I talk a lot about my big financial goals like paying off the house and retiring early but I don’t talk as much about my small financial goals. Or really, I should say just goal, because it’s really only one goal. Every year I try to make my financial position better than it was the year before.
I’ve come a long way since 2015 as you can see from the chart above. In 2015 when I actually started paying attention to my finances, I had a negative net worth. I had about $20,000 ish of student debt, had just bought a house with basically no money down, and had financed a truck. I was spending every dollar I brought in on clothes and food. I was also making about $30,000 less than I do now. It was not a winning financial situation. I remember having about $4,000 in savings which was a huge amount to me at the time so I thought I was doing ok, but I definitely wasn’t mindfully saving money.
I went into 2016 with the goal of paying off my student loans by the end of the year. Per Dave Ramsey’s teachings, if you are not getting a match on your 401k at work, you should stop contributing while your paying off debt so you can increase your ‘snowball’, so I stopped contributing to my 401k. I was only contributing 2% so it wasn’t a life changing amount. I also worked two jobs for six months and was more tired than I’ve probably ever been. I did a lot of things that people would consider crazy that year to hit my goal. Basically I stopped all nonessential spending. My now husband and I stopped going out to eat and going to the movies. I stopped shopping. Every extra penny went towards my student loans. Probably the craziest thing I did was take my savings account down to $1,000 (the Dave Ramsey recommended amount) to make a big payment. Ultimately, it was worth it. My January paycheck came in on December 31, 2016 so I TECHNICALLY made my last student loan payment on the last day of the year.
In 2017, A and I started thinking that maybe we should get married. October 2017 was going to be our five year dating anniversary and we decided that’s when we should do it. But the hold up was that I didn’t want to go into debt to pay for the wedding. So we didn’t tell anyone and we spent all year saving money. I did a lot of research into what I wanted my wedding to look like and where I could cut corners without it looking like a cheap wedding. When we made it to July, we decided we would have enough money to do it and all of our plans went into motion. We officially got engaged in August. It was kind of fun telling our families that we were getting married in October. For our families, it definitely seemed like a shotgun wedding and I’m sure everyone thought I was pregnant (I wasn’t). We had our wedding in October completely debt free! 🙂
In 2018, we started actively paying off debt again. But thanks to raises at work over the years, we didn’t have to cut out as much stuff as we did two years prior. It made for a much less stressful year. In July we paid off our truck a little over a year early and then paid off another outstanding debt in September. My net worth steadily grew, mostly thanks to our house appreciating. But I still wasn’t contributing to my retirement and I only had the Dave Ramsey recommended $1,000 emergency fund.
On the bright side, I had almost hit $100,000 in net worth by the end of the year! I didn’t realize it until right now when I pulled up this table for this blog though! As we say at work, I was all hat, no cattle. All flash, no cash. Aka, I had an okay net worth but nothing in my bank account. Still cool to see.
And now, for the first time since I started this journey in 2016, I actually feel like I’m doing pretty well. I was talking to my coworker a couple of weeks ago who is kind of my savings benchmark. This person has been on the job for 10 years and has been putting 10% into their 401k the whole time. When I talked to them last year, I only had $500 in my 401k. At the beginning of this year, I started contributing to my 401k again and increased it up to 5%. So when we talked the other day, I was up to $2500! This year, I also got a big deal promotion at work. I’ve increased my savings account to $3,700. We will probably (hopefully) pay off my engagement ring at the end of the year and go into 2020 with our only debts being my motorcycle, the house, and our couch. In my head, the couch barely counts though with it being 0% interest.
Hopefully next year I’ll be able to tell you that I have more in my savings account, more in my 401k, and a higher net worth!