We are now a quarter of the way through 2017 already, can you believe it? How are those New Year’s Resolutions treatin’ ya? If you’re anything like 99% of the population, they’re a distant memory from back around January 31. Maybe February 1 if you were really determined.
That’s why I don’t make NYE resolutions anymore. They just don’t work, because you end up trying to make too many changes all at once. It’s not sustainable.
So this year I’m making monthly mini goals instead! Bite-size goals in single areas that I focus on for a month at a time. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the first post in this series to learn more about why and how I’m setting these monthly mini-goals.
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April’s Focus Area
I’m kind of enjoying matching my focus areas to monthly themes, so for April I decided to pick my area based on everybody’s favorite day – Tax Day! 😉
Therefore, my focus area for April is …
Our personal finances!
3 Personal Finance Goals for April
I was fortunate (/blessed/smart) enough to marry a man with a great head on his shoulders. From the day I met him, he has proven himself to be one of the smartest, wisest, and most responsible men I know, especially when it comes to our finances.
But like any intelligent person, he knew that there is always more to learn and room to grow. So when I brought home Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, he agreed to read it together.
Since reading that book, Levon and I have been a much more united front when it comes to our finances, and I feel we’re in an even better place than we were before.
But as I said, there is always room to grow. And now that we have a couple kids in the mix, it’s more important than ever that we set long-term goals and move forward together.
As part of my year of mini-goals, I have set three goals that I think will help us do that. My intention is that we will then continue these practices the rest of the year.
Goal #1: Sit down with Levon and write out our financial goals for the rest of the year
It’s funny how even when you live together, spend together, and talk about the future together, you can still be on two completely different wave lengths when it comes to your financial plans. What I think is urgent, he may not think is even necessary. What he thinks is an impossibility, I may have a way to accomplish. Or vice versa.
The point is that until you actually sit down and talk about it, you don’t know what the other person is thinking, planning, and striving towards. And if you’re each working toward different ends, you will likely be pulling against each other, ending up nowhere at all. (When I read this to Levon, he said, “Yeah, but I’m twice your size, so I can take you. 😉 I said, “Ok … but I’m big enough to slow you down a little!” He conceded that was true.)
This month I want to carve out some time to discuss our financial goals, cast a united vision, and then establish some plans to accomplish that vision.
Goal #2: Have weekly meetings with Levon to go over our budget & expenditures
As I wrote in my post, How to Budget the Right Way, I started keeping a record of our expenditures once we got married. On it, I kept track of where and when we spent our money, which I knew would help us with planning and accountability.
However, once I read Total Money Makeover, I knew this record of expenditures wasn’t enough. I was simply watching where our money was going rather than telling it where to go. Instead, I started setting a budget at the start of each month, and the difference has been tremendous. (For more information on why and how I changed how we budgeted, as well as a free downloadable budgeting spreadsheet, follow this link.)
The problem is, I’m the one who tracks our budget and enters all our transactions, so I’m the only one who knows exactly how we’re doing. (Levon’s not a spreadsheet guy, so he doesn’t really like to look at my budget.) On top of that, Levon is not always great at communicating his plans to me, so I often don’t know about upcoming expenses.
So, even though we have a better system of budgeting now, we can still end up out of sync and arguing over spending, simply because he doesn’t have all the information and I don’t know about all his plans.
To remedy this issue, I would like to have weekly meetings with Levon to go over our monthly budget, review our expenditures up to that point, and plan for the rest of the month. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, and we always say we’re going to, but we’ve never done more than a single week. I’m hoping that the added accountability of writing about it here and knowing I’ll have to tell on myself at the end of the month in my newsletter will help us stick with it this time!
Goal #3: Reduce my unnecessary spending
Levon and I have some big financial goals, which we will flesh out together in Goal #1. To help us accomplish those goals, I know I will need to reduce my unnecessary spending. Not completely, because this momma’s gotta have some fun every once in awhile ;), but enough to get us where we want to be. Basically, I want to make sure that every $ I spend counts for something and that I’m being a wise steward of what God has given us.
However, saying that I’m going to “reduce unnecessary spending” won’t accomplish much unless I have a plan for how I’m going to do it. So to help me determine which purchases are “good” and which ones are “unnecessary,” I’m going to ask myself the following questions before each and every purchase:
Questions to ask myself before spending money:
- What need does this item meet? Are the benefits worth the costs?
- How does this item fit in my long-term financial goals?
- Is there something I already own that could meet this need?
Levon and I have a pretty solid foundation (thanks to his wisdom and what we’ve learned from Total Money Makeover, but there is always more to learn! We have some big goals floating around in our heads, so it’s time to get on the same page and develop a concrete plan to achieve them!
What do you think? Do you think these are realistic goals? Will you help keep me accountable? Great! If you have any financial goals you’d like to share with us, feel free to do so in the comments below!
More in This Series:
- January: 3 Goals for a Stronger, Healthier Me!
- 3 Goals for a Stronger Marriage
- My Anti-Resolutions Year: March Reading Madness