Moving has a way of derailing your budget. Well, really, it has a way of pretty much derailing everything: your budget, your daily routine, your weekly Japanese takeout, your… life! And it takes a while to get back on track, but Johnny and I are finally getting there. And one of the keys to getting back on track with our usual budget has been setting goals in our new place.
Budgeting can be hard at times, and goals help us to stay focused. Sometimes I think to myself Why do I keep limiting myself from spending my money on what I want? It’s my money and I’ve worked hard for it. If I want a new wardrobe, I should get it. right. now. But our goals help to quickly quell that storm of irresponsible spending that wants to erupt. Oh yeah! If we stick to the budget this month, we can put away $XXXX (short-term goal). And If we do that for 12 more months, we’ll have enough for a down payment (long-term goal)! Without our goals, it can be hard to justify saving that extra money that we work our tails off to have.
Setting both short-term and long-term goals is fundamental to having success with saving. If Johnny and I only set long-term goals, we would quickly get frustrated and defeated. It’s bad enough that we’re putting money away into 401k’s and IRAs that we won’t see for, oh, 40 years… wait, seriously?! As a new mom who’s still getting the hang of exercising regularly, I’m all too aware of the importance of short-term goals. Currently, my short-term exercise goal is to exercise three days a week. It doesn’t matter what I do or for how long, just as long as I exercise. Each day I write in my planner Exercise? and at the end of the day, I either respond Y or N. It’s about as simple as can be because that’s all I can handle right now. My long-term goal is to run a 10k. But if I thought about doing that each day, and then went out and realized I could only run two miles, you can bet I’d have already given up.
And so it is with finances. Each day we focus on little goals. Don’t go over budget in any categories today. Done. And Johnny and I have weekly budgeting goals, too. Just last week we set a new goal for our weekly food spending. In a given week, our goal is to have one super cheap fast food meal ($8 or less), and one takeout meal ($20 or less), and to otherwise eat homemade. If we can stick to that in a given week, we give each other a handshake. Because that’s not weird. Or maybe we don’t really, but we feel proud of our budgeting efforts. And it helps us meet our monthly food budget.
Having those long-term goals also helps us to remember the big picture so we don’t get stuck in a rut. At the end of the year, per our New Year’s resolutions, we want to add $25k to savings. So even if we get off track one week or one month, we can look at the big picture and feel motivated to continue trying so we can meet our long-term goal. Short-term and long-term goals combined create a viciously wonderful cycle of staying motivated.
So what kind of short-term and long-term financial goals have Johnny and I set? And what are some ideas that help us get started in setting goals? It’s all coming up later this week!