2017 Goals Recap

For many years now, I’ve set financial goals at the beginning of every year.  Here are 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015. Last year, we set goals for 2017 and today I’m going to see just how well we did.  2017 was extremely hard as Mr. Money lost his job at the end of July.  I think we will spend a lot of 2018 playing catch up, but I’m hopeful this year will be better than the last.  Here are the goals we set last year:

-Pay $8,000 down on the principal of our home.  Fail. We paid off over $6,000 towards principal of our mortgage.  I’m not too upset about this, as I’m not sure what our future goals are going to be as far as the mortgage goes.  Part of me would rather not try to put every extra cent we have towards the mortgage when it’s at 3.75% and put it, say in our Roth IRAs instead. I feel like that may be a better investment for our future, as that money will have time to grow and I’m assuming a better rate of return than 3.75% on that money.  Of course, I would LOVE to be mortgage free, but we need to assess our goals for 2018 and see what we feel will be best suited for our family.

-Save money for college education/the future for kid(s).  Success.  We did save some money for college education/future expenses, but it wasn’t that much.  Every time our daughter receives money for birthdays, Christmas, etc we deposit it in her savings account.  We hardly every buy toys at our house, and believe me- there is no lack of toys here!  We are blessed with caring family that likes to buy toys.  We err on the side of minimalism, and strive to keep a healthy balance of what comes in and what goes out of our house.

-Save $500 a month for retirement.  Fail. We were doing very well with retirement savings at the beginning of the year but Mr. Money ended up taking a new job and consequently was laid off from that job a few months later, so we didn’t save as much for retirement as we had hoped for.  This year I’m going to try to increase my work from home earnings, so I’m optimistic we will be able to save more money this year.

-Don’t eat out unless it’s planned and budgeted for.  Success/Fail?  This is probably the biggest area of our budget that we struggle with, and we always have.  Being a one income frugal family, we don’t buy extravagant things- expensive new clothes, toys, video games, anything of the sort, and eating out is a huge treat for us.  We enjoy eating out because it gets us out of the house, we don’t have to cook or clean up, and it’s a form of family bonding.  I HATE spending $25 on one meal for us to eat out, but we enjoy it immensely.

 

-Become/stay debt free.  Success. We ended up being very lucky to finish the year debt free.  It wasn’t easy, but somehow we made it work!  We try our hardest to stick to our frugal, minimalist ways and being debt free is the biggest reward for that. Debt stresses me out and I hate it!  I hope we never go into debt again and I dream of the day we are finished paying off our mortgage.

Go on a nice vacation somewhere.  Fail. Ha.  We did go visit my family a few times, but that only cost us gas money to get there and then we stayed with my parents so we didn’t spend any extra money on lodging.  I really wanted us to visit Mr. Money’s family in Colorado but that didn’t happen.  Our vehicles are older and we didn’t want to risk driving them 1500 plus miles across country and have something happen to them.

Overall, I’m satisfied with our progress towards our 2017 goals.  After Mr. Money lost his job, we went into survival mode and life was what it was. I’m hoping and praying that we end 2018 in a much better position than we ended 2017.  I think that’s a real possibility!  Mr. Money and I need to sit down and figure out what we want our 2018 goals to be and go from there.

How was your 2017?

 

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7 Easy Hacks for Saving Money in the New Year

When it comes to new year’s resolutions, there’s one that’s high up on your list: saving money in the new year. You’ve already spent a huge amount on holiday gifts, and on that perfect dress or suit for all the parties and family gatherings, and now that 2018 is just around the corner, there’s only one thing on your mind. Save money. As much as possible.

But it can be a challenge to know where to start. Luckily, there are some great, easy ways to save money. Here’s how:

1 Create a budget

Although it can be painful and anxiety-inducing, the most important way of saving money is by creating a budget. Whether you’re saving up for the best tactical flashlight or a flight to Paris, by writing down the amount of money you want to save total, and then dividing it up throughout the year, you’ll be able to calculate a monthly, weekly, and daily budget for yourself. Make sure you’re on the conservative side so that if you go over one month, it won’t completely derail your budgeting plan.

2 Stop collecting–start selling

Another easy way to save money is by selling off some of your stuff. There are lots of success stories of people who’ve made a lot of money from the eCommerce business, so if you choose to get creative (for example, selling rare records or VHS tapes to huge fans), you can make a lot of unexpected income. But it’s also a great idea to get rid of a few things no matter what: by living a simpler, less object-oriented lifestyle, you’ll spend more money on experiences and less on the things you collect and never use.

3 Be smart about your savings accounts

The minute you receive your paycheck, it’s smart to move some money over to your savings account. But as the money starts to run out, it can be easy to want to dip into your savings. So how do you keep yourself from falling into that habit? One idea is to name your savings accounts–for example “Trip to Paris” or “Savings for Rent Next Year.” That way, anytime you’re taking money out, you know exactly what you’ll be missing out on in the future. Another tip is to put your savings into a different bank account entirely so that it’s a lot more work to move money from your savings to your checkings account.

4 Get a cashback rewards card

Another smart way to save some money is by getting a cashback rewards card. It’s the easiest way to earn rewards, because every time you spend some money on one of these cards, you’ll get some cash back. However, not all cards are created equal–so make sure to check out this list from US News on the best cash back cards out now.

5 Make a weekly “money date”

In addition to setting up a budget, and moving money into savings when you’re supposed to, it’s also a smart idea to check into your spending habits regularly. Once a week, you’ll want to schedule in some time just to take a look at how you’ve spent your money that week, and what kinds of changes you want to make in the next week. Make sure make an actual appointment in your schedule, and consider doing this activity with your partner or roommates–otherwise, it can be tempting to skip it.

6 Eat at home

Considering that there are so many delivery apps now, and plenty of restaurants that stay open until late hours making food for clients, it can be tempting to eat out all the time. The same goes for an office culture where everyone goes out for lunch. But did you know that average American household spends over $3,000 on eating out every year? So it’s a habit you have to break. Look up some affordable recipes online, and make sure you cook in bulk so that it’s easy to have leftovers to take to work the next day.

7 Use the 24 hour rule

Think of all the impulsive spending decisions you’ve made, especially with items that you never ended up using. Probably you’ve wondered: How could I have made that decision? Well, it’s only natural to act impulsively, but there is an easy way to avoid it. Anytime you’re considering making a purchase, use the 24 hour rule: wait 24 hours, and see if you still want to buy it the next day.

Whether you’re looking to save money for yourself personally, or you’re looking to save money as a company that needs to focus on spending more on inside sales recruitment strategies and less on other costs, you’re definitely going to make some big savings with these hacks.

What strategies do you use to save money? Are there any that have been the most effective for you?

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How and Why Mental Health is Closely Associated with Debt

Our mental competence is the most important factor when it comes to handling financials, but more often than not, we end up ignoring it until it’s too late. It has been found that conditions such as depression and anxiety can severely impair our ability to manage money, irrespective of how good we were at it before developing the disorder. This is why it is so important to raise mental health awareness in regard to the effects an unfit mind can have on one’s financial status.

One Fuels the Other
It is a general tendency to hold debt as the cause of mental health issues to begin with, but that is not always the case. Any psychological disorder like depression, bipolar and dementia can originate from a completely separate cause, but irrespective of its origin, they can most definitely become a cause for the affected person to take bad and ill-informed financial decisions. Once the decision backfires and you end up in debt, it becomes one more reason which amplifies the disorder, making it even more difficult to take the right decision next time around. Things soon become too complicated to determine which is the cause of which, but as long as one is present, it will fuel the other.

How Debt is Responsible for Mental Health Issues
This one is easier to relate to and understand than when it is the other way around. If you are already in debt due to unemployment, medical emergencies or just about any other reason, it will cause stress. That stress is amplified by both the direct and indirect effects of the debt such as calls and visits from the bank or collection agencies and a significant and constant drain on the economic resources to pay off that debt. The stress of the burden may lead to initial symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings and anxiety. These symptoms along with many others slowly turn into mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, etc.

To stop this from happening, it is important to seek support from your friends and family. The idea is to share and talk about your problems with someone else so that the stress is somewhat relieved and you do not feel alone as you face the everyday problems. Just the act of talking can go a long way towards keeping debt induced psychological disorders at bay so make sure you do that.

How Mental Health Issues Can be Responsible for Debt
This is the part that most people don’t understand or tend to ignore. In fact, it was found that even psychiatrists sometimes tend to miss the obvious connection between the two. Nearly 25% of all the adults in the UK who suffer from some sort of mental disorder or other are in debt. To understand how psychological problems may lead to debt, go through the following points.

Managing money is no easy task and it doesn’t always take mental issues for someone to make catastrophic financial mistakes. Therefore, when your judgment is already impaired by uncontrolled emotions, brain fog, inability to focus and diminished working memory, making mistakes and ending up in debt almost becomes the most likely outcome. Lack of motivation, energy and focus compels the person in question to skip complicated steps that are necessary to manage money efficiently and over time, the mistakes catch up and they end up in debt.

Impulsive shopping, buying things that one can’t really afford and even gambling is often seen falsely as a way out of feeling low, depressed or stressed, by people suffering from mental health disorders. As you can imagine, it doesn’t really work out and they end up in further debt, which intensifies the depression later and the cycle continues till debt and bankruptcy takes over.

How to Get Out of the Cycle
It’s all about breaking habits, realising and accepting the situation and treating the underlying causes at their roots. However, these are much easier said than done. This is why at www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/, they have prepared a very informative and effective support system to advise and help people that are suffering from severe monetary problems and psychological disorders at the same time. It is impossible to do everything on your own when your own mind is posing problems, so seek the help you need to get things sorted.

Now that you know what the link is between mental disorders and debt, you should be able to realise if any of the situations apply to you. Just in case you are still not sure, you might want to talk to your therapist about it and see if he/she can’t help you in figuring things out better.

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