Home > Closing Out 2020/Onward to 2021

Closing Out 2020/Onward to 2021

January 1st, 2021 at 07:34 pm

We made it!  While I don't have any illusions that the calendar switching from 2020 to 2021 will solve all of the issues plaguing us as a society, it still feels like a milestone that I definitely had doubts about hitting at multiple points through the year.


So.  2020.  What a year. 


Focusing on financial stuff only, I started the year with mounting debt, took some steps (401k loan #1, and a balance transfer) to try to tackle it, but they weren't enough, combined with not changing the behaviors that caused me to get into the debt in the first place.  In August, I was enrolled in a debt consolidation program (see previous post), and by October found myself taking about ANOTHER 401k loan.  This loan was mostly used to pay down my main credit card.  By December, this card was maxed again.  At the same time, I was in a toxic involvement, that had me spending a lot more money than I should have been (increased grocery and gas bills, plus underlying anxiety about it causing me to shop excessively).  Once that ended in mid November, it led me to take a hard and critical look at everything in my life and come up with a plan to fix it.  I've always been very good and making a financial plan, but not so good at changing the behaviors.  This time was different.  I was spending willy nilly.  I've pretty much stopped that, and some of my expenses have dropped dramatically as well, so while I could try to analyze what exactly I spent so much d*mn money on, I don't feel like it's helpful at this point so I am just moving on.


I stopped making resolutions a few years ago, as I felt they were too rigid.  I try to make goals.  This year, I saw suggested somewhere that you set a theme for the year.  I liked that, and so my theme for the year is "Forward".  All of my goals tie back to the theme.


2021 goals:


Stay the course with current debt payoff 

Consolidation:  Since I last posted, another account has been paid off, so now we are down to 9 (of the original 12).  Consolidation balance is currently around $30k.  It's hard to project what will happen with this balance but I’m hoping it’s down to around $20k by end of year.  I also started tracking it a little more granularly, so I have a better understanding of the fees, and what my net effective savings by going through this program are. 

Non-consolidated:  When I started this blog, there were 6 accounts with balances.  I have since paid one off, so 5 to go.  I hope to pay 3 more of those off this year.  The combined balances of these accounts is around $11k as of today.  I’m hoping to have it around $5k by the end of the year.

Begin payback of “Mom debt”

Payments will be slow this year, as I have a lot of other balls to juggle.  Thankfully she is understanding and doesn’t need the money paid back on any schedule.  As other debts are lessened, I will increase my payments to her.  This year is mostly about getting started.

Re-build savings

Continue to use automatic transfers to savings to keep funding this, and attempt to direct most “snowflakes” into this as well.  Once this gets to baby EF level ($1k), then split any snowflakes between savings and debt payoff based on current situations.  I keep close track of snowflakes, and am currently projecting a few thousand for the year as of right now.  My definition of snowflakes is broad, lol.  Basically anything that isn’t paycheck – even if it’s expected counts as a snowflake to me.  In the past, since my spending wasn’t under control, those were usually wasted or used to shore up budget shortfalls.  I’d like to end the year with at least $2k in general EF.  While I’m in major debt payoff mode, it doesn’t seem prudent to focus on savings categories/slush funds, but I have a feeling it’ll start coming into play organically as I go on.

Continue to service non-priority debt on normal schedule

Mortgage – I honestly have to log in to see what my current balance is.  I assume somewhere around $150k.  I have this set on auto-pay, and I do confirm that the payment is taken out of the dedicated checking account for housing costs….and I only log into the online servicing account every few months.  It’s not a very user friendly site, but I do want to keep a closer eye on it.  I’d like to refinance this in late 2021/early 2022, depending on the market/credit score recovery etc.  My interest rate is 5%, and I’d like to lower that.  I’d also like to borrow against some of my equity to fund some expensive cosmetic surgery (that isn’t a want, and couldn’t be considered medically a need, but is very much mentally one).  We’ll see. 

Car – while I am dealing with credit card debt, I have no intention of accelerating this payment.  It would be nice to, and save some money in interest, but there are other, higher priority, goals.  My hope is that by the time I need a new car, everything but mortgage debt is cleared and so I can make a wise decision.

Student Loans – the balance on these is less than $4k.  I honestly don’t care about them.  When automatic payments resume in Feb, it is what it is.  I of course have a hope that there will either be an extension in automatic forbearance, or even some level of cancellation, but they aren’t at a level where this has a huge impact on my budget. 

Continue to bump retirement savings

Ending 2020 with a balance of ~$26k, not including outstanding loans of $14k or the contribution/loan payment from my 12/31 paycheck.  My starting balance in January 2020 was just under $24k, with no loans.  I am currently 75% vested in my company match, and will be 100% vested in May.  The $26k includes all match funds. If I hadn’t taken the loans this year, it would have been a nice increase.

My current contribution is 10%, I would like to be at 12% by mid year. 

It’ll be nice to see the balance growing, between twice monthly contributions/loan payments, as well as hopefully market growth.  I’m invested in a 2040 target fund.

Continue dabbling with investment vehicles

Right now I currently have small accounts with Robinhood (around $300) and Coinbase (around $30).  I’d like to continue throwing a few extra dollars at both of these as able throughout the year.  Hoping that the tiny amounts will add up.  No real goal for where these would end up. 

Get promoted (this is both a financial and non-financial goal)

Obviously a promotion would come with a salary increase which would allow me to increase allocations to debt payoff/savings.  As of 1/1, my salary is $85,200.  I believe a promotion to the next level would put me in the mid-90s. 

It’s something I’ve been busting my *ss towards since starting at my company almost 4 years ago.  The promotion is honestly 1-2 years overdue, but whenever it comes, it will be tangible recognition of my hard work, and allow me to keep growing professionally.

Non-financial - continue to stay focused on my weight loss journey

Since January 2018, I have lost ~85 pounds post bariatric surgery.  I have 15-30 to get to my goal (if I could ever decide what my goal is).  I’ve long since learned that setting time-bound goals for weight loss is an exercise in frustration, so I would just like to end the year having made additional progress towards that.  I managed to lose 23 pounds in 2020, which is impressive in and of itself in year 3 post surgery, but then add a global pandemic on top that?!  I’ll take it. 

Start taking steps for plastics.  Post massive weight loss, it’s common to have excess skin that will not shrink along with the body underneath it.  My actual body frame is quite small now, but the loose skin does not make me appear like I am the size I actually am.  It’s very difficult mentally, and makes me feel….unfinished.  Insurance will likely cover a portion of this, but I am estimating around $40k for the procedures I want.  While I don’t want to get into the habit of borrowing from my equity/refinancing my mortgage, for this instance, it’s the best option I have.  The first steps are to start making appts for consults with some of the surgeons I have identified to get firm costs, and then engage with insurance to see what they’ll kick in.  I hope to start doing this mid-year into fall.  Then when I have a better idea of numbers and what I actually need to kick in, I’ll start the refinancing process (by which time hopefully my credit score has recovered enough from debt consolidation to go this route). 

That’s all a lot and I have a busy year ahead of me.  I’m also looking forward to getting the vaccine when eligible (in my state, I am in the last category, so it will be some time)….being able to reconnect with friends who I have not seen during this last year due to COVID, and maaaaaaybe finding a romantic connection (still a bit bruised and not at all comfortable with meeting new people right now with the virus raging, but hoping that will be allayed with more widespread vaccinations). 

Happy New Year to all!  May this year be better. 

4 Responses to “Closing Out 2020/Onward to 2021”

  1. Wink Says:

    Great work on developing a really well thought out plan! And, you accomplished one of the hardest things to do, you changed the behaviors that contributed to accumulating the debt. You have a very bright future to look forward to. Happy New Year!

  2. LuckyRobin Says:

    I wish someone had told this to me at the start of my debt free journey. If you haven't read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, I would highly suggest it. That and listening to him on youtube. I worry that with such a scattered focus on so many different goals, and with a history of very bad credit card habits, it may be very difficult to achieve what you want all at once. He can really focus you so you can achieve in a step by step method called the baby steps, that actually gets you to your goals. I am living proof of that and finally came out the other side of debt in June, have funded my 3 month's EF, and am working on retirement goals. I paid off around $250K of debt when all was said and done. I have seen many people stumble along the way since I started blogging here in 2006 and many people succeed. The most focused are the ones who make it. Good luck. We will all be here to root for you along the way, whichever path you choose.

  3. FocusedinmyForties Says:

    Thanks, Wink!

    LR, I know it may seem scattered, but I do best with multiple goals. I am well aware of Dave Ramsey's plan, and appreciate that he's helped lots of people, but I'm just not a fan of his. I have definitely taken some of the concepts into consideration here.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    Well, you have to work a plan that is good for you. I hope your method works. I wasn't a big fan of Dave's for many years, either, and I tried to do it my way. Eventually I finally read the books a few years ago, then did FPU with my husband, and it really helped accelerate everything. I had to get over how abrasive he is, but the plan did work. We are out of debt, have our 3 month emergency fund, and are working on retirement. I never thought we'd get here when I started blogging this journey in 2006. It was overwhelming, but we did it, and so can you.

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