In December 2018, I turned 40 years old. Each year I reevaluate my life and set personal and financial goals. As this is a milestone year for me, I am going out on a limb and sharing my successes and failures with the world. Here are the goals I had for 2018, and new goals for this year. What are your goals for 2019?
In December 2018, turned 40 years old. While I said that I was not going to feel depressed this year, I was. Usually, there are no friends around to celebrate with me. This year, my best friend was going to come into town to celebrate. But after sitting at the airport for 2.5 days trying to get a flight, she was not able to make it. We were both crushed.
I am so fortunate to have someone who would spend days at the airport trying to get a flight to see me. I also feel fortunate to have made it to my 40th birthday when so many of my loved ones had their lives cut short by accident or illness.
On my birthday, I “slept in” and had a good cry where my children couldn’t see. Then picked myself up and took the kids to the beach. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and a light breeze. I waded in the water with my oldest, watched my babies make sand castles, then fell asleep in the sand while my husband watched the kids. I awoke burnt to a crisp and dehydrated. We drove home, showered, ate dinner (pizza of course), and I was in bed by 7:00. I’m still finding sand in my ears, but I am glad that we went. My daughter is already asking if we can go back.
The Past 40 Years
Looking back over my life, I am content with how I’ve spent my first 40 years. I was a good child and had loving parents. I met my now husband shortly before my 20th birthday and we got married when I graduated college. I spent my 20s pursuing my education. In my 30s I established my career, bought a house, and had children.
Looking forward, goals for my 40s include maintaining (if not improving) my health, working on projects outside of my main career (e.g., The Debt Shrink), and preparing for retirement.
I’ve never been one to create New Year’s Resolutions. But each year I do make a list of things on which I would like to focus my energy. These tend to be more values (ongoing attributes for which I strive) rather than rules or goals.
Here were my hopes for 2018:
In 2018, I did well with this goal. More than ever, I contributed to fundraisers, left larger tips (I usually tip 20%. For good service at a family owned restaurant over the holidays I left a 40% tip), and also bought lunch for friends and loved ones who have been kind to me.
When my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I legitimately only had two wishes: eyeliner (which I use every day and it was running out) and sunglasses (my baby broke my old pair).
Being grateful to have all my basic needs met, it is a good feeling to genuinely not want.
This year, I have started to bring my own cup and silverware when eating out or attending an office party. This has helped me reduce my waste.
Whenever I “need” something, I have made it a habit to first look around my house to find ways to repurpose what I already have.
I have been making greater effort to be a positive person and avoid saying negative things to or about others, even when I am upset. To help with this, I started practicing Loving Kindness Metta Meditation when I notice myself becoming angry with someone.
Be a friend
This year (and particularly on my birthday) I realized what good friends I have: Stephanie, Lisa, Litsa, Stacey, and of course Jillian. Not to mention my husband, parents, sister, and aunts. My sister-in-law Brittany also reached out to me and my oldest friend Sabrina wrote a kind message. Our dear friend Tim came through for us on a really rough day. There are so many other people who have supported me this past year, including Luis and Marianne. I saw my friend Alana after many years, and it was such a great feeling to reconnect. I am truly grateful for everyone’s support. I only hope that I can be a good a friend to you as you have been to me.
Be a better mother
My babies won’t be babies forever. As you know, I express my feeling for them with time, not things. Eating dinner together each night as a family, giving each of them cuddle time each day, working on crafts, and taking them on playdates –these are precious moments that I think we will all cherish.
I think this one can use some work. I’ve developed a taste for take-out pizza this year, which is not very healthy.
Maintain my weight
For the same pizza reason, I was unsuccessful at this goal in 2018. I did log my weight and what I ate everyday and found a direct correlation between eating out and weight gain. Who knew?
Again, by eating out I have been consuming more processed foods.
On a positive note, I have abstained from ice cream and sweets in recent months. I didn’t even have any dessert on Christmas or ice cream or cake on my birthday.
New goals for 2019
In 2019, I would like to continue to move closer to theses values. I will also add:
improve clinical skills
Over the past few years, I have focused on training others. In 2019, I already have two trainings scheduled. The first will be on how to train other health professionals how to have crucial conversations about goals of care at end-of-life with their terminally ill patients. The other will be to become certified in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which aims to help people cope with depression while moving them closer to their values.
no beef or pork
For most of my life I have not eaten mammals, but I did have some serious meat cravings while pregnant and breastfeeding. Now that I am done nursing, I am no longer enjoying these meats.
Drink less coffee and alcohol
I have done well with reserving soda for special occasions. In 2018, I went for a period without drinking coffee after finding that it was making me feel jittery. I also went for a while without drinking any alcohol, and I felt good. I don’t remember why I went back to drinking coffee or alcohol, but I don’t like anything that makes me feel jittery or not in control. Plus, removing these from my life will save money and reduce calories.
Establish an exercise routine
This has been challenging with three young children. When I am home, they want to come with me and my husband (who is a stay-at-home-dad) needs a break from them. When at work, I only have a 30 minute lunch break (if I’m lucky).
My husband and I have been talking about how we can work a regular exercise routine into our schedule.
eat at home more often
Last year, I ate out more than I can remember in recent years. This has blown my food budget over the past couple of months. It has also contributed to my inability to maintain my weight. In 2019, I would like to revert back to reserving eating out for social events and special occasions.
Come to think of it, all these are consistent with my value of living a healthy lifestyle. They will also help to save money.
My financial goals this year will remain the same as last year. Unfortunately, I will not be getting a cost of living increase. My health insurance, home owners association dues, car registration, car insurance, son’s sports team membership, and internet costs have already increased, and I am expecting more bills to increase this year. So I am going to have to find ways to cut my expenses so that I can continue to reach my goals:
Contribute to employer-sponsored retirement to the point of the match
I contribute to the point of the match in my employee-sponsored retirement plan.
Contribution limits for 2019 have increased to $19,000, but I have not been maxing it out. Paying off my mortgage is my priority at this time, but once that goal is met, I plan to max out this retirement account.
Max out Roth IRA
My husband has been a stay-at-home dad for nearly a decade. This decision not only has costs now, but will certainly have long-term implications for our retirement. Each year, I max out both of our Roth IRAs.
Roth IRA limits for 2019 have increased to $6,000 per person
Max out Health Savings Account
Last year, I switched to a high-deductible health insurance plan. Because the deductible is quite high for the family plan, I also opened a Health Savings Account (HSA).
Knowing that medical debt is the #1 cause for bankruptcy in the USA, I make it a goal to max out my HSA each year. My employer also contributes a set amount each month. As a bonus, money deducted for the HSA is tax-free.
Contribution limits for family accounts increased to $7,000 in 2019
Continue to make extra payments toward mortgage
As the sole-earner for my household, I want to know that if I become unable to work, that my children will continue to have a roof over their heads.
Some people prefer to invest the money, but by paying extra toward my mortgage principle as aggressively as I have been, it is a guaranteed savings of $100,000. Once my mortgage is paid, I plan to switch my focus to maxing out retirement, making needed home repairs, and saving for my children’s educations.
Save for a new roof
My house is nearing the age where my homeowner’s policy will require me to replace my roof in just a couple short years. Roofs are quite expensive! Adding to the cost, I will also have to hire someone to remove, then replace, the solar panels on my roof.
I’m a little sick to my stomach just thinking about this process. In the meantime, we are patching as needed while we save for this major expense.
My financial goals have remained the same from 2018. But I added to my personal goals, most of which are consistent with the value of living a healthy lifestyle.
I need to work out the details on some goals (e.g., establishing an exercise routine) while others are done automatically (e.g., HSA and employer-sponsored retirement accounts). But the main objective is to constantly improve myself. I continue to be a work in progress.
Hopefully seeing my personal and financial goals has helped you think about what is important in your life.
How did you do with your 2018 goals? What changes do you want to make in 2019?