By Erin Huffstetler | 12/31/2017 | 9 Comments
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Over the years, you guys have seen us make some pretty big things happen, like buying the cabin and our office. But I haven’t talked much about how we made those things happen, and I should have. Because big things like that don’t happen on a normal-person income without a ton of planning and work. So, this year, I want to share our short-term and long-term goals with you, so you can follow along as we figure out how we’re going to tackle them.
In this post, I’d like to discuss our short-term goals. I’ll do another post to tell you about our current long-term goal. It’s a doozy.
So, let’s dive into those goals, shall we? Here’s what my husband and I hope to accomplish in 2018.
We love our new office space, and we’re eager to make it ours, but we don’t want to spend a bunch of money doing it. So, this year, we’ve decided to focus on three things:
- We’d like to “fence in” the new portion of our yard by extending the row of hollies that are planted down the left side of our yard. I’d like to “fence in” the back and right side of the yard with a different type of holly, but we probably won’t get to that this year, unless we find a killer deal
- We’re going to paint the exterior of the office. It has it’s original 1920 board-and-batten siding, and it’s in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. We’ll do the work ourselves to save money.
- We’re on the lookout for a sofa, two desks, more stools and a small stove to furnish the space
Update: We bought and planted six more hollies. Now we just have to wait for them to catch up with the ones we planted a decade ago. I can’t wait until our backyard is no longer viewable from the road.
Update: We decided to push this project back a year.
Update: We found these two Ikea stools at a flea market for $15. They’re comfortable and stackable, which is great because I’m trying to keep our workspace as flexible as possible. I’m hoping we’ll come across more second-hand. Ikea still sells these stools, but I’d rather not pay retail.
We found a futon on clearance towards the end of the year. It’s a good fit for the space because it doesn’t take up much room, and can be folded out to accommodate guests.
And we also lucked into an apartment-sized stove at Habitat. It’s in great shape, and fits the kitchen perfectly.
There are still a few big projects to tackle at our house, like finishing the kitchen. But this year, we’ve decided to address three small projects:
- We’re going to finally fill in the gaps in the monkey grass that lines our front flower beds
- We’re going to repaint the front porch and reoil the porch floor
- We’re going to finish painting the garage
Update: We picked up two six-packs of monkey grass for a total of $15.96, and filled in the bare spots in April.
This is how the beds looked immediately after planting. I’ll share another picture after they’ve had time to fill in.
Update: We purchased the paint on sale and with a coupon. Now, we’re just waiting on a warm day to tackle these projects.
If you’ve missed seeing posts about our progress on the cabin, we hope to have lots to share with you in the coming months. This year we want to tackle the projects that have been preventing us from moving on to the (fun) finishing work. That means we need to:
- Replace the roof
- Wire the cabin
- Install a pump and build a well house
- Plumb in a kitchen sink
- Insulate the cabin
Update: Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to tackle any of these projects this year, but we did manage to pay off $13,497.58 of the mortgage (so we now owe $58,246.66). I’ll take an unfinished, paid-off cabin over a finished cabin any day.
We’re going to have to be good savers to make all of that happen this year, but I’m hopeful that we can make it happen.
Our Jeep died on the way back from a craft show last August. So, we need to buy a replacement this year. For now, we’re getting by with one car, but we need a vehicle that’s capable of towing our lawn mower and craft show stuff, before the warm weather gets here.
Update: After a year of watching for the right deal, we finally bought this 2005 Volvo XC90 off of Facebook Marketplace for $2,500. It’s never been wrecked, has a good body and paint, and has been well maintained. It came with 171,000 miles, but the previous owner had already replaced a lot of the big-ticket items (timing belt, water pump, fuel pump, etc.). And it even came with a good set of tires. The shifter had a problem when we bought it (common in that model year), but a $22 part took care of it.
Oh, and since the owner ended up being a fellow frugal, it also came with a tour of her coop, garden and greenhouse, as well as a bunch of tomatoes and banana peppers from her garden.
We took it to a craft show four days after we bought it, so I can already confirm that all of our tents, tables and products fit. Mission accomplished.
And we also need to find a car for our oldest daughter. She turns 16 in September, and we want her to spend this year getting used to the vehicle that she’ll be driving.
Update: This goal shifted slightly when my husband came across an unbelievable deal on a 2006 BMW station wagon with only 65,000 miles (something we’d been watching for for a few years).
It’s too nice for a teenager to drive, so she’s learning to drive in the Volvo. While it has an excellent safety rating, we think she’d do better in a slightly smaller vehicle, so the new plan is to buy her a car next summer. We have a top secret plan that I can’t wait to share with you guys. If everything works out, it’s going to save us a ton of money.
We don’t want to take on any car loans, so both will need to be purchased with cash. We’ll likely spend $5-6k per vehicle.
Update: We ended up spending $12,500 for the two vehicles, so we came within $500 of our budget. Not bad.
And because we’re
really ambitious crazy, we also want to:
- Maximize our retirement contribution
- Plow a bunch of money into that long-term goal that I’ll be sharing soon
Update: We’re still working on our taxes, so I don’t know where we’re going to land with this goal yet.
Update: Over the past 14 months, we managed to pay off $35,525.54. You can read about our goal here.
Phew! That’s a lot to pull off this year, but we’re ready to put in the work to make it happen. I’ll keep you updated on our progress throughout the year.
What are your goals for 2018? I’d love to hear all about them.
Year-End Wrap Up
2018 was a brutal year for us. A few days after I shared our goals with you, our income took a huge hit, and everything we had planned suddenly became a lot harder.
It was disheartening, and more than a little ironic. This was, after all, the year I had decided to share our goals publicly.
I gave myself a day to feel anger and disappointment over the situation, and then I got back to work.
My husband and I found ways to bring in extra money; and we re-prioritized our goals. Paying off debt was important to both of us, so that’s what we focused on. Things like painting and working on the cabin weren’t nearly as important, so we pushed those goals aside.
The smaller goals, like finding a stove for the office and planting trees, remained on our list of priorities because they gave use small wins throughout the year. Seeing progress (even little bits of progress) helped us focus on what we were making happen, rather than what we weren’t.
So, 2018 didn’t go our way. But we still made things happen. Looking back over our goals for the year, I would say there were more wins than fails, and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.
Life is messy and unexpected. It will derail you and challenge you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. But if you keep setting goals and striving towards them, you’ll eventually get where you’re going, or you’ll discover somewhere better along the way.