I can’t believe February is almost over. Seems like just yesterday I was Christmas shopping and decorating the tree!
Whether you’re being purposeful with your time or not, the days are going to fly by. If you’re not careful, you’ll wake up one day realizing it’s March and your 2019 goals are a distant memory.
I know, because I’m an expert at doing this!
That’s why I share 3 financial goals here on my blog every week. It’s really helped to keep me focused and on track so I’m not feeling like a loser by St. Patrick’s Day.
Weekly Goals Review
These were my top 3 financial goals from last week:
- Create a zero-based budget for March and review it with my husband
- Start Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace online class
- Start prepping for taxes
#1 Create a zero-based budget & review with my husband
I kept putting this off all week for some reason. Every time I started working on it I would feel a little overwhelmed and then stop. I think part of it is overthinking the whole process, which I tend to do. I still think I have too many moving parts, but I guess I won’t be able to really know what works until we put it into motion.
I created a monthly budget planning worksheet that my husband and I can fill out when we have our budget meetings. For tracking day by day, we’re going to use Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar app so we can both access how the budget’s doing throughout the month (just have to get my husband to download and use it). The paid version allows for automatic syncing with all of your accounts, which I have access to until October. But this feature has been glitchy and I don’t want to deal with it, so I’m just going to go manual.
I like to be able to run reports, so I use ClearCheckbook for entering and categorizing all of our transactions. This way, I keep a close eye on what’s going in and what’s going out. It’s also good for catching any unusual activity and being aware of extra bank fees. All transactions are categorized, so if I want to quickly see, for example, what our average water bill was last summer, I just have to run a report. This way we’re not guessing about how much to budget.
Another piece is our debt tracker, which is a spreadsheet I put together to record our debt payments and balances every month. It’s kind of tedious to maintain because I have to log in to each credit card website, check the balance & activity, and enter it into the form. But, I really only have to do this once a month and I think it’s important.
I also made another spreadsheet to track weekly expenses (I know, I know, I can already do this with the other stuff!). I love using digital products because they do a lot of the math for you, but I also like to use paper & pencil so I can physically be more engaged with the budget process.
Again, I think part of my overthinking is simply not knowing what’s going to work.
So, I have a lot of pieces and we’ll just see how they fit in the puzzle.
One thing I do know – budgeting is a personal thing, and it’s going to look different for each person or couple.
I have not gotten to the second part of this goal, because my husband has been out of town all week. I intended to do some planning over the phone with him, but it just didn’t happen. But that’s okay, I think it’s better if we do it in person.
#2 Financial Peace class
Last week I explained that I signed up for a special version of Financial Peace called FPU Flex through my church. You watch the videos at home online, then meet as a group once a week to discuss the worksheet and how to apply the instruction to your own finances. Well, I suck because I ended up never going to any of the meetings or watching any of the videos.
But, I have access to the class until next October, so I’m going through it on my own now.
This week I printed off the worksheet, watched the first video, and took lots of notes.
There was a whole section on budgeting with your spouse, so maybe I should have my husband watch it too.
Of course, if you know anything about Dave Ramsey, you know the first “Baby Step” is saving up a $1,000 starter emergency fund. This was touched on briefly, but most of the video was about how to set up a budget and go over it with your spouse or partner. There’s even a little quiz in the worksheet packet to determine which one of you is a “nerd” (likes to budget) and which one of you is a “free spirit” (likes to spend). We don’t even need to fill that out because it’s obvious in our marriage who is who. But it was assuring to hear that it’s totally normal for one to be married to the other.
I’m really glad I’m doing this because I think it’s going to give us a structure and roadmap to follow.
#3 Prep for taxes
Not only did I prep for them, I also completed our 2018 taxes.
And boy, what a huge disappointment that was.
I’ve been reading several articles lately about how your tax bill will probably be higher this year. Of course, whenever I read “you”, I didn’t think “me”. Big mistake.
I was hoping for at least a $2K return this year, because that’s about what we got last year.
Instead, we owe that much.
I just kept looking at the “Taxes Due” line, thinking this can’t be right, what am I doing wrong?? But I went over it three times and couldn’t find anything I was missing. I did find a huge difference in the amount of tax taken out between 2018 and 2017 – over $1,000 less in 2018! This reminded me of an article I read several weeks ago (like this one), about the new tax code and the importance of changing your tax withholding.
Again, didn’t think it would apply to me. This, my friends, is called denial.
So, guess what will be on my goal list for next week? You guessed it. Changing our withholding.
My dream of going to Hawaii this summer for a big family vacation is now on hold (cue violins).
There’s still a good chance we’ll have some funds left over from our homeowner’s insurance claim, but that won’t be confirmed for months. We’ll just wait to see what happens, and possibly push the vacation to September when flight and hotel rates are much lower.
For Next Week
For next week, my top three financial goals are:
- Discuss the zero-based budget with my husband
- Change our federal and state tax withholding
- Adjust our debt payoff plan to account for tax payment
My husband gets home tomorrow, so we can go through my ideas for budget categories and amounts. One thing the FP video stressed was to make sure both spouses are contributing to the budget structure. That means he can’t say “sounds good” without making at least one change. So, there will be some adjustments but then it will be ready to put in motion.
Second, we both need to change the tax withholding on our income. I’ll need to find a tax withholding calculator online so we don’t under- or overestimate, then we can submit the request to our employers. Obviously, it’s going to reduce our net income, but I’m hoping the pinch won’t be significant.
Last, I’ll need to go back and adjust our debt payoff plan. I refuse to use our savings for our tax bill, which means that’s $2,000 less we can put towards our credit cards. This is disappointing, but the important thing is to keep moving forward!
How did your week go? Have you done your taxes and were you as shocked as I was? Share in the comments below!