What a year!

What a year!
AJ: A few times in the last month I’ve found myself thinking and saying “good riddance, 2014!” and yet, when I sat down to outline this out-of-the-norm year, it had a lot of high points!

In 2013 when we laid out our budget there were all kinds of unknown variables we were up against that we couldn’t have anticipated but were able to work through given our slush fund, our years of planning and saving and our commitment to staying the course in the midst of significant expenses. Good thing for emergency funds!

We’ve covered details of what I’ve lovingly deemed “the year of spend” throughout the year, but as we prepare to move forward into a year of focused saving and re-prioritization, here’s what 2014 looked like for us:

1. Medical expenses hit all-time highs.
We discovered we’re now old, physically speaking. We kicked off February with KJ in the hospital for a week with a mysterious, very scary illness that resulted in us hitting his insurance deductible in a day. We maximized that with a year full of medication, physical therapy, doctor visits and more. Who knew there would be a benefit to hitting your medical deductible early in the year!

Then, in March, AJ got a medical diagnosis that added significant monthly expenses in supplements that were unplanned and not covered by insurance which will continue to impact our budget monthly.

After two rounds of eye-opening physical changes we signed up for a monthly boot camp in July that adds significant expense to our monthly budget, but it has reduced stress and waistlines and gives us an awesome outlet for our competitive energy, we’ll take it!

Sure there are ways to spend less in this area, but it’s what really works for us, our lifestyles, and making a commitment to actually exercising!

2. Home renovations.
Our first full year in our not-so-new-anymore-house brought with it a ton of changes that checked off a lot of our wish-list boxes:

    – We spent a few back-breaking weekends refinish our deck that’s now beautiful, sturdy, well-used and loaded with gorgeous furniture.
    – We installed a huge, privacy-giving, expensive fence that completely changed how we love and use our backyard.
    – We built raised beds for produce which we’ve successfully cultivated and enjoyed all year.
    – We painted the entire inside of the house which immediately made it feel more cozy and like our home.
    – We replaced our previous builder-grade washer and dryer with shiny, new machines that I adore.
    – We upgraded our TVs. This one doesn’t feel like a renovation but it was on the list of things we wanted for our new home, so we’re thrilled, and for budgeting considerations, this is expensive enough to count as a renovation 🙂

3. We committed to donating more.
We were both raised by generous people to be generous people, and it’s a combined passion of ours that becomes increasingly important to our family. Historically we’ve split our financial and time commitments 50/50. This year, our jobs and commitments didn’t allow for as much time, so we shifted to a 75/25 financial vs. time commitment. It certainly had budget implications, but the long-term benefit to our community is well-worth the budget sacrifice we made.

We’ve had a banner year, no question about it. We’re infinitely more appreciative of our health and our physical well-being which we absolutely took for granted. We love sharing our home with family and friends and are thankful to have a physical representation of our love for each other and our families. And most importantly, we’ve outspent our budget and have lived to tell about it. KJ is always more level-headed about spending and about small set backs being just that, small blips on the radar, not the major crises they can feel like in the throes of course-altering changes and we’re looking forward to a more lean year ahead.

We wish you and your family health, happiness, perspective and budgeting in 2015!

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