It’s the time of year for a little introspection, especially on the personal finance front. 2012 has been an amazing year for my family from a financial point of view – I think I’ll always remember it as the year when we finally found our financial footing, had confidence in our ability to not only make money, but maximize it, and were able to use it to help others.
Here are some of the financial highlights of 2012 that would put me on Dave Ramsey’s “nice” list:
- Paid off two installment loans – my student loans and our only remaining vehicle loan. As a result of this, my husband and I are debt free (well, other than our mortgage, but we tried to sell our house!).
- Fully-funded my Roth IRA for the first time; I’ve come close in previous years, but never managed to actually do it.
- Increased my earnings by 68 percent compared to 2011, wrapping up my second full year of freelancing.
Unfortunately, I didn’t meet all of my financial goals this year. This category represents financial pursuits that were started, but not completed; that were started too late; that were given only lackadaisical attention. In other words, this is my category for improvement:
- Although I’ve been funding my daughter’s 529 plan since 2010 – the year I became pregnant with my son – I didn’t even establish a 529 plan for him until his first birthday back in the spring. I feel like simple laziness kept me from doing it earlier.
- Didn’t donate as much to charity as I’d have liked. I tried to make up for this with some heavy donating during the holidays, but I think I would have been able to contribute more if I’d made a habit of donating in smaller chunks over the entire year.
This is the category that goes beyond “needing improvement.” These are the financial goals I didn’t even realize I had until it was too late, until 2012 had passed me by. These are the financial goals that will get the highest priority as we begin 2013:
- Shopping around for insurance rates. I used to do this on an annual basis – every August – and this year, I just forgot. I’m especially frustrated I didn’t shop for better life insurance rates, as the cancellation period for our life insurance policies – which I believe may be overpriced based on our age and good health – expired in November.
- Failed to pay estimated quarterly income taxes. I know I’ll be owing Uncle Sam in April (for the first time), and even though my plan was to pay quarterly taxes to avoid the big bill in 2013, I didn’t.
What were your family’s financial highs and lows of 2012? What financial goals will you be working toward in 2013?