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.
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.