We’ve added a new financial goal to our list. We want to install solar panels. We’ve been talking about it for years, but the price made the possibility unrealistic (at least $12,000 to put in enough panels to power our house, and even that would require that we cut back further on our electricity use). Last week, we decided that $12,000 only seems unrealistic because we’re looking at it as one big chunk. So we opened an ING account called “solar panels” and put $300 in it. We’ll be putting $300 into the account each month, until we have enough to install solar panels on our roof. Our other financial goals will still be priority – funding our IRAs and our HSA, paying off our HELOC, and funding our son’s 529 plan are all above the solar panels on our list. But we’re determined to make it work anyway. This year, we’ve already made the maximum contributions allowed to my husband’s IRA and to our HSA. We’re working on the HELOC every month (goal is for it to be gone in the summer of 2010). My IRA still needs $4000, but that will be a priority this fall. Our son’s college plan is set up with an automatic contribution every month. So even though it’s a lot to juggle, we’re feeling pretty on top of our various money goals. One more should be manageable.
I quit my job at the library in order to be home with our son – he now has two work-at-home parents. I’ll be going back on a very part time basis (12 – 16 hrs) in the fall, but for now all of our income comes from our insurance agency. Happily, we’ve been busier than ever this year, and our income is nearly at the same level as last fall, when I was working both jobs. I was putting 25% of my pay into a retirement account, so the take-home pay from the library job wasn’t too high anyway – we should be fine without it. But in the last few weeks, we’ve added $400 to our monthly money commitments ($100 for our son’s college fund, and $300 for the solar panels). So things will be pretty tight around here again. We don’t mind – we’ve been there before, when we were paying off debt. And it feels much better to be on a tight budget because we have lots of savings projects going on, than to be on a tight budget because we’re paying off debt.