Every year, I share my family's Financial Goals, then update them each quarter, both to hold us accountable and to inspire you to write out and achieve your own goals.
As I mentioned over the New Year, our 2014 Financial Goals are focused on savings–both emergency and retirement. So of course we're being challenged already! Our beater car, a 15-year old Nissan, finally hit the tipping point where the repairs were way more than it was worth. Sigh. So we donated the car for a tax-deduction next year, and we're living with one car. So far, it hasn't been too much of an issue, though we will have to talk about how long we can last and balance that with the fact that we weren't budgeted to buy a new-to-us used car this year. But back to the original plan and a Quarter One update:
1) Create an emergency fund with 6 months' worth of expenses by March 31st. ONGOING
We were getting close, but now several big expenses are about to hit us. We owe income tax for the first time in over ten years, a combination of losing deductions with earning more and paying off debt (good problem, I keep telling myself) and forgetting to adjust our withholdings to reflect the changes. So that's a good chunk of cash that we did not budget for when we wrote these goals up at the end of 2013. We also spent a lot on medical bills from when my husband broke his leg on the ice in December, including surgery, and we have a major plumbing problem we're trying to resolve. I'm trying to focus on the fact that all of these things happen, whether or not you have the money, so at least we're not also balancing all of our debt along with them!
2) Max out husband's retirement contribution at work (ASAP) and open an IRA for me (by December). DONE
Now that I'm reviewing these goals, I'm not sure why I jumped ahead and did this. I think I wanted something to be done, permanent, and positive with all the upheaval we've been through the past few months. So I used some of the savings in #1 to open a 2013 IRA for me, which reduced our taxes greatly, and we went ahead and maxed out my husband's retirement starting in January because we had been missing out on the matching funds. I know I need to accept that there will be ups & downs with unexpected expenses, and I can do my best to earn more to cover them, but there was no way to go back and get this earned money in retirement.
3) Work with a lawyer to get our will, trust and guardianship done by April 1st. STARTED
We had our phone appointment with our lawyer last week and are working on the paperwork now. It is hard for most families to tackle because you're discussing some unpleasant possibilities, but it's really important! Learn more at 5 Myths about Writing a Will. This won't be done by tomorrow but will be done soon!
4) Stick to our monthly budget to stay debt-free while covering expenses like taxes, a new couch, and trips.
Grrr–this is what bugged me last year when we couldn't “do it all.” This was the year to do it all! But it's already not happening. No “extra” expenses, like planning a summer vacation, can happen until we settle out #1 and the house repairs and other surprises get done. I've lamented about our couch before, and of course that's not as important as financial stability and long-term savings and all, but it's where we sit every single day, so it's important in its own way. I'm going back to my penny-pinching ways to find more money in our budget each month to make these fun things happen.
Original image by Carly Jane1 at Flickr