Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

The apartment is mine!

Afterward, my future landlord and his wife showed me their tiny little herb garden and invited me to come and get cilantro, basil, thyme, or rosemary anytime I want.

It’s seriously time to learn to cook!

I can’t believe I lucked into an apartment with just about everything I wanted, and at such a great price. And with such nice landlords.

In other news, I am worried about being let go at my job. One of my friends just passed his sixth month on unemployment. But being out of a job may be the impetus for me to finally take action on my idea.

A lot of people around me (four, at last count, and all in their 20s) are pursuing their own businesses, even (or maybe because) of the dismal labor market and recession. Some have been laid off, but others are quitting decent-paying jobs to take a risk and make a go of it on their own.

Talking to them and hearing the excitement they bring to their work inspires me. The trick is to get enough inspiration and determination to get over the FEAR of flying out, on your own.


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Goal #7 for 2009

In December I listed my six (mostly financial) goals for 2009, but then I realized, I forgot about Freedom Fund! So here’s one more goal:

7. Increase my Freedom Fund by $5,000, from the 2008 year-end balance of $27,000 to $32,000

So, overall, I am aiming to save $15,000 this year – $5,000 each to Roth IRA, 401(k), and Freedom Fund. If I remain gainfully emloyed through all of 2009, I will have the opportunity to save more. We shall see…

The $5K Freedom Fund goal will be iffy if I go on a vacation AND if I lose my job. Maybe I will try extra hard to cut back on eating out costs to compensate…

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The write stuff

One more goal for 2009.

This is a personal one, for me. I want to write. And get paid for it (or.. not.. but preferably paid).

Writing – I guess it’s a holdover from writing commentary pieces for the high school newspaper. One of the reasons I write this blog is to exercise my writing muscles, however slightly and imperfectly. I don’t have aspirations to write The Next Great American Novel or to become the next Danielle Steel. But with hard work, a great topic, and lots of revisions, might I not become a fairly engaging and enjoyable writer? I want to try.

And mind you, I’m not making a career change here. But this is something I’d like to do, just for me. Of course, later on I shall have the chance to write, (and write plenty!) for graduate school essays…

But right now, I want to write for pleasure. I want to write the type of articles (and maybe, even, a book in the future?) that I enjoy reading – articles on lifestyle and personal finance and essay pieces on the relationship between women and well, anything.

So, my goal in 2009 is to get published. Somewhere, anywhere. It could be the 3-page local paper for all I care. I want to start getting clips. And send out queries. And learn how to pitch an idea.

This endeavor could be fun (or a complete and utter disaster… of which I can then write about!). I will keep you guys posted.

If any freelance writers out there have advice for a newbie like me, please do share your insights!

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Healthy, wealthy, and wise

I’m sloooowly chugging along on the “wealthy” path, and I suppose that wisdom comes with age. That leaves “healthy” – an area that I NEED to improve on, if only for the sake of my, well, health.

At the end of 2009, I’ll be 25. I’ve always coasted along on my relatively manageable weight and reasonable metabolism, but that’s not going to last forever. Besides, just because I LOOK healthy doesn’t mean that I am… a combination of a lackluster diet and minimal exercise is bound to catch up with me.

Like many Americans, I’ve always wanted to be healthier. Unfortunately, I’ve never put action to the words. I was inspired after reading Debt Hater’s post on investing in herself. I’ve invested in my financial future, but I want to be alive and kickin’ to enjoy it!

2009 = time for me to finally get off my duff and get in shape. It’s time to invest money, time, and effort in my health.

To that end, I’m making a set of “health goals” for 2009, and I’d appreciate it if you can all keep me IN CHECK! ūüôā

  • Take at least one dance class ($85 per 6-class session)
  • Go to the gym OR jog for 20 minutes ONCE a week (better to make realistic goals, I say)
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator at home
  • Complete a organized 5K race by the end of 2009

Not super ambitious, as you can see, but I want to make some permanent lifestyle changes, and avoid drastic resolutions that I know I won’t keep.

Do you have health goals for 2009?

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2009 is here! I spent last New Year’s at home with friends, but this time we thought we should go out and “enjoy our youth.” Most events around the area were charging $50-$200 for entrance, luckily, we¬†found a bar¬†that had minimal cover. So we headed out to town…

Dec 31, 2008:

  • 7 PM: Dinner with old friends: $15
  • 10¬†PM: Drink¬†at¬†the bar: $7
  • 11:59 PM: Countdown begins!

Jan 1, 2009:

  • 12 AM: Happy New Year’s kiss with¬†CB!
  • 12:30 AM: French toast at Denny’s: $8
  • 1 PM:¬†Brunch for CB & I: $30

Jan 2, 2009:

  • 1 AM:¬†Deposit to Roth IRA for 2009: $500 <–¬†new year = new contributions!

New Year’s is all about the big “R” – Resolutions. For 2009, I’ve mapped out some tentative financial/personal goals that I’d like to accomplish.

One goal (or resolution) that I didn’t put down was to “be more engaged”,¬†with life,¬†I suppose.¬†Is that too vague? In 2008, many times I felt as if I was just going through the motions. Not a good feeling. This year, I hope things will be a little different in that regard.

How was your NYE celebration? Did you make New Year’s Resolutions?

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It’s that time of the year again, when pf bloggers set out SMART financial goals and then resolutely check them off one by one as the year goes by.

I have an idea of what I’d like to accomplish, but they all¬†mostly depend on this economy of ours, which is to say that it’s fairly difficult to come up with good, solid goals when the future is so unpredictable.

But here, assuming all goes well (i.e. I stay healthy and gainfully employed at around my current salary), I have six (relatively?) simple goals for 2009:

1. Max out Roth IRA: $5,000 – this will mark the fourth year of maximum contribution. Going to do this in January/February.
2. Contribute to 401(k): $5,000 – 2009 limits have been raised to $16,500, but there’s pretty much no way I can max out my 401(k). If I can get to $5,000, I’ll be very happy.
3. Retake the GMAT – my first score was serviceable but not ideal. I want to do better. This means hitting the books harder and smarter than I did before.
4. Apply to 6-7 graduate schools – this will involve lots of school visits and applications. I am hoping that I can take all the application fees out of regular paychecks, and not my Freedom Fund.
5. Run a 5K race – I’m so out of shape that if there is an organized run that’s less than 5K, I’d do that one instead. Are there 1K runs?
6. Go on a trip with CB – This would be so fun if we can make it happen. I’d like to do a weeklong vacation.

As you can see, my saving / investing goals aren’t that ambitious next year. I feel a little hesitant stating that “I will save $20,000+” when everything is so up in the air. Goals #3, #4¬†, and¬†#5 depend less on the job situation.

Someone I know was recently laid off. From a Big Four accounting firm. When the accountants start cutting, you know we are in trouble.

Is anyone else finding it difficult to define goals in such uncertain times?

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I’ve set a couple of fairly ambitious goals for 2008, and now that there’s less than 3 months left, it’s time to see where I am.

Short- to Mid-Term

Goal: Save $21,000.

Status: In progress. So far I’ve contributed around ~$17,500 to my emergency fund (for a balance of ~$21,000)… BUT, some of this money is consolidated from old accounts, so money actually saved from 2008 income is probably a couple thousand lower.

If I can save $4,500 to put into the Freedom Fund by the end of the year, I’ll exercise discretion and say the goal is accomplished. ūüėČ


Goal: Max out the Roth IRA ($5,000 a year).

Status: Done! I maxed out the Roth in July, marking the third year that I’ve done so. It’s a good feeling to know that I’m putting something away for retirement, even though the value of my accounts right now is 20%-30% below my CONTRIBUTIONS. Must repeat to self: “long-term investment…”


This was not a listed goal at the beginning of the year, but I went to Hawaii for the first time this year. The whole trip cost me around $800 thanks to cheap-ish air tickets and a generous friend, and it was money well spent. I really, really loved Hawaii, and I look forward to going back.

Looking forward to 2009

I haven’t really fleshed out my financial goals for next year yet. But, I am currently debating if I want to splurge for a couple of trips sometime before the end of this year and/or in 2009. Together, the two trips will cost me around $1,200. Not a small sum, especially in this (melting) economy. I just keep thinking, if something happens to my income (which I don’t think it will, but at-will employment = you never know), I’ll be so happy to have that $1.2K. But, on the other hand, I’ll be so happy to go on those trips! Oh, to have a crystal ball!

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After several months of consistent saving, my little Freedom Fund has finally grown up.

Finally, I have $21,200 stashed away in the Freedom Fund, which will last me just about 12 months, assuming a monthly expenditure of $1,700 (my financial restructing plan).

I still have around $1,000+ lying in various accounts (I should really consolidate them), which will add another 1/2 month if need be. I can move back home. I also can withdraw up to $10,000+ in Roth IRA contributions as an absolutely last ditch method.

So, as I stare down the road at what is likely a prolonged and painful recession, I worry about a lot of things, such as job security and surging applications to graduate schools.

But I know that this too, shall pass (how long it’ll take to pass is anyone’s guess). In the meantime, then, I have adequate cash on hand (experts recommend 6 months of living expenses, though I imagine a job search can easily take longer than that in the current market) and I have a supportive network of loved ones. I am blessed, and I am grateful.

Knowing that I’m blessed, however, doesn’t mean I don’t worry! So even though I achieved my goal of saving 12 months of living expenses, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I plan on continuing to grow the Freedom Fund, so that I am as prepared financially as I can be.

Given these trying times, how many months of living expenses do you aim to save?

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I’ll be on C.A.S.H. once more (with feeling!), until December 31, 2008. I’ve achieved 75% of my Freedom Fund goal (see sidebar!), so if I stay on track with $1,800 in savings a month, I’ll exceed my $23,500 goal. In fact, I’ll come pretty close to $25,000.

I was inspired by Single Ma, who has decided to renounce all shopping until the end of the year. This means no Black Friday sales, no Holiday sales, and no after-Christmas sales. I’ve decided to follow her example – I’ve gone for four months without shopping (Jan-April 2008), so I should be able to do it again.

So, my revised goal for year-end balance of Freedom Fund is $25,000. The best part is that I’m only counting on regular income savings, not bonuses. Any bonus, therefore, will be pure gravy. I may do an even split – 50% travel, 50% savings.

I’ve also made a budget for the last four months of the year (I have to admit – I’ve thrown budget / spending plan / whatever you want to call it by the wayside!). My goal is to keep my total expenditure at $1,900 a month.

The breakdown is as follows:
Rent/ utilities / DSL: 790
Car insurance / repair: $190
Gas: $160
Food: $200
Coffee: $25
Prescription / co-pays: $85
Personal: $50
Entertainment: $100
Travel / vacation: $160
Education / classes: $50
Gifts: $50
Misc: $40
Total: $1,900

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Hello, future

I just had the most amazing training session today, where I got a taste on how to work through a problem with different strategic frameworks and think about the issue from those perspectives.

The session taught me a lot, but more importantly it showed me what I want to learn more of.

I left the meeting feeling energized and excited about the area where I want to develop a career, I’m more certain than ever that I want to go business school, and I feel confident that I am at a good place for developing analytical skills at my current job, and that moving forward, I’ll be pursuing graduate education (next 3+ years) and doing more more strategic / marketing work down the road (post-MBA).

Feeling excited about a possible career? That’s wonderful.

Edit: If any of my readers are in marketing / brand management and would be willing to talk to me about your career path, please let me know. I’d really like to hear about your experiences.

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