Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Bright Side

Over on the GRS forums, which is really where I started my personal finance blogging, I was moping a bit about the fact that we are unlikely to meet our 2012 savings goals of $69,000.  Of course the joy of blogging and posting is that other people give you all kinds of feedback.

CecilyC provided this feedback:  "Seriously, Sam, give yourself major props for this year even if you didn't exactly meet your goals. I wish I could say I'd saved $50,000."

Cecily's point is a good one, saving $50,000 is a major accomplishment.  And, in fact, Mr. Sam and I are doing much better than the average American, who has $3,500 in regular savings and $35,000 in retirement savings.

While, we know we are doing well and we do celebrate the fact that we are making good progress on our savings, we want to do better.  The fact is, with the exception of last year, our savings has averaged $50,000 each year with little to no increase.  In 2011, we saved $60,060 (our best showing).   In 2010,we saved $49,325.  In 2009, we saved $50,168.  In 2008, we saved $50,000.  And of course in 2007, we paid off $55,500 in unsecured debt (in 12 and half months, this goal was completed in January 2008).

Now looking on the bright side, how fantastic that we were able to save $50,000 four years in a row.  That is a fantastic accomplishment especially in light of the fact that we were able to save that kind of money during the great recession.  But, I remain frustrated that we have not been able to increase our savings, with the exception of last year, despite the fact that both of us have had salary increases.  I really want to do better and, more importantly, I believe that we can do better and save more without a major lifestyle change.


Frugal Coconut said...

Very timely post for me as I'm now facing the same situation of being behind on my goals and without enough time to make up the shortfall before the end of the year. It's frustrating and I keep beating myself up over it ... even though I knew they were aggressive goals to begin with. That's the hard part about making goals ... I want to challenge myself ... but I also hate to fail ... so I can't have it both ways. I guess it has to be a balance/compromise. I don't want to set goals that I can just breeze through because then what would be the point ... but I still need the satisfaction of achieving what I set out to do. I think about all the "what if's" in terms of what I could have done differently this year that might have furthered my progress (without significantly sacrificing quality of life in the present) but not too much comes to mind ... which either means that I'm forgetful or that I did pretty darn well considering. Somehow I need to accept the situation and try to learn from it. My goals for 2013 are likely to be just as lofty though so I'll have a lot of catching up at the start of next year.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with you. It's good that you are frustrated, don't settle for less. Reach high and if miss every once in a while celebrate the success you have and move on to the next goal. Dream big and then set big goals to accomplish your dreams.

Sam said...

Thanks for the helpful feedback.

I can certainly point to expenditures that were unplanned that "caused" us to miss the mark this year. $15,000 on certification classes for Mr. Sam, $3000 in refi costs, $1500-$2000 in projects to prepare for refi appraisal. Total, $19,500 in unplanned expenses. If we hadn't spent $15,000 on certification classes we would have been ahead of our savings goals.

But, in the face of these unplanned expense I recognize and take responsibility for the fact that we did not change our lifestyle, and we could have, to meet our goals.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for the shout-out, Sam. I feel like a movie star!

It seems to me that the unplanned stuff you list in your response was all in pursuit of your larger goals. I assume certification means Mr. Sam will continue to earn or increase his earning potential. And of course the refi makes it easier to reach your ultimate goal. To me, these are all laudable. But as a fellow perfectionist, I understand that urge to take responsibility for not making the day-to-day changes.

Anyway, good luck with next year's targets. I'm going to be ambitious, myself, so we can struggle along simultaneously!