- fully funded college savings plans for my kids.
- a retirement savings target.
- an emergency fund with 3-6 months of savings.
- a debt-free goal.
For each category, I created a plan that included:
The 18-Month Calendar
Every month and every week, I review the notebook and study the goals. Like a teacher at a student conference, I give myself progress reports in each category. Goals and savings targets are transferred to the calendar, with reminders. Here's an example: "Transfer $100 into savings." I make revisions if the goals are too easy or too difficult.
In June, for example, the goal was to run a half-mile twice a week at a 10-minute mile pace. By mid-month, I had exceeded those goals in terms of time and distance.
The system is still pretty new for me, but I'm confident that it will work. Organization is my biggest challenge, and the notebook/calendar system keeps me on track. I have calendars for every major area of my life: kids, college planning for my oldest child, creative goals, fitness goals, etc. I need a system because I'm either super-organized or completely discombobulated.
Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.