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My 2019 Goals and End-of-2018 Reflection

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

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. Check out the Ultimate Goal-Setting Checklist for guidance on your goals.

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.

Wise Woman Wallet 2019 Goals and End-of-2018 Reflections Blog Graphic

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!
Learn which goals I checked off and ask yourself questions to reflect on your wins and opportunities to improve.

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Budget Well, Crush Debt, Save More, Spend Less

Get Your Financial House in Order with Dimitry Neyshtadt of 90DayMoneyPro

Dimitry Neyshtadt says he’s sick of the common rhetoric coming from the top of the personal finance industry.

“Not everybody wants to hear 60-year-old Dave Ramsey bark at them and tell them they have to count every latte in order to be financially successful because it’s not true,” says Dimitry, a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and founder of 90DayMoneyPro.com.DimitryNeyshtadt-400x400

“You can have your cake and eat it, too. That’s my language. There’s a way to find optimal balance where you don’t feel like you’re choking yourself. It’s quite the contrary. You feel proud because you’re able to juggle all of the stuff you want to handle.”

Dimitry aims to be Bill Nye the Science Guy of personal finance, breaking down complex topics into easy-to-digest pieces.

“The #DebtFreeCommunity is something that I’ve always known was there and I’ve been a resource for showing them how to optimize their entire finances and not just thinking that debt-free equals financial success. You’ve got no debt, but you’ve got no money and no protection. You’re kinda fucked! I’m being real.”

That’s why seeing debt on a spectrum instead of deeming all debt bad is crucial, he says.

“When an individual listens to Dave Ramsey, it feels so one-on-one, but Dave is speaking to millions. And that’s where the challenge comes in. His Baby Steps are outdated. The best comparison is that old wiggling machine that can jiggle the fat off of people.”

Getting on that fat-jiggling machine, Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps plan, is better than sitting down on the couch and eating potato chips, Dimitry says.

“But it’s so outdated and inefficient. And it needs to be replaced with the truth. And the truth will set you free. I show folks how to turn their finances into a well-oiled machine.”

Wise Woman Wallet Fat Jiggler Machine

Learn about how much you should save for emergencies and how to pay off debt.

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My Big, Fat Savings Goal + How I Plan to Achieve It

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

I had a big, fat debt payoff goal to pay off $18K in 2018. That’s not gonna happen. Instead of sending that money to FedLoan Servicing for extra payments, I’m going to build up substantial savings for myself.

Some folks may say you shouldn’t save several thousands of dollars until after you’ve paid off all of your non-mortgage debt. But I’ve realized having a large emergency fund will give me peace of mind and enough cash to cover several scenarios without having to sell something or get deeper into debt.

Check out this post to find 10 questions to ask to determine your savings goal: Emergency Funds: Why, Where and How Much to Save.

How much will I save in my emergency fund?

I’ve carefully considered real numbers from previous budgets to come up with these savings subgoals. The emergency fund could cover 5 things:
Click to read more.

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Emergency Funds: Why, Where and How Much to Save

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

Several conversations over the past few weeks have made me take pause and reconsider my debt payoff strategy. I dove headfirst into debt payoff at the expense of saving a full emergency fund and, frankly, my peace of mind and protection as well.

The shame! Somehow I subconsciously believed that I’d be fine. Pay off debt! Pay off debt! Go forth and conquer!

But what if I lose my job? What if I have to fly from China to the States tomorrow for a family emergency? What if I need to pay for a surgery?

As of Sept. 7, 2018, I have less than $400 in savings in the States. Soooo very un-wise! (Un-wise sounds much better than stupid, right?) I got too excited about paying off debt and didn’t replenish my starter savings a.k.a. emergency fund when I dipped into it in December 2017.

“Paid In Full” be calling me, man! It just keeps calling me. These three words give me the same giddy feeling I get when someone places an unexpected gift in my hands—pure, unadulterated joy.

Now I have to switch gears. If I overpay FedLoan Surviving before resuscitating my savings, I can’t call ‘em up and ask for it back. It’s time to put myself first.

And if you don’t have an emergency fund, then it’s time to put yourself first, too.

What is an emergency fund? 

An emergency fund is a buffer between you and unexpected things that come your way. It is usually saved in a liquid account (i.e. savings account or money market account) for relatively easy access.

Let’s not think only in terms of an emergency but in terms of an opportunity to solve a problem or take advantage of something awesome with your savings.

Years ago, my cousin in my head, Patrice C. Washington, suggested calling it an Opportunity Fund. Words matter. If you keep calling your savings an Emergency Fund or Rainy Day Fund, then that’s what you’ll attract—emergencies and rainy days. Who wants to save for that?! Opportunity Fund or Sunny Day Fund sounds so much better.

Full disclosure: I only use emergency fund for SEO purposes. I agree with Patrice.

Emergency funds 101: Why, Where and How to Save

Learn 10 questions to ask to figure out how much to save.