Monday, January 4, 2010

Where we went right in 2009

At the beginning of 2009, I was hoping we'd end the year with a nice big chunk of cash in our savings account. That didn't happen, in part because we found ourselves up against a bunch of emergency expenses and in part because we decided to pony up the money for a potpourri of trips (to Destin, Chattanooga, Phoenix, and New Orleans).

That said, I think we made many good financial decisions in 2009. Because we did plump up our savings account early in the year, we were able to pay off our dental work (almost $4K between the two of us), medical bills (for office visits and a trip to the ER), and home repair bills (for a leaking sink, a piping problem in one of our outside walls, and a cranky air conditioning unit) in short order without accruing interest. We paid any balances on our credit cards within 30 days of purchasing (including all travel expenses). We put ~12% of our income into our 401K accounts. We cut back on cable and went out to eat less. We cooked at home more. Perhaps most importantly, we finished paying off our $22K in credit card bills and continued to chip away at our student loans.

2010 may hold some significant changes and challenges for us. It's likely that I will be going back to school in the fall to pursue a graduate degree that will open up more employment opportunities for me (more about that in a future post). I'll be cutting back on my contract work while Trent will be taking on an even more demanding workload than he already has. Our car is turning 10 years old and will soon hit 100K miles, so it's time to start saving for a replacement, just in case. As we make adjustments to our budget, we'll need to make sure we can still meet our other financial obligations, including our mortgage, our monthly bills, our health insurance premiums, and our school loans. My bet is that 2010 is going to be more challenging for us than 2009 from a money standpoint.

As far as personal New Year's resolutions, I try not to go crazy with those. Too much pressure. However, I would like to lose four more pounds (all that's left before I get to my ideal body mass index!), get outside to exercise at least four days a week, continue sailing whenever we get a chance to do so, focus more on the quality of my food (we've been purchasing more organic goods, and I don't regret that at all), and give myself a chance to get creative on a more regular basis. Writing here is a good start!

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