I've been trying to make some new goals for 2009. It is so hard! Well, making the goals isn't hard. What is hard is making goals that are managable, then working out a plan for accomplishing those goals, and then doing the things that you've planned. But really, a goal isn't very valuable without a plan for accomplishing it.
What are my goals for 2009? My primary goal is to pay off all non-mortgage debt. Step one was to make sure I knew exactly how much I needed to pay off. Then I divided it by 11 to figure out how much I needed to pay each month. 11? I figure that December is an expensive month anyway, and that it would be better to pay it off before December. Also, if I get a little behind over the course of the year, I'll have December to catch up and still be successful in paying off all my non-mortgage debt by the end of 2009.
Now that I know how much I'll have to pay each month, then I need to figure out how I'm going to do it.
Photo by: Mosieur J
There are a couple of ways to attack this, but I think that they all require starting with a list of income and expenses. After checking out my numbers, it looks like I should be able to pay off this debt without adding any income. (If the two numbers were close, or (gasp!) my expenses exceeded my income, then more drastic measures might be needed.) Seeing that my list shows that I should be able to pay this with our current income makes me wonder - what's missing on my list? And how much unnecessary spending is happening in my family?
Armed with this information, I'm going to make a strong spending plan for 2009. I know from past experience that tracking my spending is the best way to keep my finances in line. I might even use the "envelope" method as that has worked well for me in the past. I'm not in a good position to change any fixed expenses this year (mortgage, insurance, property taxes) but I can make sure that I'm making wise choices about variable expenses: food, clothing, entertainment, utilities. Every month, I'm going to try to take small steps to decrease the amount of money I spend in each category. It is really tempting to go crazy and try to cut all our expenses at once, but I know that the results will probably be short lived. I know that food is a big one for my family, so I'm going to start there.
In addition, I will keep my eyes out for ways to add little bits on money to my debt repayment. I don't really have any time to add another job (plus my husband is deploying, so that might not be the best idea anyway). However, I can eBay some extra stuff, take unused clothes to the consignment shop and maybe even have a garage sale. This will help me declutter and make some extra cash at the same time.
If I complete my main goal before the end of 2009, then I'm going to concentrate on putting as much money as possible into my husband's TSP. Usually, we try to balance our contributions to my IRA, his TSP, and his IRA. Since he will be deployed for most of 2009, it makes sense to stash more in TSP for this year and take advantage of the fact that it will be forever tax free.What are your goals for 2009, and how do you plan on accomplishing them?