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Happy New Year! Yes, it’s February, but I live in China and we’re celebrating the Lunar New Year. I’m right on schedule! (Also, it’s the year of the pig, as in piggy bank. Cha-ching! 🤑)
Check out what I accomplished in 2018 and find out what’s coming up in 2019.
What are my 2019 goals?
My new goals include:
- Complete Operation: Sock Away $10K by April 30. Having a huge Sunny Day Fund, or emergency fund, will give me peace of mind.
- Visit 2-4 new places in China (e.g. Yangshuo, Xian, etc.). It would be a shame to live here so long and not explore its beauty.
- Pay off $19K in ’19. This goal will help me pay off my penultimate grad school loan and break even on net worth. How amazing!
- Read everything on the Life-Changing Books List and apply 1 thing from each book (20 books in 2019). Will you join the reading challenge?
- Complete the Happiness Planner (100 days). This goal will help record my emotions and reflect on the highs and lows of each week.
- Attend 1 social event each month. I gotta do something besides each brunch with friends. This year, I plan to branch out and meet more people.
How did I do in 2018?
The 2018 goals included:
- Reduce debt balance by $18,000.
- Become a certified teacher in Florida through an online program.
- Pay cash only for all certification costs.
- Pay off Barclay balance transfer card by June 30.
- Climb the Great Wall of China.
- Create passive income stream(s).
Through dedication and the universe working in my favor, I checked off 5 out of 6 goals!
Reduce debt balance by $18,000. This was a goal I made before deciding to pursue my educator certification. If it weren’t for paying nearly $6,000 for the program, I would have kept up with my debt snowball and been on track to accomplish this goal. Instead, my debt balance only reduced by $3.074 from January to June. In the second half of the year, I decided to scrap this goal altogether to focus on saving instead.
Become a certified teacher in Florida through an online program. ALMOST DONE! Here’s the aforementioned .5. From January to mid-June, I managed to complete all of the lessons, pass three Florida Teaching Certification Exams (on the first try!) and turn in all of the paperwork to complete the TeacherReady program. What a relief! On Feb. 4, 2019, I prematurely updated my LinkedIn profile to say that I was a certified teacher in Florida. I kid you not, on Feb. 5 (Chinese New Year Day), I got the .pdf file of my certificate via email! Law of Attraction, is that you?!
Pay cash only for all certification costs. DONE! Each lesson cost $600. Thank goodness I could pay I as I went, so each month I sent home cash. Some months, I finished a lesson before I sent home money, so I used a credit card and paid off the balance in full each month. No long-term debt was accumulated to get this certification.
Pay off Barclay balance transfer card by June 30. I missed this goal by 2 weeks, but I’m calling it “DONE!” anyway. Paying off the teacher certification course and traveling took priority over paying off the balance transfer card. It’s not a big deal considering that the card won’t charge interest until December. As soon I get my paycheck on July 10, I will be sending money home to pay this bad boy in full ($1,670).
Climb the Great Wall of China. DONE! I honestly think just putting this goal out in the universe help it manifest. While a friend was styling my hair, she mentioned that she was going to Beijing to sell her candles at a new business expo. My ears perked up. She hadn’t gone to the Great Wall either. My wheels started turning. In less than a few weeks, I was on the plane with two friends and we were doing the Electric Slide on the Great Wall on Easter Sunday. EPIC! One of the best weekends of my life!
Create passive income stream(s). Passive income is revenue earned from sources that don’t involve actively working on a regular basis. Think earning from a rental property, limited partnership, or other sources: affiliate marketing (i.e. Amazon Associates), selling an ebook, selling an online course, etc. Who wants to clock in every day years on end to earn a salary?
In late October 2018, Amazon emailed me saying I was accepted into the Associates program. That part of me that didn’t believe I could make money this way kept me from checking my profile. Acceptance required that I add special Amazon links to my blog and get 3 qualified sells within 180 days of applying from folks who had clicked one of those links. I get a percentage from orders made within 24 hours of clicking my link, no matter if they buy my suggested product or not.
The orders yielded $6.04. 🤑 My first bit of passive income! How dope! Progress! Shout-out to whomever bought “Girl, Get Your Credit Straight!” I hope it helped. That was one of the first personal finance booked I picked up years ago.
Anyhoo, I reapplied for the Amazon Associates program in early August. I got rejected in 2017 because I didn’t add links to my blog. Going through the posts in August and adding the links was the least I could do. That little bit of work led to orders and income in October. Now what if I actually start working on the blog consistently?! Hmmm… 🤔
AND THERE’S MORE!
What else happened in 2018?
I traveled a ton! I took trips to Beijing, the U.S. (twice), Vietnam and Hong Kong (twice). I wouldn’t trade those trips for anything. Especially the one to the U.S. for Christmas. Bonding with family and friends worked wonders for my soul.
I got a 5.5% raise! This comes out to about $150 more per month. I’m so blessed to have found this kindergarten gig. I’ve been enjoying myself since joining the school in late August, and it’s great to be appreciated with raises and end-of-the-year bonuses.
I paid off my undergraduate loans in June! Yaaaaaay! It only took 9 years and 1 month since graduation. LOL! Now that $100 monthly payment can roll into my savings and eventually the graduate school loans—the last debt remaining.
I marked 1 whole year of credit card debt freedom in December. Happy anniversary to me! My total debt balance decreased by 25% since starting this journey in earnest in January 2017.
The #debtfreecommunity on Instagram continues to be amazing and provided more than 38,000 followers by the end of 2018. AMAZING! I’m humbled and grateful because @wisewomanwallet had 1,600 followers in June 2017 and 12,800 in June 2018. The email list has grown to over 500 members, too. That’s an increase of 480 followers from the beginning of 2018.
Questions to ask yourself
If you haven’t already, consider making a date to ask yourself a few questions about 2018:
- What goals did I have last year?
- What did I accomplish?
- What specific things helped me achieve those goals? What works for me? (habit tracking, affirmations)
- What has held me back from reaching some goals?
- How I can I overcome those obstacles in the next 6 months?
- What can I do specifically in the next 6 months to get closer to my goals? (daily, weekly, monthly)
- How will I measure success? (the amount of debt paid off, number of times I exercised per week)