A Look Back: One Year of Being FIREd Up

Real talk, y’all.

This little blog celebrated its first anniversary on November 3rd.  Two weeks ago.  And it has taken me THIS LONG to write a post about it.  Which says a lot about how the past couple of weeks of my life have gone.

Fittingly, the anniversary landed smack dab on the weekend that I attended Cents Positive.  So I had to get a blog post out first about that.  But the Cents Positive weekend led to some sleep deprivation for our whole family.  Then last weekend my mom visited.  Then this past week we had a sick kid which meant more sleep loss.  All this occurred while I was trying to maximize the actual time I had at work, since I had to take a few hours of PTO to watch the sick little one.  (She’s fine, BTW.  Just the first cold of the season.  But she had a fever and couldn’t go to daycare a couple days this past week.)

Here’s that first post from a year ago, if you’re interested.  Guess what?  The reasons I put in that first post for why I set up this little blog?  They’re still true.  Especially these bits:

  • I want to interact more with this community and continue to learn from what other bloggers have to offer.
  • I don’t want to spend the next 17+ years slaving away in a cubicle, working for someone else, doing something that doesn’t provide fulfillment, when instead I could be spending more time with my daughter and spouse.
  • We probably won’t reach true “financial independence” in the next 5 or 10 years.  But I do know that the less we spend, the more we can save and invest, which does provide FREEDOM and OPTIONS to make different choices about how we work in the future.

It’s interesting how we can plan as much as we want and still, the world has surprises waiting for us.  A few surprising things from this past year that I wrote about on the blog:

A few other posts you might want to check out:

  • My financial freedom manifesto (part 1 and part 2)
  • The post with the most shares as of late
  • The post that seems to bring in the most consistent Google traffic

So, what do I have planned for year 2?  Honestly, there is no big vision.  I would love to post more than I have been lately, but if I can at least post enough to keep the blog from going dormant that will make me happy.

Most of my favorite personal finance blogs are exactly that – personal.  I love reading stories of how other people are navigating the interesting complexities of managing their money.  So in year 2, I imagine most of my blogging will be providing updates on how the FIREdup household is doing that too.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along in year 1.  Can’t wait to see what year 2 has in store!

Q1 Goals Update!

At the end of last year I set some goals for 2018.  Here’s where things stand as of the end of Q1!


Max out 401(k).  On track!  I adjusted the % of each paycheck I put towards my 401(k) at the beginning of the year to tie to the 2018 limit.

Make 2017 IRA contribution (amount TBD).  Done!  I made a contribution in February as I was completing our tax return for the year.

Finalize will. Not yet complete.  We were supposed to sign the paperwork earlier this month, but got derailed by having to stay at home with a sick kiddo.  This should happen in April.

Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  I put part of our tax refund in our brokerage account, so as of today we’ve funded 23% of the financial freedom goal for non-retirement accounts.  I’m pretty happy with this percentage, given the ups and downs we’ve had in the markets recently.


12 Items in 2018.  I wrote a post in February about limiting my clothing related purchases to 12 or less items this year.  As of today, I’ve purchased one item – a pair of jeans.  I work in a business casual environment and wear jeans about 95% of the time.


Average one post per week.  This is on track year-to-date, but it may be difficult to maintain for the full year.  Work is getting busier, and I’ve got a maniac toddler running around.  Also, my experience of blogging thus far is that inspiration doesn’t come on a regular schedule.  I don’t want to feel forced into writing something if I don’t feel interested or inspired about the idea.  Hobbies are supposed to be FUN, right?!

Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.  

Here’s where things stand as of today.  We are a whopping 1% CLOSER to our goal compared to when I wrote the original post in December!  I guess with the swings in the overall market (and my company’s stock price – I own some shares in my 401k/employee stock purchase plan) I should be happy that any progress has been made.

Stretch Goals

Attend FINCON 2018.  This is unlikely to happen this year, but I’m not going to take it off the list yet.

Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  I realllllly hate this loan.  I’m throwing a few extra dollars at it every month, but there are too many other places that our money is going right now to make this a priority this year.  I’m hoping maybe I can throw a few bigger chunks of money at it as the year goes on.

How are you doing against your goals for the year?

FIREd up about 2018 Goals

I’m a planner by nature.  I like to set goals.  None of this should be too surprising if you read my last post revealing my Upholder tendency.

Several years ago I read Chris Guillebeau’s fantastic post about his Annual Review process and have been using it as a guideline ever since.  As 2017 wraps up I’m pondering what 2018 has in store.  2018 goals will span several different fronts – creativity/blogging, work, travel, relationships/motherhood, health & fitness, learning, and financial.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the big goals:


  1. Max out 401(k).  I feel like a fraud having a personal finance blog and saying this, BUT…I have never maxed out my 401(k).  I’ve always contributed enough to get my company match, and in most years significantly more than that.  Last year was about working on liquid savings to pay for expenses for the baby on the way and the partially unpaid maternity leave.  It wasn’t until I came back from leave earlier this year and reassessed our financial situation that I realized that this was actually a very realistic goal going forward.  I’ve been doing some catch-up on my 401(k) contributions the last part of this year and will actually have to reduce my % at the start of the year so I don’t max out early and miss any company match.
  2. Make 2017 IRA contribution (amount TBD).  For some reason I thought that you couldn’t contribute to a 401(k) AND make a deductible contribution to an IRA, but this amazing post by Justin at Root of Good corrected that mistaken belief.  As long as you meet Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI – not to be confused with MAGA!) limits, you can contribute to both a 401(k) and traditional IRA.  The amount of the contribution will depend on a few factors, including the amount I’ve contributed to my Roth for 2017 (you can only contribute $5,500 to both – not to EACH), our exact MAGI number, and the amount of our tax refund.
  3. Finalize will.  I posted about this earlier.  We’ve met with our lawyer for the initial consultation.  I’d like to have a final document early in 2018.
  4. Fund 25% of Financial Freedom goal for non-retirement funds.  This will partly be dependent on how the markets do.


  1. Average one post per week.
  2. Share quarterly updates on progress against the Financial Freedom goal.

I’m really early in this blogging experience, so I’ve left these goals pretty open for now.


  1. Attend FINCON 2018.  Money nerds unite!  Whether this becomes a realization  will depend on a lot of things including life in general and how much I engage with the personal finance community in 2018.
  2. Get 2nd mortgage balance below $10,000.  Are piggyback mortgages still a thing?  We did an 80-15-5 mortgage back in the pre-2008 housing meltdown days, and they were pretty common then.  The higher rate on the second mortgage outweighed the higher payment with PMI.  The first mortgage has been refinanced and this second mortgage just needs to go away….

One final note

I am great at setting goals but sometimes not so great at letting go of things that no longer add value.  Jillian just wrote a very timely post on her blog about knowing when to quit something that no longer serves you.  Check it out!

Do you set annual goals?  What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?




Financial Freedom Part 2: The plan (with charts!)

Last week I wrote about my view on financial freedom.  Today I want to write a little bit about our financial freedom goal.  The financial freedom amount is not enough to be financially independent, but it could be thought of as an intermediate goal on the way to FIRE.  It’s the amount that would make me (a somewhat risk-averse person) feel comfortable with a large financial life change.

I’m not one to share actual numbers, so everything will be percentage based.  Here’s where we stand as of today against this goal:

Actually, making this graph was kinda nice, we are closer to the goal than I realized.  Who-hoo!

This includes all our investable assets (401(k)s, IRAs, taxable, some company stock).  It does not include our daughter’s 529, cash savings, or home equity.

If the markets cooperate and we continue to save at the same clip, I think we’ll hit this goal sometime in 2020:


Most of our investments are tied up in retirement accounts, so I’d like for 10% of the financial freedom goal to be easily accessible should we need it:


As you can see there is some work to be done here, though depending on how we choose to crunch the numbers, our emergency fund cash savings could be included in this bucket.

Of course the markets could go sideways in the next few years; who knows what financial crisis lurks in the shadows.  But I’m pretty FIREd up about being this close to goal!

Friday’s Frugal Five

I’m following in the steps of Mrs. FITNB and posting a list of five frugal choices I’ve made this week!

  1. Sunday we made a trip to Target and I noticed that several categories of household goods were 15% off.  There was also a deal where a certain multi-pack of Charmin was on sale and if you bought 3 packs you also got a $10 Target gift card.  Instead of buying one multi-pack like I normally do, I stocked up to get the $10 card and save 15% on all 3.  Bonus: we won’t need to buy TP for a while!
  2. Monday I did free yoga at work over my lunch hour.
  3. I have a stash of Discover cash back and have been using it to buy restaurant gift cards.  This week I got a Panera card and a Chipotle card.  There is a Chipotle near work and it’s nice to be able to go out to lunch for ‘free.’
  4. A friend recommended a book to me at lunch on Wednesday and when I got back to work I put it on my holds list at the library.  The local library has a fantastic selection of e-books.  I typically try to have 3-4 books on hold at any given time, which means I usually have a new one ready for checkout by the time I’ve finished whatever current book I’m reading.
  5. The other night we had pork chops for dinner and I bought the big 8 oz ones instead of the smaller ones I normally buy.  Because of this there was about 1/4 of a pork chop left.  Normally I might have tossed it, but for good measure I put it in the frig along with some leftover brown rice & quinoa.  Thursday morning I put that and some leftover spaghetti squash in my lunch pail to take to work.  It was actually pretty good…and much better than spending $5-10 on mediocre lunch from our work cafeteria.

How did you frugal it up this week?

Welcome to FIREd up!

So why did I decide to set up shop in this little corner of the internet to talk finance?

I love to write.  In fact, I’ve maintained a private personal blog for over 10 years.

Finance is my thing.  Budgeting, investing, optimizing taxes…I love to break out a spreadsheet and go to town with this stuff.  It’s easy to forget that a lot of people don’t have the interest in these topics or they find it to be overwhelming.  If I can provide content that is helpful to just a few people, I will be happy.

Community.  Over the course of the past year I’ve started to immerse myself in the online FIRE community and man…some of these bloggers are just killing it.  I want to interact more with this community and continue to learn from what other bloggers have to offer.

Focus and clarity.  I’ve always paid attention to my financial situation and have generally made good decisions.  But having a child at the beginning of this year really put things into perspective.  There is only so much time we are going to have with her living at home.  I don’t want to spend the next 17+ years slaving away in a cubicle, working for someone else, doing something that doesn’t provide fulfillment, when instead I could be spending more time with my daughter and spouse.

Reading and listening to podcasts about financial independence this year has kept me motivated to be more intentional with how we spend our money.  We probably won’t reach true “financial independence” in the next 5 or 10 years.  But I do know that the less we spend, the more we can save and invest, which does provide FREEDOM and OPTIONS to make different choices about how we work in the future.


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