Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Financial Goals for 2009

I've been trying to come up with some goals and resolutions for 2009 and I'm having a hard time! Everything is so uncertain right now, it seems useless to set a net worth goal. I'm trying to just focus on little things I can control, so here are a few ideas:

  • Get off all those stupid email lists
I've been aggressively tackling this already and it makes me feel good! I have drastically cut down the mailing lists I'm on. This only indirectly affects my finances-- sometimes I'd open one of those emails and click through to an online retailer and buy something, and now I'll be less likely to do that. Also, it was just a time-waster, and time is money!

  • Cut down on dining expenses
After looking at all my food spending details, I'd like to just scale back somewhat on my lunches, dinners, and liquor, for health and financial reasons. I think a good goal would be to cut those expenses by at least 10%.

  • Increase savings
This should be easy to do, as I have no intention of spending thousands of dollars on travel this year, and my other expenses tend to be fairly consistent.

  • Pay extra towards mortgage
I'd like to make at least an extra payment or two, going towards the principal of my mortgage. I view this a nice conservative investment. I'm not sure refinancing would be worthwhile for me right now, as I already have a decent rate, but I will keep an eye on interest rates to see if that changes.

  • Rebalance my investment portfolio
My current portfolio balance isn't all that out of whack with what it should be for a person of my age, but there are a few mutual funds in there that I think are dogs. I'm in the hole right now no matter what, and the question is whether I have the best investments to help me climb out whenever the market recovers.

  • Increase my income?
I already know I won't be getting a raise this year, and if I get a bonus, I'm sure it will be small. I also don't think the current climate is one in which I want to be jumping from one company to another. I don't think there is any opportunity for a promotion at my current company right now. So that leaves other sources of income. I could try to increase the advertising on this site (and drop the pledge to donate all proceeds to charity). I also have an idea for another website I could start, but I can't imagine where I'd find the time to do it! Taking on a 2nd job also doesn't seem feasible. (Of course I could do it in an emergency, but right now I'm prioritizing my sanity!) So all in all, I don't think I'll focus too much on this goal.

  • Roth IRA contribution
I actually knocked this one off my list the other day. I made my $5,000 contribution for 2008 and put it in a Vanguard bond fund. I'm toying with whether to also make my 2009 contribution now-- I will probably put off that decision until after I find out about my bonus, as I don't want to tie up too much cash. Gotta have some liquid funds in case of emergency, now more than ever!

What are your goals for 2009?


Angie said...

My primary goal is to cut 30,000 off my debt. Mainly by 1) sticking to a budget and 2) paying off my car loan. Which go hand in hand.

Hardest part for me: Cutting the grocery bill from average of $550 down to $300.

Anonymous said...

My goal is to max out my recently opened Roth by having automatic monthly withdrawls of $415. (I'll put in a little extra in December to max it out.) My second goal is to more than double my car payment so that I pay it off in about 15 months rather than 3 years. Woo hoo!

Otherwise, save, save, save.

Slinky said...

Why don't you break down your net worth and set goals based on the parts you can control? Things like pay off X amount of debt, buy Y shares of this fund, invest Z dollars in the market... Those would still improve your position and net worth, but leaves out the unknown of the crazy stock market.

I'd share my goals, but I don't set yearly goals. I just keep following my plan, which for this year is pretty much stocking up the efund and paying down the car loan.

Anonymous said...

1) Increase emergency fund from $6000 to $12000 (already to $8100).

2) Save up for a 20th anniversary vacation ahead of time - base what we do on vacation on the amount of money saved.

3) Reallocate some investments.

4) Redo our wills (made several years ago). With term life insurance and AD&D, the kids could get a lot of money if we both died in a car accident. Too much money for their good - we need to get some caps in place, etc.

Unknown said...

1) Max out my contribution to my IRA
2) Save $3,500 in emergency savings
3) Reduce credit card debt by $10,000

The credit card debt will be the toughest since my pending divorce will leave me with more debt on top of what I already have.

MAH said...

My goal is to stay the course of my plan. By stay the course I should hit a few good milestones:

1. Pay off $40K of debt ($20K is my car)
2. Establish a Will
3. Get identity theft protection
4. Help someone else stride for financial freedom

Anonymous said...

My goal is to pay off at least half of my student loan. I already applied for grant money and surprisingly, my request was approved!! This will make my goal a lot easier to fulfill!

Miss M said...

I set net worth goals last year and failed miserably, I didn't expect the market to tank as badly as it did. This year I'm focusing on things I can control, like how much I contribute. I did set a net worth goal, but it's not my primary goal. Instead savings, starting a Roth and increasing my investments are my primary goals. Good luck with yours Madame X.

KB said...

I'm ashamed to admit I have close to $26K (AUD) in credit card debt. My goal is to get my credit card debt down to $10,000 in 2009.

Anonymous said...

One word: mortgage. This = debt reduction. SO life is going to be a bit pedestrian for a few years, but I have a plan. Pay all my mortgage off in five years, God willing. That will make it 11 years in total, to pay off a 30 year mortgage.
THEN, hopefully I'll still be young and cute enough (well, sorta) to have a nice overseas holiday, debt free.

I'm interested in what you said about your investment portfolio being appropriate for your age. My only investment is my house, and my education (paid off).

How do I go about knowing what/where to invest?

Mark said...

I would not invest in bonds at your age. You are too young to be getting such a measily return. Plus, with all the debt the US is printing with each bailout do you really want to be getting 3.25% for 30 years?

Sure you can lose more in stocks, but you can also make more, especially more than 3.25% (which is actually a NEGATIVE real return with inflation likely to increase down the road) if you have a 30-yr time horizon.