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Family Budget for You – Setting Some Goals

Your Family Budget is part of the Saving 201 series that looks at financial life after coupons – because it can’t all be about coupons.



If you are like me, words like budget and diet (and when I was younger, curfew) made me think – restrictive, going without, and basically no-fun.

And so I bucked the budget.

I was just fine, thank you very much. I was living a respectable financial life. I wasn’t overspending. I didn’t have any credit card debt and I had a modest savings account. I was good. Or so I thought, in theory.

But the problem with theories is that you can’t put them in a savings accounts.

For some reason, once I turned 35 the magical “theory” machine seemed to go dry. I still wasn’t overspending, but I also wasn’t putting money away for my kids college, maxing out IRA accounts, or paying down the mortgage on my house. They were things I wanted to do – I just didn’t know how to do them with my current budget.

I’ve often said that coupons changed my financial life forever. Well, if coupons changed my financial life, then Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover changed how I viewed budgets forever.

I got it at the library on a whim, and once I started reading, I was hooked. I devoured Dave’s book the same way I would have devoured a new Harry Potter book. I couldn’t stop reading. Everything he wrote made sense and I wanted to learn more.

After reading his book, I was determined to turn my previous “theories” into systematic goals – I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger and there were things I wanted out of my financial life.

But first, I had to get Hubs on board. Because if you don’t have EVERYONE on board, you will fail – GUARANTEED.

So I made him read The Total Money Makeover.

And he was midly interested, so I worked on him, and we made some Snyder Long-Term Financial Goals.

Snyder Long-Term Financial Goals

1. Have a $1K cash emergency fund.

2. Pay off any debt outside of our home.

3. Have a six-month emergency fund in a savings/money market account. (Some have three  – we have six.)

4. Fully fund our IRAs.

5. Fully fund out kiddos ESAs. (Sorry kids, you are going to state school.)

6. Pay off the mortgage.

What I loved about Dave’s Plan is that it is a rolling plan – you complete Goal #1 before you move on to Goal #2.

The list isn’t huge – but it is pretty audicious by today’s standards. And it is just honest – there is no trickery or beating the system – it’s just our goals.

But for once we had goals. And they were on paper. And we had agreed on them. And we were going to work on them together. And that felt really good.

So do you have long-term goals?

That’s your homework assignment for the week. (You didn’t know you had homework, did you?)

Determine your long-term goals. Do they look like mine? Are they vastly different? Are they on paper?

Set some time aside this week to talk to your significant other about your family’s goals and write them down. Because if you don’t have long-term goals that have been agreed upon together – you will fail.

And also, you’ll need your long-term goals for Week Three.

And if you complete all four-weeks worth of homework – there will be a surprise at the end that your won’t want to miss.

(Join me next Tuesday as we talk about finding out what we spend and making it add up. Also remember to check out these fellow bloggers posts on ways you can Renew for You in 2011.)

Coupon Organization – from My Coupon Teacher

Self Esteem – What’s Your Style – from Maven of Savin

Frugal Weight Loss – Stockpiling Moms:  A Guide to Frugal Living

Care for Yourself: Lessons Learned from Postpartum Depression/Anxiety – From Give Me Neither