Making 2009 Shine. Bite-Sized Goals Taste Better and Go Down Easier.

I absolutely love the new year. I get jazzed about goal-setting (budgeting is, after all, simply goal setting/achieving on an ongoing basis).

Here are some high-level things I want to focus on this year, with my accompanying game plan. In the past (revisit your goals often), I’ve written about goals in general. This year, however, I’m simply going to do it all right here, for everyone to see. It’ll give me a bit more accountability. Take from it what you will.

Where’s My Focus?

Family – the kids and my wife. I think those need to be broken up for sure. Make sure I focus on Julie with some things as well (put flower-sending on autopilot perhaps?). So we have kids and Julie. I think I can be fine lumping the three kids together.

Church – definitely some areas for improvement there. I’m going to go broader and call it spiritual. I want to make sure I’m increasing my knowledge of spiritual things — not just secular things.

Physical – Happy to report that I didn’t gain any weight this year, but I have some areas where I want to specifically focus. I’ll get to that later.

Hobbies – Would like to do some things specific to my new found love: Jiu Jitsu.

Financial – Just brainstorming here, but some big things on my mind lately are our year supply of food (or lack thereof), 72-hour emergency kits (again, or lack thereof), and six-month emergency fund (working toward it, but it’s too slow). Also, I’d like to not be paying so much interest on the mortgage (that was a 2008 goal, to get a house).

Making My Goals SMART

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. All good things. Though timely should really maybe labeled as ‘timeframe’. The point is to have a deadline.


Kids – do a “Dad date” with each of the kids once a month. Focus here on whatever they want to do. My youngest’s could obviously be fairly simple. The time needs to be long enough to have an impact (an hour or two).

Julie – just ask her often, “What can I do right now to help out?” That should go a long ways (idea from a guy at church, not my own). Often perhaps isn’t specific enough, and how do I measure this? Have some secret paper in my wallet that I check off? Perhaps.

Spiritual – read from 5:00-5:30 am every weekday. Keep a journal of what I’m reading. Ah, and check off the goal above in my journal.

Physical – No soda this year. H2O, here I come! Also, I want to get my BFP to 9%. In years past I’ve also prescripted some workout for the year and about 90 days into the new year I’m already tired of the workout and want to do something else. So I’m shooting for a results-oriented goal here of a change in bodyfat, rather than a task-oriented goal. Let the task change as necessary/desired, I know the result I want to get.

Jiu Jitsu – Roll twice each week. Keep a journal. Enroll in classes by March of 2009 (at the moment, my friend is teaching me).

Year-Supply – this one’s become important to me as of late. Perhaps it was a stupiphany I had recently. My job is to provide for the family’s needs, and Julie’s job is to all the hard stuff. I encourage everyone to have an emergency fund of 3-6 months’ expenses, and that’s great and necessary, but what use will that money be for the family if disaster strikes?

Hey kids! An earthquake just struck, the water supply will be out for four days, we don’t have any water, but look — we have six months’ of money saved! Let’s drink that!

Have a year supply of food and two-week supply of water before the end of January 2009. We’ve been working on our year supply of food and I’m fairly confident we can finish it off this month if we don’t put anything into our emergency fund for January.

Oh, there’s an entire post on this to come, but if you’re wondering how I calculated it all, feel free to use this year supply spreadsheet (Google Doc). Just save your own copy of it before you dive in and start making changes (that everyone else can see).

72-Hour Kits – Have them done for five people by the end of February.

Emergency Fund – this thing’s creeping along. We’re consistently putting money into it, but not enough. All I know is that by the end of the year I want to have an entire, cushy, six months of income saved. Call me crazy, but I want even more cushion. I haven’t yet figured out how this can be accelerated.

Mortgage Interest – pay $100 more per month on the mortgage (this will be done through the autopay feature). Find the $100 through grocery savings, which will come through the grocery game.

Bite-Sized Goals

The key is to make these goals bite-sized. Some of them are already in their simplest forms, others will need some work. My plan is to make a monthly action plan at the beginning of each month to ensure that I’m tracking well. The year-supply spreadsheet is a good example. I’ve entered what we already have, and now I know exactly what we still need. I can create a timeline for when we’ll be purchasing what, and have that finished by the end of January.

Just dial it down to the level of granularity necessary:

Finances > Emergency Fund > Required Amount > Monthly Amount > Steps necessary to free up that amount each month. Done.

12 Responses to “Making 2009 Shine. Bite-Sized Goals Taste Better and Go Down Easier.”

  1. Avlor

    Wow some fabulous goals! (The kiddo date night has been a real blessing to us. You’ll have a blast with it!)

  2. Rebecca

    Hey I noticed your food storage goals and thought I would mention a great resource to help you–www.shelfreliance.com. They sell a fantastic line of food storage products called Thrive. In fact, they just got a great mention on a radio station in Utah. The link is: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=545&sid=5065869
    Also, if you use code save15 at checkout you can save 15%!!

  3. Barbara

    Hey – I also noticed your food storage goals. I strongly encourage you to visit http://www.thegrocerygame.com. It is fun and quickly allows you to build a stockpile. It’s nice not to have to run to the grocery store to pay full price for something you don’t have on hand. Check it out!

  4. Deozaan

    Some people edited the Google Doc and saved it that way.

    By the time I managed to download it, Rice (brown) (life/years) is empty (and pink) as well as dry soup mix. Could you fix it back to normal?

    Also, I think there’s a setting you can use to allow anyone to see it but not allow anyone to edit it.

  5. Eric F


    I noticed that you mentioned the Grocery Game website, so I decided to check it out. I’m curious to get your take on it. It appears to be an extremely helpful tool, but I have never been one to stockpile grocery store items, so that’s a new concept to me. If you get the chance, after having used the system for a while, can you post your experience with it up here?

  6. Karen

    Jesse, so glad that you mentioned the Grocery Game. I’ve been using Teri’s Lists for over 5 years now and it has saved us ~ $17,000 over those years.

    Love the idea of noting your goals. It might be February now, but I can still do the same thing. :)

  7. Karen

    Oh, and I just saw Eric F’s post above me. I’m not Jesse, but I can tell you that stockpiling has become a way of life for us now. You only buy what your family needs for a 12 week cycle (typical sale cycle for food stores). I don’t buy toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes, shampoo & conditioner, styling products, etc. because I get them free. Cleaning products I can get for near free. The idea is to buy it at the lowest price so when you run out, you only have to run to your own personal “food store” instead of going to the store and paying full price. You should also visit the Grocery Game’s forums. So many wonderful people there and a lot of your questions can be answered by a simple search.

    Ok, I’ll be quiet now. LOL I’m as passionate about the Grocery Game as I am about YNAB! :)

  8. Zap Riecken

    I’m signing up for the Grocery Game and they have a place for referals, but I don’t have your email. Your blog was the one who pointed me to the site so I’d like to give you credit. Can email (zap at therieckens dot com) me and I’ll add you in my profile so you get the credit?

  9. Jen

    Thoughts about food storage: leave some stuff like grains (oats, rice, flour) around for too long, and you WILL have a moth infestation. There are eggs in all of that stuff, by nature, and some warm day you will either find moths flying or larvae in your containers. They are very hard to get rid of, and they eat stuff! The other problem is the oils can become rancid, and you will throw out a lot. Canned goods need to be consumed in a space of two years, generally, too. Can your own, it’s therapeutic!

    Thoughts about paying down the mortgage: save up the $100 per month in your emergency fund and make a double payment in December if you have not needed that money. If you plug your figures into an amortization program and compare 13 payments versus 12, and compare it to paying $100 more per month, you will find some interesting results that will help you make the best decision for your goals. (Leave the number of payments blank…) I like this one:


  10. Jon W

    Jesse, you referred to “an entire post” yet to come on the subject of a year supply of food. Can we expect that soon?

    As Deozaan mentions above, I too am having a little trouble with your “year supply spreadsheet.” I’m really not sure how it is supposed to work, nor how to interpret the information in it. Could you provide some guidance here?

    I’ve seen a lot of different sources on the internet for food products to be used in long-term storage. Do you recommend using these types of resources? A combination of on-line sources, your local grocery store, and canning vegetables from your garden? I’d like to hear more of your insights on this subject, please.

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