Goal One: Most importantly, to reshape my financial mindset. I don't want to always max out my income with cost-of-living expenses. I want to live below my means so that I can have a "cushion". Living paycheck to paycheck is not for me!
Goal Two: Pay off our second mortgage in 2 years. James and I are really committed to this. My whole paycheck goes to its own separate account, and we use every paycheck of mine to pay off that loan. Why? It's money we can count on getting back if we sell the house and we're not throwing away money on interest. As soon as we finish this goal, we will be working on the other loan. Because the money goes into an account separate from our normal banking, the adage "out of sight, out of mind" really does prove true.
Goal Three: If we ever have kids I'd like to be a stay-at-home mom. I just can't imagine adding kids to the mix of working and maintaining a sane home. Even though both of us are working now, we are able to live on just one income- so we know that we can do that. However, if we continue to pay down the mortgages and reduce our monthly bills, this dream of staying home with possible kids can be realized even more easily.I firmly believe in goal setting. They're your destination, and you get to choose the path to them. Without a goal, it's easy to wander about aimlessly. I'd like to give an update on the 3 aforementioned goals. First of all, I do believe that I have changed my financial mindset. While I used to be a hobby shopper and thought nothing of dining out several times a week and sipping $3 lattes frequently, I have learned that I don't miss out by skipping these activities. In fact, I have learned that there is joy in doing without. The money from those little unnecessary purchases adds up! James and I lived without cable for 3 years (though we do have it again). I shop for my own clothing primarily at thrift and consignment shops. I use coupons to shave down my grocery bill. There are so many LITTLE things that we have changed and it has made a HUGE difference to the state of our finances.
About 2 months ago, we paid off our second mortgage. That means that we met our 2 year goal, despite the fact that we had a child and I stopped working during this time period, and now 20% of our home is paid off! We can now apply what we were shelling out for that second mortgage to our first mortgage, and hopefully become true "homeowners" sooner than later.
For my last goal--I can say happily that I am a stay-at-home mom for our little girl. We have realigned our priorities to where this is a sustainable possibility, even with the instability of today's economy. I keep a tight rein on the family budget and gave up car payments for an older model car that we paid cash for. I buy only what we need and not what we think we want. I am currently working from home part-time in the evenings, so we are still able to budget not only for today, but for the future as well.
I give this update not to brag, but to reflect and to inspire others. Accomplishing your goals takes some time, but it is SO rewarding, and the things you think would be tough to give up (like that morning Starbucks or buying new clothing every weekend) really aren't. If James and I can do it, anyone can do it.
The first step? Define what you want--then go get 'em tiger!