As the year comes to a close, I'm excited for all the changes that I expect 2016 to bring. I'm dubbing 2016 the year of experimentation.
One of my core beliefs about myself (and every other human) is that we are remarkably bad at knowing how changes in circumstances will make us feel. I also believe that I consistently overestimate what I can do in a year, but underestimate what I can do in a decade. It is with these beliefs in mind that I'm setting my resolutions for 2016.
These are the three reasons that I'm setting mainly financial(ish) resolutions in 2016.
1. I'm involved in a Twitter Chat (#CentSaiChat) on January 8th on the topic of #FinancialResolutions, so I better have something to say (would love for you to join if you're a twitter user).
2. Many of my resolutions would be irrelevant if I weren't planning to drop my income significantly after maternity leave.
3. Most of my goals are meant to promote a specific choice about lifestyle this year, but also beyond which means funding matters.
Resolution #1: Balls to the wall investing while the money is flowing
For the first half of the year, I will be working and freelance writing. My husband will continue to earn a reasonable stipend for his doctoral work, and we anticipate that we will continue to earn rental income at a similar rate to last year (actually our projection is lower, but only because last year we had only one repair, and because we think our HOA dues have gone up though nobody will respond to our inquiries as to the new levels).
That being said, we expect to earn a lot of money in the first half of 2016. During this time, I will aim to max out my 401k and part of an HSA (Not the whole thing because I learned a lot about HSA rules as a result of participating in the Frugality Challenge sponsored by Femme Frugality). Rob or I will also max a Roth IRA and Kenny's ESA (that money is already sitting around waiting to be invested per legal requirements). The second Roth and our daughter's ESA will have to wait until the second half of the year if they happen at all (sorry baby girl, you matter too).
I'm calling this balls to the wall savings.
Resolution #2: Accurately assess freelancing time after baby is born.
I believe that freelance writing can be a meaningful supplemental source of income and sanity for me. I enjoy writing about personal finance, and I have built up a reasonable client base in the past three months. I've run out of bandwidth to continue pitching, but I may have time to continue growing this income stream after the baby is born.
One thing that almost every freelance writer will tell you is that providing quality content should be your top priority, but pitching high paying clients should be your next priority. Right now, I only have bandwidth to focus on the first, and right now I am okay with that. If I determine that I have bandwidth after the baby is born, I will look for more and higher paying clients.
Resolution #3: Live within my means
My husband and I have no debt, significant investments and up until recently a high income that made this possible. By mid 2016 we expect to live on somewhere around a third of what we previously earned. Even without home renovations, this is going to feel like a tight budget for us.
I'll be working on implementing a lot of the advice from one of my favorite frugality bloggers Kalie (and Neil) at PretendToBePoor. As far as I can tell, they aren't exactly penny pinchers (after all generosity is their number one financial principal), but they are smart with money... something that I can stand to learn about.
Resolution #4: Write a book
Unlike my friend DC, I don't have a book deal, but I don't want that to stop me. I believe that writing a book (and self-publishing though that's a 2017 goal) is one tangible step that stay at home parents who have career aspirations can take during their time at home.
Writing generally (and writing a book in particular) is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority. Yes, it's better to have a book deal, but the very act of writing is one that can help launch your career forward when the time is right.
To be clear, I don't think the time is right for me to launch into a career. However, based on many of the conversations that Rob and I have been having the time for me to launch Career 2.0 may be sooner than I was initially anticipating.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.