Review of My 2018 New Year Resolution: What I’ve Achieved & Failed

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The holiday spirit is in the air, at the mall, at the grocery store, and in the decorations in my neighborhood.

I can’t say I love the cold.

But I like that while it’s so cold outside, all the holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas make me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

And I think it’s mainly because I have my little family here with me plus a new member this year.

As 2018 is coming to an end, I want to take this time to review my 2018 New Year resolutions to see what I’ve achieved and accomplished.

Before I do that, however, I want to highlight our family’s key milestones in 2018.

Milestones in 2018

1. We welcomed our baby girl, Baby F2, in late August this year.

Initially, we planned for my mom to come help us with the baby for at least six months.

But she couldn’t get the visa, so my father-in-law (FIL) came to DC all the way from China in last September to help us instead.

2. Mr. FAF and I had a whole month taking care of a toddler and a newborn all by ourselves.

It was through this experience that I saw how dedicated, hard-working, and responsible a husband and a father Mr. FAF was. And of course, that changed somewhat after my FIL came to live with us.

3. After a year of working with the same team, Mr. FAF was asked to transfer to a new team since his boss didn’t think he was a good fit.

Mr. FAF became really depressed and lost all confidence in himself as an employee, a husband, a father, and a breadwinner. Luckily, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise since he now likes his new team much more than he did the old team.

4. We are scheduled to pay off our mortgage from the bank by the end of 2018.

Mr. FAF and I have been discussing how we want to invest our disposable income after that. One plan is to buy another house near where we live since we’re pretty close to Crystal City, where Amazon will be opening half of their HQ2.

I have proposed Roth IRAs and tax advantage brokerage accounts, but Mr. FAF is not so thrilled about either of those (mainly due to a lack of understanding).

Review of my 2018 New Year resolutions

1. Work harder and smarter at my day job – Pass/Fail

I did work harder and (I think) smarter at my job. However, I didn’t get promoted or transfer to a higher-paying position for various reasons.

In 2019, if everything goes according to plan, I will start applying for new positions since my upward mobility at my current job is pretty limited, if not nonexistent.

RelatedHow Frugality Helps Me Work Better At My Job

2. Max out our 401(k) – Pass

Mr. FAF maxed our his 401(k), and I maxed out my 403(b) in 2018. We got a Pass on this goal.

Hubby is still cynical of contributing to 401(k) since it’s money we can’t touch until we are almost 60. That’s the reason why we haven’t contributed anything to our IRAs yet.

Mr. FAF said he doesn’t understand the stock market and thinks of it as gambling. He compromised by agreeing to max out his 401(k), so I’ll give him more time to think about the IRAs and tax-advantage brokerage accounts (which I don’t really understand either).

RelatedHow Hubby & I Discovered We Will Be Millionaires By Doing One Thing

3. Keep our food expenses under $500/month – Major Fail

Yes, we failed this goal miserably. I started to keep track of our monthly food expenses after my mother-in-law (MIL) left DC for China in June 2018.

On average, we spend slightly more than $900/mo on groceries, restaurants, drinks, alcohol and everything else that went into our stomachs. We try to watch our food expenses, but now I officially gave up on keeping the bill under $500/mo.

Related: Our Monthly Food Expense Reports

4. Not buy new clothes – Pass/Fail

Inspired by Mrs. Frugalwoods, I decided to go on a clothing ban. I didn’t buy any new clothes in 2018. There were times when I was tempted to buy something new. But being pregnant helped since nothing looked good on me, and I got a huge bag of hand-me-down maternity clothes from my neighbor.

I did, however, buy a pair of Nine West boots for $106.50. The original price was $179. I waited until the beginning of November to get a 30% sale plus a 15% welcome discount which slashed the price by $72.5.

RelatedMy Mid-year Clothing Ban Check-in & What I’ve Learned From It

5. Spend more time teaching Baby FAF math, English, and Vietnamese – Fail

Baby F1 is 3.5 years old. I was ambitious with this goal. I tried to teach him arithmetic, but he just didn’t learn much (or anything). He can count up to 20, but addition and subtraction is a different story.

Our son also experienced a speech delay which we attributed to his one year of staying in China from age 1 to 2. He finally started to speak more and can say long phrases at the age of 3.5.

We were so focused on improving his English that we neglected teaching him any Chinese or Vietnamese. It’s partly because hubby and I were afraid we might further delay his speech development in English.

RelatedOur 7 Expectations For Our Son

6. Be more patient and understanding with Mr. FAF – Fail

This is an ongoing battle for me. I find myself irritated easily when something is not done the way I want.

In a way, I’ve made some progress. But it’s mainly because I’m so preoccupied with our newborn. I pick my battle and choose not to care about all the little things Mr. FAF does that annoy me.

RelatedWhen Impatience Costs You Money & Your Sanity

7. Blog three times a week – Fail

Another fail of the year is my blogging schedule.

Originally, I wanted to blog three times a week. But I ran out of steam and decided to give myself a break. I will write a post when I have something to say and something new to update the reader.

At first, I felt guilty about failing my own goal. But after thinking about the stress of coming up with 3 new topics every week when I’m indeed running out of ideas, I decided to just go with the flow and loosen up a little.

Related1.5 Year Blog Update: Blog Expenses/Revenue/Stats, Post Reserve, Tailwind & Future Plan


Out of 7 goals for 2018, I had 1 Pass, 2 Pass/Fails, and 4 Fails. It looks like maxing out our 401(k) and 403(b) was the easiest since our contributions were automated, and we didn’t lose our jobs.

The number of Fails outweighs that of Passes. But it’s ok.

Overall, I think we had a happy year. We welcomed our second baby, kept our jobs, paid off our mortgage, maintained our frugal lifestyle but still enjoyed life.

If you want to be updated to what happens to us in 2019, don’t forget to subscribe and check the blog regularly 😉


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14 thoughts on “Review of My 2018 New Year Resolution: What I’ve Achieved & Failed”

  • You did pretty well. Nice job!
    I think it’s good that you’re not too hard on yourself. It’s been a busy year so you just have to do what you can. I failed quite a few goals too, but that’s all right. I’ll set easier goals next year. 🙂
    Best wishes.

    • Thank you, Joe! I will discuss my 2019 goals with Mr. FAF. I might try to set some easier goals too. Life’s too short to be sad about failing our goals! 😀

      Best wishes to you too!

  • I love how honest you are with your goals. I think a couple of them were pretty hard to reach – like keeping a food budget at $500 a month isn’t terribly realistic – at least where I live. I’m looking forward to hearing your goals for 2019!

    • I have to admit it was probably of of the most challenging goals this year. I failed miserably. But it’s not too bad since I had lots of good food hehe. I’ll write a post for 2019 soon!

  • You had an awesome year, Mrs. FAF. And don’t forget. You contributed an awesome sidebar to one the most awesome personal finance books ever written. Kudos on a tremendous year, my friend. Kudos.

  • New Year resolutions aside, I think you had a great year! Your big picture progress is fantastic… with the new family member, an almost paid off mortgage, and solid steady income.

    About IRAs. I am late 40s with an 8 figure net worth, but I regret never contributing to an IRA during my working years. You will be thankful for the dollars that can grow tax-free, and when your income grows, you won’t be eligible for the Roth IRA anymore, so take advantage of it while you can.

    My daughter also had a speech delay early on, so I emphasized English more to her than Chinese for a period of time. After her English improved to the point where she had no problems communicating with pre-school teachers and classmates (about a year), I went back to teaching Chinese as well. Now she is almost 6 and bilingual with fluency in both languages. So don’t worry, you can emphasize the other language once your son’s English improves to where you’re not concerned anymore.

    • Also I might chalk up the food expenses to HCOL area. I’ve tried cutting food expenses down for many months with not much luck either. Even eating at home every day for a month, groceries would still be 800+. I live in SF.

    • Thank you, Joe! We no longer qualify for Roth IRA, so we’ll probably have to do the backdoor Roth. Neither Mr. FAF nor I really understand it, so we’ll need to give it some thought.

      It’s awesome that your daughter is fluent in both English and Chinese. I hope our kids will be as well. We’re giving our son a break from Chinese to let him pick up more English. Now he does have problem communicating with the teachers and other kids 🙁

      $800/mo for food in SF is not bad at all! I think SF is much more expensive than DC. 😉

  • Be more patient and understanding with Mr. FAF – Fail

    Well I wouldn’t say it’s a fail! It’s always going to be a work in progress living with someone and sharing life with them 🙂

  • I was just talking about the language delay issue with teachers at work( I work in a large preschool).. We have quite a few Korean families this year and while it might appear that the kids are delayed, I keep repeating that these are children raised in a home with 1 language spoken and go out into the world where another language is spoken.. They are working twice as hard to process every single conversation in their brain… They are usually not on the same level as a same aged English only speaking peer, but in a few years they are at the same place if not further. Counting to 20 is great! Skip Addition and subtraction at this point and focus on letter and number recognition, pattern matching and fine motor skills!!

  • It’s seriously gutsy and brave to not only admit and be able to accept failures, but to blog about them too. Shoes don’t need to count as “clothes” so you achieved that goal, in my humble opinion. You passed that with flying colors.

    The good thing about failing goals is that you can always try for it next year 🙂 There were a lot of fantastic goals that you had, thanks for sharing!

  • Hey…Bilingualism theory suggests the best option for you all would be for 1 parent to only speak chinese, 1 parent to only speak vietnamese. Your kids will learn english at school, tv…living in america. For trilingualism, you two are their greatest asset!

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