Monthly Financial Checkup

I have no idea how it is already October, but the good news is that we were able to fully-fund Silas’ educational savings account in September! And we’re trying not to be discouraged with how badly the market is doing right now… it’s going to get better in the next 11-16 years before they need to use the money, right?! We hope, at least. :)

Here’s our list:

Our Family’s Financial Goals for the Summer of 2010 through December 2011

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world.This is an ongoing goal, 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 real estate investment goal.

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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Comments

  1. says

    we were doing good…we were going to pay off our house($7,500) from the individual we are buying it from and then we found out he put the house up for collateral in 2005(we’ve been here since 2003) and still owes almost $32,000. Hubby went to try to transfer it over in his name(so we could just take over the payments) and they won’t do it.

    Yes, we are consulting a lawyer to see how we can get our house, plus the money back we’ve already paid the man.

    So aggrevating.

  2. says

    Doing good. The goal for us to save to pay cash for our house when we leave Panama. We saved 130+% of our monthly goal in September :=)

    The Lord was also super gracious about pointing out where we could give. Such a blessing to be able to give as the Spirit moves!

  3. says

    After reading Dave Ramsey’s the total money makeover I decided to follow the plan. In the last three months I have paid off all of my credit card debt and paid off my car. I am now debt free except for my house which I was trying to re fi to a fifteen year loan. That was an unnerving experience you can read about on my blog ( http://www.alongforthejourney.com ) Now I am ready to fund my emergency savings!

    • Andrea says

      I hope it works out for you Katie! There’s a big difference between 7.25% and 4.3%! Even if you can’t get the 15-year term, you could settle for the 20 and pay extra each month.

  4. Jennifer says

    When the market is down is the perfect time to buy. The lower cost per share will mean you will buy in cheap and then hopefully after 11 years
    (when you need the money) you can sell high. You should see a significant % return!

  5. says

    How wonderful it must feel to have so much of your list crossed off. 10+ years is a long time for the market to correct itself so I wouldn’t get to worked up about it. Plus, if you continue to live as frugally as you do you should be in a good position to deal with that situation should the market not be so good.

    Here is a link to my latest update.

    http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/2011/10/september-financial-check-up.html

    Thanks for the link.

  6. Leighann says

    As of this week, we have all of our bills paid up until the end of November! I am going to continue to pay them, however, and get ahead. It’s part of my plan for a trip to Romania (and Transylvania) next Halloween. That will be my 10th wedding anniversary; we did a big Halloween party for our wedding, so we think a trip to see Vlad Tepes’s castle would be sticking with our theme :-)

  7. says

    We’re DEBT FREE!!!! (haven’t had a chance to call Dave Ramsey, yet, but it sure feels good to share it here :)). We finally paid off our last student loan and it feels SO good to be debt free at 24! Here’s this past month’s post about it: http://faithfulsojourners.blogspot.com/2011/09/monthly-financial-update.html
    Haven’t gotten a chance to write up our progress for September, but we are currently on baby step 3: saving 3-6 months worth of expenses. We’re 35% of the way there (at our last calculation), and being debt free, I think we’ll get there faster than ever :)

    • Christina says

      Hi Katherine,

      You have given me much encouragement today. I’m working on baby step 2 and I have a long way before I can pay off my $60,000 of student loans. It seems at times as if I will never see the end, but you have encouraged me to press forward. I know I can’t do it over night so I’m remaining positive. How long did it take for you to become debt free? Congrads and now you can live like no one else!!

      • says

        Hi Christina!
        Well, I graduated in 2008, so I guess technically a little over 3 years, but I didn’t get “gazelle intense” until my husband and I got married in April 2010. We had about $25,000 at that point (thankfully my parents had helped me out a bit with my education, so it wasn’t as steep as it could’ve been). I went through some really rough patches, especially when months were tight and we weren’t able to pay much extra. It’s easy to get discouraged, I know! One thing that helped was setting goals and having rewards for hitting certain milestones. We made the goal of being debt free by our second anniversary (and did it 8 months early!). When we payed off 50%, we budgeted out a movie night (we never go to the theaters, so it was a special treat). We also picked a nice restaurant and an ice cream shop we’d never visited but wanted to try and decided we wouldn’t go to either place until we were debt free. I passed the restaurant every morning on my way to work, so it was always an encouragement and reminder that we were going to get there someday and what was waiting for us at the end of the long tunnel. It was such a fun date night to go on, knowing we had reached our goal (finally!) :) Being debt free is SO worth being “weird” and living frugally! You can do it!!!

    • Meredith says

      I’m so glad I read your comment. We’re on Baby step #3 and I seemed to be dwelling on that fact that our EF is not fully funded. When I saw you’re at 35%, I wondered how far along we really were… How motivating to see that we’re actually about 60% of the way. I have to keep focusing on this; even with my husband unemployed for 4 months, we’re still adding to our EF each month. What a blessing! I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that we can’t replace our very old car or very old couch. It’ll come!
      Congratulations on becoming debt free!

      • Lauren says

        Meredith, I definitely understand that frustration of Baby step #3. I was stuck there and only at around 52% for what seemed like FOREVER. It was very frustrating. Just last week we finally reached our goal of a fully stocked emergency fund! Stay strong and stick with it, it WILL happen :)

  8. AnnMarie Hofer says

    We saw Dave Ramsey in Long Beach last weekend and decided to get gazelle intense and now I am going to get a night job and put all of my earnings to the house (hopefully done in 6 years or less) and to fully fund my 4 kids ESA’s. We are going CRAZY as my husband likes to say.

  9. Amanda says

    Not sure if you mentioned this before or not, but I’m curious as to how much your are putting aside for each childs education fund???We have 3 little ones and I’m having a tough time trying to come up with a good number.

    • Michelle says

      I would love to hear, too, what amount you came up with to “fully fund” each of your kids’ college funds. We contribute monthly to a 529 plan for our four kids, but I have no idea, really, what goal we’re shooting for.

      • Amanda says

        That’s how I feel exactly…..what am I shooting for exactly???? Even with the education calculators I found online I’m still at a loss….there seem to be a lot of variables in that. I would love to know what a good starting amount is exactly.

        • says

          Crystal has shared before that she and her husband have decided to not go public with that information. Here is a calculator that can give you a good idea of a ‘lump sum’ you would need now to have enough money for college (http://www.financialcalculator.org/investing/financial-goal-calculator). Basically, my husband and I have calculated how much in-state tuition costs now (in Texas) and factored inflation into the equation. The calculator will then tell you how much to deposit now. Don’t get discouraged by that number though. Every penny you put in there now will turn into dollars in the future. To see about retirement savings you can use this calculator (http://www.financialcalculator.org/calculators)

  10. melissa says

    I would love to start paying stuff down, but we are in the midst of building a house, so we seem to be going the opposite direction. Anyone have any advice for balancing things when all your extra money each month goes towards miscellaneous house expenses so that we don’t have to borrow as much in the long run? It doesn’t seem to make sense to save $100 and put it into a savings account when I’m really paying 6% or more on that $100 to have it there because I’ll have to use $100 from our construction loan as a result. Haven’t read Dave Ramsey’s stuff much, but would love to know what he would say about this. Maybe we’re going about it all wrong. The thing is, it’s an investment in the long run because my husband is the builder and he’s doing it mostly on the side, so we’re gaining a huge amount of equity long-term. But right now, we’re totally cash-broke!

    • Sara says

      I would definitely look into Dave Ramsey’s books or take a class! We have some interesting scenarios too with variable income and he addressed our situation. He seems to do a good job addressing out-of-the-box situations.

  11. Sara says

    We are doing great!
    1. We moved to a cash budget (rather than debit card) 6 weeks ago using Dave Ramsey’s process for variable income. So freeing to know exactly how much we have available to spend each month! Why didn’t we do this sooner?!
    2. We are on a high deductible insurance plan with a Health Savings Account and have finished saving to pay cash for the labor and delivery of our baby girl in November.
    3. We had 3 month savings in place but had to use some of it to work our cash flow to use my husband’s income to fund our HSA to pay for some of the unexpected expensive bills I’ve already had with this pregnancy (can we say out-of-town ER visit?). Our goal is to refund that savings by the end of the year.

    Our goals for 2012 will be to pay off our final low interest/low monthly payment student loan. After experiencing a 6 month layoff we prioritized savings ahead of that loan. We also would like to save cash for a vehicle to replace one of our 2 very old cars.

  12. Brooke says

    Just curious….how much are you putting into your kids college savings…how do you know how much they will need in 12-16 years? Are you doing a 529 plan or investments. Just wondering what the best route is to save for our kids college.

  13. Elias says

    Eh… I’m not coming along as well as I would like. Budgeting is like dieting for me. I tend to fall off the wagon occasionally. I’m still trying to find that balance. My problem this month is that I have come across some AMAZING deals on clearance racks and it’s stuff we really need but I hate that we are not saving/paying off as much as I’d like. My couponing is getting much better, so that’s helped but then we went out to eat to celebrate. Ha! It was so fun though…

  14. Ginger M. says

    My financial goal for September was to save $350 cash and to pay off a small credit card balance that had crept up, which I accomplished!

  15. says

    My husband and I have paid off all our debt (except our mortgage) and we are now trying to save for 6 months of his salary. The process seems tedious at times but it is such a terrific feeling after you reach that goal. Thanks for always posting your goals…it is an inspiration!

  16. Katie says

    I see that you save 10% of your income towards retirement but I know that Dave Ramsey recommends 15%. My husband and I are at 7% right now and we don’t know if we should go ahead and start college savings for our kids (that’s baby step #5!) or wait until our retirement savings is at 15% or just work on both at the same time. We’re really anxious to get to baby step #6! What’s your advice on that?

    • says

      We just decided what amount we felt comfortable with having saved for retirement (by calculating what we’re saving x compounded interest) and then decided that 10% was enough and we’d rather use 5% of our income towards more immediate goals and giving. Since we have a good income (with all our income sources combined–the beauty of multiple streams of income!), this is also one of the big reasons we decided to stick with 10% versus 15%.

  17. Nancy says

    We paid off our house this week. Completed a 15 year mortgage in 12 years.It’s a great feeling to own your home!

  18. Karen@MSEnthusiast says

    Okay. This is motivating me. I’ll write my goals out tonite. I have to be good. I’ve been on a spending spree lately. I’m having fun decorating. Glad you are putting big slashed through you list.:0)

  19. says

    Ours are small right now. The biggest thing we’re working towards is not acquiring any new debt by paying off husband’s college tuition each month. So far so good. We’re $70 away from paying off October’s (which is due Oct 28!)… Then one more month until we have a month “off” to start saving for next semester! We also have enough set aside for my gas usage next semester as I travel for my internship, which is exciting. God is good!

  20. Denise C. says

    Due to some set backs my husband and I are living paycheck to paycheck. My goals last month were to:

    1. Cut back on trips to Target. This is going to be an ongoing goal.

    2. Work on meal planning (I now have a eat out once per pay period goal, and so far we’ve been doing well with this). While our grocery bill is still high ($250 every 2.5 weeks) we are eating at home, which has saved us tons. :) (bonus, I love to cook, though can feel lazy sometimes :) )

    A lot of you speak of Dave Ramsey, would you recommend his book to someone who is not spiritual (has a religion of any sort)?

    I love these posts, I’ve gone back and read some of the past ones, the posts as well as the comments are very encouraging. :)

    • says

      Just planning our meals definitely helped us cut our grocery budget, cuz we could plan around sales better. And I recommend Dave Ramsey and his books regardless of your religious affiliation. He does teach Biblical financial principles and references the Bible, but it’s all really common sense stuff that he’s gleaned from talking to people (of all sorts of religious/non-religious backgrounds) who have done well for themselves, financially.

    • says

      Denise, it sounds like you are at a great starting point. As far as Dave, I love him :) I would say that even though he does incorporate some Christian ideas in his writing, 90% of his work is applicable to any belief system. I really encourage you to check his work out. I know many people, regardless of faith, have found his principals life changing. I know I sure have. Feel free to email me through my website with if you want to chat about it.

    • Michelle H. says

      Denise – we are not “organized” religious, more like slightly spiritual, and had been debt free for several years when a close friend got gazelle intense and started talking nonstop Dave. She lent me her books so I’d understand what she was talking about, and even though we were in a different situation than hers I still learned something and came away with new ideas to apply to help meet our savings goals.

  21. Tiffany says

    My husband and I recently had to start paying back our student loans. What a nightmare. We’re struggling in the worst way. He alone has over $140,000…just in student loan debt. Long story as to how it even got that way, but it truly wasn’t his fault, which makes this all even harder. I can’t find a job right now. I’ve been searching since April, but can’t find anything. I went to school to be a teacher and just graduated this last May. Not many teaching jobs here and all 8 that I interviewed to went to transfers. Now I’m searching all day, ever day, for any job to help pay the bills. We’ve already sold so many things just to pay the bills. We just got married in June, so luckily that made my husband’s paycheck a little bit more each week. Our life is a mess. Thanks for posting your own personal stories, goals, and tips every day. It really helps me get through each day with a more positive look on our future.

    • says

      I haven’t been able to get a teaching job, either. Not sure where you live, but I started subbing in our area. It can help get your foot in the door, and it definitely helps bring in at least a little extra money. You might also be able to land a long-term sub, which can sometimes pay more (and if the regular teacher doesn’t return, often you’re the first in line to get the position). I’ve found that I usually have a sub job almost every day of the week, if I want. Good luck!!

      • Tiffany says

        Hi Katherine,
        I’m in Salt Lake City. I’m signed up for subbing, but have only had 2 calls for work so far. $95/day for each job is decent pay, but not getting offered the work doesn’t help. I’m trying to “hold out” as long as possible and hope that subbing will pick up, but financially we can’t do it anymore. Luckily last month my husband was paid 3 times (he’s paid bi-weekly), so we took one of the paychecks and saved all of it for loan payments that I made today. There’s no way to get lower payments on our loans or put them off until we can afford them. I don’t know what else to do. My parents have been nice enough to offer to pay on my loans until I find a job, but we have no help with my husband’s loans and we’re drowning. I’m hoping for a miracle this month.

        • says

          Are there any other school districts you can sign up for that are close enough to drive to? I sub for 4 different districts in our area, which is how I get more work (but I don’t know how Salt Lake City’s school districts are arranged). I know, though, in the summers, it’s always tight cuz it’s hard to find other work. I’ll be praying for something to turn up for you!

          • Vicki says

            My husband and I owe 100,000 dollars in loans combined. We are on an income based payment plan. It has helped a bunch. You do have to apply each year that you need. My husband and I have been married for 17 yrs. We have had little to no financial help from our families. Things may seem bleak hang in there. Don’t let it hurt your marriage. Communicate and lean on each other.

      • Rachael says

        Subbing will pick up most likely as the school year progresses. A lot of teachers try not to miss school during the first month because they are trying to get into their routine. Just wait until cold and flu season hits—you will probably be much busier!

      • Tiffany says

        Thanks for all of the words of encouragement. It sure does help. I feel so alone sometimes. The internet sure does help when there’s wonderful women out there to lean on, even if I don’t know any of you personally. Thank you!

    • Rachael says

      You might be able to get your loan deferred until you are more on your feet. I just finished grad. school with and just had one small loan, but I spoke with the company and had the loan put in forebearance until January, which gave me the opportunity to find a job before I had to pay it off. I am now working, but this extra time has been really nice.

      I’m a teacher, too, and I didn’t have a full time job for a year and a half. I subbed for a year–working in three districts. The next year I took a job as a para and worked a part time job to supplement the pay. These experiences helped get the experience employers were seeking. Those days were so hard emotionally because I wanted my own classroom so badly. But I did end up getting a job eventually.

      Hang in there!

  22. laurie says

    I love to read eveyone’s goals! I just refied for 15yr fixed @ 3.35% this wk! By the time I am 55 the mortgage will be gone. I am now 40. I have a litlle cc debt,but nothing else! Slowly building 9 mos emer fund and about 50%. I contribute 11% retirement and will open roth this yr! I have worked so hard over the last 7 yrs. I have adopted 2 babies from china and paid cash. This included saving for 10 wks to be homw with each. I am a super blessed single mom.

  23. says

    Just curious if you’ll be talking more about your real estate investment in the future? I’d love to follow along as you save for that like you did when saving up for a house.

  24. Lori says

    Crystal, I started following your blog around the first of the year, and I want to let you know how much I appreciate it. I was just going through my financial files from last October and I was astonished at how much my spending has gone down – and how much our savings has gone up – in less than a year’s time! Thanks to your blog I am paying closer attention to what I am spending our money on, and I have utilized other cost-saving measures found here to improve my family’s finances without sacrificing our quality of life. In addition, I feel like I am a better homemaker and parent due to the things I have learned here. Thank you for providing such a valuable resource and keep up the good work :)

  25. says

    We’re debt free except for the house now. We did just close on a second property this week and will be putting our primary house up for sale soon.

    I have built up a 8 month emergency fund, but may have to dip into it a little until the house sells.

    We really need to get a Roth IRA and college funding underway for our twin 4 year olds.

    Thanks for being a wonderful resource :)

  26. says

    We will pay off our car next month! After that we will be debt free (well other than our mortgage *sigh* we bought in 2005 =( )

    I wrote an article about what we would do differently here….

    http://sandiegodealsandsteals.com/2011/10/01/differently-rant-housing-market-people-telling-it/

    Money saving mom is truly an inspiration – two years ago we had thousands in debt and practically nothing in the bank – little by little we are learning to live debt free!

  27. Amy A says

    I am curious, when you say you’ve funded your children’s educational savings, does that mean you met your savings goal for the year? Or does that mean you have completely saved up the total amount you have planned to save for their education?

    • Dawn says

      Crystal has mentioned before that instead of a monthly or annual contribution, they determined a lump sum to fund their children Education Funds up front and then let compound interest build over time until their children need it.

  28. Valerie says

    I’m amazed at your progress, you really are inspiring.

    Right now our financial goals are to survive. One more year of school for me (and it’s a student teaching year so working is less of an option) before I can start to apply for jobs and finally bring in an income. 1 income with 3 kids is not as easy as it looks (and I don’t think it looks easy ;) ).

  29. Jessica says

    Wow keep the good work going everyone! I love to read about everyone’s goals and great ideas!

    The goal I am working on now is to save up at least $15k by summer of 2013 which is when my husband and I will start to try to have a baby. (this is in addition to my emergency fund and medical deductible fund). I’ve written out what our progress should be and we are now past December’s goal! It has been going well and my husband is really on board. I have found a really great way to save extra. Just before payday I calculate how much I will need for bills at that time of the month, envelopes and any other necessities I know will come up. Then on payday I look at the bank account and transfer out any amount that is above this number and put it into savings. It has been working great!

    There has been one small setback. Even with dental insurance my husband needs almost $700 of dental work done because of poor work done in the past. We have the money to pay cash in the medical fund, but it is just so hard to take money out of that fund! Ugh!

    • Dawn says

      It can be so frustrating to let go of your savings after working so hard to build it. But then again, that is what you have savings for right?

  30. Tabatha says

    Well we are trying to get back on track as we just moved into a rental home (out of a rental apartment). Buying a house just isn’t in our cards right now and we are ok with that. Anyway, I have a question. How did you figure out how much to put into an account for each child’s education? And what kind of account did/are you using?

  31. Kelley says

    Doing fine! Cash envelopes are great helpers too. Crystal, when you say “fully funded”, are you meaning for this year and then you’ll set another amount for each of your children’s fund again next year? Just curious….thanks for all you do!

    • Dawn says

      Crystal has mentioned before that they are funding the children education funds up front. After praying and and discussing with each other, they came up with an amount that they felt good about and considering compound interest would reach the amount they determined.

      For example, (and this is my example, not Crystal’s) if you were to put $5,000 into an ESA today that will average 7% for 10 years, you will have just over $10,000 when needed for college expenses. Some people contribute monthly, Crystal’s family decided to contribute a lump sum to begin with and let interest do it’s magic:)

  32. Becky says

    We saved three months in emergency fund. So we celebrated with froyo, at what point i realized we don’t use our eating out envelope as much as we could. :-)

    This goal was reached with my last “normal” check, as I recently cut back my hours at work significantly so i can focus on a real estate investment business we started.

  33. says

    I just started my debt free challenge this August! Becoming debt free is my #1 goal. It is really crazy how much you can come up with when you watch your spending. I started a blog to keep myself accountable for this. I am really hoping to have my debt paid off by Aug 2013. If anyone is interested checking out my blog or giving me any feed back I would love this! I am new to budgeting and would love tips! I love hearing success stories. Keeps me going!

    http://www.onegirlonedebt.blogspot.com/

  34. lisa says

    Hi We are new to couponing and saving. We are trying to make sure we can retire in 10-15 years with no fuss. My question to everyone, when you start this couponing, how much stock do you build. I have noticed about 150 dollar a month saving and that was only my first 2 months. Now I want to start applying this to my bills and paying down. I know that you have to have a stock pile of groceries because they are not always on sale when you need them. I just don’t want to be like those people on tv that had to turn their extra bedroom into a storeroom. any Suggestions???

  35. says

    I know this is an older post, but I was just thinking about financial goals and I remembered this post. I have a quick question if you have time to answer it (If not, no worries. I know how hard it is to keep up with blog comments!). Do you have more than one savings account for your financial goals? We have one savings account that serves as our emergency fund. It’s almost fully funded (should be at the end of the month), and I’m looking forward to savings for other goals. I’m not sure if I should put my other goals’ money into that same account, though, or if I should open a separate one for each goal. For example, should I have one account to save up for a real estate investment. Another account to save up for a car. A third account to save up for a vacation?

    Just curious as to how you do it.

    Thanks!

    Sandy