Benchmark Basics: How to Set Milestones and Reach Your Financial Goals

Benchmark Basics: How to Set Milestones and Reach Your Financial Goals

In this infographic, MintLife Blog gives tips on breaking a long-term goal into short-term goals that are manageable and feasible.


Day 21: Finanical Freedom [THE END]

Main Point: If you really want to know what you value, look at where you spend your money.

Today’s assignment:

  1. Calculate how much you’ve saved by not spending during these last 21 days.
  2. Encourage at least one other person to go through the fast.
  3. Starting tomorrow, begin keeping your 30-day journal.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I didn’t buy the car wash, but I did get the Jello Pudding and the cookies that were on sale. That’s my little reward for spending this cash.

What was easy about today?

It was easy not to return my friend’s generosity with something that I had to spend money on. It’s OK just to send her a thank you card for having me over for the Super Bowl party.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to not get that pudding and cookies, but it’s the last day. It was my reward.

What did I learn from today’s chapter?


What I was feeling today about my finances?

I feel very accomplished. I really stuck to this. Like really. I only used my debit card twice and that was during this last weekend for necessities. The only time I flubbed up with eating out was the day my furnace died, I left my lunch on the table and jetted out of my apartment. I used what I had when folks invited me to their dinner parties. I don’t think I stepped foot in Target. Going in there was one of my favorite pastimes, which really means of my biggest timesucks and money drains. Target really knew how to target me.

Here are the non-essentials I spent money on:

  • Eating Out $6.83
  • Clothes $0
  • Hair $0
  • Entertainment $0

At the beginning of the fast, I left my debit card at home and froze the few charge cards and credit cards. Then I went to the bank and withdrew $300. I still have … left in cash. Woot woot!

Day 20: Relationships Rescued

Main Point: Taking a break from consumption can help you focus on the most important relationships in your life.

Today’s assignment: I will call a close relative or friend with whom I have exchanged gifts in the past and come up with an agreement that on the next birthday, anniversary or holiday, we will not spend money on each other but spend time with each other instead.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I wanted to buy another car wash. While driving home from exercise class, I grew envious of the clean, shiny cars whipping past me. I swear the handsome guy sitting up  high next to me at the stoplight in his big, blue truck, looked down at me in disgust because my car is super grimy. Guess he won’t be asking me out? But I’m going to wait it out. The forecast says it might rain Sunday. That’ll be a few dollars (and my dignity) saved.

What was easy about today?

It was easy to exercise in my free class. The instructor offers three free classes a week. And they’re tough, too. Everyone really feels it the next day.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to talk about buying a 5-pound fitness hula hoop for upcoming classes. Some of the ladies said they just received theirs. When I looked at prices, they were 40 or 50 dollars. I don’t want to spend on that, but it would be a good investment. I’ll think about it hard. Especially since the spending fast will be lifted tomorrow.

What did I learn from today’s chapter?

The chapter reminded me that spending money doesn’t mean “I love you.” I’d much rather spend more quality time with my loved ones, especially my parents. It’s rare that my father and I just enjoy each others’ company aside from watching TV when I visit my hometown. I want us to create more memories.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I still feel sad at my dwindling bank account. I’m confused a little about my retirement savings. Last night, my aunt and I were talking about the different vehicles in which I’m putting my money. She warned me not to have too many and asked me why I had term insurance. I don’t have kids. I’ll have to look further into that because I understood why term insurance was important when talking to my financial planner, but all of that has escaped my brain. She understood, saying every year she has to relearn medical insurance terms (HSA vs. FSA) and doesn’t have a mind for investing, either. I need to do more homework.

I also has asked my aunt if she had taking advantage of high interest rates of an online savings account. Throughout the day, I was trying to see which savings account is best for my Emergency Fund and Life Happens Fund. I decided to go ahead and start dropping a money in both. Now, I have direct deposits set up for both the funds.

I’m still trying to decide between needs and wants to. It’s been nearly two months since my loctician touched my hair. I love her, but don’t want to shell out the $80 to style my hair for my birthday next week. I’d do my own hair and spend that money elsewhere. It’s funny how quickly priorities can change.

Day 19: Strengthen Stewardship

Main Point: The better I handle the money I have, the more I may receive.

Today’s assignment: Sign a quitclaim deed acknowledging that everything I have belongs to God.

If you are ready to acknowledge that God owns everything you have, go online, print out and sign the quitclaim deed. If you honestly can’t sign the deed, pray that God will help you realize he’s in control.

Identify one area of your finances where you have been a good steward but where you may need some inspiration. Once you’ve identified one area of your finances that could be improved upon, determine what you can do to make it better.

I feel that I’ve been a good steward of my retirement savings, but I’d like to better understand each of my policies.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I wanted to buy a car wash. It started yesterday when I saw the long line at Sheetz for the car wash. Everyone was trying to get the snow and salt off their cars. I’m waiting to see if it rains Sunday. That way, I’ll save some money.

What was easy about today?

Having more free meals at work. My company had clients from all around the country in this week, so we get the leftovers of anything that’s delivered. Yay!

What was hard about today?

It was hard to see my bank account balance dwindle after paying for rent and the cell phone bill. Ugh. It’s funny that just a few weeks ago, I would be spending everything until I had less than $100 in my checking account and the bank would send me a low balance alert. I don’t ever want to see one of those again.

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

The chapter reiterated that being a good steward of my finances could open up more blessings for me. Not that I’m deeply religious, but I remember a scripture that asks how can you be a good steward of much when you can’t manage the little you already have. I’m trying to save and pay debt now so that I’ll have good habits for when my life changes, and, I hope, my pay increases.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I was feeling OK. I felt calm knowing that I have a budget and won’t be spending frivolously. Although this first part of the month will put a huge dent on my bank account, I know that things will get better.