Track financial goals with Capital One 360

What financial goals are you currently pursuing? Over the past three years of marriage my husband and I have been able to accomplish many financial goals thanks to Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover and from other financial blogs. I had never made a financial goal before we went over the topic of money during pre-marital counseling. To name a few, here are some of the financial goals we have checked off our list:

- Pay off $30,000 of students loans (Read how we paid it off in 9 months!)
- Save up a 6-month emergency fund
- Increase our investing to 15% of our income
- Increase our tithe to 15% of our income
- Save for a second car/current car replacement
- Save for a down payment on a home

How to organize financial goals
We do track our monthly spending in our homemade excel budget sheet but we wanted an easy way to check in on our savings and keep them organized. We found that opening a Capital One 360 account helped us to do this (our account was formerly known as an ING Direct Orange Savings Account before Capital One bought ING).

How does Capital One 360 work?
The Capital One 360 account lets you manage multiple mini savings accounts within one account. It’s easier to explain these multiple “accounts” as separate files within one folder. For example, the folder (our savings account) has three documents in it. One document is called “Home Sweet Home,” one called “new-ish car,” and one called “Emergency Fund.” When we log into Capital One 360 we’d see all three accounts and can view each account separately with statements, transaction history, etc. You can make up to 25 mini accounts if you have that many goals! I know some folks like to make one for Christmas savings and we’ve considered adding another one for our vacation fund. Each month, we transfer a lump sum of money from our main checking account to the appropriate Capital One 360 account with ease.

These accounts offer a 0.75% interest rate which isn’t anything to plan your retirement on but it is at least better than the 0.01% or whatever your savings account through your bank is giving you. We don’t account for this interest earned, but it’s nice to know you earn a few extra dollars each month compared to pennies. The main reason we have it is because it organizes our savings goals and we can transfer money back to our main checking account quickly if needed (big perk for an emergency fund!).

Get started
Have you ever thought about what financial goals you have? If you want to gain better control of your finances, start with a budget. They aren’t sexy or the most thrilling thing to work on but you can quickly get on the right path to financial freedom. Don’t be like the majority of our country who is controlled by money instead of having the control themselves.

Get the app
How much easier can it get? You can download the free Capital One 360 app and track your savings at a touch of a button! If you don’t like the idea of using excel to manage your budget, you can even get the free app from Mint.com and track it through your phone! You can read more about Mint here.

Learn more about the Capital One 360 savings account here. <– If you sign up through my link I get a referral bonus at no cost to you.

Side note: I was not asked by Capital One to write this nor was I endorsed in any fashion. The article contains my own opinions from personal experience.

What financial goals are you working on?

Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the face

This week, March 4-8th, I am participating in the second annual Women’s Money Week. Check out the WMW site to hear from other bloggers on each daily topic and be empowered to better control your finances!

“Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the face.” –Mike Tyson, boxer.
I thought this quote was fitting for today’s topic, Future Planning & Financial Planning. I thought I’d use a photo from the movie Warrior because it’s about boxing (MMA fighting, Dave just corrected me. Whatever.) and, frankly, Dave has a man crush on Tom Hardy.

How much planning do you do for your future? Do you have an emergency fund set up? A 401k? A Roth or Traditional IRA? Other investments? Savings for a down payment on a home? A 529 plan to fund your kids’ tuition? All of these routes we funnel our money to are not for the present. They’re for what’s to come. If you want to save 20% for a down payment on a home you’ve got to hit that 1% first.

Baby Steps
Very often I’m reminded of how blessed I am to be married to a man who desires to stay out of debt and be a good steward with what we have. If you’ve followed Budget for Health for any amount of time, you know I drop the name Dave Ramsey a lot. The seven baby steps were laid out so practically in his book Total Money Makeover that when we took the first step it wasn’t even one year later that we found ourselves 100% debt free (after starting with $30k of student loans!). His baby steps are the following:

  1. $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  2. Pay off all debt
  3. 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  5. College funding for children
  6. Pay off home early
  7. Build wealth and give; Invest in mutual funds and real estate.

Tyson’s got nothin on us
Having that 6-month emergency fund sure helps us pursue our other financial goals without worrying. That way if we do get punched in the face, it won’t be a one-punch knock out. If I get punched, I’ll be all like, “That’s okay, I’ve got 6 months of backup. Bring it.” The same goes with investing. We’re only 24/25 years old now but when we are aged to ripeness and decide to do something else with our old selves, we’ll be able to do so and won’t need to pick up a job as a Walmart greeter to make ends meet.

New battery, new car starter, new tires…
Thankfully we’ve only had wimpy punches come our way over the past few years of marriage. Replacing our tires was our most expensive purchase but we didn’t even feel the punch because we had set aside a little each month toward car repairs so when the time came and things did start falling apart we already had what we needed to cover it.

Get moving
What small steps can you take to ensure you are securing the future of your family? You could start with opening a savings account and setting aside a percentage of each check before you blow it on something you don’t really need. You could figure out what percentage your employer will match for your 401k contributions and get that free money. Meet with a financial adviser and set up a Roth IRA. It takes a little effort to get rolling, but you’ll pick up momentum and be ready for any punches life dishes out!

What steps are you taking to plan for your future?

Recap of our 2012 financial resolutions

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It’s time to evaluate your 2012 new year resolutions! How did you do? Do you remember what your resolutions were? This was the first time I’ve made a resolution that I’ve completed. I don’t think I went too easy on myself because it was a lot of money to payoff and save. We just kept living like college students, enjoyed a simple life, and now we’re DEBT FREE! I provided an update on my 2012 financial resolutions in June because I only made 3 resolutions and we completed them way ahead of schedule! Stay tuned for a October-December quarterly budget review and my 2013 goals… I want to make more than just financial goals this time but I also want to make sure I come up with SMART resolutions for 2013. Now for a little recap of my 2012 financial resolutions:

Our financial goals for 2012
1.
Pay off the rest of student loans
Done as of March 10th, 2012!
Our goal was May 2012 but we made our last payment 2 months ahead of schedule!
2. Complete our 6 month emergency fund
Done as of May 2012!
I originally thought we we’d START pouring into this fund in May and it wouldn’t be completed until September. Talk about a snowball effect!
3. Increase our retirement fund to 15% of our gross income
Done as of October 2012!
We’re currently putting 10% toward our 401k, employer match included. We each opened a Roth IRA in October and have a monthly deposit set up for both.
4. Save $4,500 for a new (to us) car.

Done as of September 20th, 2012!
Our apartment lease is up in June 2013 so depending where we decide to live we might need a second car. Thankfully our current car is still running even though it needed a few fixins this year. We’ve saved $4,500 for a new(ish) car since my dad can get a great deal on a fixer-upper and make it run like new.
5. Save up 50% of a down payment on a house
Done as of December 28th, 2012!
Our last paycheck of the year makes us tip just past the halfway point!
Dave and I decided that we don’t really have any reason we’d move out of the area we currently live in, so we’ve decided to start searching for a more permanent residence. Housing and taxes are very pricey in Ann Arbor compared to other cities in Michigan, so it will be a challenge to find something we can afford that’s not a dump. A conclusion we both came to is that we value our time and don’t want to spend it commuting, so we’re willing to pay a little more to live closer to Dave’s job. We aren’t sure how much our future home will end up costing, but we plan to have enough saved up to put a 20% down payment by June 2013 since that’s when our apartment lease ends.

How did you do on your 2012 resolutions?

Our rainy day fund

Emergency funds suck. I can think of a million different ways I could spend 6 months’ worth of savings. Why is it necessary?

The hubs and I haven’t had any big emergencies in our 2 years of marriage, but we have had a few little ones pop up. The car starter went to crap a few months ago which led to a $120 expense followed by the need for a new $118 battery. We got a flat tire the day before we left for Ireland but thankfully (and oddly) we didn’t need to get a new tire because we couldn’t find a hole and it hasn’t gone flat since we blew it back up. Aside from a few car issues, that’s it for emergencies.

Only having $238 worth of emergency expenses makes me hate having a 6-month emergency fund. In my mind, I like to think I have control over my life and according to my plans, nothing bad is going to happened to me and 6-months’ worth of savings is a bit much. Ah, but the good Lord has a way of sanctifying those he loves through trials. Why else would the apostle Paul say in Romans 5:3-4 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.No difficult life situation is ever welcomed, but retrospectively I end up thankful for the growth that occurred during that time and how my character was molded into who I am today.

Why did we decide to establish an emergency fund?

  • Peace of mind
  • So we don’t feel like we’re one oops away from falling into debt
  • We don’t have to freak out when oops situations do occur
  • Because Dave Ramsey told us to (says hubby)

Aside from a few of our own reasons, I become more grateful for our emergency fund as I continue to hear from friends who have had their own unexpected financial challenges:

Fat Guy Skinny Wallet – Forced To Dip (Or Plunge) Into Our Emergency Fund
See Debt Run – Help, I Can’t Turn the Water Off!
Newlyweds on a Budget – Back to Broke Newlyweds
Simple Organized Living – Our Car Accident… and a New-To-Us Vehicle

How do you decide how much to keep in your emergency fund?

Budget Review: April – June 2012

Every 3 months, I’ll post an update showing how our money was allocated. Consider this quarterly update a tool I’ll use so you can hold me accountable to reaching our 2012 goals!

What’s happened since our last budget review?
- Dave got a promotion May 11th! His title is now “Mechanical Engineer II.” In non-engineering terms, it means “I get paid more to do more stuff.”
- I got my wisdom teeth pulled (I only had my top two pulled; bottom ones never existed)
- Rent went up $10 a month when we renewed our lease for another year
- We went over grocery & entertainment budget 2 out of the 3 months…oops
- We increased our tithe to 15%
- We finished off our 6-month Emergency Fund
- We started saving for a new(ish) car we’ll need next year
- We had to buy a new car starter ($120 + free labor from my dad & hubs) and a new battery since it was 5 years old and about to die ($118 + free labor from my hubs).
- We got a 3rd paycheck in June and put most of it toward a new home we hope to buy sometime over the next two years
…and finally…
- GUESS WHO’S PREGNANT?
You guessed it! Wait, you guessed my sister-in-law right? It’s not related to our budget, and it’s not me, but still exciting news and I wanted to share ;)
April through June (Actual spending):

It was getting kind of confusing to establish an accurate budget because I originally accounted for Dave’s salary, my part-time salary from the health department, and an average of 6 days per month from my contingent job at the hospital. With our new set up, our budget will only account for the consistent income and any additional income from days I work at the hospital will go toward saving up for a new(ish) car and then toward a down-payment on a home once the car is saved up for.

Past budget reviews:
July – December 2011
January – March 2012

How are you doing with your budget?

Financial resolutions for the New Year

If you read my post about SMART goals, you know that I believe goals are great things to have if thought out well. We still have a few days left in the year to think about healthy habits we want to carry over or start in 2012. Aside from your goals on food and fitness, have you thought about making resolutions for your financial health? Personal financial health is of high importance in addition to physical fitness for those who want to have a more secure future. Whether you want to pay off a large amount of debt or just want create your first budget sheet to keep track of expenses, you need to start somewhere.

Our financial goals for 2012:
1. Pay off the rest of student loans
2. Complete our 6 month emergency fund
3. Increase our retirement fund to 15% of our gross income
4. Save $4,500 for a new (to us) car.
5. Save up 50% of a down payment on a house

Need some ideas for where to start?

- Download Dave Ramsey’s budget sheet and categorize your spending
- Create an account at Mint.com to set up budgets and keep track of your money
- Put back a percentage of your paycheck into savings. If you’re already doing this, can you increase that percentage this year? You can usually set this up automatically with your bank.
- Cut costs. Are you eating out too much? Splurging on clothes too often? Do you need that coffee every morning?
- Analyze your credit score and find out how to increase it
- Contribute to your retirement savings (get rid of debt and jump on this one!)

What are your financial resolutions for 2012?