Every January, I make a list of about ten goals and write them in the little notebook I carry everywhere. Looking at 2008, I achieved three of the financial goals and almost none of the others. Oops. Hopefully I’ll do better in 2009. To be fair, some of them are outside my control, but I make them goals anyway. I should rethink that – I’m just setting myself up for failure. Here are the goals I can control:
Buy a House: We have half the down-payment (a gift from my parents) and will receive the other half in a couple of months. We’ve created our list of dealbreakers and potential neighborhoods. In January, we’ll visit open houses in each neighborhood and get a sense of the mortgage we qualify for. Then in February or March, we’ll hire a real estate agent and start looking for real.
Pay Off that Little Debt: We still owe around $4,000 on an unconsolidated student loan. The interest and monthly payment are low, but it’s a bill we don’t need.
Boost Our Emergency Fund: We currently have a sizable cash cushion, but it’s all going toward taxes. I’d like to save at least $10,000 by mid-year.
Increase Our Retirement Savings to 10%: We need to make a big push for retirement. We currently save 3%, plus whatever my husband receives as a defined contribution. I’d like to save 10% of our total income next year, which isn’t an insubstantial figure.
Buy a New Car: After we buy a house, I’m getting a new car. My Toyota is 12 years old and has 130,000 miles on it. It’s holding up, but it’s also showing its age. It’s time to upgrade to something with remote door locks and an MP3 jack.
Save for Our Next Big Vacation: My husband hadn’t been on vacation in three and half years, and it had been two and a half for me. We need to go on trips more often. We have a local excursion planned for next year, but we also want to start saving for Australia – the next big destination on our list.
As always, the year will hold financial surprises that will either cancel or delay some of these goals, but at least three of them will happen for sure: house, car, and retirement savings. If we only succeed at those, I’ll consider the year a success. What are your goals for 2009? Share them in the comments or link back from your own blog.