Saturday, December 20, 2014

2015 goals

I'll probably revisit these at some point -- for one thing, my job situation might or might not change over the summer. I'm either going to be at the same job, with the same income, for another academic year, or be changing jobs with all the resulting unknowns from that. But for the purposes of this post I'm assuming that I'll be at my current job through all of 2015.

I'm trying to keep these simple: instead of several dozen goals, I'm making only five, focused around my current priorities. Some of these are more under my control than others -- for example, I can definitely contribute $1000 a month to retirement because I'm already doing it and it's automatic! But the net worth goals are trickier, because they rely in part on things well outside of my control, like whether I have a medical emergency or what the markets decide to do. I'm also setting a pretty aggressive target for cash savings; if I stick to this plan, I'll be living on about $1150 a month, roughly 1/3 of my net income. I'm going to try this for a few months and see how it goes, but if I'm feeling deprived by the time I do my first-quarter review at the end of March I may have to re-evaluate.

1) Emergency Fund: Now that I'm out of debt, I plan to put $500 into this account every month until I reach $5000 (this should be around September.) Then I'll start contributing the same $500 to my down payment fund (see below under #3).

2) Retirement Savings: I'll continue to contribute $1000 a month to my 403(b) from my pre-tax salary of $4000. My extremely achievable base goal, therefore, is an additional $12,000 contributed to retirement. My stretch goal is to scrape up $2000 through found money (freelance work, basically, since I don't have any really gift-worthy occasions like graduation or weddings upcoming) and contribute that to my Roth IRA. However, before I even get going on the 2015 IRA, I'm going to do what I can to increase my 2014 IRA by April 15, so I think this goal might not happen unless I win the lottery or something.

3) Other Savings Goals: This is pushing it a little, but until my EF is full I want to contribute another $500 a month to three short/medium-term savings accounts: $250 to travel, $125 to "down payments" (to be used for future car/housing down payments) and $125 to "one-time shocks" (to be used for major one-time expenses like a new computer, a move, etc.) Once the EF is at $5000, I'll up that to $375 to each account, continuing to save $1000 in cash a month.

4) Overall Net Worth Goals: Conservatively, there is no reason why I can't increase my net worth by $1500 a month -- that's just my basic retirement+e-fund contribution along with the assumption that I don't overspend my monthly income otherwise. So I'll set my base goal for increasing my net worth at $18,000 this year. However, while some months may be up and some down (as I spend from my short-term savings accounts like the travel account, particularly, and as the markets move around), I would ideally like to average $2000 a month. My stretch goal is $24,000 for the year, therefore, and my extra-special stretch goal is to make this a prettier number and increase my net worth by $25,000 :-)

5) Travel goals: in 2015, I would like to spend at least three weeks in California with one godchild, at least one week in Virginia with the other godchild, at least two weeks at my parents' place, and at least two weekends with my brother and his wife. Luckily, I can work on the road during part of the summer!


6) Other Goals: Don't get into a situation where I have to replace my car or computer and spend a ton of cash :)

I decided to do the Moneystepper 2015 Savings Challenge, so I'm hoping that's going to be a good way to keep monthly track of these goals, along with posts here. 

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