A combination of factors towards the end of last year convinced me that it was time to take care of a few matters that I had long neglected or simply put off because I felt it was not quite time to focus on them. First, after starting a new and extremely well paying remote job in September, I was able to quickly pay off my debt from my 5 month work-free sabbatical and within a couple months I had a sizable chunk of savings in my bank account. Then, in early November, my 20 year old Subaru developed an odd noise that led me to discovering it needed over $3K of work done in order to keep in drivable for the foreseeable future. And finally, on a whim I decided to sign up for Mint.com and bring all of my financial data into one location so I could get an overview of both my assets and debt.
That last one triggered a whole slew of thinking about my financial future and goals. Compared to where I was when I turned 29, my rapidly approaching 39th birthday had my savings and investments taking a pretty significant step backwards. Given my incredible earning potential and generally practical nature, it is a bit embarrassing to see how poorly I have planned financially for the future.
Most of that step backward is because I worked part-time for many years after EllisLab, took a couple pricey courses for things like mountaineering and Wilderness EMT, went back to school, had the knee injury, hiked the PCT for five months, and also a few summer sabbaticals sprinkled in. Skipping income for learning and adventures is fun but terrible for the savings. Known, expected, and accepted…still a bit cringe worthy when you see how it has drained most of your assets though.
Anyhow. Mint.com put everything into one single place and I was able to see it clearly all on one page. And damn if it did not make me think I need to stop fooling around and start putting money away again.
So. In December I opened my very first Roth IRA and maxed out my 2017 contribution. I sold my old car and spent a month figuring out the best option for replacing it. I researched the various options for an outdoorsy car (new/old, MPG, AWD, trunk size, etc.) and finally decided on a 2018 Subaru Outback. After a couple days of shopping around and having dealers around Portland compete for my business, I purchased it for an amazing price and with a 0% interest loan. So far, I really really like it.
I have also decided that a really large trip like Denali is not in the cards for 2018. While it still calls to me, the company I am contracting with wants me to stick around and they allow me immense flexibility with my work schedule. This means the ability to take off skiing during the week and also doing billable work on nights + weekends. And, by giving them a reasonable bit of notice, I can take multiple 5-10 day trips throughout the year. Seems like a nice balance that will allow me to still make money, keep doing trips than will not fit into a long weekend, and stay employed.
A rough plan for this year is to pick up and expand existing outdoors skills while rebuilding up my finances. For example, this weekend is four days in Central Oregon and two weekends from now is an AIARE Level 1 course on Mt. Hood. On the financial front, filling up the Roth IRA for 2018 is an easy win and then making a few additional investments in funds that meet certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. I already have a list! 2018 might also be the year that I pay off the last of my student loans from Portland State as–despite their small payments–the interest rates are too high. And as a stretch goal, and greatly depending on how the midterms go, starting a fund for a down deposit on a bit of property. It is well beyond time to have a home base in a lovely location.