Small Steps, Big Gains – Q3 Goals Recap

In September I set a personal goal to exercise at least 10 minutes every day.

How did I do?

28 out of 30 days last month, I met this goal!  And a strange thing happened along the way.

Because I spent part of the month battling knee and back pain (#thisis40), many of those days, my activity didn’t consist of running or other high impact activities.  Instead, I chose to walk.  And as a result, I logged more miles of walking than I have in any month in the past three years.  These small amounts of activity, done almost every day, resulted in more mileage logged than in other months where I’ve logged fewer, but longer activities.

This feels like an analogy for where our household is with our financial progress, too.  Since April, when my husband lost his job, we’ve slowed down on the savings and investments.  But those dollars trickling in to my 401(k) every paycheck are steadily increasing my balance over time.  Progress is progress, whether it happens $1 at a time or $1,000 at a time.

Here’s a look at how my 2018 goals are shaping up now that we’re three quarters of the way through the year.

Financial Goals

Max out 401(k).  On track!  I was a little unsure if I’d be able to keep contributing at the same level after Mr. FIREdup lost his job.  But we’ve rallied.  (More to come soon on Mr. FIREdup’s current work situation.)

Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  At 26.5%.  YAY!  As long as the markets hold this goal will be met.

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Make 2017 IRA contribution/Finalize will.  Done!

Minimalism/Simplicity

12 Items in 2018.  My plan is to limit clothing related purchases to 12 or less items this year.  As of today, I’ve purchased nine items.  I’m right on track for the year.

Blogging

Average one post per week two posts per month.  There are days I think about scrapping this blog altogether, and then there are days where I love it.  I’ve posted at least twice a month every month this year, and while I’d like to do more, practically speaking this goal is sustainable.

Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.

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One year ago, we were at 67.3% of this goal; now we’re at 78.2%.  At this same clip, assuming no major market correction, we could meet this goal in two years.  Which is AMAZING, guys!

Stretch Goals

Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  Today this balance stands at $13,537.93.  While we’ve got the money to pay it down, I’m not sure I want to liquidate that much from our savings account.  Time will tell.  I could see myself getting annoyed and just paying it down out of spite before December 31 rolls around.

How are you doing against your goals for the year?  

Not Always Either/Or. Sometimes It’s Both.

There’s an awful lot of divisiveness on the Internet on a range of topics these days.

And taking a controversial stand on something online often leads to more attention, thus perpetuating the echo chamber.

Is this getting worse?  Why is it so challenging to see the commonality rather than the differences?

The older I get, the more I realize it is possible to acknowledge two seemingly disparate thoughts at the same time.

Here’s a few examples, specifically related to personal finance:

  • While many people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps (or achieve FIRE), not everyone is fortunate enough to be in a situation to move up the socioeconomic ladder (or to retire early).
  • It’s possible to feel empathy for someone who is drowning in debt while at the same time celebrating the hard work and discipline that goes into paying it off.
  • It makes more logical sense to invest in the market rather than pay off a 4% mortgage, but there is a tremendous peace of mind for some people in being mortgage-free.
  • Some people are willing to work 80 hours a week to make more money and get to FI sooner, whereas others recognize that time is a finite resource and choose a slower route.
  • Pretty much everyone agrees an emergency fund is a great idea, but some feel better with a big pile of cash sitting in the bank.  Others might hate to lose out on market returns and choose a smaller e-fund with the option to leverage credit, home equity, or investments in time of need.
  • Work on that side hustle.  Turn it into a business if you want.  Or, spend your time working hard at your 9-to-5 if that’s where you’ll have the biggest payoff.
  • Common canon in the personal finance community says you should buy a used car but sometimes a new car might be the right choice.  (Side note: My first new car lasted me 13 years.  My second one is going strong at almost 5 years and I hope it lasts at least as long as my first one.)
  • Despite much evidence to the contrary, it’s not actually forbidden to have cable, if that’s your thing.
  • The 4% rule works for some while others might feel better with a 3% withdrawal rate.  Guess what?  I bet this depends on your risk tolerance…
  • Just because you haven’t been discriminated against when it comes to pay or promotions, that doesn’t mean that others haven’t.

The bottom line is that personal finance is personal.  It’s great to educate others, and to share your own experiences.  That’s what I love about this community.  But there’s not ONE TRUE WAY to go about being successful at this personal finance thing.

What personal finance canon have you seen that I didn’t include above?

Optimizing for Happiness

I recently listened to this episode of the ChooseFI podcast, where J from Millennial Boss talked about her career hacking.  She has made several moves to advance her salary and career, but now she is in a job she really enjoys and mentioned that she is working on optimizing for happiness.

This phrase struck a chord with me, especially since it aired shortly after I interviewed for another job.  Despite being sad when I initially declined the offer, it gave me a chance to reflect on my current situation – and it led me to a greater appreciation for all the things my current company and job have to offer.  I am optimizing for happiness right now and I didn’t even realize it.  Here are some of the factors contributing to that.

My job pays well.  It would be nice to make more, but since I’ve been in the workforce for a while, my pay is pretty good.   My pay looks even better when evaluated in relation to the number of hours I work and the stress level of my job.  I don’t work much overtime, and my job (generally) doesn’t keep me awake at night.  I’ve had jobs in the past, when I made less money, that required more hours of work and involved higher levels of stress.

My job has some great benefits.  I feel blessed that I could easily add Mr. FIREDup to my really good health insurance when he left his job this spring.  I was granted some stock options a couple of years ago and they will be partly vested this fall.  We have a gym at work; it’s free.  It has workout machines, fitness classes, a pool, and a locker room.  I recently found out that spouses can join our fitness center for free, too!  It’s amazing to have the opportunity to head out for a lunchtime run during the workweek when time allows.  Which leads to my next point…

My job has a fair amount of autonomy and flexibility.  I can work from home if I need to.  I can leave for a doctor’s appointment or take an early or late lunch break to get outside and enjoy a run on a sunny day.  My manager trusts me and my ability to get my work done and doesn’t micromanage me.  And in general, I work with intelligent, motivated, capable people.  This is something I likely take for granted as the average level of talent at this company is not typical of all workplaces.

I have amazing time off.  Since I’ve worked for my employer for a long time, I get a pretty good chunk of time off every year (at least by American standards).  My company also has a (paid) sabbatical program that I’ll be eligible for next year!

I don’t waste precious time commuting.  My commute is generally 30 minutes or less round-trip – plus I can work from home on occasion.  If I were to work in another part of the city, that would be 30-60 minutes a day of additional commuting time, which would directly eat into time with my family in the morning and evening.

At this point in my life, I don’t need to chase money, because we have enough to pay our bills; what is more precious to me is time, and I am maximizing that precious resource.  I’m optimizing for happiness.  What a lucky place to be.

Money Diaries: A Week of Spending

One of my favorite things about reading blogs is learning about the personal money stories of others.  So in that vein, I thought it might be fun to show a week-in-the-life of my spending.

Here’s everything I spent from last Monday through yesterday (Sunday).

In terms of our household finances, this look only includes what I spent and doesn’t include Mr. FIREDup’s personal spending.  However, we have a joint credit card that most household expenses go on, so this includes the vast majority of purchases for our family.

Without further ado, here we go!

Monday, 8/20

No spend day.  Drank free coffee at work, packed leftovers for lunch, and Mr. FIREDup made dinner at home.

Tuesday, 8/21

Coffee from cafe at work – $2.10  

Daycare – $280.00    (This is a killer to our budget right now with just one income, but I love our daycare.  The rate should go down a little early next year when our toddler moves up a room.  There is also the possibility of part-time care starting then, should Mr. FIREDup not be working a traditional full-time position at that time.)

I packed leftovers for lunch and we had dinner at home again.

Wednesday, 8/22

Amazon – $12.99   (A step stool for our toddler so she can reach the sink to wash her hands!)

Vending – $1.15   (I packed a sad lunch from home and bought some Cheetos from the vending machine to supplement.)

Thursday, 8/23

Annual life insurance premium – $389.24  (Mr. FIREDup and I both bought 20-year term policies this year.  NOTE: Don’t wait until you’re 40 to buy life insurance.  It’s stupid expensive.  I have more to write on the life insurance process in a future post.)

Coffee at work – $2.69  

Chipotle – 0.00  (Had lunch with a friend, but used a Chipotle gift card so there was no out of pocket cost.)

Beer at bar – 0.00  (Convinced a co-worker to leave work a little early and we hit up the local watering hole for a drink.  She picked up the tab, so I promised to pay next time.)

We had dinner at home.

Friday, 8/24

Gas bill – $29.70  (I got paid today, so paid this utility bill and a credit card.)

Coffee at work – $2.69  (This was a bad week for this habit.  It tends to go in waves.  Some weeks I don’t buy coffee at all; most weeks it’s once or less.  Some weeks are like this one and I buy way too often.  This habit tends to be correlated with my co-worker’s behavior.  It’s uncommon for me to go when she doesn’t.  A true reflection of how our behavior is influenced by others.)

Pizza dinner – $34.86  (Two side salads, a large pizza, and a beer that I shared with my husband.  We had enough leftovers for lunch on Saturday.)

Saturday, 8/25

Grocery store – $132.03  (A week of groceries.  Lots of needs and several wants, too.  This is a little higher than our average weekly spend, but not by much.)

We ate all our meals at home this day.

Sunday, 8/26

Coffee – 0.00  (Had morning coffee with a friend and used a gift card.)

Concretes at Culver’s – 5.23  (Had a BOGO coupon so we had this as an afternoon treat before a stop at the library to pick out new books for the toddler.)

We ate all our meals at home this day, too.

So there you have it!  A week of spending.  Anything in there surprise you?  Would you like to see this feature again?  Would love to see others share their diary, too!

The Importance of Having a Network (aka I Declined a Job Offer)

At the beginning of last month I had a bad week at work.  I was in a lull between projects and had time to overthink my career future (I’ve been overthinking my career future for a while now).  This overthinking resulted in me casually looking at jobs on LinkedIn.

And I found a job I was really interested in.  It was a fit with my skills and was with a really intriguing company.  I applied that weekend.

After two+ weeks with no word, I assumed they weren’t contacting me for an interview.  I was a little bit heartbroken, but work had picked up again and life was busy and I didn’t have much time to think about it.

Shortly thereafter, I got contacted for a phone screen.  Despite being sick that morning, I trudged through the quick screening call.  A few days later, I was called to come in for an interview with the hiring manager.  The interview went well and I had a good feeling that there was mutual interest.  It was time to do a little due diligence.

After discovering that an acquaintance from earlier in my life – one whose judgment I trust – knew the hiring manager, I reached out to to see if she had any feedback.

Let’s just say the feedback…wasn’t good.

It was sad to learn this, but I was thankful to get the intel.  Also, at the point where I reached out to my friend to get feedback, it didn’t really matter yet anyway.  I didn’t know if the interview would even lead anywhere.

But my intuition had told me my odds were good and I was right.  The recruiter contacted me with an offer.  After a brief phone call, she sent over an official offer letter along with benefits information.

After much deliberation, I concluded that the right choice was to decline the offer.  While there’s no guarantee that I would have a bad experience working for the hiring manager, I also know first-hand how challenging work can be when you work for a difficult manager.  Also, I’m not trying to escape a bad job situation; in fact, in many respects, I have a great work setup.  Combine that with the fact that Mr. FIREDup’s work situation is still in flux, and I just didn’t think I was at a point where taking this kind of risk made sense.

I still analyzed the offer details to get a feel for what an external company could offer in terms of pay, bonus, benefits, and time off.  The offer was comparable to my current package, but not better; the pay was slightly less (with some potential upside) and the PTO was a little less (which is probably going to be the same anywhere I go at this point).  Basic benefits were similar.  There are some amazing unique perks at my current company that I’d have to give up no matter where I would choose to work next.

There was quite a bit of anguish in deliberating over this opportunity.  The company is SUPER interesting and would offer an environment different from the one I work in now.  And the job sounded like such a good fit with my skills and the unique mix of work experience I’ve gathered over the last several years.

Declining Gracefully

I can’t even recall the last time I declined a job offer, it’s been so long ago.  Here are a few takeaways I’d offer:

  • Call with your decline rather than sending an email.  Email might be okay, and it’s kind of the easy way out, especially for someone like me who can get thoughts out better in writing than verbally.  But calling is a more genuine way to connect.
  • Have a script.  Have a quick one or two sentence summary to explain why you are declining.  I wrote out my response and then ran through it in my head before I made the call.  And give a reason for the decline.  I obviously couldn’t give the pure truth for my decline in this case, but the reason I gave was also true:  I thought I was ready to leave my current company, but upon further reflection, the timing isn’t right.
  • Give a sincere thank you.  It was not a stretch for me to tell the recruiter that I genuinely appreciated the opportunity to interview for the position.  There was a lot of time and effort put into the screening and interviewing process, and I wanted to recognize that effort.
  • Give a timely response.  I didn’t take much time to deliberate.  I didn’t want to delay their hiring process as they likely had another candidate or two waiting in the pipeline.
  • Don’t burn bridges.  You never know when you might run into someone again further down the road in your career or personal life.  I live in a large metro area with many employers, and was interviewing at a company where I didn’t know anyone, yet I still had someone in my network who could provide first-hand experience working with the hiring manager.  If this were the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, my Bacon number would be 1.

There was some dread in making the phone call, but I did it, kept it short and sweet, and it went as well as it possibly could.  It felt like the door was left open to potential future opportunities as the company grows.

Closing Thoughts

I have zero regrets in applying and interviewing for this job.  It helped me clarify a few things:

  • I thought I was ready to leave my current employer, but this experience made it clear that it’s not quite the right time.  But…
  • It also seems likely that if my current position doesn’t grow or change, that the time to move on from what I’m doing now will be sooner rather than later.
  • Yes, I have marketable skills…but they’re a unique set of skills and experiences, so it will take time to find my next thing, whatever that ends up being.
  • It’s REALLY valuable to stay attuned to the market and keep job search skills fresh.  I would argue this is important for everyone, because even if you are in a great job at a great company, circumstances can change rapidly.

I thought about the pursuit of financial freedom several times throughout this process.  If we were further along in our financial freedom journey, it’s more likely that I would have taken the job.  For me, that’s the point of financial freedom – I wouldn’t be dependent on making a high salary, so I could selectively choose to do work that I find meaningful or rewarding or exciting.  On the flip side, since we haven’t reached our financial freedom goals yet, my current employment situation is a little more lucrative and will help us make progress towards those goals more rapidly.

What would you have done in this situation?   Would you have taken the risk, or stayed put?

All the Things we Regret with Money

Last week I listened to this episode of Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast.  She was interviewing Emma Pattee, who became a self-made millionaire by age 26.  Emma and Paula have both built real estate portfolios that provide enough cash flow to sustain their living expenses (the elusive “FI” of financial independence).

In this conversation Paula and Emma started talking about the psychological aspects of money.   They each shared stories on their path to FI where they had decided to not spend money on something and later regretted the emotional loss that went along with making that decision.

Listen to this truth bomb from Paula (slightly paraphrased):

“Both of us were motivated by the same thing…and for both of us, that was largely anxiety – we did it not because we wanted a big house with a fancy car, we did it because we were just anxious people who wanted the psychological security of a safety net in order to relieve some of that anxiety we felt.  That was our motivation…It’s funny, because being in a very emotionally unhealthy place led to a behavior that had a lot of positive reinforcement…There’s been a lot of external validation to just being a basket case.”

Does this conversation point strike a chord with others the way it does with me?  Perhaps it hit me so hard because I see myself in what Paula says.  My obsession with saving comes from a mindset of anxiety and fear of the unknown future, not from one of abundance and confidence.

Just as it is unhealthy to spend beyond your means, it can ALSO be emotionally unhealthy to become obsessed with squirreling money away!  And this is not something I often see addressed in the FI community.

Spending Regret and Satisfaction

I have definitely had times in the past where I regretted not spending money on something.  One example is that I did not study abroad during my graduate program like a couple of my friends did.  At the time I didn’t feel comfortable spending the money and instead took a well-paying internship.  This was fifteen years ago and any amount of money I would have spent on the education and travel would have long since been paid off by now.  The regret of not spending a few weeks in Italy, unencumbered by work or family obligations, still lingers.

There have also been times where I was stressed about spending money at the time but in retrospect have fond memories associated with that monetary outflow.  The first one that springs to mind is a big trip I took with my best friend five years ago.  We bought expensive handmade Turkish rugs in Istanbul and a split a case of wine in Tuscany.  My only regret is that I didn’t buy more wine!

Can you think of any instances where you wish you would have spent money instead of squirreling it away?  What is your motivation for saving for the future?

12 Items in 2018: A Midyear Update

In February I made a pledge to be more conscious in my purchase of clothes and accessories this year.

So how’s it working out?

As of today, I’ve bought 7 items.  Here are more details on the how and why of these purchases.

levis

Item 1: Jeans.  I work in a business casual environment and wear jeans to work nearly every day.  I already had two other colors in this style, and bought these because they were a nicer dark wash.  They were purchased online directly from Levi’s.

This fit and style is amazing.  They are stretchy but don’t get too stretched out after you wear them a few times.

Items 2-5:  Sweatshirt, long-sleeve T, short-sleeve T, and winter coat.  I went shopping with my mom on her birthday and Eddie Bauer had a huge sale.  The sweatshirt was an impulse buy, but the other 3 items were purposely purchased.  My current winter coat is starting to fall apart; this was a really good quality coat that was on a great sale at the beginning of April.  The t-shirts were purchased to layer with sweaters and jackets I already own.

Items 6 and 7:  These came from a Stitchfix I ordered for my birthday.  I was looking for a new, nice quality summer shirt to wear to work, and was pretty happy with this white blouse.  (It has tiny birds on it.  Cute!)  The jacket on the right was an impulse purchase.  The quality of this jacket was impressive; it holds it shape very well.  I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet (it’s been blazing hot), but I look forward to wearing it this fall.

StitchFix isn’t a cheap option for clothes, but I’ve been using them for about 5 years now and still wear nearly everything I’ve purchased from them.  I don’t dress very trendy, so the pieces I own are relatively timeless.  The other thing I like is that the items are delivered to my home.  Since I work and have a toddler, I don’t have much time to go shopping. The older I get, the more I dislike having to go to ANY retail store to make purchases.  This is partly because I have less interest in material things, but it’s also because shopping feels like a chore.  When I was younger I ENJOYED going shopping, but that is not the case now.

The Rest of the Year…

So the 7th month of the year is ending and I’ve purchased 7 items, which puts me exactly on track for the year.  What do I anticipate buying the second half of 2018?

The only thing I can think of that I might actually NEED in the next few months is a new pair of running shoes.  The ones I have now are fine, but I do believe that it’s best to replace running shoes before they get too worn out – the risk of nagging injuries increases as the tread wears out.

What kind of purchases have you made this year?  Are you consciously trying to change your behaviors – to buy less, buy secondhand, or buy better quality?

Friday’s Frugal Five

Happy Friday!

I’m always impressed by Angela’s consistency in posting one of these updates every week.  Mine are sporadic, but I do enjoy writing them!

If you’ve been reading you know we’ve hit one of those rough patches with lots of unexpected spending.  It was really nice to have an uneventful, normal week to get back on track with the finances.

Here’s a few frugal wins from the week:

  1.  I got the bonus points for my Hilton Amex card!  This time I decided to sign up for the card that doesn’t have an annual fee, even though the points award was slightly lower.  (I seem to have a hard time canceling cards with annual fees before the fee get charged again.)  If you’re interested in the card, check it out.  (*this is a referral link, I get points if you sign up this way.*)  The minimum spend is only $1,000 so this is a quick travel hacking win.  The points will get you at least two nights at most hotels!
  2. I work at a corporate headquarters and we just switched the company that provides the cafe services at our locations.  I luckily avoided the temptation to buy lunch there this week – I’ve heard that the quality is a little better, but prices are generally a bit higher.
  3. To avoid the pricey cafe options at work, I packed lunch three days (including leftovers of this amazing NYTimes chicken shawarma today) and used a gift card one of the other days.  The gift card was from my Discover credit card cash back.  (I did go out to lunch on my own dime once this week.)
  4. My Ebates account was missing some information.  I finally updated it – I’ve got a whopping $5.89 coming my way in August.  YAY!  If you want to sign up, click here.  (Another referral link)  Ebates helps you get rebates on online purchases you are probably already making.  It’s not a lot – especially if you’re trying to curb your consumerism like a lot of finance-minded folks are – but these are things I would have been purchasing anyway, so it’s a nice bonus.
  5. I signed up for the Cents Positive retreat!  It’s 4 months away, so I’m still not 100% certain I’ll be able to go.  But the tickets were about to sell out so I grabbed mine before it was too late.  I’m really hoping to make this happen.

What were your frugal wins this week?  

The Importance of Self-Care

Two weekends ago my husband and I were in recovery mode.  We had spent the first part of the week on vacation in Chicago, but our vacation was unexpectedly extended by a trip to the emergency room for our daughter.  Luckily, she stabilized quickly and she was released two days later.

However, there was a lot of stress associated with this event.  We were worried about our daughter.  We had lots of instructions regarding what medications she needed to take after she was discharged, and she also needed to be seen at home for follow-up care.  We didn’t have a place to stay; our hotel was sold out.  (Luckily the hospital let us stay there in an unused overflow area.)  It was uncertain how we would get home, because we canceled our flights and couldn’t re-book until we knew when she would be released.  We also had to find a new place for our dogs to be boarded and coordinate for my friend’s dad to transport them to the new location.  In addition to general life stress, there was also the worry of the large medical bill and the extra costs for having to extend our stay.

Even a couple days after she was discharged, when the weekend rolled around, we were still recovering from that stress.  My temper was short and I was frustrated.  On Saturday I told my husband that I needed to go for a run the next morning to clear my head.

I needed to take care of myself, so I could take care of the others who depend on me.

Running Away the Stress

I’ve been a runner for a long time.  There are many reasons why I do it:

  • Physical health – to keep my heart fit and to burn calories to keep my weight in a reasonable range
  • Goal achievement – that sense of accomplishment you get when training for and completing a race
  • Mental health  – to deal with anxiety, and to keep my mind sharp and focused
  • Emotional health – to manage stress, worry, and uncertainty.

That Sunday morning run did wonders for my emotional health.  Simply put, going for that run made me a much more pleasant person to be around.  I cleared my head of stressors and frustrations and came back a more patient mom and wife.

My Self-Care Bag of Tricks

Do you have a bag of tricks you can rely on when stress is mounting and nerves are fraying?  Here are some things I’ve learned over the years that work for me:

  • Exercise/Outdoors time:  I don’t always have the time or energy to run; a simple 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can do wonders.  Five minutes of stretching or yoga can help too when I’m short on time.
  • Sleep:  With a toddler and an old dog in our house, there have been a fair number of nights of disrupted sleep in the past 18 months.  It’s become shockingly apparent to me this year how much sleep impacts me.  When I have a night of poor sleep, the next day I am more anxious and less optimistic, and my ability to make complex decisions is slowed.  Being well-rested is a daily goal for me.
  • Nutrition:  Too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol generally makes everything worse.  Healthy foods make me feel better.
  • Relationships:  Spending time with my spouse or catching up with friends gets me  out of my head and reminds me to enjoy life.

Financial Impacts

Those things I listed above?  There is very little incremental cost involved in incorporating them into my daily life.  Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive.  But it is important to figure out how to make it a priority – especially when dealing with a stressful life event.

How do you practice self-care?  Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

Q2 Goals Update: Some Bumps in the Road

At the end of last year I set some goals for 2018 with an expectation to provide quarterly updates.  How’s it going, halfway through the year?  Well…we had some bumps in the financial road in Q2.

The Chaos of Life in Q2

My husband lost his job in April.  We’ve had some random extra expenses recently, including finding out our dog has diabetes and needs insulin shots twice a day.  I also planned a mini-vacation for our family to Chicago for last week, thinking this was a good time to go as my husband is between jobs and we wouldn’t have to fight for him to get a few vacation days at a new job.  While I was able to book flights with points, I didn’t have enough points for a hotel stay.  I wanted to stay at a family-friendly hotel close to downtown attractions since we didn’t have a car and were traveling with a toddler, so I did shell out some money for that.  (It was worth it, BTW.  And our toddler did awesome on her first flight, first bus ride, and first ride on the “L” train.)

I wish the story of our vacation ended there (we had a great time!), but it doesn’t.

We ended up taking our daughter to the ER early in the morning the day we were scheduled to fly home from Chicago.  That visit resulted in a 2 day stay in the hospital.

The good news: our daughter is doing great, and we made it home safely, just a couple days late.  (Can I repeat:  this is great news, and overshadows the bad news by quite a lot.  You can’t place a value on knowing your child is healthy again.)

The bad (financial) news:  The hospital visit will result in a significant out of pocket expense; we had to book last minute flights to get home; and we had extra miscellaneous expenses like an additional two days for dog boarding and two days of meals.  (Interestingly, we didn’t have extra hotel costs; the hotels in the area were all sold out and the social worker graciously found us a place to sleep in the hospital for two nights.)

So the bottom line is that we had a few surprises thrown at us in Q2.  As you’ll see below, we’re still making progress on goals, but the pace will slow down for the foreseeable future.

Financial Goals

Max out 401(k).  On track…for now.  I may end up cutting back my contribution for a few paychecks to cash flow some of the medical expenses instead of having to pull it all from savings.  It kind of depends on how long it is before we get the bill and what Mr. FIREDup’s employment situation will be in the coming months.

Finalize will. Finally done!  We also bought life insurance.  Hopefully a blog post to come soon to share more on these experiences.

Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  At 24.4%.  YAY!  If Mr. Market cooperates, this should be complete before the end of the year even if I can’t made any additional contributions.

Make 2017 IRA contribution.  Done in February.

Minimalism/Simplicity

12 Items in 2018.  My plan is to limit clothing related purchases to 12 or less items this year.  As of today, I’ve purchased seven items.  I’m on track for the year, but it doesn’t look like I’ll come in much below that number.

Blogging

Average one post per week.  Nope.  I wrote 2 in April, 3 in May, and 4 in June.  My new goal is at least two per month and ideally 4 per month.  This blog is a hobby. 🙂

Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.

Capture

I’m really happy to see that we are still making progress here.  We’re up from 71.5% at the end of Q1.

Stretch Goals

Attend FINCON 2018.  Nope.

Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  Man I would really like to do this, but at this point it seems unlikely.  It mostly depends on the employment situation for Mr. FIREDup over the next few months.

How are you doing against your goals for the year, financial or otherwise?

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