What gets measured gets managed. It’s true in business and it is definitely true in personal finance. Every year most of us at work write down our short term goals and objectives for the year. Some people really dislike the process, but I love it. How else do you know where you stand?
The same approach can work for you at home. From simple objectives of increasing your net worth, reducing your debt, or contributing to your RRSP and TFSA, to more specific goals of changing careers, building a house, or creating & sticking to a family budget, writing down your short term goals and regularly checking in on your progress is critical to your financial success.
My Short Term Goals
I write down my short term goals at the beginning of the year. This year, I wanted to do the following:
1. Create a family budget – With my wife staying at home full time looking after our first child, we would be adjusting to single income living by March. I’ve never done a budget before, but I felt this was the right time to start tracking our spending to ensure that we could make this transition as smoothly as possible.
- Progress – I found a family budget in Excel on Google Docs that I customized for our own situation. The first tab is the overview of the entire year where I can forecast income and expenses. Then I have set up individual tabs representing the current month that I’m in. So far, so good…and here’s the link to check out the budget tool for yourself
2. Max out my TFSA contribution – At the beginning of the year I will contribute $5k to my TFSA, which is held at TD Waterhouse. I have a specific strategy for this account, which I will get into at a later post.
- Progress – Completed, I contributed $5,000 into my TFSA account in March.
3. Maximize Rewards Points – I have always been a big fan of collecting Air Miles rewards, but I wanted to find out if I was truly maximizing my dollars spent with the rewards I’ve been receiving. Turns out I wasn’t, so after careful research I chose the PC MasterCard, which offers 1000 points for every $100 spent. 20,000 points can be redeemed for $20 in free groceries.
- Progress – Completed. I use PC MasterCard to pay bills online and for day-to-day purchases, and still use my Air Miles AMEX when we go shopping at Costco.
4. Save $1,000/month – This is part of an intermediate goal of upgrading our house in the near future.
- Progress – this varies from month-to-month, but so far I’ve consistently saved at least $600/month, and hopefully by the end of the year I can get this up to $1000/month
5. Increase Net Worth by $50k – This is basically the culmination of the other 4 goals. With my TFSA contributions, pension contributions, dividends, market growth, bi-weekly mortgage payments (and super-low interest rates), and increased savings rate, this should be achievable.
- Progress – Increased net worth by $27k as of July 31st
So there you have it. Nothing too crazy, but it looks like I’m on the right track to meet or exceed all of my short term goals for the year. That probably means I set them too low 🙂