It’s time for a 2017 quarterly update! At the end of 2016, I laid out my financial goals for this year. After my April update showed that I was behind on my savings goals, I tightened my belt buckle, and have made a lot of progress in the past three months. Here’s where I currently stand:
Pay off all my student debt. ✅
As of last month, this is DONE! In April, I was projecting a finish date of mid-July. Instead, I borrowed some funds from my emergency savings account (not enough to empty it, of course), and paid it off at the beginning of June. This does mean that I’ve set back my other accounts, but that’s okay. Now I can increase the contributions being made towards my other goals.
Max out 401(k) and IRA contributions.
So far, so good. I’m maxing out my 401(k) contributions, meaning I just passed the 9K contribution mark. I’m definitely behind on my IRA, though. To be honest, my IRA isn’t as worrisome. Worst case, I can make catch-up contributions if I need to.
Have $10,000 in my personal investment account.
Halfway there! I opened a Wealthfront account at the beginning of the year and have enjoyed my experience so far. I like their referral program; you get an additional $5K managed free for each person you refer (and they get an extra $5K managed for free, too). Eventually, I need to start paying attention to how my money is invested, but for now, I set a riskiness level and I’m all set.
Reduce my average monthly living expenses to $1,700.
This goal… has gone out the window. Last quarter, I had an average monthly living cost of $1,986. In the past three months, that average has increased to $2,293. DAMN. That’s a sizeable increase. I did have a huge expense this past month for a new ballroom dress that contributed a lot to that, though. This means that I only averaged a 43% savings rate this quarter (48% if I exclude the dress, which was a $500 final installment payment). I got a raise in April but wasn’t planning on any lifestyle creep. I allocated my entire increase to savings, but it looks like my expenses ballooned a bit, anyway. How frustrating. Q3, you’ll be better, I promise!
Build an actual emergency fund.
Since creating this goal, I’ve had a change of heart about how much I actually need in the savings account that I’ve designated as an emergency fund. $6K was my previously target reach, but $1K is my minimum, which I’m already at. With four international trips planned by the end of next year, the other $5K will likely go towards funding those trips without having to draw from my other savings accounts.
Blog goals! I had two non-financial goals that I still want to hold myself accountable to.
Expand the blog.
At the end of June, here are how my lifetime stats stack up:
70 posts published
31 Facebook Followers (how absymal, I know)
28 Pinterest Followers (I don’t really know what I’m doing here)
546 Twitter Followers
The only goal I set for myself was to have published 100 posts by the end of the year. Now that I’ve got two posts a week going up, this shouldn’t be a problem. In social media, I’ve had trouble gaining much traction outside of Twitter. Although I’m not a huge fan of the platform in general, I do like that can use it to engage in conversations with fellow bloggers; it’s much easier to share and discover new content there than on Facebook. Pinterest is still a black box for me; I’ll keep plodding along but I don’t really know what the potential there looks like.
Blog traffic is growing; I had 1,301 pageviews in June, which is a record for me. Publishing two posts a week has made a big difference in driving that traffic. That said, maintaining that pace has been really tough; I can feel the quality of posts slipping sometimes, especially during weeks when work is extra busy. I want to keep working on writing overall, so I think it’s important to keep up this posting pace.
Live a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track my weight for the past five years. In that time, I’ve gained approximately three pounds a year. For the past few months, I’ve been debating signing up for yoga. For while it was going to be either yoga or dance; now that I’m sticking with dance, it’s a question of whether I do both ($$$😭). Ballroom dancing isn’t enough of a workout for me at the moment, and I haven’t been successful in dragging myself to the gym. Really hoping that the summer will give me enough motivation to change something, although I don’t know what that’ll be yet.
I’ve made a lot of progress in some areas (goodbye, debt), and not nearly enough in others (future me demands more money). My next big savings goal is to put more money away towards FIRE. The next goal is to focus a bit more on blog expansion. There are many bloggers who have made it further in six months than I have in nine; I know social media promotion and engaging more in the blogging community is a big part of that. Looking forward to the second half of 2017 being even better than the first!