Financial Shape in 2008: End-of-the-year report

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It's nearing the end of 2008! Can you believe that? It's been a full year for us with many struggles and triumphs. My husband and I sat down this week and talked about our goals and ran the numbers to see where we were at. And we were very thrilled to find out that we were able, by the grace of God, to accomplish all of our goals for 2008!

Here's the list:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months' worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!

2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse's income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse's income as soon as we purchase our home.)

4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. As of the beginning of November, this is also DONE!!

When we listed off these goals at the beginning of the year, they felt very audacious. In fact, we both thought we were being overly ambitious. But, as we've found in the past, it's better to aim high than to be content with mediocrity! And so we did!

Amazingly, through a number of unexpected events and the blessing of God, we were able to accomplish these goals. Yes, it meant some rigid budgeting. Yes, we've made some significant sacrifices. Yes, we done a lot of "living like no one else". But the perseverance is paying off and we're very excited about that.

We haven't sat down and formerly written out goals for 2009, but we do have one already-agreed-upon extremely-ambitious goal that my husband gave me permission to share publicly: We are aiming to have saved up enough money by this time next year to pay 100% down on a home!

This goal looks a little daunting but we've run the numbers and determined that with lots of hard work and scrimping, it might just be possible. One of the biggest reasons we are hoping this goal might become a reality in the next year is because of our recent move.

Not only did moving back home allow us to now be close to our families and back in our home church, it was a substantial career move for Jesse and it put us in a less expensive housing market. These things, coupled with the fact that we'll likely be living here long-term, have given us huge motivation to scrimp and save in order to buy a home sooner than we'd anticipated.

I'll keep you posted on our progress and we'll see what happens!

———————————–
How did you do in 2008? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes this past year. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don't have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let's all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly check-up

In case anyone was paying attention, I completely skipped this feature last month. Vacations, sickness, and other things got in the way and I just decided to take the month off from an official update. But never fear, Financial Shape in 2008 didn’t go away permanently and with the dawn of September, here’s a quick look back on how we’re doing on our goals for 2008:

Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

The past two months have been much more encouraging for us–which was a real blessing after a few months of car problems, unexpected expenses, and medical bills. Not only were we able to purchase a new-to-us van (thanks to the payout from our insurance after the wreck combined with some extra income-earning things we did), but we were also able to build our six-month emergency fund back up, and put a couple thousand dollars in our house savings.

We look back and aren’t exactly sure how all of that happened, but we are humbly grateful to God for His blessing and provision! He never fails us!

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How did you do in July and August? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in July and August and the areas
you hope to improve in September. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s July and time for another Financial Shape in 2008. The year is halfway over! How are things looking for you financially?

Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

It seems like the story of our life recently has been unexpected expenses! Between medical bills, increasing costs, and car problems after car problems after car problems (oh and did I mention car problems?!), it’s been a little mountainous here and I’ve had to fight the urge to feel frustrated. I know God is allowing these things to teach me patience and perseverance.

At any rate, I am here to tell you that we put a whopping $0 in our house savings fund this month. I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve struggled to not feel incredibly discouraged about this–especially because I had high hopes for this past month. However, I am trying to learn to turn my would-be frustrations and discouragement into gratitude.

While we ended up spending a lot more money than we’d planned on and we didn’t save anything like we’d hoped, we have so many things to be thankful for: a nice rental home with air-conditioning, plenty of food to eat, an emergency fund, steady income, two beautiful daughters, one running vehicle (currently!), good friends who’ve encouraged us so much recently… the list could go on and on. We have so much more than we need; we are truly blessed!

Hopefully next month I’ll have some savings to report, but for this month, I’m trying to focus on counting my blessings instead of calculating our lack of savings.

———————————–
How did you do in June? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in June and the areas
you hope to improve in July. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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How financially fit are you?

Janet sent me this fun quiz.

With Americans focused too much on their credit scores
it seems that they haven’t a clue about their overall financial
wellness. How
financially fit are you? How
does your score compare to other test-takers? Have some fun with this quiz. It just might be the wake-up call we all need to get financially
fit.

I found the quiz very interesting to take and was surprised to score 98% on it. I am guessing that not owning a home was one of the biggest marks against us being at 100%–though in the current life situation and housing market we’re in, we feel like saving up to pay 100% down is a much better plan, even if most people think we’re nuts to be doing something so radical.

My husband and I have worked very hard over the past few years to be in good financial shape, but
taking this quiz reminded me just how much driving old cars, packing sack lunches, shopping at thrift stores, living in a basement apartment, eating off the dollar menu, and all the other “counter-cultural” things we’ve done over the past five years of our marriage have paid off. Lord-willing, in another few years we’ll own our own home outright and score 100% on the quiz!

If you take the quiz, tell us how you scored. And please don’t feel badly if you have a low score. If I were to have done this quiz three years ago when we were barely making ends meet, I’m sure my score results would have looked much differently. So, as long as you are working hard to be in a better position financially, take heart, it will pay off!

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Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s already the second week of June and I’m behind on getting our monthly checkup posted. How did you do in May? Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

May brought a few unexpected expenses with health needs and vehicle issues, so we only put $2000 in our house savings, not $3000 like I’d hoped. However, considering the setbacks, I’m grateful we were able to put even $2000 into it.

It’s been two months since we first opened our house savings mutual fund and we now have saved $4500 towards our house. Yay! Our
short-term goal is to save $15,000 in our house savings by August 31,
2008. This is a rather ambitious goal, but we’re working hard towards
achieving it and are excited to see if we might actually make it! Who knows?

We spent some time in May putting some additional online income-earning ideas into place which we are hopeful will, Lord-willing, allow us to meet or exceed our goal of having $30,000 in our house savings by the end of the year.

———————————–
How did you do in May? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in April and the areas
you hope to improve in May. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly Check-up

It’s the beginning of May–wow!–and that means it’s time for our monthly Financial Shape in 2008 Check-up. How did you do in April?

Here’s how we did:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April.

As of March 11, 2008–DONE!

2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA.

We were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also set up our HSA. So another goal to check off the list! Woohoo!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this.

Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of his income as soon as we purchase our home.)

4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it.

Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years.

Now that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5! We opened our house savings mutual fund the end of March, and as of the end of April, we have $2500 in it. I was hoping it would be more like $3000, but I’m grateful that we at least made some decent headway.

Our short-term goal is to save $15,000 in our house savings by August 31, 2008–this is a rather ambitious goal, but we’re working hard towards achieving it and are excited to see if we might actually make it!

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