2010 in Review

2010 was a good year!

Last January, I found it hard to plan for anything while Chad wasn’t working. With the help of some luck and a heck of a lot of overtime, it turned out well. It took me a while to find a happy medium, but I was able to come to terms with not being in the privileged position of being DINKs. I definitely learned to appreciate being financially solvent (robust, even) on one salary. While I’m whining about not saving 50% of our income, the hard truth is that an unemployed spouse can mean not saving at all – or going into debt. We’re lucky.

Apart from the financial aspects, I feel like I started to come into my own a little bit. I’m finding my place at work, and I feel as though I’ve found something that I would love to do for the rest of my life. I was originally going to say that this was a year of big changes, but externally, everything is the same (for me – Chad has had some changes!). It’s on the inside that I feel like I’m growing, becoming the person I want to be. For someone as plagued with self-doubt as I usually am, that’s a good thing!

If I could go back and change anything, I would have tried to keep my spending at a steady level all year. When I thought our savings would be lower than normal (perfectly reasonable when you’re on one income and budget very conservatively), I clammed up and insisted that we not spend any more money than absolutely necessary. Once I’d earned some overtime – and especially once Chad started working – I went too far the other way. I don’t want to beat myself up for spending, but I do want to make sure I treat myself in good times and bad. Things to work on!

2010 Goals

Financial

1. Max out my 401K. Done!
I got as close as possible since my company’s contribution rules are silly, missing out on about 22 cents of tax-free contributions.  I’m calling this one close enough.

2. Max out both of our Roth IRAs. Done!
We haven’t actually put all of the money in yet, but we have enough money left over to max them both out, so this counts as a win!

3. Combine our savings accounts. Done!
Our cash savings are in one account, although we both opted to maintain our own checking accounts and (small, very small) personal savings accounts.

Everything else is joint, with the exception of one account. Chad isn’t sure how much is in it or how to access it, so I call it his “secret mistress” account.  It’s an investment account that his parents set up when he was in college, and we’d originally intended to use it for his graduate tuition.  Now, it’s just a few thousand dollars that I have no way of tracking, which someday will seem like a nice windfall into our net worth.

4. Save $5,000 in addition to Roth IRA contributions. Done!
Oh, January 2009 Sarah, how I laugh at you.  My original budget for 2010 included my base salary and worst case scenario spending.  For all I may mock my stingy budgeting in the beginning of 2010, it did make a difference.  The main thing, though, was the additional income:

  • $1,000 bonus
  • $3,000 tax refund (I know, bad PF blogger!)
  • $8,000 in overtime (I worked the equivalent of 21 extra days.  It’s like if there was a 13th month (I’m calling it Smarch), and I worked it.)
  • $10,000 from Chad’s stipend

Not all of that went into savings, but a lot of it did.  It was a good year.

5. No buying new clothes until April. Done!
And then everything went to hell.  Still, I’m having fewer of those “I have nothing to wear!” days, and as this is my only financial vice, I’m going to give myself a pass.

6. Earn $1000 on top of wages from my job. Kind of.
I’ll cover this more later.  I earned a paltry, laughable sum from advertising on this blog before I realized that I don’t want this to be my job.  As soon as I starting thinking about making more money rather than sharing how I deal with money, it stopped being fun.  I want this to be fun.  It is fun.

As far as the goal goes, I did make it.  Our savings account earned enough interest that, with the paltry blog earnings, I’m over the goal.

Work/Career

1. Exceed expectations on my year-end performance review. Done!
I covered this in my December Wrap-Up, so not much more to say.

2. Create at least one new tool to do my job. Done!
I mostly just automated and combined some tools that were already in use, but it has made my life much easier!  I haven’t been bold enough yet to show it to some of my more experienced coworkers yet – since it does use part of their old tools, I worry about offending them.

Blogging

1. Average at least 2 posts per week. Fail.
Average was 1.75 posts per week.  I did really well until summer, and then everything fell apart.  Oh well, try again next year.

2. Increase traffic by at least 50%. Fail.
I have no idea.  As I said above, the blog instantly became less fun once I started worrying about visitors per day and advertisers.  I still like to see my stats rise, I still love comments, but I refuse to let popularity or money be a goal.  This blog is for my benefit as much as anyone else’s.

I’m thinking I’ll let the rest of my advertising run its course, but I’m not going to advertise anymore, unless it’s for a company that I really believe in.

a. Posting more. Already mentioned the fail on this, yes?
b. Enter carnivals. I’m still not sure what you’re supposed to do for this, but honestly? I don’t much care.  If people like my stuff, they’ll link to it.
c. Comment more. Maybe?  I haven’t tracked this in any appreciable way.  Too bad commenting is now blocked at work.

Miscellaneous

1. Read 10,000 pages in books. No idea.
I forgot to track this.  I think I read a decent amount this year, and I think next year I’ll have to be better about tracking it. I’m tossing around the idea of doing more book reviews, although there were a couple that I’d planned to write and never got around to it.

2. Run the whole of the 10-mile race in April. Done!
I managed to make it! Now I’m just a little disappointed that we didn’t get selected to run in the Cherry Blossom Race for 2011.  I’m hoping that in 2011 I can focus more on the shorter, and thus more enjoyable, 5-mile or 10K races.  I’m glad to know that I could finish (although I’ve always had good endurance, just at very slow speeds!), but I’d rather love running.

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2 Responses

  1. Wow, you’ve done so well! I am really excited.. also, I am excited about the earning potential of engineers (is that kosher to say?) CB is planning on going into an engineering program and I cannot wait for both of our potential when we are both out of grad school and hopefully making (and saving) something substantial.

    I hope you have a wonderful 2011! I don’t comment much (actually one of the things I’m trying to improve on in 2011), but I really enjoy your blog. I’m glad it’s fun for you, because it’s fun for me to read. 🙂

  2. What an amazing 2010 you had. I agree with the sentiment of better to be in the position to save (even less than 50%) than to not have the choice at all.

    Also
    I earned a paltry, laughable sum from advertising on this blog before I realized that I don’t want this to be my job. As soon as I starting thinking about making more money rather than sharing how I deal with money, it stopped being fun. I want this to be fun. It is fun. <— Me!!!!!!!

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