2019: My Year in Review

by Steven Witter, CFP®

During our financial planning meetings so many of you open up and tell me what’s going on in your lives. We talk about your hopes and dreams for the future; I feel it’s only fair to share some of my life this past year with you as well.

Financial Topics our family had in 2019:

  • Adjusting to life with two children
  • How would Rebecca’s work schedule change to accommodate our family’s growing needs?
  • We renovated our third flood to make room for our growing family
  • We started another 529 college savings account for our second child

On December 30th 2018, our second daughter Ruth was born. She was due on Christmas, but decided to stay put for a few extra days before her arrival. She is now starting to talk, walking, and following around her big sister, Reese, everywhere she goes. Reese started “school” this year (really a two day-a-week morning toddler program) and it’s been really adorable listening to her come home and talk about her teachers and classmates. Her development has been amazing to watch. Reese and Ruthie are finding out how much fun it is to have a playmate for life and continue to involve our golden retriever, Ruben, in their daily adventures. Rebecca has stayed part time at work to spend more time with the girls during these early years.

We completed a major renovation of our third floor where we converted old attic space into two additional bedrooms and a full bath. When we found out Rebecca was pregnant again in early 2018, it meant we would officially be out of bedrooms if we didn’t utilize our existing space. Like all construction projects, it took longer than expected, but was well worth it.

As you know, Rebecca and I love to travel. We decided to try to take four trips a year: a kid-free trip for Rebecca, a kid-free trip for me, a trip just Rebecca and I, and a family trip. In March, we took the girls to Naples and Venice in Florida to see family and play at the beach. It’s always great when you have family that wants you to come visit. For Rebecca’s trip she decided to go to Utah and hike Zion and Bryce National Parks with her two sisters-in-law. I went on a golf trip with friends to Pinehurst in North Carolina and it was awesome. Together (with the help of our parents), Rebecca and I went to Philadelphia for a long weekend and got to explore the city, its history, and play some golf. We have yet to take the RV trip that I have been hoping for, but I know we will one of these days.

In terms of work, everything was great as well. A new platform allowed us to lower most people’s costs. We have been doing this steadily for the last couple of years, but this year we were very busy switching everyone over to the new platform. In the last five years we have been able to lower our clients’ costs by about 50%! We always keep our eye out for ways we can save you money. I also enrolled in the Certified Student Loan Professional program so I can continue to learn and help people with their student loans. If you know anyone who works at a school, government agency, or non-profit and could use a review of their student loans, be sure to have them complete our No Cost Review of their student loans to see if we can help; there are probably significant ways for them to save money.

Financial Topics our family will have in the year ahead:

  • Are we going to have more children?
  • My car lease is up this spring so we have to decide if we’ll buy or lease again. If we are having a third child, we have to consider a larger vehicle with third row seating.
  • Our youngest, Ruthie (1), will go into a toddler program this fall and our oldest, Reese (2), might increase from two to three days a week. This will greatly increase our monthly costs. We also need to consider if we will send them to the same school or change schools.
  • Will Rebecca pick up another day at work to help cover our family’s increasing costs?
  • We should be able to pay off Rebecca’s student loans by the end of the year!

As you can see, a lot went on for me personally in 2019 and I’ll bet 2020 will have just as many adventures. How many changes did you have in 2019? Did any of them have financial implications similar to or different from ours? Are you expecting any changes in 2020? 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