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Goals for my 27th Year - Part 3

I turned 27 Monday, and though I know it’s not really old, for some reason it kind of freaks me out. I think it’s the realization that I’m so close to 30, again these things are not important and it’s all in my head, but still.

In honor of my irrationality, I’ve decided to post one goal a day for the next five days. These goals are things I want to accomplish by my 28th birthday. I hope that by putting these out into the public eye, I’ll be able to accomplish them. The first post in the series can be found here, second here.

The third goal I'm publishing is another item I've worked on for years and have never completely gotten a handle on; financial management. I've got a solid handle on my debt this year, killing almost everything off but my student loans. I paid off my car last month which was awesome and now that I can turn my attention to my student loans those should go down quite a bit faster.

Thanks to some changes at my work I've a great start on a 401k and I don't have to stay for five years to take it with me as I would have had to do with our previous retirement program. I also have started putting a good amount of every paycheck into savings.

The things I need to work on are budgets and big purchases. I have a horrible habit of killing any sort of budget I make by saying, well, I'll just adjust it next month or spend less next month. This is especially true of restaurant expenses and alcohol expenses. I tend to go out multiple times each week(stupid social life :P). It's never a huge budget overage but that of course is not the point.

I occasional get a handle on things and go into a month with a nice cushion. The problem is then I decide to purchase something I've been eying for a while. The last few items have been a bike, camera, computer upgrade, and upgrades for the bike and computer. Though I've loved everything I've purchased, I would have been better off setting up a savings account and waiting 2-3 months and keeping that cushion I had created.

So my goals for the next year are the following. The first is to eliminate any large purchases. I'm allowing myself one purchase and that is going to be a fixed focal length lens for my camera. Thankfully Nikon is helping me out by releasing one that is under $250. I'm not going to order it though, until I have money in a separate savings account for this purchase. The second goal is to keep myself within budget. I've been using a lot more lately, mainly due to the fact that I have an app on my iPhone that lets me review it easily. I'm going to sit down and figure out what I can reasonably spend on groceries, going out, and other discretionary spending and work really hard on keeping myself within these items.

One idea I have been toying with is going with the cash only spending method. Only instead of withdrawing $40 and telling myself I can only spend this on the weekend, instead drawing my budgeted amount for each item each period and then being able to see that I have $10 left to go out with. I may try that next month and see how it goes. This also eliminated the problem I have with not being able to track where the cash is going without using my debit card.

This goal is important by my least pressing. But, since I'm so close to where I want to be I think it may be the most difficult. I'd love to hear ideas for managing budgets.