2019 Hardcore Savings

How We’ll Save $130k in 2019

Learning How to Save Money in KSA circa 1998

If you live long enough, you’ll see many unimaginable and “impossible” things.  Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen:  the Patty film, the discovery of the giant squid, the Braves, Cubs, and Red Sox win the World Series, the Saints and Buccaneers win Super Bowls, and even my Davidson Wildcats made a serious run at an NCAA basketball championship back in 2008.

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Just because something is improbable, doesn’t mean it will not come to be.  Whenever “unthinkable” events or accomplishments take place, shock and disbelief are sure to follow.

So, in the spirit of “that can’t be done because it’s impossible,” I’d like to share our 2019 hardcore savings goals.  Next year we plan on:

Saving $130k!

I realize that new readers are wondering if I’m crazy or on drugs.  However, as my loyal readers know, I never joke around when I talk about saving money.  

Here are some of the components of our 2019 savings plan:  

  • Tax-advantaged Accounts – next year we plan on maxing out every account available to us:  457 and 403b plans, traditional IRAs, and family HSA plan.  
  • 403b Employer Contributions – since our district does not participate in Social Security, we’ll also save an addition $7.4k in our 403b plans thanks to employer contributions.  
  • 12 Months of Front-loading – next year we plan on zeroing out our paychecks from January to December.  Of course, to essentially employ a 100% savings rate we’ll need money to live on.  Fortunately, we do.    

If everything goes as planned, here is what our 2019 hardcore savings will look like:  

2019 Savings Goals
Our Savings Accounts
457 Catch-up Contribution
403b Catch-up Contribution
403b Employer Contribution
Traditional IRA
IRA Catch-up Contribution
HSA at  Elements Financial
HSA Catch-up Contribution
VTSAX Mutual Fund
2019 Totals
$130k is the goal for 2019!

More Than $130k?

As great as $130k of savings sounds, you could argue that the amount is actually understated for two reasons.  First, in 2019 we’ll also contribute $8.5k to our Georgia teacher pension plan.  In that case, the total would come to $138.5k ($130k + $8.5k).

Second, next year we’re also working on a mortgage-acceleration plan that should enable us to pay off our mortgage and build more equity in our home.  Over the course of 2019, we plan on increasing our home equity by at least $12k.  That would push or total 2019 savings to $150.5k ($138.5k + $12k).  (More on our mortgage-acceleration plan later…)

Being a life-long member of the working class, that’s a lot of money to me.  What do you think?  Could you craft your own hardcore savings plan to help you do the “impossible” in 2019?

Yours in Wild Aspirations for 2019,


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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Impressive. My wife doesn’t have the same goal right now, so we are no where near that. I save 42% of my job income and 100% of my side hustle income. That will put me saving somewhere between $41-43k in 2019. She does not elect to participate in her work retirement plan or pay in to Social Security, but like you, she has to participate in TRS. We have a lot of catching up to do.

    1. Hello Cory,
      It sounds like you guys are saving a nice chunk of change! We realize that our ambitious goals for 2019 are possible after our many years of saving. Now that we have the financial buffer, we want to make sure we maximize this hardcore savings opportunity. If you dare, show your wife that 2019 table to illustrate what can happen when you joint your financial forces. It’s worth a shot. Thanks for readying and best of luck, G

  2. Wow!!! That’s extreme savings!! I wish one day i can do something similar.
    I’ve been reading you for 2/3 months now and you openeded my eyes on the power of the 457. So I’m trying to max that one out.
    My question to you is since you’re in the “0%” or “Free Money’ tax brake, wouldn’t make more sense to contribute some money to a Roth 403b? It seems that you’re living with only 30/35k per year. Based on your Free Money articles you could earn up to 43/44 k per year without paying any tax (or very few) . So i was just thinking that instead of saving mostly in pre-tax vehicles, why don’t you take advantage of the Roth 403 since your taxes are going to be almost “Cero”.
    Again, thanks for giving hope to everyone working on the public sector, this is not just for teachers 😉

    1. Hello Pepe,
      Yes, it looks like 2019 will be our biggest year yet in regard to hardcore savings. As soon as we were offered jobs 100 yards from our home, we decided to max out a few more years. After all, we were going to be in our new town regardless since our son would be in school there.

      I’m glad you realized the power of the 457. I overlooked my 457 plan for a few years before I figured how use it. I like the way you think about Roth accounts. I don’t use Roth 403b plans, but I do Roth conversions when I have space. In 2016 I was able to convert $30k to a Roth. I had plan for a conversion in 2017 but I had to take a distribution to buy our house. That maneuver ate all my free money space. At mid-December I’ll decide how much money we’ll convert to a Roth IRA.

      Thanks for the question and hammer that 457, Gerry

  3. Ed, so glad you are back and blogging. As a fellow teacher myself, I find your writing so relational and inspirational. I stumbled across your blog a couple years ago and was fascinated by your story. My wife and I always thought of ourselves as frugal people but we have ratcheted up the savings since reading you. Luckily, my wife is on board with our savings plan and we are saving like crazy people. I project to save about $77,000 in 2019 between the two of us. We are only in our mid-thirties and hope to reach a point where we can explore some different options or continue teaching (but feel a lot less stressed). There is something so liberating about not being tied to the ball and chain that is money. Look forward to your continued writing and again welcome back.

    1. Greetings Scott,
      Wow, $77k is some serious hardcore savings for young couple…nicely done! It always makes me happy to read that something I wrote (most likely in my underwear) inspired them to craft and hammer their own plan. Congrats to you for taking action on your plan because so many people stop just short of financial greatness by simply not following through.

      I think you’ll find that teaching becomes much less stressful once you realize that you no longer need the paycheck. My wife and I talk about this all the time. Saving $10k a month (cha-ching!) helps us forget any job irritants that might have happened during the month. Plus, FIRE let’s you choose a job site that best suits your needs. Our new jobs in small town Statenville, GA are perfect for US: low COL, nice people, great school, walkable, and mild sunny winters.

      I really like your thoughts on stress and money; please share the message with your co-workers. Hammer on, G

      1. Educator here as well. I will be maxing the 457, 403b, rothIRA as well next year. We are also pumping up a 529 plan for the kids!

  4. I am so happy that you are back blogging.

    I will save about $50K (includes retirement plans, H S A, savings, my company matches and contributions and any catch-ups) in 2019. I was quite surprised to see that number.

    I thank you (and Jeremy and Go Curry Cracker) for enlightening me on the ways to wealth (and possibly early retirement or stress free living).

    PS…I am not an educator but find your information can be insightful regardless of profession.

    Happy Giving Thanks Day!!!!

    1. Hi ElleX, I love your hardcore savings ways! You’re correct, anyone can use their tax-advantaged accounts to build wealth. It’s just that we teachers have some many possible accounts to fill…it all so unfair to those outside the profession. If only my co-workers could internalize the awesome opportunity at their feet…not hold my breathe on that one! Keep on saving, G

    1. Hello Millionaire Dojo,
      I too am in awe of the opportunity to save $130k in a single year. My financial views on teaching have shifted 180 degrees now that I know what to do with my paycheck. If you ever swing through South Georgia, let me know. We can go jogging, squatching, or both. G

  5. Holy crap, Mr. Mills! I bow before your greatness and eagerly await 12/31/2019 to see if your audacious goal is realized. Best of luck, my friend. Oh, and as further evidence that “unimaginable” and “impossible” things do happen, you forgot to mention the 69 Mets. Hope all is well in the Peach state. Cheers.

    1. Hola Sr. Groovy,
      We’re excited about 2019 for sure…gonna be the biggest year yet! But remember, teachers don’t make any money. If you keep telling yourself that you work at a $hithole job, you might miss out on the fact that it’s actually a honey hole! Human beings are funny creatures, right? Feliz Navidad hermano, G

  6. I love these posts! We aren’t anywhere close, but I *do* have a 403(b) with Fidelity now. I finally, finally, finally, finally got one that is super low cost, and I am thrilled! Now if I can just get enough people interested to do something about our 457 annuity option. Barf.

    1. I hear ya Penny! My 403b and 457 options really suck, but I can at least park money there until I”m ready to re-FIRE. I’m so glad that you at least have Fidelity as a 403b option. Improving retirement plans in the K-12 marketplace is a glacial process. Good luck moving the ball down the field…you’re battling a very well-funded and tricky opponent! G

  7. Impressive savings goal you have there! My wife and I will be taking advantage of the child tax credit for the first time, so can’t wait for FM! Quick question. While looking through your chart for a MFJ w/ 1 child, our household income for 2019 after retirement deductions will be around $100k (standard deduction, 10%, and 12%). Are we considered to be in the 12% bracket? I never took the standard deduction when figuring out my tax bracket and just thought I was in the 22% bracket. If that’s the case, would it be better to do a roth IRA knowing we’ll only be paying 12% taxes on it? Thanks!

    1. Hi Danny,
      We both have the same filing status, and it looks like our 12% money runs out at $103,350 according to my calculations. So if you can whittle your taxable income below that amount (via tax-advantaged accounts), you should remain in the 12% tax bracket. Good luck working your plan and see you at the Double Comma Club! G

  8. Thanks for your posts and hi from a fellow teacher! I started working with VIPKid recently and am loving it so far. This is my only earned income at the moment. I am currently working about 30 hours a week. With VIPKid, I am working as a 1099 contractor. I want to save the majority of my income and was wondering the best way to save. Would you start a solo 401(k), contribute to a traditional IRA, simple, or what vehicle would you use? I already maxed out my HSA contribution for the year. Thanks! 

    1. Hi Nina,
      I’ve never had to set up my own solo 401k plan, so I’m no expert here. However, I assume you’re making more than $6k a year, so a solo 401k would provide you with a bigger tax-advantaged bucket to fill ($19.5k in 2020). I’d look into Vanguard’s individual 401k if I were in your shoes. Like I said, this is uncharted territory for me. Best of luck and let me know what you end up doing. Thanks for reading, Gerry

      1. Thanks, Gerry! I took your advice and opened an individual 401k with Vanguard. 🙂 The process was fairly simple but it did take a little longer than I expected. Hope all is well! Nina

        1. Nine,
          Way to go! Many of my co-workers and students never start investing because they don’t know how to establish the accounts. So, I sat down with my buddy and helped him open an IRA, Roth IRA, brokerage account, and checking account at Schwab. It didn’t take much time at all. I did the same for a student who just turned 18 and was dying to start his own investment account. I told him that I wanted no payment for helping him and that I wanted him to do the same for his buddies down the road. Paying it forward! All the best, GB

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