Boy with yard stick, measuring his height

This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

Now is the time of year to look back, celebrate your accomplishments, and set goals for the upcoming year. Sharing those goals publicly — whether in the comments, in the GRS forums, or to your friends and family — can make you feel more accountable. With that being said, here’s how this year stacked up in the Honey/Jake household!

Updated reckoning in chart form: 2012-present

Please note that I consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category just for simplicity’s sake.

Additionally, I’ve listed our original reckoning amounts from June 2012 to give an idea of the progress we’ve made.

I also included my updates from December 2012December 2013, and January 2015. I don’t have all of Jake’s numbers from the same time but will start collecting that data going forward.

Honey’s Reckoning: Debts and Assets

Category June 2012 Jan. 2013 Jan. 2014 Jan. 2015 Dec. 2015 $ Change, 2015 % Change, 2015

Debt: Credit cards








Debt: Student loans








Asset: Retirement








Asset: Savings








To provide some context for these numbers:

  • Credit cards: I use credit cards for day-to-day purchases wherever possible, but I pay off the entire balance before any interest accrues.

  • Student loans: I haven’t made my student loan payment for December yet. I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month at my day job and on the 15th for my side gig, so as of this writing, I haven’t been paid yet. I’ll make that last student loan payment the week of the 15th, and it should bring my student loan balance under the $80,000 mark before year’s end. Huzzah!

  • Retirement: When I left my job with the state, I got approximately a 30% salary increase, but my new employer doesn’t do retirement matching. I’ll bump up my retirement contributions eventually, but for now that number is growing more slowly than it has been.

  • Savings: Despite spending nearly $15,000 in our first year and a half of homeownership (we’ve had a couple plumbing emergencies since compiling the most recent list of expenses), I’ve been able to successfully beef up my savings account between my side gig and my new job.

Jake’s Reckoning: Debts and Assets

Category June 2012 Jan. 2015 Dec. 2015 $ Change, 2015 % Change, 2015

Debt: Credit cards






Debt: Student loans






Debt: Auto loan






Asset: Retirement






Asset: Savings






Some context for Jake:

  • Credit cards: Like me, he uses credit cards for as much as possible, but pays them off before interest can accrue.

  • Student loans: Substantial progress on the student loan front!

  • Auto: I’ll remove this from updates going forward, since he plans to drive this car into the ground.

  • Retirement: He was planning to max out pre-tax contributions this year, but ended up leaving his employer and returning to self-employment. A complicated choice but, in the end, the right thing for him both professionally and personally.

  • Savings: His high-yield online savings account was quite beefy, but he’s been living off savings in order to build a buffer for his new business as well as to defer some of our income to next year. The new business is doing well, and he *could* pay himself if he needed to, so we’re not worried about this.

Joint Reckoning: Debts and Assets

  • Asset 1: Home, $225,000 purchase price and a value of $237,487 according to Zillow.

  • Debt 1: Mortgage, $206,962.20

2015 goal updates

In 2015, I set four financial goals. Here’s where I landed on each:

Goal 1: Beef up my savings. Achieved! I increased my savings by over $4,000 despite some significant planned expenses and a job transition.

Goal 2: Focus on my health. Achieved! I had my procedures for the herniated disc and am recovering as expected. However, nothing cures a herniated disc, and I am also experiencing some other persistent health issues, so I’m still having to be gentle with myself and adjust my expectations accordingly.

Goal 3: Negotiate for a raise or promotion at my day job. Achieved! (Sort of.) I was in the same position for almost seven years, and the first four years there were no merit increases due to the Great Recession (my employer didn’t do COLA) and two pitiful raises in subsequent years. After an attempt to use my performance evaluation to ask for a raise and promotion was unsuccessful, I left for another job that not only pays better but is more aligned with my goals and skill set.

Goal 4: Pay off $8,000 in student loan debt. Achieved! (Sort of.) After I make my December payment, my student loan debt will be under $80,000 and I will have finally reached the milestone of seeing my student debt start with a “7.” It took $12,000 in payments to achieve $8,000 in payoff, so amortization is still kicking my butt, but every year should be better as far that’s concerned.

2016 goal-setting

For the most part, I am rolling my 2015 goals over into 2016. (That’s exciting, isn’t it!) My new employer is really happy with my performance (had my most recent performance review just a bit ago) and there are some things coming down the pike that make me hopeful that a raise or promotion is possible. This would be satisfying professionally as well as increase my ability to save and pay off debt.

Additionally, my side gig has been going strong. (This year, I was less than $500 short of a $20,000 threshold that I’ve been eyeing for the past couple years.) I recently landed a new client that I’m very excited about. I’m hoping not only to blast past that $20,000 income amount in 2016, but to do so while jettisoning some projects that are not as personally fulfilling.

I’ve been holding on to these less-fulfilling projects because they’re fairly lucrative, but if I can make even more doing something I’m passionate about, I may have to let them go. Between my full-time job and some nagging health issues, I can’t do it all. I’m learning to be okay with that.

What goals did you reach (or fail to reach) in 2015? What are your 2016 goals?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.