Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2016

New Year's Eve is tomorrow, and my wheels have been turning for weeks now on just what types of goals I want to set for myself this year. I have a (rather long) document that I created last year listing many resolutions and I can't say that I really kept many of them.

Last year my focus was on health and fitness and while that is still important to me, I am setting my major resolution this year to be in the financial category.

Over the past year, I would write up budgets and track spending, but the two weren't mutually exclusive. The budget would look nice on paper, but our spending was high above it. Each time I received my twice per year "bonus weeks" of pay or other influx of money, we ended up blowing through it somehow. Some of it was necessity, like car repairs. Others definitely were not, and I couldn't even tell you what we spend that money on.

My major financial goals are to:

1. STICK to our monthly zero-based budget. No more miscellaneous category. I have already planned out every likely expense that we will face from now to October.

2. Keep our grocery budget at $200. While I'll be the first to admit that this feels impossible, it needs to be done. I want to free up money to put toward savings and debt, and this is the only place I feel like we could actually cut. I have been doing a decent job with meal planning already, and I'd like to see what I can do about using some coupons in addition to the rewards I use through one of our local supermarkets.

3. Eliminate restaurant and fast-food budget most months. Certain months throughout the year, we will have extra money to set aside for going out or ordering pizza, but most months, IF we want to continue saving and paying off debt more aggressively than before, this budget will need to be eliminated. I'm hoping this goal will help with my diet without me even having to try much ;)

4. Allocate "extra funds" wisely. At the school I work at, we have 4 weeks out of the year for intersession where it is optional to work and we are paid, essentially, a bonus. Since I am paid bi-weekly with 26 pays per year, there are two months out of the year where we will have an "extra" paycheck. And of course, the ever-important tax refund. I have already allocated where I think these funds should go and approved it with my husband, so now we just need to make sure it sticks when the time comes.

5. Have $1,000 in an emergency fund. We had our bare-bones emergency fund last year, until we had to dip into it for car repairs on BOTH of our vehicles. We are only $300 away from this goal now, so by February or March we should be all set.

6. Pay off both credit cards by October 2016 and stop using them! This has been the problem for us. We are always buying more than we actually have money for. We will say things like "put it on the credit card until next payday/next intersession check/ect" and then never end up paying it off. Likewise, we use our Amazon rewards card for subscribe and save items but haven't actually been paying for those items with our real money in full! So my goal is to pay close attention to that especially and when we have a month of subscribe and save items, to pay that bill right away.

7. Begin bulking up our savings. After our credit cards have been paid off, while ideally we would keep pressing on with debt and begin tackling student loans, I feel like it would be best for our family to revisit our emergency fund. I'd like to have a 3 month emergency fund well on its way by 2017.

These financial goals are really important to me because until we can start making some headway, we won't be prepared to accomplish my 2 GREATEST goals - buying a house and having our second baby. So 2016 is the year to build the foundation for my greatest goals to be accomplished someday soon :)

What are your New Year's Resolutions?