This is the first in a series of blog posts I plan to do as we head into 2012. I'm going to devote each post over the next couple weeks to one area of my life. I'm planning to reflect on 2011, and look forward for 2012 in the following categories: personal, professional, spiritual, marriage, family, fitness/health, home, fun/hobbies, financial. I just thought this would be a fun way for me to set some personal goals for myself this year, and figured I might as well share it here, on my online journal.
First up: Finances....
We are absolutely right on track with where we want to be right now. Brian and I had a big year, financially. We successfully stuck to our cash-only budgeting system for all of 2011. Using a cash-only budget changed our lives in a big way. (quick explanation: we still use checks to pay bills, but we take out the same amount of cash every Thursday night, and that's all the money we have to spend on gas, groceries, drinks, entertainment, eating out, shopping at Target, etc...until the following week. When the money's gone, we don't spend any more. Ever. )I can count on one hand the amount of times I exceeded my $100/week grocery budget...and this was wildly exciting to me every time I left the grocery store! With the exception of a few unusual weeks (travel, weddings, holidays, etc.), we did not stray from our spending budget very often. And when we did, we discussed it first, and planned ahead for it.
This major change in our spending habits allowed us to comfortably chip away more and more at our debt, and I'm happy to report that we are debt free in 2012 (with the exception of our mortgage)! In 2011, as a couple, we learned to spend within our means, stick to our budget, plan ahead for special occasions, and how to live with less. It may have taken us 5 years of marriage to get a handle on our finances, but it sure feels good to be in control now. I think we both feel incredibly empowered by the financial changes and successes we had in 2011.
In 2012, we plan to move forward with our long-term financial planning (retirement, college saving, and buying land someday)! We are both doing well at work and being rewarded for it financially, but that hasn't changed our spending habits much at all. Any extra income from here on out will be saved or invested.
Looking forward to a new chapter in our financial lives now that we are out from under the debt we have known for a long time.