We aren’t big on resolutions. We have goals but they usually start on a Tuesday of some random week with no real connection to “new year, new you.” For the last couple of years I have been feeling a little lost on what I want to accomplish. I use to be a person who was able to save money regardless of the reason. Now it feels very odd to save money with no real purpose or goal. Sure, we are trying to pay down our mortgage and are saving for retirement but that is just so far off in the future. Nothing in the short term to work towards has downgraded our motivation.
Updating Our Budget:
It started with re-doing our budget. I go back to work in the next 7 months which means daycare. Our quickest course of action was a refresh on our budget. We were just trying to get a plan to cover daycare costs so we cut where we needed to to get that cost in place. When we did that we didn’t do a holistic budget review. Looking at the money we are allocating to vacation knowing that we might not be going anywhere this year I wonder if it is the best use of our money. It’s not that we don’t want to go anywhere it’s just that between the baby, having Scott’s income reduced and me not working for 15 months we don’t have as much money kicking around as we use to. So every place that we put our dollars needs to align to our goals 100%.
What To Do:
Over the weekend I brought this up to Scott and he echoed my feelings. So we decided to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the next 5 years. In the next month we will get together to compare lists and figure out what we are going to work on. We have talked about some of the goals we have and set up guidelines to make sure we are on the same page.
Why 5 Years:
We just celebrated 5 years in the house. If I look back on where we were in early 2013, we are very different than we are now. Our health has improved, we have reached a goal to pay off 25% of our mortgage, we have a child, I got promoted, Scott’s working at a job he loves, we did 3 major renos, hit major milestones in our retirement investments and started Couple of Sense. That is a lot in 5 years. So we if focus on what we can do in 5 years it tends to be a lot vs what we can get done in 1 year. Most of our goals are long term so focusing on 5 years is enough to hold our attention and enough time to actually accomplish things. For us, focusing on 10 years is too far away and 1 year isn’t enough time.
How do you set goals?
I immediately started just writing down what I wanted to get done. At first I was saying what I wanted to have in 5 years time, but then I opened up to the possibility of what I want to get done within that time. Slight change in wording but it makes a difference on how I think about it. Originally I was focusing on 5 goals only but after listing everything I want to get done it was much higher than 5. I don’t want to overwhelm myself but I want to push myself. I need to find a balance. It might not be perfect but something I want to look back the same way I look back on 2013 and be amazed by how far we have come.
Make sure you are on the same page as your partner:
Our strategy is to walk away and make goals that we want, either personal or together. After about a month we will come together and make sure we are on the same page. Even if the goals are individual we need a plan on how the other person will support that goal. For example I can’t say “I want to get a promotion when I go back to work” and then we decide that I have 100% of the child care responsibilities. Knowing what I know now about getting promoted in my company that will never work. Same goes the other way around if Scott wants to change careers, stay at home with Ava or any other number of things. We are a team, with one pool of money so we have to act like a team.
Never Mind The Resolutions:
If you are feeling discouraged about making resolutions I would encourage you to re-frame them as goals instead. While it seems like a neat little package to have something started and completed in 1 year sometimes life does not work like that. Think about 3-5 years and play the long game with your goals. You will still accomplish so much over a decade but for certain goals it doesn’t make a lot of sense to measure in months. If you are saving for a big purchase, paying off student loans or pursuing FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early) you are much better off spreading out the goal horizon. Not many of us can make big financial moves without years of prep work.
How do you set out goals? Do you focus on 1, 5 or 10 years? I would love to know so share in the comments.