2017 Goal Setting

I really loved the idea of Big, Hairy Audacious Goals  and in 2016 paying off the debt to live the life we wanted was huge. Now with the consumer debt gone we want a lot of things that are all huge (new kitchen, no mortgage, vacation) and if we tackle one a year it may feel like we’re waiting forever to get to the others. So I’m taking bite sized pieces out of each of them so that we can feel good about every part of our lives.

Goal 1: Mortgage Payments

I’m going to save money every month so that at the end of 2017 I will be able to put at least an extra $1,200 towards our mortgage.

Goal 2: Home Improvement

This will be the year that we fix the sinking driveway and update our light fixtures. I feel that these are two realistic goals that can easily be achieved and will make our home seem much more welcoming. I’ll give myself until May before I think about the driveway properly since it’ll be either snow or rain covered until then. The light fixtures we can begin our search in the new year. There are at least 4 that must be replaced with a couple of others that would be nice to have done.

Goal 3: Emergency Fund

I define my emergency fund a.k.a. sky is falling account to be the account that will save us in case of job loss. I currently have 3 weeks pay (1.5 months) in that account. My aim is to save another 3 weeks pay in 2017.

I’m going to do this by throwing my budget buffer money in here starting in March.

Goal 4: Vacation/2nd Honeymoon

2018 is going to be our 10th wedding anniversary. Our wedding, while fun and the start of a fantastic chapter, was bloody stressful. We want a do-over. Sort of, we’d like to throw a big party for our friends and family and go on a vacation.

We’d also like to take a vacation out of the country that year. Knowing that this is something we’d like to do, we’re going to have to start planning and budgeting now.

 

Mini Goals

Goal 1: Conference/Vacation

I’m heading to a conference in February to a place I’ve never been before, and never intend to visit again, so I’ve tacked on a few extra days. The reason I’m never going again is because it’s frightfully expensive for me to go to this place. So expensive that the cost of adding hotel dates wiped out my vacation savings. My plan is to put leftover buffer money towards my vacation line in January and February so that I can pay for any excursions that I’d like. My aim is to return feeling relaxed and being debt free.

 

As always my overarching goal is to ensure that I stay true to myself and live a life that reflects the things that matter to me.

Are you setting goals for yourself this year?

 

Advertisements

Reflecting on 2016

I spent a bit of time reviewing my posts from this past year to remind myself of my plans in 2017. Boy do I have a lot of them! The really big ones that are impacting the way I craft my budget are:

So a lot of big things are on my horizon! Before delving into them I wanted to reflect on my 2016 goals and lessons. I created my first list in December 0f 2015 and then revisited them in May.Frankly, I set realistic goals for myself in 2016! I’m pleased to say that I did achieve them all: I paid off my debt, assisted ML & he’s now consumer debt free,  began my home renovation fund, and began putting more money into my emergency fund.

I also began making huge strides in being better to the environment and embracing more minimalist values. Can you believe it’s been a year since I did the me version of Project 333 ? And I’ve kept it up…well in a me way. Each month I go through all my clothes and select a month’s worth of clothing. I then pack away any clothing that didn’t make the cut or donate things that no longer suit me.

How was 2016 for you?

 

 

 

Word of 2017: Stretch

The word came to me yesterday morning as I was getting out of bed but I decided to take a day to see if it will truly work.

Before I get out of bed I reach out my arms and legs. It’s an uncomplicated stretch that sends the message I’m about to get moving. As I did this I thought that stretch may be the perfect word.

In my work life we also speak of stretch goals, these are goals that are above the necessary ones. For example, in this blog my original goal had been to pay off my consumer debt in 30 months, my stretch goal became to pay off all consumer debt by the end of 2017.

I’ve been told many times that stretching isn’t supposed to hurt.If it does you’re doing it wrong. My hope is by selecting this word I will be more cognizant of self care.

I haven’t decided my big goals for the year but I can see the concept working for me on many levels.

  • Physically: actually stretching and working on my flexibility; increasing work outs slowly
  • Environmentally: bringing us closer to 0 waste
  • Emotionally: stretching is a warm up and cool down piece which see es as a reminder that my emotional gas tank has to be full in order to be there for others
  • Professionally: I have a change brewing and it’s a reminder to say yes and no. See above note 🙂
  • Financially: I have a lot of goals and I need to balance them. I’m thinking of the kitchen and working hard to make this dream come true.

I also kept in mind my posts about what matters to me (Part 1 and Part 2) and it definitely lined up with those concepts.

I’m excited about this and l think it will encourage me to grow while ensuring I remember to take care of myself.

Using Guidelines: 2017 budget

Early last year I found another way to assess my budget: The 50-30-20 rule. I plugged in my numbers and was quite happy with my allocation. This year I opted to do it again with my proposed 2017 budget. Here’s what it looks like:

Aim 2015 2016 2017
Essential 50% 57% 48% 33%
Lifestyle 30% 27% 28% 30%
Future 20% 16% 24% 37%

The drastic change in the essential line is because previously it included the minimum payment of my debt. With no debt my essential costs are down!

My lifestyle cost is up as it takes into account my singing lessons.  I’m having fun doing the lessons and meeting people so I feel like it’s a great cost and it’s nice to see that I’m still within the recommended guideline.

That increase in my Future category makes me feel great! Since I still don’t budget with my entire pay once my top two categories stay within budget I may be putting a tiny bit more into future than reflected here.

Word of the Year

Lauralynne wrote an excellent, thought-provoking post about her word of the year. Everything she said resonated with me to such an extent that I was tempted to share her word.

However, I know that when my mind enters anxiety mode this word may not be the best choice.

My plan this week was to come up with my 2017 goal to share so I’m going to review the blog, create a plan similar to 2016, and then choose a word.

What word would you choose to help define your upcoming year?

Boxing Day Sales

So I just posted that I got lovely presents and didn’t need anything yet I found myself joining the hoards.

I went out this afternoon when most things were pretty picked over in the hope that it’ll be less busy and that a lot of the goodies would be gone so I wouldn’t be tempted to purchase things we don’t need.

My plan was to get:

  • Christmas gift for a friend
  • Birthday gift for a friend
  • A few items for the gift closet

I did exactly this and my extras are things I feel good about:

  • mini nail polish pack (I have dumped most of mine as they’re old)
  • Hair ornament pack ( so needed and so inexpensive)
  • Dashboard camera for ML (he’s been chatting about this for some time)

Not only did I get these but I stayed below my budget. In fact I was below budget but I used my points card so I ended up only spending half the cash I had planned.

Did you indulge in Boxing Day sales?

Christmas Gifts

How was your Christmas?

Ours was wonderful: it was filled with food and family. And also gifts. The gifts were a bit stressful for me this year. I’m always a bit concerned but this year ML pointed out I became really concerned about if our presents would be good enough.

To truly understand how out of whack with reality I was you’d have to know our families. Our families don’t care about the things, we all feel we have enough the gifts are a way to show we care but to meet needs as well.

I got, and gave, meaningful presents.

The best part? All our gifts were easily put in their places within our home. Since I’m trying to be more cognizant of what we allow into our home and ensuring it brings us joy.

I’m not sure where my stress came from but this Christmas was a reminder that the season isn’t about spending but about appreciating those we love.

 

One more Down!!

firework.

We did it! We just paid off ML’s credit card!

I’ll admit to some minor cheating here: I was desperate to start 2017 as a consumer debt free household but with my overspending way back in June I was an entire payment short of what I had promised to help ML.

Being an easy going soul he didn’t mind but it turned out I did. We were so close! In fact we were just that payment short of stamping out the credit card debt so I pulled money from my Sky is falling account and put it toward that.

This means that he has 1 student loan left and his final budgeted payment will wipe it out in January!

Thank you so much for all your support, tips and ideas! This is the best Christmas gift we could have and we’re thrilled beyond belief to be starting 2017 consumer debt free!

 

 

Photo courtesy of satit_srihin via freedigitalphotos.net

Gift Giving Angst

The Stewards recently did a fantastic and timely post on how to accept gifts graciously. A family member has shared what she’s spending on ML and I immediately felt like we’re not spending enough on her. My instinct was to go out and buy her a load of other things.

This year I’ve found myself counting more than I should and even set a bad example for my brother as he spent $50 on me so I made sure to spend $50 on him. His takeaway lesson was spend all the money…not what I was going for.

This is where the Stewards post and a conversation with ML helped steer me back on track. The Stewards reminded me that I should treat my gift giving just as graciously as I accept gifts. ML reminded me of how much thought I put into my gifts. I’ve adjusted that August list based on things people have requested so it’s no longer a true representation of what people received.

For me frugal gift giving means presenting things that people will enjoy without going into debt. My feelings of guilt come from the supposition that people who make less than us are spending more on us than we are spending on them. Now I have no proof of this and based on previous gift exchanges it seems that we all end up giving thoughtful and deeply appreciated gifts.

Now that I’ve worked that bit out I finally feel comfortable assessing my budget. I’ve been a bit terrified to look at it since my desire to buy any and everything has been at war with my desire to end the year in good financial standing without having to take money from my savings lines.

I’ve just gone through my budget and since I’ve completed my gift shopping I can say with a fair amount of certainty that if I behave myself for the next two weeks I shall be just dandy. My usual buffer has been eaten up by presents.

I opted to use my buffer and only top up from my dwindling gift line if necessary. This worked well as it gave me a lot of gift spending money. In the end I only had to dip into the gift line a bit so if any gift giving activities pop up in the January I won’t be left scrambling.

 

 

 

2017: Year of the House

As of January 1, 2017 we will be consumer debt free. As I mentioned the money I currently put towards debt repayment will then move to the kitchen renovation fund.

ML has expressed a desire to paint our kitchen in the short term, this would give the room a lift and help us feel a bit better about it. I’m on board as I recognize that this is important to him.

We have no intention of selling the house so why make 2017 the year of the House? Well, this is where we spend most of our time and frankly it’s our biggest purchase. We need to be better at maintenance.

It’s the little things like:

  • Fixing the sinking driveway
  • Adjusting the backyard
  • Painting/ fixing worn baseboards
  • Putting up light fixtures that work and aren’t dated

That can elevate our home. Writing that list I feel like we must live in a dump! I promise we don’t. The house was given bare minimum maintenance when we moved in and to be honest we weren’t much better.

We used the, “We’re not handy people” line and a fear of not being able to afford proper help as excuses for lack of action. My plan is that this stops now. We’re not handy people and frankly I’d rather pay someone to come and fix something than experiment. This comes from my fear that we’ll spend more if we mess up.

Knowing this about myself I then need to gather quotes and make informed decisions. 2017 is going to be the year that I do this.