Keeping it Real: 2009 Financial Goal Update

by Marcy on February 26, 2009 · 0 comments

Yesterday I wrote about transparency and how I have withdrawn a lot of my personal stories on this site as my reader base has grown. I also shared my desire to get over my fear of sharing because I feel that stories are one way for me to make this blog unique. Tonight I’m going to share a little about how 2009 is shaping up so far.

A little over a year ago my husband and I learned about Dave Ramsey. We listened to The Total Money Makeover on CD and decided that we needed to apply some of these principles to our lives. We were not starting at square one – we didn’t have a lot of debt and we had an emergency fund. However we could definitely see holes in our situation and wanted to improve our overall financial health.

We couldn’t bring ourselves to cash out our emergency fund to pay off debt (the thought still makes me want to vomit!), therefore, we used every extra penny we could find to pay off our van loan. If memory serves me right, we paid if off around May and then began to apply those payments toward our last piece of debt outside of our mortgage – a student loan.

With the skills I had been learning online from Money Saving Mom and others, I learned to cut our grocery/household item budget drastically – to about $90/week on average. We started eating out less and watching our spending more. We tried to curb impulse spending and decided to forgo a vacation in order to apply extra money toward the student loan. Because we want to move in 3 years, we drafted a plan on how we were going to get there. Things were going well and milestones were being met. This was very exciting to me considering that we had been living on nearly 50% less since I quit my job in December 2006.

I sat down toward the end of the year and wrote the following 3 goals for ourselves for 2009:
2009 Financial Goals

– To pay off our student loan so that we can be debt free except for the mortgage
– To contribute a set amount of money to my daughter’s college fund each month
– To continue bargain shopping/couponing in order to stick to our $100/week budget for groceries/household items/toiletries
Even in reading them now they seem attainable enough. But for a variety of reasons, we have not made the progress that I had hoped. I have faithfully been setting money aside for our daughter’s 529 plan (which still needs to be set up) for the past three months. However my coupons have not been organized since early December (gasp!) and I have not tracked my grocery spending since about the same time. That means I have no idea if I have been sticking to my grocery budget at all. I’m pretty sure the answer to that question would be a big fat NO.

To further add to my unease, I have felt myself slipping back into my old “big spender” mentality during the last couple of months. Part of this is due to the fact that I am now generating some revenue from blogging. And while I have done a good job of setting some of that money back, I have to admit that earning money again has caused me to relax a little when it comes to pinching our pennies.

With so much economic uncertainty right now, I believe that it is important to hold on to every extra penny we can. Sadly acting on that belief has not been so easy. I have been joking with my friends that I spent more money this month on “extras” than I did all of last year. Granted some of these expenses have been as a result of blogging – and the fact that it has morphed into a little business. However, that does not excuse the fact that I spent money before I had it in my hands. And that I will now have to use “debt reduction” funds to help finance a portion of my overspending.

I’m not writing this post to whine or complain (really!) for at the end of the day I am extremely grateful for everything I have (both money related and not). I’m writing this post to illustrate the fact that I am human and that I struggle too. I never want to give the false impression on this blog that I have it all together and that my coupons are always perfectly filed in my binder. Because my house is messy more often than not, my coupons are scattered more often than not, and I am tempted by more than I should be. I do keep a mean spreadsheet though! :-)

Because a new month begins on Sunday, it is time to get back on track. March is going to be a painful one, but it’s time to dust of the Dave CDs and bust out the envelopes. We have yet to implement the cash envelope system but I’m thinking that it needs to be done. I am too tempted to use my debit card and reading Meredith’s post about how she spent 20% more when using her debit card over cash stopped me in my tracks. It’s time people, it’s time.

Now that I have (re) unleashed the beast when it comes to sharing personal stories, stay tuned because I’ll likely have a few grumblings (and hopefully successes!) to share.

How is 2009 shaping up for you so far? Are you sticking to the goals that you set for yourself or have you found yourself struggling to stay focused?

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