How I’m Succeeding (& Failing) In My 2017 Money Goals So Far
A little more than six months ago, I wrote a post about all of the money goals I wanted to accomplish during my year of being 25. My birthday falls rather conveniently just before the end of the year, so any goals I set for myself around my birthday inevitably turn into my New Year’s resolutions. I included 25 goals because, frankly, it was a catchy headline — but it was also relatively easy to come up with 25 things I wanted to accomplish in my financial life. I’m constantly thinking of ways I can or should be better with my money, and writing them out made them hold even more weight.
A lot of these goals are relatively small, in that they only require small day-to-day changes and very little effort on my part. But even I’ll admit that having 25 goals, no matter what size, is a lot to handle at one time — especially because a lot of these were more aspirational than easily achievable. Some have been painless to incorporate into my life, while others have taken conscious effort — and some I’ve ignored altogether. In an effort to continue TFD’s commitment to transparency, I’ve decided to break down exactly where I stand in regards to each goal.
“1. Set up an automatic contribution schedule for my IRA.” Okay well…this is off to a bad start. I have not done this because I am still working with an income that’s inconsistent in regards to both when I get paid and how much. However, I have started using the savings app Qapital, which I honestly cannot recommend for other freelancers enough. The app has different savings rules you can set up to automate savings of any amount, and you can easily set up different goals. For instance, I use the Freelancer’s Rule to set aside 30% of each deposit into my account (i.e. each paycheck) for taxes, but I also use the same rule towards my emergency fund, retirement savings, and vacation savings goals (with different percentages for each, of course). So, I am able to automate the percentage I want to transfer to my IRA each month, even though that automation isn’t directly into the IRA itself.
“2. Use my goddamn punch cards.” I got my very first free-punch-card-coffee last month (literally the week before I moved to a different neighborhood). I haven’t actually been going to coffee shops much since moving, though, because I finally have my own lil dedicated workspace.
“3. Drink less.” I was actually shocked to look at Mint and see that I’ve only spent $409 on alcohol and bars so far this year, especially considering my 2016 total was close to $1700 (though neither of those amounts takes into account getting a drink while out at a restaurant). I don’t really feel like I’ve been drinking less, but I’ve also stopped tracking it, and I’ve definitely had fewer crazy nights on the town this year than during the previous years in my twenties. Regardless, I’m very happy to know that I’ve calmed down this spending area, especially because it hasn’t felt like a burden or a huge effort.
“4. Simplify my side hustles.” I’ve luckily been able to do this, and I now only work with two or three non-TFD clients at a time. It’s enough income for the time being, and I’m working on slowly increasing what I earn without overworking myself. Win!
“5. Max out my IRA contributions.” Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this. I’ve been focusing first on building my emergency fund (especially after I had to wipe it out last year) and paying off my consumer debt, and hopefully, I will set myself up to be able to max out my retirement savings in 2018.
“6. Go on a big trip.” Peter and I went to Berlin for just about $1,200 each back in May. It was awesome, and felt even better being my first completely self-funded trip out of the country!
“7. Order from Seamless once a month, max.” Nope. Looking at my spending on Mint, it’s been an average of two to three times a month ordering food delivery. Not good, and something I’m going to be more conscious of throughout the rest of the year.
“8. Be better about my freezer.” Having ready-to-reheat leftovers in the freezer is something I still struggle with, but I do see myself getting noticeably better over time. Of course, if I was so great at it, I wouldn’t be ordering takeout so often, would I? *writes passive-aggressive note to self*
“9. Stop the transfer-shuffle between accounts.” Ever since automating my savings goals, I only ever transfer money when I’m going to use it towards the goal it was specifically saved for in the first place. I’m so glad I don’t have to cover my checking account’s ass like this anymore.
“10. Invest in a nice item that I will get a ton of use out of.” I’ve bought a few investment items for both my home and my wardrobe recently that I’ve been really happy with, but the winner is definitely getting a bra from Thirdlove that (so far) is the only one I’ve ever owned that hasn’t resulted in severe gaping. Time and my boobs will tell, but I know that consciously investing in better lingerie is something I’m going to keep doing throughout my life.
“11. Continue being the kind of person who makes the bed every day.” I won’t lie — Peter makes the bed pretty much every day. Who am I to take that away from him? In all seriousness, I have gotten much better about not letting clutter accumulate after my gruesome (I kid) 30-day organizing challenge.
“12. Minimize my grocery budget.” I kid you not: the amount I spent on groceries in the past six months was exactly $1 less than the previous six months. But I would be lying if I said this goal was the most important one for me, because it’s not — and I think it’s changed. While I want to continue spending less on going out to eat, making good food at home is worth the investment in my opinion (especially if it’s pie). Which brings me to:
“13. Make more room for luxuries I care about.” We’ve been able to see a few Broadway shows this year, went on a big overseas trip, are about to head to my beautiful, beloved northern Vermont for the holiday weekend, and have plans to road-trip to one of the country’s best amusement parks with some friends in mid-August. These are all things that make me super happy, and I feel so lucky and proud to be able to spend money on them.
“14. Get an at-home fitness routine down.” Of all the things I was actually optimistic about accomplishing, this was not one of them. But you guys, I’ve done it. I’ve been keeping track of it in my bullet journal, and I’ve managed to work out 20 out of the 29 days so far this month (which includes the occasional dance/barre class, but has mostly been yoga or pilates videos at home). The catalyst was a trip to Goodwill last month, wherein my then-roommate had no problem carrying two garbage bags of clothes on our long-ass subway ride, but I s t r u g g l e d my way through it. I promised myself then and there that I would do more regular strength training, and I actually started. I’m so proud. And sore.
“15. Pay off my credit card debt.” I’m very glad to say that I am on track to pay off as much of my balance transfer card debt as I was planning by the end of this year. I won’t be paying it off early since I also have savings goals to focus on — but that’s okay!
“16. Make actually saving what I ‘save’ a regular habit.” This is one I fully forgot about, and am glad to be reminded of as I write this.
“17. Revisit old hobbies.” After cleaning out and organizing my craft supplies as part of my cleanout challenge, I find myself coloring and doodling a lot more. And, of course, I’ve been baking a lot of pies.
“18. Start volunteering again.” Sadly this isn’t one I’ve gotten around to yet, though I have been looking to getting involved with a few local organizations, like Girls Write Now or New Alternatives. Especially now that I’ve made good progress on other goals, it’s time I spend some serious time getting around to this one.
“19. Cut out subscriptions I truly don’t need.” I gladly got rid of the Spotify subscription I wasn’t using enough and now share a Google Play family plan with Peter. We also consolidated to one Netflix account.
“20. Build up emergency savings that cover three months of expenses.” I can happily report that I am just about halfway there! This is also the first year that I have completely separate savings accounts for my taxes and my emergency fund, so I won’t have to dip into my emergency savings to cover a tax payment (something I’ve unfortunately had to do more than once in the past — never again).
“21. Open a higher-yield savings account.” Done: I opened an online-only account with Ally so that I’m earning more interest on my savings and it’s harder to get to than it previously was when I had a savings account through the same bank as my checking account.
“22. Learn a new skill.” Still working on this one. I’d been learning German on Duolingo in preparation for our trip, but that only lasted a few months. One of my big personal projects this summer is putting together a website/portfolio, so perhaps I’ll turn that into an opportunity to learn to code beyond my extremely basic understanding of HTML. (Plus, any excuse to stay inside in air conditioning during the summer is a good one.)
“23. Clean out everything.” Done.
“24. Increase my monthly donations.” I realized I haven’t increased the regular contributions already in my budget, but I have been able to give more to causes on an individual basis more regularly this year. I’m planning to increase both of these when I re-tool my budget next month.
“25. Invest in something I really believe in.” I’m still not sure what this is going to be. But 2017 isn’t over yet!
I haven’t actively thought about a lot of these goals in a long time, so it’s great to have a little check-in for myself. Honestly, I’m doing better than I thought I would be, and seeing my progress makes me even more motivated to keep earning and saving money and building wealth.
If you have a money goal you’ve already surpassed this year, or one you’re still working towards, I’d love to hear about it!
Holly is the Managing Editor of The Financial Diet. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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