Category Archive: Goals

When all is Said and Done, it is the Done that Counts

When all is said and done, it is the done that counts.

Lots of folks spend their time talking about their problems, especially their financial problems.  Only a select few ever commit to the task of fixing those problems.  The talking is important, but only if it actually leads to real changes.  Decisions must be made, goals must be created, and plans must be implemented.  Real progress demands real work.

Establish Big Goals -

Here’s a brief paragraph, outlining the financial future that I want -

I want to live my life without borrowing money.  I want to be able to send my children to college and retire when my wife is finished with her work as an educator.  I want to own my own home.  I want to be able to give generously and enjoy time with my family.  I want to write for the rest of my life – and I want to be able to write full-time.

Using the above paragraph, I extracted the following financial goals -

Live Debt Free

Pay Off Mortgage

Save For Kids’ College

Save For Retirement

Increase Writing Income

Establish A Plan To Achieve Each Goal

You can see where this is headed.  I have my goals, but that’s not enough.  I then create a specific plan for each specific goal.  Some plans, like the plan to pay off the mortgage, are rather easy to create.  I have a beginning and ending date, a specific balance to deal with, and knowable payment amounts to be made.  Some of the other plans, like plans to save for kids’ college or increase writing income, those plans are a little more complicated, a little more open-ended.  Nevertheless, plans must be made!

Act on the Plans

This is where most folks get stuck.  They have goals (some well-defined, some less so).  They may even have plans.  The key, however, is actually implementing the created plans, so as to achieve the desired goals.

I can list, quickly, the four reasons that I have for acting on my plans.  They are – my wife, our oldest daughter, our son, and our little girl.  They are my motivation.  Period.  I want to provide for them and bless them.  So, I don’t just sit around and think about what it would be like to be financially free.  I’m actually taking steps to become financially free.  Do I make mistakes?  You bet.  I spend more than I should.  I fail to save as much as I should.  I write less than I want to.  I am very, very, very human – but I press on.  I act.  I don’t just talk, or dream, or think, or imagine.  I act.

Start Over

I almost left this paragraph out, but it might be the most important one in this article.  If you get stuck, if you get fired, if you get tired, if you get frustrated, if you get confused, if you get exhausted – take a break – and start over.  Also, remember that numbers in a bank account do not define who we are, as people.  We are defined by what we believe, what we give, and what we know.  Even the smartest financial minds get things wrong.  So, just start over.  Rewrite your paragraph.  Reestablish your goals.  Reconfigure your plans.  Then, act.

No Credit Needed is an independently-operated, single-author, personal finance blog.  You can help to grow the visibility of this site by sharing this article.  Simply click on the sharing buttons below – and show your support for the site.  Rock on.

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Making Plans For An Awesome 2012

2011 was an amazing year for me and my family.  I am excited about 2012 – and I thought I would share a few of the plans I have for the coming year.

Writing -

In 2011, time available for writing was extremely limited.  Thankfully, my schedule has settled a bit, and my passion for writing appears to have returned.  I plan to write (a minimum of) two articles per day, one here at No Credit Needed and another over at No Calories Needed.  I also plan to announce the launch of a new site – one focusing on the spiritual aspect of my life.

I hope you will enjoy what I’ll be producing, because my goal will be to create relevant content, from a personal perspective.  I started No Credit Needed because I wanted a place to both share my own story – and encourage others.  The past couple of years, my focus has been – unfocused? – and it’s time to change that.  In 2012, it’s back to the old NCN.  I’ll be writing about several personal finance topics, but, once again, debt reduction will be the primary one.

Connecting -

My twitter handle is @NCN.  You can follow me here – twitter.com/NCN.  How cool is that?  I have a three-letter twitter handle.  Here’s the deal, though.  See, I signed up for twitter a LONG time ago (in Internet years) – just after the site started.  However, I didn’t see how big of a deal twitter would be – and really cost myself an opportunity to gain followers.  I hope to rectify that, in 2012.

(Do you feel a theme?  I’ve been out of the blogging-loop for a while, not because I didn’t want to write, but because, I honestly did not have the time.  Now, I’m going to make the time.  The site is important to me.  Connections are important to me.  So, I’m going to take the time to interact and to write.)

Financial Planning -

This will come as no surprise – but my lack of writing has led to a lack of focus, when it comes to managing my finances.  Making the change from one job to another required a significant commitment, and now it’s time to laser-lock, and put into practice many of the lessons I’ve learned, and written about, over the years.  It’s been stated in a thousand ways – but personal finance is personal – it’s emotional, psychological, spiritual, and intellectual.  I’ve been treading water and now it’s time to get back to work.

Fitness Training -

I made a goal, a couple of years ago, to really focus on my health.  I’ve done a decent job of losing some weight – but not nearly enough.  I’ve continued to run, but I need to run more.  I plan to make 2012 a productive year, a year to make more progress, grow stronger, and be fit.

These are my plans for 2012.  I’ll have more to say in the coming days – with specific “financial resolutions”.  Until then, I want to thank you for reading No Credit Needed.  In April, the site will be seven years old.  That’s hard to believe.  If you haven’t done so, please consider subscribing to the site, via free daily email or rss.

No Credit Needed is an independently-operated, single-author, personal finance blog.  Rock on.

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Savings Goals Listed By Priority

One of my main goals is to live the rest of my life without having to borrow any more money. At present, my wife and I are consumer-debt free and we are working hard to pay off our mortgage.

In order to remain debt free, it is important that we think both short-term and long-term about our savings goals. I have created a list of our goals and ranked them by priority. I use the list to help guide us as we budget for monthly savings and plan annual retirement contributions.

Emergency Fund – We will always maintain enough cash reserves to pay for a minimum of six months’ worth of expenses.

403b Retirement – I will have regular contributions taken from my salary each month, increasing the amount of monthly contributions as salary rises and mortgage decreases.

Major Purchases Replacement Savings – If I plan to live without borrowing money, I need to prepare for and save for the future purchases of newer automobiles, furniture, carpet, etc. These savings will be kept in our online savings account and transferred to our checking, if needed. Right now, saving for a newer automobile is higher on our list than aggressively attacking mortgage debt.

Roth IRAs – With my 403b and my wife’s pension, more than ten percent of our gross income is going towards retirement. Once we own fifty percent of our home, we will again focus on funding our Roth IRAs. For now, we have stopped funding these accounts.

College Savings – We have three children and we are working hard to fund ESAs for each of them. Right now, our goal is to pay off the mortgage and then focus more attention on college savings. We are also comfortable knowing that some college expenses will simply become parts of our future monthly budgets, once our kids are actually in school.

Knowing when-to-save-for what can get tricky. For the next five years, basic retirement contributions, automobile replacement, and mortgage reduction will be some of our top priorities. Over time, I’m confident we’ll shift towards more retirement and college savings.

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Achieving Financial Goals – The Process Remains The Same

I do not like distractions.  When I am working on an article, I don’t want to listen to music.  When I am watching television, I do not want to hear the noise of the dish washer.  My mind is of the proverbial “one-track” variety.  Multitasking is not for me.

When it comes to the management of our finances, I find things work best when I’m focused – intensely focused – on either one goal – or a few, very closely related goals.

For instance, let’s assume my goal is to be debt free.  Well, I might have two credit card debts, a car payment, and a student loan.  Each of these debts are part of my debt repayment plan – but my main goal is to be debt free.

I will be focused on achieving that goal.  Along the way, the actual plan that I put in place may call for some actions not directly related to debt reduction (say, saving up for an emergency fund), but my goal – and my focus – will remain the same.

I use the following process:

Identify goal.

Establish time frame.

Create plan.

Implement plan.

Anticipate obstacles.

Remain resolute.

Accomplish goal.

Repeat for next goal.

I’ll use the “to be debt free” goal as an example.

Identify goal – to be debt free

Establish time frame – two years

Create plan – budget, emergency fund, pay lowest balance first, roll payments from paid-off debts into existing debts, etc.

Implement plan – follow through, communicate with spouse, weekly budget analysis

Anticipate obstacles – miscellaneous expenses, job-loss, friends that overspend

Remain resolute – reflect on progress, redouble efforts when facing setbacks, find encouragement from like-minded

Accomplish goal – share good news, celebrate, enjoy

Repeat for next goal – don’t stop, think big, educate self

Over and over, I find myself returning to this tried-and-true process.  When I’m feeling overwhelmed, thinking about saving for retirement, increasing income, managing investments, and the dozens of other financial management areas of my life – I stop.  I go back to my process.  I break each area down into a manageable goal, put a plan together to achieve that goal, and implement that plan.

Obviously, there will be times when goals (and thus planning) will, in a sense, overlap.  For instance, I currently have a goal of saving enough money to buy a newer automobile for my wife.  Well, that goal overlaps with my goal of maximizing retirement account contributions.  Both of these goals are important, but I’m not a big fan of dividing my focus.  So, for the first six months of this year, my focus will be on saving enough money to buy a newer automobile for my wife – and the last six months will be on maximizing retirement account contributions.

Now, I realize that I could focus on both goals at the same time, but that’s just not how my mind works.  Instead of putting $200 in savings for the newer automobile, and $200 in my Roth IRA, I’d rather put the full $400 in savings, thus focusing on just one of the two goals.  Then, six months from now, I’ll turn my attention towards retirement and put the full $400 in the Roth IRA.

Why?  I don’t really know why this works so well for me, but it does.  After nearly six years of tracking my finances, I look back and see that I always accomplish more when I am focused on time-based goals.  I just do.

When it comes to paying off the mortgage, that’s a very long-range goal – and overlaps several, much shorter-range goals.  This is my one goal that doesn’t fit neatly into my process, just because it’s so big and will take such a long time to accomplish.  Right now, paying off the mortgage isn’t at the tip-top of my priorities list, but one day it will be.  When that day comes, I’ll laser-focus on it – and pay the thing off.

(Please note, I still send extra towards my mortgage each month, but I do so as a part of my regular budget.  I have yet to turn my full attention towards our mortgage debt.  That day, to be sure, is coming.  Right now, however, increasing our cash reserves is a priority.)

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