Sunday, January 11, 2009

Goals for 2009, Part 2


I am starting 2009 without any debt, but with a fairly small salary and lots of goals. How will I meet them all?

IRA: I’m planning on fully funding my Roth IRA in 2009, which means putting in five thousand dollars. $415 dollars a month will get me there, if I can put that much away.

Savings: I’ve been putting $100 into savings each month, and I have a fairly sturdy emergency fund. But after being unemployed for 6 months just over a year ago, I know how quickly job loss would decimate that, especially through paying for insurance.

401K: I currently put in 10% of my salary. This is a lot, especially since I am also trying to fund my IRA, but so far it's been doable since I never see the money. I won't get a match until I work at the company for a year.

Dream fund: I’m putting $50 a month into a dream fund, matched by Food Guy. We know we’d like to buy a house someday, and we’re always flipping through real estate books and getting depressed at how far away from that we are. If we can hit $2000 by the end of 2009, which we’re not quite on track to do right now, we would have about 1/10 of a downpayment saved. I’d like to do better if we can, and learn more about how to get from where we are to where we want to be.

Investments: In February 2008 I put my carefully saved $3000 into a Vanguard account with the Total Stock Market Index. And then the stock market tanked. I’ve continued to put in $50 a month and reinvest my dividends, and I’m down at $2463. This is painful, but I have a long timing threshold and should recover. I know I’m not likely to play with individual stocks given my lack of time and experience and also how much it would make me worry, so I’m planning on index funds. But should I be trying to save to open another account? International, small cap, bonds? I need to learn more about these so I can make better informed decisions.

Vacation: Food Guy would really love to go on a real vacation this year. Additionally, we have at least two weddings coming up this year, one of which will require travel to and stay in California, and one of which will require travel to and stay in Massachusetts. Last year we spent a weekend at an organic farm B&B in the Adirondacks for our yearly vacation, and we loved it. We really want to be able to do that again, but with two other vacations we know we’ll have to take, I’m not sure if it will happen.

Philanthropic: I donate $28 a month to Save the Children. I also gave money to three friends running marathons, who were all supporting cancer research. I feel like this is really important, but I’m not sure how much is reasonable to spend each month, especially when I’d like to be able to field requests from friends like those above which I can't plan for. I think I’d like to shop for my local food bank a few times this year, and make at least one donation to Modest Needs this year when I see a request that speaks to me personally. But I think I need a plan or else this will fall by the wayside.

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