We asked this question back in 2012 at a time when the political process was in full swing, demanding that we decide if we were any better off than we were four years prior. While the mere thought of election ballyhooing is enough to make me roll my eyes, the underlying question of whether we're making progress on our financial goals is at the heart of personal finance, really — and I think that is very interesting. Two weeks ago, I asked the question: “Do you stress-test your finances?” (A stress test is one way to look ahead and predict when your financial model might fail.) But from time to time, it's also a good idea to look back and take stock to see if our decisions have really been helping us reach our financial goals.
Where's the progress?
In 2012 and 2013, we were still trying to hammer out the future of healthcare, the debate over student loans was coming to a head, and unemployment was an intractable financial issue. A lot of people were struggling to pay for a house that had lost value back then. As Ellen put it, “Man, there are a lot of financial problems.”
I loved this comment — #22 from Melissa. Her No. 1 concern was “money for the unexpected.” She had no debt, but no savings either. That wouldn't be so much of a problem if it weren't for the fact that some unforeseen expense was always managing to rear its ugly head and destroy any progress she'd made. She found herself back at square one all the time. Despite her unfortunate experience of financial Chutes and Ladders, she was hoping to start a family and asked, “How do people do it?!?!” (OK, well…)
Overall, it seems like we could say we've been making progress in the last two years. Unemployment has gone down and we seem to be further along on the healthcare front, such as it is. But how have you fared? When you look back over the last two years, do you still face the same issues or can you say that you've made progress? Did your planning and decisions put you in a better place or do you need to reassess and find a better way? How far do you have yet to reach your financial goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?