January 2014 Recap & February 2014 Goals

Anyone else super glad January is over? We had a rough month and I’m glad to move onto February and a new beginning.


As many of you know, my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of the month. Steve flew out to Jordan, while I flew to Ohio for a week first, and then to Jordan.

While in Jordan, we kept ourselves distracted with constant activities. We stayed in Amman, but made a short side trip to Aqaba, Wadi Rum, and Petra. We also biked 30k along the Dead Sea. Other than that, we did a lot of eating and smoking hookah. Despite the really crappy circumstances, we had an enjoyable trip with Steve’s family and friends.

P.S. Jordan rocks. People are super generous and aside from a few first world luxuries missing, it was a totally comfortable place to be. Also, it’s pretty cheap for those on American/Canadian salaries. If you decide to go for any reason, shoot me an email so I can make restaurant/site recommendations.

We were both gone for almost the entire month. It should come as no surprise that I failed all of my goals in an epic way as I was not home to work on them, as well as the fact that we lost weeks of wages and had to spend quite a bit on travel.

There are two choices I could make here. I could play the “woe is me” card and complain that life isn’t fair and give up on 2014. Or, I can pick myself up, dust myself off, and make the next 11 months count. I’m choosing the latter. No matter what life throws at you, it is completely up to you how you react to it. You’re only a victim if you decide to be.

By the way, Johnny Moneyseed and I have revamped and relaunched economag! It is now a place for the best of the best finance content around the web, as well as exceptional original content. If you’ve written something you’re particularly proud of, or would like to pitch us an original post idea, please contact us!


Ha. This was the first month in forever that our net worth actually DECREASED (lesson learned: don’t use your emergency fund to pay off debt…)


Shit happens.

Then it continues to happen. Turns out we will owe more in taxes than originally anticipated due to car sales bonuses that weren’t taxed. We originally thought they were. Between this, rebuilding our emergency fund, and catching up our bills account, it will be a few months before we can start making significant progress on our net worth. Setback? Sure. Reason to panic? Nah. Life happens sometimes and we’re adaptable.

On top of everything, the market has not been kind this month. My IRA went down despite making contributions. Happy New Year!

We didn’t do too bad spending-wise in Jordan. Obviously, it’s much cheaper than the U.S. We used connections to get me cheaper rates for sites and also got a friend to hook us up with a nice discount on the hotel we were in for two days. Other than that, we didn’t eat every meal out, barely spent anything on “stuff” (bought myself and my mom bracelets), and kept frugality in mind. Last minute international plane tickets and almost a month of lost wages were the things that got us…

January was a rough month financially. But one bad month does not a year make and we will keep plugging away at our debt, just a little slower than planned.

25 BEFORE 25

12 completed, 6 in progress, 1 early fail, and 6 not yet started. 4 months to go!


I spent a total of 10 days in Portland and Steve was only here for 7 days. And all of that was spent working for both of us, so no new restaurants or activities to report. Not that we didn’t spend on entertainment this month, I tried so many Jordanian restaurants and hookah bars!


Fail. So much fail. Prepare yourself.

Increase net worth by $2,083.33* in order to reach an annual goal of a net worth increase of $25,000. FAIL! OFF TRACK! It actually DECREASED. That’s okay, 11 months to fix it, and I possibly have a trick up my sleeve…

Read 3 books (at least 1 non-fiction) in order to reach an annual goal of reading 36 books (at least 12 non-fiction). FAIL! OFF TRACK! While I did read this monthI didn’t finish a single book in January. However, as of February 2nd, I’ve finished one (The Year of the Flood) and I’m working on two others (Lemonade Stand Economics and Outliers).

Walk an average of 10,000 steps per day in order to reach my goal of not sitting on my ass too much. FAIL! OFF TRACK! Nope, but I actually didn’t do too bad considering how long I was gone. I averaged 8,022 steps, with a high day of 15,806 and a low day of 1,328 (yikes!). I hit or exceeded my goal of 10,000 steps 12 days in January.

By the way, I highly recommend the Fitbit Zip as an awesome pedometer. It only counts steps, not bumpy train rides or even long ass bike rides. Plus, it makes tracking super easy. Erin Stamp of Approval.


Increase net worth by $2,083.33* in order to reach an annual goal of a net worth increase of $25,000. Note: Like I said, it will be a few months before I’m able to make progress on this goal. Nevertheless, I’m leaving it on here and tracking my progress.

Read 3 books (at least 1 non-fiction) in order to reach an annual goal of reading 36 books (at least 12 non-fiction). With one book down and two in progress, I have no doubt I’ll pass this goal for the month. Ideally, I’ll also be able to make up for January’s reading.

Walk an average of 10,000 steps per day in order to reach my goal of not sitting on my ass too much.

Here’s to a much better February!

[Image from imgur]


  1. Again Erin, let me say again, I offer my condolences to your family and your husband’s family. I am glad that you enjoyed your trip in Jordan. That is pretty cool you were able to visit it, even if it was under such sad circumstances.

    I am glad that you have mentality of not worrying about not hitting your goals. Under the circumstances, you did pretty good.

    What are you doing to get all your steps in? Just walking around the neighborhood or going at a gym? And do you have to wear the pedometer?

    Hope all is well!

    • Thanks, Michelle!

      I do have to wear the pedometer. With the particular one I have, I just clip it to my bra. It isn’t bulky and doesn’t make any noise like the old school pedometers.

      I do a combination of things to get my steps in. I walk everywhere in general, but because I work at home, “everywhere” isn’t always that much. So I go for a walk every day (3 to 4 miles). I also pace while talking on the phone and march in place when doing chores. It actually isn’t that difficult, although working from home requires that I put more effort into it.

      I don’t belong to a gym but I do believe our apartment building has a treadmill if it gets too cold to walk outside. Thankfully, it’s stayed mostly in the 40s here and I love walking around Portland 🙂

  2. I’m so glad January is done too! I love your attitude, Erin. It will get you places. I’m sorry for your crappy month, but I know you two are so resilient. One step at a time, even if it takes a while. And you are right….life happens. I’m thinking of increasing my EF, which currently only has 1k in it.

    Jordan sounds amazing and I’m glad you had a rad trip. Happy you are back in Portland, let’s get together soon.

    • Thanks, M! My current e-fund goal is $1,500, but I have other savings goals as well (meaning they could be tapped in the event of another large emergency).

      Definitely, let’s get together soon 🙂

  3. Seems that January was a rough mouth for a lot of us but it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t define us.

    I have the Fitbit one. I love it. I’ve been trying to get in 10K steps but I’ve not been successful.

    Let’s kick tush this month. We can do it!

    • Yeah, I’ve seen almost exclusively negative January recaps. Oh well, we can rock February!

      I’ve taken to pacing a lot to help with steps. I pace when I talk on the phone, when I think, and even when I read sometimes. Plus, I go on a walk every day.

      • Pacing sounds like a plan but I don’t talk on the phone much….but I do walk the dogs and I work out every morning…but amazingly that doesn’t take me to 10k all the time. Farm chores do, tho on most occasions…but I don’t feed everyday.

        • Yeah, my long walk alone doesn’t get me there. I actually do best when I have a lot of errands to run because I don’t drive the car and get a ton of steps in effortlessly!

  4. it sucks that car bonuses are taxed. We just got our Chevy tax papers in the mail and none of it was taxed, even though we were told it was. BLEH!

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, that’s sad.It sounds like you the made the best of a bad situation and actually managed to enjoy yourselves while in Jordan. As far as your goals go, you have a great attitude even though things really went sideways on you. I look forward to hearing more!

  6. Many things happened in January for you, but now it’s February. You’ll catch up now that you’re back and settled. Your confidence and positive attitude will bring you back for sure.

  7. “Fail. So much fail.” Too funny!

    I like monthly goals but find that I get down on myself if life gets in the way for even a bit, and throws me off track. I have great faith that you’ll hit your annual goal for your net worth. Cheers, and welcome home.

  8. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law – I hope Steve is doing as good as he can be? I admire your calm attitude towards your January goals – indeed, there’s still 11 months, and that’s great that you’re not playing victim with all this. Best wishes on the rebirth of Economag! 🙂

  9. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. Sorry so much about your mother-in-law, glad you had such a good time in Jordan regardless, and you did what you had to do to get through this period. 🙂

  10. Ugh. I agree on the IRA front. I did my net worth for this month and was like WTF, I thought I actually did make all the contributions I meant to… turns out the market didn’t care. Bugger.

  11. That’s the thing about life. As much as you plan, it can derail at any time. That’s what brings out true character…and you are handling yourself very well. Like I said in my response to you on my blog. Breathe…and ease in! Welcome back to “the states” by the way!

  12. Life always feels like we are trying to plan for the unexpected. At least January is done with and February is here and there are quite a few days to make it an awesome and amazing month!

    I love walking around the park near us, but with all this snow and coldness, I feel so stuck in the house! I’ve been trying to get up every 30 mins and walk around the house or play with the dog. It’s better than sitting down.

    • It was cold here yesterday and I kept all my walking in-house. I have a 400 square foot apartment, but I still managed to get in almost 13,000 steps just fast pacing while I did other stuff (talking on the phone, cooking, reading, etc.)

  13. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Jordan, despite the circumstances. :/ Good luck on your February goals!

  14. Late to the game here.

    As everyone has mentioned, again, I am very sorry for your loss. I am glad you were able to enjoy your visit to Jordan as much as possible considering the reason for the visit.

    I really like that you’re not giving yourself a hard time regarding the goals. Those goals were made with the best of intentions, but family and life gets in the way sometimes. I just am happy that you’re too concerned about it. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I like your attitude.

  15. Hi there! Just found a link to your blog through Mr 1500 and checked out your 25 list. Congrats on your success so far! I liked a lot of them but fell hard for #4 – run a 5k. I did this myself for the first time last year and ran 3. This goal kicked my ass seeing as I’d never run before (I can get side cramps from just walking too fast). My goal for this year is to start 10k’s. I’ve got plenty of tips if you’re ever interested in a chat!

  16. Even though you didn’t hit your financial goals for January you did something very important with family, so that is still great. I’d love to go to Jordan one day. I’ve never considered it as a travel option.

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