Finances Future Plans

Progress Made Since Cents Positive Retreat

This week, Google Photos brought up some pictures I took two years ago.  I was on a walk the morning of the first ever Cents Positive Retreat in Denver, Colorado. I had never been to Colorado in the fall, and that morning the light was just gorgeous. 

Seeing the photos made me think about how much I enjoyed the event. I also started thinking about how far I’ve come since then–both personally and financially. I want to share my progress over the last 2 years.

Making Progress Stepping out of my Comfort Zone

The retreat was the first conference-type event I attended that was not education related. All the other conferences I had attended throughout the years were either about teaching English at the two year college, or compassionate communication (aka nonviolent communication), which I practice at work. 

I didn’t know anyone who would be at the retreat. I had followed the woman who created and facilitated the retreat, Tanja Hester, through her blog, but I had never met her. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and met a bunch of women who were interested in learning more about money.


Making Progress Blogging

The first Cents Positive had a blogger add-on day where attendees would talk about their experiences blogging. Some were newbies and others had blogged for a while.

I had started Peace Out and In in 2016 but hadn’t found much of a direction even by 2018, so I thought the blogger day would help. I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted this blog to be anonymous or not, so I put “Jaye” on my nametag. 

Having people call me “Jaye” felt so strange that I decided I didn’t want to be anonymous, and that’s why you know my real name. Also since then, I paid someone to re-design the blog, and that’s why it’s beautiful today.

It took me a while after the retreat to decide to have the blog re-designed, and it took me a while to find a designer I wanted to work with. I finally found someone local, though, who did the redesign and helped me work through what I wanted my focus to be. 

 I have a lot of topics on this blog–from knitting to compassionate communication, and from teaching to finance, but my focus is there. This blog is about me and my journey to creating the life I want. 

Making Progress Finding Resources

I wrote a blog post called What I Want to get Out of the Cents Positive Retreat to prepare for the weekend. I had written, “Next, I would like to meet people who have some of the same goals I do. I don’t know anyone personally who is interested in FIRE.” 

Now I know more people interested in finance and I know where to find those people. I know where to find good books and podcasts about finance. I don’t remain in close contact with anyone from the conference, but we are on a Slack page together and I’ll ask a question every once in a while.

Making Progress Planning for the Future

At the time of the retreat, I knew I wanted to explore the possibility of early retirement. I was focused more about getting out of a work situation, though, than going towards what I wanted. 

I hope to discuss my conclusions in another post, but in short, I have figured out some things I could do after retirement if I choose it. I haven’t nailed down a new job, but I am closer to knowing what is next. 

Making Progress Financially

Let’s get on with the money though. I want to explore how far I’ve come financially since the event.

A very quick measure that shows financial progress is my mortgage. In November 2018, my family’s mortgage was at 60,900. Now, we’re down to 39,600. We’ve paid off 20,000 on principle over the last 2 years, which means we’re on track to meet our goal of paying the house off by the end of 2024.

I use Personal Capital (not an affiliate) to track my net worth and it looks like I went from 300,000 to 392,000. My net worth includes my home (which my husband and I share), my retirement accounts, and savings and checking accounts. I choose not to add my car into the mix. As a 2009, it wouldn’t add much financially anyway. The net worth also includes some funds from my retirement system that I actually won’t ever receive in cash–it’ll be the first money that is used to pay my pension. So this net worth doesn’t show the whole picture by any means. It’s a nice, quick measure though.

Another measure of progress is my salary. In 2018, my salary was 60,200 and now it’s 63,200. Union negotiations determine my raises and the last 2 years, we received a 2.5% raise. It’s a bit disappointing to not receive larger raises, but I am grateful for any increase in the current economic climate. Heck, I’m grateful for a job in this climate. 

In short, my financial picture is moving forward. 


Making Progress towards Optional Early Retirement

The most significant thing to change since the retreat is my optional retirement date. In 2018, I was about 10 years out. Today, I’d be 8 years out. BUT, this past summer, I bought 3 years of my service time, so I could possibly retire 5 years from now.

Future Progress

What do the next 2 years have in store for me?

  • I would love to attend another Cents Positive retreat. After the first one in Denver in 2018, I attended one in Chicago in 2019. With the pandemic, 2020 was cancelled, and because of the ongoing nature of the pandemic, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if 2021 is not even planned. Maybe 2022? I hope so. 
  • I’d like to create closer connections with people who are interested in financial independence. 
  • I hope to keep up the blog and continue to find my focus in terms of how I want to live. 
  • I want to have paid off another 20K on the house. I’d love to say we’d pay off the house by then, but I think that’d be a major stretch goal. 
  • I would like to be even more confident with what my future holds. 

Do you look back at your progress once in a while? Do you make goals or prefer to allow life to surprise you? Feel free to answer in the comments section below.

Peace Out (and In),









  • JMFL

    I have a general dislike of goals as commonly defined by self-help and/or corporate culture, so I prefer to stay away from them. I don’t think I like just being surprised, but I would like to be more comfortable with it. I don’t think goals actively hinder or enable being surprised by life, which is an attitude I acknowledge is worrisome to many people. I am happy you feel the changes in your life and appreciate them! Thank you for sharing your financial journey over the past two years.

    • Julie

      Thank you for the reply! I dislike some aspects of goal-setting self-help and corporate culture create. Ex: instead of results-oriented goals, I typically prefer goals that illustrate what I’m going to do or practices I want to follow.


  • Deb S

    I so admire your financial planning! My goals were not as specific as yours, but I feel that I was aware of where I wanted to be in retirement. Slow, steady consistent effort helped me realize my goals. I know you will fulfill your goals too!

    • Julie

      Slow and steady works for me too! I am not a risk taker.

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