A Year of Financial Firsts: Those 2017 Goals

financefirst

2017 has already been a financially noteworthy year for me.

Why? Because this is the first year of my life that I have set financial goals. I mean, who has time for financial goals when you’re busy throwing your next paycheck at a week-long trip to the south of Thailand?

When I was 25, I would have awkwardly shrugged if anybody had asked me how much money I planned on saving that year (which nobody did, ever). RRSP? The acronym alone was enough to make me shudder.   And if my conversations with my co-Millenials tell me anything, I know I’m not alone here.

As I started digging a little more into the PF community, I realized that money is like everything else in life. You don’t need to have everything figured out right off the bat. You just need some basics and more importantly, if you want to make things happen, you actually have to set some goals. Crazy that.

So I did. In early January, I thought really long and hard, not just about what I wanted to see in my accounts at the year end, but what the journey would look like. What would make this time different? It’s not like I had never tried to get my financial act together before. I had, and failed many times. What would suddenly making saving and budgeting compelling to me – compelling enough to actually do it for the whole year (and beyond)?

I thought about other areas of my life where I have been successful. I lost 30 lbs. about seven years ago and have since kept it off. In fact, I never worried too much about gaining it back. Sure, I continue to count calories here and there and go to the gym on a semi-regular basis. But I realized why I was successful in getting – and keeping – that weight off. I never wanted to give up chocolate or wine when I was losing weight (uh, obviously). So I didn’t.

nothingtastesasgood

For real.

I set reasonable, attainable goals. Things I was actually willing to make myself do for more than a couple weeks. Goals can be ambitious, sure – and if you look around the personal finance community, you will find people who are making absolutely magical things happen – but you have to make sure you are actually going to swallow the pill you prescribe yourself for more than a week.

With that in mind, I developed my three financial goals for 2017:

 

Goal #1: Track every dollar I spend – for the entire year.

To PF vets, this might seem like no biggy. But this is HUGE for me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to “make a budget.” This is seriously deserving of air quotes because they were such half-hearted attempts. I would always hang in there for a couple weeks, and then one of three things would happen:

  • Life.  Life would happen. Stress, fatigue, or unexpected commitments would inevitably arise. Suddenly, jotting down my expenses for the day seemed not so important.
  • Boredom. Tracking can just be sooo boring. I was usually attempting it pen-and-paper style and wow, there were few things I hated more than that little notebook.  I just didn’t wannnnaaa.
  • Fear.  So much this. One or two weeks into my spending diet, I would make a purchase that would knock my monthly budget out of whack. I would freak out, go into complete denial, not write it down in my little tracker – and then never track anything ever again.

So how was a former binge-money tracker going to actually pull off this goal for the year? Answer: I developed an amazing, colour-coded, totally inspired Excel spreadsheet. I know, inspired and spreadsheet do not belong in the same sentence but bear with me for a second.

It’s colourful. And it has all the automatically summing cells.

It just so happens I have to Excel my way through work every day so I’ve actually picked up a few handy tricks. I finally devised a spreadsheet that I knew I could fill out in less than 30 seconds every day, and that would automatically tally all my spending – not only for the month, but the year. I told you – amazing, right?

Not only that, but being able to see how my daily expenses would look in the big picture of months and years – and affect my larger financial goals – now that is something that is actually interesting to me! I am definitely a big-picture person so this was a huge win. January got me off to a great start – I have tracked every penny in 2017 so far and I am now mildly obsessed with my beautiful, colourful spreadsheet.

 

Goal #2: Outdo the “average” Millenial

Okay okay, I know comparison is the thief of joy, but a little competition never hurt. The average Millenial has a net worth of $10,400. Plain and simple, I want to exceed this before the end of 2017. Given that I have a small mountain of debt from my graduate degree, this will take some work, but it is definitely within reach.

If I achieve this, it would also represent the first time in my adult life that my net worth is in the black.

 

Goal #3: Add an additional source of income

Although this may be a mistake, I haven’t quantified this particular goal. I have no set amount that I want to earn in addition to my regular income. My regular income is sufficient to meet my monthly budget needs, pay down debt, and save. But I am so over being in debt and would love to pay it down more aggressively while throwing some extra dollars at my investment account.

I have some good prospects and a handful of leads for extra income that I’ll get into in another post. 2017 is really about developing them and making additional income streams part of my mindset for attaining financial well-being. There are limits to my frugality so a big part of making it rain to me is figuring out how to channel my skills to make additional income outside my day-to-day.

 

I am pumped about these three goals and I am so excited about how my January has gone. What goals have you set for 2017 and how has the first month of the year treated you?

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