Since the last time I wrote to all of you about our debt free journey, Christopher and I hit a few personal milestones. The first is that in November we passed the $100,000 mark in debt paid off. Hooray! (That number is both liberating and terrifying to admit).

The second, which might actually be more meaningful as far as our day to day lives go, is that we had a true emergency come up recently and we were able to handle it. One frosty cold morning my husband found himself stranded in the grocery store parking lot thanks to a busted fuel pump. As (rotten) luck would have it, on the same morning our car was dead in the driveway. Not our best day.

However, we were able to make repairs thanks to having an emergency fund. By the end of the week, things were back to what passes for normal around the Fleck household, amazingly without any lasting financial repercussions. A few years ago that certainly wouldn’t have been our story.

Christopher my heroFrom Instagram:  This was a horrible week. A chipped tooth (me), busted fuel pump on one vehicle, dead battery on another, a funeral of one of his childhood friend’s father, and devastating news for a family we love very much … Just many challenges and heartaches. And he? He was my knight in shining armor as always. I could write him a love letter every day and it still wouldn’t be enough.

I have to be honest with you, in the past I’ve been hesitant and a more than a little embarrassed to share our debt story. I’m thankful to Tsh for her encouragement to share our journey with you here at the Art of Simple and I’m also very thankful to all of you who have shared your own stories.  Your openness makes it easy to be honest about our own struggles.

Because of you, Christopher and I have been more motivated than ever in 2013 to get out of debt. You know where we’ve been and you’ve received these posts from me without judgement, even become our cheerleaders.

Thank you.

This year was a positive one for our family and we made some real strides on our debt free journey. We’ve got some big plans for 2014 and I hope you’ll all be here to share the journey with us and celebrate some financial victories of your own, too.

Financial Goals []

Where we hope to be in 2014, our goals, and how we plan to get there:

• Build our emergency fund back up, replacing the money we took out to cover vehicle repairs. If we are extra frugal with the grocery budget and holiday budget in December, barring any other true emergencies, we will accomplish this before New Year’s Eve.

• Continue to aggressively pay down our debt, living on about half of our income and dedicating every available dollar to paying down our last two Baby Step 2 debts in the first two-thirds of the year in 2014 (sooner if we can).

• Keep motivated by breaking the above debt into smaller portions and celebrating each milestone paid off (since it will take us some time to pay the entire amount down). Perhaps a homemade candle lit victory dinner each $1000 paid down? Any frugal celebration suggestions, Art of Simple readers?

• Continuing with the motivation theme, creating a visual reminder of what our goals are and displaying it someplace where we will see it and be reminded of it often. I’m a really visual person and I think this will especially help me, as we’ve been in debt so long it is hard to imagine a life free of it.

• Work on saving up a fully funded 3 – 6 month Emergency Fund and get serious about our retirement savings. I don’t think we can get this done in 2014, but we can get a started.

• Begin to pay down our largest debt (which technically can be added to the Baby Step 6 category along with our mortgage since it is more than half of our annual income) and our mortgage at the same time, setting ourselves up for debt-free success in 2015 and (long term) a pretty sweet ’16!

For a little extra motivation as we prepare to welcome a new year, there’s a well written post by Charlie Park here on the Art of Simple with four steps to simpler financial goals.

Now, on paper, all of this works. We will see how the reality pans out. But, I’m optimistic, friends. We are so close to making our goals a reality and I think another year, maybe two, of hard work and dedication will get us where we want to be.

Did you miss any of my debt free journey posts in 2013?  You can catch up with our story here:

What about you? Where does the end of 2013 bring you as far as making your financial goals a reality? What are your plans for a debt free new year in 2014?