Ending 2020

family christmas pic

Hi guys! I meant to publish this on December 31st, but I’m here at my parents’ house, visiting, and didn’t get it done. So I’ll backdate. Hope you are having a good 2021 so far. One of my goals for 2021 is a more regular blogging schedule so I hope to be back soon with more content!

What a year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had fantasy conversations with my past self about our current unbelievable reality.

Me, circa February 2020: “What’s with the masks?”

Current Me: “Girl, how much time you got?”

Also unbelievable: Moderna Inc. started working on the vaccine in early January of this year. Before any of us even had a clue what was coming. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

“The biotechnology company Moderna Inc. had downloaded the genetic code for the novel coronavirus from researchers in China. Within a few days, scientists there had developed a vaccine with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the research agency led by Anthony Fauci. By mid-March, they’d started a clinical trial.”

There’s a lot that goes on in the world that I don’t know. Thank goodness, right? Both the good and the bad parts.

But this post isn’t about those things, so much. It’s about how my little neck of the woods did, benchmark-wise, this year.


  • We had 0 cases of Covid in our immediate (and extended) family.
  • We doubled our net worth in June.
  • We ended the year with the biggest net worth increase we’ve ever had in a single year. This is mostly because of the stock market and nothing we did.
  • We ended the year eating a vegan diet.
  • I got quite a bit better at tennis.
  • We dramatically decreased our food budget towards the end of the year.
  • I did a much better job of budgeting for our true expenses, and we ended the year with a lower spending rate than we have for many years.
  • We had the highest savings rate we have ever had (this will probably not be repeated next year, given that kids are both in private school).
The current breakdown of our assets, by category.

Those are the good parts. There were lots of other parts, too, bad parts and frustrating parts and unbearable parts and hopeful parts. Lots and lots and lots of struggle. Still lots of struggle, job-wise especially. The boys struggled a lot with virtual schooling which is the main reason we enrolled them in the private school where I teach.

We haven’t been able to travel (cry me a privileged river, yeah, I know).

A lot of people we know have gotten sick, have been lonely or isolated, have suffered from depression or other mental effects of the changes we’ve had to make because of the virus. We have, too.

Mr. ThreeYear purchased not one, but two motorcycles (although one can really be categorized as a moped).

Vroom vroom.

Both Mr. ThreeYear and I have had two weeks of vacation, along with the kids, and it’s made me realize how hard we’ve been working and how little downtime this year has given us.

These two weeks, largely spent at home, have been so incredible. Usually we get cabin fever, but not during these two weeks. Last week, I exercised for a (what is for me) mind-blowing 530 minutes. Most of that was playing doubles tennis so it wasn’t high-impact, but it was so great for my mental health. As a reference, the week previous to that I exercised 0 minutes (I average somewhere between 150-300).

Little ThreeYear making cookies with his cousin (the dog food was not part of the cookies, fortunately). Full disclosure: the cookies were not vegan.

Mr. ThreeYear and the boys, especially Junior ThreeYear, have played lots of video games together. We’ve watched countless movies, made brownies, made vegan meals, eaten a ton, and just hung out. We’ve visited with my sister and brother-in-law and my two nieces a ton. Rest has been super-needed and super-good.

Looking Forward

Inspired by Joel at Budgets Are Sexy, I’ve made some goals for 2021 (speaking of hope).

  • Contribute $2,000 to a donor advised fund (thanks for the inspiration, Joel!).
  • Keep grocery spending under $700/month (I’m giving myself some wiggle room to make it achievable).
  • Pre-fund Napa trip. Yes, that’s right–we have a Napa trip planned in April. Crazy? Perhaps. We’ll see.

In the past, I’ve gotten pretty serious about goal-setting. After this year, though, and after achieving the big goals I set for myself way back in 2016, I’m taking some time to slow things down and figure out the next right move. It may just be that I focus on incremental gains for awhile.

We’ve got a lot to be grateful for and the future looks bright. It looks a lot brighter after time off and exercise, though. Lots of times this fall it felt dull, interminable, and gray. I have a hard time remembering what the bad feels like when it’s good, and vice-versa. So I hope we can get some downtime this winter and spring, enough time to putz around and do little projects, cook, play tennis, and otherwise take care of ourselves. I hope we can be careful and safe through what feels like the last third of this marathon called Covid-19.

I’m going to try and post a bit more in 2021, but we will see how that goes. I have a lot of great ideas and then life gets in the way. Getting up pretty consistently at 6:15, though, so I hope to spend mornings writing again.

Memories of 2020

Ugh, do we really? Yep, I think so. Here are a few of our highlights and lowlights from the year. Please keep in mind, if this selection of photos looks tone deaf, that I picked photos that represent moments and memories for our personal family versus trying to showcase all that went on in our community and world this year (It’s mainly so I can look back in the future).

The first picture I took in 2020, on January 1st. My sister gave me an organized pantry for my birthday, so it now looks even better than this.
We redid our closet in early January. It was so much work but I love it so much! We used a now-defunct IKEA system.
The finished project (my side, at least). Believe it or not, this is my drastically-minimized wardrobe!
Took a beach/tennis trip in February with some friends. It was so much fun. It was also very bougie.
In February, we had a big scare with Little ThreeYear. He ate a tree nut and had a bad reaction. My amazing friend and ER doctor Melora was there to take care of him at her hospital. Thank goodness for our HSA to pay for that one!
This is the last picture I have of doing anything out-of-town before Covid hit. My sister and I went to the beach with my mom for her birthday in early March. We stopped by my grandmother’s senior living facility to visit her while we were there.
And here we are in quarantine. What a Spring it was. Very hard for the boys and I to learn and teach school.
Here’s Little ThreeYear in his remote learning setup in the Spring. Day One, when we were filled with hope and promise that it would go well (it didn’t).
Teaching from the kitchen table. Not a fan. But we all had to do stuff we weren’t crazy about this year.
The great part about the quarantine was all the family time we got. Mr. ThreeYear didn’t travel after February, we all played lots of games, and ate lots of food (as the empty plate hints).
We participated in a peaceful protest for the POC in our community and our country.
We had some good beach time this summer.
The boys actually went to a day camp in July (where they had to wear masks). They biked from our house to the camp each day and absolutely adored being with other kids (although not, so much, the oppressive heat and humidity).
We spent the Fourth of July with our cousins.
In the fall, we finally got Little ThreeYear allergy tested. Yep, allergic to almonds.
Both boys changed schools and now attend the school where I work as a Spanish teacher. Little ThreeYear attends full time and Junior ThreeYear attends halftime in person, halftime virtually (for now, anyway).
Halloween happened this year, despite everything. Junior ThreeYear had a Trunk or Treat with his classmates.
Junior ThreeYear went for the very appropriate Plague Doctor costume.
We got a mountain weekend to Maggie Valley, NC, this fall (and Mr. ThreeYear and I toured the “Wheels Through Time” motorcycle museum).
We finally joined our local church and celebrated Advent remotely. It was the first year Lucy has gotten to participate in church services.

I hope that wherever you are, physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or financially, that you’re doing well, and that you have hope for the future. Sending you best wishes for a better 2021 from my little neck-of-the-woods.

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

2 thoughts on “Ending 2020”

  1. Great year-end post! I think it’s important to share our personal stories, despite all that’s going on in the world. What a year of change and contemplation for everyone. Glad to see you’re still sticking with the vegan cooking!

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