We did it. We finally bought a van!! We are in full celebration mode over here, and I can’t rave about it enough. I never thought I’d be a van mom, but, boy, is it convenient!! The sliding doors, the […]
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!!
The theme for this month at our house is simplify. I kicked us off on January 1st with a 30-day decluttering challenge and I’m happy to say that we’re still going strong (plus, Nate has really taken ownership this year which makes me do the […]
My life is a bit of a conundrum: I am a huge lover of all things Christmas while at the same time loving a good deal and saving money. You’re probably sitting there, thinking, “How in the world are you supposed to do both […]
I’m going to reveal a little something about myself…I love Christmas!! It is, hands-down, my favorite time of year, and I want to start celebrating in October to make it last as long as possible!! However, my husband keeps me tame and makes me wait to play my favorite Christmas tunes until November 1st (I’ve already tried and was shut. down.). This year is no exception. I. Can’t. WAIT!!
Despite my childlike anticipation, there’s nothing like money to make the holidays stressful. This year, we have another child to buy for, and as the primary budgeter in our household, the subject weighs on my mind.
If you’re like me, you love gift-giving. I enjoy every part of it: the hunt for the perfect gift, wrapping it, adding a ribbon for some flare, and then watching as my loved one opens it to reveal what I chose just for them. Each step is my favorite. But. The joy of the season is quickly robbed if our budget is tight and I’m stressed over the amount of we’ve spent.
I’ve implemented a few strategies over the years to help us decrease our spending during the holidays and would love to share them with you!!
- Game plan. Nate and I sit down each year and determine how much we want to spend per person. This is so helpful when I go to shop, because I have an established budget and don’t have to stand in TJ Maxx with my two kids under two trying to determine if this item is too expensive (talk about stressful). I simply look at our budget we’ve put into writing and say “yay” or “nay.” Done.
- Thrift shopping. Now, some of you are probably like, “EW.” Don’t check out just yet!! There are plenty of things that you can buy at thrift stores, garage sales, surplus stores, etc. that are perfectly fine for gift giving. For example, most of the large toys that my children own are used. The reason being, children go through toys fast because they outgrow them, they get tired of them, mom’s are like, “this toy makes too much noise and I am DONE,” and more. SO. When I am thinking of what I’d like to buy my kids for Christmas, I look at places that have used items. (For example, a friend was selling her child’s tool table and it was in beautiful condition. SG is never going to know the difference between a new tool table and the used one I bought for $35.) I always make sure that I can clean the item and that it’s still in good condition. You will save so much money if you start to think smart about your shopping and look for things that aren’t brand new. I promise!!
- Plan ahead. This is one of those “shady parent/friend” tips. Have you ever received a gift that maybe you didn’t love yourself but it would be perfect for a friend? Save it!! There is no shame in re-gifting if that person will truly love it. Otherwise, the item will most likely sit in your home unused and untouched for two years before you decide to take it to Goodwill. Put it to use before then! Another idea is to save baby gifts. We received several gifts this summer for ÉM that were perfect for the developmental stage she’ll be at in December. Rather than putting them in the basket with the other toys, I kept them back and plan to give them to her for Christmas this year. It saves me time and money, because I don’t have to add one more thing to my ever-growing Christmas gift list. Done.
- Shop before December!! This one has exclamation marks because it. is. KEY. To all you procrastinators out there, stop it!! You are most likely spending more by waiting until the last minute, not to mention you’re spending all your holiday hours in the stores with all the other procrastinators when you could be creating beautiful moments with your family. Here are some ideas on how to stop the cycle: 1. Start looking for sales and deals throughout the year. You don’t have to go crazy and shop in March if you don’t want to. BUT, starting in October is not unreasonable. Most stores will have good sales before December and you’ll be so thankful you started early. 2. Online/house parties. You know all those parties you’ve been invited to, like Norwex, Thirty-One Gifts, or Usborne? Start shopping for Christmas!! There have been numerous times where I’ve been invited to a party, and I hit a conundrum wall: I don’t want to spend money but I really want to support my friend and not be a party pooper. So guess what? I buy with a purpose. Your mom loves to shop at ALDI? Buy her a Thirty-One canvas bag for Christmas. Boom. You have kids? Buy some Usborne books and save them for their stocking. Double boom. This is a perfect way to hit two birds with one stone and you can stop feeling guilty about buying something you might not use just because you don’t want to say no (that’s another issue we’ll have to tackle later).
I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to start spending less during the holiday season by simply being smart throughout the year with your gift giving. Game plan with a budget, do some thrift shopping when possible, plan ahead throughout the year, and shop before December. And if this list is overwhelming, just pick one that you’ll stick with this year. It’s really not hard once you start changing your mindset. AND you might get so motivated that you’ll implement more than one!! You do you.
Tell me which of these you’re most excited about or what money-saving Christmas ideas have worked for you in the past. I need all the money-saving tips I can get!!