2018: My Year in Review

by Steven Witter, CFP®

Two year ago, I did a post summarizing my year and it got a great response. During our financial planning meetings so many of you open up and tell me what it going on in your lives. We talk about your hopes and dreams for the future; I feel that it is only fair to share what is going on in mine as well.

Our daughter, Reese, was born at the end of September in 2017 so much of my 2018 was learning how to take care of her, adjusting her eating and sleeping habits as she went from being mostly stationary in a Rock n’ Play sleeper to walking and running all over the house now. Her growth has been amazing to watch, and it’s true what they say – the time flies! If you or someone you know are expecting be sure to read my post What to do When You’re Expecting.

In May of 2018, Rebecca and I we’re surprised to learn we will be expecting another little girl due later this month (due date is Christmas Day!).

Here is a short video Rebecca put together when we found out about baby number two:

Yes, the girls will be 15 months apart and yes, there will be two of them – pray for me! In all seriousness if baby #2 is half as easy as Reese has been, we will be the luckiest parents on earth.

With another baby coming soon after the first, it has caused us to have to make some changes. We decided to transition Rebecca to part time so we lost her employee benefits part way through the year. We now pay for health insurance out of pocket at a cost of about $1,350/month for a high deductible plan. Teachers, you don’t know how good you have it!

We are also in the middle of finishing the third floor of our home to make more room. We are adding two bedrooms and a full bathroom, which should give us more than enough room to stay in our house forever. I used to own a rental property near our current home in the Elmwood Village with my brother, but earlier this year we sold it and part of the profits from that are going to pay for the third floor construction, otherwise it would be unaffordable. A nice perk we learned about to make the third floor addition possible, was the New York Historic Tax Credit. We live in a zip code which is considered to be part of the city’s historic district so we are eligible for a 20% tax credit for any work we do to the house. If you live in a historic district, be sure to check out this program as it is saving us about $10,000 on our total spend.

As many of you know, Rebecca and I love to travel. We did not get to do as much as we would have liked in 2018, but we got to do some. In December of 2017 we took a trip down to Siesta Key and Venice, FL to visit family. It was great to get out of the cold and have them meet Reese for the first time. We were nervous about flying with a 2.5 month old, but we quickly realized that Reese being so little and sleeping most of the time at that age was the perfect time to fly with her (now that she’s a year and two months old, it’s a different story!).

We also got invited on a “kid-free” trip to Martha’s Vineyard for a long weekend. It was going to be our first time away from Reese, but neither of us had ever been so we decided to make the 10 hour drive. Rebecca had just learned that we were expecting again so it took a lot of convincing for her to leave Reese for this one. I have to say that both of us really enjoyed our time on the island and hope to make a return trip (thanks Greg and Lara!).

Rebecca and I celebrated our second anniversary in Lake George for a couple of days. This was my first time visiting the area and it reminded me a lot of Lake Tahoe. It was nice to reconnect, play some golf and be on the water for a few days. Big thanks to our in-laws for making that possible for us.

We have a couple goals for our travel in coming years. We had booked a place to stay in St. Simons, GA for all of March 2019 to get away from the cold, but with baby #2 coming sooner than we had planned, we decided to cancel that plan as we thought we should be closer to family for the extra help right after she’s born. Hopefully we can do a winter trip like this in 2020. I would also love to take a couple weeks and go on a long RV trip exploring the Pacific Northwest. We are thinking about seeing some National Parks, Vancouver, Banff, Seattle, and Portland. I have been trying to get Rebecca on board with RV life and I think she is close to agreeing!

As you can see, a lot went on for us in 2018 for me personally and I bet 2019 will have just as many new adventures. How many changes did you have in 2018? Did any of them have financial implications? Are you expecting any in 2019? It’s important to let us know about any life changes you had or are expecting to have so we can adjust your financial plan and make sure we are still doing the right thing for you.

All the best from my family to yours!

– Steve