2013 Accomplishments and 2014 Goals

Happy New Year to all; may 2014 be your year!  Okay, it’s time to see how we did with our 2013 goals.  Let me start by saying my wife and I only worked five months each this year, so we came up short on most of our financial goals.  Nonetheless, 2013 was still a great year for us.

Savings Goals
Our 2013 savings goal was to save $102,050 in our various retirement and education accounts:  IRA, 403b, 457, HSA, Coverdell ESA, and 529 plans.  Unfortunately, we did not hit our goal; we actually came up $23,328 short!  However, we still managed to save $78,722 in our five months of work.
Result:  We missed our goal, but we’re not ready to call saving over $78,000 a failure.      

2013 Savings Results
Total Retirement 
and Health Savings
 Educational Savings 
Total Educational Savings
Grand Total

Spending Goals
Our 2013 spending goal was to live on $51,750. Right off the bat, I got this goal wrong by miscalculating how much we could earn and still remain in the 10% federal income tax bracket.  In 2013 we took $58,375 of income from our 72t IRAs and 457 accounts, so we overshot our goal of $51,750 by $6,625. 
Result:  We missed our goal and paid more federal income tax than planned.  Oh well!     

2013 Spending Results
Spending Goal
Spending Result
Amount Over
Federal Income Tax Due:
($7,850 * 10% = $785)
+ (10,075 * 15% = $1,512)
Effective Federal 
Income Tax Rate:
($2,297 / $58,375)

Debt Goals
Our debt goals for 2013 were very ambitious.  By working only five months last year, we came up way short on this goal. Currently, our total debt (mortgage, HELOC, and credit cards) is $107,351.  As this amount goes down to ZERO over the next few years, our net worth should increase.
Result:  A swing and a miss, but that’s what happens when you stop working.

2013 Debt Results
Debt Goal
Debt Result
Amount Off

Health, Professional, and Personal Goals
Here’s a recap of how I did with my various 2013 goals.
  1. Overall, I am happy with my health.  My weight is still at 245 in spite of the fact that I haven’t run in 3.5 months.  I still adhere to my No-Low-Slow Carb diet, and it has changed my life for the better.  My minimalist exercise routine became so minimal that I stopped it all together.  That was a bad idea because exercise almost always improves my mental outlook.  In 2014, I plan on re-committing to my minimalist workout routine.  I also plan on running more regularly; I never feel bad after a run.  
  2. I got almost nothing done on my professional goals for 2013.  I added no new teaching certifications, did not finish my books, and my web sites are still disasters.  This area is my biggest disappointment.
  3. In the area of my personal goals, I did a little better.  Initially, I had hoped to use Memrise to build on my Chinese, French and German language skills.  Sometime around March I began using Duolingo instead.  I am currently at level 12 in Spanish, level 8 in Portuguese, level 7 in German, level 2 in Italian, and level 1 in French.  My Chinese fell to the wayside.  I only completed one FEMA independent study course, and I did not take the CLEP Humanities test as planned.  
2014 Goals
I’m going to keep it simple; here is what I hope to do in 2014:
  • Savings:  We plan on saving 100% of our wages when and if we take jobs in 2014.  All wages will be diverted into IRA, 457, 403b, HSA, Coverdell ESA, and 529 accounts.  We also plan on starting a taxable investment account this year.    
  • Spending:  This year we plan to live on $51,775.  That amount is the total of our 72t IRAs and the balance of two 457 accounts.  At the this level of income, we should pay $1,239 in federal income taxes for an effective federal income tax rate of 2.4% ($1,239 / $51,775).     
  • Debt:  At a minimum, this is the year we finally slay our remaining credit card debt.  We’re also considering selling our house and downsizing to a retirement home in Florida.   
  • Health:  I plan on continuing my No-Low-Slow Carb diet plan and restarting my minimalist exercise and running program.  This should be an easy goal to achieve.  
  • Professional:  I’m not going to make any bold claims this year.  Last year I wrote 16 blog posts; this year I plan to write at least 17.  I also want to get at least 100,000 pageviews of this blog in 2014.
  • Personal:  I plan on sticking with my Duolingo language study; I should hit level 12 in both Portuguese and German.  Any improvement in French and Italian will be a bonus.  I also plan on taking the CLEP Humanities test because I will need the college credit to keep my teaching certificates updated.  Time permitting, I would also like to earn 12 hours of  FEMA Independent Study credit.  
With those goals in mind, I plan on lacing up my steel-toed boots and squarely kicking 2014 in the derriere!  
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Net Worth Tracking:  We use Personal Capital to track our various accounts.  Personal Capital is an great way to aggregate all of your financial accounts at one easy-to-use website.  (If you have less than $100k in assets, please register with this link.)
Banking:  We have used USAA for our checking and savings accounts since 1997.  We also have checking and savings accounts at three credit unions:   AlliantElements Financial, and Navy Federal.  Finally, we have an online checking account with Simple.
Health Savings Account:  We use Elements Financial to access commission-free, low-cost Vanguard ETFs at TD Ameritrade.
Phone Options:  My wife loves her $10 a month plan at Republic Wireless (new plans now start at $15 a month).  I had the same plan and liked it too, but unfortunately I broke my phone in Mexico.  I currently use a WiFi-enabled phone at a cost of $0 a month thanks to three Google apps: Voice, Hangouts, and Hangouts Dialer.  We also have a Skype subscription with its own number for unlimited U.S. calls ($80 a year).
Travel Rewards:  If you'd like to learn how to get "free" flights and hotel rooms, take the free course at Travel Miles 101.  When we slow travel, we use Airbnb to find low-cost, month-long rentals.  Whenever possible, we try to use Uber instead of taxis.
Credit Score/Report:  Here are some websites with free services to verify your credit history:  Credit Cards / Credit Sesame / Credit Karma / Annual Credit Report
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  1. The credit card debt will be paid off this month. Most of it has been in a 0% account over the last three years. I have slowly paid it off at 0%. However, I can’t wait to be done with it. About $1,500 of my current credit card debt is from some expenses I paid in December: car insurance and an international job fair that my wife and I attended. That balance is NOT in a 0% account; it must be paid off…we don’t pay credit card interest anymore!

    Thanks for the question.

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