This year has had some serious ups, and some serious lows. We elected a historic President. That’s a good thing. And of course, the market fell out of just about everything. That was bad and getting worse.

Financial Goals in Review
I also had a personal year of ups and downs. Fortunately, they were mostly ups. Before I set new financial goals for 2009, here’s one last look at my financial progress in 2008.

Goal 1: Track my spending for one month. Completed January 31, 2008.

Goal 2: Pay off $40,000 in debt. Completed September 22, 2008.

Goal 3: Boost retirement savings by 3%. Never completed – but is definitely on track for 2009.

Goal 4: Boost our emergency fund. Happened by accident. After we paid off the debt, our cash cushion ballooned. Most of it will be used for taxes and closing costs, but I also have my eye on building a solid cushion in the new year.

Goal 5: Buy a house. Forwarded to 2009. This was not the year to buy, but we definitely have to in early 2009. Not only do I actively loathe my apartment, but we’re getting the dual income, no kids, no mortgage penalty on our taxes.

Personal Finances in Review
Fortunately, we both still have jobs and we both received decent raises this year, although we’re not seeing much of that money due to taxes. Not straight taxes, taxes on the $28,000 in windfalls we received this year. $25,000 of that was used to pay off the debt.

We still have a lot of student debt that won’t be paid off for decades – focusing on it would mean waiting years to buy a house, invest in retirement, or do anything else with our lives. We do still have one student loan at around $4,000 that we’d like to pay off in the next few months. It’s only $78 a month and the interest is low, but it’s annoying.

In addition to the $600 a month we’re saving on debt payments, we tried to cut back in other places. We trimmed the food bill a tad, but not too much because we prefer to spend more for pastured beef and farmer’s market veggies. My food allergies also pad the bill by at least 25%.

We even had enough money to take a relaxing vacation in a foreign country. We went over our trip budget by $300, which isn’t bad. And really, it was only $100, because my husband entered it into our budget at $200 less than my initial estimate of what it would cost. The total trip cost about $3,000 spread across several months. It was money well-spent on our marriage and mental health.

I know 2008 was rough for many people, but it treated us very well and 2009 is looking to be even better. Friday I’ll share my financial goals for the new year. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

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