Serena Freewomyn

Achieving the Goal of Financial Freedom

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | September 07, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: budgeting, goal setting, personal finances, student loans

Every year on my birthday, I set goals for myself for the coming year. I'm not big in New Year's resolutions, nor am I big on celebrating my birthday (although I always gladly accept gifts, especially jewelry). I do like taking stock of the year, however, and creating an action plan for making improvements in the year to come.

Last year I set three goals for myself: take a cooking class, take a business class, and get out of debt. I more than surpassed the first two goals by enrolling at Scottsdale Culinary Institute in January. What I discovered was that I love cooking, but that I don't have the type of risk tolerance it takes to own your own restaurant. And I also don't want to lock myself into working nights, weekends, and holidays for the rest of my life. My passion for good food only runs so deep. But, you never know what you really want in life until you try it out.

My third goal has almost become a reality. This week I paid off the largest of my outstanding student loans, three weeks ahead of my self-imposed deadline. I carry zero credit card debt, so we can check that off of my list. But I still have my loan from SCI to pay off. However, with budgeting discipline, I'll have that paid off before my next birthday rolls around. So I'm feeling pretty good about my financial status right now.

As many of you already know, I am a regular contributor over at Queercents, as well as here at TBP. I have really enjoyed writing my weekly series about food budgeting. I have been learning a lot in the process. But what I get the most out of is reading stories from other Gen Y contributors about their efforts to budget, save, and pay off student loans. We do, after all, come from the "debt generation." I've learned a lot about saving, investing, and sharing expenses with your partner. And the best part is that the articles are always practical without being preachy.

This year I'm renewing my goal of eliminating my student loan debt, a goal that I will easily achieve by sticking to my monthly budget. I am also setting a goal of saving money to take a trip to Paris in the Spring (to visit my long-lost friend Alex), as well as contributing regularly to my Roth IRA. These aren't lofty goals, but the satisfaction of achieving financial freedom is pretty liberating. It was so exciting to put that final student loan check in the mail. Maybe not as exciting as buying my first new car for myself (a red 2008 Honda Civic that I just adore), but it was still a good feeling nonetheless.

I've found that you're more likely to achieve a goal when you write it down and share it with others. It keeps you accountable. So in the spirit of sharing, I want to open up the comments section for others. What are your own goals this year, financial or otherwise, and what are your action plans for achieving them?

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Serena: Financial discipline is one of the greatest "gifts" you can give yourself.

I'm in a different stage in life so my goals revolve around paying off our mortgage, generating alternative income streams (through investment properties and now, I'm looking at buying a small business with 2 other investors), saving for retirement and continuing to live within our means. We're also planning for the adoption of a baby boy in December which brings up a few other long and short term financial goals: setting up his college fund, paying for the adoption costs and not going crazy with buying all that baby stuff!

Happy Birthday! I assume today is your special day... but wasn't quite sure from the post.

Nina, congratulations on the adoption. That's so exciting for you and Jeanine!

My birthday isn't until the end of the month, but I was so excited about paying off the student loan this past week that I just had to share it! Thanks for the early birthday wishes, though. :^)

What kind of business will you be investing in?

I've been working towards some home improvements that I want to get finished this year - and completely paid for.

Better house drainage
New windows downstairs
New duct work

So far, I called the window company last week to place our order, and the insulation and duct work are scheduled for the first week of October. :)

(I keep putting off the drainage. I'll have to dig 2 ditches. LOL)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 7, 2008 11:37 PM

Serena, you're amazing. Tell me what you are going to do with your education? If you find restaurant life too uncertain have you considered working with a caterer? Much better hours and if you stay strictly in the (commercial)kitchen there should be no nights (unless you want better dollars).

Hi Robert, right now I'm actually taking a break from the paid labor force. Translation: the job market sucks. I decided not to stay in the restaurant business - too much financial risk. So I'm going back to social work. Unfortunately, no one is hiring right now. But I'm OK through the end of the year, so I'm trying not to stress. I've been doing a lot of gardening in my spare time, and I have some major writing projects I'm working on.