Should I use the emergency fund?

Take money out of the emergency fund or rework the budget? What would you do?

I got a great question from Eileen about using the emergency fund versus trying to cash flow an emergency.

Do you ever find yourself reluctant to let go of the savings you have available because you’d like to see that number grow (maybe as much as you want to see others go down)? For instance….in the months that we have an unexpected expense, I tend to just try to absorb the extra expenses without hitting our emergency fund (or other cash funds) I try to cut back the existing budget and most of the times I know when it makes sense to do that vs pulling out some saving, but other times I end up cutting it close on fixed expenses and then I end up moving money out of the emergency savings anyway. I’m not sure if I’m making sense…but it’s like this fixation of NOT touching an emergency fund (or our “household” acct — for minor but not typical expenses). I’m not sure what is better from a mental standpoint.

I hate touching my emergency fund, too!

We always try to cash flow emergencies out of our budget when we can. The way I see it, if I take the money out of the emergency fund, I will need to make refilling the fund my top priority next month. That means that I will need to cut back on my debt snowball next month to put the money back into savings.

For me, taking money out of  savings is a mental trigger. It causes me to worry a bit to tap into that account. It’s my financial security blanket. I like having that money there just in case. I also worry that if I get in the habit of touching the account, one of these days, I might touch it for something that really isn’t an emergency.

We were forced to use our emergency fund this summer when one of our cats got sick. It was the end of the budget cycle and I just did not have the funds to reallocate to the emergency. It gave me such peace of mind to know it was there so we could deal with the stress of losing one of our cats without having the financial stress as well. The first thing I did in the next budget was replace the funds in savings.

Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer to your question. The thing I love is that you are being intentional with your money. You are evaluating what is and is not an emergency and you are trying to absorb the cost before touching your savings. Eileen, you are doing an awesome job!

What advice would you give Eileen? How do you feel about touching your emergency fund?

How distraction almost cost me $48.75

shareasimage (4)I’m usually pretty good about paying attention at the register. I watch as the cashier rings up my order. Over the years, this has prevented me from overpaying for things. Because of Connecticut law, I have actually gotten a few grocery items for free. Well, Friday night I wasn’t paying attention and it almost cost me $48.75.

We were at Costco picking up a few things to bring to a friend’s house for dinner. There were also a few things we needed for the house and well, it’s Costco. It’s a very dangerous place to go without a list. Cereal was on sale. We also picked up some Christmas candy for the stockings (we have really big stockings!).

As we walked into the store, I remembered that I needed stamps for the Christmas cards. I grabbed the huge cardboard placard that you need to bring to the register when you buy stamps. One more thing off my to-do-list. Win!

After buying everything that we needed and a few things we didn’t, we headed to the registers. Jeff and I were talking about all the things we needed to get done and other stores we needed to go to before going home. I swiped my debit card without even looking at the total. The cashier gave me my stamps and the receipt and we were off to the next store on the list. I looked at the total: $162.56. Well, it was less than $200 and for Costco that is a huge win.

Later, as I was taking a picture of the receipt for an Ibotta rebate, I noticed I had been charged for two books of stamps. 2014-12-15 08.04.15

I was really pissed. Not at the cashier. Not at the guy at the door who checks the receipts. I was pissed at myself. I couldn’t believe I missed it. Almost $50 and I missed it. Hell, the stamps were the first thing on the receipt and I still missed it.

On Saturday, we went back to Costco and they gave me my money back. I’m pretty sure if this had happened at another store, I would have been out of luck. After all, how do you prove you didn’t receive something? I was so grateful I could have kissed the woman at customer service. So I got my $48.75 back and what did I do? Spent it at Costco! Well, at least we have groceries for a while!

Has this ever happened to you? Were you able to get your money back? How do you stay focused at the register?

 

 

Early morning rambles: Dirty Dishes, Debt Progress, Space Heaters, and why I love Amazon

With all my goal planning for 2015, I’m trying to get myself on a more regular schedule. This is difficult because as a college instructor my schedule is different each day. Still, I know I can do better. Today is the first day of doing better.

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Today, I woke up at 5:30 because this is the time I need to get up on my early days. This is often difficult on Wednesdays because I usually teach until almost 10pm on Tuesdays. Yup, Tuesday is my early day and my late day. Oh joy! But today, I did it. Now I wasn’t very productive for my first half hour. Actually, I wasn’t productive at all but that first half hour allowed me to get my bearings and do a bit of planning for the day.

The first think I noticed was a pile mountain of dishes. The reason we have so many dishes is because we have been eating at home a lot (frugal win!) and have been very busy working on projects to bring in extra money (yay money!). That leaves little time or concern for dishes until they are about to leap off the counter and attack you!2014-12-10 06.12.07 That was a very scary thing to see at 5:30 in the morning. First thing on my list: dishes. I started the dishes at 6:00. It didn’t take long and the after shot is much better.

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I also started some iced tea. Making iced tea saves us a tremendous amount of money. I always fill up my water bottle before leaving the house. My husband drinks black tea and I drink green tea. You can purchase large tea bags at Wal-Mart so you aren’t dealing with a ton of little bags. By 6:30, the dishes were done, tea was steeping, and I had coffee in my hand.

My next order of business was to get our finances updated. My husband gets paid biweekly on Wednesdays and today is pay day. I typically update our check register and budget on the days he gets paid. I entered all the transaction since the last time I updated the check register and added Jeff’s paycheck to the balance. I then added any bills that would come out of the account over the next two weeks.

Since most of our bills are due at the beginning of the month, I made a $2,000 debt payment on our debt snowball. This brought the balance on the home equity line to $19,460.02. I was doing a happy dance to see that balance drop below $20,000. In July, the balance was almost $47,000. I still have another $2,700 to pay toward the snowball before Christmas but that will happen next week when I get paid.

By 7:00, I was done with the personal finances. I took a few minutes to chat with an old friend who was also up and running fairly early. By 7:30, I was out of the shower and dressed for the morning portion of the day (A.K.A. jeans and a hoodie). I went back down to my office to get my company’s books updated since I deposited some checks yesterday. Instead of turning up the heat in the entire house, I used my space heater.

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I didn’t notice all that dust before I took the picture. It’s interesting what you see when you use a flash! I dusted it after I took the shot, but I wanted you to see how things really are around here. I am probably the world’s worst housekeeper. Oh well. The space heater saves me a ton of my gas bill and keeps my office nice and toasty. I just love it, dust and all.

We are still on budget for Christmas. I hate shopping so I’ve been doing most of mine on Amazon. I have picked up some great lightning deals and since I have been shopping early, I am also building up media credits. Amazon has an interesting offer for Prime members. If you are a Prime member, you get free two-day shipping. However, Amazon will give you a $1 media credit if you opt for slightly slower shipping. These credits can be used for books, music or movie rentals. I have built up a bunch of these credits and I’m still getting my packages in 2-3 days. Win-win!

It’s now 9:30. I feel like I have accomplished a lot this morning. I don’t need to leave for school until noon and my chores are already done. I’ll probably end up writing some more content for my other website, Accounting In Focus and work on my goals a bit more.

Do you feel more productive when you get things accomplished early in the day? What frugal things are you doing to stay on budget this month?

What are your 2015 goals?

You probably think I’m crazy. We haven’t even made it through the holidays and I’m jumping to New Year’s resolutions. There is so much to do right now, who has time to think about goals? I know what you mean. This time of year is so busy. We are all running like crazy people trying to determine the best gifts for our loved ones, cooking food that will cause us to need a diet resolution, and rushing from one holiday event to the next. Really, I get it.

Stop for a moment and take a breath. Maybe have a glass of wine.

Just pause.

I know you are busy but it is time to be intentional about your life. It’s time to make goals and write them down. It doesn’t take long. It took me just a few minutes to think out what I wanted to do in 2015. The planning part can take place over the next few weeks.

This initial part is to just create some goals. Maybe you want to pay off your car or a student loan. Maybe you want to save a 3-6 month emergency fund. Maybe you want to eat at home twice a week to save some money.

Just using the term "resolution" increases your chance of failure. Trust me, it's one of Murphy's Laws.

See? Quick but specific goals. This doesn’t have to be rocket science. I just want you to jot a few things down. They could be financial goals, career goals, health related goals, relationship goals.

Why write them down? Because you are much more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down!

Don’t wait until January 1 to set some resolutions. I swear just using the term “resolution” increases your chance of failure. Trust me, it’s one of Murphy’s Laws.

If you need help thinking about some possible goals, here are my goals for 2015:

  1. Pay off our remaining non-mortgage debt, current balance $70,467.39.
  2. Build a 3 to 4 month emergency fund or approximately $15,000 in savings.
  3. Launch my first online course by May 2015.
  4. Help my husband publish his first book by July 2015.
  5. Lose 10 pounds.
  6. Attend the Launch Out Conference in June.
  7. Attend the PLF Live Conference (no date announced yet).
  8. Blog about our debt free journey.

These goals are fairly specific. Jeff and I also have more detail on some of these and action steps for what we need to do. That seems insane crazy to pull off the rest of the debt and the emergency fund but I think we can do it. It will rely on the course and book launches being successful.

The ten pounds is something I just really want to do for me. A few years ago, I lost 22 pounds and I have been hovering between 204 and 207 for over a year. I am done with that. I want to get below 200 and stay below 200 with daily fluctuations. I don’t have a plan yet but that will come soon (any ideas are welcome!).

I need your help to hold me accountable. I am going to spend most of 2015 discussing the daily tips we use to save money. Some big things, some small things, and our mindset that has kept us going this long. I’ll probably drag my husband in now and again to help document the last leg of this marathon. Blogging helps keep me on track. It’s amazing how much more grounded I feel after writing a post. You guys are awesome for that!

I also want to help hold you accountable. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for my email list. I will be emailing you all periodically to see how you are doing on your goals. You can sign up at the bottom of this post.

For now, what are some of your goals for 2015?

Life after debt

Today’s post is written by my friend, Camilla Kragius, author of the new book How To Get Out Of Debt Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 9 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom. Camilla is a challenger of the status quo who wants you to leave your comfort zone and start living! She loves to travel, go on adventure and inspire others to work on their goals and dreams. She writes about life, productivity, finances and ways to get off the traditional path. She lives in Utah where she spends her time playing in the outdoors. You can find her at No More Hamster Wheel and The Traveling Swede.life after debt

Do you work?

That’s a question I get surprisingly often. To a lot of people my life must look like one long string of play and fun. And for the most part it is. But it wasn’t always that way. For a long time it was a long string of stress, sleepless nights and regrets thanks to debt. A lot of it.

At first it was manageable. I mean, everyone has debt, right? That was the lie I told myself. I didn’t grow up being told debt was normal so I tried to find an excuse.

Then as time went along the debt increased, decreased and increased. Many of you recognize the yojo-ing when it comes to debt. You get smart and start paying things down. Then you get tired because you don’t see much change so you give up because you feel as if you are just spinning the wheel going nowhere.

So you head back to the mindset that minimum payments are part of life and one day something miraculously will happen like a mega bonus at work or even better a mega win on the lottery. Because after all, something that drastic might be the only way out. I used the excuse that if I only made more money I would be able to pay off my debt. Well, I didn’t have an income problem. I had a spending problem.

Without a change in mindset sooner or later you hit rock bottom and you are down to three choices. Declare bankruptcy, go homeless or find a way to pay it off. The first two didn’t sound like fun so I choose the latter. It wasn’t particularly fun either.  I think having the stomach flu for a month would be compare.

But I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. Every single day I’m so grateful that I made the decision to get out of debt. Today I have freedom. I can travel, spend time with friends, go places, enjoy life. Can I do everything I want? Of course not but when people wonder if I work it’s a great testament to that I’m living a life that looks like I’m not working because the financial freedom I now have allows me to play a lot.

So on days when you feel as if you are stuck spinning the wheel going nowhere tally up how much money you will be able to put into your savings account once you are done paying off your debt. Then visualize yourself getting off the wheel. Because once you are off a whole new world opens up. A world where people will ask you “Do you work?”

Note from Kristin: I am so excited to get where Camilla is right now. Do you want to get there too? Check out Camilla’s book How To Get Out Of Debt Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 9 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.

What is holding you back?

In April of 2008, I was sitting on the couch after tax season ending trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself for the rest of the year. I was finally feeling like myself after going through cancer treatment and I wanted to find a job that I could work around my business. I had always wanted to teach but I was afraid to put myself out there.

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I had always wanted to teach. I also knew that we needed to kick start our income if we were ever going to get out of debt. It all seemed so overwhelming. I had no idea where to start.

I thought back to the last time I was in this predicament.

It was 2001 and I had just gotten married. I was also scheduled to graduate in six months and had not done an internship. I sent resumes to every firm within 30 miles of my house. I was able to get an internship which later turned into a full-time job.

I had done this before. Could random resumes work again? I didn’t have anything to lose. So I sent my resume to every college and university within 30 miles of my house. That is actually a lot of resumes.

I had no idea when colleges did their hiring so I waited.

And waited. And waited some more.

As the middle of August came and went, I was pretty sure I was not going to get a call. I had given up by the end of August. I was defeated. I had lost hope. I had sent my resume to more than 25 institutions and not a single phone call. I would never teach.

And then the phone rang. There was a last minute opening at a local university and the department chair wanted to know if I would be interested in teaching two sections of an introductory course. Classes would start in a week.

A week. Seven days. Did I mention I had never done this before? The courses covered material that I had not seen since I took the course almost ten years prior. Everything within me said “no”. Actually, it didn’t say no. It screamed “NO!!!! Um, hell no.”

As my mind said “no”, my mouth said “yes”. I had committed to teaching two courses with a week of preparation. A few days later, I had a syllabus and a textbook.

On the first day of class, my key card was not working and had to wait until for one of the maintenance guys to open the door for me. I overheard one of the students ask if anyone knew anything about the professor. Another student replied, “I believe it is an old guy.”

I was doomed. So doomed. I saw scenes from every movie and TV show I had ever watched where the students ate the new teacher for lunch. I was going to be that teacher.

Once the door was opened, I let all the students enter the room before I walked in. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and walked to the front of the room. The students were a bit shocked that I was not an “old guy”.

I can’t say I commanded that first class, but I made it through without being eaten for lunch. As the semester went on, I became more confident. Students appreciated my style and the way that I taught. I was asked to teach in the spring and the following year. In 2010, I got my first full-time teaching job. I have been fortunate enough to teach full-time each academic year since. I love my job and I love my students. It is amazing to see all they have accomplished. It is awesome to know I have made a difference in the lives of so many.

None of that would have been possible if I had said no. I overcame my fear. I put myself out there when it was not comfortable.

What is stopping you from accomplishing your goals? From searching for a better job or asking for a raise? From asking for help to improve yourself? How can you overcome your fears?

Don’t let your lifestyle creep up on your income

When I started my blog a little over six years ago, my husband and I made about $70,000 per year. To many people, that seems like a lot of money. After taxes, the mortgage payment, and our debt payments we were barely getting by. Now, we make more than twice that. You wouldn’t know it looking at us because our lifestyle hasn’t changed much. We haven’t allowed our lifestyle to creep up to our income.

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It is so tempting to increase lifestyle when income rises. When we first started working, we did allow our lifestyle to creep. We bought new cars and nice things. We lived the way we thought we were meant to based on the income we made. If we could afford the payments, we could afford what we wanted.

After I was diagnosed with cancer and beat it, we realized that stuff did not make us happy. Security and weathering future storms made us happy. Having each other makes us happy.

We still live in the same house. My husband still drives one of those new cars we purchased in 2002. We don’t have a car payment. I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Aldi and PriceRite. We didn’t have cable TV for years and the only reason we have it now is because the cable company offered it free for one year. When that year is up, we will go back to our rabbit ears. We don’t buy expensive clothing, although we each have a few pairs of decent shoes. We actually rarely buy clothes at all.

Our monthly expenses are very similar to what they were six years ago, except for items that have increased in cost significantly like food and gasoline. We have actually cut back on a number of things and because of the debt we have paid off, we have fewer required monthly payments than we did six years ago. If our income dropped back to 2008 levels, we would actually be much better off than we were back then.

Even though we have an excellent income, we still live like we are broke. As far as we are concerned, we are still broke. We still have debt. We have a slightly positive net worth, mostly because of our retirement savings and the debt we have paid down. We still have a lot of work to do.

When our debt is paid off, we will increase our lifestyle a bit. My husband would like to eat more steak. We would like to travel. We will save up some money to buy my husband a (slightly) better car. We would also like to save more and give more. We would like to have more time to pursue our dreams.

We have purposely lived well below our means to achieve our goals. We do not feel deprived. We are happy with our progress and happy with our lives. We have everything we need right now and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

10 tips for getting dinner on the table faster

You’ve had a long day and the last thing you want to do is spend time in the kitchen making dinner. I love to cook and even I have those nights. It’s tempting to pick up the phone and order something, but you don’t want to blow your budget either. Here are my 10 tips for getting dinner on the table faster.2014-10-05 19.39.46

1. Start with a clean kitchen

There is nothing worse than coming home to a messy, disorganized kitchen except trying to make dinner in one. Each night after dinner we run the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen a bit. Before going to bed, we try to empty the dishwasher so it’s ready to go for the next day. Keeping the counters clear of clutter gives me space to lay out ingredients and do my prep work. If things start to build up, take 20 minutes on Saturday or Sunday to clean off all your surfaces to start the new week fresh.

2. Have a plan

You don’t want to come home after a long day and have to figure out what to make for dinner. I don’t do a formal meal plan but I do have a white board on the fridge with options for the week. I list out a number of things I have all the ingredients for so I can come home and pick something from the list based on how much time I have and how tired I am. Having that list keeps me from wandering around the kitchen, opening the fridge, freezer and cabinets looking for ideas. Always make sure you have some quick items on the list like spaghetti, grilled cheese and tomato soup or tacos.

3. Use convenience foods wisely

Two convenience foods that I love are frozen meatballs and breaded chicken cutlets. I get both of these items at Costco. Frozen meatballs can be thrown in the crockpot or a pan with some sauce and you have a number of options for a quick dinner. You can make spaghetti or meatball sandwiches. You can also make sweet and sour meatballs or Swedish.  I use the breaded chicken to make sandwiches, chicken parmesan or as a topping for salads. I also buy minced garlic since we use a lot of garlic in our house and I hate chopping it. Using these items saves me a lot of time in the kitchen.

4. Turn on the oven or preheat your pan

If you are using the oven, preheat it before you start anything else. I also do this for the pans I am using. Start pasta water and preheat your pans. This will save you time once you start cooking. There is nothing worse than being ready to go and realizing that you have to wait for pans to heat up. Starting with hot pans will also make cooking faster which will save you additional time.

5. Pull all of your ingredients together before you start

Get together everything you will need before you start cooking. Having a clean kitchen will give you the space to do this. Put out your knife and cutting board, the can opener if you need one, and all the food you will need. You don’t want to go hunting for things later.

6. Chop once

I do all my prep work at the same time. I cut all my produce and place it in bowls, then I prepare any meat that needs to be cut. Having everything all lined up and ready t go into the pan reduces the chance that something is going to burn while I’m cutting other things and saves me time.

7. Put the trash can next to you

One of the biggest time wasters is moving around the kitchen, especially to throw things away. Bring the trash can to you or use a garbage bowl on your work surface to save yourself steps.

8. Precook and freeze

Whenever I buy ground beef at Costco, I cook the entire batch at once and freeze it in one pound packages. When I need ground beef for chili, spaghetti, sloppy joes, or tacos, it’s already cooked. This saves me so much time on busy weeknights. You can also freeze other meats as well that will be added to recipes. This is a lifesaver when I want to make something in the crockpot that requires cooking the meat before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

9. Make a double batch for another night

Yesterday, I made a double batch of chili. It didn’t take me any longer to make a huge batch than it would have taken to make a single batch. Not only did we have chili last night but I now have chili in the freezer for another night when I don’t feel like cooking!

10. Prep more than you need

If you have time on the weekend, I highly recommend doing some prep work for the week. If you know you are going to need three onions and two peppers, chop them over the weekend. This can save you valuable time during the week. If you can’t find time on the weekend, cut an extra onion during the week if you know you need one the next day or a few days from now. If you only need half an onion or pepper for a recipe, chop up the other half to use in another recipe. You are much more likely to use up the leftover amount if it is already chopped and ready to go which helps reduce food waste.

Bonus tip – Clean as you go

Okay so I couldn’t stop at 10. When I’m cooking, I always clean as I go. When things start simmering, I dump my garbage bowl and clean my knives. I put everything I can in the dishwasher. I start to wipe the counters. Using that time means that there won’t be much left to do after dinner. My goal is to get everything back into the condition it was in before I started making dinner (or better!) as quickly as possible so I can unwind for the evening.

What tips to do you have to get dinner on the table fast? Have any of my tips worked for you? Are there any tips that you plan to try?

 

4 reasons to not use credit cards

Today’s guest post was written by blogger, Jana Lynch. Jana and I are both living a very counter-culture lifestyle and loving every minute of it.

Photo by Daniel Oines

Photo by Daniel Oines CC

 

Confession: I don’t use credit cards. Neither does my husband. We survive fine, too.

We stopped using them about seven years ago when we decided to pay off all our credit card debt. We realized how out of control we were when we used them, and we realized we couldn’t be trusted with them in our wallets. It was how we got into debt in the first place.

At first it was difficult; we had become accustomed to charging any and everything and using cash or our debit cards seemed…weird. But we knew what we stood to gain if we refrained from using them so we stood firm in our resolve. It worked, too, because we paid off our credit card debt and have managed to remain that way for 3 years. And, seven years after our initial commitment, I’ve realized that, in addition to the debt, there are a few things I don’t miss about credit cards.

For instance:

  1. Having a bulky wallet. Carrying all those cards around bogged down my wallet and made my purse heavier than it needed to be. I’m pretty much resigned to having a ridiculously large mom purse, but I can slim down my wallet. Now I can find all the important cards (like my insurance or library card) when I need them and my purse is lighter.
  2. All those bills to pay and fees for late payments. I am not the most organize person and, even with having a list of bills written down, I sometimes manage to forget one. When I had credit card debt, it was more bills to remember to pay and not paying those had serious consequences. Plus, I’m fairly lazy and want to spend as little time as possible paying bills. Without the credit cards, that happens.
  3. One less worry about ID theft. Last year, my alma mater’s system was breached and identities dating back to when I was in school (mid-late 90s/early 00s) were compromised. Then there were all those breaches at Target and other stores I can’t think of right now. Not having credit cards, and not having to remember which card I used at which store, gives my paranoid brain a little peace of mind. It’s one card to keep track of, and it’s a debit, so I know instantly if there’s a problem. No waiting for a statement to figure that out.
  4. Less bills to pay. I’ll admit that I am not great at remembering to pay bills on time. I have the majority of our bills set up for an autodeduction and the ones that aren’t (utility bills) get paid once a month, on one particular payday. When there are credit card bills due, it’s one more thing to remember to pay, it’s more money going to someone else than staying in my account, and it’s one more chance to make a mistake that might, quite literally, cost us. Without them, it’s easier to pay the bills and I’m more efficient. Plus, the extra money helps out with other expenses.

This is not to say that credit cards are evil. If you can use them properly, then have it. I just know, and have a proven track record attesting to it, that I can’t. So I stay away.

Getting out of debt, and getting credit cards out of my life, was one of the smartest choices I made. And while it’s not easy, refraining from credit card use, I do it. I would love to walk into a store and buy all the things and not worry about how I’m going to pay for them that day. But I also know the stress it’ll cause isn’t worth it.

So I keep the credit cards at home, locked away.

Everyone is better off.

How about you? Do you use credit cards? Why or why not?

Jana Lynch is a blogger at Jana Says, where she talks about everything from parenting to pop culture to mental health issues, and runs the blogger mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. You can stop by and say hi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

My #next5 financial goals

When we are slogging our way through paying down debt, we often forget to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just see debt starring us down and it seems like we will be in this stage of life forever. I’ve been feeling that way for the last few weeks. Today, I am intentionally taking a few minutes to search for that light with a little help from some friends of mine.

Sometimes fate kicks me in the butt when I really need it. Today, my friend Camilla at No More Hamster Wheel wrote a post about looking ahead five years.  She asked “If Nothing Changed in the Next 5 Years Would You Be OK with That?” It got me thinking about what I want my next five years to look like financially. It also inspired me to rewatch Kevin Buchanan’s video about your #next5 years.

So what do my next five years look like financially?

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1. Pay off our non-mortgage debt in 18 months.

When I look at it that way, the road doesn’t seem that much longer. We’ve been at this for a long time and seeing that we are 18 months away from that goal is huge for my motivation!

2. Build up a nice, beefy emergency fund.

After we finish paying off the debt, I can’t wait to have more cash in the bank. This will allow us to weather most storms that come our way.

3. Pay cash for a nice trip for our 15th wedding anniversary.

Our 15th anniversary is May 18, 2016. We should be able to pay off the rest of our debt, build an emergency fund and save up for our trip. I’m not sure if we are going to go back to Las Vegas, where we got married, or go back to Italy. Either way, it’ll be awesome and paid for with cash.

4. Move to a lower cost of living location.

Connecticut is a very expensive place to live and with that high cost of living comes restrictions on what we can do with our dreams. Moving to a lower cost of living location would allow both of us to spend more time, if not full-time on our dreams.

5. Be completely debt free.

I currently have a five year plan to be completely debt free if we were to stay in Connecticut. If we do end up moving, we will do so in a way that I can still be completely debt free by 40. Hitting this goal would give us an incredible amount of freedom going forward. I can’t wait to have a payment free life!

Of course, we have a lot of other financial goals, like saving more for retirement and purchasing a newer car for my husband, but these are the five that keep me going. These are the five that get me through those months when I’m tired of living on such a tight budget.

What are your #next5 financial goals? How can I help you get there?