Our 2013 Financial Goals

Having just closed the book on our 2012 financial goals, I thought I would share our 2013 financial goals.  These are goals that tie directly to our personal household finances.  I figure that posting them will leave the door open for suggestions as well as give me something to hold myself accountable to.  If you have any suggestions or ideas, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

  1. Health Savings Account – We switched to a High Deductible health insurance plan, and tied to that is a health savings account.  I am currently researching the best place to open this (since our company plan does not include the HSA aspect).  I’d like to have this open and funded in January, setup regular contributions of at least $200 per month, and end the year with at least a $2,000 balance to carry forward into next year.
  2. Home Value Increase of 4% – Our value increased by an estimated 6% last year.  This would be another nice increase.  It would still leave us far below what we paid, but would allow for a continued growth in equity.
  3. Auto / RV values decrease by 13% – We don’t plan any new purchases in terms of cars or our RV.  I’m estimating that depreciation will reduce the value by 13% from the beginning of the year.
  4. Cash savings reduced by 11% – Although I expect to save a little money toward our long term goals, we will be taking a hit this year that I’ve known is coming, as we will have to pay for a new roof.  A high yield savings account can help you earn a favorable interest rate on your cash holdings.
  5. Retirement assets increase by 15% – Regular contributions will hopefully push this number up, and I’m hoping for a modest gain in the markets.  I’m still not happy with our total number in terms of my age and what we have, but slow and steady wins the race.
  6. Investment account increase of 19% – Last year I set an ambitious goal of over 30% and saw this come well short.  This year, I’m still hoping for a gain that would outpace the market.  From what I’m seeing in terms of analyst and sector recommendations, I think this is achievable.
  7. Reduce debt by 6% – The only debt we have is our mortgage payment and a student loan payment.  Just the regular payments would allow us to reach these goals and would reduce our mortgage balance by 5.7% and our student loan balance by nearly 13%. I don’t plan on paying extra as any additional money that I’d normally put to paying off debt will instead go toward savings.
  8. Net gain increase of 17% – If we met every goal, our net worth would increase by 17%.  This is short of what we acehieved in 2012 (which was a 28% gain) but would still be pretty nice growth.  I’d like to see this even higher, but am trying to be a little conservative.  We still have a long ways to go toward making up the losses in our net worth that came about during the Great Recession, so even though our net worth is at ‘record’ levels, it is not where I had envisioned it being as I enter the last year and a half of my 30’s.

I’ll provide some regular updates throughout the year.  As I mentioned above, I’d love to hear about your goals or any suggestions you have that can help us beat our goals.

Thanks and here’s to a great 2013!

5 Financial Items To Do With The 5 Weeks Left In The Year

Today is Cyber Monday and by now, everybody is in full holiday mode.  I’m sure lots of people gave up some sleep for Black Friday shopping, and I know internet traffic spikes (and work productivity goes down) as people will be online today trying to hunt down deals.

While this is all good, one thing to keep in mind is that there are just 5 weeks left in the year.

Thus, I thought it would be prudent to discuss 5 things to do with those 5 remaining weeks:

  1. Begin planning your 2013 budget – Chances are your paycheck is going to look quite a bit different next year.  Surely your health care premiums will change, deductions are likely to change, and other variables will come into play.  Prepare for the adjustments that will take place, and take the time now to make any changes in your withholding rates.
  2. Identify a new category to save for and plan on how to save for it – Here’s an easy one: Christmas.  If your 2012 shopping will be funded by credit cards or by drawing down savings or some other method, come up with a plan now on how to fund next years gifts.  It may sound crazy to think about this a full 57 weeks before next Christmas actually hits, but think about it this way: If you start saving $10 per week today, you’ll have $570 stashed away toward next years gift buying.  If you already have this category taken care of, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and come up with something else: A vacation fund, a birthday gift fund, and if you really can’t come up with one, a ‘Send money to Money Beagle’ fund is right for any occasion! 🙂
  3. Look at mortgage re-financing – Rates are low and if you haven’t re-financed in awhile, you might just be able to get a great rate and some low costs. Lenders will be closing their books on the year, and they will be looking to pad their 2012 numbers by closing as many loans as they can.  Take advantage of the year end and use this as bargaining leverage to get rates lowered or fees waived, something that could pay off for you for years to come.  Make sure you do your homework and pick out the best loan for your overall financial goals, even if that means your payment could actually increase.
  4. Plan any remaining giving – If you have any funds set aside to donate, start planning what you want to do, and actually sending it out.  Many people wait until the last week of the year, but the fact is many people could use that money now, especially with the holiday season kicking in, so if you are planning on giving money anyways, go for it.  At the very least, have a plan in place so that you can make sure you’re not scrambling on New Year’s Eve to get your donations made.
  5. Set 2013 net worth goals – Our net worth statement looks a lot like a balance sheet: Things Worth Money (Assets), Places We Owe Money (Liabilities), and the difference between the two (Equity).  For each of the categories, I project out what I’d like our goals to be.  For example, I’ll look at our retirement balance, forecast what we are saving as well as growth that I hope for, which leads to a number to shoot for in 2013.  Repeat for the other categories, and you’ll end up with some target goals.  This gives a measuring stick throughout the year, as well as something to look back next year to see how you did and how you can improve moving forward.

These are just a few things that you can do, but if you can take care of even one, it’ll make for a better and hopefully more prosperous 2013!

I’d love to hear some of your ideas on things you can do with the last five weeks of the year to make for a better 2013.  What things have you done already?  Anything on my list spark an interest?