Helping You Live a Financially,
Physically, & Professionally Fit Life

2017 Year In Review

December 30, 2017
AUTHOR: Emilie
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Reading Time: 7 minutes


  • January: Best friend Blair came to visit Fayetteville and I headed to Philly to get piercings and enjoy Phormal with my VFam.
  • February: Baby sister Laura came to visit Fayetteville, I went to Nashville for work, and we went to the 1P Ball.
  • March: I wrapped up my first Crossfit Open, saw Luke Bryan in Fayetteville with Kelly, went to Nashville with Blair, and WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!
  • April: We worked on the house and traveled to Cleveland for Easter.
  • May: I went to Nashville for work again and See visited me in Fayetteville!
  • June: Casey and I visited Savannah for the first time, my dad visited Fayetteville, and Casey and I both turned 24.
  • July: We celebrated 4th of July with my first ever firecrackers and Bo’s gotcha day with pup cheesecake! I watched Florida Georgia Line in concert (by myself because I’m independent AF) and Sam Hunt with Kelly! Also, I quit my job and started my ownbusiness.
  • August: I visited Blair in DC, fam in New Jersey (for the first time since May 2016), and had VFA graduation/Summer Camp in New York.
  • September: Casey proposed, I said yes. I spent three weeks in Brasil and did Crossfit with my dad in Florida.
  • October: I visited France, Spain, Portugal, and Texas, attending Milblogging and FinCon!
  • November: All I wanted was downtime, and I got it, until we spent Thanksgiving in Ohio.
  • December: Army beat Navy again! We celebrated our fourth dating anniversary with Star Wars and the Melting Pot and our dear friends the Sweatts wedding in Greenville, SC before heading north to spend Christmas with our families in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

What. A. Year.


  • In January, I competed in Friday Night Lights at Crossfit Redpoint and placed second.
  • I tried but ultimately failed Row’d Royalty 2017.
  • In February, I completed my first Crossfit Open.
  • In March, I did a 12 ft rope climb with a 25 lb please around my waist.
  • In June, I hit a 245 lb deadlift.
  • In July, I got hand stand push ups in July and was able to string 4 kipping ones together.
  • In August, I got a 125 lb Clean and Jerk PR. I also tried and failed a Whole 30.
  • In September, I did crossfit with my 60 year old dad.
  • In November, I hit a 32.5 inch box jump.
  • I lost nearly 12 inches around my whole body, but don’t know what I weigh because I don’t have a scale anymore.

These are, of course, the highlights for the year. Since September, I’ve struggled with gym motivation and have really flaked since then.


I encourage you to check out my monthly debt updates for a monthly break down of my debt progress.

At the end of 2016, I set out 3 financial goals:

  1. Build emergency savings fund to 4K.
  2. Be financially prepared for Ricardo’s Wedding ($2000 by August) and FinCon ($1500 by October)
  3. Pay off 20K of debt

How did I do?

I did not build my emergency fund to 4K because I was focused on paying down debt.

I did go to Ricardo’s wedding in Brasil in September and FinCon in October. I also added Milblogging to my October trip. I also did a ton of other traveling that I highlighted above, including France, Spain, and Portugal, visiting mainland Europe for the first time.

I started off the year with $32,315 of debt. As I shared in my December debt update, I am ending the year with $17,444 of debt, meaning I only paid off $14,871- not the best, but also not terrible considering how much I lived this year. We cash flowed nearly $20K of renovations in the house, and I cashflowed nearly $5K of dental work! This was a very solid year.


I started off the new year at a new job (December 5, 2016 was my first day) that I quickly realized was not going to be the place for me. I was treated poorly in ways that would drive even Susan Fowler crazy. I left there in July, incorporated on my own, essentially becoming a consultancy, and have been running my own payroll ever since.

I did not make any open source contributions or create any real portfolio projects, but I feel like I strongly built my network and am benefitting because of it.

That’s all I want to say about that for now.

Top 5 Blog Posts

I published 77 new posts in 2017! My page views dipped a bit this year because I stepped away from the blog more often than in previous years. I didn’t do any active social media promotion though my love/hate relationship with Instagram happened in waves. I averaged 32K pageviews, 18K sessions, and 11K users per month. Fifty percent of my audience is 25-34, 85% is female, 83% is US-based. Traffic was evenly split between desktop and mobile, and most of it came from Pinterest.

Here are my top 5 most viewed blog posts:

  1. 4 Tips for Saving Money While Moving into your First Apartment
  2. My First Crossfit Open: 17.1
  3. My Reflection on the Whole 30 & My Feelings of Embarrassment
  4. Why Crossfit is the Gym I Never Knew I Needed
  5. How to Make a Budget

Top 5 Books

I read 32 books this year. (I have exactly 50 pages left in book #33 and may finish it before the end of the year, but this is at time of writing.) Here is the full list in order by completion date:

  1. Gen Buy by Kit Yarrow
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  4. Grit by Angela Duckworth
  5. Zero Down Your Debt by Holly Porter Johnson
  6. Ever After by Vicki Courtney
  7. 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses by Kalyn Brooke
  8. Why not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  9. Post Grad by Caroline Kitchener
  10. Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry
  11. The Healing of America by T.R. Reid
  12. Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze
  13. The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton
  14. Cultivate by Lara Casey
  15. GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
  16. End Financial Stress by Emily Guy Birken
  17. The Broke and Beautiful Life by Stefanie O’Connell
  18. The One Thing by Gary Keller
  19. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
  20. It Start with Food by Melissa Hartwig
  21. Design Your Day by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
  22. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  23. Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron
  24. Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach
  25. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
  26. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud
  27. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  28. The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
  29. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  30. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
  31. Reset by Ellen Pao
  32. The Long Road Home by Martha Raddatz
  33. [easyazon_link identifier="0062292986" locale="US" tag="burkedoes-20"]Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore[/easyazon_link]

The top five that I’d recommend to anyone for any reason (aka not someone looking for a professional development book- or something in particular) are, in order:

  1. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  2. Grit by Angela Duckworth
  3. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  4. Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron
  5. The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse


At the end of 2016, I used my PowerSheets from the Cultivate What Matters Shop to set 10 goals for 2017 based around my word of the year, Focus. How did I do?

1. Read 30 books in 2017.

I read 32 books over the year, so ✅

2. Pray more so that I can strength by relationship with Him.

My prayer life wasn’t great over the course of the year. I started journaling my prayers and that felt better, but I wasn’t that diligent about it. We also have struggled to find a prayer home here (still). ❎

3. Freewrite more often.

Nah, I don’t remember free writing ever. ❎

4. Get into the fittest shape of my life.

I absolutely got into the best shape of my life ever but, as I mentioned above, after my travel schedule got really heavy in September, I wasn’t able to get back into it like I had been the first 8 months of the year. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life right now though. ✅

5. Give more money and time.

Yes! I did up my monthly charitable giving to Benedictine Academy and added Baltimore Collegiate. I also volunteered a couple of times but can do a lot more for improvement. ✅

6. Pay off all my credit card debt, my Upstart loan, and my ECSI loan. [Everything but my car.]

As I outlined above, I’ve come about $4000 short of paying off my ECSI loan, but that’s okay because I hope to crush it early next year. ❎

7. Earn $24,000 gross in freelance income and launch one passive income product.

In the first half of the year, I made 12,249.23 gross freelancing. Then I rolled my freelance writing in my business, so let’s just say yes for the first half of this because I picked up more writing work, not less. I did not launch anything, though, so ❎

8. Reach 10,000 page views per month and two thousand email subscribers.

Because of some 💩 with my email service provider, my email list was lost almost entirely a couple of weeks ago, so it’s currently down to under 200 people. Rebuilding from scratch there. ❎

9. Finish ONE needlepoint belt this year.

I didn’t touch a belt, BUT I did make one ornament this year. Since goals can morph over time, I’m calling this one successful. ✅

10. Build a remote-friendly professional network so that I can spend my energy on worthwhile things.

Yes! This was a great year for building and cultivating my professional network. ✅

Five out of ten. Not bad, especially when you consider that there are multiple near misses, such as my debt repayment and my freelance income.


2017 was a great year. It was full of learning and new experiences and I am so very grateful for it all. Thank you for being part of my journey this year. ❤

Cheers to 2018! 🍾

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