Saturday, January 1, 2011

No Turning Back

Well, what is a New Year for but to cause us to reflect on the past, see our mistakes, see what we can do to fix them, and make goals for the upcoming year. Along with most of the world around me, I have made some goals for next year.

I've written before about the nice, big hole of debt that we dug for ourselves over the first four years we were married. Our biggest goal for this coming year is to be completely debt-free by the next New Year. DH and I sat down last night and drew up a skeleton budget of our income and expenses for this next year, and our debt-free plan seems to be very do-able! I am SO excited! Every time I think of the fact that we can be debt-free in a year--not in ten years--I almost do a dance!

On top of becoming debt free, another goal is to have money in our savings account by the end of the year. We aimed a little high, but that was my point. I told DH to pick a realistic amount, but to aim a little high so that we had something to work towards.

Another goal is to have a smaller savings set aside for car and home maintenance--that "rainy day account" that the teacher at our home-owners class told us to make sure we have. We've already had those nice home-owner expenses pop up on us, but at that time we still had credit cards. Well, that's not an option anymore! So, unless we set up an account for this money, we'll be taking food out of our mouths to pay for these unexpected expenses. Not something I really want to do! I like my food!

My next goal is to get an upright freezer. I believe that once I have a freezer, I'll be able to cut our overall grocery spending by at least 25%, if not more. Oh, to be able to stock up on turkey (even though it's not my favorite) and hams when they're on sale, along with other meats. To be able to stock tons of fresh-picked fruits and veggies. To be able to stock up on waffles and other goodies when the go on sale for super cheap. One day!

Another goal I have for myself, but perhaps the hardest of all to achieve, is to plant and raise a garden. We have fire ants really bad where we live, and I am literally deathly allergic to fire ants. So that alone is a major deterrent to planting a garden. Another con is that I've never been successful at keeping plants alive, but I've never actually planted anything. I don't have a clue where to start or how to go about planting and caring for a garden. But I'm going to try anyway. I'd like to get a pot for our back porch to raise an herb garden. My Christmas gift this year was a dehydrator, so I'd like to be able to dry my own herbs along with other foods. Another problem with a garden is that it seems most of the easy plants to grow are something we wouldn't eat much of, such as peppers. But part of the reason I want a garden is so we can have more produce in our diet, so I guess we'll just have to learn to eat new things!

Some other small goals for myself include keeping up with my blog, keeping better track of my grocery/household spending/savings, and keeping track of our menu and things we eat. I started my blog because I love to write, and writing is the best way I express myself. But then I got so caught up in my life and happenings around me, that I could never find time to sit down and write. I am always amazed at how frequently some bloggers update, and wonder how they do it! I have to lock myself in a room away from my kids just to get five minutes on the computer! (Maybe next year I'll add a laptop to my list of goals!) I frequently start "writing" blog posts in my head, but never make it to the computer to actually "put it on paper." I would also like to keep better track of my spendings and savings. I've set up an excel spreadsheet for myself that seems to be working alright, but could probably use a bit of tweaking. But I want to know at the end of the year exactly how much I spent, how much I saved according to the receipt, how much I saved according to the bank account, and how many ECB, RR, rebates, gift cards, and other perks I received. If only my husband weren't so busy, maybe he could design a program to keep track of all of that, and I could market it! ;) I would also like to keep track of the foods we eat as a family. Not necessarily a plan-ahead menu, but when we eat something, write it down with comments as to whether or not we liked it, etc.

Another personal goal, one that didn't land on our "goals" paper, is to set aside money for a baby. We don't have maternity insurance, so we pay all expenses out of pocket for a baby. At this point we would end up in a hole if we got pregnant. I hate the feeling of dreading pregnancy just for financial reasons. When, honestly, I can't wait to get pregnant again! But there's always that lurking shadow of finances hanging his gloomy head over our bed. :( I hate thinking that we need to try to avoid pregnancy for at least another year. I know that God will provide and take care of us, which is our entire philosophy toward birth control anyway. God know what we can handle and will give us children when He sees fit. I'm just impatient!

So here's to a new year. I can't turn back the hands of time to un-do our many mistakes--how I wish I could. But I can put my trust in my great God to guide us through this next year, and to help us avoid making similar mistakes. I will have my list of goals posted in different areas of the house where we will see them any time we consider spending money, to me stay focused and not to make any unnecessary purchases. So, may this year be the best financial year we've had so far!

Happy New Year!

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