Every year on my birthday, I set goals for myself for the coming year. I'm not big in New Year's resolutions, nor am I big on celebrating my birthday (although I always gladly accept gifts, especially jewelry). I do like taking stock of the year, however, and creating an action plan for making improvements in the year to come.
Last year I set three goals for myself: take a cooking class, take a business class, and get out of debt. I more than surpassed the first two goals by enrolling at Scottsdale Culinary Institute in January. What I discovered was that I love cooking, but that I don't have the type of risk tolerance it takes to own your own restaurant. And I also don't want to lock myself into working nights, weekends, and holidays for the rest of my life. My passion for good food only runs so deep. But, you never know what you really want in life until you try it out.
My third goal has almost become a reality. This week I paid off the largest of my outstanding student loans, three weeks ahead of my self-imposed deadline. I carry zero credit card debt, so we can check that off of my list. But I still have my loan from SCI to pay off. However, with budgeting discipline, I'll have that paid off before my next birthday rolls around. So I'm feeling pretty good about my financial status right now.
As many of you already know, I am a regular contributor over at Queercents, as well as here at TBP. I have really enjoyed writing my weekly series about food budgeting. I have been learning a lot in the process. But what I get the most out of is reading stories from other Gen Y contributors about their efforts to budget, save, and pay off student loans. We do, after all, come from the "debt generation." I've learned a lot about saving, investing, and sharing expenses with your partner. And the best part is that the articles are always practical without being preachy.
This year I'm renewing my goal of eliminating my student loan debt, a goal that I will easily achieve by sticking to my monthly budget. I am also setting a goal of saving money to take a trip to Paris in the Spring (to visit my long-lost friend Alex), as well as contributing regularly to my Roth IRA. These aren't lofty goals, but the satisfaction of achieving financial freedom is pretty liberating. It was so exciting to put that final student loan check in the mail. Maybe not as exciting as buying my first new car for myself (a red 2008 Honda Civic that I just adore), but it was still a good feeling nonetheless.
I've found that you're more likely to achieve a goal when you write it down and share it with others. It keeps you accountable. So in the spirit of sharing, I want to open up the comments section for others. What are your own goals this year, financial or otherwise, and what are your action plans for achieving them?