Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2018 set your goals now!

I spent most of 2017 with unpredictable income, due to both unemployment and a sporadic work schedule. I closed the year with a full-time job and now I have a steady paycheck. For those of you who are fortunate enough like my recent self to have predictable income, you should set your sights on some financial goals for the year. I'd set my goals quarterly, rather than waiting until the gifty Christmas/Chaunnakuh/Kwanzaa season to try and tally everything for 2018. So, if you've never saved before, and make $15-20 hourly, start with $100 by the time your favorite flower blooms in April. Double it for the quarter after that, and build up to 10% of your annual income. The average person in my age group saved -1.8% in 2017, so you can be that much better off! I'm personally aiming for 30% this year, on the $2000 monthly (Seattle minimum wage), but I've been living frugally for 3 years. Two years ago, I saved $3000 of my total $17,000. That was 17%. You can do 10%.

If you are wondering how you can put aside that much money, click on the label 'frugality,' on the right side of this blog, and you'll see all my posts with suggestions how to live dat frugal life. Some of my favorites that I actually live by are: cooking for myself, driving minimally, eliminating unnecessary subscriptions and buying a year at a time instead of going monthly, knowing good 3rd-tier brands, making my own coffee, and regulating my hobby by completing more games than I buy. Also, if you get paid every 2 weeks, there are bonus treasure months with 3 paychecks. That does not mean shopping spree, unless it's splurging on a decent coffee maker to ween off your thrice daily $4 coffees, or some good tires to make driving safe.

The last huge financial decision is that I live outside of Seattle proper. This means I get to take advantage of the $15 minimum wage, which is about 30% higher than my local suburb. This means that I am a good 15 miles from work, and take the bus because parking is unreasonably high ($20 per day). The commute is roughly 8 hours per week, which is a lot of reading time. Another advantage of dat suburb lyfe is that there's a supermarket right across the street that I don't need to drive to. I'm also not paying downtown rent in my food prices, so things are cheaper in general.

The finest brrrrick wall! I've ever seen...
I usually put people to sleep talking about this stuff, and yet others will brick wall me and say that saving $8000 in a year is impossible, or that they can't make sacrifices. Okay, so save $1000 this year and you'll still be ahead! That statistic of millenials going 1.8% further into debt last year was for people making $52,000 ($26 hourly at full time)! Avocado toast indeed! If you're in this income bracket, I double-dog dare you to do the $8000 that I am shooting for. Even if you're raising a family, I think you can still follow some of my suggestions and come out ahead.

A little patience paid off immensely
What to do with your nest egg? I strongly urge you to do some research on investing. Investopedia allows you to create a fake stock account with $100k that simulates investments on the actual market. I did this for 3 months before determining which stocks I'd buy with real money. I've personally had great luck investing in Vanguard S&P 500 stock and I'm not the only one. My thoughts are that if American businesses are as ruthless as they are, they'll know what to do with my money. Worrying about market crashes is silly because if it happens, we're screwed anyway, but temporarily. Don't invest money you need now; that way you can be patient with the returns. 4% may not look like much, but once you make it to your first $10,000, that's a brand new yearly PS4 Pro you've earned yourself (though hopefully you'll just add that money to the pile.)

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