Monday, December 30, 2013

Financial Update: 2013 Review and 2014 Goals

So 2013 was the year that I began to take control of my financial situation. While we have been emotionally thriving as a single parent family,  financially it's been a paycheck-to-paycheck slog.

In March, I started a new plan. When I first started, I thought it would take me until this month to pay off my high-interest credit card. Instead, I did so in September. Looking back, I think the reason I didn't feel elation was because while I had made significant progress, I knew I was somewhat stuck.

I started seeking out more personal finance info and in November, came across You Need a Budget. The first few times I read about it, I thought, well that's great, but I have a budget. But, as the founder always says to wrap up his podcasts, I hadn't budgeted like this.

As of January 1, 2014, I will be living on last month's income. And I still have a Baby Emergency Fund, as I have come to learn is a Dave Ramsey recommendation of at least $1000. (Still not a Dave Ramsey fan, but since I already had that - I considered at least one goal complete.)

This Christmas was the first in 10 years where nothing was put on a credit card. And everyone seemed happy with their gifts. I also did something I would not have even considered just a few months ago.  I canceled my DirecTV.

It's just been a couple of weeks, but the girls and I are all quite content with the decision. I did subscribe to HuluPlus, but even with that, I'm still saving over $75 a month.

I am un-stuck.

There is still a long way to go. Sylvia has started driver's ed, and insurance will be a new (expensive) bill soon, there is still the low-interest credit card debt of about 8 grand to pay off, and I need to accrue more Rainy Day funds for car repair, unexpected expenses, and also to fund fun. 

So the 2014 Goals, financially speaking, are:

1. Let the emergency fund continue to build and forget as much as possible that it's there. A (very) small portion of every paycheck goes directly into my savings account so I can't really touch it without transferring funds. That helps.

2. Continue to live on less than my income and focus any "extra" funds towards the car maintenance and car insurance Rainy Day funds.

3. Continue to pay the monthly minimum towards credit card debt, plus 1/3 of any income outside of my weekly pay (child support, tax refund, etc).

4. 1/3 of any extra income will go towards car maintenance and insurance funds, and the last 1/3 to the girls and fun. 

That's it. I was going to add more, but I want my goals to be reasonably achievable. As each month passes, I will check my YNAB reports, category balances and see if there are any other cuts I can make to the budget, unexpected expenses that need to be added to the plan, and adjust accordingly. I look forward to this time next year to see where I am.

If you would like to buy YNAB (or download a free trial), please use my referral link. You'll get a discount and I'll get a referral fee. (The link is also on my home page.)

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