This post is by staff writer Honey Smith.
At about this time last year, I was taking stock of 2012. They say that the reason time seems to speed up as you get older is because each day/month/year is a smaller fraction of the time you’ve been alive. For example, a year seems a lot longer when it’s 10 percent of your life instead of less than 3 percent.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a wild sensation! On the one hand, it feels like you’re really picking up steam when it comes to accomplishing goals. On the other, it feels like if you don’t have your eye on the prize every second, you’re going to miss something vital. Before I set my goals for 2014, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything that happened this year.
A Debts and Assets Update
Credit Card 1 — Fluctuates at 7.9 percent: Once I paid this credit card off, I began using it as my daily card. Here’s why: First, on the off chance I ever do need to carry a balance, it has the best interest rate. Second, it has a great rewards system. And third, the card I was using as my daily-use card “may have been compromised” and they had to issue me a new one, so I decided to use this card.
Credit Card 2 — $0 at 9.9 percent: This was the card Jake used for a balance transfer, and I haven’t used it since he paid it off. We are considering making this a joint card and using it for grocery expenses. Currently, we split grocery expenses but use our own cards. This makes tracking how much we have spent at any given point in the month difficult, and this has been responsible for a couple of overages. So a possible move toward joint expenses!
Credit Card 3 — $0 at 8.99 percent: This was my daily-use card until I was issued a new account number when the old one may have been compromised. It was super annoying to have my card suddenly be declined, but better safe than sorry, right?
Student Loan 1 — Federal Direct Loans, $92,738.61 at 4.5 percent: This is a decrease of $1,786.31 since last year at this time, and I haven’t made my December extra payment ($300) or my December regular payment ($353.80) yet.
Student Loan 2 — Federal Direct Loans Special Consolidation, $0 at 6.05 percent: This is a decrease of $3,249.73 since I paid that account off in full. It also brings my total confirmed student loan payoff for 2013 to $5,036.04. I’ve officially met my annual goal even before this month’s payments go through!
Asset 1 — Retirement, $36,752.52 in a 403(b): This is an increase of $22,282.58 since this time last year. Mostly this is because I became vested in my employer contributions on my fifth anniversary. However, the markets did very well this year also. The funds are in a target date account that assumes I will retire in 2045.
Asset 2 — Emergency Fund, $7,000: An increase of $2,500 since this time last year. Some of this is earmarked for eventual medium-term goals (travel or an eventual move). I am also adding a few hundred to it every month. I actually did have significantly more. However, $500 was set aside for holiday spending, and that’s been moved to the checking account and is no longer counted. Also, unfortunately, our dog required two surgeries in November (detailed in the setbacks section below).
Total debt — $92,738.61: Just student loans now! And forevermore, it feels like…
Total decrease in debt — $6,780.76: Last year at this time I owed $99,519.37. I’ve decreased my debt by 6.8 percent!
Total assets — $43,752.52.
Total increase in assets — $24,782.58: Last year at this time I had $18,969.94. I’ve increased my assets by 31 percent!!!
Splurges and Setbacks in 2013
I’ve talked before about wanting to create a balance between paying down my debt and living my life. This year, I met my debt payoff goal (and plan on being more aggressive next year) and increased my assets by a significant amount. But I did find some room for the fun stuff! Here were my splurges in 2013:
Three vacations: They were all very inexpensive. My dad and I went to Vegas because he won a trip through his work. That meant his flight, the hotel room, and all our meals were paid for. The other two were cheap and low-key road-trip vacations with Jake. We stayed within six hours of home since that’s my maximum car-ride tolerance.
A new couch: I mentioned in my goals for 2013 post that our couch, bookshelves, and dining room table probably wouldn’t survive another move. Well, we haven’t moved yet so most of our furniture is still working out. However, our faux leather couch cracked and peeled to the point where it was uncomfortable and unsightly even with a couch cover. Finally, we broke down and got a new one from Ikea (~$900).
Unfortunately, we also experienced some setbacks in 2013. All my irregular expenses were at or below last year’s levels except for pet expenses and auto expenses.
Pet expenses: Last year we spent about $2,600 on veterinary visits for our pets. This year we spent almost $5,500. One of our cats died and we adopted a new cat to keep our remaining cat company. Additionally, our 12-year-old dog had two surgeries that totaled $3,200. One was a planned dental surgery (~$600) and the other was an emergency bladder stone removal (~$2,600). On the plus side, she’s completely recovered and doing great! Also, I accumulated about a zillion credit card points for that and was still able to pay my credit card bill in full.
Auto expenses: I spent $250 on my car in 2012, and almost a thousand in 2013. However, a big chunk of that was new tires and brakes. My car is a 2000 and has about 112,000 miles on it, which makes me a pretty light driver. Especially since I live in a climate where it’s really dry and doesn’t snow, I should have no problem getting to 200,000 miles. At the rate I drive, that’s another eight years, haha!
Now that I know where I’ve been, I can start thinking about where I’m going. What do you think my 2014 financial goals should be? And, let’s take stock of what you’ve been up to! What have your successes and setbacks been this year?