Has anyone else felt overwhelmed in by all the Christmas crazies, and maybe fallen a bit off the penny-pinched wagon? My husband and I discussed this yesterday, and realized that while we haven't spent horribly out of control, we have failed to keep a tight reign on our finances . . . meaning we're not deciding where our money is going, instead our quick-fixed-wants are running away with our pennies.
So, in 2012 we're setting a few new financial goals. While we stick mostly to a written budget, there's enough wiggle room for us to spend on things that we don't really need, and not always force our money to work towards what we really want. Frequently I've found myself sacrificing what I really want for what I want right now. (EEK!) Here's what I'm planning to do in 2012 to change that:
1) Use cash ONLY for groceries, restaurants, clothing, & any home expenses.
2) Keep a list of EXACTLY what I spend each week at the grocery. I'm pretty good about sticking to my budget, but I'd love to really know how I'm spending (and saving!) each month. To keep myself on track, I'll be sharing my totals for the week as well as all the yearly totals each Friday in my Grocery & Donation Deals post, and I'd love for you to save your totals and share your savings right along with me. I'll also be adding a grocery budget check up once a month, so keep those totals handy to chime in with your deals!
3) Determine our biggest financial goals, and place any extra savings into these funds. Right now here are the specific areas that I'd like to bulk up in 2012:
- Put extra money in our children's college funds.
- Add to our vacation fund.
- Start saving towards a major goal (this one's a biggie . . . I'm too chicken to share it with you guys because I don't really think it'll ever happen, but it's definitely on my list!)
- Continue to save towards retirement.
- Save additional money towards a new car. (We don't need this one right now, but car purchases have a way of sneaking up on everyone, and I'd like to be able to pay cash for when ours does need to be replaced . . . hopefully in three or four more years!)
If you're new to penny-pinching (or even if you've been a bargain shopper for years. . .), your financial goals may look very different than our family's goals. We worked very hard several years ago to pay off our student loans and cars, and fortunately do not have any credit card debt. If you do have any of those on your list, work towards paying off those things first and paying cash only for purchases, and I promise you'll be able to do so much more with your money!
Okie dokie, what are YOUR financial goals for 2012? Take a few minutes today, talk with your loved ones about what changes you'd like to see made in the New Year and write it down on paper, and let's decided together to make 2012 a year to really tackle our financial dreams. I promise (promise!) you can do this, and we'll talk later this week about specific ways to save extra money and make your money work for you in 2012.