Well, we made it: welcome to 2018! While the first two days of this new year haven’t felt tremendously different from the last, there is already a lot to look forward to — not the least of which is another year of sharing my personal finance journey with all of you.
On that note, at the start of 2017 (while bemoaning my aversion to the concept of New Year’s Resolutions), I laid out three of my money goals for the year. Despite my reservations, sharing these actually proved helpful and ultimately allowed me to achieve all three — although to varying degrees, admittedly. Following that success, I figured the best way to start off the new year was to take a look at some of the money goals my wife and I have set for 2018:
Goal #1: Increase our IRA contributions
The coming year promises all kinds of challenges, one of which will involve my wife no longer having a 401(k). As a result not only will our automated contributions be halted but we’ll also lose out on the matching funds her employer provides. Thus it seems it’s up to us to make up the difference and pour more money into our Roth IRA in 2018.
Like I’ve said other times in this column, one of the keys to achieving goals is to make them specific. To that end, rest assured that we do have a set contribution number in mind (think close to maxing out but not quite). Additionally, looking ahead a bit, perhaps the time will come that our IRA won’t be enough and I’ll need to consider a Solo 401(k) — but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Goal #2: Invest in quality (at a good price)
While most money goals and resolutions revolve around a few cliche totems of personal finance, it’s unrealistic to leave the spending part of the equation out of the conversation. Furthermore there are times when what might be considered a splurge is actually kind of a good thing. With that in mind, it’s time for a few upgrades.
Of course there needs to be more that goes into the buying process as just spending to spend is reckless. Luckily my wife and I have become proficient in researching items, ensuring their longevity, and then planning out our timing to get a good sale. Incidentally an example of this just happened recently as we managed to replace our eight-year-old laptop with a new one, scoring $150 off a rarely discounted MacBook. Some other upgrades we’re eyeing for 2018 include a new mattress, kitchen table, and some running shoes.
Goal #3: Use our credit card cash back for a purpose
In my compilation of my top money wins of 2017, I bragged about my newfound competence in getting the most out of my credit card rewards. So what’s left to master? Using those funds wisely.
As it stands, I’ve mostly just been letting my cash back reward accumulate, save the $40 I utilized to get a $50 gift card last month. Now I want to think about how those funds can best be used, whether that means transferring the cash back to my savings account or perhaps investing it in some manner. At the same time, in some cases, the cash might be put to better use if it helps us subsidize the aforementioned upgrades (especially if the gift cards in question include bonus funds). While this goal might be a bit hard to pin down at the moment, the logic behind it is sound — and I’ll let you know what we end up doing.
Like I said, 2018 is shaping up to be a big year for the Burbanks but those exciting developments come with some major financial decisions. So while some new money goals might crop up throughout the year, putting an emphasis on our retirement savings, investing in quality items for our home and daily lives, and making our found credit card rewards funds go further are all at the top of the list for now. Here’s to a happy 2018!