A quick search of this blog would tell you that I love making and talking about goals. Setting goals helps me to evaluate my priorities and focus better. Sharing them helps hold me accountable. A goal without a plan is just a wish, and so I love spending time breaking my dreams down into smaller, more achievable goals that allow me to inch closer to living my most authentic life.
Last year my goals included the amount of steps I wanted to track with my Fitbit, how many hours I wanted to spend on the Peloton, to read 50 books (my most ever in one year), and to save $1,000 cash. I came close to all of them but the last one. I saved a whopping 60 bucks. *side eye*
My History with Money
Money and I have a rocky relationship that stems from an unfortunate youth. A $300 credit card when I was 18 was the beginning and the end of my credit for over 20 years. I continually botched chance after chance to fix my credit. I never believed saving was achievable for someone with so few means. I lived in a scarcity mindset that encouraged me to spend every dollar I earned and then some.
I came to my marriage with student loan debt and poor credit scores. I stopped working when I was six months pregnant, nearly 10 years ago. What could I possibly do to fix the situation I was in? Because of where we were each coming from, my husband and I decided it was better to keep our finances separate from the start of our relationship. I didn’t want to ruin his good credit and spoil our chances at living a good life. Overall, I think this decision has been good for us, but in those early years, before I had monetized my blog or started my freelance writing gig, I ended up feeling pretty trapped. I was home with a baby and no means (literally no money) of my own. We were living modestly off of my husband’s sole income.
In 2013, I started monetizing my blog by allowing people and brands to sponsor my blog. In 2015, I started freelance writing for a local travel bureau. In those early years I also started Joleen Pete Photography, where I offered mostly family photo sessions but also brand photography and the occasional wedding. My income from these was just enough to help supplement our family with occasional groceries and visits to California to see family. By 2019, Love, Joleen was well established as a family travel and lifestyle blog. We’d had the incredible honor of being invited to spend a week at Walt Disney World (the highlight of my career, if I’m honest). This blog had seen the most pageviews yet that year and I was on track to live my “year of yes“.
2020 was nothing short of terrifying. I went from starting the year with blogger events and cruises, to wondering if even my long-standing freelance travel writing gig would survive. Month after month I waited with bated breath to see if I’d have any assignments. This scarcity mindset followed me halfway through 2021. I was making less than $1,000 a month and spending it as quick as it was deposited. The opportunities I had been receiving for Love, Joleen had virtually dried up. I was burnt out and uninspired.
A Pivot In My Career
Several things happened to set me on a new course this year. In June, I was asked by my freelance gig to take on a social media management role, and another blogger approached me to see if I’d be interested in being her virtual assistant. I said yes, and yes. In July, I finally took the plunge to make Joleen Pete, LLC a business. The same month I added another local brand as a client for which I create content and manage their social media. In August, a friend asked me to help her rebrand her business entirely. She referred me to another client in September. By the end of 2021, I had made twice as much money as I had in 2020!
Baby Steps (But Not Those Ones)
Over the years I had starting paying attention to things like budgeting. I joined Dave Ramsey groups when my parents and best friend were doing the program. There were things I liked. I wrote this post about earning extra money with side hustles, after being inspired in the groups. Over the summer I started binging cash envelope stuffing videos with fervor. I got a credit card to start building my credit and earn airline miles. I purchased a pink metal cash box and customized cash envelopes on Etsy. I didn’t save much but it planted a seed. I started reading books about living with less for more [peace, happiness, contentment] and learning more about personal finance. I opened a 529 college savings account for my son.
Personal Finance is Personal
One of the takeaways I’ve held most tightly to is that personal finance is personal. It’s not going to look exactly the same for every person or family. My goal with Love, Joleen over the next year is to share what I’m personally doing as a way to both hold me accountable and offer a resource to someone else who may be in a similar situation. Many Millennials and Gen-Xers are pushing back against it being taboo to talk about money publicly. We need more authenticity and honesty, if you ask me. I’m happy to share.
Let’s Get to the Goals
My 2022 goals are largely about money, but that’s not the only thing I’m focusing on. My goals include reconnecting with my husband and building a stronger relationship this year, going to church with my family every week that we’re able/in town, purging what no longer serves me, organizing my storage unit, and sticking to my budget.
My budget includes paying off consumer credit debt and saving $10,000 toward various funds (to be broken down in another post). It includes cash-flowing travel, Christmas, and an epic 10th birthday for my son.
This year I’m also going on several camping and backpacking trips, including a section of the Appalachian Trail. I have pretty major goals for 2022, and I’m happy you’re along for the ride!