Every year since we’ve been married (5 years in March!), my husband and I sit down at the end of the year and make a financial plan for the upcoming year. So far, these plans have been, well, kind of a crapshoot. My husband was in chiropractic school from May 2008 – August 2011 (and not really making any money), and I was self-employed during that time (with a fluctuating income), and we made a lot of really intense financial mistakes during those years because we just had no clue how to be broke and manage my come-as-it-may income. 2012 was really the first year that we set a budget and did our best to live within it.
And that brings us to 2013. Life looks different (in a good way) these days. My self-employment income is pretty predictable and rising. My husband’s a chiropractic physician within a practice. We have regular income and regular expenses. We’re living pretty “middle class normal” (whatever that means these days) at the moment, instead of by-the-seat-of-our-pants-and-oh-man-I-hope-we-can-pay-our-bills-this-month. Don’t get me wrong – every month is still an exercise in creative accounting (people see the word “doctor”, and assume we’re rolling around in piles of cash wearing diamond shoes – folks, we’re struggling as much as the rest of the formerly-known-as middle class is at this point in time), but our financial situation is a little bit less desperate going into 2013. Praise God for that.
This year, I’ve decided to lay our financial plan on the table. It’s an exercise in accountability for my husband and I. If we make our plans known, we’ll feel like chumps if we don’t accomplish any of our goals.
But here’s the main reason I want to do this this year – to demonstrate (to myself and to others) that God provides. I want to look back on these posts in a few years and tangibly see how each and every month God blessed us. I know it’s hard out there, folks. It’s disappointing and frustrating and all you need to do is turn on the TV if you want a dose of depression. But we refuse to live in that place. I refuse to live my days scared of where my blessings will come from (click to tweet this!). When we walk with Him, God is faithful. We’ve prayed over these goals. We feel they’re where we need to be this year. So I am expecting that God will be working on our behalf, as we are good stewards of our blessings. I’m thanking Him ahead of time for providing for us this year.
So here’s how this is going to work. Below are our financial goals for the year (split into three categories – debt payoff, savings, and other financial goals). I haven’t attached numbers to them, mostly because we don’t necessarily want to be sharing with the entire world how much money we do and don’t have. At the beginning of every month, I’ll update you on how we’re doing with these goals. I’m really excited to see these things come to fruition.
So, without further ado, here’s our 2013 financial plan.
- Pay off our car loan - We have one, not-that-old car (and we’d like to only ever have one car, but we’ll see) and it’s almost paid off. In fact, we thought we’d be able to pay it off in December, but some other expenses came up that we had to put the extra funds towards.
- Pay off the smallest student loan we have - Six figures. That’s how much student loan debt we have (most of which is my husband’s chiropractic school education). We’re all about seeing little victories, so we’re going to take care of this little one pretty quickly.
- Pay off all of my student loans - I was lucky, in that I didn’t have a ton of student loan debt coming out of college. This number will take us several months, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll have this eliminated by the end of the year.
- Fully fund our general savings account for our current adventure - We have a general savings account that we put money into for short-term goals. We’d like to get this maxed out for an upcoming adventure we have planned.
- Get our emergency fund up to two months worth of income - We put $1,000 in an emergency fund (per Dave Ramsey’s idea of starting a baby emergency fund) some time ago, and haven’t done anything with it since. We think it’s time to beef this up a little, so we’re looking to have two months worth of income in it by the end of the year.
- Set up a retirement account - This just hasn’t even been on our radar, since most of our focus the last several years has just been on meeting our current expenses. This year, we’d like to nail down a plan for retirement and at least get the account created and contribute a small amount to it.
Other Financial Goals
- Live off of one income - Right now, we still depend on both my husband’s income and my self-employment income to pay our monthly bills. But once some of that debt goes away, we’ll be able to just live on my husband’s income and we’ll put any income I make towards paying down debt and savings – and there are just no words for how great that will feel.
- Buy life insurance - We really should have life insurance, but we’ve never really pursued it before. This is something we’ll absolutely nail down this year.
- Create wills - Something that’s been on our to-do list for some time. It’s time to do it.
- Close three credit accounts we never use and that have no balance - Why have them open if we never use them? We don’t really care if it dings our credit score at this point, since buying a home or any other major purchases aren’t on our current five-year plan.
So there you have it. That’s our financial plan for 2013. I’ll be back in February with an update. In the meantime, what about you? What are your financial goals for 2013?
Image Credit: kenteegardin