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Another package arrived at the front door. I tried to run and grab it before he noticed, but it was too late. He had beat me to it.
My husband turned around with the classic Amazon box in hand. “Another one?” he asked.
“Um, yeah” I mumbled as he rolled his eyes.
I had a problem. My Amazon habit had taken a turn for the worse. In my defense, the entire world was in quarantine and I couldn’t make my normal rounds in Target.
I realized we had bought 21 items from Amazon in 40 days.
I don’t know about you, but that is a LOT for us! We used to only buy 2 or 3 items from Amazon in an entire month. To say we needed to reign in our Amazon spending would be an understatement.
That’s when I decided that in May I would track how many times I bought something from Amazon. My goal was to drastically lower the number of purchases I made. I decided that while I was tracking that goal, I would track another 2 money-related goals as well!
Like any normal person would do, I sat down and created a cute printable to help me stay motivated along the way!
The 3 Money Goals I Focused On Last Month
As I sat down to choose the 3 money goals I wanted to focus on, I put a lot of thought and effort into picking goals that I knew I had been struggling with. I’m not going to lie to you, this wasn’t fun for me AT ALL. It meant that I had to reflect back on my spending patterns and behaviors over the past several months and figure out where I wanted to make a change.
Does anyone actually want to sit down and take time to think about their money mistakes at length?
But I knew it was crucial if I wanted to choose 3 goals that would allow me to make a lasting impact on our finances and our family that month. Below are the 3 money goals I decided to focus on last month:
1. Eat dinner at home.
This might not seem like a money goal, but it totally is! Even though I’ve been writing meal plans every single week, there have been many times when I threw the meal plan out the window and had my husband grab takeout instead.
Ultimately, this led to not only wasting food but also wasting money. Because food is one of the biggest line items in our budget, I knew I needed to track the dinners I was cooking at home so that we would not go over budget on restaurants anymore.
2. No Amazon orders.
I don’t know about you, but once the quarantine set in and we had to stay home for an extended period of time, my online shopping got out of hand. There were days I would order something from Amazon twice! I felt like packages were continuously arriving at my doorstep.
To be honest, I felt out of control.
I knew that if I could cut back on Amazon shopping that we would ultimately be able to reach bigger savings goals that we had set for our family. So I decided to try my best to not shop at Amazon during the month of May. Although we weren’t 100% successful, we still made amazing progress compared to the months before.
3. Track expenses in Quicken.
Our family personally uses Quicken to help track our expenses and bank accounts. What I love about Quicken is that I’m able to see exactly how much money we have spent broken down by category. This allows me to have a crystal clear picture of whether or not we are on track with our budget.
Even though we’ve been using Quicken for over 10 years, there have been times that I would go several days without tracking any expenses. I knew that if we wanted to stick to a budget better, I would need to be tracking our expenses in Quicken every single day.
What I Learned From Tracking 3 Money Goals
As someone who sets goals every single month, I honestly didn’t expect to have such a big takeaway when I started tracking my goals every single day. However, I have been blown away at how tracking 3 measurable goals has truly opened my eyes to my money and life habits.
I’d love to say that I was successful with every single one of the goals. I’d love to tell you that tracking these goals helped me turn EVERYTHING around and be my best self.
But that’s simply not the case.
I fully believe that you have to be willing to face your truth and be 100% honest with yourself if you want to make financial progress. This means that you’ll need to be honest with yourself about getting out of debt, saving money, and your money habits.
I’m breaking down exactly what I learned about myself and my money habits from these three goals. Warning: it’s not all sunshine and rainbows!
Eat dinner at home.
If this experience has taught me anything it’s that eating dinner at home is DIFFICULT for me. As someone who personally doesn’t enjoy cooking in the kitchen, it’s so easy for me to give in to grabbing dinner out instead of cooking at home.
If I’m being perfectly honest, there are times when I’m just simply tired at the end of the day and I just don’t WANT to cook. So what happens is I tell my husband at the last minute that it’s his job to figure out dinner. At the moment I just want him to take over and be in charge of feeding the family for a night.
But as I look back on this habit, I realize that it’s unfair to him because he had no notice or time to prepare dinner. So what does he do? He ends up grabbing takeout. This happened A LOT during the month. I feel like I pulled my act together halfway through the month, but we still ate out way more than I wanted us to.
What I learned is that I need to make sure I keep dinners as simple as possible. I’m talking STUPID simple dinners. That means I need to plan out crockpot meals or freezer meals to have on hand. Heck, I might even need to stock my freezer with backup frozen pizzas that I can simply toss in the oven. This will definitely be one of the 3 money goals that I’ll track again next month!
No Amazon orders.
When I decided to cut back on my Amazon shopping habit, I honestly thought this would be the most difficult goal for me to reach. However, I was pleasantly surprised because it was easier to stop buying items on Amazon when I knew that I would be able to color in a square for that day. In fact, my husband bought more things on Amazon than I did! And that’s saying a lot because he is definitely not the spender in our relationship.
One thing that helped me cut out impulse shopping on Amazon was to make a wishlist for the items I wanted in the moment. This allowed me to take time and think through my purchase. And guess what! There were times by the end of the month (or even the end of the day!) that I didn’t even want that item anymore. If you struggle with impulse shopping online, then this is a GREAT way to help you make progress on your financial journey.
One thing that helped me cut out impulse shopping on Amazon was to make a wishlist for the items I wanted in the moment. This allowed me to take time and think through my purchase.
Track expenses in Quicken.
This might be obvious, but the more often I track my expenses in Quicken, the more likely I am to stay on budget. As someone who has been writing a budget for over 8 years, this is something I KNOW but it’s not always something I actually DO.
Tracking my expenses in Quicken allows me to break down my spending by category. This makes comparing my budget to my actual spending quick and easy. If you want to make sticking to a budget easier, track your expenses in Quicken!
Our family has used it for over 10 years and it’s something that we will continue to use every year. Click HERE to learn more about how Quicken can help you with your finances.
Setting Up Rewards And Goals
Not only did I choose 3 measurable goals to track every single day, but I also decided to set up separate financial goals as well as rewards for reaching those goals.
Although I wanted to track 3 specific goals, I also had a goal of sending $2,000 to savings. The extra $2,000 would be broken up between two Roth IRAs (one for me and one for my husband), a car fund, college fund, and general savings. I knew that if I stuck to the 3 money goals I had set, I would be more likely to reach these big picture goals for the month.
As I sat down to fill out this sheet before the month began, I wanted to focus on a few rewards that I would reach if I met my goals. So many times in the past I would reward hard work with buying MORE STUFF.
Got a good grade on a test in college? Hit up the mall!
Finished a difficult week at work? Get a pedicure!
I knew that over time I had trained my brain to reward myself with spending money. For several years I’ve been trying to break this habit. That’s why I wanted to focus on long-lasting rewards.
Instead of treating myself for hard work, I decided to focus on the rewards of my financial success.
Instead of treating myself for hard work, I decided to focus on the rewards of my financial success.
The rewards for my hard work were:
- Financial Freedom. I knew that my continued success and hard work with money would eventually lead to true financial freedom.
- More money for a future vacation. I love traveling with my family. I’d rather take vacations than buy a brand new car. I’d rather spend money on experiences than things. So a natural reward for reaching these 3 money goals is that I would have more money left to send to my vacation fun!
- Peace of mind. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I value peace of mind with my money. Practicing self-discipline in these 3 money areas of my life would naturally lead me to have peace of mind.
Want To Join Me & Track 3 Money Goals For A Month?
Ultimately, choosing 3 money goals to track has helped me stay more accountable to myself. I honestly thought that I was already doing a “good enough job” of setting and reaching goals easily. However, this experience highlighted the importance of tracking measurable goals every single day.
This is definitely something I’ll continue to do each month from here on out! And I’d LOVE for you to join me in the process!
You can get your FREE money goals printable (it comes in 2 colors!) sent straight to your inbox. You can sign up HERE or simply enter your info in the box below. Your very own money goals tracker will be sent straight to your inbox!
What 3 money goals do you think you’ll start tracking? Let me know in the comments!