Wow. 2014. What an amazingly hectic, surprising, up-lifting, life-changing year. You’ve already seen my husband’s reflections on the past year, so I thought I would share my take as well. 2014 will definitely go down in my personal history as the year that changed EVERYTHING.
So on to what I did right, what I could have done better, and what truly made me happy in 2014.
What I Did Right:
1. I married my fabulous husband. From the beginning our relationship was easy, fun and inspiring. When he proposed on our trip to Mexico in March it was the easiest and most natural thing to say YES! This is the decision that enabled so many other things in my life in 2014 to go so right.
2. We talked about finances. Seriously talked. Money isn’t really discussed in my family or social circles so it’s nice to have someone to openly discuss it with. We decided to move in together ASAP once we were engaged to save on living expenses. We also discovered Mr. Money Mustache and decided we want out of the rat race. We’re retiring before the Mr. is 40 or before I’m 36. My entire salary (what’s not going into my maxed out 401k) is going into our brokerage account. All of it. In 2015 we’re going to be taking some out of the Mr.’s salary as well.
3. DIY. We’re learning. We have managed to install a ceiling fan, take care of our pool service and exterminator service, do our own landscaping, and drop our electricity bill so far. Plans for 2015 include kitchen cabinet refinishing, my first attempt at sewing curtains and more energy reduction plans.
4. Minimalism. Up until this house I had moved every 2-3 years living at home with my parents. While a pain to move, I still loved it. Moving made me pack up all my stuff every few years and realize everything I had (and what I can get rid of).
The Mr. and I plan to be in this house until we retire (another 5-7 years) and I have already been here for 3 ½ – so the stuff is accumulating. It’s seriously time for it to go.
Not only are we streamlining our savings and spending, we’re also streamlining our stuff. We are slowly downsizing as we move closer to retirement and plan to live a very streamlined, minimalist lifestyle after our working days are over. It’s amazing how good it feels to get rid of things that we haven’t used in forever.
5. The Gym. Before meeting my husband I was in decent shape. I ran occasionally with friends and even participated in my first half marathon. But, had not found the motivation or love to do much more.
The Mr. is a gym fanatic. We started lifting together 2-3 days a week the beginning of this year. It felt great! So when his job changed and he was no longer commuting into work and meeting up with his gym partner, I stepped up. We now lift together 6 days a week – on weekdays after work and weekends whenever we feel like it. I’ll be honest…there are times that I don’t want to go to the gym after work. In fact, some days all I want to do is curl up on the couch but the Mr. is always there, excited and motivated and helps me get my butt in gear. I have noticed amazing progress, love how I look, and I’m in the best shape of my life. Woo hoo! Bring on 2015!
What Didn’t Work:
1. Budgeting. Or at least not as well as I would like. I have my spreadsheets setup and they should work great but I need to find a routine to fill them in regularly. We also had wedding expenses throughout the year which threw a lot of our numbers off. I’m getting better but 2015 will be consistent and we will meet out budgets.
2. Fun time. We had fun this year but boy did we have a lot going on! We got engaged, planned a wedding in 8 months, renovated 2 houses, moved in together, got a second dog, the Mr. changed jobs, we got married and started down the path to FI. A busy year for anyone I think. What this meant was my personal hobby time was greatly diminished, as was our date nights. There were always things to be done so knitting or reading or playing mini-golf were put off. Now that things have settled down the fun hobbies are coming back. I didn’t realize how much I missed them.
3. My migraines. While switching to a mostly vegetarian diet seemed to help, I’m still getting migraines too frequently for my taste. There just wasn’t enough time to focus on triggers or solutions this year.
What I LOVE:
1. Did I mention marrying my husband? It’s amazing to find someone to talk to and share everything with. To have someone waiting at home after having to work the weekend. To have adventures with and plan the future together. Best decision ever.
2. Family time. Even though this year was crazy busy and I didn’t have as much time for my fun hobbies, I did prioritize spending time with my husband and dogs. This brings me so much joy and relieves so much stress.
3. Travel. Both of us love to travel. Travel brings adventure, new ideas and new experiences. It keeps us thinking and trying new things. 2014 included: Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Sedona AZ, and Hawaii to name a few. We already have plans for quite a few more adventures in 2015.
4. Homemade Bread. I’ve always enjoyed cooking though it is much more fun when cooking for more than just myself. Now that I am in charge of our food budget and we’re cooking vegan in the house, I have had a blast coming up with new favorite recipes that also keep the cost down. The newest, favorite thing is baking our own bread. Homemade rolls for Portobello Sandwiches or pizza dough for making our own pizza are delicious additions to our menu. I want to continue in this vein in 2015. Make as much as we can to keep costs low and quality very very high.
2014 was the Year of Change and almost all of it for the better.
Looking forward to 2015 – The Year of Consistency
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.