Tip #280 - Make Your Purchase And Savings Plans For 2011. As 2010 is drawing to a close, it is time to start setting up your financial plan for 2011. I believe first you should come up with some general ideas of what new expenses you think you will incur in the next year, what big purchases you would like to make, and how much new savings you want to put away. These would generally be for things that were not included in your last year's budget. For example, if you are used to putting $300 per month toward home maintenance, you do not need to add this. However, if you want to add a new deck to your house, put in down on your list. During the next few weeks you can then make a formal financial plan and budget. For now, pull out a sheet of paper, and write down your general plans for next year.
Here is what a sample plan might look like:
Plans for 2011
1. Buy new dishwasher - $500
2. Preschool for son in the fall - $1200
3. Redo middle daughter's bedroom including furniture - $3000
4. Save toward older daughter's wedding - $2000
5. Start an IRA for wife - $5000
6. Put money to youngest son's ESA plan - $2000
7. Start a beach vacation fund: $600
Now that you have your new plans for next year written down, your next step will be to create a formal financial plan and set up a budget based on expected 2011 income. Both of these links are what I wrote about this topic last year, but frankly the ideas don't change from year to year, only the amount that we put in them do. This year I added this additional step of writing down your new expenses and savings as a way to get you thinking of where this money will come from when you start your formal budget. Either other line items need to come down, you need to make more income, or you need to revise your plans (decorate your daughter's room with furniture from Craigslist, for example, so the amount is only $1000 versus $3000).
Doing a simple exercise like this also starts you thinking about next year's finances and gets the ball rolling to write up your formal financial plan and budget. So why not come up with your list?
In Real Life (IRL) - Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about expenses and savings for next year. What prompted it initially was a trip to Philadelphia for my friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah. I always knew we would have this expense down the road with our children. But the road is getting shorter now that my oldest turned 9 in November. And the reality hit home when I attended the Bat Mitzvah - a DJ, cha-ching, flowers, cha-ching, clothing, cha-ching, lunch for 100+ people, cha-ching. I am not one to go overboard with events, but even with a simple affair, Bar- and Bat-Mitzvahs cost in the thousands of dollars. And we haven't started saving a dime for it yet!
So the first thing on my list for next year's expenses is starting a fund for daughter #1's Bat Mitzvah. I haven't yet come up with an estimated amount (I think I'm scared to figure it out). But off the top of my head I'm guessing we will need about $15,000 so $3000-$4000 might be a good amount to save next year for a 2014 Bat-Mitzvah.
Next on my list is joining a synagogue. Right now we belong to one but it is not really an ideal fit for us. We went synagogue shopping in the fall but put off joining since we were unsure if we'd even be living here in a year. The good news is my husband's boss told him the plans to close the office have been pushed off a few years (YAY!). That means it's time to join a synagogue where we really fit in. We're going to wait until the summer since my girls' Hebrew school is paid off through the rest of the school year. Anyway, the cost of a synagogue for a year including Hebrew School is about $4000-$5000. Ouch! Gosh between Bat-Mitzvahs and synagogue membership, being Jewish is not cheap.
Our last big expense that we might have for next year is braces. The dentist told my daughter that she needs to visit an orthodontist for a consultation. We don't know whether that will result in her getting braces yet - I hope not! - but we know it's an eventual expense anyway. We're hopeful that the costs are spread out over a few years. Plus we have expanded dental insurance that should cover some of the costs, so I am estimating a $600 cost to us next year. Hopefully, that will be put off, though.
Oh, and one more thing, we really need to start saving for another car. Our van is pushing 150,000 miles, and we've been having work done on it more frequently. And it runs fine, knock wood. But we know it's only a matter of time before we will not be comfortable driving that thing to Florida. I hope we can hold on to it for 3 to 4 more years, but only time will tell. We really should be putting a couple thousand towards saving for it per year. Oy.
Just glancing at my list above tells me we will need to bring in about $10,000 more in income to fund these new goals. All this leads me to finding a job in 2011 as my husband's job has a pay raise freeze, so the money won't be coming from there. And I don't believe our other expenses will be going down by much. I've been talking getting a job for a long time, and I was hoping to go back to my old job this past fall, but that did not pan out. Ebay selling is going very well, but there is only so much I can make that way. I can make much more somewhere else. I have something in mind, but it might not happen until spring or summer. After the holidays I will pursue that path. In the meantime, we have a couple more weeks to formalize our financial plan and write up a budget. I hope you will do it, too. Happy planning! For other financial ideas check out Frugal Friday.