An update on goals & a progress report

I can’t believe it’s only been about 8 months since we committed to frugality and began saving our emergency fund. Our progress has been slow, but it’s started to pick up since we paid off our credit card debt.

Beginning in January, we doubled our monthly savings amount. Hopefully that means the progress meter I added to my sidebar over the weekend will begin to move more quickly.

Our summer savings account is actually complete … we’re just waiting on a tax refund check from the state of North Carolina. Once that arrives, it’ll go directly into our summer savings account to cover Tony’s income during the two summer months when he doesn’t receive a paycheck for teaching. We’re hoping he’ll be able to find a part-time job over the summer, and all of that extra income will go directly into the emergency fund.

As for the Europe savings account … well, that’s pretty sad so far. Our plan was to finish funding our emergency fund and then begin saving aggressively for our trip to Europe. We’ve had a slight change of plans.

It’s easier for me to stay motivated toward a goal when I can watch its progress, so we decided to open a new savings account and save separately for Europe. Opening a new account for Europe doesn’t change the total amount we have in liquid savings, it just helps us to track our savings to reach the two separate goals.

Since Europe is a fun goal, seeing the progress meter move should be extra motivating. Whenever I want to make an unnecessary purchase or spend money, I can take a look at our progress and remind myself that our tight budget will be worth it in 14 months!

After assessing our progress and our goals, I realized that we weren’t saving enough to reach them. So I shifted my budget around and cut down some of our discretionary spending to increase our monthly savings amount by $100. I’m hoping we can sustain the increase, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

Our emergency fund will remain our top priority, but we’ve begun saving a small amount for Europe every month, too.

Based on our current rate of savings, here are my projections for completion:

Emergency fund: Completed by July 2010

Europe fund: Completed by May 2010

Hopefully, we’ll bring in some additional income this summer and we’ll be able to finish sooner.

I’m glad I took the time to assess where we are and where we need to be. I was able to make a change to our savings before it was too late! Have you assessed your goals recently?

4 thoughts on “An update on goals & a progress report

  1. Bobbi

    I assess my budget every month. :) I haven’t assessed my goals lately though. I need to make that a priority this month. Thank you for the post, it helps reminds me of what is important. :)

  2. Margot

    You’ve probably already considered this, but what about a short-term focus on sacrificing free time to bring in more income? It would be exciting to earn new chunks of money that would make you feel like you’d made significant progress toward savings and the Europe fund. I know that I am better at sticking with things long-term when I have bursts of feeling like I’m making faster progress. There are a million ways to make more money, either super short term (1 evening or 1 weekend of extra work) or over a few months (a part-time job). Even as a young professional in my late twenties, I once was short on money and earned a lot by doing babysitting for wealthy families. It pays well! Graduate students can often find opportunities to earn more money doing one-off projects helping a professor edit a book, doing short-term research, etc. There are regular part-time jobs. There are random one-off things you can do for money – helping a friend who has a catering company as-needed, taking care of a pet in the neighborhood while someone is out of town, etc. I’m assuming you don’t want to do this long-term, but it could be a fun challenge to focus on increasing income for a couple of months.

  3. Karen

    Margot – We have certainly considered increasing our income, but at this time we’ve made the decision that time together is more important as long as we’re on track with our goals. If we were facing a deficit in our budget and couldn’t afford to make ends meet, increasing our income would be our only option whatever it took. But at this time, we have a limited amount of time together due to my job and his classes, and so we choose to spend it together instead of making money. Thanks for the ideas, though! Hopefully someday we’ll be in a position to try some of them to increase our income!

  4. Pingback: Surviving the summer without spending our savings | Frugal Living Tips & Money Saving Ideas | Living Well on Less

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