• Posts Tagged ‘goals’

    Better Late Than Never – 2012 Financial Goals

    by  • February 27, 2012 • Tagged: , , , ,  • Comments

    goals

    Number #1 is REALLY important.

    image: JohnONolan

    The last time that we made publicly available financial goals was in 2009. That’s like, before the dinosaurs in internet time. Sure it’s almost March, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to make goals for 2012. The goals this year won’t be too different from years past, which goes to show that we’re still struggling with the same things. Old habits are hard to break. Without further ado, here’s our goals for this year:

    1. Increase our savings to $30,000 to purchase a home.  If I ever get around to another net worth post, you’ll see that we have between $18K and $19K in the bank. Sad, because it around the same amount we’ve had for the last two years.  We’d like to put a substantial amount of money down on a home; considering home prices in Chicago, we’ll be able to make a 10% down payment with $30K. I still think that renting isn’t a bad deal, especially with our cheap $1,000 per month rent, but our family’s life situation has changed enough that buying a home makes more sense to us. I just hope that interest rates don’t go up too much in the next year.

    Stretch goal: Save $35,000. I may have to prostitute myself and Her and/or sell our baby.

    2. Pay off student loans that were transferred to a credit card at 1.99% for life, about $3,000. We made a transfer of $11,000 to a credit card that offered us a 1.99% APR for life  in 2007. We’ve been steadily banging away at the balance of the card, and we have a little under $3,000 remaining. This should be pretty easy and we could do this right away, but having it written down will help to ensure that we actually do it.

    Stretch goal: Get federal student loan debt balance to under $40,000. Truth is that it might be under that, I have no idea what the current balance is.

    3. Increase income by at least $1,000 per month. I’ve been diligently working my butt off in order to realize this goal. I’ve been making some crucial connections with people in my network and have been given some business opportunities from them. Ohmygosh that was so marketing-speak, so let’s try this again: I schmoozed with some people with crappy websites and they’re going to pay me to make them better. Also, this blog. It makes money. Yeah.

    Stretch goal: Increase income by $2,000 per month. I’ve done it before, I just need to do it again.

    So in the interest of transparency (which is the buzzword of the year, yeah?) I’ll post an update every month to let you know how these are going. Accountability, AMIRITE?

    Financial Goals for 2009

    by  • January 19, 2009 • Tagged: , , , , ,  • Comments

    While we are already pretty well into 2009, it isn’t too late for us to officially declare our 2009 financial goals. We’re now married, so our financial priorities have changed accordingly…and they happen to be house and baby, not necessarily in that order and probably not for at least a year from now. That said, 2009 is going to be a year of heavy financial preparation. Here’s what we’re setting out to accomplish:

    Pay off student loans that have been transferred to 0% balance transfer (BT) cards

    In late 2008 both Her and I opened 0% BT credit cards for the purpose of paying off the remainder of the private student loans. The total amount was a little over $13,000, and we started making payments in December 2008. The cards’ BT rate expiration dates are this year in September and December. Therefore, we’re going to pay off the cards in order of BT rate expiration. We’re allocating $1,000 per month towards paying off those cards. That way, we should be making our last payment in December 2009.

    While we’re paying these off we’re paying the minimums, about $400 total, towards the other student loans that aren’t at 0%.

    That brings us to a total of ~$1,400 per month for student loan payments. Ouch.

    Stretch goal: pay off half of the student loan on the 1.9% BT, about $4,000

    Save $15,000 for a down payment for a house

    We’ve written a lot of posts on our ideas on housing. Summary: we want to buy, but haven’t had any money so we’ve rented and get a great deal, now we’re saving, but have no idea where or when we’re buying, but no suburbs, please.

    Of the above summary, the most tangible thing we can do to move forward with our housing decision is to save, save, and save. We’re socking away $300 per paycheck into savings with automatic deposits.

    Stretch goal: Save $20,000. This is entirely possible, but with the way the economy is going we’re not going to get our hopes up.

    Contribute the maximum to our Roth IRAs, $10,000 total

    …this of course assumes that we will be able to contribute to Roth IRAs. We’re actually going to start this in April when our taxes have been all sorted out, and contribute until April of 2010. Our monthly contributions to our Roth IRAs will amount to $833.33.

    Stretch goal: Be comfortable with our cash flow so that we can increase our 401(k)/SIMPLE IRA contributions at work by at least 1%. Alternatively, we can also put money into a Self-Employed 401(k), starting out with 5% of our business income.

    I’ll check in with these goals every quarter to see how we’re doing. How are your goals shaping up for this year?

    Newlywed Money Management

    by  • October 15, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    In the last post, Her did a good job of listing the emergency/insurance financial aspects of being newlyweds. In addition to those tasks, we also have many money management issues that need to be worked out. They are as follows:

    • With the very large student loan payment gift, we’re now left with how we should tackle the remaining loans.
    • We haven’t contributed to any non-employee sponsored retirement plans this year. Maybe we should change that?
    • What are we going to do with the cash we have saved?
    • Since we’re not saving for a wedding anymore, how should we divert the extra cash we have on hand?
    • Taxes! We’re definitely going to have to change our withholding and maybe have to take some last minute financial actions to avoid paying hefty taxes this year. I think I messed up my earlier estimate of our tax situation. We’re also unsure about the large gift we did receive and its tax implications. We’re definitely going to have to see a tax guy.
    • What are our short (1 year), intermediate (5 year), and long term (10+ years) financial goals?

    Ugh, lots to think about. We’ve already been answering some of these questions, but need to make some final decisions. I’ll be posting about the details of each decision in the next few weeks.

    Two Styles, One System: Communication and Money

    by  • September 24, 2008 • Tagged: , , , , , ,  • Comments

    Laura is a twenty-something woman out of school and happily married. Eliminating credit card debt has energized her to knock out her car loan and student loans. She blogs at Green Panda Treehouse about reducing debt, building savings, and working with her husband on finances, as well as her successes and failures.

    Many people worry about discussing finances when they have different views. Avoiding financial talks can lead to disaster in relationships. It can build resentment and escalate into fights that tear down and could lead to divorce. Money isn’t the root of the problem, it’s lack of communication.

    If you share openly and honestly your thoughts and feelings with your fiancé or spouse, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Relationships are mutually defined and both need to share to make it work.

    Here are a few examples of how my husband and I handle money in our relationship. Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Yes, because we’re willingly to talk about our common thoughts and our differences.

    Budget

    We keep a Google Spreadsheet to display and organize our monthly bills. This allows us to see what our joint bills are and gives a snapshot view of our individual accounts. I can see how much he puts in his 401(k) and he can see my Roth IRA deposits.

    He’s great at setting up the spreadsheets and I love playing around with them.

    Goals

    Some of my personal goals are to pay off my car loan and my student loans. We also set aside money in our budget for saving. We’re working together: our ‘extra’ money goes to joint savings and to paying down the car loan.

    Investing

    My husband puts aside money for retirement, but is only semi-interested in following his accounts. When he changed jobs and was rolling over his old 401(k) to an IRA, he asked me to look at investments to put them into.

    I get a kick out of learning new things about index funds, stocks, ETFs, etc. While I explained why and how I came up with my suggestions, he just agreed and made the changes. He’s more conservative with his money and his investments are a reflection of that. I tend to invest more in international funds than him, but the volatility is within what I can handle.

    Credit Cards

    I have two credit cards (I’m closing one) while my husband has no credit cards. After learning the hard way about high credit card interest rates, I’ve paid my debt. I generally pay it off each month.

    I use credit cards mainly for convenience and rewards. I normally keep it at home with me. If we go on trips, I use my credit card. He is very adverse to debt and has not found a credit card that ‘he likes yet’. He generally saves until he can buy it, like his car.

    Paperwork

    I’m the paperwork queen. It basically falls to me to organize bill payments and documentation requests. Due to our basic system, it doesn’t take up to much time (5-10 minutes). If there are any issues we’ll discuss in the evening.

    I show him where I keep the files, in case something happens and he needs quick access.

    Conclusion

    It’s an imperfect system to be sure, but we make it work. The best advice we received? Talk it out and figure out what’s right for you two.

    Talking it out can help you to understand your partner so much better and help you to build a stronger foundation on future communication, not just with money. Remember also that you’ll discuss these issues as your circumstances change. It’s not set in stone.

    Keeping each other in the loop is essential to a successful marriage. Two different viewpoints can lead to a stronger system.

    How different are the two of you? What do you two agree and disagree on?

    #1 Financial Priority After Marriage

    by  • August 20, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Our wedding is coming up and today we had a long talk about the future of our financial priorities after marriage. While we have many financial goals, we feel it’s best to focus on just one in order to make rapid progress. With the recent payment a relative made on Her’s private student loan debt, paying that off has suddenly become feasible in the short term (as opposed to the 29 years left on the loan, we can now imagine paying it off in under TWO years). So that will be our very first financial goal as a married couple. What was your first financial goal as a twosome?

    Credit Cards In The Cold, Weekly Roundup

    by  • January 10, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    The weather in Chicago has been pretty crazy. Last week, we went from temperatures in the single digits (with biting wind chills) to 60F+ days. Of course, I chose one of the super cold ass days to leave my credit card at a bar, necessitating a frosty trip back to get it.

    Here’s what I’ve found to interesting reads this week…

    Jonathan at My Money Blog revamping his asset allocation. See how he’s allocating his funds according to which account. His style of asset allocation and number of accounts closely resembles ours.

    Clever Dude reveals how he monetizes his site. As you can tell we’re not exactly ad-free either. We should put up a post detailing our strategies as well.

    Million Dollar Journey
    is considering building a home gym. We have well-used memberships to the health club.

    Making money as a blogger? You may want to check out these 46 tax deductions that bloggers often overlook. (via BeanCounter)

    It’s Your Money tells what he did with his website income in the year of 2007. His isn’t quite the enviable position to be in, is it?

    Are SMART goals really smart? Millionaire Nuemes loudly opposes the prevailing trend towards SMART based goal setting, and challenges you to make and accomplish some Real Goals.

    The Honest Dollar writes a post in defense of personal finance bloggers who write mostly about retirement. Yes, the PFblogosphere is inundated with posts about retirement, frugality, and saving. Here’s a little secret: we try and write about the fun stuff about finances. Read the archives if you don’t believe us!

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 6: Did We Reach Our Net Worth Goal?

    by  • January 4, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This is the final part of our retrospective look at our 2007 goals. Here’s part 1 (Roth IRAs), part 2 (Student Loans), part 3 (credit cards), part 4 (joint retirement portfolio), and part 5 (have more fun).

    The answer to the question in the title: Hell Yeah.

    See the chart below for a neat graphic on how our assets, liabilities, and net worth have progressed over the past two years. (If you’re reading this in a feed reader or via email, it it seriously worth it to click to the actual post on our website to see the awesome bar/line graph. Seriously.)

    //include charts.php to access the InsertChart function
    include "/home/makelove/makelovenotdebt.com/html/apps/php_swf_charts/charts.php";

    echo InsertChart ( "http://www.makelovenotdebt.com/apps/php_swf_charts/charts.swf", "http://www.makelovenotdebt.com/apps/php_swf_charts/charts_library", "http://www.makelovenotdebt.com/charts/2007.php", 450, 400, "E8E8E8", true);

    ?>

    …and without further ado, here is how the numbers look at the end of this year compared to the beginning…

    January 2007December 2007% Change
    TOTAL NET WORTH-$66,274.27-$32,059.9951.6%
    TOTAL CHANGE FROM JAN 2006+$66,555.40 
    TOTAL CHANGE IN 2007 (Goal of +$32,000) +$34,215.27 
    Assets
    Cash$9,387.56$29,024.39209%
    His SIMPLE IRA$6,670.08$10,004.4350%
    His Roth IRA$6,470.53$6,090.93-5.9
    His HSA$557.76$172.07-69.1%
    Her 401K$10,605.57$14,710.4338.7%
    Her Roth IRA$2,732.94$7,062.83158%
    Automobile ?$10,080.00$9,655.00-4.2%
    Household Items ?$25,000.00$25,000.000.0%
    Accounts ReceivableNA$1,370.16NA
    TOTAL ASSETS$71,489.61$103,090.2444.2%
    Liabilities
    Credit Cards (Rewards)$4,276.06$5,973.4339.7%
    Student Loans$133,487.82$129,176.80-3.2%
    TOTAL LIABILITIES$137,763.88$135,150.23-1.9%

    We ended up the year over $2,000 over our net worth goal. Not too shabby!

    This wraps up our goals for 2007. We kicked ass a little, if I do say so myself. In fact, Her and I agree that 2007 was one of the best years of our lives. We totally kicked 2007′s ass. 2007, you’re a little bitch.

    This weekend we’re going to finalize what we want to accomplish for 2008. We don’t think we’ll do as much ass kicking, but it better be prepared.

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 5: Have More Fun With Our Money

    by  • December 28, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This is part 5 of our retrospective look at our 2007 goals. Here’s part 1 (Roth IRAs), part 2 (Student Loans), part 3 (credit cards), and part 4 (joint retirement portfolio).

    Looking back at our goals, it seems like we’ve managed to (mostly) successfully achieve most of them. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have some fun along the way! Without further ado, here are some of the fun things we’ve posted about that we’ve done with our money:

    Looking back, this year was pretty incredible. We’re definitely looking forward to 2008!

    Status: Hell yeah!

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 4: Develop The Joint Retirement Portfolio

    by  • December 26, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    This is part 4 of our retrospective look at our 2007 goals. Here’s part 1 (Roth IRAs), part 2 (Student Loans), and part 3 (credit cards).

    This year we sought out to develop the foundation for our joint retirement portfolio. This was quite a daunting task, and we had to break it up into a few pieces to make it manageable. Even though it has been over a year since the first time we’ve first decided to tackle this task, we feel that there is much to learn and do.

    Here’s a recap of what we’ve done this year to get closer to develop our joint retirement portfolio:

    1. We determined how much money we’ll need to save up for in order to retire.

    2. We laid out what our portfolio looked like back in January 2007 and reviewed what was wrong with it.

    3. We then assessed our overall risk tolerance, and decided that a 90:10 stock:bond ratio was appropriate for our age.

    4. We then delved further into our asset allocation to specifically determine which investments we should be in to minimize risk while getting good returns.

    5. Finally, we looked to see our progress and assessed what steps to take next.

    Now, the plan is to learn more about investing in order to fine tune the numbers. We’re going to reassess our allocation semi-annually and readjust the allocations if necessary.

    Status: Mostly completed; needs tweaking.

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 3: Pay Off Credit Card Debt By November 2007

    by  • December 10, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    This is part 3 of our retrospective look at our 2007 goals. Here’s part 1 and part 2.

    When we first started this blog, we had $18,054.88 in credit card debt. A year later, in January 2007, we reduced it to $11,560.40. It was our goal this year to eradicate all of our credit card debt by November 2007.

    On June 18, 2007, a whole 5 months early, we sent in our last payment. Suck it, credit card interest.

    The road to no more credit card debt was an interesting one. While Her had higher balances, I had atrocious interest rates. One of the first things I did was to reduce my retirement contributions to pay off the credit card debt. I eventually played the balance transfer game for the lowest interest rate until all of my credit card debt was at 2.99%.

    When both Her and I had paid off all of our non-0% credit card debt, we signed up for rewards cards that we judiciously paid off every month, making sure not to pay any interest charges. We’ve used those cards to accrue rewards that will pay for much of our honeymoon. It’s about time we took back from the credit card companies what they took from us. That last sentence made me sound like a vindictive barbarian. I digress.

    Status: Completed.

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 2: Increase Student Loan Payments

    by  • December 7, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This is part 2 of our retrospection on our 2007 goals. See part 1 here.

    The second goal that I’m going to discuss today is putting extra money towards student loans. Her’s student loans come in two flavors: private and federal loans. The federal loans have interest rates that are <4% and have balances totaling ~$40,000. The minimum payment for these loans are automatically deducted from our account once a month.

    The remaining ~$80,000 are private loans, with interest rates high enough to kill most vermin and maybe other small mammals.

    Ouch, yo.

    For 2007, we decided to attack this a little more aggressively. The minimum amount owed per month is ~$775 for this loan. Instead of paying this amount once per month, we paid $450 every two weeks. This ensures that we tack on an extra $900 on the student loans for the year since we’ll be making the equivalent of an extra payment, plus another $150 per month we pay over the minimum. Our total extra student loan payment for this year is then ~$3,000. In our experience, paying every two weeks also limits the amount of interest that accrues so more of our payments go towards principal.

    Looking back at this, the additional amount seems pretty measly, but then again a year ago we weren’t anywhere near the financial place we are now. We’re going to look to revise this goal for next year.

    We also helped out this goal by transferring $11,000 of the private loan balance to a credit card with a lifetime interest rate of 1.9%. That alone saves us a ton in future interest costs.

    Status: Completed

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 1: Contribute 50% to Roth IRAs

    by  • December 5, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    About a year ago we made some financial goals for ourselves. Since 2007 is coming to a rapid close, I thought we’d look at those goals and see how we did, and how we made it happen. I’m going to tackle them out of order just because that’s how I feel like writing about them.

    The first goal I’m going to examine is contributing 50% of the maximum allowed amount to our Roth IRAs. As the 2007 Roth IRA maximum contribution amount is $4,000, that amount is also equal to 50% of total contributions for both of our accounts. When we first came up with this goal, Her’s Roth IRA had a paltry $1,695.85 in it, so we decided to allocate all of our contributions to her Roth IRA account to bring it up to about where mine is.

    Last year, Her moved her Roth IRA holdings from Merrill Lynch to Vanguard. At the beginning of the year, she requested automatic deductions twice a month to total $4,000. Since I am paid twice a month, we had it coincide with my paydays, so it was like an automatic payroll deduction in that we never even saw that money. Easy as pie. (Except that I’ve never baked one [but Her has]).

    Status: Will be completed this month.

    2007 Financial Goals: We’re On Our Way!

    by  • January 4, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    With some difficulty, we’ve already made progress on our 2007 financial goals.

    One goal is to fund one of our Roth IRA’s 100% for 2007. Tonight we selected my Roth IRA (Him also has one), since I have very little in there now. We set up an automatic transfer to maximize the contribution. To max out my contribution I will put $333.33 into the account every month. We also could have split the funds and funded each account 50%, but by doing it this way we will maximize the benefit. By this time next year, I will have enough money in my Roth IRA to qualify for a reduced maintenance fee (annual savings: $10) and also meet the minimum investment required for most of the no-load, low-fee Vanguard funds ($3,000). This will allow us to start investing more efficiently. Next year we will re-evaluate to see how much to contribute, and to which of our accounts.

    Another of our goals is to pay off our credit card debt this year. Inspired by a comment from reader Mandy, we have decided to pay off some of them even faster. We’re going to pay off all our credit card debt that has an interest rate above 0% (about $6,600 of debt) as soon as we get the bills this month. This will ransack our savings account, but will save us about $350 in interest this year. And since the remainder of the credit card debt will be at 0% indefinitely, we can pay that off at our leisure.

    By taking these two steps, we have already ensured that our net worth will increase by about $13,000 next year. I feel good about that.

    Looking Ahead – Our Financial Goals for 2007

    by  • December 29, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Yes, it’s that time of the year again – goal setting time! While 2006 was an okay year for us financially, we’re hoping to make 2007 even better. Here’s what we plan to set out to accomplish:

    1. Increase our combined net worth by $32,000.

    2. Contribute 50% of the maximum to our Roth IRAs.

    3. Pay off all of our credit card debt by November 2007.

    4. Come up with a retirement action plan that includes correct asset allocation, periodic re-balancing, and a re-assessing how much we’re socking away.

    5. Continue to make a payment to the student loans every two weeks, for an amount of half monthly minimum payment plus at least $100. That will ensure an extra $3000 is paid towards that debt.

    6. Have more fun with the money that we have left over!

    Need some help with your goal-making? Consumerism Commentary has a great post on goals and what they should mean to you.

    Have a happy and safe New Year’s! We’ll see you in 2007.