2019 was supposed to be a great year financially but …

04 Jan 2020 14:35

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The Unplanned Expenses

Going into 2019 I had high hopes that this was going to be my best year financially in the last 15 years but life had other plans that were small enough to be frustrating but nothing that derailed me.

Entering into 2019 it was to be the first full year of cash flow bliss with no debt from credit cards and my mortgage was paid off at the end of the 2018 summer. I only had one planned major purchase to buy a car and that was it. My financial goals were pretty straightforward; grow my dividend income a minimum of 12.5% and save an additional $2500 cash.

After the first month, my cash flow looked better than expected and I decided to start building a secondary emergency fund for unplanned expenses and padded it with $1000 by the end of February. This was going to be a very good year, or so I thought.

In March my kitchen stove just died, two months later my washing machine died. So much for that secondary emergency fund but hey that is what it is there for.

In June I was planning my new car purchase when an emergency arose with one of my in-laws. Her 20 year old mini-van died and she was in no position to afford a new car. She has spent the last few years struggling to get out of deep debt and was making great progress but this was going to set her back years financially and emotionally the stress was beginning to take its toll on her. After a discussion with my wife we decided to take my wife’s car and give it to her sister while we would buy a second new car since our cash flow situation has improved so much.

It was a bit frustrating up to this point. My extra $1000 for unexpected expenses was eaten up and I was behind on my $2500 goal but hey we got 6 months left to recover right? Think again…

In August our refrigerator decided to stop keeping things cold so it was our third new appliance for the year. Just when I thought my appliance issues were behind me our dishwasher kicked the bucket in October! This time we refused to replace it and decided to live with washing dishes by hand but the failing dishwasher did cause water damage to my kitchen floor so that need to be replaced. I replaced the floor myself at a cost of only $175 which limited the expense. Finally I thought everything was behind me when just before the Christmas holiday our vacuum died a miserable death, I’ve repaired it twice over the years but this time it was too far gone. A new vacuum was not expensive but more of just a final insult. I honestly believe an appliance demon has set up shop in my house.

Finding the Goodness of 2019

2019 was definitely an odd year for expenses. But thankfully I was in a position to absorb it via the sacrifice of my emergency money and liquidating what savings I had for my $2500 goal without adding any credit card debt. Yes I had to take out an unplanned car loan but at loan rate of 3% it’s not that bad and is better than credit card interest.

What allowed 2019 to be an annoying expense year versus a financial setback year was the fact I eliminated all my debt in 2018. I am truly blessed from that perspective and heck it could have been a lot worse so I felt really proud we didn’t let all these little expenses hurt us and we helped my wife’s sister in the process with a free car.

Expense issues aside, I did nail my dividend income growth goal by achieving 14.4% growth versus my target 12.5%. Beating my target helped wash away all those annoying unplanned expenses!

The Bad side of 2019

The bad parts of 2019 were not financial impacts but emotional ones. Throughout the year my father-in-law suffered multiple strokes and at age 87 it has greatly impacted his mobility requiring even more support from my wife and myself. We are not complaining as we love the guy but it is just tough to watch and somedays stressful taking care of two households.

During all this my oldest sister was in two major car accidents and in the hospital multiple times. She has been having a long recovery to get her mobility back and this will carry well into 2020. I am stretched thin with my immediate family and father-in-law and felt guilty I could not do more for my sister other than give her rides here and there but luckily I come from a big family so my brothers stepped up and filled the gap.

The Disappointment

This one is for my oldest daughter. My daughter had planned to graduate from college in December. All she needed was to get a minimum grade of a 3.0 in Physics II that would allow her to waive an additional science class and graduate a whole semester ahead of schedule saving her $6,000. Unfortunately her final grade came in at a 2.8 and she has to start 2020 by going back for one last semester to complete one more class. Man that was a tough one for her considering it was only two tenths of point difference. I honestly think she would have felt better if she outright failed but to fall short by such a small amount had to take the wind out of her sails. Best I could do is be a loving Dad to be there for emotional support.

Looking Forward to 2020

I plan to keep my financial goals the same as last year but more humble. I think life reminded me not to get too overconfident. Hopefully I can continue to remain in a position to help others throughout the new year.

My third child will be starting college in September so technically I will have a three kids in college for the year and hope all do well. With three in college 2020 will be a slightly more expensive year but I love seeing my kids march on towards a new life journey and in some ways envy them.

If things go better than last year I might be able to take a vacation with just my wife. It is something we have not been able to do for the last 20 years because of finances or personal commitments with taking care of family or extended family. It has been a long road for my wife and I, the idea of finally getting to a point to enjoy other aspects of life is slowly settling in and this vacation is just the start.

That is it from my life and I wish everyone the best for 2020!

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