20 for 2020: Get Your Finances In Order

Japanese maneki-neko, a cat figurine thought to bring good fortune.

Of course there was no way of knowing when I set these targets that I’d not only be working to get my own financial house in order, I’d also be settling the many complicated affairs of my parents. Instead of spending weekends working on some of the other items in this list, spare time and energy was instead focused on the steady stream of voicemails and calls, emails, and other related paperwork with lawyers, financial institutions, utilities, family, friends, and neighbors, and other logistics related to the tangled web of unresolved loose ends left behind by my mother and step-father’s recent passing. Well, all that, and often just recovering from the many traumas of 2020. While some headway was made on these two items, they remain not complete to my satisfaction and will definitely roll over onto next year’s list, augmented by a few new related items—it would be a shame to go through the effort of resolving my parent’s worldly affairs and not sit down and put my own affairs in order.

Pay off your student loan debt.

My mom passed away this year and this became a more bittersweet item than I could have ever imagined. It was at the top of the list, and I generally consider financial matters pretty urgent, so I started here. Early this year, I drilled into the numbers, discovered that it was not as manageable as I’d hoped, so I made the changes I could and called it good for the year. Then the double whammy of both my step-father followed shortly by my mother passing away in the first half of the year, leaving me as executor to clean up a complicated estate. What this has to do with my student loan debt, if it’s not entirely obvious, is that my sister and I, who no longer have a functional speaking relationship, agreed many years ago that she wanted nothing to do with inheritance, neither of us wanted to live where their house is, and we should sell the house and pay my student loan debts. As you can imagine, it is a very different and more complicated issue all these years later, and I am reckoning with that reality. The short answer is that I have a default plan established at the beginning of this year, and the more complicated version is that I might pay down those loans sooner than expected, depending on how 2021 goes. I got this, too.

Rebalance your portfolio.

What this means is that I’ve not put as much attention as I’d like to my financial well being in recent years as I’d like, and there are definitely some tendrils that require my attention. Honestly, these are, especially in the context of the current world order, first world privileges, which I have followed up on in part. I’ll spare you the gory details, though I’ve got a few more items here that might warrant rolling this onto my list for next year.

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