Tag Archives: savings

Our 2017 financial goals

Our 2017 financial goals

Here¬†our 2017 financial goals! I hope it’s not too late to share these ūüôā

Sure, it’s a few weeks past New Years Day, but cut me some slack! We’ve been super busy over here because –¬†surprise¬†– we’re moving!

We’re just moving across the Bay so we can be much closer to work. Our commute times will be so much shorter and hopefully that means more time to spend with each other and on our passion projects¬†*cough*¬†this blog¬†*cough*.

Anywho, enough about that. Here are our 2017 financial goals!

We're only focusing on four financial goals in 2017!

1. Move closer to work

Well, technically – we’ve already accomplished this! In fact, on the day that this post goes live, we will be moving all of our stuff in a U-haul van with some friends.

It did take some moving around of our money to pull off. But after almost a year of living more than an hour away from work, we decided it was worth it to move closer to work. Rent ain’t cheap – but we are at peace knowing that we’re paying for the convenience of living close to work. We’ll have a lot more time on our hands, and I think that alone is worth the money we will spend.

2. Replenish our starter emergency fund

We had to dip into our emergency fund recently to cover some family things. I feel so vulnerable not necessarily having anything right now in our emergency fund. But hopefully this will get done in the next paycheck or so. We just want to get our emergency fund back to $1,000.

3. Decrease our debt by 20%

We are in¬†a ton of debt. Seriously. It’s not good. More on those numbers in a future post.

We know it’s not possible to pay it all off in one year. Especially since we’re paying to move much closer to work. But we do want to keep debt repayment a high priority for us. So as soon as our first two financial goals are taken care of, all of our extra money will be thrown at our debt. I assigned 20% as our 2017 goal. Hopefully it’ll be more than that, though!

4. Save for travel

This year is full of travel plans! Next month, we’re going to Rome to celebrate our anniversary. In July, we have 4 weddings to attend (maybe 5). We’re going to Hawaii in November for another wedding. These travel plans are so exciting! But if we don’t plan ahead, these travel plans can really reverse all the progress on the other three financial goals we have.

So, we are going to be putting money aside each money just for travel. I know that this money would probably do better if we targeted it all to debt, but I want to make sure that we spend only cash for all of these trips. What good is debt repayment if we have to finance our trips?

So there you have it – our 2017 financial goals. I’m keeping it simple this year. Four¬†financial goals is totally doable. The less we have to focus on, the more damage we can do to each of our financial goals.

What are your financial goals this year?

AMDG,
Lisa

17 ways to improve your finances in 2017

17 ways to improve your finances in 2017

The new year usually sparks many of you to want to improve your finances. Now, I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions. But I’m all for focusing on your financial health. If the New Year sparks that fire within you to get your finances together – then I’m all for it!

Here are 17 ways to improve your finances in 2017. Choose a few of these to focus on in the New Year if you’re new to personal finance. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed. But I do want you to make some real change in your life.

improve your finances

Overall financial health

1. Dream a little

This may seem like fluff advice, but I really believe that dreaming/envisioning the ultimate financial state can really get you revved up to actually improve your finances! So take a moment to really imagine what it would be like to live with no more debt. To finally turn in that last payment for your mortgage, car loan, student loan, etc. Imagining this huge weight coming off of your shoulders can help you get started on actually tackling your debt!

2. Know your numbers

To improve your finances, you need to know where you are currently. Make it a point to know and be more mindful of your monthly income and expenses. Your entire personal finance journey is built with these building blocks! Here’s a video I put together on how to get this information if you don’t already have it.

3. Track your net worth

This tip¬†goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip of knowing your numbers. Knowing your numbers is one thing, but actually tracking your numbers each and every month is what helps you be more mindful of your situation. The key here is checking in on your finances¬†every single month, whether it’s your net worth or your income/expenses. (I hope to do a post/video on what your net worth is soon).

4. Educate yourself about personal finance

I get it – the world of personal finance can be overwhelming. But running away from it is a surefire way to not get anywhere financially. Make it a point to read a book (I recommend The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi) or listen to a podcast (I recommend The Dave Ramsay Show or Stacking Benjamins) about personal finance once a month or so. Believe me – avoiding personal finance will not solve your personal finance problems!

5. Focus on one or two financial goals

When you focus on way too many goals at once, you tend to lose track, get overwhelmed, and fail at most of them. Choose one or two goals to focus on this year. Will you work on increasing your income or decreasing your expenses? Is this the year you get serious about your debt or start saving for emergencies? Pick a goal that will¬†improve your finances and get started! I personally suggest following Dave Ramsey‘s step by step goals if you don’t know where to start.

6. Get in sync with your significant other

This is something Juan and I are still working through. Actually, I think this is something that will just become a constant conversation. As your goals change, your spouse’s may change as well. As you improve your finances, make sure your partner is still on the same page as you. Make an effort to check in with each other each month to make sure you’re working towards both of your goals.

Increase your income

7. Start a side hustle

Your main income is great, but having a side income can really help with your financial goals! Don’t know where to start? Think of things you already love to do – crocheting, working on cars, spending time with pets… chances are someone has already come up with a way to monetize it! Think of how you can monetize one of your hobbies¬†so your side hustle can also be something you enjoy doing!

8. Work towards a promotion

Nine times out of ten, a promotion leads to an increase in income. Make sure you are an absolute stellar employee Рmake it into work on time, finish your tasks in a timely manner, and make sure all the work you do is done with integrity. Then, when a spot above you has opened up, make it known to your manager that you are interested. Work hard and your work will speak for itself!

9. Work towards and negotiate a raise

Sometimes a promotion just isn’t in the cards. That doesn’t mean you can skip asking for a raise. Make your case as to why you deserve a raise, do your research on the average salaries for job titles closest to yours, and have an honest conversation with your manager. Warning – this only works for¬†great employees, not just any employee. Just because you want to improve your finances doesn’t mean you deserve a raise.

10. Sell some stuff

Got a ton of unused clothing, appliances, toys, etc. lying around? Donate the stuff that is already in poor condition and sell the stuff that is still in great quality! eBay is a great place to start, but there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ fashioned garage sale. The extra cash will come in handy as you improve your finances.

Expense control

11. Give up just one thing

I’m not asking you to give up cable, coffee, soda, AND gift giving all at once (although – more power to you if you want to)! Start small – what’s one expense, big or small, you can go without for all of 2017? For me – I’m going to cut back hard on eating out. Speaking of eating out…

12. Eat out less

It’s no secret that eating out often can do a lot of damage to your waistline. But it also does a ton of damage to your wallet! I’m not saying you should eliminate eating out completely – just cut back! Juan and I are going to stick to eating out only twice a week (this is a huge step back from our normal 5-7 days a week)!

13. Find another commute option

For us 9-5ers, a commute can really make or break the budget. Take a look at what you spend now on your commute (gas, toll, train fare, etc.) and look up other options available to you. Keep in mind the cheapest option may not be the best in terms of time spent, so make sure you take into account all things – not just the price tag.

14. Cut out cable

*gasp* I know, how dare I say these words??? But let’s face it, y’all – cable is expensive! With Netflix and Hulu being at extremely affordable rates, the case for still having cable is starting to dwindle. For us, the hardest part will be finding ways to watch our¬†Golden State Warriors and other sports broadcasting. But other than that, Netflix and Hulu usually does the trick for our TV fix.

Beef up your savings

15. Seriously, get an emergency fund

I don’t care if you’re in deep debt – get yourself a freaking emergency fund! If you don’t have on yet, building one this year will greatly improve your finances. You are not invincible and Murphy loves visiting those who aren’t prepared. Even if it’s just $1,000, it’s a great start and better than nothing.

16. Set up a personal escrow account

You know those annoying expenses that don’t happen every single month and surprise you whenever they do pop up? Setting up a personal escrow account will prepare you for all of those expenses. Pair it with automatic savings and you don’t even have to think about it!

17. Start saving for retirement

I don’t care how young you are – it’s never, ever too early to start saving for retirement! No one ever said, “Man, I really wished I waited longer until I started saving for retirement”. For starters, look and see if your employer offers a free match to your contributions into your company sponsored retirement plan. Basically – your employer will put money into¬†your retirement plan for free as long as you’re also putting in money! Take advantage of that free money!

So there you have it – 17 things you can work on to improve your finances this year! You don’t have to do all of them – in fact, I suggest choosing just one or two of these things. Focus on a few goals at a time and you’ll be well on your way to financial peace.

What are your financial goals for 2017?

AMDG,
Lisa

Q1 2016 Net Worth Update

Disclaimer: this post may contain referral links.

Q1 2016 Net Worth Update

I was dreading this post.

The last time I updated my net worth was back in June 2015 and everything was all fine and dandy.

My net worth went up a good $30k, my credit card debt was almost gone, and my retirement savings, though struggling, was at a nice balance for someone my age.

And then life happened.

*Gulp* Well, let’s just get into it then – here’s my Q1 2016 Net Worth Update

Q1 2016 Net Worth Update

Overall, my net worth decreased by $883 this month.

Note –¬†just to clarify before we move on, this update is just looking at my own finances. My husband and I are slowly combining our finances, so¬†we should see our combined net worth in the next update.

Assets

Cash – $6,207 – up $3,026

Despite the mostly terrible net worth update, this category has a nice increase this time around. This is largely due to the wedding we just had. Wedding gift money, heyyyy!

Short-Term Savings –¬†$1,346 –¬†down $905

My savings accounts are all with Capital One. I love how easy it is to look at all my savings goals in one place. Here’s what my goals are right now:

Emergency: $1,003 – up $2 (hey interest!)
Personal Escrow: $322 – up $162
Wedding: $0 – down $1,083

Of course, the wedding fund was depleted once we, you know, had the wedding. It sucks to see savings go down like this, but that’s exactly why we save for things like this – so we can spend it eventually!

Retirement Savings –¬† $14,915 – down¬†$17,194

This consists of:

401k: $3,733 – down $22
Traditional IRA: $8,636 – down $445
Roth IRA:  $2,546 Рdown $16,727

*insert uncontrollable sobbing here*

You’re probably wondering¬†what happened?

Well, the short story is that we were getting closer and closer to the wedding date and realized that we were in¬†way over our heads in regards to payments. I mostly blame myself – I thought we were good financially until a few weeks before the wedding when we finally sat down and added everything up. My mom and my auntie had already helped us out, so we didn’t want to ask for any more money.

So, I double, triple, and quadruple checked that my Roth IRA contributions could be withdrawn without any tax penalty¬†and that’s exactly what I did.

I am not proud of this. But, I can obsess over how terrible this is (and believe me, I have), or I can own up to it, take the L, and move forward knowing better.

Estimated Car Value: $13,815 – down $1,550

I always get my car value from Kelly Blue Book. We all know how badly a car depreciates, especially one that’s bought brand new. So this isn’t news to me, just another unfortunate thing that happens each month that I’ve learned to just accept.

Estimated Home Value: $514,992 Рup $17,324

Right now, I use Zillow¬†to determine this value. Since I’m not planning on selling my house anytime soon, I really don’t take this increase to heart – even though it’s a great one! It just doesn’t mean too much at this moment, even though it almost masks my huge decrease in my retirement accounts this quarter¬†(almost).

Liabilities

Credit cards: $11,978 Рup $10,424

This consists of:

Discover @ 15.99%: $11,978 – up $11,958
Wells Fargo @ 22.15: $0 – down $1,534

Oh, hey credit card debt! There you are! Didn’t know you were sticking around this long…

Well, the good news is that I paid off my Wells Fargo credit card before the APR changed from 0.00% to 22.15%! The bad news… well, I think it’s a¬†little obvious.

Again, I’ve obsessed over this and the retirement savings. But when I say I’m starting over, I really mean it this time around. In the meantime, I may have to add another chapter to the Credit Card Debt Saga.

Student Loans: $13,359 Рdown $905

This consists of:

Direct Subsidized @ 6.55%: $2,672 –¬†down $158
Direct Subsidized @ 5.75%: $3,385 –¬†down $212
Direct Subsidized @ 5.35%: $4,109 – down $265
Direct Subsidized @ 4.25%: $2,013 – down $140
Direct Unsubsidized @ 6.55%: $1,180 – down $131

I can always count on my student loan progress to cheer me up! While so many others my age love to complain about these bad boys, I can’t help but be thankful for their consistency amidst the chaos of everything else in my finance world.

Car Loan: $11,439 Рdown $3,426

Usually, this category is pretty boring since I plan on paying the minimum on this loan for a long time. At least until my credit card debt and student loans are gone.

But something of interest just happened – I’m no longer upside-down on this loan! What that means is that the value of my car is now greater than what I owe on it!¬†Yay!

Mortgage: $265,558 Рdown $4,511

Slow and steady is my motto for my mortgage. I’ve got all these other loans to worry about, so I’ve decided that the mortgage is the last to go on the totem pole.¬†Nothing new here, folks.

So, there you have it. My cringe-worthy, disappointing net worth update. It would be easy for me to blame the wedding, but ultimately – I blame myself.

But, like I said, I’m starting over. So, I’m done obsessing over the slip-ups and I’m ready to move forward towards financial independence – one step at a time!

AMDG,
Lisa

June 2015 Net Worth Update

Disclaimer: this post may contain referral links.

June 2015 Net Worth Update

What! It’s July already?!?! Seriously, life is just moving too fast, y’all.

June 2015 Net Worth Update

Overall, my net worth increased by $31,567 this month!

What! That’s insane!

Mind you, most of it is due to my updated house value number. But I’ve also made some great progess on my credit card debt and all other debts, in general.

Assets

Cash: $3,181 – up $487

Someone pointed out that my cash balance is enough to pay off my credit card debt altogether. Which is true, but this money is reserved for house bills (mortgage, electricity, gas, water) and a lot of these bills are paid either every other month or one a quarter. As much as I’d love to just pay my debt off immediately, I keep it in my bank accounts for future bills.

Short Term Savings: $2,251 – up $1,099

My savings buckets are all with Capital One 360. They make it easy to see all your savings at once! Here’s what mine mostly consists of this month:

Emergency: $1,001 – no change
Personal Escrow: $160 – up $20
Wedding: $1,083 – up $1,080

Wait, didn’t I say I stopped saving for my wedding? The funds in there actually aren’t from me. My mom graciously offered to help pay for the wedding, so she’s sending me money once in a while for safe keeping. However, since I’ve got a goal to be credit card debt free before the wedding, I’m thinking¬†of¬†throwing that money at my remaining credit card debt.

Retirement Savings: $32,109 – down $758

This consists of:

401k: $3,755 – down $61
Traditional IRA: $9,081 – down $228
Roth IRA: $19,273.25 – down $469

Yuck. Of course the market takes a little dive the month I decide to stop saving for retirement. I’m pretty far from retirement, though, so I’m not going to worry too much about this. I know that in the long run the market will pick up, so I’m not going to stress over this.

Estimated Car Value: $15,365 – down $605

I look up the value of my car on Kelley Blue Book every quarter and update my net worth as necessary. The car¬†always goes down in value, without fail. That’s what you get for buying brand new.

Estimated Home Value – $497,668 – up $27,832

Aw baby!¬†I check Zillow when I want to see the value of my home. As awesome as this looks, I’m not planning on selling soon, so this value doesn’t necessarily mean anything to me right now.¬†But those gains look damn good!

Liabilities

Credit Cards: $1,554 – down $2,552

This consists of:

Discover @ 15.99%: $20 – down $1,323
Wells Fargo @ 0.00%: $1,534 – down $1,228

Despite the huge $31k jump in net worth, I am most excited about this one! I am so close to being credit card debt free, I can taste it! I really buckled down last month and threw whatever I could at this debt and it shows! Hopefully by next month, this will be a nice fat $0!

Student Loans: $14,264 – down $131

This consists of:

Direct Subsidized @ 6.8%: $2,830 – down $15
Direct Subsidized @ 6.0%: $3,597 – down $20
Direct Subsidized @ 5.6%: $4,374 – down $25
Direct Subsidized @ 4.5%: $2,153 – down $14
Direct Unsubsidized @ 6.8%: $1,311 – down $5

Another solid month for the student loans. Can’t complain!

Car Loan: $14,865 – down $336

The minimum is all I’m throwing at this loan right now. Slow and steady is the motto.

Mortgage: $270,069 – down $493

Same with the car loan – slow and steady with this one.

Overall, my June 2015 net worth update had it’s ups and downs. Mostly ups! Can’t wait to tackle some more debt this month.

How was your June financials? Did you stay on track with your goals?

AMDG,
Lisa

May 2015 Net Worth Update

Disclaimer: this post contains referral links.

May 2015 Net Worth Update

May 2015 Net Worth Update

Overall, my net worth increased by $1,860 this month ūüôā

Assets

Cash: $2,694 [down $2,030]

A huge decrease in cash can look like a bad thing at first. But knowing that this had a lot to do with some debt pay down makes it much better.

Short Term Savings: $1,152 [up $22]

I have a ton of little savings buckets, but this amount mainly consists of:

Emergency fund: $1,002
Personal escrow: $140

Every month, I gain a tiny bit of interest in all of my Capital One 360 savings accounts. Also, I transfer $20 into my Personal Escrow account each month.

Retirement Savings: $32,867 [up $466]

This consists of:

401k: $3,816 [up $532]
Traditional IRA: $9,309 [down $18]
Roth IRA: $19,742 [down $48]

This month, I made the decision to temporarily pause my retirement savings.¬†*gasp*¬†I’ll explain more later, but despite stopping my contributions, I still gained a good amount in my 401k. Thanks, market ūüôā

Est. Car Value: $15,970 [no change]

Self explanatory.

Est. Home Value: $469,836 [no change]

Self explanatory.

Liabilities

Credit Cards: $4,105 [down $2,452]

This consists of:

Discover @ 15.99%: $1,343 [down $2,262]
Wells Fargo @ 0.00%: $2,762 [down $58]

Woohoo! I made a¬†huge dent this month! All of a sudden, the $2k decrease in cash isn’t so depressing. I’ve really been making a conscious effort to stop swiping, and it shows! I do keep my Discover in my wallet “just in case”, but I’m hoping to tighten up my budget even more so I don’t have the need to do so.

Student Loans: $14,395 [down $126]

This consists of:

Direct Subsidized @ 6.8%: $2,845 [down $14]
Direct Subsidized @ 6.0%: $3,617 [down $19]
Direct Subsidized @ 5.6%: $4,399 [down $25]
Direct Subsidized @ 4.5%: $2,167 [down $14]
Direct Unsubsidized @ 6.8%: $1,366 [down $55]

Again, solid progress on this front. I can’t complain! Right now, I’m targeting that Direct Unsubsidized – can’t wait until it’s finally gone!

Car Loan $15,201 [down $333]

The minimum payment will have to do for now, at least until my credit card debt and student loans are taken care of.

Mortgage: $270,562 [down $492]

Same as the car loan Рthe minimum payment will have to do for  now. This debt will be the last to go!

Overall, May was a¬†wonderful month despite that cash decrease. But I’m not even worried about it since I know that that money went all to my debt pay down!

How was your May financials? Did you reach your budget goals?

AMDG,
Lisa
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