Hello, everyone. I know New Year’s treated you well. I spent my three-day weekend at home and enjoyed a slight decrease (much to my appreciation) in fireworks exposure. My new neighbors don’t seem to go quite as crazy as the ones I had in the Willows neighborhood in Gilbert. If you like fireworks, you might enjoy a stroll through this neighborhood on the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve; I anticipate in a neighborhood of 586 houses so long as the Town of Gilbert permits fireworks, people will set up small fireworks shows just outside their front doors. For today though, I’ll like to start my first 2007 versus 2017 post.
2007 was important for me because I completed my active duty service with the Marine Corps and started to explore what life beyond the Corps would look and feel like, my taste of adult freedom if you will. I won’t say I made smart money moves back then so as we begin this new journey looking back and discussing my future in 2017, please know I will likely discuss money a lot. My financial needs were met very well on active duty; Thomas and I did not have any kids while I was serving and we both collected a housing allowance. Since we both served, we received one full housing allowance and the other received a partial housing allowance. I do apologize that I do not recall the actual monetary amounts because I understand this knowledge aids our conversation greatly. All too often, a young service member will complain about not having sufficient pay for food, housing, etc. but for our household size and relative expenses, we always came out ahead even after I separated until we moved to Wyoming in 2009. Stories for another day I know, but the short version is that many of our expenses, fixed and variable, remained the same and our housing allowance decreased significantly.
In 2007, I had some lofty wedding reception ambitions, as you can see from my journal entry below. While we never ended up having our wedding reception the reality is I spent a significant amount of time planning for a costly one-day event. On the skinny spending side, I think we were looking at $8,000 to $10,000 for the venue, a photographer, hotel rooms, travel, food, etc. The dream was dropped before anything was booked but not until after I purchased my wedding gown (we got married through the Justice of the Peace in 2006) and picked up some small wedding related items.
My desire to control my personal finances did not truly begin until we moved to Wyoming. Our crash course in the broke life lead us to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Being introduced to Dave Ramsey’s program through friends and their church, we made headway towards undoing the financial damage. It’s not fun, but without the substantial housing allowance we received in California, we had to take a serious look at our finances. Throughout the years, we’ve still struggled to stay on the Dave Ramsey path so I still refer back to the books and resources. My in-laws also added more Dave Ramsey resources to our collection. Additionally, I kept my Financial Planning notebook from my undergraduate studies because I want to ensure I update our financial goals (i.e. retirement planning, life insurance planning, etc.) as our family needs change over time.
With my husband still in school, 2017 does not wear the carefree face our lives did in 2007. We just don’t have that same amount of money to play with on a daily basis. Thankfully, he has one semester of Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits to help cover expenses this semester but law school is one of those endeavors where we are bringing student loan debt into our lives. This decision obviously strays from Dave Ramsey’s teachings. We take steps towards self-improvement and I would prefer to not be shamed for student loan debt; I do not make enough money to fully fund law school. We considered ASU’s Employee Reduced Tuition but the reality is 100% of that tuition reduction is taxed for graduate programs and I am already working on a tight single income, the last thing I need is more money taken out of my paycheck at this time. Now that we have a more transparent conversation (thanks for not judging me or keeping your opinion to yourself) I would like to share personal goals for the year.
My goals are broadly categorized under personal achievements, family activities, and home improvement. Financial planning is important to each one of these endeavors. I am in a place to either spend money for the results or I am saving money to complete the goal. Although I am not outlining these as SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-based) for your respective purposes as the reader, these qualities are important whenever you desire to see a goal through completion and I’m keeping these factors in mind for each goal.
In lieu of resolutions, here are my planning goals for 2017:
- Finish Pauline Nordine’s Butt Bible Challenge to restore fitness discipline into my life (Challenge runs January to March).
- Attend an adoption education event, free other than cost to get there.
- Add $1,000 to my daughter’s savings before the close of 2017.
- Pay for a one recipient’s scholarship for the Rising Stars, Desert Nights Writing Conference.
- Close a credit card account.
- Finish painting my master’s bathroom (February).
- Complete a family vacation (no visiting extending family).
- Attend a family member’s wedding.
- Add additional money to our emergency fund (i.e. amount will vary depending on overtime worked and additional income received this year).
- Finish first draft of memoir by October.
- Set up college fund accounts for nieces and my nephew to be born this year in lieu of gifts and clothes for Christmas.
- Visit family who have not seen my daughter since 2011.
- Set aside money for an adoption home study (approximately $1,200 to $1,800) before the end of the year. (Goal is to adopt in 2019)
- Replace our large bookcase with wall shelves (May/June).
- Purchase (1) PAX wardrobe for master bedroom (September/October).
- Put in Astroturf and extend patio slab (March/April).