Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Financial wins in 2018

We had an amazing Christmas with my family, and I'm still eating the leftover cookies & candy. ;-) Last night, as we were packing up to drive back to the coast, Sam asked if he could stay with my parents for one more night. My parents were super excited to get an additional day and a half of bonus grand kid time, so the kids are off with my parents, & M & I are at the beach alone. We bought the house nine years ago, and have never been here together without the kids. What a fun treat! We slept in this morning, went for a super long walk on the beach, and we are planning a fun dinner tonight. I'm also getting a few things done in the bliss of a quiet house.

I don't know how you operate, but I often forget about our accomplishments as soon as they are past, focusing instead on the next big goal. It's a productive method, but one that leaves you always on the next hunt, not reflecting on what you've accomplished to date. So for today, I'll stop & take a look at what we accomplished financially in 2018:

  1. We installed solar in our house. This was a big goal, both for environmental reasons, as well as a hedge against future power increases, a desire to be more self sufficient, and a long term reduction in our energy costs. We also wanted to take advantage of the expected tax savings. We'll know more about the tax savings, but have so far saved $1,670 on our power bills. I'll do a full calculation of our payback timeline on the installation once we understand how it impacts our taxes. We paid $27,864 to have the solar installed.
  2. Once we had solar installed, we had air conditioning put in our house. The cost of running an a/c unit can be cost prohibitive, which is why we wanted solar first. Our house is not at all energy efficient, and required multiple upgrades to get up to code, so this wasn't a standard a/c install. We needed all new duct work, a full electrical rebuild (which, we was included with the solar installation), etc. We've lived in the same neighborhood (different house) without ever really needing air conditioning, but the layout of our house & direction it faces makes it incredibly hot during the summer. It also makes it a prime solar candidate, so I suppose there's that as a blessing. We spent $30,000 for the combined air conditioning/energy upgrade project. We consider this a financial win for 2018, as it was a much needed & planned for upgrade to the house. 
  3. We maxed out our 401Ks, including a catch up contribution for M, as he's over 50. We invested $43,000 in our 401Ks, not including employer matches. 
  4. We maxed out our HSA plan. This was a last minute add towards the end of the year, once I realized we were leaving money on the table, and understood the tax advantages of maxing this account. We saved $6,900 in our HSA account. 
  5. We invested in the kids 529s. While not our top priority this year, we did divert a significant portion of non paycheck (e.g. unplanned/unexpected) money into the kids college accounts. We will end the year with $5,590 getting added to the kids college accounts. 
  6. And, the big one . . . we paid off our vacation house mortgage. The majority of our unplanned/unexpected money went towards this. We also used additional savings for the year, plus some of our profit from our rental house (Seattle house) sale towards this. We paid an additional $202,546 of principal to pay this off

I'm pleased with our progress, and looking forward to more forward momentum in 2019. Fortunately/unfortunately, we have our primary mortgage left, and it's a beast, so we'll need to create smaller milestones to celebrate next year.

What about you? What financial wins are you proud of in reflecting on 2018 & your progress? 


  1. You had some substantial financial wins this year! Great going!
    We talked about installing solar, I lost that battle.

    1. Solar is so heavily dependent on how much sun you get at your house, your existing electric bills, and how much power you use gas vs electric. For us, we were in the sweet spot for maximum production. Which is why we need the air conditioning - so much sun!

  2. You were focused and ran a tight ship-accomplishing so much. I'm glad you are finding time to enjoy your vacation home-too often people invest ins something for relaxation, then do not use it enough.