2020 was a crazy year! We definitely had some highs and lows, but despite everything I realized I have so much to be grateful for.
Looking back on the previous year is always a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see everything laid out in a one year period. I get to see what I did and didn’t do, reflect on everything, and take a minute to appreciate all that my life has experienced in the past year. So, I am happy to publish my first 2020 year in review.
I worked as a part-time online ESL teacher, I traveled to Hawaii for the first time with my sisters, one of my best friends had a baby, we bought a car with cash, I decorated my office, we became debt free, and the covid19 pandemic shook everyones lives.
Despite some lows, like not being able to visit my family as often as we hoped to this year, I realized I have SO much to be grateful for.
I am thankful for my amazing husband, my family, friends, my health, I am thankful to still have a job, and I am grateful for finally starting this blog. I’ve been wanting to start a personal finance blog for a while because I love the topic so much!
I wanted a space where I can freely talk about our financial situation, have a place to document our journey, and open up about our future goals because let’s be honest here, not everyone is comfortable talking about this subject.
I like the thought of creating a support group for other like minded individuals. I also simply needed a place to brain dump my thoughts, worries, ideas, and interests.
If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, but haven’t yet why not make 2021 the year to start? It’s easy and only costs a few bucks a month to get started.
Here is what we did in 2020:
- I went snowboarding on Crystal Mountain with some friends and family and we had an awesome time! The snow was powdery, the sun was shining, and we had a small flask filled with cabernet in our pockets. Can’t get any better than that!
- I started a side hustle as an online ESL teacher with VIPKID in October 2019. However, January was the first month I made my first decent sized side hustle income of $1,210.00 on top of my 9-5 job. Every single penny of this extra income went straight towards our debt.
- Our minimum debt payments totaled $957.00. Yikes! However, we were able to still put away 52% of our income towards our debt snowball.
- I finished decorating and furnishing my office.
- My husband started a job at a new company.
- We went on a fun day trip with some friends to Portland Oregon. We enjoyed biscuits & gravy, Mac n’ cheese, a ton of sushi, beer, ice cream, and some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had!
- My husband and I celebrated our 8 year dating anniversary by going to Feast Buffet 🙂
- We went to an awesome Super Bowl party.
- My husband and I visited Lake Oswego for the weekend and stayed at the Crowne Plaza.
- We paid 42% of our income towards debt.
- We went to a beautiful tea house with the girls.
- One of my best friends had her first baby shower for her son. I helped decorate the venue by creating a beautiful balloon garland over the dessert table. I remember it took much longer than expected, but it was worth it! My friend was very happy with the results.
- We took a ferry to Port Townsend with some friends. It was a chilly yet sunny March day. We enjoyed sight seeing, shopping the boutiques, and ate one of the best pizza’s ever in a tiny hole in the wall family owned restaurant.
- We were the Best Man and Bridesmaid for our close friends wedding. This was right when the covid pandemic hit so their guest list went from 150 to just 35. However, it ended up being a beautiful, cozy, and intimate backyard wedding with close friends and family. It was perfect.
- I started working from home due to the covid19 pandemic.
- We went snowboarding for the last time this season to Crystal Mountain.
- It was my husbands 39th birthday 🙂
- I made an extra $1,619 from my side teaching job.
- We paid 42% of our income towards debt.
- I watched Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. We used a 7 day free trial. I binge watched all of the videos and ferociously took notes within a few days so that I can take advantage of the free trial. I highly recommend you to watch this if you are just starting your debt free journey and need some step-by-step guidance.
- Made an extra $2,000 from teaching online.
- We threw 73% of our income towards debt.
- We received a $2,400 stimulus check from the federal government.
- May was one of our best income months!
- We went to a restaurant for the first time in a few months to celebrate the huge income increase. Due to the pandemic, all restaurants were closed except for casinos so we drove an hour to get sushi. It was worth it!
- Our niece graduated middle school and we had a fun zoom grad party.
- We became DEBT FREE!!! We celebrated by going out to an all you can eat Brazilian steak house.
- We were able to throw a huge chunk of our income towards our emergency fund.
- We had another fantastic income month.
- I started cutting my hours as an online teacher.
- We saved our 6-month emergency fund.
- I was finally able to get my hair professionally done at a salon. While on our debt free journey, I haven’t stepped foot into a salon so we can save money. It was such a treat! This was also the first month I did a little shopping and splurged on high quality moisturizers and clothing items.
- We had a one week vacation in Vegas!!! It was amazing. This was first the first time in years that we went on a vacation anywhere. We got an incredible 800 square foot suite at Caesars Palace for less than $100 a night and our flights were very affordable as well. During the day we lounged by the pool, had lunch, went shopping, and in the evening we ate out at some of the nicest restaurants and enjoyed cocktails at our hotel bar. My favorite restaurant was Gordon Ramsey’s Hells Kitchen. I now understand the hype about his Beef Wellington. My god it was incredible! This restaurant is a must if you are in Vegas.
- We put away 59% of our income towards savings and investments.
- My husband and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary while visiting a few local wineries, eating pizza, and finishing the day off at a delicious dinner at John Howie Steakhouse ❤
- Met one of my best friends baby for the first time. Due to covid, we weren’t able to visit her at the hospital and as a precaution we waited a few months after he was born to visit. He was a beautiful, happy, and healthy baby boy.
- We put away 40% of our income towards savings and investments.
- Enjoyed a girls weekend getaway to wine country.
- We went to my cousins wedding by a beautiful lake house.
- We bought a new (used) SUV with cash.
- We opened up our first credit card with an awesome airline miles program. We used the miles to book two free round trip tickets to Cancun in 2021.
- I created the MyPersonalFinanceBlog and posted my first blog post!
- We put away 40% of our income towards savings and investments.
- We went hiking on Mount Rainier and had an outdoor BBQ with two of our friends.
- We put away 55% of our income towards savings and investments.
- Visited Honolulu Hawaii for the first time with my sisters! We stayed for a week and had the best time. This was one of the most memorable trips I will ever have.
- We had family come over for good food, fun games, and football.
- We put away 53% of our income towards savings and investments.
- We ended the 2020 year with having our best income month ever!!! My husband and my combined gross income for December hit almost six figures!!! Our income includes our normal paychecks from our day jobs, bonuses, and side hustle income.
- We were able to be extremely generous with our friends and family this month. My husband and I always make it a point to donate and give whenever we can, but because we had an awesome income month, we were able to freely give without having to give it a second thought. It truly does feel better to give than to receive. One of my husbands close friends was struggling financially and we were able to give him a few thousand dollars in cash so he has some cushion for the next few months. It felt really good to be able to help our friend who was in need. We also treated our friends and family to multiple dinners. Sometimes we ordered take out and simply ate at home due to all the restaurant closures in our area. It felt wonderful to spoil our family and friends with some good food. I realized that financial independence and retiring early is a great goal to have, but it’s also important to have a goal of being wealthy enough to freely give to those in need. I guess before this month I never really thought about making giving a goal, but now I will definitely take that into consideration. I want to be able to have enough to not only retire early (my goal is by age 40), but also to have enough to give freely.
- We put away 86% of our income towards savings and investments.
What’s in store for 2021?
We have lots of big and exciting plans for 2021.
I plan on writing lots of new content on the MyPersonalFinanceBlog. I have a lot of topic ideas swimming around in my head that I have been excited to write about. I plan on writing more about side hustles, how to save on insurance, credit card hacking, budgeting, blogging, and tax avoidance strategies.
As far as travel goes, we have a lot planned for 2021. We are going to Cancun next month for 9 days and staying at two different resorts. I’m looking forward to the warm weather and laying on the beach!
In the spring, my husband and I will go to Austin Texas to check out downtown and some of the surrounding cities. My husband and I have contemplated on moving to Texas because of the lower cost of living there. The purpose of our trip to Austin is to mainly scout out the area to see if it’s actually a place we would like to live.
My entire family and I are also planning on taking an international trip together in October. It will be the first time my entire family has taken an international trip together so I’m looking forward to it. I am hoping that Mrs. Covid will stay at bay so that this trip can be possible.
And last but not least, we might purchase our first house. I want to move this year but my husband wants to wait until next year. The plan isn’t set in stone so we’ll see what happens.
Here are my 2021 goals:
- Save at least $100,000.00 towards savings and investments (Financial). Financially, 2020 was our best year by far. We paid off over $60,000 of debt, saved a 6 month emergency fund, and saved over six-figures towards our investments. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you have a goal, stay focused, and stay consistent.
- Post two articles a week consistently (Blog) – Ever since my first article that I posted on September 5, 2020, I have consistently posted two articles a week. I would like to keep that tradition going by making it a goal to consistently post two articles a week throughout 2021. Posting only one a week doesn’t seem like it’s enough, but posting three a week feels overwhelming especially because I still have my day job.
- Get at least two months ahead on the My Personal Finance Blog posts (Blog) – Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2021 goals!
- Learn about SEO and grow my email list (Blog) – I know that SEO and an email list a vital to having a successful blog. I am going to make learning a priority by carving half hour every morning to reading, learning, and applying everything I can about SEO and email marketing. If I make it a part of my morning routine I have a better chance of actually following through with it.
- Visit my parents at least once month (Family) – Due to covid, I haven’t been able to visit my parents as often as I’d hoped to. Talking to them over the phone and face timing with them isn’t the same. Sometimes just being in the same room with family without even saying a word feels warm and comforting. Although my parents live only 20 minutes away, I miss them. I will make it a goal to see them at least once a month in 2021 even if that means I have to get tested every single time I see them.
- Exercise at least 4x a week (Health) – Exercising has never been my strong suit, but as I get older I am realizing the importance of health more and more. I used to only work out because I wanted to look a certain way. However, my motivation for working out has changed. I want to stay healthy, have energy, and live a long and happy life.
- Read at least 6 books (Personal) – One of my goals is to start reading books again. I only read two books in the past year. I will most likely listen to books in the form of audiobooks, which I highly recommend.
- Turn our guest room into a home office (Personal) – We live in a two bedroom apartment and our spare bedroom is currently a guest room. However, due to covid we haven’t had any guests stay over so instead of wasting the square footage, I plan on turning the guest room into a beautiful home office. My husband and I currently work our day jobs from home so it will be perfect for us to utilize.
What are your life, business, and travel plans for 2021? What was your favorite part of 2020?