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Goals Goals Goals

I can’t believe we set so many goals (15!?) before we started Project Money.  It is satisfying to look back at them and see how much progress we’ve made since June.  Our blog last week summarized the first 7 goals.  Here’s our progress report on our last 8 goals:

#8  Establish a savings plan to get us to Hawaii:  We will have saved $880 by December which is almost enough to buy one plane ticket.  At the end of Project Money we’ll add $1000 from our $2500 participation award to get the total up to $1880.  We’ll need an additional $4845.  With our current plan of saving $95 a month, it will take 51 months to reach our goal.  

#9  Re-evaluate auto/life insurance premiums:  we got two new quotesand decided not to change our insurance company or policies.  The quotes offered us minimal cost savings on the premiums and the coverage levels were much less than our current coverage.  We weren’t comfortable making a change.  

#10  Establish a dedicated savings account for gifts:  done.  We decided to spend $100 on each kid for his/her birthday/birthday party and $100 on each kid for Christmas.  We set aside additional money for presents for the cousins, Christmas presents for other family members and a Christmas tree.  It won’t be a blow out Christmas, but it should be very nice.  Instead of focussing on shopping, we plan to spend time on our other traditions — like cookie baking.  Meanwhile, the rest of our money will support our short term goals — like paying for the kids’ school tuition — and our long term goals of paying for a dream vacation and saving for college. 

#11 Monitor health care costs and determine how much money to set aside in a pre-tax flex account at work:  We expect our costs to be similar to the past year, so we set aside $5000 in childcare and $2500 in medical expenses.  We plan to submit receipts as soon as we get them so we can get our money back.  In the past we would scramble to get the receipts in right before the tax deadline.  This was stressful and didn’t make good use of our money. 

#12  Cut spending:  

  • Our utility bills decreased by changing to LED lights, using the air conditioner for just 1.5 days due to cool summer, line drying clothes, and taking shorter showers;
  • paid $24 for a bus pass instead of $956 for an annual parking pass at work;
  • saved $1500 this fall by getting extra childcare help from Dave’s parents;
  • Last year we spent almost $2K on restaurants and take out.  This year from January to May we spent $872 on the AmEx for restaurants.  Since June we have spent $0 on the AmEx for restaurants.   We eliminated restaurant spending except for very special occasions (so far, just our anniversary) or when unavoidable while traveling.  


#13 and 14  Become confident and comfortable managing our finances as a couple.  Get our life back by feeling like our choices are running the show, not the lack of money:  Before Project Money not having goals or a budget made us feel constantly stressed.  It also contributed to unnecessary impulse buying (i.e.:  we’ll never go to Hawaii so I might as well buy all of the chocolate milk drink boxes I want).  I felt resentful of having to be in charge of the bill paying so I would ignore it some months and end up with recurring late fees on the Target bill.  

It hasn’t been easy but it has been doable.  Dave and I figured out that we needed to have dreams, and to use budgeting as a way to plan for and achieve our dreams. I don’t resent paying bills any more.  I still run our budgeting data base and pay the online bills.  We work together to track our spending and both use mobile deposits.   

Takeaway for the Week

What is more important than we realized:  Writing down goals.  It's hard to cheer your progress if you don't define what progress should look like.

What is easier than we thought:   We certainly don’t have all the answers for our life, but having a budget allows us to plan for both the expected and the unexpected costs ahead. 


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We had the same issue with insurance too. Sort of disappointing, but in the end should be reassuring that we haven't been wasting any money, right?

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