Tag Archives: 2010

Update on 2010 Goals

26 Aspirations and Goals for 2010 (from December)

1. Save 20% of my income for retirement

Update: I should be able to save more than 20% of my income this year if I can maintain my current job. At the beginning of this year I was making $60k per year. Then I was laid off. Now I’m making $100k per year. While I won’t make the full $100k this year (I had a few months of unemployment already), I should do ok in 2010. I’m revising my goal to save 30% of my income for retirement which includes maxing out my non-matched 401k and traditional IRA or Roth if my income qualifies. $16,500 in the 401k and $5,000 in the IRA… $22,500 total into retirement savings. But $22.5k is 30% of $75k. Should I save the rest of the 30% elsewhere for “retirement?” Really, that would mean saving in a taxable account until next year roles around and then putting that money towards retirement, especially if my income level tappers off in the coming years. I think this year is going to be unusually good for me, and I may not match this level again for a long time, if ever.

2. Save 10% of my income for other upcoming expenses

Updated goal: I’d like to save 25% or more of my income for upcoming expenses. I’m not sure where I’m going to save this money yet.
3. Increase my net worth to $60,000

Updated goal: increase my net worth to $100k
4. Study (a lot) for graduate school tests

fail. It’s so hard to think about grad school when I have a great job. But eventually I will want to seek out higher education. I don’t want to wait that long because I do want to have a family in the next 10 years.
5. Take the GMAT (and poss retake the GRE)
Well, I haven’t studied yet, so I haven’t set up dates to take either of these tests yet. Not sure I will in 2010 to be honest.

6. Apply to grad school(s) in fall 2010

I kind of feel like I should apply for fall 2010 but a lot depends how my current job goes.
7. Stop drinking alcohol (except on my birthday)

Well… I haven’t been drinking a lot of alcohol, but I have had a few drinks here and there. Working a high-paced job makes having a drink at the end of the day all the more rewarding and relaxing.
8. Go to the gym 3 times a week

Major fail on this one so far. I don’t know when I could go to the gym. I’m so busy. I’d like to go in the morning, but I just can’t motivate myself to get to the gym at 6am (with all the hardcore workout folks in the morning) so I could get in a workout before catching my train. At night, I just don’t have the energy. It would be best if I could take an hour or two mid-day and go to the gym, but I’m not sure that would be possible. And it also extends my work-day by one to two hours. I’d rather leave earlier and come home and relax. But I do need to work out, I’m not getting any younger and my body feels it.
9. Earn $10k in freelance income ($833 / month)

It looks like I will reach this goal. In addition to my main job I’m working on a freelance project that pays $2800 / month. It may not last all year, but 3 months of the project is $8400, and that makes me a lot closer to reaching my (previously seemingly unreachable) goal.
10. Eat 1300 calories per day

I have no idea how many calories I’m eating but I’m sure it’s more than 1300.
11. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

Unless you count the water in the beverages I get from the coffee machine at work, I’m not getting close to this goal.
12. Come up with sweet, non expensive things to do to make my boyfriend happy and do them

Hmm. I haven’t really come up with anything specific that is non expensive. I told him I’d buy him a bike after I get a full month’s paycheck at my new job. That’s not cheap. But it’s not that expensive given I didn’t really get him anything for his birthday this year and we then can both go biking together on the weekends, so we won’t have to pay for other things to entertain ourselves. And it will be healthy for us to go biking.
13. Go to 1 networking event per month and get up the courage to talk to people (which is going to be really hard since I’m giving up alcohol)

I haven’t really done this but maybe in the summer I will start going to more networking events.
14. Keep my room organized (easier said than done, hello ADD)

Well… it’s not that bad right now.

15. Write max 20 posts per month for blogging gig ($500 / month)

I hit the 20 posts last month. But now I’m cutting back on the blogging, I might quit the gig because of conflict of interest. Which is kind of a bummer, but it also is too tough to write blog posts in the morning now that I have to leave for work so early.
16. Start a saving fund for basic expenses for the second half of next year when I’ll likely be out of a job.

Funny… I’ve been there, done that, and employed again. I didn’t save enough to cover all my expenses really… I had to dip into my actual savings… but I was only unemployed for two months. Even without figuring out how to actually get paid unemployment, I managed ok.
17. Write hand written letters to the people in my life who I’ve lost contact with (sans Facebook status updates). I don’t really like many people, but it saddens me that I’ve lost contact with the few people in this world who I really admire and consider friends.

Ok, I have not done this at all. I did hand write a parking ticket payment earlier today. Does that count?

18. Take an antidepressant for a year and see if it actually helps my mood swings over time.

I took lithium for about 2 months and it made me feel really weird. Got kicked out of the study where I was getting the meds for free. So today I’m not on any drugs. I don’t feel like I need them right now, but maybe I do. I’m definitely feeling a bit more stable than I was a few months ago, but I’m just on a ramp up of novelty again.

19. Go to group therapy when possible and give what it takes to get the most out of it possible.

I went to a few months of group therapy and would like to go back. It was actually really helpful for understanding how to interact with people.

20. Make an effort to spend one day a month with each of my few friends.

I’m seeing people more often now that I work in the city. So I think I’m reaching this goal.
21. Invite my roommates to do something fun outside the house and try to build my relationship with them (I am really bad at socializing with my roommates, I like them but when I come home I usually just want to hide in my room. They are so close to each other it’s sometimes awkward for me to be there.)

Have not done this yet, unless you count a trip to Costco.

22. Read at least 4 fiction books and 4 personal finance / economics books and 4 books on interaction design

Hmm… I read a few chapters of one book so far. With my commute, I really should read more. I wonder if I’d read more if I had a Kindle…
23. Start saving for a car replacement

Oh, right, that’s where my additional savings should go this year. My car has 170k miles on it. I am not sure how much longer it will last.
24. Put my all into work, even though sometimes I don’t know how to. Be positive at work and supportive of the chaotic environment that is life at a startup. Try to bring a smile to the table always.

Well, I’m no longer working at a startup. Still, I need to remind myself to do this in any job I do. Any job is somewhat chaotic (unless you’re doing routine admin, and then it’s just boring.) I just need to remember to embrace the chaos and thrive on it.
25. Work on being a better listener and communicator. Learn from career counselor how to do that.
While I still have a lot to learn on the listening and communicating fronts, I have improved a lot and matured since my early 20s. I’m being very careful in how I communicate to people at the office and attempting to stay on everyone’s good side.
26. Try to take one day at a time and be happy for all I have and all the opportunities that are to come.
Minus the brief depression of being unemployed, I’ve done this pretty well. Right now I have to take everything one day at a time because there is a lot to do and I don’t have the time to really think ahead to the future.
So… that’s my quarterly update on my 2010 goals. For some, I’m doing really well. Others… like my health goals… are suffering a bit. There’s still plenty left of 2010, maybe I can manage to meet my 26 goals before the halfway point of the year.

2010: A Fresh Start / Saving $20k in One Year

My goal of saving $20k in 2010 feels within reach. I used Mint to create a strict budget for myself which, allowing for occasional splurges, still should see me saving $1670 per month…

Auto: $300
Bills: $200
Education: $60
Entertainment: $50
Investing Fees: $12
Food & Dining: $200
Health & Fitness: $400
Rent: $633
Personal Care: $440
Shopping: $50
Travel: $50

What’s in bold above is the hard part. I can see myself sticking to budget everywhere else, but it’s going to take a lot of effort to make sure I spend less than $200 on food per month and less than $50 on shopping. Honestly, the shopping is easier since I can just avoid the mall and therefore not buy anything. I spend way too much when I let myself near a mall, so no mall visits in 2010 except to buy gifts.

I don’t know how to spend $200 on food per month, even though in theory that should be easiest. Why can’t I spend less than $200 a month on food… I’m only feeding myself (and occasionally my boyfriend.) I eat out WAY too much which is why in 2010 I will eat out ONLY ONCE A MONTH (really?) and this will be an extreme change in lifestyle for me. That means I need to eat breakfast at home (so I don’t pick up $13 Starbucks on the way to work), figure out affordable lunch options, go out to lunch with my coworkers just once a week, and eat dinner at home — or pack a dinner. I honestly have no idea how to eat cheap / frugally. When I shop for food at the supermarket I usually buy too much that I don’t end up eating. I try to feed myself in the moment, which is bad, and usually wait to figure out what I’m in the mood for (am I craving protein? Calcium?) to decide what to eat. Well, that has to stop, as my $400 – $500 a month food diet is way too expensive and honestly not at all healthy for me.

If my income level stays the same this whole year AND I stick to my budget, I really feel like I CAN save $20k. It really helps using Mint’s planning tool to visualize this. I’m such a nerd but I love adjusting my monthly spending in each category and seeing the yearly savings figure go up. It makes a few dollars saved each month seem a lot more valuable.

Now, chances are I will not remain at my job all year for a few reasons. Namely because I work at a startup and this is our make-or-break year. We may “make” but just looking at the odds there’s at least some chance we’ll “break.” The good news is that with this tight(ish) budget savings plan, I should save $10k the first 6 months, which would at least put me in a good spot when I need to look for a new job (though would completely throw off my goal to save $20k and would depress me greatly.)

Now, I just need to figure out what to do about my 2010 Roth IRA. Over the past three years my IRA plan as been pretty simple… save up enough the year before to put in $3k on April 16 for the year, then put in a few hundred dollars a month until hitting $5k. It probably makes more sense to just max it out right away since I think I’ll have the money and the market looks like it will recover more in 2010 (though it could do the opposite, but how much would dollar cost averaging $2k over a year really help?) Additionally, at my current income tax bracket, I’m unsure if I should be doing a Roth IRA or if I’m at the point where a traditional IRA makes more sense. With no 401k to speak of (I’ve never worked for a company with a 401k, let alone one that matches) the Roth is my only pure investment vehicle. So I need to be smart about it.

After a really awful December in terms of spending (vacations, gifts, dining out) I’m so ready to turn a new January leave and live a semi-frugal life in 2010. With the help of this blog and Mint’s budget tools to keep me in check, I think I can accomplish this. This should be do-able if I keep myself in check every day. No more impulse buys. No more $1500 days at Bloomingdales to cure my temporary depression and need to feel free and reckless. No more alcohol. If I feel the need to do something impulsive – ever – I’m going to the gym.

2009: A Year in Personal Fiscal Review

2009 was an incredible year for be in terms of income. Since graduating college in 2005, I had at most made $30k per year, with months of the year usually dedicated to unemployment sans unemployment checks and freelancing to fill in the gaps. As much as 2009 was not a perfect year, my income this year hit approx. $70k before tax. So I made more than double what I’ve ever made before. That’s the good news.

My spending also increased in 2009. I spent $35k this last year, according to Mint. This included unnecessary splurges which I likely rewarded myself due to my promotion. Next year, I’m going to create a budget and stick to it, as my goal is to save 30% of my after-tax income, about $15,000 assuming my income remains the same (which odds are it won’t). I’d really like to save $20,000 next year, but to do that I’d really have to force myself to be frugal. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I’ve never done before. I might try, especially with Mint’s budget tool and my new iPhone helping me keep my finances in check each month.

To save $20,000 in 2009, I’d have to save $1,667 each month. Assuming my take-home pre-tax pay is $66,000 (which I like to pretend is $33,000 after taxes) I have $2,750 a month to spend. That leaves me with just $1,083 a month of spending money if I really want to save $1,667 per month. Again, this is certainly possible. I’m really inspired by blogs like Under $1000 a Month because if a family of 4 can live off less than $1,000 a month (!!!) then so can I. Right?

Well, I’m not sure I can. My mental health therapy is expensive, as are the meds I will likely be on in 2010. That’s my biggest cost that I’m not willing to give up. I’ve already cut back on voice lessons, though I’m taking a dance class which is $60 / month. And my car may become a wreck in 2010 (with 170k miles on it, I don’t know how much longer it will last) which could mess up the whole savings thing.

I figure I have $800 in set costs (rent, bills, gym, car insurance) and then anything else on top of that which is vital… food, gas, new tires, etc. All-in-all it doesn’t seem like I can live on less than $1,000 a month. Well, I could, but that would mean NO therapy and no dance lessons (and definitely no laser hair removal package, which I’m almost sure I am going to purchase in early 2010 for $300 / month over 12 months.)

My goal for 2010, though, is to seek out ways to live frugally, besides my set expenses, so I can save a lot. Maybe not $20,000, but it’s not so bad to make that my goal. I’ll aim to save $1,667 a month and budget for this as possible. If I can increase my annual income with additional freelance work, all the better. I count my interest in as well, so if my stocks happen to perform well and my P2P accounts happen to stop defaulting, I might hit this goal. Who knows. I do want to focus on keeping my budget in check. If I can save AT LEAST $1,200 a month in 2012, my networth will hit $50k, which is really my main goal for 2010. I read somewhere that at 30 your savings should be at the amount you want to live on for one year of retirement. I’d like $80k a year in retirement, so I want to hit $80k in savings by 30. Which is going to get totally messed up by my potentially going to grad school… but it won’t exactly help matters if I’m out of a job either.

Anyway, here’s to 2010 being prosperous and smart for me and for everyone out there reading this little blog of mine. šŸ™‚

26 Aspirations and Goals for 2010

I like Affecting Change in Me’s idea to come up with the # of goals for the coming year based on your age. She’s turning 30 so she has 30 goals.


Here are my 26 goals for 2010…

I’ll check in each month to update how I’m doing on each goal.

1. Save 20% of my income for retirement

2. Save 10% of my income for other upcoming expenses

3. Increase my net worth to $60,000

4. Study (a lot) for graduate school tests

5. Take the GMAT (and poss retake the GRE)

6. Apply to grad school(s) in fall 2010

7. Stop drinking alcohol (except on my birthday)

8. Go to the gym 3 times a week

9. Earn $10k in freelance income ($833 / month)

10. Eat 1300 calories per day

11. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

12. Come up with sweet, non expensive things to do to make my boyfriend happy and do them

13. Go to 1 networking event per month and get up the courage to talk to people (which is going to be really hard since I’m giving up alcohol)

14. Keep my room organized (easier said than done, hello ADD)

15. Write max 20 posts per month for blogging gig ($500 / month)

16. Start a saving fund for basic expenses for the second half of next year when I’ll likely be out of a job.

17. Write hand written letters to the people in my life who I’ve lost contact with (sans Facebook status updates). I don’t really like many people, but it saddens me that I’ve lost contact with the few people in this world who I really admire and consider friends.

18. Take an antidepressant for a year and see if it actually helps my mood swings over time.

19. Go to group therapy when possible and give what it takes to get the most out of it possible.

20. Make an effort to spend one day a month with each of my few friends.

21. Invite my roommates to do something fun outside the house and try to build my relationship with them (I am really bad at socializing with my roommates, I like them but when I come home I usually just want to hide in my room. They are so close to each other it’s sometimes awkward for me to be there.)

22. Read at least 4 fiction books and 4 personal finance / economics books and 4 books on interaction design

23. Start saving for a car replacement

24. Put my all into work, even though sometimes I don’t know how to. Be positive at work and supportive of the chaotic environment that is life at a startup. Try to bring a smile to the table always.

25. Work on being a better listener and communicator. Learn from career counselor how to do that.

26. Try to take one day at a time and be happy for all I have and all the opportunities that are to come.