The beginning of this year proved to be one of the most difficult and crazy times for me at a personal level. It got so bad that I finally decided to tackle something I had not done before – unclutter fully at an emotional level, figure out who I am and what I want, then rebuild from the inside out.
And so I began a journey of inner exploration and created a holistic life plan. I defined success for me along with my priorities. I then matched that against how I actually spend my time and energy and aligned accordingly. Then I began breaking down the plan in pieces and tackling it head on!
To learn more about this process and a ‘how to guide’ on how to do something similar yourself, go here.
And so, for 2017+, my life plan and focus will be on the following areas, with the caveat that I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment:
This hard work and focus has paid off substantially; I have never experienced such personal transformation! I am probably in the most peaceful (light!) and happy place I have ever been in decades. Of course there are always ups and downs, but I feel I now have the tools and habits to keep me going.
Interested in following my progress? Start here.
September 2016‘s market got a little scary but then bounced back. I am bracing myself for more crazy in the coming months. A huge highlight this month – we maxed out our other 401k, woot!
All in all, another solid month, we are right on track so far. Here is the summary YTD:
Our assets grew by $9.4k while expenses came in at $5.8k (very good considering our trip that took about $1.5k of that! Creating habits is REALLY working!).We now have about 5k of these assets in cash, which we really did not have before. People are right – it gets addictive almost and I feel strange leaving things ‘out of the market’ but a little buffer is good, plus we are considering an alternative investment at this point (just considering) so this helps with options.
Our kids’ college funds grew a bit less than normal as we contributed only $2,650 (vs other months that I was putting about 5k to super fund and be done by the end of the year with a $25k balance for each), and the earnings stayed pretty flat otherwise.
Debt is getting there, we contributed a few extra hundred bucks, but is still not making as much progress as other areas, and that is ok as it is by design.
All in all – three months to go to end the year (wha?! how did that happen!?), almost at goal, very exciting to see progress!
How did you go this month? Did you panic when the market tanked?
Here are a great list of travel blogs and sites that you may enjoy in regards to traveling, specifically with a family.
Want to learn about points and miles? Check out Million Mile Secrets and The Points Guy.
Overwhelmed with credit card/miles and don’t know where to start? I started with Marriott Card (best benefit is 7 nights + x amount of miles to most major airlines), Chase Sapphire Card and Starwood American Express (not sure how much longer this one will be around). These seemed the most flexible for me until I learned more.
Hotels.com and Rocketmiles.com for hotel reservation if you are not using a specific travel rewards card or hotel chain.
Car rental? Try Autoslash.
Different ways the world talks about Continents. The 5 to 7 Continent models.
If you are just getting started investigating 529s and general cost of college, I encourage you to start here. Probably the best site I found so far. It helped me a lot with my initial planning.
Getting started on your own path to financial independence? I encourage you to watch this eye opening PBS documentary called The Retirement Gamble. Then, take a read through these articles, which I re-read often for encouragement. Why “Earn More” vs “Save More” Is The Wrong Debate, The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Retirement, Zero to Millionaire in Ten Years, How We Reached Financial Independence in Our 30s, and A Millionaire Is Made 10 Bucks at A Time.
The blogs that I mention here are the ones I most often read regarding early financial independence.
For a very simple how to guide for saving and investments, I really love this The Simple Path to Wealth. I particularly love that he is writing this to leave as a manifesto for his daughter. He also writes about rent vs own issue very eloquently. Another excellent article on rent vs buy by Afford Anything blog here.
The Mad Fientist is also filled with all sorts of great information and tools. And this blog post on The Road to financial independence is a great read.
I use mint.com to track my day to day spending and Personalcapital.com to track my investments and assess my 401k plan fees.
As for investing, I am partial to Vanguard index funds.
Simple yet effective interest calculator.
Teaching kids about money resources
“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” – Unknown
College. Is it necessary? No. Is it preferred? Yes.
Despite the ever increasing costs, I still think college is a great experience that most people would appreciate and benefit from (if they can do it with little to no debt!) and still give them a much better probability of having a “successful” (read: higher income) career. I will encourage (but not force) my kids to go to college or study anything in particular. All I ask is that whatever they choose to do, they give it their best.
But have you seen what it costs these days and worse, what it is expected to cost? The shock to my system was so bad that I immediately started searching for alternatives like sending them abroad for free study...Germany, free for Americans to study? In English? I can live with that.
Once I got a little over my shock and started to think through this in more practical ways, I sat down with my husband to device a plan of attack. Having over a decade to college, this is really hard to plan. What if they don’t even go to college? Over-funding a 529 would not be that fun then. At the same time, not planning at all and then having my kids want to go to college and having to borrow crazy amounts of money is not cool.
I go back and forth about how much to save for them and with which vehicle. For right now we chose 529s, and we will revisit as the years go by. Of course, the larger part of the plan involves brainwashing our kids into looking at cheaper options for completing their degree – be it scholarships, community college first then transfer, take AP credit classes in high school and graduate early, go to in-state college, go abroad where it is cheaper (or free, like the Germany example above), etc.
Totally appropriate parenting, right?
Follow our college goal here and progress here.