Friday, January 04, 2008

Financial Goals for 2008

I've been thinking seriously about these--apologies for the delay. But without further ado, here are my 2008 financial goals.

Earn the full match in my 401(k)
I'm going to be switching over to the Roth 401(k), and my company's match has been bumped up to $2,000 (dollar-for-dollar!), so this will be a more challenging goal than it was this year.

Save $4,000 in the Freedom Fund, for an end balance of $10,000
This figure will just about cover six months' worth of frugal living, so it's a nice stash to have in case of life change or emergency. This means regular monthly contributions of about $250, plus saving the slack in my extra paychecks. Quite doable. If it's looking too doable as the year progresses, I may revise this goal upwards a touch, but since I may have to adjust my 401(k) contributions up, this one may be harder than it looks.

Give $1,200 to good causes
Yes, indeed, this is less than I gave this year. But a hundred bucks a month is a nice round number, and I really don't think it's ideal for me to be resenting my giving plan (and I did feel that way a couple of times this year), so I'm going to take this one in baby steps. The figure is still a chunk of money for someone of my age and income. I also need to devote some thought to creating a giving plan that makes my donations meaningful--I felt a little haphazard this year.

Earn $1,500 of non-salary income, earmarked for graduate school application expenses
This is going to be a big challenge, especially since I'm going to give up the freelance work I do through my employer. But I'm going to try to earn some money through the blog (you'll note I'm continuing to run the Prosper referral ad), and I'm going to talk to a local coffee shop about maybe doing some contract baking. And all those tiny Pinecone Research checks count, too! I'll get a goal meter up on my sidebar for this one.

Buy a friend a drink at least once a month
And not in the "I'll get this round, you get the next round" way, either. This seems like a strange goal, I know. But I want to be careful that I don't get tight-fisted, and I want to prioritize my friendships. I'm not going to be too picky about what it is I'm buying--coffee or a snack counts just as much as a beer, as long as it's bought during social time together and not reimbursed.

Achieve a $35,000 net worth
This one seems the likely result of achieving all of the above goals. I'll revisit it at the six-month mark.

You'll note that there's no goal pertaining to the Travel Fund. That's because it's not a priority right now. I'll keep up my $50/month automatic transfers, but I'm not going to be pushing this one this year, partially because it's not as urgent if I'm not taking my trip until summer of '09 and partially just because I'm going to have other things on my mind.

So onwards and upwards. May we all enjoy success in 2008.


Ann said...

I think it's great that you're setting aside such a big chunk for grad application expenses -- I spent about $1400 and really hadn't expected it to be so much.

Craig said...

Here's what I spent two years ago:

$115 Registration Fee - General GRE
$130 Registration Fee - Physics Subject GRE
$70 Application Fee - Cornell University
$60 Application Fee - UCLA
$107 Additional Score Reports
$45 Application Fee - UW Madison
$50 Application Fee - Caltech
$80 Application Fee - Princeton
$25 Application Fee - Auburn University
$45 Application Fee - University of Washington
$60 Application Fee - Berkeley

Total: $787

Brooke said...

What a great idea to sell your "wares" to a local coffee shop. I need to check into this!

I also like your idea to buy people drinks; people that focus too narrowly on saving money can become scrooges, and this will keep you on track!

Great goals.

Escape Brooklyn said...

Those sound like great goals and very do-able given your terrific progress last year!

MindBoggled said...

I've got a question for ya: why did you decide to switch over to the Roth? My job is offering one this year too and I'm torn---I could put so much more away if it is pretax, but then.... Anyway, it's been bugging me for a while and I was wondering why you made the choice you made.


Chitown said...

Best of luck with your 2008 Goals!

SavingDiva said...

Your goals are certainly steep! Good luck!

HC said...

You definitely don't want to feel resentful of your own giving. Ever. And that is in fact very generous of you; my automatic donations add up to far less than that, although I also give lump sum donations (like to DC).

It's been awhile since I took my GRE (and they've changed the test somewhat), but I'd be happy to try and answer any questions you might have.

Congrats on what you did in 2007 (especially that great savings rate), and I'm quite sure you'll have a great 2008.

Milena said...

EMM - I just recently came across your blog and a few others like it - what an interesting concept to write about. I work in personal finance and I thought I was the only one who was similarly obsessed with my money! I really like your point about donating money and buying your friends a drink once in a while. I used to fret over these things thining they were "extraneous" spending. I think they are more a quality of life issue - when you are generous within your means, you feel a whole lot better about yourself! I look forward to reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

I love the goal of "Buy a friend a drink (or coffee or a snack) at least once a month." It's a great idea because a lot of times I think I have to plan extensive plans for getting together with friends (which tend to add up financially), when all it really takes sometimes is a nice drink or cup of coffee and half an hour to reconnect. Thank you for sharing your goals with us and good luck!

The Impecunious Investor said...

Hi, I just recently came across your blog. I like it. I'm just starting out myself with personal finance and a related blog, so I'm collecting a bunch of different ideas and strategies along the way.

I was going to ask you what your Freedom Fund is but then I poked around in the archives and read about it. I like your thinking, and I think I'm in a similar boat. I'm currently establishing a small Emergency Fund ($1K) but I like the idea of having a larger Freedom Fund for things like switching apartments, major moves, etc. Cool blog!