These People Set Financial New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They’re Doing

A woman with long dark hair and tattoos poses for a portrait.
Mikaela Herres of Tampa had many financial goals this year including building an emergency fund. She's created her emergency fund, and she was able to put away $1,200 in the account. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Remember three months ago when you rang in 2018 with a list of New Year’s resolutions?

I know, it seems like an eternity ago… and maybe they didn’t make it to today. That’s OK.

But back in January, I featured three folks who had some serious financial resolutions for this year. Their goals ranged across the board, from wanting to save up to buy a car to being debt-free.

It’s already time to follow up with them. (I know, this year is already blowing by!) I asked them a few questions to gauge how they’re doing.

Let’s see where they’re at with their financial goals!

Mikaela Herres: Is She on Track to Double Her Savings in 2018?

A woman with long black hair stares to her right while being surrounded by plants outside.
Mikaela Herres hasn’t doubled her savings yet, but she’s on her way to building it up. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Mikaela Herres is the ultra-busy college student who’s already grinding on the full-time job life.

Her goals for 2018 were to double her savings account (bringing it to $10,000) and build an emergency account. To do so, she planned to save 15-20% of everything she made this year.

Let’s see how she’s doing:

On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself in terms of being on track to hit your goals?

I would rate myself at 3.5-4! I’m on track for goals just slightly lower than wished.

    1. The last time we spoke, you had around $5,000 in your savings. One of your goals was to double it in 2018. How’s that going?

I wasn’t able to quite double it. I’m a little more than the middle ground of that goal!

    1. You also wanted to build an emergency account –– have you started that? If so, how much is in it?

I did and currently have $1,200 in that account.

    1. Have you been able to maintain the goal of saving 15-20% of everything you’ve made? Why/why not?

I’ve been able to do more on the 15% side. I had a couple health setbacks and massive weight loss then needed to take care of doctors, new clothes, etc. I’m also trying to graduate in the middle of the semester, so my school life got insane and I wasn’t able to do as many collaborations (on Instagram).

    1. What are some difficulties or challenges you’ve faced so far this year, in terms of managing your finances?

I had some car issues like new tires, brakes, fluids and belts. High-ticket items. And then, like I said in the previous question, health issues that were unexpected that I need to deal with. School workload.

    1. Have you had any setbacks?

Besides the ones I previously stated, I haven’t had any other setbacks.

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

I started using a personal Instagram closet page, Poshmark and Depop to sell things from my closet, which helped for a little cushion with my challenges.

Chelsea Daubar: Why Her Financial Goals Changed

A woman laughs while her photo is being taken in Tampa, Fla.
While Chelsea Daubar hasn’t made all her financial resolutions come true, she is eliminating unnecessary spending on things like takeout and Friday happy hour. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Since we last caught up with Chelsea Daubar, she’s gotten engaged!

Her 2018 goals were to cut down her credit card debt and save for a big goal of buying a used car. How’s she handling it now that she’s about to put a ring on it?

    1. I hear you’re engaged — congratulations! How is the engagement affecting your financial goals, if at all?

Thanks! It has completely readjusted our financial plans and budget. We are paying for a lot of the wedding expenses ourselves and have to save it slowly. It is really the only thing I am saving for right now. I’m saving about $500 a month, which was allocated for the money I was going to put toward extra loan payments and car savings.

    1. Do you have new financial goals now?

No new goals. Just the wedding.

    1. When we last spoke, you wanted to save money to buy a used car. How is that coming along?

Not a priority anymore. I have spent some money fixing a couple of issues to my current car to make sure it runs as long as possible.

    1. Did you get approved for the income-based repayment plan on your student loans? Is that helping you manage your payments? Are you still making three payments a month?

The three payments a month was only going to be if I could do automatic smaller payments, but that is not an option through my loan provider. I did get approved for the income-based payments, but it’s still a $100 payment a month.

  1. Is there anything different you’re doing to save for the wedding? Cutting back in other areas of your budget, etc?

The biggest thing we are doing is cutting out extra unnecessary spending. We are suckers for take-out and after-school Friday happy hours (my fiance is a teacher as well!), so we have been telling ourselves that we have food at home and getting creative with making meals out of what’s left in the fridge.

After the wedding, I would love to focus on my original goals. Obviously, I can’t drive my car forever and looking further down the road, I will need a car that can fit a car seat!

It is also important to note that saving is especially important for us because neither of us will be receiving our promised raises next year. Now, it hasn’t officially been stated, but based on the fact that those who were due for their raises this year have yet to see an extra penny and the fact that the district will be starting next school year with a $16 million dollar deficit, it seems pretty clear that we will be going without a raise, as well. If we were going to get them, it would be an additional $8,000 to our annual combined income. Without it, saving gets harder because prices of everything go up while our pay remains the same.

Our wedding is next March (2019) so we have some time, but you just never know what life is going to throw at you. We are trying to be prepared for everything!

Khiem Nguyen: Did He Make His Final Student Loan Payment?

A man dressed in a bow tie, suspenders and a dress shirt stands in the shade.
Khiem Nguyen reached his financial resolution of paying off $8,000 in student loans before his birthday. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

You might remember Penny Hoarder social media video strategist Khiem Nguyen as the man who had his sights set on paying off his student loans by April. He did have a bit of credit card debt getting in the way, though –– so is he on track to smash his goals?

    1. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself in terms of being on track to hit your goals?

I would say a 4. I am so close to being debt- free!

    1. You had a big goal of paying off your remaining student loan balance of about $8,000 by your 31st birthday on April 13. Did you end up doing that?

I did! It was a process, but I was really happy to accomplish it. There were a few major developments that helped me make my goal. First, I was explaining my goal to my mom, and she told me she had a savings account of about $1,600 that she kept to the side since I was little. I asked her to give that money over to me. Second, I started a swing dance lifestyle clothing brand, Killer Diller, and it took off in the last few months, earning me an additional $400 (plus dance gigs). And lastly, I put all my tax return to my debt, which allowed me to pay it all off two days before my birthday.

    1. How’s the credit card debt going? You had about $2,000 last time we spoke –– have you paid any of it off?

I paid all my credit card debt this month and have been able to manage expenses pretty effectively. Unfortunately, I just received my medical bills from being in the hospital in January, so that is now a setback of $4,000 🙁

    1. Did you cancel your OrangeTheory subscription? Have you cut costs other ways?

I did end my membership! That saved me $80 a month. I am using the money I saved on more swing-dance-related classes/workshops, running at home and going to my friend’s fitness room at his apartment complex to round things out. I started cooking at home and meal prepping three to five meals a week. This cut my food expenses a bit (probably saving me $30-$50 a week) and also gives me the added benefit of eating a little healthier.

    1. What are some difficulties or challenges you’ve faced so far this year, in terms of managing your finances?

For me, looking at my debt balance and being so close to paid off has made me anxious. I want to pay it off in full sooner than later, which led me to put more money toward that student loan debt than what I budgeted. I dipped below what I was comfortable with in my checking account and have a very meager savings.

    1. Have you had any setbacks?

The biggest setback was being sick in January. I got the flu and then had to go to the hospital for three days. If it wasn’t for insurance, those three days would have cost me another few years of debt. If it weren’t for my being sick, I think I would have paid the one, if not all, of my debts by now.

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

I have been really happy about my focus on paying down my debt. I have found ways to allow myself to live a fun and fulfilling life without having to spend a fortune to do so! I am excited to have no debt to pay off and grow my wealth finally!

Kelly Anne Smith is an email content specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.