Wow, here we are – the end of 2018. How is that even possible?
I mean, it feels like it was just last week that I sat in the lobby of our local credit union, waiting for that moment I had dreamed about for years – making our final mortgage payment and becoming 100% debt free at the age of 29.
It seems like yesterday that I came home from work to see our contractor finishing some of the home renovations I had looked forward to since the first time I walked through our house.
Scheduling the delivery of our brand new furniture, shopping at my favorite home decor stores with no thought of how much things cost, sitting in three different stadiums in Russia watching the FIFA World Cup, enjoying my husband’s excitement as he decided on a brand new lawn mower and did his due diligence when searching for the perfect new-to-us truck – all of that is so fresh in my mind.
And even after four full months of very intentional savings in the books, it’s still surreal to me that we’ve even started the savings goal I’ve had my eyes on since before we became debt free.
Goodness. Time flies when you’re having fun, and this year seems to have been the fastest yet!
December especially flew by. Let’s talk about it for a minute to see how we did!
We did well with our budget this past month, and we used every bit of our “Gifts” sinking fund for Christmas gifts for our families. Ron gave me my favorite present in the form of announcing on Instagram where our next trip will be!
We had decided after we became debt free to travel internationally at least one time per year and to take turns choosing the destination. Since Russia was my pick in 2018, it was his turn to pick where we go in 2019, and he chose Greece! I can’t wait to start planning the trip, so if you’ve been, be sure to let me know anything you think we should know!
Speaking of traveling, I’ve had my eye on the Southwest Companion Pass ever since I began using credit cards for travel hacking last year, and this month I signed up for the two cards that will help us get it! If you’re interested in travel hacking, have no credit card debt and no issues with overspending, you can find out more about those cards by clicking the links below.
So, let’s talk numbers.
In terms of earnings, December was a standard month for us. I am a
Our total take-home pay was $6,246.20 after taxes. Of that amount, we saved $3,846.20. It was our fourth month in a row of saving more than 60% of our take-home pay, with this month’s savings rate being 62%.
Actually, that amount I gave you for December’s take-home pay is not entirely truthful. I received a Christmas bonus in the amount of $1,184.11 after taxes. This arrived in the form of a paper check and instead of depositing it into the Ally savings account we have set up for our current savings goal, we deposited it into one of our savings accounts at our local credit union. Ron has been wanting a large tattoo for quite some time, so I suggested that we use my bonus for it. He’s not quite the saver I am, so I didn’t have to twist his arm too much to get him to agree.
I didn’t include this bonus amount in our savings for this month, and it wasn’t factored into our savings rate. Since it’s just being saved for the short-term and won’t contribute to our net worth in the long run, I don’t really consider it savings.
If you’re new to my blog though and are unfamiliar with our current savings goal, I’ll take a moment to get you caught up. If you’ve been with me a while, just keep scrolling for a few seconds!
Our Current Savings Goal
What: Save $100,000 in two years to purchase our first rental property in cash.
When: We started at $0.00 on September 1, 2018.
Where: East Tennessee.
Why: After becoming completely debt free, this is our next step toward our ultimate goal of being financially independent. And why cash? Because this is new for us and we want to be as safe as possible. Plus, neither of us have any desire at this time to owe anyone anything ever again.
How: We decided after paying off our house to live on less than the lower of our two incomes, and the amount we chose is $2,400 per month. Since Ron is paid biweekly, we transfer every penny he earns above $1,200 to the Ally savings account we set up for this goal. In addition, we save 100% of my pay by having my weekly paychecks direct deposited into this account.
For more details, read my announcement post here!
We have saved an average of $960 per week over the last 17 weeks since starting this goal and now have a total of $16,331.18.
$83,668.82 to go!
Since we started our previous major financial goal of paying off our house on the same day back in 2016, I like to compare our progress along the way. The image below is a comparison of how much principal we paid each month versus how much cash we have saved for our new goal.
While paying off our house, we lived on the higher of our two incomes while using every cent of the lower income as mortgage principal, and we immediately switched to living on less than the lower of the two incomes as soon as we made our first debt-free budget.
As wonderful as it was putting all that extra money toward principal each month, I have to say that saving it toward our first cash-flowing asset is even better. I’m proud of the progress we made over the last four months, and I’m really excited to see how we do in 2019!
Thank you guys for following along our journey with us this past year. If you are starting a new financial journey of your own – whether it’s becoming debt free, fully funding your emergency fund or starting a new savings goal – be sure to follow the #debtfreecommunity hashtag on Instagram. This community has grown so fast over the past couple years since it was created, and you’ll be hardpressed to find more genuine, positive and motivational support than it provides. While you’re at it, follow my account to see my day-to-day thoughts and updates!
Here’s to a prosperous new year! May it be even better than 2018!