided to try out some new strategies.
But for a general big picture, our new priority list for our financial goals is as follows:
1 – Pay off credit card ASAP.
2 – Add on to emergency fund as we are able.
3 – Find land, and figure out financing and funding for that. We’ll be looking at a combination of grants, farm loans, and either bank or investor-backed financing for that, most likely. We’ll also be cash flowing bigger purchases for the new land like a tractor and a forklift as we can with profits from the farm.
4 – Build home on land, using same financing options as above. As soon as the home can be moved into, we’ll sell the current home we’re in and use that money to pay down the loans.
5 – Build the flower farm dream out, piece by piece, and pay off loans aggressively as we can.
6 – Enjoy the life we wanted to retire to right now, while we’re still young!
So there you have it — our new financial plan going forward. Finding land might be a tricky process, but we’re hopeful that if we keep at it, it won’t be *too* far in the distant future (although you really never know down here).
I would love to know what financial goals you’re currently working on now! Drop a comment below and tell me something exciting you want to work towards in 2024.