When we started this blog, I put some effort into putting our five year plan into words. Something about being able to cross things off a list as I accomplish them – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – really does it for me. And the feeling of making progress is kind of addictive. So, as 2016 winds to a close and we begin looking forward to 2017, I figured it would be a good time to review our 2016 goals and reflect on the progress we’ve made so far. 2016’s motto was “planning for the plan.” That being said, our goals were pretty broad and were meant to lay the foundation for the next few years.
- Make a concerted effort to stop buying unnecessary stuff. This was a huge goal for us in 2016. We know we make good money. We know our bills are always paid and that we have money left over after paying bills every two weeks. But, when we started looking at our finances, I mean REALLY looking, we were at a complete loss for where our left over money went every two weeks. In September 2016, we decided that we would start asking one question before buying new things – will this purchase help get us closer to our five year goal? This simple question has drastically changed how we spend and how much we spend. Once we started evaluating our purchases asking just that one question, we began to dramatically cut our spending, while dramatically increasing our left over money. We still pay the same amount in bills. We still spend the same amount at the grocery store every two weeks. We still enjoy eating out when we want to. But, we’ve stopped buying unnecessary stuff. As a result, we’ve been able to make substantial progress with our next 2016 goal.
- Identify outstanding debt and come up with a plan for eliminating existing debt. We took some time to sit down and confront our outstanding debt. It’s funny how what seems like “a few debts” look like when you put them on paper (or Excel) and tease out a plan for how long it will realistically take to satisfy the debts, making no changes in your current payments. I was surprised / terrified when we got an overall picture of how much we owed on things. I knew we had debt, but didn’t realize how much everything added up to. Let me be real here for a minute. Not counting our mortgage, our hairy scary debt situation added up to $73,676.99. To say I was absolutely terrified looking at that number was an epic understatement. But, sometimes, being terrified is the best form of motivation. Paying our bills each month is not a problem, but going from $73,676.99 to $0 in less than five years?! We sat down and put together an Excel sheet, laying out all of our debts and came up with a plan to start working toward paying things off. Since September, we turned $73,676.99 into a current debt balance of $62,704.27. In short, we’ve paid nearly $11,000 in four months toward becoming debt free. A huge piece of our progress with this has been directly related to our concerted effort to stop buying “stuff.” We’ve been able to accelerate our debt pay-off plan and experience great progress in 2016. As a result, we’re headed into 2017 ahead of our originally scheduled plan. I’m going to consider this success.
- Make a list of must-haves, wants and wishes for prospective future boat. This 2016 goal is complete. (And posted here.) Interestingly enough, the list of deal-breakers wasn’t nearly as long as we had originally thought it would be.
- Agree on a price point for prospective future boat to help guide research. This is still kinda wishy-washy. We have an idea of what the type of boat we’re looking for is selling for right now, but, until we’re closer to actually purchasing, we’re going to move forward with our wishy-washy price point.
- Research, research, research boats within our price range considering list of must-haves, wants and wishes. Let’s be honest, the research will never be “complete.” We’ve read a TON in 2016. And, we’ve definitely narrowed down our list of prospective future boats. Josh continues to try to shoot holes in our remaining list, which helps us continue to eliminate and add boats to our list. This one’s going to get marked “ongoing.”
- Maintain a list of possible boats that fit our budget and must-haves, wants and wishes. It’s a short list, but, we’ve got a list. Currently, our list includes: Silverton 38 Convertible, Silverton 42 Convertible and some underdogs that Josh mysteriously added to the list – 40′ Albin 40 North Sea Cutter, 45′ Carver Voyager, Viking Sport Cruisers 45 Flybridge, 44′ Sealine F44 Flybridge and a 38′ Mariner Orient. (I guess I have some homework to do!)
- Get a handle on the “paper” in our house. Convert everything possible to digital format and purge paper copy and go forward maintaining digital files instead of papers. I’m marking this one as a HUGE SUCCESS. During 2016, the filing cabinet has been completely emptied and digitized. 20+ binders have been emptied and digitized. And, all the new “paper” coming into the house is being digitized and then discarded. While this will be an ongoing goal, we’ve laid a really strong foundation for moving forward with everything digitized. I’m pretty sure Josh is thankful that he won’t have to spend hours burning papers that his wife has hoarded anymore.
- Winter 2016 – Complete renovations on master bedroom, den and remainder of 2nd story of our current home. We’ve started renovating the 2nd floor but this will be an ongoing goal with an anticipated completion date of early 2017. Hunting is almost over for the winter so, we’ll get cracking on getting this done soon.
We’ve been pretty successful in making progress with our goals in 2016. I can only hope that we’re able to make as much progress in 2017.