Last year, my goal was to run 13 half marathons in 2013- which I exceeded by 2 races (technically 3 if you call a 20 miler that turned into a 13.1 because I gave up) and so I’m ready for the next challenge. While of course, I wanted to continue on to do 14 half marathons in 2014, I realized that several of those trips (to Nashville, D.C., Tulsa, Orlando and Anaheim) were amazing, they added up to well over $4,000 in travel expenses (some of which were reimbursed due to sponsorships or I got great discounts) and that’s money we now need to put towards our wedding.
The fiancé and I had a tough talk about money- and for two weeks I felt pretty deflated that 2014 was going to be all work and no play- but I have to say, the payoff of a debt free wedding will be worth the cutbacks.
In 2013, I was (f)unemployed for 5 months out of the year, and now that I’m earning regular income, I’m hoping that I can turn what I was able to save on a limited income to become something awesome.
Here’s what I saved in cash assets for 2013 (doesn’t include my Roth IRA or the two travel funds and Christmas fun I just emptied out):
I’ve been saving like a crazy person for this wedding in the later half of 2013. I’m hoping that if I was able to save $4606 in 6 months, that I will be able to save even more in 2013 without totally burning myself out.
My goal is to have a debt free wedding and it will take some of the overwhelm out of the process by knowing that I’m planning a wedding that aligns with my values to both plan a righteous party everyone will love and do it without gobs of debt. The fiancé will be working on paying down the mortgage and we’re both going to saving fiercely this year.
Wedding: $1,283 a month =$15,396 a year
Emergency Fund: $210 a month =$2,520 a year
Roth IRA: $414 a month =$4968 a year
Money To Save Each Month: $1907
Total for 2014: $22,884
So, in some respects I’m getting a head start on my $20,000 wedding goal, I’m making up for it by saving towards an emergency fund. I had my emergency fund up to $2k this year, but due to well, emergencies (okay and some poor planning) I had to use the cash I’d saved to pay off medical expenses, travel and a few unanticipated purchases.
– Cutting Back On My Half Marathon Travels: (sob!) I’ll still be attending the Nike Women’s Half, Princess Half & hopefully, Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare (both Disney Trips double as family time since that’s where our people are!) but will cut costs by booking travel much earlier, lodging with friends and packing my own food. I also want to run Route 66 in Tulsa next November but will plan travel costs much more efficiently next year.
– Cutting Back On Local Events: Beyond the big trips, I did probably 30 local races..those registration fees and gear add up fast. In 2013, I also had to purchase a triathlon bike and gear to train in a new climate. This year, I’m not buying new gear and will cut my attendance in half (if I can’t get registrations as birthday gifts, etc.) This should cut about $500 in registration expenses (I kid you not) and $500 in gear. I will use my running shoes until they’re floppy.
– Christmas Gifts: Boxing Day (A.K.A. day after Christmas) is my Black Friday. I just spent $375 but have pretty much all of my Christmas gifts for next year, plus my wrapping, decorations and supplies.
– Working More Gigs: I now have regular, dependable income so unless there are big expenses or I get canned, I can better estimate the road ahead. Additionally, any blogging income I bring in for posts, affiliate revenue and blogger coaching I’ll put towards the goal.
I’m unable to take freelancing social media clients and my coaching clients are getting scaled back- so estimated earnings beyond my salary are a tough estimate, but I’m going to lowball so I can focus on saving to be sure I can reliably hit my goal
– Putting Any Bonuses Towards The Goal: If I earn any bonuses at work or have any miraculous windfalls, I will use any spare cash to fund the goal.
– Big Ass Expenses: Our fridge broke down, our mortgage is ridiculous and I’m going to max out my Roth IRA this year. I have more expenses in general than I did in the past- housing costs more, I now own a car and two pugs are more expensive than one! Our family has grown.
– Poor Planning: For the past two years due to my unwieldy schedule (meaning grad school & freelancing plus some cross country moves) I usually felt overwhelmed planning things 12 months in advance. Point in case? I knew I would by running the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa all year but didn’t book my plane ticket until a few weeks in advance. Now that I have a steady job, I feel more comfortable planning ahead and asking for time off well in advance.
– Life: It’s easy to put down a plan on paper, but life happens. You can’t plan for everything and there will be events or frankly, laziness, where I’m not able to pinch every penny and I am going into this year of saving knowing that some months I’ll miss my goal and others I will be able to chip in extra. Even with the best of plans, life happens and I won’t hit every milestone every month.
– Budgeting Isn’t a Habit: I live debt free (aside from our mortgage) but honestly, while I pay off my credit card each month, budgeting off a spreadsheet or tracking tool is still not something I’m used to. I never seem to gauge my spending just right. I’ve set up budgets before, but rarely stuck to them after 3 months usually with the understanding that as long as I didn’t go into debt, I was fine. This year will be different- watching every penny will have to be a monthly and even weekly habit.
– No Fun Money: Some frugality bloggers disclose what they make and earn to the penny- I won’t bore you with the figures, but I will say, this amount of saving is extremely uncomfortable for me. Saving $20,000 in one year is the bulk of my earnings. Add on the mandatory expenses like insurance, rent, car maintenance and food- I have $90 free each month to spend. To make up for that, I’ll have to ramp up my blog earnings since I’m not counting them in my figures currently (since they vary from month to month I wasn’t comfortable with a possible overestimate in my final budget).
2014 will be intense. Last year, I set out to do 13 half marathons in 2013 and only had about 4 scheduled at the time- I had no idea how I would get 9 more on the schedule, nor if I actually had the grit to make it through. I still love running and it will still be a regular feature of my life, but paying for a wedding, paying down the mortgage and getting financially on track will be the epicenter of 2014.
The fiancé and I are learning how to communicate our financial goals as a team and thus, planning as a team. At times, the exercise of communication is challenging enough as a newly engaged duo, but backing it with financial goals is really exciting. I don’t know if my estimates and approximations are spot-on right now, but I hope that with losses and gains that inevitably happen- we will hit the goal by the end of December 2014 of $20,000 in the bank. Pray for us 😉