This is a big one. 2016 was a great year in terms of achieving both life and financial goals:
1. My wife left her job, which I believe will increase happiness for both of us. We’re traditionalists that way. Yeah, it was a $48K (pretax) hit in income. Sue me. We can easily live on my income, and quite well since we’re deplorable consumers.
2. We became debt free. Part of this was deplorable consumerism, part of it was simply paying down debt using Ramsey’s methods, and part of it was my wife’s cash-out from her job running the special ed department of a local elementary school.
3. We have a fully-stocked emergency fund (six months of expenses) plus thousands in cash in a normal savings account. See #2 above. We’re also antifragile and have ways of further reducing spending to stretch this if needed.
4. We completely cash-flowed my daughter’s wedding. This wasn’t a huge expense, to be honest. My daughter is also a deplorable consumer, and only wanted a small wedding. It was on the other side of the country, though, in Connecticut (most of our family is in New England). The wedding itself came to about $8000, plus travel expenses and rooms at a pretentious B&B near the venue. Not a huge amount, obviously, but not a cent of it went on a credit card.
5. We cash-flowed a $2400 medical bill that wasn’t covered by insurance. This was an elective procedure my wife had, and then had to have AGAIN because it didn’t “take” the first time.
6. We saved more than enough cash for my wife to get braces in 2017. You can read more about this in the post I devoted to it, but I saved $4000 in cash for this and switched us to a “premium” dental insurance plan with an orthodontic benefit. She’s already done a couple of consultations with orthodontists to gauge cost, and it won’t be a problem.
7. I installed a small home gym in our spare room. I bought it on Craigslist for $120. This saved me $450 in gym fees this year, and I work out a lot more. I’m in much better physical shape than I was this time last year.
But where did I fall short and need to improve in 2017?
1. I need better self-discipline when it comes to sticking to my entertainment budget. I have a definite tendency to overspend there, especially when it comes to cool downtown events like the theater or concerts.
2. I need more self-discipline in exercise. I improved that in the last quarter of 2016, losing some flab and adding good lean muscle, and I need to continue to build on that success.
3. I drank way too much in 2016. I quit drinking entirely for the last two months, which helped my fitness and financial goals quite a bit, though I have backslid here around the holidays. There are better things to be doing with my time and money, so I need to throttle back the drinking in 2017.
4. We totally blew our Christmas budget, overspending by $247. We need to do better next year by reducing the number of gifts we buy and by starting to save for the holidays year ’round rather than just the last quarter of the year.
Overall, 2016 was a very good year to be a deplorable consumer. May 2017 be even better!