To continue with my tradition of assigning a theme to each year, 2019 will be the Year of Focus.
I really wanted to have my theme be consistency, but I realized I can’t be consistent without focus. I feel like a lack of both focus and consistency is why my 2018 didn’t work out the way I planned. Maybe my 2020 theme will be consistency but I really need to work on my focusing skills first.
I honestly don’t have any idea how I’m going to be doing that, so I’ll be looking for help with that from resources like books and websites and from a therapist. Now that I have real health insurance again, I can afford to start therapy. I need help with focusing, but I also have a few personal issues to work through as well.
I have more than a few friends that have gone for help and I see no shame in admitting I have no idea how to help myself. I got really inspired from reading Andrew’s post on Shift Upwards as the most recent example. I think now is a good time to slow down and spend some time challenging assumptions and changing how I react to situations.
Increased focusing skills will also help me settle in at work. I’ve been at my job for 3 weeks now and have a lot to learn about how this place operates. (Today is my first payday woot woot!! I’m so excited to be earning money again!) I don’t see myself staying here for very long, but it’s a good first step back into the work world and will help me hone my technical skills for the next position, wherever and whenever that may be.
Focusing won’t really help me find a place to live in the DC area, but it’s a goal of mine for 2019 nevertheless. I am really enjoying my current living arrangement but I can’t stay there forever. Housing in this area is RIDICULOUS, both in price and availability. I’m part of a group on Facebook where people can post rooms for rent or apartments for subleasing. I found a room that looked suitable, so I made plans to look at it the next day. Before the end of the workday, the person had someone else come over to look at it and put a hold on it and I lost out.
I thought it might be easier to find an apartment and then look for a roommate, so I went to a complex to look at an available unit. It was $2300 for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in Crystal City (soon to be home of Amazon). That’s not a bad price for the area, but there’s more to living in a place than just the rent. All of the add-ons they charge would make it very costly to move there. They charge so many fees!
(* means non-refundable)
$50 application fee*
$200 holding deposit (rolled into first months’ rent)
$500 move-in fee*
$100 amenity fee per person
$200 security deposit
$500 pet fee*
$100/mo/person utilities fee (internet is extra)
$100/mo parking fee
$50/mo cat fee
After going through that experience, I think it will be easier if I continue with my first idea of taking over someone’s lease so I don’t have to pay for a lot of those absolutely ridiculous fees. I’m in no particular hurry, though, so I’ll continue to save up money and wait for the perfect place to pop up.
I am lucky I will be able to afford this kind of place. If I had student loans and/or a car loan, I would be hard pressed each month. Thankfully I have no debt so I don’t need to worry about it. Others in the area aren’t so lucky though.
Another goal for 2019 will be to get back into the dating pool. I’m not sure when I’ll jump back in but I know I won’t be deliberately looking while I’m living at my current place. I also want to get some of the aforementioned therapy under my belt as well. You know what the definition of insanity is, right? Well if you don’t, the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting a different result. I’m not insane, just a little crazy, so I’m going to stop doing the same things I’ve been doing. With regards to dating, that looks like moving to a new place, trying to find a partner, and then giving up until I move to a new location. I’m shaking things up this time!
One thing I disliked about the Midwest was everything being so far away. If I wanted to explore a new city, I was looking at 2–3 hours in the car and those were the nearby cities. Drives of 6 hours weren’t uncommon (this is why I long-distance dated someone in Minneapolis).
That’s not the case on the East Coast! Everything is super close and I mean to take full advantage of that fact. This goal for 2019 is 2 part: I want to spend 1 weekend a month exploring a new place near DC. That could be Baltimore, Richmond, Virginia Beach… a short flight up to NYC or even Boston is within the realm of possibilities.
The second part of this goal is designating one other weekend a month to some sort of outdoor physical activity. It could be a long bike ride on a path along the Potomac. It could be a hike on one of the many hiking trails in the area. I could even drive into Maryland and hike in honest to God mountains! In the winter I could ski. In the summer I could hit up the ocean. There are so many options! I need to take advantage of them. If anyone has suggestions, leave them in the comments or send me an email! gwen [at] fierymillennials dot com
Just because I’m no longer trying to hustle full-time doesn’t mean I’ve given up my hustles completely. I still have this blog, obviously, and the podcast. For the blog, my goal is to continue to write and share my story. For FIRE Drill, my goal for 2019 is to land one solid sponsor for at least a quarter. We’re steadily growing and becoming more and more attractive to sponsors with each week that passes. Thanks to everyone that tunes in! We couldn’t do it without you. If you’d like more of me but in an audio format check out our podcast if you haven’t already!
I would also like to explore potentially selling my graphic art designs. I create pun-ny doodles for people if an occasion necessitating a card arises. I had a great conversation with Dave from Accidental FIRE over dinner meetup about it and he encouraged me to do more. I think I need a few more conversations on the process before I jump in, but it’s something worth exploring.
I have a number of plans for my time in 2019. I’d like to get back into some activities and start some others. It’s been a while since I have used my quilting stuff, but I want to get back into it. I have a friend nearby with a basement turned quilting studio. She offered the use of her space to me any time! That solves my space problem with quilting, so I’ll be taking my fancy $4,000 machine to the shop for a tune up and then I’ll be ready to create fabric masterpieces! I owe a few friends baby quilts.…… and their babies are now almost preschoolers. Whoops.
I’d also like to explore the world of stand-up comedy. I think I’m pretty funny already but there is a lot of room for improvement. I want to learn from other funny people how to hone my natural sense of humor. Fortunately, because I live in a large metropolitan area, there are a lot of comedy clubs around and some of them offer classes. Stay tuned for me to ramp up the funny business around here in 2019!
With the market off to a tumultuous start in 2019, I think it’s best if I don’t set any goals that revolve around hard numbers. Also, I honestly have no idea what I want with my monetary goals anymore. If I save nothing more than what I already have, I’ll end up with about $750k at age 60. If I save 5%, I’ll end up with about $1 million. If I save $1500 a month (maxing out my 401k) I could end up with a cool $2 million.
But really though.…. how much do I need to be happy? What’s the right balance of saving and spending today? I think $1500 a month is probably a bit much to manage right now but $350 is definitely doable. I feel blessed I’m in a position where I can play with the numbers like this and I don’t have to save as much since I’ve already done so much. I want to enjoy the journey just as much as I want to be able to enjoy early retirement. I don’t know what the exact numbers look like yet, so stay tuned as I try and figure that out in 2019.
I have a little bit of debt to pay off from the 9 months I took off corporate work. It’s not much, about $2,000 on a 0% card, but I don’t like debt of any kind and want it gone. With my current low living expenses, those will be knocked out in a jiffy.
I would also like to start saving money for a newer car. I don’t drive much now that I live in DC, but I want to ensure the car will work when I want to drive it. At 14 years old and almost 200,000 miles, my current car has been around a while and makes me nervous. I’m going to start saving $200 a month towards a new car which will enable me to either have a hefty down payment or pay for the next car outright. I’m incredibly tempted to buy a brand new car, but it doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t drive much and I would be parking outside, probably on the street. With those factors, a new car would be rather silly for me to buy.
I’ve also made it a goal to put some money away in my 401(k) each month. My new employer runs their plan through Vanguard, so I have access to total market index funds with expense ratios of .0013%. No, I didn’t fat finger an extra zero in there, it really is that low. I was contemplating moving all my accounts over to Vanguard from Fidelity, but they didn’t want to give me a mug so I’ll keep my other investments with Fidelity for now. Them not giving me a mug is a very convenient excuse to hide behind. In reality, I just can’t be bothered to go through all the hoops of filling out the paperwork and moving my investments. It’s good enough!
For now, I’m starting off my 401(k) with 5% to take full advantage of the company match. I’m not entirely sure how long I’ll be with this company, so I don’t even know if I’ll get any of the company match money. They’re on a 3‑year vesting schedule so chances are slim I get it all. I also like the reduction in my taxable income so that’s another reason to contribute to my 401(k). I don’t think I’ll max it again, but I could definitely be convinced to max it out again after I’m done recovering from my financial decisions in 2018.
I am very excited at all the things 2019 is going to hold. Fun times with the people in the DC area, exploring the East Coast, going to Camp FI Southwest in Joshua Tree, FinCon (here in DC!).…. It’s going to be a good time as long as I can keep up that focus and do what I need to!
Thanks for reading! Do you have a theme for the year? Anything fun planned for 2019? Sound off below!