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Goal checkup: refocus your financial plans

I‘ve written before about some of our family’s financial goals, but it’s been a long while. There’s a good explanation for this — 2010 has been an unexpected doozy.

We became debt-free in early 2008, and it didn’t take us long to save up for our fully-funded emergency fund. We then saved up for a few other sinking funds, such as a baby and a much-needed family vacation (the first true one since we had kids).

When 2010 hit, however… Let’s just say we were beyond thankful we had a good savings. We’re now back to replenishing that bad boy. A sudden international move will do that to you, apparently.

This month in Simple Living Media, we’re discussing life preparation and goal making. So for the next three Mondays here on Simple Mom, the topics will focus on how we’re all doing with any personal and family goals, and we’ll also bring up our 2010 goals we might have made back in January. Remember those?

Today, let’s check up on our financial goals.

What are your money goals?

I’ve found from personal experience that if you don’t manage your money, your money will manage you. It has this sneaky way of slipping through fingers if the fingers aren’t deliberate with what they hold. You know what I mean, I’m sure.

Photo by marya

If you can, think back to the beginning of 2010, when you were looking towards the next 12 months. Did you make any specific financial goals or plans? Maybe even just general hopes?

How are you doing on them? We’ve still got about four and a half months left of the year — that’s plenty of time to make some good headway!

Our family’s goals

• By the end of this year, we hope to have replenished our emergency fund, taking it back to its “fully-funded” status.

• Once our emergency fund is where we like it, we’ll meet with our ELP to beef up our retirement contributions and kids’ college funds.

• We’ll continue funding our ongoing annual sinking funds for holidays, vehicle maintenance, vacation, and the like.

Photo by Jeff Belmonte

By December 2010, we’d like to check these off our list so that we can move on to bigger things. We hope to know soon which country we’ll be living in, which will help determine what our longer-term financial plans actually are.

I’m learning that even though life throws you setbacks, the important thing is to keep chugging along, financially-speaking. Kyle and I have repeatedly said to each other this year how enormously glad we are to have had our emergency fund, even though we had to use so much of it. After all, that’s what it’s for — emergencies.

Don’t throw in the towel on this year. You can still make great progress on your family’s money goals by December.

So fess up… How have your financial goals been trekking this year? Feel free to answer in the comments, or if you want, share more details on your own blog and link to it in the comments.

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  1. laura @ move to portugal

    2010 has been a year of adjustment for us and we’re behind on meeting our financial goals; we’ve planned out the next four months so that we can get back on track and be able to hit 2011 with a bang!

    You’re so right Tsh, you just have to keep chugging along whatever life throws at you

  2. Angela

    You inspired me to look back at my Goals. It’s funny because some of them we’ve blown out of the water. My goal was 50% of a car replacement fund and 75% of our deck replacement fund. Our deck is built (with extras) and we have a fully funded car replacement fund, so we blew those out of the water. The one I’ve slacked on is being accountable – setting monthly goals and tracking it in my blog. I guess that’s what happens when you switch your focus and start a new (more public) blog. OOPS!

    Thanks for the reminder to revisit those goals.

  3. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Thanks for the inspiration to take a closer look about where we’re headed financially! My hubby and I keep meaning to sit down together and look things over, but haven’t made the time. Now that our eldest is starting private school (ouch!), we really need to look at where we can trim a few corners in other areas of spending.

  4. Emily

    Our family was in 2008 where you all have been this year – thanking God we had a nice chunk of change in our checking account because of a bunch of pricey, unexpected repair expenses.

    Although it is a bit discouraging to have to slow down on your goals to rebuild your fund, it’s much more so encouraging not to have to go into debt to take care of Murphy!

    As to our financial goals…well, at the end of May we paid off our mortgage and figured out that we will be at a place financially in less than five years where DH will be able to “retire” from his full-time job.

  5. Kat @ Inspired To Action

    One small goal I’d set in January was to better track my weekly grocery spending…and…I haven’t done it.

    So, um, thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  6. Andrea Pokorny

    I have been making a mad dash to the library picking up all the best books I can find on this topic. I’ve got several on hold and pages of note taking. I’m documenting my successes to a debt-proof life, hoping what I learn will be easily transferred to others in need.

    It’s absolutely amazing how things have already progressed in our financial arena in only a few short weeks. You’re absolutely right…your money will manage YOU if you don’t manage IT! (and as it turns out, it’s actually quite rewarding in many ways!)

  7. minnesota:madre | Sarah Jane

    Hey Tsh,
    I think I commented earlier, but I just read Total Money Makeover. What a good read. We’re in the process of figuring out where we’re at- not a scary place, but a bit disorganized. It’s a good, important conversation to have as a couple.
    Glad your money situation feels calm in the midst of your storm.
    When will you find out where you’re headed?

  8. naomi

    thanks for the reminder to get back on track! we started seriously doing some financial planning in July … and I’ve kept up on the tracking part of it …

    we’ve gotten lazy though just in the past two weeks … and EVERY day does count!

  9. Robin

    I am happy to say that we are doing very well on our financial goals for 2010. We have been very disciplined with our finances and I started clipping coupons. By clipping coupons, I am keeping our budget in check. We have saved so much money through using sales and coupons that I actually started “Clipping for College” for our children.
    Our financial success has been mostly from paying attention to what we buy and how much we pay for it.

  10. Rachel

    Woohoo Dave Ramsey!! 🙂

    My husband and I are still on the Debt Snowball step and we should have our one crdit card paid off by the end of this month! Yes! Then it’s just school loans (blech) and we’ll be on our way to getting that beefed-up emergency fund. This year has been a rough one for us too, as far as finances go. We moved twice (cross-state for the first one), he switched jobs and we just had our first little one on July 4th. So needless to say, progress has been slow. But progress is progress, right?

  11. Bryony Boxer

    “I’ve found from personal experience that if you don’t manage your money, your money will manage you. ” So true. You’ve just inspired me to take a closer look at our own long-term financial goals!

  12. Kara Fleck

    Great timing! I’ve just been getting to the point in the last week or so where I’m kind of tired of working so hard on this debt (pity party anyone? LOL) so this is a good time to re-evaluate. We’ve ticked off quite a few of our smaller debts and they are gone, but the larger debts are taking more time and that means more time in between those celebrations as we cross items off the debt snowball list.

    Actually, we’re doing really well at paying off our debt (very close to our 2010 goal) but it seems that debt-free is still a ways down the road yet. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel though, and that is hopeful!

    Thanks for the reminder to look at where we’ve been so we can focus on where we’re going.

  13. Linda

    I used to keep track of every penny we spent in a home-made spread sheet. A pregnancy and new baby got me away from that for the last 2 years. We are realizing that without keeping track of it, the money really does have a way of slipping through our fingers. We have not been as careful. Just this month, I prepared a new spreadsheet to reflect our current expense categories, and I am saving my receipts again. It feels good to have this part of our life a little more under control again.

  14. Ashley

    Our goal for this year was to begin saving for a house…to actually put as much money back (as quickly as possible). We’re hoping to have 20,000 down and ready to go towards a house after 2 years. We’re on month 2 and have 3500 so far. This is a very lofty goal, considering our financials, but it’s one we’re trucking ahead for.

  15. charis

    we made a goal at the beginning of the year to pay off all debt besides our house and 2nd mortgage. we have one last payment left on our only car loan (yay!!) and bought a minivan in cash for our newly expanded family. i never thought a couple years ago that would even be possible. unfortunately, we too had to drain our emergency fund this year because of our new baby and drop in income, so we are not as far in our debt payoff as we would like and will have to refund our emergency fund first. but, we are so so thankful that God has provide our needs and we haven’t gone one penny further into debt even in a difficult financial year. thanks for the accountability check in on financial goals. give me excitement to keep going for it through the end of this year!

  16. ksenia

    We have a goal to pay off all of our student loans (which is our only non-mortgage debt) in three years or less. So far… it is slow… It will be great to get rid of those, but then we will have a much bigger project in front of us: mortgage! I must say that I sometimes feel like we will never be able to go on a nice vacation or actually purchase gifts because the mortgage pay-off project seems so daunting. Sometimes this discourages me and I slack off 🙁

  17. Ella @ Frugal Ella

    We’ve been on a get out of debt kick since last year. We only have two – a second mortgage and student loan…but they are BIGGIES!!!! We knocked out the mortgage, but are on pause until our baby is born to start knocking out the student loan. I started a blog-based business with the goal of moving the pay off date closer with some extra income. So knock-on-wood the baby will be healthy and then we will start trucking forward again.

    It is so great to revisit our goals…thanks for the post to make me think of it. Cheers!

  18. Nadene

    Thanks for inspiring us … to keep saving and making incremental steps forward towards goals.
    Our teenage children need to view their finances with your principles in mind!

  19. Denise C.

    First, I am going to admit something. I really know nothing about money. I have the basics down (my & my husband’s checking & savings account). I don’t understand money markets…and other things along those lines.

    Second, we had saved to have our yard fenced & patio done this summer. Unfortunately due to a major car expense (my SUV needed a new engine) the money saved went to that. Two months later my “new” engine quit & my truck had to be replaced. (My husband has a 2 seater so that was out of the question since we have 2 kids.) Fortunately we had savings again to help out. We’re slowly rebuilding our account.

    I had a goal to learn more about money this year, really understand what things were. So far I have not dipped my toes in it. 🙁 I did get the book Your Money The Missing Manual. I hope that sets me off in the right direction. 🙂

    One more thing, my 4 year old has the mindset that if he breaks a toy or wants something, I should just “buy it for him.”. I am trying to teach him that money does not grow on trees, & that he cannot always get what he wants.

    • Tsh

      Denise, we’ll be doing another Money Management 101 here on SM in the near future, so be looking for that! Two years ago, I knew almost nothing about money, either — so you’re in good company. 🙂

      • Denise C.

        Yay! I can’t wait! 🙂

      • Denise C.

        I have been going through your previous posts on money & they have been a huge help!

        Also I have your book in my wish list on! I can’t wait! 🙂

  20. Missy June

    I could not have imagined in January what challenges this year would bring. In January, I was a full-time mother of three, wife with life moving forward positively – not perfect, but as expected.

    Now, my husband has left (the divorce will be final in October), I work full time and manage three children’s schedules as they move between two homes, childcare, school, church, etc.

    Specifically, I am personally responsible for every financial decision in our home. Just writing that is scary! My goal is to be debt free by year’s end. To that goal, I have eliminated many things including cable and home phone service. I am being smart and attacking the debt while still have a quality life with my three little ones. It will be possible and then perhaps I can begin an emergency fund…wouldn’t that have been nice this year?

    I have been able to tithe, for the first time in many years because my H was opposed to it. I’m so thankful to be able to give and I am confident our Lord will take care of His own, my little ones included.

    The worst can happen, and you can survive.

    • Tsh

      Goodness, that’s quite a year you’re having! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you’re making financial headway.

  21. Jenna

    My 2010 goal was to be “out the door by 24” I moved back home after college to save money and I’ve since started house hunting! Here’s to having my own home by the end of 2010!

  22. Sarah H

    I just had a conversation with my 4 year old that wanted a real credit card to play with that would work in stores. After making sure (again) that he understood what a credit card actually is used for, I told him that when he could pay the credit card bill, he could have one. I guess that’s future financial planning, or at least training, right? 🙂

  23. Motivado

    Money goals and family’s goals belong to each other, cause one couldn’t exist alone. Who is planning to earn more money has always to decide, in which ways his family can profit of it. Without the love of a family the money loses his effect for a harmonic life.

    Motivado’s last Blog:

  24. Allison

    The idea of sinking funds has always been something I’ve wanted but could never articulate to my husband. I just sent him the link to the post you wrote about sinking funds (I must have missed that one initially). It makes a lot of sense. I just switched jobs and am now getting paid on the 15th and 30th rather than every other week along with my husband’s every other week. This change has really pushed us off of our routine, so I’m hoping that talking about sinking funds with him can help us get back on track. Thanks!

  25. Hannah Hamilton

    I always tell my clients that if you don’t have any money saved, EVERYTHING occurs like an emergency! That statement was what I kept in my mind as I prepared to step out of a job that paid well but kept me on the road 60 – 75% of the time. Having savings in the bank gave me the peace of mind of knowing that I could afford to leave my job in one of the worst economic situations the US has experienced in years and KNOW that we’d be okay as a family.

    Don’t lose faith when it’s taking longer than you’d planned. Keep working on your goals and start with an emergency fund.

  26. Jaime @ Lifestyle Moms

    Our emergency fund gives me so much peace of mind. We’re debt free (excluding our mortgage) and have about 5 months in our fund. My husband is a performing artist and I work part time as a business coach, and living on two self employed incomes can be scary at times. (especially since our health insurance has a $10,000 deductible!)

    I thank you for posting this, since I needed an update on my goals. I have to start a car fund and vacation fund soon too. (I’m heading to ING now to create new savings accounts for them!)

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