Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Financial Goals: January Update

Save $4000 by January 2013 I contributed $210 to my savings account this month through automatic direct deposit. In the next week or so, I will transfer a lump sum ($300-500) into my savings account. Wondering where I'm going to get that lump sum? Keep reading...

Maintain a buffer of $100 in my monthly budget. I did a great job of limiting my shopping and my restaurant meals this month.  I went out to eat only 4 times this month and what shopping I did was from the clearance rack.  By the end of the month I had an extra $700 left over after expenses and savings!

Maintain $0 credit card debt.
I used my credit card for my regular monthly expenses (grocery, gas, etc.) and paid the balance in full by the end of the month.

Open a Roth IRA
Haven't done this yet. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Blogging Round-up: December

Last year  I wrote about all things finance from the young adult’s perspective in a series called Pennies-Nickel-Dollars over at Pretty Natural Divas.  Take a look at my posts from December:  

The Hidden Costs of Shopping A purchase is never just a purchase. A warning about additional costs associated with shopping. 

6 Money-Saving Apps  6 smartphone apps to make your shopping easier and save you money. 

On The Web: Money Article Round-up Highlights of my favorite personal finance articles I found on the web. 

New Year, New Goals Goal-setting tips, just in time for the New Year!

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Money Lesson: Don't Eat The Cookie!

Recently I shared some of my financial goals for the year, but I didn't tell you all about the other life goals that I have. One is to improve my eating habits, and part of the way I've been doing that is to track calories and keep a food diary using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone. My motivation was tested when my fiance decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. I had space in my calorie count for the day to have a cookie, so of course I was ready to run in the kitchen to get one...BUT, I decided to enter the cookie into my food diary before actually eating it, and boy did this make all the difference.

The app I use tells me how much progress you can make in 5 weeks if everyday you ate like you did today (in terms of calories consumed). By eating this 150 calorie cookie and getting into the habit of "splurging" on an extra 150 calories each day, the amount of weight I can lose in 5 weeks would be decreased by 1.5lbs. This was a light bulb moment for me...when it comes to health or even money, each seemingly small decision you make is important, as they collectively form your set of habits that will either lead you to your goal, or lead you astray. That afternoon vending machine break and the weekly trip to Target that leaves you $20 poorer each time may seem like small amounts of money, but added together can really hurt your budget. 

Every time you make a bad decision, it becomes easier and easier to make another one. Also, each bad decision makes it easier to fall off the wagon of change because even though we all know that you can make mistakes along our journey, we all have had times where we accept mistakes as failure and just stop trying all together.

To commit to a lifestyle change, we have to first commit to taking the journey one decision at a time. At each "checkpoint" (decision), we have to decide whether to move closer to our goals, or to move further away. We will have missteps along the way, but we just need to work on making those mistakes occur further and further apart.

I think this commercial from Fidelity illustrates my point pretty well:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Financial Goals

It's a new year, so it is the perfect time for a new set of goals.  I made awesome strides in my financial life in 2012, and I hope to continue that success into 2012.  Here is a list of my goals for 2012, along with ideas for behaviors that I can do to help achieve them. 

Save $4000 by January 2013
  • Direct deposits to savings: Already set, with the current setting can save about $2500 without doing anything else.  May increase the amount saved each month.
  • Save 50% (or more) of tax refund.  I saved a good portion of my refund last year and used part of it to pay off credit card. 
  • Increase income.  This year I will be eligible for a promotion at work that comes with a 10% raise.  Also use money earned from Swagbucks (gift cards), online surveys, and credit card rewards to decrease some of my regular expenses instead of using it to buy frivolous stuff

Maintain a buffer of $100 in my monthly budget.  A few times in 2011 I went over my budget (note: I think of my savings as a bill I have to pay, so I didn’t actually spend more than I earned, just cut into the amount of money I put into savings each month).  After I build up a few months of a buffer I will transfer that amount to my savings account.
  • Tell myself no when I’m lusting after an item in the store
  • Limit costly restaurant meals
  • Use cash when shopping for personal supplies, clothes, food, etc to make sure I stick to the monthly budget.

Maintain $0 credit card debt. 
  • Pay credit card balance in full each month
  • For major purchases and wedding purchases, create separate savings account/sub-account to take care of it instead of using credit card.

Open a Roth IRA
  • Read blogs, books, etc to research options