2020 Goals

Savings order of operations:

1. Max out tax-advantaged accounts: 401Ks, HSA, Mega Backdoor Roth, and Backdoor Roth.

2. Contribute $4,000 to the kids’ 529s.

3. Make additional mortgage principal payments – possibly reducing our cash cushion a little bit to accomplish this.
I’m interested in having the option to recast our mortgage in case of job losses.  With interest rates creeping lower, it doesn’t make sense to keep such a large cash position.  This is more of an emotional decision than one based strictly on the numbers.

4. Create a sinking fund for a new car.
Husband’s car is turning 8 this year. In theory, it should have plenty more life left. In reality, we don’t always get to chose when a car must be replaced so it makes sense to start setting the money aside. I plan to simply bookkeep this amount as part of our cash savings.

5. Other miscellaneous goals if we, by some financial miracle, make it this far down the list: fund a SEP IRA, contribute to taxable investment accounts.

Non-financial goals:

6. Delete all social media apps from my phone.
There are a lot of reasons this is a goal, but suffice it to say that each platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) contributes to a lot of anxieties and time-wasting.  There are better things I could be doing, both on a screen and in real life.

7. Read 60 books.
I’ve had a goal for about 10 years to read 50 books per year.  I’ve been able to do it every year, which means it’s probably too easy of a goal.  I suspect that this will give me motivation to choose books more frequently, though it’s also possible I will be panicking by June.

8. Create a comprehensive “In Case of Emergency” document.
This will include account logins, regular bills, etc.  I created a very rudimentary version of this for my parents when Husband and I took our big trip last summer, but it would be nice to have something more thorough.

9. Set up some kind of estate planning.
We don’t have a will, and I think even some of our retirement accounts don’t have Kiddo #2 set up as a beneficiary.  This is the year to correct that, as well as to set up some necessary legal paperwork.  Just in case.

10. Cook at least 130 meatless dinners.
I was able to cook slightly more than 100 vegetarian dinners (~2 per week) in 2019, so this is just increasing the difficulty slightly.  This actually proved to be a difficult goal to balance with a goal of eating healthy (we compensate for a lack of meat with lots of cheese) and creating meals my kids will actually eat (I would eat Indian food every night, but the kids… not so much).

11. Bring less than 50 non-vegetarian lunches to work.
This is a repeat of a 2019 goal.  I think it wouldn’t be too difficult to bring in only vegetarian meals, but one meal per week is a good compromise between a vegetarian lifestyle and not wasting food.

12. Some eco-friendly goals:

  • Use cloth napkins, mesh produce bags, unpaper towels, and reusable sandwich bags as often as possible.
  • Remember to bring the reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.
  • Sign up for a composting service.

I’m trying to balance my desire to use reusable items with an equal desire to not run out and buy a whole bunch of stuff.  Some of the solution is just being better organized (like remembering to bring the shopping bags we already own into the store instead of leaving them in the trunk of the car).  Paying for a composting service ($15/month) feels very silly when we should be able to do it ourselves, but the service will let us compost meat and bones so that extra value + the saved work for us feels worthwhile.

I’m having a difficult time making any quantifiable metrics for this goal.

13. Some kind of clothes spending budget, details still TBD.
I would like the majority of my purchases to be secondhand, but allow a small number of needed/wanted new items as well.

3 Responses

  1. Happy new year! As you know, very similar to my plans for 2020, including making emotion-based decisions about our mortgage. We have “free” compost with our weekly trash, and it is pretty amazing. How did you decide how much to put in the 529s?

    • I’ve decided not to judge my mortgage hatred. At the very least, it’s earning more than a CD.

      My 529 amount is not well thought out, it’s just the maximum amount we can deduct on Virginia taxes. It’s not “enough” for college, but otherwise I might save nothing due to all the conflicting opinions out there.

  2. I confess to a touch of harmless envy that you have so many tax-advantaged savings options. Also I’m glad for you! That’s awesome. We just have the one 401K, then we have our two IRAs which are no longer deductible, and I grumble about that a LOT.

    We should probably create a sinking fund for our cars as well, I’ve been putting that off so we could focus on house repairs but I don’t know how much longer they have. They’re old but I’d really like to squeeze two more years out of them before we replace one or both.

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