This is the final installment in this little mini-series on how I’m approaching my finances in 2013. It’s a big area of my do the work theme and I’m sick and tired of feeling overwhelmed about my finances and out of control.
My money goals for this year are the following (also found on my resolutions page):
- Put myself on a strict budget and evaluate how I’m doing on a monthly basis. I plan on doing this in great detail the first weekend of every month, but also keeping a log in Google Docs with where my money is going and keeping up-to-date on that. Typically, I can go weeks without looking at my bank account, terrified to see what my balance is. That’s not helping me at all. I also have a budget template I use that breaks down where my money needs to go (i.e., bills, savings, extras, etc.) and I want to take one morning every two weeks (preferably the day I get paid) to get all the bills taken care of.
- Save at least $83 per month to have $1,000 saved by the end of the year. I’m terrible at saving so this is an area I want to work on in 2013. Having $1,000 in savings would just make me feel so much better if anything unexpectedly pops up. I know it’s really not enough, but it’s a start. In doing so, I have a goal of saving $83 per month which is doable for me right now.
- Pay off my last credit card. This one is being taken care of tomorrow! It has been YEARS since I have had no credit card debt on my conscience so it is going to feel amazing to have this goal done with. By paying this off (and not using it unnecessarily), this gets yet another bill off my plate which is necessary for my future budget.
- Set up a payment plan with the collection agency holding my ER bill. One of my major money goals this year is to get my ER bill completely taken care of. I’m not sure if I can get it all paid off this year, but I definitely want to make major strides with this because it’s been weighing on me for a while now.
- Spend less than $100 on Kindle books. My Kindle habit is out of control and between free book deals I’ve snatched up and a Kindle gift card I have in my possession, I don’t see myself spending any money for a few months at least.
- Buy a car. This is my biggest money goal for 2013. I’ve put this off because of money issues, but it’s apparent I really need to possess my own car, if only to give me more of a feeling of independence in my life. I don’t live in an area with a good public transit system and relying on other people is getting old. I am hoping for a decent tax return so I can put a good amount down and not have too high a car payment. I CAN’T WAIT TO DO THIS, YOU HAVE NO IDEA!
There are some money habits I want to begin this year, too. These will help me with my bigger money resolutions, and I think they’ll help give me more control over my spending.
- A cash budget system. I heard about this idea years ago and have always wanted to utilize this in my own life, but I just never had the motivation to do so. Getting money out of my bank is a pain and requires more steps than simply paying by debit card, but I know it’ll help me keep a handle on my money. My plan is to decide on a certain amount to take out of my bank account every other Friday and use that money for any extra expenses: food, entertainment, shopping, etc. I can use it however I like but once that money is gone, I’m done. If I use it all up in a week, well, I’m out of luck until my next pay day.
- Gift cards. Amy originally brought this idea to my attention. Basically, the idea behind this is loading up gift cards with certain amounts to give me a limit I can easily see. Once I use up the gift card, then I’m done. I really, really love this idea and I’m thinking of implementing it. I’m still brainstorming ways I can use this effectively in my life but right now, I’m thinking of setting aside an “gift card envelope”. Any extra cash I didn’t use on my cash budget system during the two weeks goes into the envelope. Whenever I have enough cash to buy a gift card, I can get whatever I want! A Kindle gift card, a Starbucks gift card, an Old Navy gift card (my weakness when it comes to clothes shopping is Old Navy). Or perhaps setting aside $1 every time I work out or hit my healthy goals for the day. I’m still figuring out how best to make this work so any advice is helpful!
- Opening up a new savings account. Currently, I have a savings account with my bank, which requires just a $1.00 minimum, but has no real advantages. It’s also very easy to transfer money out when I need it. I’m trying to decide whether to keep my savings in this account or move it to something that reaps better rewards. (And makes it harder to access!)
- Budget, budget, budget. I adapted a fun little spreadsheet from Jenny Blake of Life After College and since I get paid every other Thursday, my goal is to spend Thursday mornings going through my budget, paying bills and putting money in savings. I want to keep a running log of how I’m spending my money, because last year I could go weeks without even opening my bank account. I didn’t have a good grasp on my finances at all. This will also help in my monthly tracking.
Finances is an area of my life I know I can gain control over with a few easy steps. It’s not going to take a complete overhaul of my life like losing weight will. All it’s going to take is a tighter budget and less unnecessary spending. It’ll take me a while to get used to not spending as much (I’m already counting down the days until February and I can have Starbucks again!) but it’s completely doable and I’m interested to see how it will affect my overall life.
Do you have any money goals for this year?