meeting our goals

Last January, I shared with you our financial goals for 2010.

Today, I will share with you the outcome of those goals.

Goal #1: Acquire $2000 in an emergency fund.
Result: Success! We have that and a bit more in our emergency fund, as well as an extra month’s worth of funds in checking.

Goal #2: Contribute $1000 to our Roth IRA.
Result: Almost. We contributed $700. It would have been nice to contribute more, but something is better than nothing.

Goal #3: Pay off about $7300 in principal on our debts.
Result: Success! We paid off about $10,400 in principal on our debts, so we exceeded this goal by quite a lot.

I am both excited and disappointed, somehow. We set realistic goals, and even exceeded the amount that we paid toward principal on our debts. We had another baby, went on a big vacation, ate well, and still my husband was able to support all four of us on his one income as well as make additional payments toward our debt load… despite having no work for three months out of the year.

Yet we still have debt, and I suppose that is the thing that disappoints me.

I once heard that people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in five years. At the rate we are going, we will be out of debt in a little over two years. That’s not too shabby. I want it to be today, of course, but this steady plodding thing is paying off. I hope that five years from now will see us out of debt and being halfway finished paying for a home of our own. It could happen, right?

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm  Comments (1)  

relearning the time vs. money thing

We moved three weeks ago, and getting the internet is something that we have decided to postpone for the time being. It would be both expensive and slow to have the internet at home, but we have also decided that we need a break from constant access to the world’s superhighway.

While it has been great for family time and has enabled me to get our house unpacked and ready for the baby (due in two weeks!), this lack of connectivity has also created a few glitches in the way that we normally do things. Not in relational connections; I don’t miss the random connections that I kept up with only by Facebook, and checking my email once a week or so at a wireless hot spot has not left me any more lacking for human contact than before. I can still read the blogs of closer friends in that once a week catch-up time and know as much about how they are doing as I did before. In fact, it’s really rather nice to begin learning again to call people if I want to know how they are doing right now, rather than just checking their Facebook status. Somebody we know and now live near had a baby last week, and instead of finding out about it instantly online, we were able to meet the newborn in person and learn her name as we met her. It was really quite refreshing.

There are some adjustments to be made. I’m quite the addict to being able to check our debt balances and update our total debt spreadsheet at least once a month, so it’s odd to be without that ability at my fingertips. Not being able to balance the checkbook every few days is also a new experience for me. I have learned, though, that there is such a thing as “pay by phone” and that it is possible to pay your bills with neither stamps nor internet. Such amazing technology, hmm?

We are also finding that we miss being able to watch TV shows. We don’t watch a lot, thus one of the reasons that we don’t have a TV, but there are a few that we keep up with. Being able to keep up with Lost, House, and 30 Rock might be enough to persuade us to get the internet were it not for the sad fact that our internet here would be too slow to stream TV shows. We may bite the bullet and begin shelling out $3 per Lost episode (downloaded from iTunes)… but maybe we can stick it out until the entire final season comes out on DVD. Just nobody tell me what is going on, please.

The real problem I am finding with not having the internet is in another area altogether. Shopping! I love online shopping. In fact, the void I am experiencing in not being able to do it leads me to realize that I was doing it more than I had realized I was doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy much online, but when I do decide to buy something, I spend a good deal of time finding the best product for the best price and of course using different discount codes and cash back sites to make sure I save as much as possible.

This became glaringly obvious to me yesterday when Keith gifted me with three hours alone on the internet. The alone time itself was marvelous, but it also felt great to do some things online that have needed to be done. One of the tasks on my prebirth checklist was to buy the remaining things needed for our little one. We were gifted with a second changing table, and I needed to find a changing pad and changing pad cover. No big thing, right? I had already seen changing pads in person at two stores and knew I could save $10 by getting one from Amazon. But then came the shopping experience that led to a bit of an epiphany for me. I had spent a full hour of my much-needed three-hour-alone-time looking at changing table covers on Amazon, analyzing the reviews, the colors, the fabrics, and the prices before it hit me. I had decided to buy one of the pricier changing pad covers ($4 more than a cheaper but lower-rated option) but was feeling exceedingly disappointed over not finding it for a cheaper price. Relaying this story to Keith later also helped me to confirm my sudden realization: Sometimes it is not necessary to analyze something so minutely.

It’s somewhat laughable, but I think this is actually an issue for me. I have become so fixated on getting the best possible price that I neglect to remember that it’s okay if I don’t always save the absolute most money that I possibly can, particularly when the monies in question break down to less than a few dollars difference on a one-time purchase. I have become so adept at bargain-hunting that if I buy a certificate for 70% off rather than 80% off, I feel disappointed. If I can combine a sale and coupon at Fred Meyer to pay $1.89 per box of cereal, and then realize a few days later that I could have gotten each box for $1.29, I am more than slightly disappointed; it’s actually hard to let it go.

The big appeal to me about online shopping has been that it saves time and money. For the large part, this is true. And now that I know how and where to find good deals online, I can do it quickly… in my one-hour-per-week-on-the-internet time. There is no need for me to spend two or three hours over a period of a week or two trying to find the cheapest possible price for the changing pad cover that I want. Instead I can just quickly check eBay and Amazon and make a decision and be happy with it. Sure, it may have been possible to find it for $1 less if I had kept bookmarking auctions on eBay or watching to see if Amazon’s option had a random price drop. But is it really worth it? No.

My enjoyment of doing things that are ridiculously meticulous needs to find another outlet… say, putting away all these cute little cloth diapers that will soon be used on our newborn child. I think being without internet is the perfect opportunity for me to have a break from the tempting intricacies of the online shopping world. Lately I have been learning to use Rilla’s naptimes – often used previously for catching up online – to instead take naps myself. It is utterly blissful, and I think our whole family would agree that for now, we are better off without the internet. The slight financial difference in not spending the time to find those absolute best bargains is more than recovered by having more time to do more at home.

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm  Comments (4)