2017 in Review from A Family on a Journey to Financial Freedom

Blog Title (4).png

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit my disclaimer page for more info.

 I wanted to share a little recap of my 2017 year. I spent most of December resting + reflecting on the amazing year that my family + I had, so I wanted to share with you my goals from the past year, my reflections, lessons learned, + of course lots of photos of my adorable babies (#momlife ...gotta show off the kids, you understand right!?!).

My hope with sharing this little recap with you is to help motivate + inspire you to know how much good can happen in one short year!

I spent the beginning of the year planning + dreaming of the year ahead. I felt a big year coming ahead of me so I picked "achieve" as my word for the year.  

Achieve is defined as: to reach or attain a desired objective by effort, skill, or courage.

2017 Goals:

  • Be moved into a cute little rent house (check)

  • Savings fully funded for Large Emergency Fund + House down payment (half check...we decided to push back our house plans)

  • Have our Retirement Funds + Girls' College Funds set up (in the plans for 2018)

  • Have business more established (check)

  • More play time as a family with a boat + smaller house (double check)

  • Be helping hundreds of women live positive lives (check! ...make that thousands!)

2017 Mission Statement:

"I will help spread positivity + hope to women + moms around the world. I will help them gain a positive mindset, take control of their lives, + motivate them to reach their full potential." 

Gold line.jpg

Winter 2017:


We celebrated Izabell turning 3.

"My sweet angel. Her birth was the moment that made us realize that we needed to change our path. Supporting a family of 4 after her birth made us see the need for a budget and some serious long-term goals. God made our Izzy Grace as a special gift to teach us this important lesson."


We celebrated June turning 6.

“My silly monkey. She made us parents + made our lives so much more meaningful. Every year that she gets older our parenthood gets older too. She’s constantly serving as our motivation to give her and her sisters a better life. God knew we’d need such a passionate soul as our first born to keep us on our toes.”

Daniel Fish.jpg

Daniel went on a tuna fishing trip.

"My husband is the hardest working guy I know. This man spends half of the year away from home to provide for us. Although he used to be the spender of the two of us, he's spent the last 3 years doing without a lot of luxuries because he knew we had bigger goals in mind. We had debt free goals + retirement goals...goals way more important than fast food + new clothes. Another one of our goals was to have awesome experiences, and this weekend he got to go on an off-shore tuna fishing trip...paid for in cash! Living on a budget doesn't equal zero fun...it just equals discipline + only spending your money purposefully. 
Talk about a husband deserving nice things because he's a hard worker...this is the kind of stuff your husband "deserves"! Awesome adventures with his buddies with no guilty debt attached to it!"



We hit one of our big goals + cash flowed a family boat!

"This boat is what kept was motivated on the hardest days!  This was a moment that we had been dreaming of our entire budgeting journey, and was our first real treat since we had started! 
I remember the day we sat down almost 3 years ago and wrote out a goals list together. After buying a second vehicle for our growing family, a boat was second on our list. I remember writing out this goals list that seemed like the adult equivalent of a Christmas list....
•SUV •Boat •Newer truck •4 wheelers •House paid off
...I don't think at the time that we really thought all of those things would happen. I think we hoped they would happen...but did we understand that this life was really possible? ...not completely.
Everyone says write out a goals list, so we did! We did the math and projected that we'd be able to buy a boat (in cash) by Spring 2017. Guess what guys!?! It's Spring 2017...and we're the proud owners of a 26-year-old, paid for in cash, $6,800 boat!" 


We sold our rent house + paid off another $98k in debt!

"We finally closed on our rent house this week! This knocks another $98k off of our debt, and brings our debt payoff to $225k! ⠀
This moment is so surreal! One more debt to go and we'll be 100% debt free! ...the light at the end of the tunnel is sooo close!!! ⠀
It was a little bittersweet since this was the first house we bought as a married couple, and Daniel wasn't home to go to the closing with me, but the house will be in great hands with the sweet couple we sold it to!" 

tree farm.jpg

I wrote an epic guest blog for my sweet friend, Allie Casazza, that doubled my audience in just a few days. 

"We were drowning. I thought we must be the only family who was struggling to keep up. The overwhelming stress had become normal. Paydays came and went, but there was never anything to show for it. Our seemingly perfect life was crumbling all around us. Our lives were flying by so fast that it felt like we were stuck on a never ending treadmill. There was never enough money to get ahead." Read the whole article here!


June had her 3rd Dance Recital.

"Last night was this gorgeous girl's dance recital. Even though it was her third recital, it was the first year her daddy had to miss it. Since he works off shore we've known for several months that he'd have to miss it, so her + I both have been mentally + emotionally preparing for it as best we could. ⠀
As her + I walked hand-in-hand into the auditorium last night she looked up at me with a sigh and said, "Momma, I sure wish Daddy was here.".⠀
I told her I did too, but explained to her how much her daddy loves her + how hard he works to give her nice things like dance classes. She said she understood + immediately went back to being excited about the rest of the night. ⠀
Of course your momma heart breaks a little in moments like that, but as I walked with her I thought about her beautiful childhood, her hopes + dreams, and what we would be able to provide her with in her future...like a college education + the pursuit of any hobby she desires. I thought about how 3 years ago my sweet husband worked his butt off + missed family events just to be able to keep our heads above water...but now all of his hard work actually has a purpose. I thought about how hard he's working now, so he it doesn't have to be this way forever. I thought about how amazing it felt to be out of survival mode + to be living this amazing intentional life with our little family.⠀
Budgeting is freedom from the treadmill life, it's hope, it's purpose, it's about so much more than just working for a paycheck....it's about working so your family can have beautiful moments, experiences, + dreams." 



We traveled to Austin + met Jen Sincero. 

“Meeting Jen was a bucket list moment for me! Her first book, You Are a Badass, was what inspired me to stop wishing + start doing! I was so inspired by this book that I started working out + started my business before I had even finished reading it!”


We sold our old camper + threw another $750 into savings!

“We had totally outgrown our tiny pop up camper so we sadly decided to sell it. Thankfully we’re able to borrow my grandparents’ larger camper for our camping trips until we’re able to save up and cash flow our dream 2 bedroom, 5th wheel camper!”


We spent a lot of time camping + boating over the Summer.

"One of our biggest whys for living on a budget + becoming debt free is traveling! We're spending this week on the beach in Galveston. So many happy memories being made. My heart is so full."


I finally got brave enough to cut all of my hair off! 

“I had wanted short hair for a really long time, but if you’ve ever had short hair you know that the maintenance cuts every 6 weeks are not super budget-friendly. So I waited and waited, and kept pushing it back...and then I finally did it! I invested in myself with this haircut. Now I’m not only forced to spend money on my self-care every few weeks, but I also feel amazing. It’s a win-win...and well worth the wait until we could actually afford this treat.”


We moved into our new house!

“This was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make in our marriage to date. However, after reading Lara Casey’s Make it Happen, we decided to take the plunge. She says in the book, “You know all of those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” God spoke to me in that moment and said, “Do it! It’s time!”. He needed us to take a leap of faith. He needed us to be scared. He needed us on our knees at his feet. ...and that’s where we sat for about 7 months.


We decided to move into a MUCH smaller 2 bedroom, 1 bath rent house before our 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath house had actually sold. We decided to basically stop saving money and pay for both our mortgage and this rent house until further notice…for the sake of our sanity.


No, it doesn’t make sense on paper, but it doesn’t have to. Our budget, our rules. So we took the plunge...head first! AND it was beyond the right decision for so many reasons. We took control + stopped letting our life just happen to us. We were unhappy in our old house, we had worked hard to have extra money in our budget, a few goals could wait...our happiness won this battle.”



I became obsessed with the Power Sheets by Cultivate What Matters.

"This awesome goal planner helped me really get serious about my goals for the second half of 2017! I was able to set, plan, and track my goals...and make a lot of progress on some big goals!" Shop for your own set here!


We celebrated A Sunny Side Up Life turning one year old + did a super fun photo shoot with one my best friends Morgan Marshall. 

“On my birthday, August 2oth, I’m also celebrating the 1 year anniversary of A Sunny Side Up Life. I still can’t believe a blog that start basically out of summertime boredom has turned into a movement! Now, I’ve grown this life changing movement to thousands of women from all over the world. Families are paying off debt + starting to enjoy financial freedom!
... and what better way to celebrate than with a super fun photo shoot with one of your besties for a website update!?!”


The girls started a new year of Dance Class.

"This will be June's 4th year + Izzy's 1st!⠀
My momma heart loves that we're able to add Dance Class as a line in our budget! I remember how much of a struggle it was to pay for June's first year...and I remember looking at newborn baby Izzy and wondering how we'd ever be able to afford lessons for her as well. ⠀
Now here we are 4 years later with brand new leotards, hand-me-down ballet shoes, and kids that honestly have no idea how hard their parents have worked for them to get to enjoy this beautiful luxury."



I launched my course, Your Sunny Money Method.

"I've spent the last 3 years getting my own family out of a massive amount of debt! Now, I spend my days helping overwhelmed women from all over the world with their families' budgets! ...and I want to help your family next! 
My course is a simple approach to your family's budget. I've designed it specifically for overwhelmed women who are ready to break free from financial survival mode! 
I've honestly put my whole heart into this project....and I just can't wait to get this course into the hands of my sweet ladies!" 

Learn more about my Budgeting Course here!


Daniel + I celebrated our 9th anniversary.

"Shout out to my amazing husband + best friend. 
Staying gone half the year, missing holidays, and living on a boat isn't easy and sometimes isn't fun...but he continues to show up for his family. 
The positives out-weigh the negatives, and we continue to focus on what we're gaining instead of what we're giving up. 
Thank you for all that you do for me + our girls! I love you a million times!"


Melanie turned 2.

"Melanie's birth symbolizes so much for our family. Not only did our family become complete with her birth, but with her surprise pregnancy (3 months into our budgeting journey) our family had a huge motivator to get our money right. 
I found out I pregnant with her only a few weeks after finally getting brave enough to add up our $490k worth of debt. I sat in tears wondering how we'd ever become debt-free....and then only weeks later to find out I was pregnant with a 3rd little one. I was honestly divested and almost angry that I was pregnant. I thought that we'd never be able to get ourselves out of all that debt now for sure! 
Fast forward 9 months...
SEVERAL small debts were gone, all of her medical bills were either paid or saved up for, and we even saved enough for her Daddy to take a week off of work! 
Our debt-free baby. 
She's my message from God that sometimes all you need is a little extra motivation, a huge heart for your family, and lots of prayers! His timing is always correct....there's no telling where we'd be without our sweet Melly as motivation."


We finally received an offer on our house. 

“This house is our last debt item. Our contract is still pending at the time of writing this, but we're hoping to close very soon, and become 100% debt free at the beginning of 2018!
The sale of this house was one of the hardest decisions we’re ever had to make. This house isn’t just a house...the land has been in the family for 14 years + the house was built to be my parents’ forever home before my dad got sick. Although the decision was hard, we know that it’was part of God’s plan.” 

Read more about why we're selling our house to become debt free here!

Gold line.jpg

Ready to get started on your own jounrey to financial freedom?

...that's where I come in!

I've spent the last 3 years trying + testing all of the best budgeting methods to get my family out of some serious debt.

Now, I spend my time coaching other women through their families' budgets!

Gold line.jpg

Lessons learned in 2017:

  • Businesses grow slow

  • Houses sell slow

  • Waiting is the hardest part

  • Quiet is okay

  • Busy doesn't equal productive

  • Little by little progress adds up

Wow what a year! 2017 was definitely the year of “achievement”!
Some goals were accomplished + some weren’t. Lots of grace, lots of motivation lost + found again, lots of setbacks with our savings after we decided to move, lots of tears + prayers, lots of waiting, but lots of joy, lots of laughs, and lots of growth.  

This journey isn’t always easy, but it’s not supposed to be! We’re changing our lives here. Breaking old habits, repairing old mindsets, and transitioning into a life that most people only dream of. Becoming debt free in 2018 is just the beginning of this epic journey that our family is on!
...and if our family can do it, so can yours! Happy New Year friends!

headshot (1).png


I'm the wife to my high school sweetheart, Daniel, + homeschooling momma to our 3 girls. I'm the Budgeting Coach + Motivational Speaker behind 
A Sunny Side Up Life

My family used to be in $490k of debt + living paycheck-to-paycheck, but after we hit rock bottom everything changed for us!

Now that my family has become debt free + gained financial freedom, I want to help your family do the same! My passion is inspiring women to live abundant lives through budgeting, intentional living, and positive thinking.

I offer a jump start into budgeting with my free 5-day email course + a full budgeting experience with my course, Your Sunny Money Method.

Gold line.jpg

Pin this article to your favorite Pinterest board!

2017 in review from a family a journey to financial freedom | Sami Womack | budgeting for beginners | become debt free | where to start with budgeting | overwhelmed with budget | stressed about money | debt | budget | budgeting | personal finance | household budget | personal budget | money management | debt | money | mom life | mom hacks | motherhood | family | pay off debt | become debt free | Dave Ramsey baby steps | motivation for being debt free | budgeting blogs | new year | goals | 2018

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links above, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used. Read our disclaimer here.