Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2017 Goal Planning

2016 has been a wild & crazy year. In many ways, I've done well with my longer term goals. But, given our move, our family has been in a bit of flux. It's been very challenging to hone in on bigger decisions, such as where we will live. It's also made it clear that (drumroll, please) . . . M & I are very different people! This is something you sort of acknowledge when you are married to someone every day, but when you are prioritizing big decisions, it becomes very clear. Here are a few ways that's played into our location decision. I'm not a big city person. It's hard to explain, given that neither of the areas we've lived are truly "small towns", but the logistics, travel, and COL are significantly higher in the bay area. This causes me stress, but energizes M. He loves it. To put it in perspective, he grew up in a city the size of New York. I grew up in a town of 2,500 people. :-)

Additionally, M loves the thrill of risk taking, challenging us, and making big bets. I admittedly am far more fiscally conservative. I like to reduce our expenses, so we don't need all of the big salaries & what comes along with it. He feels like these are his career income maximization years, and wants to do the most with them. The area we are currently in is definitely one of the best spots in the world to maximize our income with our skill set. He is concerned (rightly so) that moving to Seattle will require a step back in his career, and has to decide if the tradeoffs are worth that.

He is comfortable making big purchases, and being fully leveraged. I'm not & would pay off our mortgage in a heart beat. Thus, giving us lots of flexibility.

He thinks big picture on income generation & the investment side. I make a big income, but focus on the smaller things (reducing expenses,etc).

Neither of us are right or wrong, and it can be really, really hard to acknowledge this and not judge another person for not sharing your perspective.

We have two paths in 2017. Path One: We can stay in the bay area, figure out a house, and it will be very, very tight. The house will be less than ideal, given the cost. It would mean the boys can stay where they are. I'd need to figure out another job (hopefully less hours). Path Two: We can move back to Seattle. We are very close to having enough saved cash that we could pay off our primary residence. We would be close to my family. M would need a relatively well paying job, but we could fairly easily live off of his salary.

I'll just say that these monumental decisions are really, really challenging, and I'm so happy to have a partner in life who may not share my perspective, but loves me enough to have mature conversations about very difficult things. Either way, there are compromises ahead. And, that's hard & requires quite a bit of thinking & rationalization, and kindess. So.much.kindness for each other.

There are obviously many other factors tied up in here (stability for the kids, being closer to family, the weather!!!) as well.

2017 will be the year of decision making & executing! So, stay tuned for many exciting life changes, either way it plays out.

Aside from that giant & thorny issue, 2017 needs to be the year that I get my health in order. I'm not at my healthy weight, and I've lost muscle tone. I'm not stretching enough, and hours spent at a desk are impacting my posture & flexibility. I need to prioritize my own health.

1) Financial - Figure out our housing situation, and get it all resolved (i.e. moved, job changes as needed) before school starts. 
  • Decide what to do with our Seattle house. Contingent upon location.
  • Move!
  • Build/follow a 2017 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2017 "post-job budget", after.
  • Inventory & track our various stockpiles, so we reduce waste & minimize what we need to move.
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need on an ongoing basis. Examples I've kicked around: find an alternative to all of the ziplock bags/plastic wraps we use for kid lunches. Put a container in the shower to save water for the yard. Collect rain in buckets. Create a compost bucket for the kitchen, so it's easy to compost food scraps. All of these are meant to be permanent changes, so not focused on one time savings. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. 
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 133. This may sound familiar, as it's also a carryover goal from last year!
    • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan.
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio
    • Complete 50 strength workouts.
    • Complete 50 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress (until I leave)
    • Determine an end date for my job.
    • Take time off from my job.

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Learn a new skill. I'm thinking of learning a new language, but would be fine with anything: sewing, knitting, expanding my baking, etc.
      • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

      That was a lot! So, what about you? Any planning for your 2017 goals? Do you & your spouse have different perspectives on these issues? How have you worked around that?


      1. A year of definite tough choices. The great thing is that no matter what your income you have the ability to make it based on knowing how to cut back/adjust to whatever you do make. It was a huge adjustment for hubby to make 1/3 the income we used to when we quit and started our own company. We will likely make 1/2 the income this year as the company continues to grow. I never associated my paycheck with my net-worth but some like hubby do. I know you are a planner and this must be incredibly tough on you.

        1. Oh my goodness - you are right on the mark. It's been SO hard not to have a plan! I can't describe how anxious it makes me feel to not have a good handle on the future, and to embrace the unknown & changes. It's probably a good "stretch" for me, but it's very uncomfortable. ;-)

          And yes, you are totally correct on the income association. It's hard for me to relate in some ways, but that doesn't mean it's not a real feeling for others.

      2. Good luck with your 2017 goals and your choices for the year.
        I think some of the tough issues are age related. You and your husband are much younger than we are, so, for us those days of monetary value and career value are much less intertwined than they once were. We are getting rid of things and downsizing rather than acquiring. Our kids are grown and we are 1 semester of college from having no one dependent on us at all (Yay!)
        I will say, looking backward, we made some correct choices as well as some not so brilliant ones. We limited jobs to be within 50 miles of both sets of grandparents, which was both good and bad. Our kids had family around all the time, but missed out on some experiences they would have had if TheHub had taken some jobs in different parts of the country. As our sons faced adulthood they have all lived far away. One moved back to help my dad, and he has remained here for the year, but I imagine he will move back to Portland soon. Which leaves us with our next major decision. As retirement nears, where do we go when we retire? Or do we begin working on additional streams of income pooling our strengths and start a new career path? Who knows, but our window for mistakes has narrowed somewhat.

        1. We've lightly touched on the "what about retirement location", and we really have no anchor for that phase of life. The kids will be out of the house & in college (or done), and we will likely try to have a few housing options in multiple places, for maximum flexibility, and to be near my family.

          We are not in much of an acquiring (of goods, at least!) phase. Moving a few years back really sold me on the having less state of mind. We've actually tossed around moving back to our Seattle house, staying there for another year (tax benefits) & then selling & finding a smaller house in the same neighborhood. We don't need that much space! But, I'm not sure how much appetite I'll have for that many moves & changes in a short period of time.

      3. Have you ever read "The Millionaire Next Door"? Reading your posts brings me back to that book. You are so financially disciplined and really wise. I respect that and admire it so much! The way you approach finances looks very similar to the way the wealthy people described in that book do.

        No matter what decisions you both make together you're on the right track in life and the fact that despite your differences you are working together means you guys will do great no matter what the final outcomes are.

        I wanted to comment on some of your goals too but that will make for a very long comment. Your post has made me start thinking about what I want next year to look like around here too.

        1. I haven't read "The Millionaire Next Door", but I've heard great things about it. Thanks so much for your feedback - I'm not always as disciplined as I want to be, for sure. ;-)

          We are working on it together, and it's been quite an eye opener to look for ways to compromise that provide both of us with options. But, we're in it together for sure!

      4. This is only my take on your situation so take it with a grain of salt. I think you should find a different, less stressful job in the Bay area before deciding that you really want to move. I wonder if you secretly want to move back to Seattle to have an out from a job are done with. Why not take a less stressful job to see if having the flexibility and less stress makes it more manageable? Have you started looking? I would to see what is out there that would fit your needs. Your housing situation is looming but what is the absolute least house you could buy and have a $5000 monthly payment? I'm guessing around $1 million for the mortgage so if you put down $200,000, you could buy a house for 1.2 million. Is there anything else in your school district for that price range? Even if its a 2 bed 1 bath, 900 square feet? That would still fit your criteria. Seattle seems like the logical out of your current job and housing situation but when you describe how M sees it, I can see a different side also.

        1. I think there's truth in there. We agreed that I would move to a flexible job close to four years ago. Then the job offer & relocation came up, & that got put on hold. It's been on hold again due to our decision making around a house, but the job here is really a problem. My field is particularly stressful, so I have concerns that another "big career" job may pay less, but come with the same requirements.

          On the housing front, the first house for $2.1M came up a week or so ago. That's it. We were outbid, and we bid asking price with no contingencies, and the house was right next to the freeway & had a utility pole in the lot. It wasn't exactly a dream house. ;-)

          Another option we are considering is moving to a location that is zoned for our middle & high school, but not elementary. The elementary school really limits us to houses out of our price range. Nick is the youngest & has 1.5 years of elementary school left. We may be able to get him a waiver. Sam's on to middle school next year.

          So, summary. M would like to stay in California. I'd like more flexibility. We want the boys to have stability for schools. Or, if that's not an option, to take them back to another area where they've been before. If we can find an area affordable enough to provide all of that, I think we will stay. But, under $2M would be the price range. There is absolutely nothing for $1.2, unless it's a condo. We looked at a tear down (rats inside, no permits, so lot only) for $1.6M last week, and the lot was 10,000 sf. It wasn't exactly an acre of land or anything.

      5. If only there were crystal balls to tell us how things will work for a variety of options. In a way, having different perspectives gives your family a more rounded balance in terms of throwing options and potential end results. It is clear your priorities are the four of you and M shares that priority. I think you both might just see how the four of you fit a choice differently. While he may be right that this is his optimal earning years, it is also a pivotal phase in your family, and years you won't get back once the kids grow up and are out of the house. I wish I could have a redo on so many decisions we made when our kids were your children's age. I'm sure you'll make any options work, as long as you both reach a decision in the interest of all of you. Good luck.

        1. Oh gosh, I have wished for the crystal ball so many times. My worst fear would be to push hard for a move, and have us all regret it later. The guilt! But, you are totally right. WE are different, and it's a good balance for our family, and we are both highly motivated to make the right decision for the 4 of us. I'd like stability, so I'm just chomping at the bit to get the decision finalized. It makes me so anxious to be in flux. But, deep breaths! It will all be okay, and we are lucky to have options.