Monday, December 30, 2019

Paying Down the Mortgage - January 2020 = 2.5 extra principle payments

I just made my January 2020 mortgage payment.  One of my goals is to pay down the mortgage by $20,000 this year.  I've always paid extra on my mortgage but in the last 2 years I really tried to focus on it.  I had originally planned on paying an extra 3 principle payments a month for all of 2018 and 2019 and then increase it to 4 extra a month for 2020.  Unfortunately in late 2018 the LoMY became ill and was diagnosed with cancer.  At the same time my job was suddenly at risk of being eliminated.  I did my best to keep up some sort of extra payment, however, because of all of that our priorities have changed a little bit.  LoML is all better now and for the moment my job is no longer threatened, but the new plan is to increase the emergency fund, max out the 401k, AND continue with a less intense focus on paying the mortgage down. A smaller goal is that we also want to do some home improvements that will make our home more comfortable and also more sell-able when and if that time comes.

All of that being said once today's payment posts the new total will be $96,555.69.  I'd ultimately love to pay this completely off within 5 years.  We shall see what life throws at us and if we can make this happen.

I do feel the need to explain that we live in a very modest home (1,800 sq ft), and drive 10+ year old paid for vehicles.  Now that we aren't paying for college and the kids are out of the house it is possible for us to live on very little of what we earn and make significant strides in increasing savings and in paying down our one and only loan, the mortgage.  We have always lived frugally regardless of income so for us this isn't a huge stretch. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Goals: 20 for 2020

I am, at my heart, a list keeper and a goal setter.  Without them I feel like I aimlessly float around through my day getting almost nothing done and not realizing it until the day is over. I am also a visual person. I have a small whiteboard in my kitchen where I list the things I want to accomplish as well as certain things I like to track.  So since my main goal and topic of this blog is to achieve my retirement savings goal, it makes sense to post and keep track of my other goals as most are aimed toward that final beginning or complement/enhance the life I want to lead when I get there.

To be fair I did plagiarized a couple from Cash Only Living, though they are goals I would have listed, she just worded them better.  So here we go:

 20 for 2020 Goals - as of 12/30/19
1. Walk 2020 miles during the year (that's averaging about 5.5 miles per day).
2. Try to be as close to 90% whole-food, 80% plant-based as possible.
3. $0 in bank overdraft & credit card late fees and interest.
4. Get Home Maintenance Fund up to $16,000 & Home Improvement Fund up to $18,000.
5. Do "Dry January" and stop drinking alcohol except on special occasions.
6. Reduce monthly Grocery to $400/month, Take-out/Eat out to $140/month & Alcohol to
7. Walk dogs 5 times/weekly - and expose them to new places, people and things.
8. Declutter - donate, sell, gift or trash 1,000 things.
9. Read three books a month.
10. Reduce mortgage by $20,000.
11. Do budget friendly once a month activities/dates with hubby (movie, dinner, lunch, picnic, hiking, antiquing, farmers market, kayaking, fishing, bike riding, volunteering).
12. Add $8,000 to Car replacement/maintenance fund.
13. Complete at least 3 cheap home improvement projects (1. refinish kitchen table, 2. paint living room, 3. paint foyer, 4. finish painting master bath, etc.
14. Practice mindfulness and self-care to improve my frame of mind, my health, my outlook, my attitude, my marriage and my life.
15. Do something creative once a month (craft, bake, write, paint, etc.).
16. Execute the Daily House Cleaning Plan to maintain a clean house and lower my stress.
17. Learn about, plan and begin to execute sustainable, native landscaping - start with back yard.
18. Learn to can and can six recipes.
19. Max out 401K & catch-up contributions for 2020.
20. Learn and start a blog - main topics: preparing for retirement, paying down mortgage, cheap activities, simple/clean living, hobbies, budgeting/saving, etc.

I know it seems like a lot but this is how I move forward in life.  I will track and report the status of these monthly.

Do you have annual goals for the year?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Current Retirement Status - Where We Are With the Numbers

Obviously if this is a blog primarily about reaching our retirement savings goals I need to provide a starting point on our retirement savings, our ultimate goal and maybe a little background.

As of about mid-December, the overall total of our combined retirement accounts is about $852,400.

Realizing that we have likely saved more than many people, I feel that I need to explain some things.

First of all The Love of My Life ("LoML") is not a high earner nor a saver by nature. We have about $150,000 in outside savings for him because for a while he had no savings plans available and he has less than that saved in a couple of 401k accounts. He has only been in his current job for about 7 years now and I believe he contributes about 10% to his current 401k.

I have been saving in my 401k since I became eligible, at least up to the company match amount and  for the last 13 years or so I've contributed 15% or more.  I also am fortunate enough to have a pension.

So as lovely as that number looks, I feel that in order to retire sooner than later and to feel that we have a safe amount to last us, I am aiming at a total needed retirement amount of about $2,000,000.  I am aiming for a generous $65,000 per year but we'll see how that goes.  We would in no way need to live on that amount but medical costs scare the crap out of me so that is why.

I know it seems like a crazy number and I know I am extremely fortunate that I make a really decent salary.  But I am also always at risk of losing my job due to the nature of my industry.  So in reality I am just super cautious and planning for the worst case scenario i.e. forced early retirement and high future medical costs.

Ever since I crossed the 50 year old catch-up contribution threshold I've added a little bit more than the IRS regular limit, just by maintaining my current level of contributions.  But this past year I made a concerted effort to add even more and next year my goal is to max out the catch-up contribution as well.  I just need to make sure that austerity does not infiltrate our lives due to that goal.

So there you have it. Thoughts and comments are appreciated. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

And so it begins. . .

I have been reading personal finance blogs for many years.  I started reading them around 2008 when I realized that college for our girls was coming up fast and we had zero money saved, and every time I had begun to amass some sort of savings, something in the house or one of the cars would blow up or the kids would have a surprise activity/school fee that would help to wipe it all out.

So using the stories, experiences and knowledge shared by so many great (and some not so great) personal finance and frugal bloggers we figured out how to scrimp, and save and make every nickle squeak, in order to not only save a good chunk of money towards college, but also a small emergency fund and a few very frugal vacations.  We also figured out how to push careers a bit to increase our incomes to be able to cash flow what we weren't able to save for college. 

It was a long haul but we were able to pay for both girls to live on campus at our local university, one from 2014-2018 and the other from 2015-2019, without any student loans or other debt.  Both girls had jobs before they even graduated and are now on their own.

We are now in our mid-50s and looking toward our final new beginning - retirement!  What is this last new beginning going to look like?  I have a thousand thoughts and ideas, but they all depend on how we execute these next 5 or so years. 

I've always sort of wanted to blog and share my own tips, stories and successes in our financial journey and everyday life.  This seems like the perfect time to start that.  So follow along as we Work Towards The Final Beginning - to increase our retirement savings, improve and update our home, and pay off our mortgage, and all of the related nonsense - all in time to retire young enough to be active and enjoy retired life.

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