October 6, 2008

Goals For The Next 90 Days

I find that when I set goals, even if I don't reach them, I tend to make more progress than I would have if I hadn't set them. So, in the spirit of getting a little farther, these are my personal goals from now until the end of the year:

1) Increase my emergency fund to $3500.

I currently have about $1400 in my emergency fund, which is not bad considering that a year ago I didn't even have an emergency fund. But I want a better rainy day cushion for my plans. I am currently putting 25% of my paycheck toward my emergency savings. That puts me on track to have just over $3300 in the account by the end of the year, if I don't add anything extra. But I like nice round numbers, and $3500 is about two months' worth of expenses for me, so I intend to kick in a little extra toward that.

2) Pay $50 extra per month on my student loans.

I have around $40,000 in student loans that I am itching to get rid of. I calculated recently that making monthly payments of $800 would pay off the full balance in 5 years. That blew my mind. Five years. Not twenty. Not when I'm old and grey. Not never. Five measly years. So my plan is to start making $800 payments every month beginning in January. (The required payment is $247/month.) I still want to get ahead a bit, though, and I think I can put $50 a month toward that without really missing it.

3) Not use my credit cards at all, except for my friend's upcoming wedding.

If I keep my credit cards in my wallet, I find myself pulling them out and using them without thinking about it. So now I keep them in a box in my closet and only take out one at a time, right when I need to use it, and put it right back. I am attending a friend's wedding in November in New York, so I'm going to put everything (plane ticket, ground transportation, gift, etc.) on my cash rewards card to get back the maximum amount. Aside from that, however, the cards stay in the closet.

How do you set goals for yourself? Are they quarterly, yearly, daily? Or do you set any at all? I'd love to hear from others.

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