Sunday, December 8, 2019

Financial priorities for 2020 & beyond

Each year we spend quite a bit of time thinking about our financial priorities, and ensuring our budget & yearly/monthly goals line up with those priorities. It's easier in some years than others, that's for sure!

Here's where we've landed with our financial priorities for 2020.

  • Pay off half of our mortgage. This will be a big stretch, as we've only been in the house since February of 2017. And, we're in the Bay Area, so real estate is. . . $$$$$$$$$$$$
  • Continue to max tax advantaged accounts. This includes our HSAs, as well as our 401Ks. We have also started doing a back door Roth, and will likely continue in 2020.
  • Set aside money for a few home projects. While our house is in need of a substantial remodel, we prefer to have half of the mortgage paid off first, and then save cash for house upgrades. We do still want to make progress in 2020 on the houses (primary residence & vacation home). Here are the current projects we've greenlit for getting bids & timing:
    •  Add trim to our house. This has been missing since we moved in, as we were waiting for new doors. Which, the doors were a giant saga of their own, so time to get the trim done.
    • Update our yard to make it easier to maintain & drought resistant. Our yard is an eye sore, and no amount of our time & effort will help. The previous owners paid an exorbitant fee to a yard service, and had a huge water bill. We're not interested in either, so would rather make an upfront investment to make the house easier to maintain. We would also like to turn our covered front area into a small patio/outdoor living space.
    • Paint our vacation house. The house is near the ocean, so a certain level of maintenance is required to keep things from rotting.
  • Buy a new (to us) electric car, when our lease expires. We've loved having an electric car, and have had no issues with maintenance. The range on our current car is ~300 miles on a full charge, and we can charge for free at work. We can also use the carpool lane, which is quite an advantage, given the traffic. 
  • Save for the kids college. We've been on the fence for a while about how much money we want to devote to the kids college accounts. We want to be somewhere between motivating for the kids to work hard & get good grades, while starting them off on the best financial foot. A few things have happened recently that increased our desire to save more in this area. Sam's recent diagnosis made it clear that grades will be a struggle, even with a significant amount of effort. There has also been a rise in teen pressure & suicide in our area, as it relates to grades, scholarships & parental expectations. We want our kids to be the absolute best they can be, but we also want them to know we will help support them with college. We will encourage them to shop around, choose the school that best fits their learning style, and California offers a variety of reasonably priced options that we will encourage them to pursue. This isn't a carte blanche offer for them to have four years of an Ivy paid on our dime. In all things with parenting, balance and reason. :-) 
  • Save for future financial flexibility. This is last on the list intentionally this year. In previous years, I was working hard to save for my glorious sabbatical, and for the flexibility to quit my job, should I decide I want to upon my return. The sabbatical really did help me reset my own stress levels, and find more balance. It's not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. But, things are better. Way better. And, I've been promoted, so I'm also being paid more than before. What does this mean? I'm feeling a bit better about my current situation and the tradeoffs of working in order to achieve some of the above goals. Working a few extra years in a very lucrative job gives us a lot of flexibility in the future. I'm at my peak earning years right now. While I haven't given myself a definitive timeline on next steps, I'm hoping to have the financial flexibility to cover all of our expenses without my salary in a couple of years or so. It seems realistic, and reasonable from a work life balance perspective. Anything can change, of course. That's just where my head is at right now. 
What about you? I'd love to hear how you plan for the future (financially or otherwise) & how you update your priorities as things change in your life. 


  1. All sounds very reasonable. Electric cars are not huge on Vancouver island, primarily because of the long distance between towns and lack of charging stations - slowly it is starting to change though. All the local taxis are electric. If I could buy a used one I might consider it but I've never seen one on the resale market here.

    1. When the infrastructure supports electric cars, I think you will really like the ease of use (no trips to the gas station)!

  2. I wish you the best of luck on meeting all of your goals for 2020.

  3. We are putting up our goals one by one on my blog. You have some hefty ones. Paying off the mortgage is such a good idea. Saving for the kids college is a biggie. It is very difficult for kids to pay all of the expenses these days. I wish you the best of luck with all of your goals.

  4. Half your mortgage! That would be incredible.

    I've been setting aside money for the maintenance we need and we have some overlap with your first two. Our yard is atrocious! I want it to be low maintenance and functional for a long time and friendly for the dogs.

    Do you have a preferred electric car that you're going buy when the time comes? We're always looking for more info on electrics so we can decide when it's our turn :)

    So glad for you that the return since the sabbatical has been good!

    We have a very similar list: Saving for the future is flipped with paying the mortgage at the moment because I think the mortgage is such a huge thing that it was becoming a white whale. I don't want to lose my mental balance trying to achieve what feels impossible so I'm focusing on investing and saving for future income first, and that should give us the flexibility to choose to pay down the mortgage more when we're ready.

    1. We are thinking of another Chevy Bolt, depending on price. We love that it goes so far on a charge (300 miles), as we can charge at work on Friday, and drive it all weekend. We haven't yet needed to add a charger at home, so we want something with enough range that we can drive it most places with no concern.