A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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19 for '19: My Goals For The New Year

By now you already know that I love a set of fresh new goals! 

I've given a lot of thought to the things I want to focus on and accomplish in 2019. If it's going to be on my goals list, it has to be something I'm excited about doing, something I really care about and can commit to. This year I've decided that I want to focus on money, travel, and health, with some blogging goals thrown in just for fun. These are the things I'm thinking about lately. These are the things I want to work on.

So without further ado, here's my carefully-curated (cringing as I write the c-word there) list of 19 goals for 2019:

Job Goals

1. Quit my current job. This is my only employment-related goal for 2019, and hey look, I've already achieved it! I've decided to forgo other job goals for this year. Anything I could come up with would be almost entirely dependent on the employer, and there are too many unknowns as I change careers. I want to make goals that I have full control over. Completed January 2019.

Money Goals

Like last year, money will be a big focus for us in 2019 - but instead of directing all of our attention to debt repayment, we're also going to make saving a priority:

2. Pay off my student loan. The current balance sits at $3,500. My feeling is that this loan just needs to go away. I'm sick of seeing it on my monthly spreadsheet! It's taking every ounce of willpower for me not to obliterate it right this second with money from our emergency fund, but I'll wait until I'm safely ensconced in my next position. Then? It's gone.  Projected completion: February 2019.

3. Pay off our remaining medical bills. Last March my kid landed in the hospital with appendicitis. We're still chipping away at the bill and as of this writing have $1,300 to go. We've been using our HSA to make our monthly payments, but now that I'm changing jobs and insurance providers, I think we're going to eliminate these bills altogether. It'll be one less thing on our plate. I'll use my Southwest credit card so that we can rake in some points, and then we'll pay off the balance. Projected completion: February 2019.

4. Save $10,000 in our emergency fund. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that we've been embroiled in a long, ongoing mental tug of war between paying off debt and saving for a rainy day. Since last summer we've put most of our disposable income towards debt repayment.

But my impending job change makes me nervous. What if it doesn't work out? What if I suck as an editor? Or what if - GOD FORBID BECAUSE PLEASE CAN I ACTUALLY LIKE MY WORK FOR ONCE - I'm miserable again?

I've job-hopped enough that the writing is on the proverbial wall: I need to have some funds in reserve. $10K would allow us to meet our financial obligations for 5-6 months without too much stress. Projected completion: August 2019.

5. Pay off our campground membership. Secret debt alert!: we have another loan that I've never talked about, though I've included it in our monthly budgets. It's for a campground membership that we bought when we were RVing around the country. Had we continued to live a nomadic existence (our original plan was to be on the road for years), it would have been worth it. But we stopped much sooner than we'd anticipated and as a result we're saddled with what turned out to be a pretty silly and expensive decision*. I'm sure an hour of focused therapy would help me figure out why I chose to reveal our other debts and not this one, but whatever the reason, I'm sharing it now. Surprise! Our current balance is $2,500. Projected completion: September 2019.

*If any of you are RVers and are interested in purchasing our campground membership, let me know and we can chat. It's through Thousand Trails. We have at least 2.5 years left on the membership.

6. Achieve a positive net worth. This is a big one for us! We've been in the red for so long. This year will be a turning point for us: between paying off debt and saving, we should be able to bring our net worth above ground in 2019. Projected completion: Fall 2019.

7. Max out my HSA. Once I change jobs, I'll have a new high deductible insurance plan with an HSA. I don't think we can go wrong by saving up for medical expenses, so I'd like to max it out this year. The maximum family contribution for 2019 is $7,000. My employer will contribute up to $1,500 if I participate in their wellness program, so I'll be responsible for around $5,500. Projected completion: End of year.

8. Attend a financial workshop or retreat. Watching so many of my friends in personal finance attend these gatherings and have such a great time has given me a serious case of PF FOMO! Big events like FinCon make me anxious, so I'm looking instead at Lola Retreat or CentsPositive. Projected completion: Depends on the event and when it takes place.

Health Goals

9, 10, and 11: At least four days a week, I want to:

  • meditate for 10-15 minutes.
  • work out.
  • drink 64 ounces of water.
I'm already pretty good about working out on most days, but my water consumption is spotty and I'm still in the early stages of developing a meditation practice. In 2019, I'm going to tighten up these habits and make them part of my everyday routine because I can tell they make me a happier and more balanced person. For this week, anyway, it's so far, so good!:

Projected completion: Year-long goal.

Travel Goals

12. Get my passport renewed. I should have done this last year when it first expired, but typical me: I put it off. I want to get it done this year but will wait until the shutdown has ended. Projected completion: Summer 2019.

13. Attend mini family reunion at Disneyland. A few months ago, my family decided that it'd be fun to take all of the kids to Disneyland. I'm not a huge fan of the parks or the Disney empire in general, but I do want my son to spend time with his cousins, so we're going to make it happen. Projected completion: Summer 2019.

14. Visit family in the Northeast. We were planning to visit my husband's family last summer, but then The Kiddo ended up in the hospital and our travel cash got diverted to medical bills. Knock on wood, we will head east this year to see everyone and catch up. Projected completion: Summer 2019.

15. Visit family in the Pacific Northwest. This might be pushing it. After all, travel is expensive. But if I use my Southwest points, I should be able to organize this trip at little to no cost. Projected completion: Fall 2019.

Blogging Goals

I hesitate to make goals related to the blog because I'm afraid they'll deter me instead of motivate me. I've been blogging for nearly two years without any set schedule or structure, and that haphazard approach seems to be working for me. But that said, there are a couple of things I really want to do:

16. Comment on or share three posts, four times per week. I've received a wealth of support for my blog, and I want to make sure I'm supporting other bloggers in turn. I haven't been great about this so far but am planning to improve in 2019. Projected completion: Year-long goal.

17. Make $100 on the blog! I'm not that serious right now about building the blog or monetizing my content. I have no desire to dive into Pinterest or branch out on social media beyond Twitter. I just like sharing our story. But that said, my pageviews increased throughout 2018, and by the end of the year, I'd made a total of $10 (BIG MONEY!) I want to see if I can continue that trend in 2019. I hope to get there simply by increasing reader engagement and continuing to be genuine and consistent in my communication. We'll see if that's enough. Projected completion: End of year.

Fun Goal

18. Read two books per month and log them on Goodreads. I'm well on my way for January: I finished Defectors by Joseph Kanon (meh) and am a quarter of the way through Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which is excellent so far). Projected completion: Year-long goal.

More Of An Intention Than A Goal

19. I'd like to worry less. That's not a goal, per se, because I don't know exactly how to make it happen. I'm a worrier by nature and always have been. What I do know is that life is a complicated mixture of good times and hard times, and while there are some things I have a say in and plenty I can plan for, there's so much that I can't control. I want to be able to enjoy my life without constantly wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. If anyone has ideas on how to turn this into an actionable goal, let me know!

What about you? What are your big (or small!) goals for 2019?



  1. Hmmm.... just got the passport app done. Hope it comes in time! Least I have a bit of a buffer there before I need it.
    The campground membership - can you transfer it to someone if you sold it? If not, sounds like you need to find a way to use it up!
    I talked to someone who is working on SW area at DL. They are working around the clock in hopes of it opening by summer - but was hesitant to think it will happen in time. I hope that is not the case. But FYI - keep an ear out for it before your trip. I'm so excited for its opening! DL is going to be even more of a mad house than it already is!

    1. Disney is not my cup of tea, but some of my family members LOVE it. I'm just going for the food and the company. LOL.

      The campground membership can be transferred. We still use it, though - during the spring and fall we stay for free at campgrounds with swimming pools, and that's a pretty good deal.

  2. I love the "comment on or share three posts, four times per week" goal, and definitely need to adopt it myself. So often I make excuses for not reading others' posts because I'm "busy", but really I've got this burning jealousy for people who are writing more often, and better content, than I am. But that's bogus! I love reading about other people's PF journeys and am pumped for your 2019 goals! Mmmm... a positive net worth...

    1. Thank you for your comment! I just hopped over to your blog. It looks awesome and I'm eager to read your posts.

      I have been terrible about commenting but am DETERMINED to do better.

  3. I really admire your goal to pay down the medical bills from appendicitis. Those expenses are the worst (along with surprise housing expenses). You've reminded me that my passport is expired as well.... I don't think I'm going anywhere with my new baby, however, but you never know with this crazy country. Might have to get out for a bit!

    I totally think you can get $100 for your blog and read 2 books a month! I personally hope to comment on people's posts more on their actual blogs instead of opening it up on Twitter and then commenting on only on their Tweet...

    1. Thank you, Savvy History! I appreciate the comment. The medical bill is definitely annoying... the one positive thing is that it has a 0% interest rate, so as long as I'm paying *something* each month, the hospital seems satisfied. However, I'd like to have it off our plate for good.

  4. I love your goals, and I look forward to reading about your progress this year.

    I have really only two goals for 2019:

    Pay off my remaining credit card debt ($3560) and read more :-)

    1. Eeeeeeeep you're SO CLOSE to paying off that credit card!

      Those are great goals!

  5. If you figure out #19, please let me know!

    I went to Cents Positive last year but had debated FinCon as well. I'm sure FinCon is amazing, but I really LOVED going to a smaller, female-focused event.

    1. It looks like I'll be going to Lola Retreat, and I am PUMPED. It's a bit expensive but I'm thinking of it as an investment. And from what I've heard from you and others, these smaller women-focused events are well worth it.

  6. I find that for some goals, like blogging ones, I can't say them out loud or I just lose the motivation to do them. My friend said there's some research that says that when you state your intention, sometimes your brain just logs it as done. That seems to line up with my experience but I wish it was more consistent because I can't tell when that weirdness will apply. So strange!

    You've got me wishing to add more to my goals but honestly my first health goal is a pretty big challenge so my hands are full with that. I should sit down and deal with that! :)

    1. That is interesting... and it makes sense to me. Yeah, when it comes to things like blogging or working out, setting goals isn't always helpful to me. Like... telling myself I have to post a certain number of times a month is a great way to ensure that I won't post at all. LOL.

  7. I'm so excited you're planning on hitting Zero Day this year! We're pretty close, too, and it's such a climb! Hang in there!

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