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2020: Midyear Review

Wow…this year is crazy, right?  I’ll be honest,  2020 keeps kicking me in the balls!  We have a global pandemic, people dying everyday that are infected by this new strain of virus called Covid-19. a shutdown of most of the US economy as we continue to try and prosper in this world of quarantine.  We have had massive wild fires scorching throughout Australia, and riots and protests turn violent throughout the civil unrest in cities across the United States. Some hitting close to home as buildings burned, and stores looted here in Minneapolis.

Many of us start the year with expectations, and goals of what we think the year will be.  We set goals, and possibly a plan on how to achieve these goals. 

This year we have been tossed many disruptions and challenges. We, as humans, are resilient. We are determined. We will rise above all of the chaos that has been spewed across the globe, and the United States.  We’ll make the years to come great. We’ll be stronger because of this. 

Sometimes, we need to adjust the plan to meet our original goals, or modify them to meet our new goals and overcome new challenges. That is okay.

I’d like to share where I’m at, and the progress I’ve made thus far in 2020. I’ll share some of the goals I’ve made, and processes in place to reach them. We understand that we also need to be somewhat flexible. Sometimes, we need to pivot to new goals or priorities.  We need to adjust the plan to meet our original goals, or modify them to meet our new goals and overcome new challenges. That is okay. For those that may miss a milestone, or have a new barrier in our path, don’t just think it’s a lost cause. Don’t feel that, “Well, I’ve missed this, so I might as well give up.”   This is simply a time to re-evaluate.  Look at the goals, and process. What can be altered to either achieve a new modified goal?  It’s okay as long as we remain flexible and keep moving forward. 

Okay, let’s review some of the Goals that I had defined in this post at the beginning of 2020.  There were many goals, that I have not made too much progress on, but others that I’ve been making some considerable movement with. 

I’m falling short of my “Publish a Blog post every Monday” goal. I started out strong, but it has trailed off.  I’ve decided to move and shift this goal to more of a monthly cadence.  For me the process isn’t the writing itself.  I have many articles started, almost completed, and ones that need to review facts, get links and affiliates.  I’m horrible at procrastination.  I’ve looked closer and tried to learn why I do this, and how to overcome this behavior.  I really feel it’s the cumbersome process of actually publishing. Organizing and editing for SEO,  getting affiliate links, finding the images.  These are not excuses.  I need to either educate myself, and build a streamlined method to publish posts.  I wanna build more automation, to remove the friction. 

This is a goal that has been getting better and better. “Getting to bed by 10, and sleep by 11pm” This also a way I’ve wrapped, or stacked a couple habits together to help me stay with them.  I have started to implement The Miracle Morning.  This is a method of waking early, and having a set of tasks that builds a morning routine to help design a life you wish to achieve. Because I have been waking up earlier I had found myself also getting to sleep before 11pm most nights.  This also allows me to set a time every morning to journal or write every morning.  I start with a gratitude, and write down three things that I’m grateful for.  This can be as simple as having food and shelter, having a job that allows me to continue to work through the Pandemic, or for instance. My son mowed the lawn yesterday on his own, without me asking. THANK YOU! He’s a good kid 🙂

I then write, a minimum of ten minutes.  I write about how I’m feeling or a topic for the blog. Just start writing. It’s easy once I get past ten minutes to keep going. I’ll need to force myself stop after a while so I can begin my “day job”  So this does satisfy the goal I had of writing every night before bed.  As you see, we had to flex that goal, and change the time in which it was addressed from night time to morning time. 

I had a goal to Pay off additional $35k in Commercial Debt during 2020.  So far I’ve paid an additional $26,000 in principle towards my real estate investment properties on top of the monthly payment. Using the cashflow from my existing rental properties, I was able to use as much as I could to pay down this debt. It’s a challenge and I compete with myself to continue to pay down the debt, and see the amount of interest get less and less. This does cause a bit of stress, and need to remind myself to set aside the proper reserve funds for maintenance, repairs, and any capital expenditures.  For instance, I have a property currently needing two new windows that are nearly 40yrs old. Like, full replacements for function, utility, energy efficiency, as well as aesthetics. The look needs to be updated.  I have to make sure I don’t start to tap those funds used for the repair/upgrade to be used to pay down the debt. 

So far, I’ve been able to pay an additional $26,000 in principle towards my real estate investment properties, on top of the monthly payment.

From a health and fitness perspective, I’ve had many start and stops in terms of walking and eating healthy.  The quarantine DID NOT help these matters.  While still living a mostly low-carb lifestyle, being home I found myself participating in unconscious snacking ALL THE TIME! At lease it wasn’t cookies, and chips. It was mostly nuts, veggies, and fruit.  This did add about 10lbs to my waistline. I’ve began to be more conscious, and used a good friend as an accountability partner, so I’m down 5lbs, with another five to go!  I’ve walked for about 30 minutes day, for some days.  I did fail to do so, when it was unbearable heat  and humidity here in the Midwest.  Some days, it was 106º heat index.  It’s so easy to continue to NOT do it when you give yourself a pass. I’m disappointed in myself, and need to pick this up again, the second half of the year. 

Reduce fried foods by 1/2 in 2020 was goal that has been relatively easy to achieve. I don’t eat French Fries, or many other deep fried foods anymore. Typically, because they are battered, and thus full of flour.  I’ve recently purchased an air-frier, and experimenting with different low carb breading, and thus far it has been great! I’m looking forward to enjoying more food being prepared this way.  I have successfully accomplished this goal. 

Lastly, let’s review how my savings rate and investing has been progressing the first half of 2020.  I’ve continued to live frugally, and be very intentional on how I spend my money, as well as what I spend it on. Making sure I only spend it on what I value.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t feel I don’t deprive myself. I still go out to eat regularly, and rent movies and buy books here and there. I even buy a new Metal shirt from time to time 🙂  One thing to note, I haven’t contributed anything to my Vacation account in 2020. I’ve come to terms with the realization, I most likely will not be taking any substantial vacation in 2020, or first half of 2021. So I haven’t been motivated to to put any money towards this. I will eventually start again.

I also, talked about how I’m began investing in 2020, and the allocation of my saving here.  Let’s do a breakdown, I’m going to share how I’ve saved/invested, and in what category. Some of these are funds are allocated for those necessary expenses such as property taxes and insurance. I include these here, because this happens automatically, and is not considered my “take home” pay. 

Over the last few years, I steadily increased to an approximate 55% savings rate.

These numbers reflect the end of July 2020. I’ll have to begin adjusting some pre-tax and after tax deductions to ensure I’m in compliance with the contribution limits for retirement accounts.  We’ll be looking closer at this in a future post. 

In Total by the end of July, 2020 I’ve saved and/or invested just shy of $61,000.  

Since I’ve began tracking my savings rate a few years ago, this has steadily increased to approximately a 55% savings rate.

Let’s dig in!

Savings/Investment2020 as of July
401k – Pretax Contribution$5,700
401k – Roth Contribution$4,995
401k – After tax Contribution$18,700
Employer Match$3,400
Employee Stock Purchase$9,100
Health Savings Account$3,200
Investment Brokerage Account$1,000
Emergency Savings Contribution + Interest$420
General Sinking Savings Fund$3,800
Personal Development/Training$840
Home Maintenence/Improvement$2,100
Vacations$0
Insurance (home/auto/umbrella)$5,100
Property Taxes$2,100

I’m now on my nine-year plan.  I’m been analyzing and working towards a longer-term goal of having the opportunity to retire from W-2 employment by the age of fifty-five.  So, Another thing I’ve done, is force some appreciation in my home.  My children are grown, and will be moving within the next few years. I’ll be downsizing, getting a smaller home. This is a topic for another post. Using funds that have accumulated in my Home Improvement, and Savings accounts I’ve updated the flooring, replaced the 20 year-old carpet, updated my countertops, and refinished my kitchen cabinets as well as painting several rooms, and trim. This was reviewed by my Real Estate Agent, part of my Investment Team.  She had mentioned after these updates, and looking into comparable properties, I may have increased the equity ~$25-$30k.  This was after a $15K investment. I did some of the work myself. It took me several weekends, and a lot of elbow grease to refinish the cabinets. Structurally they were sound, and just needed a refresh, and up on trend to sell within a few years. This also included a few pieces of new furniture. For the first time in my 46 year old life, I was able to purchase a new sofa. Like a quality sofa and not a hand-me down 🙂

Sooooo…..a lot has happened in 2020. There are some goals I’ve moved forward on, others that I have not. Some I’ve had to review and modify and change goals. Thats okay. 

I appreciate your time, and following along so far. Let’s keep the eye on the prize, and focus on our nine-year plan. 

Horns Up my friends! 

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