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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Staying Afloat: 2019 Goals Check-In

My kid started seventh grade a few weeks ago, my birthday is in less than two months, and FinCon 2019 is a mere 48 hours away.

Though I can offer no scientific proof, trust me: time is accelerating.

Anyway, given that it's suddenly September 2 - 2/3 OF THE WAY THROUGH THE YEAR HOW IN THE WORLD - I figured now might be a good time to review our/my 2019 goals and see how we're doing.

Are we succeeding? Failing miserably? Somewhere in between?

Let's take a look.

Goal #1: Quit my current job. 
Status: Goal met! Twice!

That's right, folks: being the overachiever that I am, I met this goal two times by the end of April! First I quit the bullshit job that made me want to crawl under my desk and weep on a daily basis, and then I quit the exploitative job that made me want to crawl under my desk and weep every hour on the hour.

Things were so bad when I quit the second job that I felt like I was jumping off a cliff to get away from a hungry lion while wearing a hastily-donned parachute full of duct-taped holes (i.e., exhilarating! Terrifying! Nothing left to lose!) But the risk was worth it. It gave me the time and headspace I needed to land a job I (generally) enjoy with hours I can tolerate.

Goal #2: Pay off my student loan. 
Status: Goal met!

I paid off my student loan in March. We now owe less than $37,000 in total (on Fortysomething's student loan). You'll find our most recent debt update here.

Goal #3: Pay off our remaining medical bills.
Status: Goal met!

As of the beginning of the year, we still owed $1300 to the hospital for the Kiddo's appendectomy. We wiped out the balance by March.

Goal #4: Save $10,000 in our emergency fund.
Status: We're so close!

Here's what I wrote back in January about the rationale for this goal: "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?"

Haha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahaha.

Anyway, as of this writing, we are 95% of the way there. Despite our tight budget, we may still meet this goal in 2019, especially if we're willing to take on some extra side gigs to make it happen.

Goal #5: Pay off our campground membership. 
Status: Not yet. 

We have less than $2000 left on this loan/membership. If we can make our current budget work without dipping into our emergency fund, I'll be tempted to pay it off by the end of the year. That would free up a little more than $100/month.

Goal #6: Achieve a positive net worth.
Status: Nope.

But again, we're not that far off. We probably won't hit this goal in 2019, but that's okay because we have less than $10K to go.

Goal #7: Max out my HSA. 
Status: What HSA?

Before I left The Worst Job Ever, I was planning to max out my HDHP-associated HSA. Now that I'm working part-time with no employer-sponsored benefits, I don't contribute to one. That said, I still have about $1000 left in my previous HSA accounts.

Goal #8. Attend a financial workshop or retreat. 
Status: I'll meet this goal twice!

I attended Lola Retreat back in February after receiving a ticket scholarship. In October, I'll be going to CentsPositive in Seattle, thanks to a very kind hero in the personal finance community who offered to cover my registration costs.

Goals #9, 10, and 11: At least four days a week, meditate for 10-15 minutes, work out, and drink 64 ounces of water.
Status: Wellllll...

I was completely crushing these goals in the first quarter of the year. I fell off the meditation wagon while working the hellhole job, and I stopped tracking water intake back in April or May (although I definitely drink more of it than I used to).

But I'm doing great with working out. I run at least five days a week and lift weights twice a week. I've also been stretching for 15 minutes a day to improve my flexibility.

Goal #12: Get my passport renewed.
Status: Hasn't happened yet.

Because we have no immediate plans to travel internationally, and because passport renewal is kind of expensive, I just haven't gotten around to checking this one off the list. It isn't a top priority.

Goal #13: Attend mini family reunion at Disneyland. 
Status: Goal met!

In retrospect, I'm thrilled that I included a trip to Disney in my goals list. Remind me to do something similar every year. It felt great to count doing something fun and frivolous as a big win. 

Goal #14: Visit family in the northeast.
Status: No, but we did visit other relatives.

We didn't visit Fortysomething's family this year, but we did travel east to see my family.

God, travel is so freaking expensive. So. Expensive. It's a problem.

Goal #15: Visit family in the Pacific Northwest.
Status: It's going to happen!

Because CentsPositive is in Seattle, I'll be able to visit my family then.

Goal #16: Comment on or share three posts, four times per week.
Status: I'm trying?

I'm not meeting this goal right now. I don't read blogs every day. But when I do, I'm making more of an effort to comment and share.

Goal #17: Make $100 on the blog! 
Status: *snort*

I made this goal back when my AdSense account was still functional. Then I switched to my own domain... and I haven't been able to make it work since then. It's fine. I've decided that I probably won't make any money from this blog. The fact that I've been maintaining The $76K Project for two years now is a major success in and of itself.

Goal #18. Read two books per month and log them on Goodreads.
Status: Sort of.

I'm reading (mostly thrillers and mysteries). I'm not logging them on Goodreads. I probably never will.

Goal #19: I'd like to worry less. 

Maybe it has to do with the current political climate, or with the fact that the rainforest is burning down, or with my neverending midlife crisis, but I worry now more than ever. If I could make money from worrying, I would be Warren Buffett rich.

My sense is that a lot of this worry stems from this year's massive job upheaval. My whole professional identity has been completely dismantled, an experience that has been unsettling and kind of traumatizing. I'm still working through it. But my hope is that as I start from scratch and build a work life I actually want, my brain will settle down a little.

In short, it looks like we'll meet about half of our original 2019 goals. I think that's pretty darn good, especially considering how much has changed this year.

With that in mind, there are a couple of goals I'd like to add:

Goal #20: Avoid dipping into the emergency fund for regular monthly expenses. That is, I'd like to be able to cover our bills using just our monthly income. It'll be tight - the amount coming in is close to the amount going out - but I think we can do it.

Obviously, if an actual emergency arises, relying on the emergency fund will be a great move.

Goal #21: Make $1200/month from my online teaching job. My hours were recently increased, and they may increase again. I should be able to meet this goal. I can always supplement with Rover gigs if I need to.

Goal #22: Per my Life Elimination Diet, continue culling activities and obligations that are no longer serving me. Rover is still on the chopping block, but I haven't made any final decisions.

What about you? How are you doing with your 2019 goals? Which ones have you met? Which ones have you abandoned? (PSA: It's a great idea to abandon goals if they no longer apply!)


  1. I'm not someone who usually sets goals, as I have a terrible track record for meeting them. But I'm pretty proud of how I've navigated my way through a terribly stressful and unhappy Spring. It feels so much better to be working less, and also yoga. YOGA!!!!

    1. YOGAAAAA! <3 You do sound happier, and I'm so glad. YAY for less work!

  2. I am so terrible at setting goals, but last year when I did, I hit 5/6. So guess who's gonna need to write another post about goals (perhaps after he refines those ideas in Montana)

    1. Oooooh I can't wait for your Montana post(s)! That's going to be an amazing retreat.

  3. I am terrible at setting goals, much to the annoyance of my other half who is extremely goal orientated.
    I think this is a pretty awesome achievement. This year hasn't been easy for you workwise, so to still be able to check off what you have (with another 4 months of the year left) is pretty damn awesome!

    1. I love goals! I don't know why, given that I fail at more than half of them. LOL. I suppose it's because they help me stay grounded.

      I am quite pleased with the goals we set and with our progress!

  4. Fellow worrier here. I can totally relate. So it looks like half and half on the goals...not bad! Keep at getting to that positive net worth!

    1. Only about $9500 to go! We might not make it this year, but I think it's doable in 2020.

  5. Your status of goal 17 made me LOL. I hear ya there! And goal 19, well, sigh. I don't worry so much during the day but mental clutter wakes me up at night. Professional identity is part of it, and I still think back to your tweet thread about the dog-and-pony-show nature of interviewing. I'm not looking forward to going through that again.

    Know that I am among many who enjoy your writing. Take care!

    1. Thank you so much for that encouragement!

      I'm still perusing the job boards, but now that I've gotten settled into part time life... man, I really do not want to go back to 40 hours a week.

  6. You're doing better with your long list of goals than I am with my short one, friend. I'm really sorry about the blogger name change and its impact on adsense. I hope I didn't steer you wrong with that one.

    Best of luck the rest of the year. Let me know if you want to do an accountability partnership on one of these, too.

    1. Goal #23: Beat DoneByForty in a board game.

      Can you help me with that one?

      And you definitely didn't steer me wrong! I think if I cared enough to fix it, I'd find a way. But... I don't. LOL.

  7. I don't even recall what our goals were for the whole year. I could check but I don't feel like it. XD

    I *have* abandoned our mortgage principal paydown, though. I need that cash a little more than I need to make inroads on the (feels impossible) mortgage right now, especially when I am not 100% positive that paying it off is what makes sense for us. I think we need to be investing more first when the market goes down and we needed to find some wiggle room in the budget somewhere. I also need to figure out more income from other sources that aren't the regular job, and I've done a bit on that as well, though there hasn't been a ton of movement.