Happy Monday everyone!
I’m slowly settling back into home after a long month of travel. In fact, right now I’m in bed with my feet tucked under my housemate’s dog…which is a good thing since last I looked it was around 7 degrees (farenheit) outside. Brrrrrrrr. Yesterday I made bread and went to church, and today’s agenda includes such exciting action points as “do laundry” and “write blog post.” It does not include anything like “buy plane tickets.”
So what I’m saying here is the cozy factor is through the roof around here. Naturally, this state of affairs led to an hour Saturday evening which caused me to tweet this:
Staring at my budget until my eyes bleed is probably not the most productive use of Saturday night. Fine! I’ll read a book.
— The Single Dollar (@thesingledollar) January 17, 2016
So what was the deal?
Well, first of all, January’s been on the expensive side. I bought (cheap, but still) fitness classes, I’ve had some other personal/medical expenses, I made a donation to a local charity, and a few other things happened. None of it out of control, but I’ve needed my freelance income to help me cash flow these expenses. Which means I haven’t been putting anything extra into my house fund.
Also, uh, oops, I did it again. Where “it” is “take saved money and use it to buy stocks when the price is cratering.” You may recall this particular weakness from last summer when I stuck 4/5 of my brand new e-fund into the market, the last time the Dow got down into the 15,000s. This time, I took $1000 from my house fund and put that in the IRA as well (the 2015 IRA where I still had tons of contribution room.)
I don’t regret this, because I was really bummed that I basically didn’t contribute to my Roth IRA at all last year and I’m glad I contributed something before the April 15 deadline.
But it did make me think about my penchant for semi-extreme goal setting and its consequences. It turns out that I really don’t like “boring” in my finances. So last year, I had way more fun saving 50% of my income (well, 51%) than I did saving $500/month into my e-fund. As a result, I tend to set up pretty extreme goals, because they’re more exciting to go after. But I have enough sense to call them “stretch” goals — since they are hard to get to.
I don’t know, however, if this is really good for me. When I took the $1000 out of the house fund to buy stock, I think it was a fine financial decision for the future, and shouldn’t impact my actual house-buying that much. But I got kind of tense over it anyway, and ended up on Saturday night staring at my budget trying to figure out how I could make up the money in the house fund. I’m pretty good at frugality, but not really $1000-in-a-month-on-top-of-other-savings, you know?
So: working hard for stretch goals is good. But stressing out about them and wasting time on a night when I could have been doing something else is not good. This time, I caught myself and refocused: I read a good book and enjoyed my evening. But I don’t want it to be a pattern that I stress about meeting stretch goals. They’re stretch! I shouldn’t feel obligated to meet them!
Do y’all do this? Got any suggestions about dealing with the competing desires to set ambitious goals and to not spend too much time worrying about them?