The reason I started this blog was to help others get out of their own financial messes as I wrestle with mine, but also to keep myself on track. I’ve said before it’s hard to share goals but I’m at a place where progress trumps comfort. And it helps to finally understand that perfection is like holiness – nobody reaches it until they’re dead. So living a flawed life is all we can do for now, and it’s actually the best we can do for now.
In other words, I’m going to fail.
*But* – failure is a sidenote. Its place is in the small margins of life, contained by parentheses. What matters are the words in the center of the page, the story of how you kept moving forward despite the failures. I like to call it progress.
Every minute of every day we are faced with choices. Like forks in the road, how we choose determines where we end up. That’s why it’s important to have a map, otherwise you could find yourself sitting in your La-Z-Boy one day wondering how your pants got so tight and doing dot to dot became your evening ritual.
Writing down goals is kind of like drawing a map. You’re taking charge of which direction you’re going, and you’re figuring out where you’ll end up. For myself, I want to end up debt free, financially independent, and living a productive and generous life long into my retirement years. But I have to start planning now.
If you’re anything like me, you can succumb to analysis paralysis when given too many choices or tasks. It’s best for me to keep my goal lists short so my focus isn’t being nipped at its heels by too many needy and demanding task critters. This never results in progress because then I usually end up on Facebook while their beady eyes are staring at me through the window, wondering why I kicked them all outside.
Three is a good number. Sometimes maybe two, or even one. But no more than three. I have to keep telling myself that writing a long list of goals may make me feel ambitious and responsible, but it doesn’t get me any farther than where I was. I’m still at the starting point with the map in my hands. Moving forward is what makes the difference, and all I need to know to do that is the next step.
So here are my three top financial priorities for this week:
- Decide which lender will refinance our mortgage, and start the process
- Create a money tracking system that both my husband & I can use
- Create a “financial snapshot” of 2018, so we can see how we handled our money last year
#1. Refinancing our mortgage
I’ve been wanting to do this since September when our ARM rate went up for the second time and we really felt the pinch. I haven’t done it because I just didn’t want to take the hour to talk to each lender and hear the sales pitch. I know, lame. If I’d done this back then we would have probably saved close to $1500 so far. Talk about letting money slip through the cracks.
But last week I made some calls and found a lender that I liked. The agent is very detailed and sent me all kinds of tables and numbers that he had to explain (which took up more time, but it was worth it). Now I just have to go over all this information with my husband when he gets home from his work trip so we can start the paperwork and move forward.
#2. Money tracking system
I used a software program for many years to input our financial transactions and run reports. But the program was only on my laptop so it wasn’t convenient for my husband to see it. So then I switched to an online program, which he could access, but that’s not really working out either. I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to have something tangible, on paper, in writing, on the wall, that we can look at every day.
Of course, I’ll be making the tracking system. But this is the kind of thing I like to do, and I have some ideas already. I just have to put some pieces together and put it into action. We’re already halfway through January, so I really need to get this done.
#3. 2018 Financial snapshot
One of my main goals for 2019 is to have regular money meetings with my husband. For the first one in 2019, I want us to look back at last year so we can both see together how we handled our finances. I think it’s going to be a real eye opener for him and for me. From there we can think about how we want to do better for this year.
And that’s it. There’s only three, but they’re all going to require a significant time investment on my part. This means I’ll really need to be purposeful with my time and stay focused, but once these three things are in place we’ll really be rolling.
Do you make financial goals? I’d love to hear some of them in the comments! Let me know how you plan to make progress in your finances this year. It all starts with building your map.