After crunching the numbers and mulling over what is “aggressive but realistic” versus what is “wishful thinking,” I’ve came up with a short but ambitious list of S.M.A.R.T. goals. The big picture is simple: I will focus on saving for short- to mid-term goals (down payment, grad school, car, etc.) and continue to save for retirement. My goals are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely, and I’m going to get it done. (And YOU are going to hold me accountable. 😉 )
Short- to Mid-Term
Save $21,000, with $12,500 in regular savings (money from my paycheck), and $8,500 in “extra” savings (bonuses, raises, tax refunds, gift money, etc.) Right now my goal is to save $800 for January, $1,100 for February and March, and $1,050 from April ’til December.
I’ll max out the Roth IRA ($5,000 a year). I’ll have to save $500 a month from February to Novemeber. (I won’t be eligible for a 401(k) until 2009, and its hard to save money during December/January… all those presents!!). This is a perfect opportunity to concentrate on pulling together a down payment.
My only debt is my student loan, at $160/month. Because it’s an interest-free loan, I am not going to pay it off early. Instead, my money can work harder for me elsewhere. Eventually I’ll buy a new car, but the down payment comes first.
Who can forget about this category? Heehee. All save and no spend is a sure way to derail a budget, so I made sure that I left room for fun stuff. My top non-negotiable: massage! I’ve been going to a massage therapist regularly for the last several months, and I love her.
Bottom Line: I will save/invest $26,000 this year. Stretch goal: if I hit all of the above goals and still have money left over, I’ll… put more money into the down payment fund (or go on vacation. Hmm… the vacation sounds better, no?). It’d be sweet if I can save $25,000 for down payment, or $30,000 total. But that’s obviously above & beyond and pure gravy.
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