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

19 For '19 Goals: A Wrap-Up

Way back in January of this year, I posted an ambitious, finance-heavy list of 19 goals. I called it "19 for '19". (Had it been 2017, I would have posted 17 goals. 2010? Ten goals. You get the picture. I'm going to be in real trouble in 2050.)

When I developed this list, I was feeling optimistic. We were building our savings. We were paying off debt and ramping up on investments. Plus, I had a fancy new job in the works.

We were on a roll! Prepare to be crushed, goals!

And then... Then, life did its thing. My "career" (if you could call it that) exploded in a spectacular, irreversible way. Or perhaps more accurately, I felt the need to start over and blew it all up. I left The Worst Job Ever and became a quitter without a plan.

I spent a few random months as a lady of leisure. I learned some Italian, took daily afternoon naps, watched every documentary that caught my attention on Netflix (might I recommend The Dawn Wall and Losing Sight of Shore?), and walked dogs for what amounted to pocket change.

It was fun. It was not lucrative.

I started to think that perhaps we should scrap the entire goals list. I mean, it's tough to meet your money goals if you have no money. Everything felt so uncertain.

By the end of July, I had a new part-time job that I liked for the most part. Money started trickling in again - less of it than before I quit, but enough. Somehow, it all worked out okay, and somehow, we ended up meeting many of our goals anyway.

So here are the goals in review, along with an assessment of how these priorities evolved throughout the year.

Success!: The Goals I/We Met

1. Quit my job. I quit a well-paying but mindnumbing job in January of 2019, took a week off, launched into The Worst Job Ever, and walked out three months later. Technically, I met this goal twice. Bonus points!

A few weeks ago, I actually saw an ad for the mindnumbing job. Same company, same position, same responsibilities, and I had to ask myself: do I regret leaving, especially considering that I left for a total disaster? Could I ever see myself going back?

Answers: no, and NO. There was a reason I was so desperate to get out of that job. True, I was compensated fairly, but I was also bored out of my mind, and management treated me and my perfectly capable coworkers like wayward children who needed constant supervision and feedback. It wasn't as bad as The Worst Job Ever, but it was still pretty terrible. The money wasn't worth it, and I'm glad I left. 

2. Paid off my student loan. We paid off the last $3500 in March. Getting rid of one of our student loans was so motivating. It was a bright spot during a dark, insomnia-ridden spring.

3. Paid off our remaining medical bills. We had a balance of $1300 for my kid's 2018 appendectomy. We paid that off in March, too.

4. Saved $10,000 in our emergency fund. We crossed this threshold in October. Of all of the goals on the original list, this is the one I most wanted to achieve. When I quit my job, I was skeptical that we'd be able to do it. I thought we'd end up depleting our cash stash, not adding to it. We were able to accomplish it thanks to a combination of extra hours at my new (well, new-ish) part-time job and some good bonuses for Fortysomething.

5. Paid off our campground membership. I definitely didn't think this was going to happen, but then... surprise bonus to the rescue! We were able to pay off the $1700 balance in November. Lesson learned this year: Fortysomething's got some good bonuses.

6. Attended TWO financial retreats! I had an opportunity to go to the Lola Retreat in Los Angeles in February and CentsPositive in Seattle in October. The main thing I took from these experiences is that I want to have more of them. I WANT TO DO ALLLLLL OF THE RETREATS. The women I met at these events went above and beyond my expectations in terms of how genuine, kind, openminded, and supportive they were, and talking finances in a women-only environment was incredibly empowering.

7. Attended a mini family reunion at Disneyland and visited family. Disney happened because we were invited to mooch off my family, and we did. Like, you want to give us this amazing thing? We will not argue or decline! And I'm so glad we went, because Scrooge McDuck here (me) ended up LOVING Disneyland. I can completely understand why people go back every year and spend hundreds of dollars to do it. We won't. But I want to.

Things That Did Not Happen

I mean, I had 19 goals on the list. No way was I going to check all of them off. Here's what fell to the wayside or had to be put off:

1. Achieve a positive net worth. We fell just short of this goal in 2019. That's okay. We're only about $4000 away at this point. SO CLOSE. As long as we continue to contribute to Fortysomething's retirement fund and make monthly student loan payments, we'll likely get there in 2020.

2. Max out my HSA. Once I left my job and decided to sign up for short-term health insurance instead of ACA insurance, contributing to an HSA was off the table. However, I still have about $800 in the HSA from The Worst Job Ever.

Can I just say this? I may have been at that gig for only a couple of months, but I am SO GLAD that I dumped enough into my 401K and HSA to get the company matches for those benefits. The whole experience was terrible, but knowing that they had to give me some extra money and couldn't take it back (because it vested immediately) was a silver lining.

3. Each day, meditate for 10-15 minutes, work out, and drink 64 ounces of water. Why do I continue to make health- and fitness-related goals? By now, I should know that I'm more successful with this sort of thing when I don't put it in writing. That said, I was very consistent with running. On average, I ran 5-6 miles most days of the week. The meditation and hydration, however, fell through the cracks while I was working at The Worst Job Ever. I didn't have the headspace to make it all happen, and then later I just didn't feel like it.

4. Get my passport renewed. It didn't happen but it WILL happen in early 2020. I need to stop procrastinating on this. 

5. Comment on or share three posts, four times per week, and make $100 on the blog. I increased my bloggy interactions, but not to the extent I'd originally planned on. I'm a slacker. As for making money off the blog:


I tossed this goal out the window as soon as Adsense stopped working on my site. But whatever. Adsense, you suck. I DIDN'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND ANYWAY. Also, I was (and still am) too lazy to figure out how to fix the problem because I was (and still am) too lazy to make money off this blog.

6. Read two books per month and log them on Goodreads. ...Do I even have a Goodreads account? I can't remember. In lieu of this goal, however, I did attend every single meeting of my book club. As a committed participant, I read approximately 1/3 of the books and sampled all of the wine.

7. Worry less. This is called Me Being Delusional. This is called Setting Myself Up For Failure. New 2020 goal: worry all the time. I can do that!

Here's the nice thing about goals: they can really help you see where your priorities lie. That's how it is for me, anyway. If I work towards the goal, I know that it means something to me. If I don't, it's likely because I don't actually give a shit and just wanted my list to look nice and well-rounded.

Stay tuned for a 2020 list in January!

What about you? How did your 2019 goals pan out?


  1. Congrats on doing so well with the financial goals! And on finding a job that doesn't destroy your soul - that is so, so important. Here's to a positive net worth in 2020.

    1. IT IS SO IMPORTANT. Now that I've found something I like, I'm inclined to stick with it for at least a year to see if (a) I can get extra hours on a regular basis and/or (b) they transition me to full time. Leaving for something unknown just doesn't sound goof to me right now.

  2. I'm so glad to see you still made so much progress through a difficult year! And while you didn't make money on the blog, you won a Plutus Award!! Toss that in the accidental goal achieved category 😁
    Passport renewal could still be achieved in 2019, btw 😉

    1. Well, it *could* be achieved, but... I'm very lazy. And since I have no plans to travel internationally within the next few weeks, I'm dragging my feet. Thank you for all the encouragement! <3

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    1. Seriously impressed with your progress! You kicked butt on so many of those goals. Nice work!!!

      My progress was...mixed bag. I hit my savings goals, but missed my debt payoff one. Life threw us a curveball, too, but we're coming around the other side of it and looking forward to achieving things in 2020.

  4. Ahhhh so close to net worth zero! And as far as worry less... I’ll work on that one right along with you ��

  5. You somehow left out the most important accomplishment of 2019: playing a lot of games with your friends. You are CRUSHING that.

    I'm so glad that you were able to knock out all these goals, even with a lot of big changes along the way. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere about our ability to overcome or something.

    Here's to a good 2020, friend.

  6. I would like you to keep blogging! :) (I read your tweet about possibly quitting, but I'm not on twitter myself so commenting here).

    I am responsible with my finances, but I'm certainly not hardcore, and frankly, I'm neither able or willing to change that.

    I find stories like yours, reading about the nitty gritty of how real people strive to improve their "average" lives in this or that way very inspiring.


  7. Seems to me you made progress in all the important areas.

    I don't even remember what my goals were for the year other than my one major savings goal, honestly, and I'm entirely too unmotivated to go look. I think that's a sign that deciding to go incredibly light on the goals entirely this year was the right move - I just didn't care enough to push myself in ten different areas. Just a couple will do.