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Money Management

What I Do When I Don’t Reach My Goals

What I Do When I Don't Reach My Goals

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Last month I didn’t reach the goal that I set for myself. Going into the month, it was a bit of a stretch. But, I really wanted to cross that off. I love setting big goals and seeing how far I can go.

My goal was to get under $70k in student loan debt. It didn’t happen. And I missed it by about $150. Of course I was disappointed in myself, but it happens.

I’d never reach any goals if I let it get me down. There have been so many times that I could have given up. I know there will be so many more as well. It happens and we need to know how to deal with them.

This is what I did last month when I didn’t reach my goal.

1. Got upset.

At first, I definitely was upset and I let myself be for a bit. When you’ve been on this journey it’s inevitable to get down on yourself every now and then. Personally, I love challenging myself and seeing how far I can push myself.

I knew my goal was going to be a stretch for me, but I wanted to do it anyway. That’s the thing about goals, they gotta be a little scary to make real progress. It killed me that I was short by $150.

Immediately I started thinking about all the “if only” things in my budget. If only I worked a little more in my side hustles, if only I didn’t use my eating out budget this month, if only I didn’t budget my hair appointment this month.

I let myself take sometime to be upset that I didn’t reach my goal. But, I didn’t let myself stay there.

2. I reflected on the last month.

Once I actually looked at my budget, the reality was that I just didn’t make enough in my side hustles. I got paid from my April after school program hours. April was spring break for my school, which meant I worked a lot less than normal.

May was also weird for my babysitting and tutoring. I love babysitting and tutoring, but the reality is that you work for your client. If they don’t need me one week, I don’t get paid that week. This unfortunately happened a lot more than I expected.

And being totally honest, I was anticipating my retro payment on May 15th. In my current district, we haven’t received a raise since 2016 and were told that we’d be getting retro pay from the last two years. Things happened and it still hasn’t been processed.

This was disappointing for me, because I wanted to make a massive debt payment. But, this is why you should never anticipate money, wait until it is actually in your account. Even though I know I can make that payment whenever the money hits my account, I was excited to do it last month.

3. Make a plan to continue towards your goals.

I know I’m going to get under $70k next month. Just my minimum payments will get me there. So, I’m excited for that. It will be especially nice since this summer is going to be so up in the air for me. And I still hit a huge milestone of paying off $130k, so I can’t dwell on the bad too long.

I am moving out and switching jobs in June. It’s going to be a little crazy for sure. But, I have planned for this and I am confident that I will be fine throughout this summer.

I honestly don’t have any plans in my budget to make extra debt payments in June, July or August. My plan is to try my best to only use incoming money throughout the summer. If I need my summer sinking fund, I will obviously use it.

Once September rolls around and I get my first paycheck from my new job, I will empty my summer sinking fund and my moving out fund to make a debt payment. My current school doesn’t offer 12 month pay, only 10 month pay. So, I would rather have more money stashed away throughout the summer, than make extra debt payments.

You have to keep moving forward  to reach your goals.

The important thing to remember is to just keep moving forward. Whenever you make big goals, you’re risking the chance of failing. But, if you let that failure hold you back, you’re never going to improve.

Failing is a part of life and it helps us learn. I learned the hard lesson of not tracking my side hustle income more closely and anticipating funds before they come in. If I had tracked my income better this month, I would have seen that I was short in this area.

Take failure as an opportunity to grow and learn. Don’t spend much time sulking about not reaching the goal, keep pushing forward with a different outlook about it. I have outlined my plan that I use in my financial life in my ebook, it will help you get started on your own path. How have you navigated not reaching a goal?

Money Management

How to Balance Multiple Financial Goals at Once

How to Balance Multiple Financial Goals at Once

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

When you are first starting to tackle your finances, it can be overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts. And you need to find a way to manage them all. The good news is that there is an easier way of doing all of this.

You need to find a way to slow down and not get ahead of yourself. This was very hard for me. When I want something, I want it yesterday. This has been especially challenging throughout my debt payoff.

I couldn’t just get rid of my debt and there was no quick fix to $201k in student loans. No matter what, I’d be on this journey for awhile.

That’s where managing it all comes into play. It’s still not easy, but you can learn from my mistakes and tackle this a much better way.

1. Find what you truly value and start tracking your expenses.

As hard as it might be, it’s important to take things slow. Don’t dive in and put yourself on a budget. I tried doing that and guess what, I failed. Set yourself up to more likely be successful by tracking your expenses first.

This allows you to truly see where your money is going. You should never create a budget just by randomly thinking of how much you want to spend. Your budget needs to be realistic.

Another benefit of doing this is that you see your spending habits. I know I got so angry when I saw how much money I was spending eating out and on coffees. Of course, these two categories aren’t going to make me rich, but it was a decent amount going to these two categories each month.

Once you see where your money is going, you can decide where you want to cut back on.

2. Create a list of your goals.

Your goals are obviously going to change. Some of them will have strict time constraints and others will be broader goals for now. I suggest you put everything on this list. Even as small as getting your eating out budget under $50 each month. Or, increasing your income by $50.

The reason you want those small goals on there is because they are moving you towards your bigger goals. It will help you feel accomplished when you are working on massive goals, like paying off $201k of student loans. You’ll be able to look back on your list and see all that you have already done.

Figure out what goals have time constraints on them. For example, I need my summer sinking fund full by July 1st. If I start this in September, that means I have 10 months to reach this goal. I can put aside $300 every month until then and have $3,000 saved for the summer.

$3,000 seems very daunting, but $300 is much easier to manage. Plus, this can easily be added to my budget. I like breaking my bigger goals into smaller monthly goals. This makes it easy to add to my budget each month and easier to reach.

3. Align your budget and your goals.

When you create your budget, keep your goals in mind. You’re going to have to figure out what needs to take priority for you. Of course, you can’t work towards all of your goals at once, you won’t feel any traction on any of your goals. I have shared the spreadsheet I use to create my budget and track my expenses, if you’re a Google Sheets person, this is for you!

My suggestion is to always have a budget in place with sinking funds and then get started on your 1 month emergency fund. This sets you up for success while you tackle your bigger goals. I’m currently working towards paying off my student loans. It is by far the largest expense I have right now.

I’ve been working on this goal for almost 4 years. It’s a long road and I’ve had to slow down a few times to focus on other goals that needed to get done first.

Every journey is different, but you need to make sure that your budget and your goals are aligned. As you complete one goal, remove it from your budget and start working a new goal into your budget.

4. Re-adjust your goals and your budget.

Most of time, life doesn’t go as we plan. Sometimes these are good and sometimes they are bad. What’s important is that we adjust for them. I have always struggled with this, but I know it’s important.

While working on my goal to pay off my student loans, it’s really hard for me to slow down. I want to always put the most amount I can towards my debt. The reality is that it can’t always happen that way.

This is when you have to adjust your goals and your budget. The reality is that sometimes other things need to be a priority. The one that usually gets me is filling my car sinking fund back up after I get work done. The reality is that I need to maintain my car and I have a sinking fund for this. It wouldn’t make sense to not fill this back up because my car will always need maintenance.

To manage multiple financial goals, you need to stay organized and keep an updated budget.

Having multiple financial goals is a good thing. With a little bit of organization and budgeting, it is easy to manage it all. When you’re first getting started, I suggest to only have one goal. As things come up in life, you can add more as you feel they are needed. This can easily be done by figuring out when you need the goal to be completed and how many months you have until then. This monthly number will be added to your budget.

When you’re just getting started with working on your finances, it is overwhelming. Take it one step at a time and try not to overwhelm yourself. As always, I’m here to help if you’re struggling to get started. Do you have multiple financial goals? How are you managing them all? 

 

Money Management

May 2019: My Current Financial Goals

May 2019_ My Current Financial Goals

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Your goals will always be changing. Whether it is because you met the goals, or because you needed to adjust for life. It’s our reality. We need to change and adjust for what life throws at us.

I’m not saying I give up on my goals. But, I have had to slow down on my goals when life throws a curveball. It doesn’t make sense to throw thousands of dollars to my student loans in a month when I have unexpected medical bill or car repairs.

This is a perfect example for when I usually slow down on my student loan payments and cash flow those expenses. I do have sinking funds for my car and medical. But, in certain situations I have added more to each of these funds, even when they were fully funded.

One example was when I developed an allergy to multiple antibiotics I had been given. After the fourth one made me break out in hives, something that had never happened to me before. My doctor would no longer prescribe any antibiotics until I went for allergy testing.

They also told me that during this time, if I needed to have antibiotics, I would need to be hospitalized. Of course, I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, and my health insurance is pretty great. But, I did know that I would be going regularly for allergy testing that cost me $40 each time.

I started adding $100 every month to my medical fund. I figured that covered at least 2 allergy tests a month, with some extra for the prescriptions. Once we found safe antibiotics for me, I stopped contributing that $100 every month.

We can’t just ignore what life throws at us. Of course I wanted to throw that $100 to debt, but I also didn’t want to get stuck with a drained medical sinking fund. Especially in the midst of dealing with all these allergy tests.

Right now, my goals are pretty slim because I have been spending the last couple months adding more to my sinking funds. My life is changing a lot in the next month and I want to be prepared. In June I will be moving out of my parent’s house and in August I will be starting at a new school.

I’m super excited for all of these changes and I have definitely made sure that my budget reflects it.

1. Summer sinking fund. Goal End Date: June 2019

I am so excited to finish this sinking fund. I have had a summer sinking fund for the last 4 years. In my current school, I am a 10 month employee, so I don’t get my salary in the summer. To manage this, I add $300 every month to my summer sinking fund.

This sinking fund covers my minimum student loan debt payments for July and August. I do work in the summer, but it isn’t consistent income because I babysit, tutor, and work for VIPKID.

After this summer, I won’t need a summer sinking fund because my new school pays 12 months. This is definitely an adjustment for me. But, I am excited to get a paycheck in the summer.

2. New Emergency Fund Amount. Goal End Date: December 2019, or July 2019

In my emergency fund I typically have at least 1 month of expenses while paying off my debt. This has been the case for the last 4 years while I lived at my parent’s house. Since I am moving out, my expenses each month are increasing. Currently, I am putting $100 every month to my emergency fund.

The end date of this is uncertain currently. If I continue to put away $100 every month, it will be fully funded in December. However, I filled a moving out sinking fund a couple of months ago.

I hope that most of that fund will not be needed. If that is the case, then I will move that money into my emergency fund and be fully funded.

3. Student Loan Debt. Goal End Date: June 2021

This is very up in the air. My end date is based on the payments I have been able to make for the last 4 years. With my new monthly expenses, this most likely won’t continue. I’m okay with that because my plan was to pay off as much as I could while I could live at home. The time has come to move out and I have paid off a ton of debt in the time I’ve been home.

I have now paid off most of my high interest debt. Once I have paid it all off, I will be starting to contribute more to my retirement accounts. Currently I contribute very minimal. Right now, my minimum payments to my debt are $1,167.

I am currently focusing on my private student loans, which have a minimum payment of $865. Once this debt is gone, it will free up a ton of money in my budget.

Your budget and goals should be aligned and changed.

If you align your budget to your goals, you will see them get accomplished. When you don’t tell your money what to do, it’s not going to go where you want it. I suggest having multiple accounts for different things.

For example, I have different Ally savings accounts. This allows me to have a line item for my emergency fund and summer sinking fund in my budget. As soon as I have the money, I make a transfer to those accounts. This ensures that the goal is being met each month. It can be tricky when first starting, but I’m here to help you. Do you align your budget to your goals? 

Personal

Reflecting on 2015 and Looking Forward to 2016

Reflecting-on-2015-and-Looking-Forward-to-2016

Wow, 2015 was an incredible year for me. I landed my first “big girl” job as a 5th grader teacher in May, graduated with my masters in August, and started my first year of teaching in September. Of course, I also started this blog. When I started this blog back in July I was truly planning to mostly post about my first year of teaching. I figured it would be a nice outlet for the stress I knew I would be dealing with. However, in the last year, I have found a passion for personal finance and have found myself blogging much more about that. Especially when I have this massive amount of debt weighing me down each day.

I did create a solid plan to pay down my debt this year once I started working, which has helped me almost double my monthly loan payments so far. In 2015, I was able to get my largest loan with the highest interest rate down to 78% paid off. I have been working towards paying off that loan since I was in grad school, so seeing that high paid off percentage is very motivating!

I have a lot planned for 2016, and it might be a little too much to be honest. My plan is to make 2016 a productive year for me. I want to find myself always actively doing something, whether it be school work, blog work, being with friends, whatever it is, I don’t want to be complacent. I want to push myself harder and do more than I ever have before. My goal is to make $2,700 loan payments each month, which is a bit of a stretch for me. This requires me to figure out ways to save and make more money. Which is another goal I have for this year.

I strongly believe in goal setting and I feel that it keeps you motivated knowing you are working towards something. Whatever it might be, I suggest making mini goals to reach your big goal, this makes it more likely that you will succeed and make the task less daunting. For example, I picked $2,700 a month for my loan payments because I want to have my loans completely paid off by the time I turn 31. This might sound crazy since I still have about $185k in student loans, but it’s possible if I work hard and keep my goal in mind. So, what are your goals for 2016 and how do you plan on accomplishing them?