While I'm certainly not one to stop anyone from getting down and dirty with their spring cleaning, I think it's important that we not forget to "spring clean" the most important item of all...
...our New Year/January goals!
Little more than a mere three months ago, I think we all made grandiose promises to ourselves about eating healthier, losing weight, transforming our looks, and making enough money to quit our jobs. (Well, perhaps that last one was just me...) Since resolutions only become realities if you actively pursue them, springtime is the perfect time to take a good look at where you're headed, and make adjustments as needed. I particularly need to check my goals with relative frequency, as you'll remember that my resolutions were not just for the year, but were set to be completed in 6 months. Since I'm the resident guinea pig for all things goal related, lets (1) take an honest look at the progress of my January resolutions and (2) see how they relate to the topics that I'll be delving into in the near future:
Goal 1: I will attempt to bring in a solid income of $2,350 per month.
Progress: I look at my current budget and can't help but giggle when I'm reminded of this goal. I giggle not just because I'm still quite a ways off from it, but because I conjured up that figure in slight ignorance to just how much I need to get along as a college student and how much it's going to take to get rid of my debt. I am not only budgeting now, but I am taking free money management courses and I now know I can be effective with my money even if I make less than $2000. On top of that, I am currently averaging about $1200 per month, which I think is pretty darn good for a full-time student who previously was making zero. With the knowledge I've picked up from some great finance books and resources, I feel very confident about my progress towards this financial goal. I feel so confident in fact, I'm planning a few post dedicated to sharing the financial books I've been reading and the things I've been learning with you all.
Goal 2: I will completely pay off my lowest credit card amount, $873.53
Progress: My current balance on the card in question is $723.53, meaning I've paid $150 to date. This may seem like a meager amount, but this is huge for me as I've never significantly paid down a credit card with running it back up in a few months. I've paid that $150 slowly over the last 3-4 months, and it's help me get into the mindset of regularly paying down debt before I spend my money on things that don't matter, like eating out and shopping. Also, I'm expecting a large refund check to come soon, and I plan on using that money to pay off this credit card in its entirety. I feel totally confident that I will hit my goal if not by July (my 6 month mark) then by a time shortly thereafter. As a little tip, two books that have helped changed my approach to successfully picking off debt are The Richest Man in Babylon and The Millionaire Next Door. I plan to go in greater detail about those two books in a separate post in the near future.
Goal 3: I will have at least $1000 in personal savings in 6 month's time
Progress: This one is a doozy because in addition to meeting this goal, I'm working to pay down debt at the same time. I'll be totally honest here—I've only saved $148.38 as I right this. When I look at my savings in relation to the where I want to be, I am not even close. That said, part of why I have so little is because I literally didn't start saving until last month. Up until last month, I felt like there was no way I could save because I didn't make that much and I felt like I was spending everything I had on rent, bills, and food. It wasn't until I read one of my new favorite finance books, The Richest Man in Babylon, that I learned that I should at least attempt to save 10% of everything I make. Once I started saving 10% of my income before I had a chance to spend it on anything else, I was able to amass almost $150 in little over one month. When I look at my savings in those terms, I fill pretty pleased with myself, as having any sort of savings is a major accomplishment for me. While I can't honestly foresee hitting my $1000 savings mark by July without receiving some unexpected financial windfall. Because I'm not one to bank on anonymous checks in the mail, I do feel confident that my newfound slow and steady savings approach can get me to at least $500 by my goal due date.
Progress: Why is this goal crossed off, you ask? Because I've completed it!!!! I've enrolled full-time at The University of The District of Columbia and I am so freakin' excited. If you missed all the details on my complete meltdown at Howard, I invite you to check that out just to put in perspective how amazing it is that I'm back in school. Come May, I will have officially completed the sophomore year of my new program, Marketing, and I am on track to graduate in 2012 (earlier if I take summer school). Since I'm officially a resident of this city, I qualified for the reduced, in-state tuition and was able to take out federal loans to cover the cost of this semester. I'll also be eligible for a scholarship next semester if I remain above a 3.0. I could go on and on about how grateful I am for getting a second chance to pursue my education, but I digress...
Progress: Bam! I completed this goal too, just this April! Check out my April Length Check post for details, but given the support and response from everyone on my progress, I shall post my detailed hair routine soon.
Goal 6: In 6 month's time I really want to tone up my physique
Progress: This goal really grinds my gears because I've had it in my grasp several times, only to let it slip away. Not to long ago, I jumped on the Jillian Michaels bandwagon (love her!) and lost 10 pounds with her 30 Day Shred DVD. Since then, I have not been exercising regularly and all of that beautiful definition that was just starting to sprout in my arms and abs has all but melted away. In short, this goal could have been crossed off, but I got lazy. I have since committed to a gym routine I found on bodybuilding.com for women. To better chart my proposal, I will write some future posts on exercising and overall wellness soon.
Progress: I have crossed off this goal not necessarily because I've completed it (though I did get my hands on a few really cute items a few months ago), but because it's really not all that important in the grand scheme of everything else I'm trying to complete. One may argue that hair might not have anything to do with my other goals either, but I disagree in the fact that (1) at least accomplishing hair goals are free, and (2) dedication to growing out hair, especially as a black woman, can really teach perseverance in other areas of life and achieving what was once though impossible (like being a black woman with long, natural hair). I feel like "improving my wardrobe" places too much emphasis on spending money at a time where I find my mindset conforming to financial diligence and a focus on financial freedom. Not that they're mutually exclusive, but I'll take financial independence, fitness, healthy hair, and a college degree over an immaculate wardrobe any day, and I feel like my focus is better spent on the above for that reason.
Goal 7: 6 month's time I really want to develop this blog
While this blog has definitely made some progress in terms of readership, interaction, and facebook fans and twitter followers, there is always something more to achieve and if I'm lucky, this will be a goal that I'll never be satisfied enough to cross off. As it stands (and as many of you have pointed out), I really need to get my posting schedule together. At the end of my 6 months, if nothing else, I want to have a consistent posting schedule. Currently I am aiming for daily posting during the week, so we shall see how it goes.
Whew! Sorry so long, but many of you have asked and this is how my goals are coming along. I'm pleased with my progress for the most part, though I definitely plan to ramp it up so I can accomplish all that is important to my by July. So how are your January resolutions going? Are you due for a "mid-goal" check-in?