Well, since it’s already 2010, I should probably figure out my financial goals for the year.
1. Match my Charitable Contributions from last year.
I was really pleased with my charitable contributions last year and want to be able to give the same amount this year. One change though – I want to be able to make bigger gifts, rather than $25 here and there. So I’m going to try to choose wisely and decide where I want my money to go.
2. Increase savings (CDs and accounts) by 15%.
I will add a caveat. If I buy a place this year, this is clearly off the table.
3. Figure out my taxes so that my refund/amount owed is no more than $100.
This is something that I always seem to struggle with. Ideally, I would like to not owe any money and get back less than $100. No interest free loans to the government from me. Obviously, this isn’t a goal that I can determine directly at the end of the year, but will know come tax time. I think that for 2009, I’ve probably met the goal for my federal taxes, but I’m not so sure about my state taxes. So for 2010, I want to figure out the numbers and adjust my withholding accordingly.
4. Track all FSA eligible expenses in order to better estimate FSA amount for 2011.
This is the first year that I signed up for an FSA, though I used one while still on my parents’ insurance. I took the numbers I knew and made a guess. I’m sure that I was under, but I’m not terribly worried about that. I would rather be under for the year than make a wild guess and then have to spend a lot of money on bandaids and sunscreen at the end of the period. So for 2010, I plan to track all my FSA eligible expenses and the ones I submit that turn out to not be FSA eligible. While there are always variables, this should help me better estimate next year.
5. No YNAB monthly overages for 8 months.
This might be a challenge. But it’s a challenge that will be very good for my bottom line.
You may have noticed that increasing my TSP contributions to 10% isn’t on there. Last year, I said that this was something I wanted to do. I’m re-thinking that. My contributions are currently at 7%, and I get a match on the first 5%. I’m considering the idea of buying a place sometime this year, and want to be sure I have accessible cash for that. Not having a roommate is really affecting my cash flow, so I’m holding off on increasing my contributions until I know more about what’s going to happen this year. There are a lot of unanswered questions.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.