A little over a year ago I wrote down our family’s financial goals for 2008. It’s been awhile since I sat down and reviewed the goals, and honestly I was a bit nervous to see how far off track we’ve come.
“Pay off Debt” -We are not debt free yet and I’m a bit disappointed that we still haven’t reached our goal. One hold-up is that we need to sell our truck. It’s paid off but we are still waiting on the title so that we can sell it. We’ve ran into a few snags (does anything ever go smoothly?). We are hoping to have possession of a duplicate title this month so that we can sell the truck. Once it’s sold the cash will pay off our remaining debt.
“Sell house and move” – We closed on our house July 30th and moved 2,000+ miles to California. We accepted an offer that was exactly our bottom line and I’m glad we did. Since the summer home sales and prices have slowed even more and I thikn we got out of there just in time.
“Fund Emergency Fund with 3 months worth of expenses” – Yes. And No. When we moved we received a lump sum payment for expenses. It’s sitting in a savings account untouched. Why haven’t we used it to pay off our last little bit of debt? Well… as a husband and wife we try hard to work together as a team on our finances. The amount would fully found an emergency fund for six months, but we still haven’t reached an agreement on what to do with or label this sum of money. One wants to keep it in a savings account earnings interest for a down payment on a house, and the other wants to use a portion of it to pay off debt. Our compromise in the meantime is to just let it sit in a savings account.
“Up retirement savings to 15%” – Effective January 1st, 2009 my husband’s company will match the first 4.5% we put into our 401k. We upped our 401k contributions to 5% a couple months ago to prepare for this.
“Have some fun as a family!” – We’ve definitely accomplished this. We probably could have been a little more gung-ho about paying off the debt in the last year but we would have missed camping trips, a day of sledding in the mountains, a day trip to the beach and other fun. We made a few concessions that we felt were well worth it for our family this past year.
What about the Nikon camera and flat-screen TV?
We did not buy these. I got a small digital camera from mother-in-law and sister-in-law for my birthday. It works great and will do just fine until I can buy a digital SLR camera someday. We also said “no” to the flat-screen TV purchase and have since upgraded to a “new to us” 37″ TV given to us by some relatives. Cost = $0! It’s not anything fancy, but compared to our old 25″ inch TV with blotchy purple spots on the screen, it’s like we have HDTV now.
So 2008 wasn’t too terribly bad. I still wish I could have given that “I’m Debt-Free!!!” yell to Dave Ramsey, but we’ll get there soon. On the positive side of things we became a little better at budgeting, finding free & inexpensive fun things to do for entertainment, and cooking at home more.
So What’s in Store for 2009?
Say good-bye to debt! – We will sell our truck and pay off our remaining debt.
Monthly Meal Plan to reduce our grocery bill– Our grocery budget took a huge hit when we moved to California. Regular prices at the grocery stores are insane ($5-$6 for a box of cereal!!!). Couple that with the fact that 2 major grocery chains (Vons and Ralphs) switched to extremely limited double coupons and raised their prices and my grocery bill has just exploded. I’ve had to switch up my couponing technique a bit but I’ve seem to got it down now. This means that having a 30 day meal plan and shopping for a month’s worth of groceries would be best since I don’t go to the same store every week. I’d like to continue to build my stockpile, work on a monthly meal plan, and work on reducing our grocery bill again.
Save for a house– We are currently renting. We want to get to know the area a little better and look for the right house and school area. Our goal is to also save an additional $36,000 this year towards a down payment on a house. I’m not sure that our down payment will be big enough to buy this year, so we may end up signing another year lease on the rental house so that we can have some more time to save.
Retirement contributions– I’m torn on this one. Do we leave our contributions at 5% (once we are debt-free) while we save for a house? Or should we up them to 15%? We are 32 and 30. I don’t know what is the right choice here.
So there it is. I was brave and looked at whether (or not) we have met our goals for 2008. We’ve made some new ones for this year and I look forward to meeting them.