Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saving For Christmas

My previous post was about goals. I have spent the last year working on several goals, but the one that has been the most fun is our Christmas Fund. It is the first time, ever, that I set aside money ahead of time for Christmas. I think it is going to make shopping much more fun this year, too.

At the very beginning of the year, I decided that I would accumulated at least $750 towards Christmas. I would not fund this goal with my husband's paycheck, but finding free money online or selling items we already owned.

As of today, I have set aside $1,301.71. Clearly I have met the goal I set out to accomplish, averaging $130.17 per month. Want to know where I found this money? Of course you do!

I would say most of the money has come in the form of gift cards that I earned through Swagbucks which is primarily a search engine that rewards you with points called Swagbucks. The swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards. I have over $200 in gift cards that will come in real handy when I shop on CyberMonday!

I participated in surveys with Swagbucks, MyPoints, MySurvey and Pinecone Research also. Pinecone actually pays cash that is deposited in my Paypal account.

I did have some occasional rebates from product purchases, as well as, Target gift cards earned for making purchases I make anyway at the store.

My husband found a $20 bill in the yard...yep, true story. That money went to this Christmas fund!

We sold things. We sold outgrown clothes and shoes, no longer needed electronics and cameras, and books, moving boxes and probably more. We sold things on Ebay,, a local used book store, Craigslist and a garage sale. ALL the proceeds were saved in our Christmas fund.

All the small amounts of cash these sales, surveys, spending and searches brought in were saved. The little bits of cash, that I call snowflakes, added up to one giant snowball of cash known. If I can do it, so can you.

Do you think you might use this method? Will you save for holiday spending, paying down debt or another goal? Do you have another way you save for goals? Tell me about it!

If you are interested in earning gift cards towards your goal through Swagbucks, please click on my affiliate link. It is free to sign up and use Swagbucks. No obligation to buy anything, and I highly encourage you not to.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goals: Got Us Where We Are

I haven't been writing this particular blog long, but we have had goals for years. For 2012, we made about five financial goals. It wasn't clear if we would make them all because we did move two hours east this year, but so far we are on track to meet them.

Our 2012 goals are:
Contribute 7% of basic pay to Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). This is on auto pilot with automatic withdrawals from my husband's paycheck.

Contribute $5000 to each to our Roth IRA's. We did get a late start since we didn't start working on this years goal until July. We still each need to contribute another $2400 before the year end. I will send in  a couple lump sum contributions in the next two months.

Contribute $500 to each of our daughter's college funds. We put these on automatic savings in July, so this goal will be met by year end, too!

Pay extra to our truck loan, getting loan balance under $8,000. We met this goal recently. Our only debt besides our mortgage is my husband's truck. The balance of this loan taken out in April 2011, is now currently $7,219! We have plans to make some additional principal payments before the year ends.

Save $750 for Christmas. This has been a fun one. I've been looking for small amounts of cash and gift cards, generally earned for free, to accumulate all year long. As of today, I have saved $1285.71! I'll write more about this goal in future posts.

Looking back, I feel pretty confident that we would not have met all these goals had we not laid them out at the beginning of the year. The goals gave us a road map to point us in the direction we wanted to go. Did you make financial goals for 2012? Are you on track to meet them? If not, can you get closer before the end of the year? Have you thought about next years goals?