New Year’s resolutions might be cheesy, but in 2019 they helped me write a will, get life insurance, buy a new home, and become a landlord

PFI Disclosure 1

  • Last year I set some easy-to-achieve goals, like getting life insurance and a will, and some loftier goals, including buying a second home and becoming a landlord.
  • By the end of the year I’ve accomplished all four goals. That has given me peace-of-mind and also helped improve my family’s financial situation.
  • Now, I’m working toward 2020 goals, including contributing regularly to retirement, eliminating credit card debt, and refinancing my mortgages.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Ah, New Year’s resolutions. Logically I know that most of them are bound to fail, yet I love making them anyway.

Last year’s set of resolutions might have been called Adulting 101. I turned 30 in 2019, so I was determined to hit a few financial goals I knew were important for getting my monetary house in order. Over the course of the year I actually accomplished all my financial resolutions, probably for the first time ever.

Now, I’m so inspired by that success that I’m determined to set and achieve more financial goals for 2020. Nothing groundbreaking, but small yet important decisions that will improve my overall financial picture.

Here are the four financial goals I accomplished in 2019, and how I did it.

Goal 1: Purchase life insurance

In 2018 I began to be the main breadwinner for my family, when my husband started staying home with our children. When that happened I realized it was time to purchase life insurance. If I dropped dead, I didn’t want my husband to have to return to work right away. So, I set a goal of having life insurance by the time I turned 30.

I accomplished that in May, about a week after my birthday. I picked a $250,000 plan with a 20-year term, with a $29-a-month premium. Now, for the price of a lunch out, I know that my family is protected should the worst happen.

Goal 2: Get a will

While I was in the mindset of protecting my family, I realized I needed a will. I wanted to formally write down the informal decisions my husband and I had made about how to deal with our assets, debt, and children if either of us died.

I found the process of thinking about a will very emotionally draining. These are hard decisions to make, and even though we had done most of the talking ahead of time, there was something scary about formalizing them. Getting a third-party professional involved seemed overwhelming.

So, I was very happy when I found Fabric, which made the process of creating a will incredibly easy. Honestly, I did it during a car ride, and getting my printer to work was the hardest part. Now, I know my wishes are in writing, even if I’m not able to express them.

Goal 3: Buy a bigger home

This goal was a wildcard, the kind of goal that you’d love to achieve, but know would be a stretch. This time last year my family was living in a 900-square foot home that was getting a bit too small for us, with two kids and a full-time work-from-home parent. I wanted to move by the time my older daughter started kindergarten in September, which would allow us to ditch private school tuition by relocating to a better school district.

Still, I wasn’t sure this was possible. Since my husband was home with the kids, mine was the only income in our house. I had seen in the past how hard it is to get financing as a self-employed person, so I was wary.

However, this time I was able to connect with a lender experienced in working with self-employed people. He made getting a loan much easier than anticipated. Then, after some shopping my husband and I found a foreclosure in our budget, in the school district we wanted. It needed some major repairs (there was no running water when we moved in), but we were able to DIY most of them and have everything up and running by August, just before the start of the school year.

Goal 4: Become a landlord

This was the part B to my big goal. If we bought a bigger house, we wanted to keep our first home as a rental. Our financer was able to make this happen, and we found great tenants to move into our home. We’re still learning about being landlords, but we’re making a small profit and are happy with our decision.

For 2020, I have 3 new financial goals

Needless to say, 2019 was a fairly successful year financially. Still, there’s a lot more work to be done to get my finances to where I want them. Here are the goals I’ll be working toward in 2020:

  • Contribute regularly to retirement: Since I’m self-employed, I’m solely responsible for my retirement savings. Until now I’ve been making sporadic contributions to my Roth IRA, but in 2020 I’m going to get serious about contributing a percentage to retirement every time I get paid.
  • Refinance to save: Lending rates are super low right now, and my credit had increased a lot since I got my mortgages. In 2020, I want to refinance my mortgages and a home equity loan in order to save money. Recently, refinancing my car loan saved me $50 a month, so I’m excited to see what refinancing the home loans can do.
  • Nix credit card debt once and for all: I’ve been focused for years on paying down credit card debt. Now, I have about $5,000 left to pay off, and I’m determined to have it all gone by the end of 2020.

There’s definitely something cheesy about New Year’s resolutions, but if you’re able to stick with them they’re a great tool for moving forward financially.

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