I want a minivan.
I want the collapsible back seats & the sliding doors, the ample space for groceries & the leg room. Heck, I’ll even take the soccer-mom reputation if it means I can wear my yoga pants everyday (who am I kidding, I already do)!!
But, do you know what else I want? That pretty pale-pink KitchenAid mixer, a new vacuum cleaner, some comfy V-neck tees & a pair of black Nike sneakers. And, while we’re at it, a new washer and dryer would be great since ours are from the 70s. Oh, and I’d love to remodel our bedroom & maybe refinish our hardwood floors in the living room.
The problem is, these all cost money. While it would be easy to get a loan for the van and put the rest on a credit card, we’ve decided to live debt-free, which means we have to choose. Should we save for a minivan or slowly spend the money on all the other things we have our eyes on?
Determining your financial priorities is critical to the success of your budget. Well-planned goals point you in the direction of your endgame and keep you on track. You can’t keep your eye on the ball if you don’t know where the ball is.
So, here are my steps on how to be a goal digger (cue Kanye).
Set a measurable goal. This is the most important step to becoming a goal digger. Your goal has to be measurable in order to determine how close you are to accomplishing it.
Example Goal #1: I will eat less sweets this year.
Does this mean 1 dessert a day, a week, a month? What was my typical eating habit before I set my goal? What constitutes a sweet-does this include honey or, dare I say, chocolate?! This goal is not specific enough to allow me to track my progress.
Example Goal #2: I will only eat 1 dessert a week this year.
This is measurable. If I only eat 1 dessert this week, I know I’ve met my goal. But, if I eat more than 1, I know there’s room for improvement, and I can set boundaries accordingly (darn you, peanut butter fudge cheesecake!!).
Hint: When it comes to creating a measurable goal for your budget, it usually means you need to have a dollar amount associated with your goal as well as a designated time frame.
Write it down (your goal, that is). Post this bad boy everywhere-on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your nightstand, your car visor. Type it in a note, screenshot it, and set it as the background on your phone. Write it on your hand, get a tattoo, carve it in your lawn. Whatever it takes to remind you of your goal, do it!! Writing it down will keep you accountable.
Compare every purchase to your goal. This is crucial!! By comparing your needs/wants to your goal, you can determine whether or not they’re necessary to your life right now. You know that KitchenAid mixer I mentioned? If I buy it now, I won’t be able to put that money in my minivan fund, meaning the van may have to wait a month longer in the end. Is it worth it? Thinking of purchases in regards to your goal puts them into perspective. (Hint: a lot of small purchases can add up quickly. See my post on how to change your spending habits.)
After some debate, we’ve decided our goal for the year is saving for a minivan. It’s the highest priority for our family and the other things can wait. With that being said, this goal is going to take some work. It’s easy to stay motivated at the beginning of the year, because the decision is fresh on our minds. However, when March rolls around and Justin Timberlake just so happens to be in Cleveland, we’ll have to make a decision: save for the van or take back the night with JT? (Fingers crossed that we can do both!!)
Who’s ready to be a goal digger this year?!
P.S. If you feel like you’re having a hard time saving money for your goals, see my post on creative ways to save a little here and a little there. You might get to your goal sooner than you think!!
P.P.S. The year I wrote this post was the year we bought our minivan!! Read about our journey to saving + driving the van of our dreams here!!