Happy New Year to all of you! I love the start of a new year because it gives me a chance to put the past behind me and to make a fresh start! I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days (and weeks) about what I want my “goals” (I prefer to call them goals rather than resolutions because resolutions have a tendency to get broken) for 2010 to be. I think putting my “goals” in writing helps me to be more accountable. If you’ve blogged about your goals for 2010 and would like to share, please feel free to “link up” below!
I know that some people set “blogging goals” and I just have to say that this blog has more than surpassed any expectations I had for it. I started this blog a little over a year ago as a way to share my bargain hunting tips with family and friends. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few more readers, I’ve “met” some great people and I’ve had a lot of fun. My goal for my blog continues to be the same this year – I just want to share my experiences and the things that I’ve learned to help other people save money, too! I also want to take a minute to thank all of you who read my blog for joining me in my journey!
Having said that, here are my goals for 2010:
1. CONTINUE ON OUR JOURNEY TO BEING DEBT FREE
If you’ve been reading for awhile (or if you read my post yesterday), you’ll know that we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class in the spring last year and the things that we learned and have started doing have truly changed our lives. We’ve got a long way to go before we’re “debt free” but I truly believe that we will get there!
If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey’s “plan” the first step is to get a Baby Emergency Fund into place. We were able to do this fairly quickly after we started the class and we’ve managed to keep this intact in spite of different financial difficulties that we were faced with throughout the year. My goal is to keep this Baby Emergency Fund intact (or to rebuild it quickly if we do have to use it) and to continue working on “step 2” which is our debt snowball. We haven’t been able to do much “snowballing” over the past year, and one of my goals is to find some creative ways to get extra money to put toward our debt snowball.
I plan to do a summary post at the end of each month about our progress toward paying off our debt and I plan to share ideas throughout the month as I come up with them about how we’re making that progress.
2. SAVE MONEY FOR 100% CASH CHRISTMAS AGAIN WITHOUT TOUCHING OUR MONTHLY CHECKS
This was a goal for me last year and it’s a goal again. I hope you guys will decide to join me in this journey. It is completely possible and I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to realize that we won’t be hit with monstrous credit card bills from the holidays in a week or two.
I will be writing different posts to share my ideas about how I’m doing this with you, but basically I plan to put the “extras” I get from things like garage sales, eBay sales, rebates, surveys, writing articles, and other things toward our Christmas fund.
3. CONTINUE MY $40/WEEK GROCERY BUDGET AND BUILD MY STOCKPILE
When I shared my goal last year to have a $40 weekly grocery budget for my family of four, I had a pretty good sized stockpile to work with. I posted these disclaimers last year and I’m going to share them again this year.
At this point, my grocery budget does not include paper products. I don’t really budget for these things because I basically have a six month to year supply of most of these products (toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, etc.) thanks to CVS/Walgreens. Any additional paper products I do buy will most likely be covered by ECBs or RRs. It also does not include health & beauty products (I have at least a year supply of most of these and buy most of the rest using ECBs or RRs) and does not include our expenses for eating out. This comes out of a separate category in our budget.
The $40/week will be based on my out of pocket expenses. If I use gift cards, coupons, RR, or ECBs, those will not count toward the $40 weekly budget. When I post pictures from my grocery trips, I will let you know what coupons/gift cards/etc. I used.
**I wanted to add that I see this as a possibility for me because I have a stockpile of items already to work with. If you don’t have a stockpile, it may cost you a little bit more to get started, but I will be posting items that you should stock up on while they are super cheap as they come along. Also, two of the major grocery stores around me triple coupons up to .39 and double coupons up to .50. We also don’t have any food allergies or dietary restrictions that we have to accommodate and I don’t have any babies eating baby food or formula right now. Finally, this is what “works” for our family, but it may not work for your family (my kids are youn right now, and I don’t have teenagers that are eating us out of house and home!). Set goals that are realistic and will work for your budget and your family with a plan to reduce your grocery expenses for the year!
4. BE MORE CONSISTENT AND CREATIVE WITH MEAL PLANNING
I’m pretty good about putting together a meal plan each week, but I’m not always extremely consistent about following it. I confess ~ sometimes we end up eating a frozen pizza out of the freezer or even hitting up a fast food restaurant rather than following the meal plan that was supposed to be “in place” for that day. Neither one of these options is very healthy for my family. Usually when I end up in this position, it’s because I didn’t do the preparations in the morning. I work full time and by the time I get kids rounded up from school and daycare at the end of the day, I’m beat, and the last thing I want to do is have to prepare a big meal for everyone. Doing the prep work in the morning helps with this, but I don’t always use my time wisely in the mornings and I am going to work on that this year.
In terms of “creativity” with meal planning, there are a few things I’d like to do. First, I’m not always good about using all of our leftovers, particularly when we have things like shredded meat left. I want to be better this year about making sure that our leftovers don’t go to waste. Also, on Money Saving Mom, she is doing an “Eat from the Pantry” challenge. We do this a lot already, which is why I am able to maintain our $40/week grocery budget, but I’m trying to think of some ways that I could possibly be a little bit more “hard core” – maybe spending $20-30/week instead of $40 or something to that extent! Before I do that, I need to get a handle on what exactly I have in my pantry (and freezers, and shelves….)…. If I could do an extreme cut in our monthly grocery budget, that would give me some extra money to put toward our debt snowball!
5. FIND MORE WAYS TO SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH MY FAMILY
Don’t get my wrong ~ my family has ALWAYS been very important to me. But last year as we were faced with various challenges, I had plenty of time to reflect and think about my priorities. Between work and other activities, sometimes I have a hard time keeping it all together. My friend DeAna started a blog last year called “Balancing Act Basics” and I just loved the title because many days I feel like my life is just that – a balancing act. I want to be better this year about prioritizing and managing things and I want to make sure that my family is my #1 priority. This year, I am planning to share some ideas for fun, budget friendly family activities at least once a week.
6. GET MORE ORGANIZED!
Organization has never been my strong point and with a stockpile and coupons and two kids, it gets extremely overwhelming at times. My goal for 2010 is to come up with some better systems to organize things that will work for our family. I’ll share what I learn with you along the way!
7. WORK ON GETTING IN SHAPE
I talk a lot on my blog about “fiscal fitness” but don’t focus nearly enough in my life on physical fitness. Melissa, who also reads this blog, posted on her blog yesterday about a challenge at Mama Notes called “My Body After Baby Challenge.” My “baby” is 2 years old now, so I don’t have much of an excuse and I realize that it’s all about priorities and I guess this has been low on the priority list for me. But…my goal for 2010 is to make it a priority again (for my sake and for my family’s sake!).
8. FIND MORE WAYS TO GIVE
Bargain hunting has blessed my life in many ways. This year, I want to focus more on ways that I can give and help out others with the items I end up acquiring along the way.