Sometimes I get discouraged because it doesn't seem like I am reaching my financial goals fast enough. After all, my 4-5 year plan to pay off the mortgage is going to take at least 4-5 years. Unless I win the lottery or get a secong job, there isn't much I can do that I am not already doing. I need to remind myself that I am on the right track so I am making a list of the top 10 things that I do that are helping me reach my goal.
1) I make a yearly budget and live below my means. I take my salary minus taxes and insurance, subtract 10% for donations, $800 for my house payment, $700 for monthly expenses and whatever is leftover is the amount I can use for saving and investing. Currently I am using $400 for extra mortgage payments which leaves $142 to be used at my discretion.
2) I have a monthly budget and I stick with it. I write down every dollar that I spend and add it up as I go through the month. That way I know if I am running out of money or if I have a little left over I can buy something that I have been waiting to buy.
3) I moved out of my house, live in an RV and rent out my house as a vacation rental. Ok, so not everyone can move out of their house and rent it out but I had the opportunity so I decided to give it a try. Money earned: at least $4,000/yr and maybe more if I am lucky.
4) I don't have cable or satalite TV. I have an antenna and I get 6 channels. With the internet and work and an occasional book, I haven't been bored yet. Savings: $40/m
5) I collect rainwater and use it for everything except drinking and cooking in my RV. It's a little extreme, I know, but I like the look on people's faces when I tell them that I get my water from the sky. They don't believe me, especially since I live in the desert. Savings $40/m if it was delivered.
6) I buy my clothes at the thrift store, and discount stores like Ross when I need something more specific. When I need a change of scenery in my closet the thrift store lets me aquire a few new pieces without buyer's remorse. If I don't like something after I wear it once, it gets re-donated. Plus, I allow myself to use money from my donation catagory when I go to the thrift store. It's a charitable organization and I donate clothes too so I consider the clothes an equal swap and the money a donation. Does that make sense?
7) I contribute to my 401k to get the company match. I am eyeing an early retirement so tying up a lot of money until I am 59 1/2 doesn't really interest me (I already have a little nest egg locked away in my 401k and it seems adequate to me) but I would be a fool not to at least get the company match. It is painless and hopefully will add a little more security in my old age.
8) I am easily amused. My hobbies are not very expensive. I enjoy gardening and arts and crafts. Those things can get out of hand if I started buying supplies and tools but they can also be done very inexpensively. I save seeds and plant things that are easy to grow. I have collected so many art supplies over the years that I don't think I will run out soon. It's only when I want to try the latest and greatest craft like Precious Metal Clay or glass bead making that I have to remember my bigger goal. I know that if I spend less now I will be able to build the house that I want with my art studio and I will have plenty of time to pursue my passions without a 9-5 job because I will be financially independent. At least that's the idea, assuming I don't die first.
9) I make saving money my hobby. I read frugal blogs and websites, read books from the library about money and investing, make a game of frugal habits like finding bargains or fixing and re-using things.
10) I blog about my finances and goals. Blogging keeps me motivated and accountable for the goals that I make. Blogging can be free although I have spent a little bit of money on it. Plus the web site design skills that I am slowly learning might help me later on in life when I have my own art business and design my own web site!