Reflecting On The Past And Envisioning The Future

Looking Back And Head FinanciallyToday is a great day. A year has just been wrapped up, but we have a brand new year that starts now.

Rather than talking about the common New Year’s resolution mumbo jumbo, I’ve decided to take a more serious look at both the past year and what is ahead in the future for myself and my family.

You can and should do the same, whether you decide to do it today or some other day. Here’s how we reflected on the past and envisioned our future financially.

You can do a similar exercise with the other parts of your life, but since we like to talk about finances here, that’s what I’m sticking to today.

Reflecting On The Past

The past year has been an amazing year for my family. We’ve thought back to where we were financially just one year ago and were surprised by how much things have changed.

Think about where you financially a year ago. If you keep track of your budget or net worth, look back to your old documents and see how you were doing versus how you’re doing today.

The changes might surprise you pleasantly or shock you in a negative way. Regardless of what has changed from a year ago to today, take a minute to reflect on what these changes mean for your family.

If the changes were good, plan to continue changing in a positive manner. If the changes were bad, try to figure out where things got off track and see how you can get back on track to a better financial position.

Personally, we’ve made some huge strides in this past year. When the year started, we were still fiercely battling my wife’s student loan debt. Today, that debt has thankfully been dead to us for many months. This year will be the first year that we’ll have no debt other than our mortgages, which we don’t plan on paying off ahead of schedule.

As far as our assets go, we were able to fully fund our emergency fund and fund an investment emergency fund as well. This emergency fund is based on our spending so keeping our spending low has really helped us tackle this goal quickly.

We’ve continued to keep our expenses low, even though we’ve finished paying off my wife’s student loans. For now, we’re trying to get ahead with our investments and retirement and catch up a bit after focusing on the student loans for so long.

Our income has remained pretty steady this year but my wife has made a pretty awesome change that will hopefully pay off big down the road. Tori has started her own photography side hustle. Even though she’s just getting started, her photographs are pretty awesome and we’re already starting to see some income come in, which is pretty sweet.

Envisioning Our Future Yet To Come

After reflecting on everything that has happened to us this past year through our assets, liabilities, expenses and income, it was only natural for us to look forward to our future. You should do the same for your family as well to see what opportunities and roadblocks may lay ahead in the year or years to come.

While no one can predict the future, good or bad, it makes sense to prepare for both the best and worst case scenarios. We looked at our plans should something awful happened such as job loss and we’re comfortable with our preparations at this time.

Rather than base our plans on the absolute best or worst that could happen, we decided to take the middle road while envisioning our future. We expect our assets to continue to grow as we invest more into our taxable and retirement accounts in the immediate and long term future. We don’t have any plans to move, so the future value of our home is irrelevant to us right now.

As I mentioned above, the only liabilities we have now are our mortgages on our home and rental property. We’re not planning on paying either off on an accelerated schedule, so the plan for the future is to pay these off according to our 30 year mortgage amortization schedules.

We expect our income will continue to grow in the years ahead. My wife’s photography side hustle should help. I hope to continue growing my freelance writing and blogging side hustles. Between these side hustles and our jobs we should continue to remain in decent shape as far as our income goes. (If you’re looking to hire a writer, check out my Hire Me page!)

Expenses are the one category that I think will change significantly in the near future. We have been waiting to make some larger purchases and we’ve started to loosen up our budget a bit to account for these one time expenses. Luckily, they aren’t expenses that will raise our future expenditures on a regular basis. Instead, they’re one time home improvements or purchases of furniture that will last us many years into the future. No new cars for us!

Time To Hear About Your Financial Past And Future

I’d love to hear about your 2014 and what you envision for your family’s future. Feel free to share as much or as little detail as you’d like either in the comments below, or you can email me directly if you’d like. Here are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing your past or future:

  • How have/will your assets change?
  • How have/will your liabilities change?
  • How has/will your income change?
  • How have/will your expenses change?
  • What intangible changes have happened/will happen?

Here’s to another financially successful year for us all and another great year of Money Manifesto!

Photo by: foxypar4 Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Well done this year Lance! I hope to add 15% to my income this year through side gigs, finish our $30K emergency fund, and take up my retirement contributions.

  2. We have no debt for years and try to build our businesses more. Other than that, we hope to be healthy, so that we can enjoy what we have. A happy new year to you and may your wishes come true 🙂

  3. Happy New Year! Thank you for your insights and suggestions. I am a single woman over 55 and obsessed with becoming ready for retirement as soon as possible. My newest interests are saving money off my expenses. I found an $8 monthly modem charge on my internet bill which would turn out to be almost $1000 over 10 years. I bought a modem for $69 at Walmart and when I returned the modem, the provider told me they were raising the rental to $10 per month! I also have wonderful credit and have taken advantage of many solicited credit card opportunities which pay me up to $500 for my first three months of use.I have been maxing out my IRA contributions and 401 K for years. I have also decided to not make any retail purchases for a year, something I’ve done in the past which did not cause me much pain. I must have too much stuff! Of course, I still must purchase food and other consumables. This money saving racket is a lot of fun! Everybody should try it.

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