Happy New Year! We’re back from our holiday break feeling refreshed (and a little overstuffed tbh), and we’re ready to face 2020 head on. When we think ahead, we’re most hopeful for a year of growth, rich in experiences, both personally and professionally. This post is not a resolutions post; we’ve never been big on resolutions, with the exception of renewing our vow to be kind to one another. (A yearly reminder never hurts.) Rather, think of this post as a large, heaping dish of what to see from YBH in the year ahead.
So while we’re not big on resolutions in the traditional sense, we are big fans of outlining a list of goals to keep us focused and on track throughout the year. Because when you put it all out there, it has to come true, right? And if 2019’s word was balance, this year we’re focusing on growth.
Psst: You can see how we fared (ha!) by checking out our goals for 2018 and 2019.
1| Finish Renovating the Two Flat (And Bring You Along for the Ride!)
The Two Flat is, without a doubt, the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken. It also marks the first time we’ve handled a whole house renovation all at once, as well as the first time we’ve utilized a construction loan. Our GC and his team have been hard at work for the last 6 months, and they’ll be handing the project over to us as a ‘white box’ in the coming weeks. We’re chomping at the bit to get started installing kitchens, bathrooms and all of the rest of the finishes that will add up to make this space special. Throughout the process, we’ll continue our Dear Two Flat vlog series, and we’ll tackle tons of DIY projects and tutorials along the way! We have every intention of wrapping up this project and having Unit 2 ready for rental by fall of 2020, and we’d consider ourselves lucky to begin furnishing Unit 1 for short term rentals! (Deep breaths.) Stick around for this one, won’t you? We’re really, really excited about it.
2| Finish Tree House and Begin Our Short-Term Rental Journey
We’ve been landlords ever since we moved into our current home, but we’ve never dabbled in short-term/vacation rentals. That’ll change this spring, and we’re… excited? Nervous? Both, definitely both. We’re putting the finishing touches on the Tree House bathroom as we speak, and once complete, we will have officially touched every room in the home. There’s still a decent sized punch list of small tasks and final touches that we’ll need to handle throughout the winter, and once we’ve deemed the house ‘ready’, we’ll try our hand at renting for long weekend stays to friends and acquaintances to ensure that the space is as comfortable for renters as it is for our family.
Once it’s all 100% dialed in, we’ll offer it to anyone looking to explore this very special corner of Southwest Michigan, an area that’s dear to our hearts. Although we’ve stayed in our fair share, this will be our first time bring on the other side of a short-term rental, and we’re sure to learn a lot along the way.
3| Travel Somewhere Completely New to Us
As long as Kim and I have been together, we’ve loved to travel. We’ve taken countless road (and train!) trips over our last 16 years together and have been lucky to visit some pretty incredible places along the way. It fuels the soul and refreshes our creativity in a way that nothing else can. Now that we’ve got a spunky toddler joining us on all of our adventures, we’re seeing things with fresh eyes and planning around everyone’s needs to ensure that we all enjoy ourselves!
This year, we’d like to continue the tradition that we started this year by traveling somewhere completely new to us. But where? (No, really, tell us!) We’ve heard that Charleston is incredible. I’ve never been to New Orleans, and Kim’s never been to Colorado. Also, neither of us have spent much (if any) time in New England. Should we get Lucy a passport and head to Canada? Since our little Goose will be 2, we’re thinking a driving trip would be best, but who knows? Maybe we should jump back on the Amtrak to eliminate cars all together? We can’t wait to see where our adventures take us, but in the meantime, we’d love some suggestions for family-friendly destinations that you’re passionate about.
4| Grow Our Team… Maybe?
Is 2020 the year that we add another member to the Yellow Brick Home team? We don’t know. However, there is one thing we do know: We’ve had to turn down more than a few exciting projects over the last year due to lack of space on our calendar. Collaborations that we were excited about it, and we knew you’d be excited about. Of course, more hands could equal more output – but this is all scary and exciting to talk about, because it’s always been just the two of us. We know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, rhythms and how we take our coffee in the morning (obvs). While a third person at the desk could increase our productivity, we’re still battling those (annoying!) voices that cast doubt. Growth is hard, but here we are, laying all our cards on the table. You know we’ll keep you posted, because who better to join our team than one of you?
5| Strengthen Family Traditions
We’ve always enjoyed creating traditions, and having Lucy in our lives has cemented that fact even further. This year, we focused on making time for more low-key hang outs and weeknight dinners with friends and family. We also looked for any old reason to get together with our tight-knit group of neighbors, even holding our first (of many!) block parties. On top of all that already good memory-making stuff, we also started a wonderful new tradition this year when our DIY soulmates came to Chicago for a long weekend, having more fun than we thought was possible in three days. These traditions create lasting memories (is there anything better?), and they give us things to look forward to. The best kind of motivation, we think.
6| Reach Our Personal Finance Goals
Kim and I loathe wasting money – us and everyone else, right? – but monthly bills, fees and interest are an often-necessary part of home ownership and adulting in general. We were both raised with a pretty strong understanding around finances, for which we’re forever grateful and hope to do the same for Lucy. (Thanks, Moms and Dads!) Over the last few years, we’ve buckled down and focused on erasing all debt that’s not related to mortgages, and as of 2019, we even celebrated paying off all of our student loans and our beloved Subaru. We’re officially free of debt unrelated to property ownership, proving to us that hard work does, quite literally, pay off.
All that said, we’ve still got a lot of work to do to make our mortgage loans work a lot harder for us. We plan to refinance some (or all) of our mortgages at lower rates and/or shorter terms to ensure that we’re paying the smallest amount of interest humanly possible. As mentioned above, we also have every intention to rent Tree House and the Two Flat enough days each month to completely cover the mortgage and operating expenses. We’ve run the numbers forwards and backwards, and we think this is all very doable – but not without a massive amount of work behind the scenes.
So there they are. Goals. In black and white for everyone to see. What are your goals for the year? Do they look anything like these? Are they completely different? Let us know what you’re working toward, and we can all help keep each other on track!
Happy New Year, friends, and thank you for being here! It’s gonna be a good one. We can feel it.
What a beautiful family photo today! Lovely! I love goals, seems when I say them or write them I end up achieving them with less work than I thought. Paying my house off was a big one. I did it without refinancing because of the fees the bank wanted to charge me. So I just kept paying more toward the principal and boom it was done! I am grateful! My next big goal is retirement in 28 months to pursue more volunteerism, fostering dogs, gardening in my community!
I love this so much! Your goals are beautiful.
So excited to see your goals come to life this year, especially how it goes with the short-term rental of your beloved Tree House. We are hoping to purchase a lake home this spring, and while the plan has always been to keep it for us, the appeal of some additional income to cover costs and, therefore, continue working towards other financial goals is appealing. Since you already love and use the Tree House as a family a lot, I am eager to see how it goes for you. There is a lot for all of us to learn. Thanks again!
I love hearing about your goals and plans! I’m with you on the mortgage goals. I’d say Colorado would be great. You can hit Denver and Boulder, both are very kid friendly. The science and nature museum in Denver is amazing! Then you can do beautiful hikes and there are lots of great restaurants in both towns, and they’re only 30 min a part.
Scott keeps hinting at Colorado, maybe this will be the year?!
Wonderful post! Thank you for your honesty and realness! Gotta say, you need to come to New England. You’d love Boston, Cape Cod, the Islands, Providence, Newport, Portland and every other wonderful part of Maine and then Vermont, sweet Vermont. You’ve got a free itinerary planner right here!
Love this post too, and have to agree with a New England visit! I’m from N.H., and totally recommend a Boston and Maine trip!
Scott’s never been to Boston, and I have family there! And I’ve never been to Maine. :)
Ditto! NEW ENGLAND. Particularly, Boston. It’s so kid friendly, it’s unlike any city in the U.S., it’s charming, tons of history, great food, music, sightseeing, shopping (in case you’re interested…), beer, it’s a young city, and it’s just incredible. Also, everything Kate said, with the addition of Burlington, VT, and Portsmouth, NH. And if you get up to Maine…Rockport, Kennebunkport – specifically Goose Rocks Beach. You won’t regret it, and you may want to stay a little longer. You’ll eat many a lobster roll, it’s hard not to!
But New England, start in Boston, go East, then north, and you’ll have the best time! It’s a really special part of the country. ❤️
I would say that both New Orleans and Charleston are great cities to visit. However as a resident of south Louisiana, I would not recommend a visit in the summer. It’s too hot, spring and fall are better bets. I also used to live in Ouray, CO. A visit to southwest CO is beautiful any time of the year. Good luck with all your goals for the year!!
Great goals! Very similar to my intentions for the year (more Amtrak travel with our two little humans is new to my list this year). Excited to hear about how Tree House rental goes- we have a home in the same area and hope to have it rental ready this year. A bit anxious about letting it go and finding the right person/company out there to help manage it.
We’re anxious about the same thing. It can be nerve wracking to put that trust into someone else. And Amtrak travel? LOVE IT. We talk about that all the time once Lucy is a little older!
Happy new year! So excited to watch y’all crush all of these goals in 2020. If you need any help, our family of three has been doing long weekends going from Chicago out to the New Buffalo/Sawyer area since our daughter was born 3 years ago. Seems like pretty good training to be considered for future beta-renters for Tree House?
You should check out Glenwood Springs Colorado. It is right on the train route from Chicago and is a very kid friendly location. Lots of outdoor activities including 2 fantastic mineral hot springs pools, whitewater rafting on the Colorado river or gentle float rafting on the Roaring Fork river, and a theme park perched on the mountain above the town. Great historic hotels, vrbos , and outstanding restaurants to suit any foodies.
Love this! All of it! If you have tons of time I would strongly suggest an adventure to Vancouver Island, our heartS are in Tofino, but the entire island is stunning and filled with microclimates. I know you guys will pick and awesome place, can’t wait to see!
I love your goals! Debt repayment is a HUGE one for us this year. Largely becuase we know we need a new roof in 2-5 years and a car swapped out here soon.
Every child is so so different, but we have found flying to be SO much easier with our 2 year old. While the flight it’s self (we try to stay under 3 hours) can be slightly challenging- she loves all the other parts. Security, boarding the plane, the airport brewery :) long car rides make everyone in our family go nutty! New England is also on our radar for a new to all of us trip this year.
Totally agree. My kids as toddlers would much rather hang out in our laps interacting with us on a plane than be strapped into the backseat of a car.
And I recommend coming to the beautiful Pacific Northwest!
We looooove the PNW! We go there often to visit friends in Portland, and several years ago, we traveled by train from Vancouver, through Seattle and into Portland. So beautiful.
I’m coming here to echo this sentiment, that flying with a toddler has always been easier for us (mine are now 4 and 2.) Long car rides with them are stressful! I’d also second going to Colorado. So many different things to see and do with a toddler there!
We went to Asheville, NC with our 1.5 year old this summer and LOVED it. We road tripped there from MI, which was a long drive but do-able. We explored the Blue Ridge Parkway, did a few short hikes from there but also just enjoyed driving that scenic road. The downtown area has lots of cute shops and restaurants. And Asheville has tons of great, kid friendly breweries – some of our favorites were Sierra Navada’s Brewery Complex and this tiny one called Sweeten Creek Brewing – both have huge outdoor areas where the kiddos can run while you relax with a drink :)
Asheville has been on our list, thanks for the rec!
We’ve traveled to Denver/Breckenridge/RMNP with our kids and would highly recommend that area with Lucy. It’s such a fun age to spend time outdoors and explore nature centers and Colorado is so child-friendly!
These are all awesome goals! Can’t wait to see you guys crush it in 2020!
I love your cute family! And another vote for Colorado! We just took our second annual family trip to the YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park and it’s amazing. Great little affordable cabins with tons of resort amenities included, and it’s a perfect base camp for hiking and exploring.
Great goals! I completely understand all the feelings with adding another team member. I am working through a lot of the same thoughts in considering to expand my team as I grow. I know it will likely accelerate growth and pay off in more ways than one, but there is so much commitment and investment required to get to that spot. Can be challenging to pull the trigger (and find the right person), but I’m sure we will both be happy with the results when we do!
Thanks so much for being willing to share your goals. I’m excited to follow along as you achieve them! I’m sure it’s difficult to think about sharing your tree house and some of your blog business with someone new, but honestly, growth usually requires discomfort. You will plan and implement and adjust accordingly… and then wonder why you were so worried :) Plus, I think a little bit of fear or hesitation can be healthy because it encourages you to think through the details. That being said, don’t allow the analysis to paralyze you either. Prepare as much as you can, and then go for it! As for our goals, we are also focused on debt repayment. We only have a small amount left on student loans, and we’ll be able to pay off our mortgage within the next year or two. In the meantime, we’ll continue completing projects on our current house. My husband and I also want to secure employment that will allow us to work from home more this year. Hiking new trails is also high on our list. We’re probably going to need to get a new vehicle. I want to spend more time with my grandparents. I also want to be more willing to take risks. That paralysis I mentioned about… it’s my middle name. Ha,ha. :)
If you’re considering Charleston, I have to recommend Savannah! They’re so similar in climate and aesthetic, but Savannah is like Charleston’s funky sister. The art scene is great due to the college there (SCAD), there’s beaches and history, great food, and the best people-watching. Plus, the open container laws make it so easy to spend the day outside downtown with a drink in hand.
You had me at ‘open container laws.’
Can’t applaud you enough for paying off your school loans NOW! Sleep is so much sweeter, even w/ a 2 y.o.!
Passports are great to have for kids regardless, but kids under 16 only need a birth certificate to travel over the land border into Canada!
Great post! As a frequent traveler, I think you should get Lucy’s (and yours too if you don’t already have them) passport now so that if in any way in the next ten years you want to plan a quick trip to Canada or anywhere international, you are ready to go and not having to worry about the timing of getting one. My graduation gift to my niece was to pay for her first passport. Charleston is very family friendly. I totally fell in love with that city. NOLA is also awesome. I second the one commenter that recommended not going in the summer to NOLA. I went in June and was basically a wet puddle all day the minute I left air conditioning….. I always go to the public library and check out travel books on the cities/states I plan to visit. Also wikitravel is helpful.
Sounds like a great year! I don’t know if either of you have ever done your DNA but maybe a trip to a place of your heritage?
Definitely on our list, but maybe when Lucy is a little older!
Come to New Hampshire! I’m biased but it’s my favorite place and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else (and I’ve traveled a lot!) North Conway is my favorite little town with so much to do! The train station, Zeb’s country store with a candy counter, flatbreads pizza (get the mopsy’s khalua pork pie with pineapple) the Kancamagus highway, cathedral ledge… all things you can easily do with a toddler!
For a closer family getaway, how about Mackinac Island? Stop for a night at the Tree House, then continue up the coast to Northern MI? Traverse City, Fish Town/Leland, Oswald’s Bear Ranch, Deer Ranch, Museum of Objibwa Culture. On the Island there’s biking, horse drawn carriages, Butterfly House. If you want to continue on maybe Kitch-iti-kipi, Tahquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks, Porcupine Mountains. Might be cool to go back down the WI side.
Also a great idea! Our close friend have a family cabin near Petoskey and we’ve spent some time there and at Mackinac Island. We love the area!
Here are some potential vacation places. My daughter is the same age as Lucy and we take her everywhere. I find the US expensive to travel and think that lower cost of good food and nice accomodations make up for flight costs going abroad (specially latin America and southern Europe). We’ve taken our baby/toddler to Brazil, Spain, Sicily, Denmark, Iceland, UK, and Canada. Go to Sicily! Gigi enjoyed it most of all. She loved the beach pebbles, warm Mediterranean water, and we all loved the food. It’s amazing! And super affordable.
That’s amazing! I’m taking notes!
I learned a genius family road trip trick from my brilliant aunt over this holiday season. Family of 6 doesn’t travel cheap, so they used to drive everywhere for vacations. If you have a membership to a local zoo or science center, they are often honored at other zoos and science centers (!!). They used to plan long road trips so that their mid-day stops were at one of these places. Everyone gets a break, a walk, something interesting to see, and easily accessible bathrooms and food. The woman is a genius. Your Lucy might be a little young to enjoy a museum break on a road trip, but YOU all might. Store the tidbit up for when she’s a little older. Can’t wait to see all your 2020 projects. Absolutely love following along.
Great tip! I learned this trick when I interned at the Cincinnati Zoo in college, but had totally forgotten about it.