What are your financial goals for 2019?

What are your financial goals for 2019?
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#1

Happy Monday everyone, and welcome to the first full week of 2019! :confetti_ball:

What are your financial goals for 2019?

I’ll start - In keeping with my goal to travel more in 2019, I’m planning some big trips that will require some financial strategizing. :money_with_wings:I’m pretty good at budgeting, but I opened a separate savings account last week where I can stash away the ‘fun money’ portion of my income each month. For me, watching that account grow is very motivating. :beach_umbrella:

Please share your financial goals for 2019 below!

And, if you need more inspiration, here are nine nerdy financial resolutions from some of our Nerds — with tips and tools to help you stay on track.


#2

We are hoping to buy a new house and, as part of that, to replace some of our very old and hand-me-down furniture. We also continue to save for a trip to New Zealand, which is more in the distant future, but it’s a plan!

I also want to buy some local art, which feels frivolous, but is also maybe an investment?


#3

@emily kinda related to that, one of my goals is to figure out how to sell some of our old furniture for a decent price. So if you research places to do that, let me know!

My goal is to be less “scared” of investing and educate myself more about it. Especially when you read about the turbulent stock market in the news, it’s hard to escape that feeling of “I probably should/shouldn’t be doing something, but I am too scared to begin researching.”

Amrita


#4

These are great goals, Amrita! As far as investing goes, I hear you – it’s scary when the market’s tanking, no doubt about it.

The way I like to think about is this: When the market is in free-fall, that means my automatic investments (through every paycheck to my 401(k), as well as my auto-contribution from my bank to a brokerage account) are buying mutual-fund shares on SALE!

In fact, when the market’s tanking, that’s actually a great time to increase how much you’re investing, because stocks are cheaper. But don’t take it from me. Check out Dayana Yochim’s great write-up on what to do when the market is crashing – she covers a lot of great tips for how to deal with the stock market’s ups and downs.

Meanwhile, don’t tell anyone… :wink: but I haven’t been great at sticking to my financial goal (as described in that article that Cori linked to above) of keeping close track of my spending. sigh. Habits can be hard to change!


#5

Andrea, I just got all caught up on my spending tracking (I use Quicken to forecast for the month to come and to categorize where all of our money has been spent across our accounts). It’s so hard to stay on top when you may have multiple accounts and swipe a card all the time. I understand sometimes why my husband uses cash! It has been helpful for me to set a specific time every other week to download transactions from our various accounts to Quicken. In the between times, I take a quick peek at my spending using (what else?!) the NerdWallet app so I’m not totally surprised by a credit card balance.


#6

This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience, @emily! You totally pointed to the challenge that just floors me before I even get started: Two people with multiple accounts. It starts to feel overwhelming, trying to track it all. Love hearing how you do it!


#7

Andrea’s response is spot-on! I was just getting ready to hop in here to say “investments are on sale right now!” The nice thing about retirement accounts is they are meant to have a long timeline … which means younger people literally have decades for money invested now to grow and for market bumps to even out.

My 2019 goal is to FINALLY get a will written and an estate plan in place. It’s really shocking that I don’t have those things done, since I am at the tail end of raising kids, not just starting out. But this is the year!

Andrea, here’s another tip for keeping an eye on spending: Use one main credit card, and sign on to your account online weekly to see your balance. That lets you review charges while they’re fresh in your mind (sometimes the merchant names are really confusing, especially for Square payments). And it gives you early notice if spending is getting away from you.

And if you can swing it, pay your card balance down weekly as well. Always chipping away at the balance keeps your credit utilization low — and a low balance compared to your credit limit really helps bump up your credit score!


#8

OOooooo, thank you for the reminder about estate planning, Kathy! We’ve got the will etc., but I need to update our daughter’s guardian now that she’s older. We picked family members who live in another city, but we’d want her to be able to stay in LA and finish high school.

I’ve also been procrastinating on our “in case of emergency” file, which is supposed to help someone else take over our finances if we die or become disabled. It has contact info for our CPA, estate planning attorney, insurance agent, etc…except some of those have changed. Ditto for the passwords to important accounts.

I’m going to commit to getting that done by the end of the month! Thanks for the prodding.


#9

I love the variety of all these goals!

I’m perpetually trying to budget better. I have a natural inclination to bury my head in the sand a bit when it comes to money, since thinking about it makes me a little anxious. I keep an eye on my balances but don’t look too closely at where I’m spending too much or adhere to rigid savings goals.

I’m feeling extra motivated to work on the latter part, since I’d really like to purchase my first home within the next 2-3 years :house_with_garden: With that in mind, I’m making 2019 the year I get serious about saving for a down payment. Of course sticking to a budget will be key to doing this, so I guess I can’t escape that part of the equation either :sweat_smile:


#10

What a great goal, @collins.sarajean!

Your money behavior sounds somewhat similar to mine. I don’t follow a budget. Instead, I just make sure I send as much as possible to various savings and investment accounts – on auto-pilot of course – and then I feel OK spending more or less of the rest. And I’m always trying to inch up my savings rate. But I think I’m finally ready to pay closer attention to where my money’s going, by using a tracker. I have linked my accounts in NerdWallet and I love the way I can track my spending there, really easily on my phone. (Also, I do monitor my credit-card accounts regularly and pay them off in full every month.) But I need to incorporate my husband’s spending, so I’m leaning toward doing daily or weekly tracking using a spreadsheet. Though @emily has me thinking about Quicken. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on best tools for tracking household spending (i.e. two people, with many accounts!).


#11

In 2018, I accidentally achieved many of my financial goals: I paid off my student loans, started a great new job to stabilize my income and bought a home. So in 2019, I’m targeting a whole new set of goals:

1: Pay off credit card debt. The travel hacker with credit card debt? Scandalous, I know. But seriously: when you go into business for yourself, you find out that you float many of your regular expenses until the money starts coming in regularly. Now that I can appropriately budget, I can start really knocking down some of that debt by putting a serious chunk of change on a card each month until its done. Then it’s time to rinse and repeat.

2: Max out my IRA contribution: The recent downturn in the market hurt my IRA fund pretty bad. So to catch up, I’m going to try and hit $6,000 saved in it this year. I’ve set it up to automatically deposit $300 every paycheck between February and November, so I can have extra money at the holidays.

3: Buy a pony? I don’t know. I should do something nice for myself.


#12

@jcortez First, congrats on paying off those student loans! :beers:

I agree that you should definitely do something nice for yourself! (However, speaking as someone who has owned many ponies, from a financial perspective you’d be better off if you took half your annual salary and set it on fire instead.) :fire:

Question: What budgeting method do you use?


#13

My goal for 2019: Get my family’s grocery spending under control. I won’t say how much we spend on groceries every month because it is embarrassing — but it is so, so much. I have three kids and a husband who is a bottomless pit. Food costs money, so I expect to spend a lot. But we aren’t spending as mindfully as we should be, and I know many families our size spend much less.

I’m all ears for tips to spend less, aside from the obvious things like coupons. I know myself, and I will never be a couponing person. And I can’t get rid of a kid, so…maybe my husband needs to get the boot? :wink:


#14

@aoshea I’m always astonished at how much I can spend on food and, conversely, how thrifty other people can be. We don’t even eat much meat, but I’m choosy about where I shop and I will definitely pay a bit more for something at one store to avoid going to a second store these days. I have a spreadsheet just for entering my grocery receipts, so I at least have an idea of what we spend each month.


Tracking Your Spending / Financial Software and Tools
#15

Curious, @aoshea. What’s your spending like?

In the depths of the recession I got one of our writers to feed her family of four on $100 a week.


#16

@aoshea I know exactly how you feel! I’m toward the end of having ravenous kids at home, but at the peak of it … yikes! You start to feel like you are always at the store, cooking something or writing the next grocery list.

My strategy was to start with the most expensive part of the meal, usually protein, and then see what was on sale that week. If it was pork chops, guess what, pork chops for dinner! I never bought full-price protein, except for eggs.

Then start building the rest of your meals from sale items if you can. Get the vegetables that are featured that week, etc. I often let my grocery store set the family meal menu with its sale flier. It saved me the effort of meal-planning and spared my family the endless “What should we have for dinner?” quiz. (No one ever had suggestions besides stuff that took 80 hours, like homemade lasagna on a weeknight :dizzy_face: )

To save your sanity, pick one store that is near you and has acceptable prices and decent sales. (Your time also is worth money, so going to multiple stores isn’t cost-effective no matter the sales offered.)

If there’s an employee-owned thrift brand near you (for me, it’s WinCo), check it out. These stores can cut a good 20%, 25% off grocery costs. Failing that, pick a chain that has easy electronic couponing. Safeway, for example, lets you add all of the week’s deals to your loyalty account with one click and applies any possible savings at checkout when you plug in your loyalty card number.

Finally, check out online ordering with free pickup at the store — or even paying for delivery. You can offset the delivery fee by avoiding impulse purchases the kids talk you into (or you talk yourself into), and it saves more of your valuable time.


#17

This is a great tip! I was just thinking how impulse buying (mostly w/ kidos along) is typically what derails my grocery budget.


#18

Ack, you’re really going to make me do this? Maybe public shaming is what I need :slight_smile: We spend $300 a week on average. I pack my son’s lunch for preschool, my twins are home with a nanny, and both my husband and I eat at home, so that is three meals a day for five people. We definitely eat the food we buy — our issue isn’t waste — but obviously we could do much better. Teach me your ways.

@khinson Those are great tips! I’ve never heard of a an employee-owned thrift brand; I wonder if we have one. I know my #1 issue is that I mostly shop at Whole Foods, and I do stick to a list but the things on that list are expensive. I think this is a case where credit card rewards are actually making me spend more (I have the Amazon Prime card, so it’s 5% back, but given that Whole Foods is roughly 1000% more expensive than any other store, I’m not getting the deal I think I am…)

I am definitely going to try ordering online — I used to do that when I lived in New York and even if you’re not impulse buying, seeing the total add up as you shop is really helpful.


#19

@aoshea I do most of my spending at Whole Foods too! I definitely make a list on my way and stick to it pretty strictly. No fancy chocolate, no olive bar, no fancy snacks. I feel like that generally their store brand is comparably priced to other stores in my area, and I’m less likely to make impulse buys because the impulses cost more. Our gas and grocery credit card tends to run from $1100-$1300 most months. We are a family of four, and I pack lunches for my kids most days. My husband takes his lunch, and I work from home. What we save on commuting costs, we definitely spend on food.


#20

OMG this:

I feel your pain, @khinson. Why can’t the family favorite be boiled spaghetti and bottled sauce?!? I did finally discover the frozen lasagna at Trader Joe’s, though, which is so good that we’ve actually been disappointed the last two times we ordered lasagna at frou-frou Italian restaurants.

And if you’re picky about what your family eats, shopping at TJ’s is a pretty good option–generally less expensive than whole foods, but tons of organic/no-scary-additive options.

Speaking of which, it’s 6 p.m. and I have no idea what’s for dinner. Which may explain why OUR grocery bill is higher than it needs to be!