As 2011 comes to a close, I’m left reflecting over what the past year has brought. I’m feeling overwhelmingly grateful as I stop to remember all that has been accomplished this year.
- Paid off almost $27,000 in consumer debt.
- Built an emergency fund of over $13,000.
- Shaved hundreds off of our living expenses.
- Created this blog and connected with all of you!
Things weren’t always this rosy for us.
When our oldest son was one, Kirk and I embarked on a journey to change our circumstances. Kirk wanted to get out of the roofing industry, and I had just closed an ice-cream shop.
Kirk decided to try his hand at real estate and I went back to school to learn more about writing, Web design and eMarketing.
It was an incredibly rough several years. Our income was sporadic and unpredictable and real estate proved to be a poor choice due to the unfavorable changes in the housing market at that time (2005-2007).
Today I look at our circumstances with gratitude. I’m employed with a great small company that allows me to work from home four days each week. Kirk has transitioned into Web development and is thriving in an industry that matches his interests and skills.
We’ve come a long way over the past six years, but I know things can change at any time.
While things are going well, we plan to continue to work towards our financial goals. Below is a rough guide to what we’ll be working on:
- Build an emergency fund totaling $20,000.
- Save enough for Kirk to buy a car (his car is aging rapidly).
- Increase Roth IRA contributions from $150 to $300 per month.
- Begin to make larger principal payments on our $178,000 mortgage.
- Increase our vacation savings contributions from $150 to $250 per month.
I’ve said this before, but practicing minimalism has truly helped us get to a place of comfort and contentment. We currently live happily on about 53% of our total net income (after a 15% 401k contribution, which isn’t included in our net income).
Living well below our means has been the most integral piece of our current financial comfort. It also helps us insure that if our circumstances change — as they always seem to do in life — we should be able to sustain our family.
Since we spent most of last year attempting to reduce our living expenses, this year we plan to continue to keep our living expenses low, while we work on increasing our income.
We have a few ideas on how to make this goal a reality, but for now I’ll just say we’re working on it.
How has this year treated you? What are you hoping to change as we head into 2012?
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