What Is Your Financial Dream?

Apartment building

It’s Day #4 of the January Money Diet, and perhaps you’re experiencing the wonder and joy of a checking account balance that holds steady. I hope you’re enjoying this break from spending, and discovering some new strategies to live well and save money. I’ve been loving your comments and the ideas you’re sharing.

If you participated in yesterday’s Net Worth Challenge, you have an accurate picture of where you are financially as 2015 begins. Before we tackle some weighty topics like saving, investing and paying off debt, I’d like to ask you to step back and think about the Big Picture.

Landlord Jane

When I was 20, I had the extraordinary good fortune to work with a woman named Jane Herron. Jane was just a few years older than me, but she had incredible focus and financial savvy. She had already managed to save up a down payment and purchase a condominium in a Denver four-plex.

One day she shared her vision with me. “I’ve made a plan to pay off the mortgage for my condo in five years,” she said. “I’m also going to buy the other condos in my building one by one, until I own the building. I’ll rent them so I can produce ongoing income.”

At the time I was living in an apartment, partying with friends, eating out at restaurants frequently, going to the mall every weekend, racking up credit card debt, and spending more than I made each month. Jane’s financial goals made a huge impression on me. At the time I couldn’t even fathom how to save $25, let alone a down payment — and here was my young co-worker with a plan to pay off her mortgage. Jane went on to do exactly what she had described to me, and before she was 30 she became a landlord who owned an income-producing commercial property.

I had to reach a pretty low point financially to see how easy it is to fritter away money with nothing to show for it. I wish I would have been smarter sooner, like Jane. Instead, I had to max out my credit cards and experience the constant sick-to-my-stomach feeling of being broke. I had to live with bill collectors calling, and being saddled with thousands of dollars of debt for cheap pleasures I’d experienced far in the past. It took me a good decade to learn how to save money, stop using credit cards, and have some restraint in order to enjoy financial peace.

How About You?

What are your goals for your money? When you think of financial freedom, what comes to mind? What big things would you like to achieve in the coming years?

My goals have changed over the years, but I’ll never forgot the fire that Jane stirred in me that led me to own a rental property when I was in my 30’s, largely inspired by her example. Later I was able to quit my job so I could be with my son and work from home. More recently I helped pay for my daughter’s college education without taking on debt. Now I’m saving for my son’s college fund and trying to plan for retirement.

Your challenge today, if you choose to accept it, is to sit in a quiet place and think about your Big Picture financial goals. Where would you like to be at the end of 2015? How about in five years, or ten years?

I’d love to hear some of your money goals in the comments section if you feel like sharing.

Here’s to all good things in the year ahead,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. You could win a deluxe Happy Simple Living gift box by participating in the January Money Diet.  The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and much more.

At the end of January I’ll choose one winner from among everyone who comments–someone who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results. Good luck!

Photo: Daniel Oines

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

18 comments to What Is Your Financial Dream?

  • robyn

    No credit card debt within a few months. Build home in a few years. Retire comfortably in 15-20 years.

  • Lisa

    In June, I will be eligible for the company match portion of our retirement benefit. To earn the full matching amount of 3%, I would need to contribute 6% of my income. My goal is to be able to afford the full 6%.

  • Susan Canada

    By the end of 2015 I plan to have finished remodel of current townhouse, complete reduction of household items, organized all paperwork, and have sold townhouse. Purchase at least 5 acres out of state so horses could be moved & I won’t have to pay for boarding. Then put a small cabin on property to live on by 2016.

  • Laurie

    To have debt paid off except for mortgage by end of 2015.

  • Diane

    Now that my husband and I are retired I want to try to calculate how much we can spend each year on our sweet new grandbaby and travel without totally busting our nest egg and worrying about being able to cover long term care if we would ever need it.

  • Karin

    We just signed up for a debt management program. All of our money is going towards our debt and daily expenses and there is nothing left over. Our goal for 2015 is to adjust to the new budget and have some type of savings. We would love to take a vacation in the next few year since we haven’t been on one in over 10 years. In 5 years our debt will be paid off. After that we can focus on our retirement and focus on college for our son.

  • Tricia

    My financial goals are to pay-off debts as soon as possible and start saving for the short and long term future. I find that it is hard to put a time line on these goals as my husband has a different view and approach to these financial things.

  • Georgina Bowie

    My initial goal is get out of the bit of debt I’m in at the moment and then save towards getting a car. I also want to start putting money into a pension as I should have really started doing that about 10 years ago.

  • Lynn Louise

    We have a dream to purchase a cabin and by being a bit more frugal and managing the budget better, it can come true. Will it happen in 2015? Maybe. But if not, the dream will be closer as I keep a more watchful eye on the expenses. Doing these exercizes really keeps me thinking about each and every purchase that I consider making. Is it necessary? Can I do without? Will it help me get to my goal faster? I scanned several shopping sites today and even thought about purchasing, but then decided against it as I could do without. Mindfully spending is the name of game.

  • Laura

    Our short-term goals include setting up and contributing to college funds for our two boys, while also paying off our own student loans. Long-term goals include saving enough to retire comfortably and if we are really dreaming here, a nice little vacation cabin in the mountains would be lovely!

  • Kelli Tolstoy

    Financial goal for 2015 is stick with the Debt Snowball plan to pay off 3 credit cards. In 5 years; have payed off other 2 credit cards and saved for a graduation trip for my daughter. In 10+ years; have saved to buy our retirement property and a small cabin, continue to save for retirement hopefully at 65 which is in 13 years!! Of course, enjoy my children and granddaughter through it all♡

  • Monika

    My financial dream is to have an income property to rent out. Getting a handle on unnecessary spending is the first step!

  • Marion

    We just had a baby and my financial goal for 2015 would be to jump start her savings account/college fund while getting rid of our personal debt. It’s a bit of a juggling act that we need to recommit to doing!

  • Lisa F

    By the end of this year, I plan to be 1/5 debt free. We paid everything else off and are really focusing on this 5 yr goal. We use a credit card for purchases, and pay it off every month. (The incentive is free grocery checks quarterly) Its not very smart way to shop compared to the envelope method. But $40-$65 in free groceries every few months is awesome! I think Ill start keeping a running total in my wallet, to help keep myself on budget. We will get less in incentives, but we’ll spend less at bill paying time. Its all about accountability.

  • Kersti

    My goal for this year is to have 40.000 SEK (=4725 USD) in My stavnings account.
    I will leave my wellpaid job in september, so for the next 3 1/2 years it’s more about downsizing as I will study at university taking student loan while supporting My family.
    To me right now it’s more about living a healthier, not so stressful life, doing something meaningful with my life 🙂

  • Jennifer

    My money goal is to give twice as much as I keep! A simpler 2015 not only means that I not only spend less wasted money but also that I spend less wasted time which is a much more valuable currency!

  • Having taken a few days off from e-mail, I am behind in my money diet work. My husband and I want to pay off our home equity in 5 years so that we will just have our mortgage to manage. We live in a college town, so our goal is to rent out our house for graduation and alumni weekends, hopefully making us some extra cash to help us pay off the HE! By the end of this month, I need to have finished making an ad. To create the ad, I need to clean a few rooms… It is all so connected!!

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