I’ve always been a goal setter. Be it school, work, or money, I set goals. I don’t normally write them down, but they’re always front and center in my head. I just read a post by Millionaire Artist about her new goal screensaver – very creative. It got me thinking – should I write down my goals? I am a chronic list-maker, and I still stick notes all over my desk (much to my husband’s chagrin, as he’s been trying for ages to get me to use electronic ‘post its’). Over the last few years, when we had lots of business start-up debt, I had a notebook where I kept track of exactly how much we owed to each creditor, and what the interest rate was. Each time I made a payment, I’d record the new debt amount, and each month I’d add up the current total. Even when the numbers were big, it made me feel better to be able to see them on paper and watch them slowly shrink. We currently have only one debt left besides our mortgage – we owe about $2800 to Discover Card. But we pay less than a dollar a month in interest on that debt (as long as we make one purchase a month, we only pay interest on the new purchases, not the original balance transfer. We spend between $1 and $2 each month for our required purchase). Since the HELOC portion of our mortgage is at 8.53% right now, we’d rather put extra money into that account, or into our ING account. So we only pay $100 or $200 a month on the Discover bill.
Anyway, since the vast majority of our debts are gone, I’ve stopped writing in my notebook. It was satisfying for a while to see all the zeroes, but now that there’s only the mortgage and Discover Card, I have the numbers in my head and don’t need to write them down anymore. I did start using a net-worth calculator last month, which I’ll keep doing, because I liked seeing everything in black and white. But what about goals? Maybe if I write them down, they won’t always be swimming around in my head, throwing themselves into my thoughts at random times – like when I’m about to fall asleep.
So here are my current goals:
- To open Roth IRAs in Feb (with the tax refund I expect we’ll be getting), and fully fund our IRAs with a combination of money going to traditionals and Roths (we already have automatic transfers to the traditional IRAs).
- To bump up our ING contributions to $150 (currently at $100) per month. This is our emergency fund money, so we don’t have any particular goals that we’re saving towards here – just a cushion for the proverbial rainy day.
- To save $3000 to pay the midwife we plan to use when we have a child, hopefully within the next 2 years. We plan to have a home birth, so insurance will not cover any part of the midwife’s charge.
- To increase our total net-worth by $20,000 in 2007. At least $8000 of this should be from decreasing the principal on our HELOC, which is currently our highest interest rate debt.
- To run a 10K in under 44 minutes. My current best is 45:58. There’s a huge race at the end of May near where we live, and I’m hoping to take 2 minutes off my current PR. I’m working on this one right now, by taking a much-needed rest day.
- To continue writing on this blog. It helps me see what we’re doing right, what we need to tweak, and I love the feeling of community that I have already gained from reading other similarly-minded blogs over the last few months.
- To return to Tanzania, where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 90s. I have many friends there whom I would love to see again. And I want to show my husband where I lived and the school where I taught. This goal doesn’t have a definite time line. Hopefully it will be within the next 10 years though. We’ve taken some great trips in the last couple years (New Zealand, Hawaii, Jamaica, Georgia to go to the Masters…) My father is from Ireland, and all of his family is still there, so I’ve been to Europe a few times as-well. I feel really lucky in terms of places I’ve been and things I’ve seen, which is why I feel that I should work on the more practical financial goals on our list before I devote 5 grand to going back to Africa. But it’s on the list, because I might as well dream big, right?
- To have the option to retire when we’re 55. This doesn’t mean that we absolutely plan to stop working in 25 years, but that we can if we want to. Staying in this house and continuing to live frugally will put us a lot closer to this goal, even if we never make 6 figures a year.
These are the things that swim around in my brain, vying for my attention when I’m drifting off to sleep or pacing myself through a 5 mile base training run. I enjoyed writing them here. I think I’ll write the gist of each one and put them on the fridge, where I can see them everyday. As I look back over my list, I feel very lucky. My list does not include things like ‘lose 40 pounds’ or ‘quit smoking’ or ‘save a down payment for a house’ or ‘get out of credit card debt.’ We have a really good life – everything on my goal list is frosting on the cake. My husband and I make our moderate income go a long way, we I have each other (way better than all the money in the world), we have our pets, we’re both healthy, we’re four years into paying off our mortgage, we have hobbies that make our lives full and entertaining, we have great friends… we have a lot to be thankful for. And with some hard work, some fun, a little luck, and goals posted on the fridge, 10 years from now we’ll have even more reasons to be thankful.