One of the best benefits, in my opinion, of blogging, is that the goals I write about are always accessible. It’s not like resolutions of the past, where I’d write something on a piece of paper but completely forget about it only a few weeks later. When I set my 2017 goals, I knew I wanted to focus on financial goals that were reachable.
Why I need to focus on reachable financial goals
I have a chronic problem of setting huge unreasonable goals for myself that take years and years of work, leaving me to be inevitably discouraged and frustrated with myself. When it comes to money, I know I’m privileged to be where I am today, but that also means I have high expectations for myself. You’ve heard the saying, “shoot for the stars, and you’ll land on the moon”? Well, it’s one thing to shoot for the stars, and another to aim for different galaxies. I’m guilty of this. I’m sure you are, too. After all, we are our own worst critics. We want to be successful with work, money, our love lives, etc. It never ends!
My 2017 goals were reachable financial goals. Had I been more aggressive with those goals, things would have been harder. For 2018, let’s keep things rolling. Here’s what I want to achieve in the next year:
Continue to max out retirement contributions
This is a no-brainer. 2017 is the first year that I’ve fully maxed out my contributions, and it feels great! I’ve always put a large share of my income away towards my retirement, but in previous years I would stop for a few months here and there as my life underwent large changes (moving, getting a new job, etc). Now that things appear more stable for me and I have a higher income, this goal gets easier and easier. That doesn’t mean I need to stop prioritizing retirement, though – after all, I’m chasing this idea of FIRE and I need to give future Jane as much as possible.
Find ways to give back
I haven’t fully fleshed out what I want this to look like, but I want to give more in 2018. In the past, I’ve donated to organizations like Oxfam, given microloans with Kiva, and given back to my school (here’s to you, Ballroom Dance Club). In 2018, I will be in the top 10% of wealthiest adults in the world. Although I am far away from my own financial goals, it’s important to recognize that many people don’t have the luxury to be where I’m at. I’m going to take a closer look at what types of causes I want to support, and also, who around me needs a helping hand. A rising tide should raise more than just my boat, and that’s what this goal is focused on.
Have $30,000 in my personal investment account
This is more aggressive than the $10K goal I set for 2017. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I think this is possible. After paying off the last of my student debt this summer, I was able to increase how much I set aside for this account monthly. If I can keep up putting away $1K a month, that’ll already put me over $20K in this account (provided the market holds up). There are definitely ways for me to get this up to $30K.
Why $30K? Although housing costs are ridiculous in NYC, $30K is a 10% down payment in many housing markets in the US (specifically I’m looking along the east coast). I still have a dream of moving abroad in the near future, but I also want to invest in real estate. Although this account is essentially my FIRE account right now, I’d clear it in a heartbeat for the opportunity to invest in a house.
Reduce my monthly food spending to under $400 a month
This seems high, but it covers all food expenses for me, and groceries for Ian (since I do the majority of grocery shopping). I’d love to hit an average of $300 a month, but I know that would be very difficult for us to do. I’m not going to cut dining out entirely, and I already don’t go out to bars much (which I include in the overall food category). My current monthly budget is set at $500; sometimes I can stay within this, and sometimes I go over. I started out at the beginning of the year with a $400 monthly food budget, but I had too much difficulty keeping my food costs low. Why? I’m trying to be better about the groceries I buy – not just buying the cheapest thing, but actually getting the healthiest thing. I’m not going to go running off to Whole Foods for all my shopping just yet, but it’s time for me to focus more on food that’s good for me. My challenge next year? Doing all this and keeping expenses relatively low.
Other financial goals that are less fleshed out:
- Continue to build up my savings accounts. Across all accounts, I’ve got $2K. These are the funds for when I spend too much on my credit cards or take a trip somewhere. As for how much I want to save up, I don’t know yet. $5K seems like a good cash buffer to have.
- Increase income. This is tough. I want to have some sort of side hustle, but I have yet to figure out what that could be. I would love to see another increase in salary, but I received a huge raise earlier this year and I’m not optimistic that I’ll see another one so soon.
That’s it! Like last year, I want to keep things simple. When I have too many goals in mind, I get overwhelmed (and when I get overwhelmed I tend to not do anything). Have you thought through your financial goals for next year yet?