Did you make 2023 financial goals? My husband and I discussed some ideas over our holiday break. We decided on one big audacious financial goal for the year, and it’s a doozy!
The last time we wrote numbers-driven financial goals was 2019. That was the year that we made the goal of paying off the last of our non-mortgage debts and we achieved it by September of that year. It was a momentous occasion that was many years in the making.
When it was all said and done we paid off over six figures of non-mortgage loans. I cried for days and we celebrated the occasion with a family cruise a few months later.
But after that, our goals were not as specific. In 2020, our financial goals were to read, research, and understand both college and retirement planning. I did read a few books that year on both subjects, but it was not an earth-shattering goal. Also that year, I wanted to create an In Case of Emergency (ICE) binder for my family. I did achieve this goal and ended up calling it our Family Vital Information Binder.
In 2021, I wanted to increase our savings but didn’t attach any number to it, so we floundered that year away. In 2022, I wanted to do a major purge of our home, and that lasted until about January 15 of 2022 when I reorganized our kitchen cabinets. My basement is still a mess.
We have not one, but two teenage high school daughters. Our oldest is a junior in high school and college becomes reality in the fall of 2024.
We want to assist our daughters with their college expenses. We have a number that we want to save for each daughter. The number will most likely not cover everything, but if they decide to pursue options that cost equal to or less than the amount we want to give them, they’ll be in great shape. However, if they decide on a school that is more than the amount, we will guide them on how they will be paying that portion of their way through college.
College is crazy expensive right now. There are ways to reduce the costs by pursuing scholarships, starting at a community college, and working while studying. Everything is on the table and we have a lot to sort out in the next year and a half.
My husband paid his entire way through undergrad and my parents covered a significant portion, so we come from both angles and our strategy is a compromise.
—>>Our 2023 Financial Goal: Save a set amount for college.<<—
Once we paid off our non-mortgage debts in 2019, we started saving some of the debt snowball money for college savings. The rest of the snowball went towards other things, such as a new-to-us vehicle, medical expenses, retirement contributions, and home repairs.
Progress was made, but not nearly enough. We have a ways to go, and 18 months to try to get there.
We divided what is still needed by 18 and that is our monthly savings goal between now and the summer of 2024. If we are able to save our monthly goal between now and then, we will be on track to hit our number.
College and Retirement are about to collide!
If my husband and I were a bit younger, we might not be as aggressive about our upcoming savings season. But we had our kids later in life and my husband will turn 65 the year our youngest graduates from high school so we have other financial pressures percolating in the background. Our goal is to have our set number saved by the fall of 2024 and if we achieve it, we’ll be able to cash flow some more help for the girls, at least until my husband retires.
How will we make these goals?
We used the snowball method to pay off our non-mortgage debts. That money didn’t go away once we paid off the debts, it just went toward other things.
Currently, aside from our mortgage, we do not carry any other debts. So, now it is time to buckle down to find the snowball money once again.
The Game Plan for 2023:
1. Plan our Spending. Find the holes.
We will control our money, rather than our money controlling us. By planning our expenses each month to predict cash flow, I hope to avoid impulsive purchases and reduce some spending.
After our mortgage, grocery spending is our next largest expense. At the end of 2022, I totaled the year’s worth of groceries and was blown away by the number. I spent about $870/month on groceries. Long-time readers might remember the days when my kids were much younger and I spent $400/month on groceries. This increase is partly from inflation, but also, I now cook for 4 adult-sized appetites. My spending was bound to increase as my girls got older. However, I will re-focus on my meal planning/grocery shopping routine to try to get this number down.
Sidebar: Restaurants are also a budget buster for us, and I will be extra diligent in this category as well.
2. Earn Additional Income
You can only cut so much from a budget, so we’ll need to also earn extra income by continuing to grow our small businesses, along with finding other income streams.
3. Track our Success!
I created a tracker sheet and posted it in a very prominent spot so my husband and I to see it daily. Hopefully, it will help us not lose sight of our goal and stay motivated. We used trackers when we paid off our non-mortgage loans (see below) and it was super fun to color in the blocks as we hit our goals. These goal trackers are now a part of my Email Subscriber Freebies.
What We Won’t Give Up
As audacious as our college savings goal is, we still want to enjoy our life. We live frugally, but once we paid off our non-mortgage debts, we decided that we don’t want to live that restrictively again. My motto has always been to “live well on less” by being creative with our resources, and now it will be “living well on (even) less” and being even more creative.
There are a few things that we will not give up so I will need to add them to our budget.
We work hard and really enjoy our time away. Our summer beach vacation is already booked and there are a few more trips we’d like to take. Travel and vacations will always be a part of our budget.
2. The girls’ activities
Our kids are quite active with sports, Girl Scouts, and school activities. As long as they enjoy these activities and do well in school, they can continue with them and we will continue to keep them in the budget.
Get out the shovel!
I tell my husband that we’re in the “shovel all extra money into college savings” season of life. We’ve hit financial goals before and I’m expecting us to hit this goal too. It’s an exciting time in our oldest daughter’s life right now. She has a lot of decisions to make about her future. What does she want to study? Does she want to swim in college? What type of school would be a good fit for her?
It’s bittersweet to watch your child go through this season of life. I look back on old photos of her early childhood fondly and wonder where the time went. But we’ve also been guiding her toward early adulthood and I can’t wait to watch her fly!
Did you make any 2023 financial goals?
What financial goals did you make for the new year? Share them in the comments!