new goals

As promised in my last post, here are a few financial goals that I would like to meet in the near future. My end goal is that by posting these aspirations on the internet, it will make me more accountable for them and I will work hard so that I can post more successes than failures!

Goals:

#1 – I want to start brown-bagging more lunches. This is something that I can do well on for awhile, then I will fall off the wagon. Two years ago, almost all of the meals that I ate at work were either fast-food or something that I picked up in the store – and they were rarely healthy choices. It usually amounted in a meal full of calories, fat, and sodium and almost zero whole grains, fruits, veggies, and non-processed foods. As I started to worry about the impact this habit had on my health and my wallet, I started to brown-bag more often. There was even a period of time where I brought my own lunch everyday! Unfortunately, at this moment, I am still buying lunch 1 or 2 times a week during the workweek. Ultimately, I wouuld like to bring this number down to 0, unless there is a special occaision. I am going to do it in increments – try to get down to once a week, then once every other week, then (hopefully) none, barring special occaisions (company lunches or a planned lunch with a family member or friend).

#2 – Pay for my Iceland trip in all cash. This doesn’t mean that I won’t use my credit card at all. I actually plan on using my credit card a fair bit because of the additional protections that a credit card has over a debit card. In fact, I have already used my credit card several times to book accomodations and such. What I mean by paying all in cash is that I don’t want to go into debt over this trip. I feel fairly confident that once I return, I won’t have any debt from my trip. However, in order to make that happen, I am going to have to be careful on how I spend my momey in the next few months. I leave in 17 weeks – 119 days or approximately 4 months. I have estimated my expenses, and saved accordingly. I am close enough to that goal that I think I will make it by the end of July – but only if I am careful about my spending. This could be a challenge, for reasons that I will discuss a little later.

#3 – Live below my means – even though raises are coming! At the income level I am at right now, I am able to pay my bills, throw some money into savings and still have a little bit leftover at the end of the month. Starting April 1st, I will receive a raise from my primary job, and on May 17th, I will receive a raise from my second job. Although neither raise has doubled my salary or given me delusions of grandeur, I know that at least one of them is very decent and would allow me to have more discretionary income. My goal is to NOT let this happen. I really want to keep my expenses at the same level, and put the increase in pay right into the bank. Although it would be nice to have more splurges, I really want to beef up my savings first and foremost.

Challenges:
I mentioned earlier that I have a few challenges to face ahead of me. The first, and biggest challenge is that I am in the process of trying to buy my first home. I am really excited about it and I am sure I will have more to say on the subject at a later time. However, there are a lot of unknowns that come with buying a house, as well as fees associated with it (home inspections, termite inspections, earnest money, closing costs, downpayments – oh my!). Plus, there will be more costs once I move in – likely an appliance or two, plus fees like connecting the utilites and getting my internet service moved over. I have put offers on two houses so far. The first offer was turned down, and the second offer is pending. I am pretty unsure of what will happen, but I know that I want to be in a house soon and I am going to be facing some costs to do it. Plus, I will have to take a little time off work to sign papers and move. It can be a challenge. Second, I am seriously considering dropping my second job when the summer is over and committing to more time at my primary job while still teaching dance one night a week. As far as income, it would be about the same (since I am earning significantly more at my primary job than my second job as a lowly barista). By dropping the second job, I would have a lot more free time to pursue other interests (such as this blog!). That could be a big positive or a big negative. My decision hasn’t been made yet, but I feel like it will be in the near future, and this will also impact my finances. The third challenge is that I want to start taking more time a year to travel. Although I currently get some paid vacation time, once that runs out I am out of luck and if I want to take time off, it has to be unpaid. This is problematic, not just because travel is expensive, but after a short amount of time, I am also not able to generate money while I’m away. I’m currently doing research on how to tackle this challenge, because I know thousands of people overcome it every year. Fourth, I am trying to get in better physical shape. It’s not just about losing a ton of weight (although I wouldn’t turn that down!) but I want to feel more fit and have the peace of mind that I am showing my body respect, by maintaining it inside AND out. Not only are there costs associated with that (gym membership, , Weigh Watchers membership {intro special for 3 months. After 3 months I may not be interested in the program anymore} buying healthier, more perishable foods), but in the event that I do lose substantial weight, I will have to start getting new clothes. This would be an AWESOME challenge to have, but it is one that is on my horizon right now.

There. I said it. It’s all out in the open. Look for an update at the end of April to talk about how I have done!

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