Tag Archives: Goals

My 2009 Personal New Year’s Resolution”Keeping It Simple”

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There are certain moments in life where you see a different side of things.

Last night was one of those times. My husband is one of those people who can get along with anyone. He can spark up a conversation with anyone. He was able to get my girlfriend’s husband, who is normally shy & introverted, to completely open up and have fun. I thought about this event last night and realized this is one of the things I really enjoy about my husband. I am the opposite and am not good at sparking up conversations. I start nerdy conversations or what would be considered ‘normally off the wall subjects’ and people tend to give me ‘the eye’ that I am wierd or they cannot relate (for instance on a normally off the wall subject, I am really knowledgeable in tarot & numerology and if you get me started I will go right on into the subject). Then…

During a Christmas party, my son told me he had so much fun talking with my mom in a deep conversation. And when my son was telling this information to me, I was cherishing that he was connecting with me in our own conversation. This is a rarity, as he is a teenager and we have our issues connecting, much of the time. I enjoyed that my mom can connect with her grandson, like she did, and I would like to learn how to do that with him more.

Anyhow, you are probably wondering what this has to do with presenting my 2009 personal New Year Resolutions. This year, “Keeping it Simple” is about connecting with life, friend’s, family & community. It’s going to be about finding the true sense of my life. Exploration into my personal realm and how to connect with those I love and cherish. It’s about enjoying the simple things in life like making a warm loaf of bread. Then enjoying it with butter & jam and a hot cup of tea. Or fully decorating one room at a time and seeing, enjoying the fruits of my labor. About crafting with my hands or spending special moments with my family. The ‘simple’ list goes on. And so with out further adoo, here is my 2009 Personal New Year’s Resolution(s):

Keeping it Simple

Health

  • Just, Walk More
  • Start eating Healthy again by using The Great (10″) Plate as reference
  • Get outdoors more (ex: find a new trail, time @ the beach, picnic in the park, start gardening again)

Personal

  • Clean my photo collection up – put photos in albums/frames, delete unnecessary pics from computer, etc…
  • Take a ‘hobby’ class solely for pleasure – thinking cooking or craft or yogapilates class
  • read a historical book(s) for pure interest – thinking Egyptian, the hidden tunnels in France or the Civil War
  • learn to read & understand a full book in a foreign language – a kid’s book count

Family

  • Learn to understand my husband more. Fully realize those things I truly cherish about him.
  • Learn to connect with my son more – spend time connecting with my son over coffee or a meal. His youth years are numbered and I want to fully enjoy them.
  • Continue nuturing my great relationship with my daughter. Alot of the baking & crafting will be done together, I am sure.

Cooking

  • Learn to make Shortbread Cookies (to enjoy with my tea), a Loaf of Fresh Bread (for my butter & jam), and Biscotti (cuz I love the stuff)
  • Cook at least one recipe from each untouched cookbooks I’ve bought (probably about 6 cookbooks. Not too many)
  • And possibly, defeat my fear and throw my first dinner party

Crafting – 65% Handmade gifts 4 a year

  • Complete my 2009 Personal Handmade Gifts (see Calendar) – if the gifts are not constructed in time, then I will purchase remaining Handcrafted gifts from Etsy or Craft Fair (supporting ‘urban’ artists)

Finances

  • Keep on track with my Snowball Schedule
  • Save 1/2 (or $2500) of the money needed for a family trip to Hawaii (target trip date: Summer 2010)

Charity

  • Discover ways to donate a bit of time or money to local charities. MoneyMateKate’s Cheap Charityblog is great inspiration to me.

House

  • Finish decorating the kitchen before moving onto another room
  • Focus on decorating one room in the house at a time

Rediscover… realign my life. This year is about gaining a deeper understanding and connecting with my life. To slow down and enjoy the full process of things in my life. Alot on my plate? Maybe. If it is too much, then I will revise. It’s not going to be about making it a ‘must to complete’ every task. It’s about taking a step back and relishing in the moment. I just have a feeling this is going to be a good year! And I will be sure to share my resolution efforts with you.

So, with that… start everyday with a smile and develop your personal footprint with your best effort. 🙂 ~MF

Milestone(s) w/ a funny story

Minor as it may be… we made milestone(s)!

In July I started with $82,985.14 of debt. The proceeding months we tacked on more debt due to school, etc… And we were also building our $1,000 EF account. So, during this time debt wasn’t being paid down.
I just realized that while updating my excel spreadsheet, we have gone below our original debt. We are now at $81,435.77.
Yeah!

Also, my husband finally got his break fixed on his motorcycle. We had set aside $1000.00 to cover this fix. Well, here is how it went (remember motorcycle guys are flaking. may work in your favor):

    Bike guy said he was going to charge him $200 and to pick it up Saturday at 12p.
    Hubby called at 12p. No answer, of course.
    Hubby called, called, and called. Finally gave up mad.
    Hubby & I went out on his bday date to movies at 4pm.
    Guess what?
    Yup, bike guy called at 4:15pm. Movie starts at 4:40pm.
    Impecable timing. Wouldn’t you say?
    Picked up motorcycle.

    Remember motorcycle guys are flaky.
    Bike guy does not write things down.
    Hubby says, “you said $140, right?” and hands him that amount.
    Bike guy looks at him with a funny look and says, “that’s what I said?”
    Hubby, “yes”
    Bike guy, “okay, then!”
    Hubby saves $60 and we go on date (w/o movie). 🙂

Yes, my husband feels guilty about it. But here is why I told him to get rid of feeling guilty. When we had the motorcycle put together, the bike guy told us $6000. When it was through he took us for $10,500. And that wasn’t due to ‘additions’. I would have put up a fight, but its either pay the money and get the bike or don’t pay the money and the guy has a $28,000 bike. What do you do?!

Like I said, the bike guy makes up numbers. Horrible business man, but a really good custom bike mechanic. So, I feel like we just got back a little of what we were overtaken for.

What did I do with the other $800?
$100 Christmas
$288.29 replenished our EF account back to up $1K
$411.71 balance remaining. I haven’t calculated a move for it, yet.

We will probably pay off the JCP bill we racked up during Christmas. I think it’ll be a good move. 😉

Make it a great day! ~MF

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Student Loan Payment

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So apparently, unbeknownst to me I had one last Student Loan check coming to me for $2205.00. I thought that I rec’d all money loaned to me and I was to start my journey in repaying the student loan. What I didn’t see was the second 1/2 of the disbursement was to be mailed December 17th equalling… you guessed it, $2205.00.

To Cancel or Not to Cancel is the question.

Well, I didn’t cancel and I will tell you why.

The $2205.00 was previously totalled on my spreadsheet for ‘Student Loan Debt’ (approx. $32,000 owed). So, it made more sense to me in using a lower APR student loan to counter act with the higher interest Credit Card bills. Now, because I already accounted for this money in my Track My Progress, it does bring the graph down a significant amount. I do enjoy watching the graph go down (as you will see on the 7th of January). 😉

What did I do with this money? I definitely calculated my move before paying things off.

Initially I thought of just paying down the 6th card, as it is naturally the current one on my list. But, in the end this would only free up $219 a month ($37 normal cc payment + $182 rollover cc payments) to rollover to the next card (7th card).

I wanted to make a larger move. Especially, because my husband and I have been considering buying a rental property. But realize that we need to pay off more debt quickly. Even though our credit scores are pretty good, our Bad-Debt-to-Income-Ratio (BD2IR) is much too big. If we are going to buy a rental property, we want to do it right.

original payment plan*

Anyhow, back to the story. I wanted to make a larger move. And here is how I did it:

updated payment plan*

I paid a last payment of $203.51 to my Ortho bill = PIF ($2205 – $231.05 = $2001.49)

This freed up $100 per month. This bill is not part of my CC repayment schedule. And this will go to increase our Weekly Cash Allowance Fund – which we use for groceries, gas, entertainment, and any other little expenses that come up.

I took $100 spending cash. ($2001.49 – $100 = $1901.49 left)
I paid my monthly FFCU visa payment of $65. ($1901.49 – $65 = $1836.49 left)
I paid $1836.49 to my FFCU signature loan that has a monthly payment of $299.
($2858.43 – $1836.49 = FFCU sign. loan new balance $1021.94)

Recap:

FORMER: BofA monthly payment $37 + $187 = $219.00 (once pd, $219 would rollover to the next CC bill)

UPDATED: FFCU signature loan monthly payment $299 + $187 = $486.00 (by paying this card off, I will have $486 to rollover to the next CC bill!!!)

The remainder of the FFCU signature loan will take me roughly 1 1/2 to 2 months to pay off the balance. I will then be able to rollover $267.00 more dollars per month onto the 7th Card using the Updated plan versus the Former plan ($486 – $219 = $267).

I hope this makes sense to you. I have yet to figure how much interest and time I will be saving, but I am sure it is significant enough validate the changes I have made. I will be sure to update you when I do figure it out!

Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas? I know I did. It is one of the two times a year that family members make those delicious, memorable dishes to eat. Since my family is soooo multicultural, I get to experience a lot of variety in our food dishes. It makes that all the more delicious. But, I am also aware that I am seriously going to need to diet after New Year’s Day! 🙂

Make it a great day! MF

*spreadsheet totals are not exact, but used more for reference material.

The Bucket List

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Blog to note: Marelisa Online is owner of the AbundanceBlog. One blog, I fantastically stumbled upon.

As the new year is getting closer, I am growing older, and thoughts continuously ramble in my head… I think about what I have accomplished and have not accomplished in my life. What goals have I not set on paper? What goals have I not accomplished?

And one says, “Christine, why do let these heavy thoughts bog your mind?”

“Because” I say,”my marriage is ill, I hate where I live, I feel like I have been in purgatory for years, and I have yet to complete one of my major goals I hold dear to my heart.”

(begin the rambling)

  • I remember when i was a kid. I could sit for hours, draw detailed pictures of the brain (yes, I was no normal child), and locations of all where all the senses were located.
  • I had dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon
  • I loved to look at the stars and figure out constellations
  • I wanted to be an astronaut
  • I loved Halloween. I wanted to be a vampire.
  • I wanted a life being Indiana Jones with all of his adventures
  • I dreamed of going to the countryside of France – I think this is a past life issue
  • I used to write for hours creating books, poems and haikus.
  • I dreamed of traveling all of europe
  • Perhaps this should be my post about the 6 things you didn’t know about me

    I have losts all interests in those things above. And now, I feel as though I am losing my dreams.

    If you know me, you know that I am not one to sit and sulk for too long. I usually, with full force, will change my circumstances to realign my life to my pleasing. Even if changing hurts me acutely. As long as I know chronically it is better for me.

    But, this time… I am at a crossroads of hardships. Why? Because my children are precious to me. And I do not know if they can survive being that bold in life. The realignments, the adjustments. Anyway, let me return to my topic!

    I don’t want to lose my dreams. I have decided to do something TODAY that can get me jumpstarted back into finding my dreams. So, I think there was a coincidence that I ran into this post on Marelisa Online called, Start 2009 with a bang – Create a life list. Creating a list of all that you want to do before you kick the bucket.

    Things happen for a reason. I believe this post was a fortunate sign in my life. You just have to look out for those opportunities.

    Even though I am undecided about my decisions to make regarding my marriage, I have vowed to set my dreams and goals on paper. This way I can begin to work towards them by considering “what can I do today to make this dream a reality?”

    Let me share a few of those dreams with you:

    Traveling

  • United Kingdom – my 6th grade puppy love lives there
  • Italy – trying to make it there in 4.5 years (son’s 18th; daughter’s 13th bday)
  • Germany
  • France – Bastille Day
  • Japan
  • Oxaxca, Mexico – Day of the Dead Festival
  • New England states – I want the colonial tour
  • Languages I want to learn

  • French
  • German
  • Conversational Italian
  • Things I want to accomplish

  • Rock climbing
  • Finish a quilt
  • Open a restaurant
  • Expand my Baking Skills
  • Of course, these are only a few things I want to do. I still need to complete my list. I think that it is my new year resolution to step up to the plate and make some of this happen. My daughter is all with me on learning Italian. lol!

    What are some of the things you would include on your bucket list?

    p.s. – sorry for the personal aspect, but sometimes I just have to ramble my thoughts in order to get my brain cleared and situated.

    College or not to College?

    Now don’t get me wrong. I think when you are young, college is an invaluable tool towards gaining a great career. So no, I am not knocking a good college education. I have every intention of my children attending college or a vocational school.

    But, if your are going to college to make lots of money in the future, there is a much simplier way to do accomplish this goal. Time and dedication.

    What to do: Put away $450 a month (you know that typical car payment?) into an interest bearing mutual fund averaging 12 percent (the seventy-year stock market average) from the age 25 to the age of 65 and you will have $5,458,854.45.

    I really wish someone told me this plain and simple advice when I was younger!

    Tools of Success

    Give a girl a camera and she takes beautiful self portraits (and thousands of other pics of little things around the house: her stuffed animals, pictures on the wall, the inside of her closet, the ceiling fan, etc…). Treasures, Memories that will last a lifetime to warm my heart.

    Give a woman a teal notebook with budget sheets and she will one day make her family financially free. To be able to travel the world at luxury, spend more time with family and friends, lift the emotional weight off the shoulders, and simply… be happier. This too will last a lifetime.

    Personal tools of success.

    I am realizing, as I am writing this blog note, that personal tools of success cause a positive lifetime reaction. A camera & daughter equal years of memories. A book combined with paper and pencil is something that allow me to live years of gratitude.

    And I am realizing, these tools don’t need to cost a lot. That it is not necessary to have all the bells and whistles. We have fulfilled our lives with complexities, but I am thinking that it is not necessary. Simplicity.

    I have a small garden, to which I planted from seed. I nurtured the ground and it blossomed with time and care. To which, I made some fantastic zuchinni-pineapple muffins (they are really very good).

    I am beginning to come to the conclusion that ‘Less is more’ and ‘simplicity’ may be the keys to my family’s future success.

    What are your tools of success? I would love to hear about your dearest goal and what tool(s) you use to bring you closer to fulfilling your goal. Or how you did meet your goal.

    Reaching Your Financial Goals

    Financial goals are things that you want to attain which require money you don’t currently possess. These goals can be short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (greater than 1 year). Typical goals: buy a house, save for college, or retire comfortably.

    Steps to reach Financial Goals

    It’s going to take time, effort and discipline. There is no short way around it.

    1. Prioritize Your Goals
    “ An unwritten goal is only a wish” – proverb
    Write your goals down on paper (or computer)! I prefer to write them on paper because the feel of writing them makes them real to me. And then choose which one you want to accomplish first. Prioritize!

    How?
    Needs versus Wants: The first step in prioritizing your goals is to objectively decide if something is a need or a want. A need is a necessity. Basic needs sustain life, such as food, water, shelter, heat and clothing. A want is something you desire but is not necessary for sustaining life (no, the Ipod does not fit under need, sorry but it is a want). Some wants may be practical in supporting your lifestyle, such as a computer or cell phone. Others may be a luxury, such as a vacation home or motorcycle. How much is enough? Is more always better? These are questions you will have to answer for yourself based on your values.

    2. Make your goals SMART
    SPECIFIC: State each detail of your goal. For example, “I want to buy a 4 bedroom ranch house, in a safe neighborhood, within 5 years”.

    MEASUREABLE: How will you know if you’re making progress? State the criteria or amount needed to reach your goal. For example, “The price of the house I want is $350, 000.”

    ATTAINABLE: How will you know what to do first? Break the goal down into smaller steps that need to be completed. For example, “I will need $35, 000 for a down payment.” “I will attain this by having $xxx automatically deducted from my paycheck and deposited into an interest-bearing savings account for xx months.”

    RELEVANT: Does your goal fit your values? State why the goal is a good one for you. For example, “I want to own a house because I will enjoy making it my own and I want something that will build equity over time.”

    TIMED: How will you decide when to act? Set a deadline for each step towards your goal. For example, “Today, at my lunch break, I will go to my credit union to fill out the forms to have money deducted from my paycheck and deposited into a savings account each month.”

    3. Create and Action Plan

    After you have made your goal SMART, make an ordered list out of the smaller steps that need to be completed. Assign deadlines for each step and put them onto a calendar that you normally look at each day. An essential tool to help you track your progress and make adjustments as time goes on, is a spending plan or budget.

    4. Get Organized

    In order to reach your goal, you will need to track your financial matters. There are many systems you could use, but here are two you may find helpful.

    Paper records. A common way of storing and organizing your financial documents is to keep them in a filing drawer or box with several labeled hanging files or folders. Many people will label the folders according to their budget categories. Typical budget categories are: Income, Charitable donations, Savings (emergency, investments, retirement, Housing (mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, repairs), Transportation (car payments, taxes, insurance, repairs), Utilities, Medical, Loans, Credit Lines, Estate, and Obligations (child support, alimony).

    Some people attach stick-on flogs to the documents they will need to find at tax time. Some people store these documents in a separate folder.

    A non-financial file to keep is: Personal documents (social security cards, passports, birth certificates, etc). Naturally, these papers should be kept in a fireproof location or electronic copies should be made and kept in a secure place.

    Electronic Records: One way to lighten the paper load and streamline some record keeping is to use a personal computer. Quicken Online (now free to use) or Mint are good programs to use.

    5. Communicate Your Goals

    Communicating regularly about your goals, helps you maintain your focus. Schedule a regular weekly time to discuss financial updates with you spouse and children. Involve the whole family in creating and maintaining a household budget. If you family isn’t aware of your financial goals, they can’t offer support.

    6. Be Money Smart
    The fact that you’re reading this shows that you are taking responsibility for attaining the knowledge and skills required to manage your financial matters. There are many good financial education resources available for free, like www.knowdebt.org/education. Improving your financial literacy will always pay great rewards.

    Keep it Real

    Financial goals are only one aspect of what most people want out of life. Almost always, financial goals are a means to a greater end, such as the happiness that comes from sharing experiences with family and friends. You may also have causes, beliefs, or values that are extremely important to you. They may be so important that you choose to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy t them. Only you can define what brings you happiness. Occasionally, you will encounter some obstacles in reaching your financial goals. Therefore, anticipate having to make adjustments to find a way around them, and don’t lose sight of the
    things you value most in life.

    And you’re right, I am by no means a great artist! 🙂

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    Millionaire Next Door? I think Not! (yet)…Long Way to Go…someday.

    So, I was pondering while I was at work and it HIT me that I will be turning 36 in just short of 2 months.

    Made me think… what should my net worth be at this age? I have no property. A $10K 403(b). Nada. How far am I from being ‘wealthy’? Found a calculator based on the Millionaire’s Next Door algorithm. I am definitely not an Accumulator of Wealth (yet).

    In fact I am in the pit of doom. Okay, perhaps a bit melodramatic. But see for yourself. It made me kind of depressed. See:

    There is 1 of 3 catagories you will fall in:
    UAW: Under Accumulator of Wealth
    AAW: Average Accumulator of Wealth
    PAW: Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth

    I am clearly a UAW to the max!
    Actually, if I bought a house, I wouldn’t be so far off. And that is where my financial realizations bum me out. With California’s skyrocketing foreclosure rates, this makes it prime time for me to buy. Decent houses in my neighborhood: during the house buying boom the houses were worth: $400K. But now, they are only worth $159K! If my finances were in order and I had at least $5K saved up – I WOULD BE ABLE TO BUY MYSELF A HOUSE! And I would be $58K short to being a AAW.
    depressing.

    But, “to every downfall there is opportunity waiting”. What is my opportunity? My opportunity is now realizing what goals I need to set for myself. Pay off the debt. Save, save, save. And eventually, buy that house.

    That is the whole reason I am writing this blog. To prove to myself that I can work with my family to get out of debt; to build a financially stable life; to take a vacation; to retire comfortably; to teach my kids about money and give them the proper tools/knowledge to not make the same money mistakes I made, etc…

    I remind myself that I have come a LONG way from my roots: being raised on the Welfare system, raised around drugs, having no financial knowledge, being raised in foster home(s), being victim to abusive relationships, being unstable, being flighty, irresponsible, etc…

    I played victim & woke up realizing ‘playing victim’ is not the answer. “Take hold, Christine. You are responsible for your own actions, your own future.” I did. I am taking hold tight with the reigns. If we’re going to do this, lets do it right!

    Within these past 5 years I have:

    Obtained my Associate Degree in Biology
    Obtained a fantastic job in a Research Cancer Hospital
    Held down this job for 5 years
    Increased my salary from $13K to $65K
    My children are stable
    1 year until my Bachelor’s Degee is finished

    I have done a hell of a lot in 5 years! So, I want to do a hell of alot in the next 5 years.

    Bow to the calculator of wisdom. What category do you fall in? And what is your realized goal?