Monthly Financial Update

It’s a new year and if you’ve not done so yet, I’d highly encourage you to sit down and set some financial goals for 2011. It’s amazing the momentum you can receive from having specific, written goals.

Here’s our list, continued over from the middle of last year. We tweaked it a little bit because, after prayer, thought and research, we’ve set our next BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). By the end of 2012, we’re hoping to have enough saved to purchased a piece of commercial real estate as investment and residual income.

1. Continue to give generously needs in our community and around the world. This is an ongoing goal that we’re making a priority every month, so we’re keeping it uncrossed off from the list.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set.

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Old Blue Van.

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room.

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs.

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save 40% towards our goal of paying cash for commercial real estate.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link in the comments. Or, just share about your progress/goals in the comments. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

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  1. Lisa says

    This is the first year that my husband and I have set financial goals for the year. It’s usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants strategy so I’m excited for what’s to come. Here’s what we have planned (in no specific order):

    1) Pay cash for a recliner for our living room
    2) Pay off my Target Store credit card and cut it up!
    3) Pay cash for an eye exam and new glasses and sunglasses for me
    4) Put aside money each month for Christmas, a summer vacation, and heating oil
    5) Spend $85 or less each week on groceries for our family of 6
    6) Save 25% of my husband’s pay check each week and put into our savings account

  2. says

    Our biggest goal? To remain debt-free.

    We only have our mortgage at the moment. While we have very little money to put into savings, we are committed to not putting anything on our credit cards. This was the first Christmas since we were married (8+ years) that we didn’t have huge bills in January from spending at Christmas. And I can’t even describe how grateful I am to not have that burden!!

    So being debt-free means that *everything* will be paid for in cash: new tires on the car, a new gas-pack (ugh…), homeschool curriculum for next year, etc. We are super committed, so I pray we stick with it!


  3. JenW says

    Our goals for 2010 are
    1. to completely fund our emergency fund with 1 year of expenses.
    2. to save $8000 for a new to us car.
    3. to fully fund a ROTH for me and to max out my husband’s 401K.
    4. to continue funding our educational account for the kids.

    We had some unexpected expenses (our refrigerator from 1989 retired, and my mom had some serious health complications that waranted a last minute visit) at the end of 2010, but had planned a very frugal holiday. I was so excited to be able to store the lost emergency funds today! Thanks so much for the inspiration!!!

  4. Denise C. says

    I am in the thought process of my goals for 2011.

    Financially, a big one is to *understand* money. I do not understand what a Roth IRA is or other fancy accounts. Once I get that down pat, my husband & I plan to replenish our savings account (basic one joint to our checking). It was depleted in 2010 when we had to replace both our vehicles. Such is life.

    Get the grocery bill under control (this is something I am still working on).

    Save to fence our backyard.

    Save & purchase a new bed for us.

    My husband & I are fortunate to only have our mortgage & auto debt (I came to terms with that). We have one credit card, it never gets used.

    I love reading everyone’s comments, such encouragement & inspiration! :)

  5. Rachel says

    Hi Crystal. I just love your website! So inspiring! And I really love all the comments by the readers, so I am looking for advice from you and/or the other readers.

    We got married (almost 7 years ago) and had our first child very young, and both came into marriage with some credit card debt and school loans. About 2 years ago we were finally to a point where we thought things were looking pretty good financially. My husband had graduated college and taken his first “real” job and we welcomed our 2nd child as well as purchasing our first home. About a month after we bought our home my husband got sick. He’s been sick for 2 years now. Thankfully he is usually able to go to work at this point, but he did miss 5 months at one point (meaning we were making 60% of his income, with by far the highest medical bills we had ever experinced up until that point) and he misses quite a bit still. His treatment costs us probably about $1000-2000 a month on average, as well as having to travel out of state occasionally to see specialists. Our son and I also suffer from fairly expensive chronic illness, and I am currently 20 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child and experiencing some difficulties with this pregnancy. I have done in-home daycare in the past but am not currently. With my current health status and constant medical appointments for the 3 of us who are sick as well as homeschooling my kids, it isn’t really possible for me to do that right now. I do work sometimes on the weekends when I am able, but I have not been able to lately because my husband is not well enough to watch the kids. We also had our basement flood in August, so we had to pay the insurance deductible and other odds and ends related to that. We have also had unemployed relatives living with us for about 15 months, the last of which just moved our in October.

    We are so far in debt right now. We have a lot of credit card debt (which was completely paid off at the beginning of my husband’s illness) as well as student loans, our mortgage, and 1 small-ish car loan (the other car is paid off). We are hoping to get a large tax return this year to be able to attack some of these bills, but we also have another out-of-state medical trip coming up in the beginning of April so we will need a chunk of the money for that. We just feel that we are in a hopeless situation financially. Thankfully, we have had a lot of help from our friends and family as well as our church. We just had an out-of-state doctor’s visit the end of November that we thought we were going to have to cancel until our church stepped up and gave us a chunk of money to help pay for it. We aren’t really sure what to do. We have thought about possibly trying to rent out our house and rent a small apartment, but both my husband and I feel that there is no way either of us is physically strong enough for that right now. Plus, I don’t think we could get much for our small house so we aren’t sure it would be worth it even if we could do it. We have thought about selling a car, but we really can’t see how that would work out logistically. We had one car for a while (when the last one died and we hadn’t bought a new one yet) and it didn’t really work to get the kids up and get hubby to work when we needed the car. Public transportation is not an option because we live pretty far out. I use coupons and feel that I am a very frugal shopper. We just don’t know what to do.

    I had no intention of this getting so long! Oops :-) Anyway, can anyone offer any insight into our situation? Thanks so much!

    • Rachel says

      Forgot to mention that we have about $600 in savings and we contribute a minimal amount to my husband’s 401k.

    • Annie says

      @Rachel, Hi Rachel. My heart goes out to you and your family! God is so completely faithful. He promises that His children will never go hungry. He also promises to work out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His name. If you are believers, you can rest assured that God will take care of you! When I decided to quit working to stay home with our children, we gave up 2/3 of our income. Talk about an adjustment!! It has been a 2.5 year process of creatively cutting expenses and adding to our income. And just when we think we can’t possibly cut back on anything else or some HUGE expense comes up, God provides in a BIG way!

      My sister has been sharing with us what she’s learning from her Dave Ramsey class. The first baby step is to set up a stable budget. Here are a few ideas that have worked for us in the last couple of weeks.

      1. We saved almost 50% on our internet bill, just by calling them and asking for a lower rate. This added $17 to our budget.
      2. We consolidated 2 of our credit cards. While this may not take time off of our debt repayment, it has lowered the amount we pay out each month in minimum payments. We expect that this will add $50 to our budget each month.
      3. Next, we’re going to call about our other utilities and my student loans to see what kind of lower payments we can get.
      4. I’ve also been finding things around our house that we can sell on Craigslist.
      5. Also, any odd jobs we can find, we use toward our current goal. We don’t include unreliable money in our budget.

      These things will stabilize our budget so that we don’t have to use a credit card to pay for our basic necessities. Once we can get our budget stabilized, we’ll focus on the next baby step of saving $1,000 for an emergency fund. To us, this seems overwhelming. However, we’re going to take one day at a time and trust that God will always provide what we need. I hope these things have encouraged you or given you some ideas to help your family.

  6. Rebecca H says

    When we had our first baby, my husband got laid off, and he didn’t find another job for 4 months after that. We are still recovering 3 years later. But this year, our goal is to pay off our smaller loan, pay off our line of credit, and pay the rest of our medical bills we owe from having our third child at the end of last year. By the end of 2012, we hope to be completely debt free and start saving up for a house!

    Life throws us curves, but we pray and we work for solutions. So far, with a LOT of faith and support from family, we’ve been able to accomplish so much! Thank you, Money Saving Mom, for all of your ideas and encouragement and inspiration that you’ve helped me with :)

  7. Rachel says

    2010 was the year we finally completed Baby Step 2 and paid off $79,000 of debt (over the course of 5 years). We also re-financed our home to a 15 year mortgage, which we plan to pay off earlier. And…I am excited to say that during the last week of 2010, we saved up 6 months worth of living expenses to fully fund our emergency fund. What a blessing!

    Five years ago it seemed like those goals were insurmountable. Now, it’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. This year our goals include:

    1) Complete Step 3B – Spend some fun money. i.e. pay cash for a new table and chairs or a couch.
    2) Save 6-10% of our income for retirement.
    3) Begin saving for our children’s college education.

  8. Paula r says

    My husband and I have more debt than we would like. We started meeting with an amazing couple who is helping us get it under control. By the end of the year we would like to have only our school loans. That means paying off our credit card and car. And we plan to never take a loan out for anything … Ever … Again!!!

  9. says

    Great goals! We hope to pay off our mortgage (only $19,000 to go!) purchase a residential property for investment & income purposes, continue to fully fund our Roth IRAs, contribute to my daughter’s 529, and decrease our grocery budget from $700/month (I know!) to a maximum of $500/month.

  10. Annie says

    My sister has been sharing what she’s learning from her Dave Ramsey class. We’ve cut our budget so bare bones that it doesn’t cover our necessities. We’re trying to get some of our creditors to reduce our monthly payments so we can stabilize our budget. We’ve already given all of our credit cards to my parents so we can’t use them. Once we stabilize our budget, we’re going to start saving toward our $1,000. A SUPER lofty goal would to do both of those things AND pay off our almost $12,00 in credit card debt. It will take a miracle, but it’s worth a shot! We’re trying to find creative ways to bring extra money in (since we mistakenly cut our budget too much before), and my husband has completed all of his firefighter/paramedic training (all paid for in CASH!!!) and is applying for every available job. We’re hoping that if both are successful, we can accomplish our BHAG!

  11. RJ says

    I am very frustrated (and have been for a while) with the whole saving money/budgeting process. My husband is a self employed construction/handyman and gets paid $25 an hour. Most times he works by the hour, although sometimes he will bid a job (which pays better). And, a second job is not an option. We have a family of four children (9,7,5,3) and I am a SAH mom. I do enjoy couponing/stockpiling and have had four yard sales this past year. That (couponing and yard sales) has helped tremendously, but I struggle with how to budget when we never know on a regular basis how much my husband will bring home. And normally we don’t get paid on a regular basis (weekly). He had absolutely NO work this last week, and maybe 1 day this week that he knows of right now. Taxes are soon due, and regular bills need to be paid. Thankfully we do not have any debt except mortgage.

    I would love to follow something like Dave Ramsey, but as I said, have had a hard time trying to figure out how to do it in our circumstances. We live from paycheck to paycheck. And to top it off, our bank started to charge a fee when our checking account goes below 500.00. UGH!

    I know I am not making much sense with all my jumping around, but I am so very frustrated.

  12. laurie says

    I started Dave’s Plan in Jan of 2010 and jsut finished FPU. Over the last 6 yrs I have paid $50,000 in cash to adopt my girls from China,bcome debt free,save for 8mos of our emer fund. I am now going to start a Roght IRA this yr for myself as a single and my 401k I just increased to 10%. I am going to open Educational Ira’s for both of my girls. I then plan to start paying of my mortgage aggresively in 2012. I am 39 and would love to be mortgage free over the next 5-7yrs. Without a mortgage payment at that time this money will completely go to paying for my kids college education. I hope to say in the next 5-7yrs that I am completely debt free so ” I CAN LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE.” as Daves says. Thanks Crystal for your inspiring blog. I am also going to try to eat completely organic by March of this yr.
    DD Olivia 6
    DD Claire 3 My chinese little girls

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