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youngandthrifty shares with you her 2011 personal finance resolutions. Goals have to be SMART (acronym) in order to be attainable.

First off- HAPPY NEW YEARS!! (LOUD BLARING HORNS ENSUE) Is everyone still hungover? 🙂

2010 has come to an end (time flies when you get older, eh?) and I thought I would kick start 2011 with some Financial Resolutions for the new year.  Seeing as I somehow managed to fulfill my 2010 Financial Resolutions, I thought I would start fresh and create some new challenges for myself for 2011.

I find that financial resolutions are easier to keep compared to other New Year’s resolutions.  For example, I epic FAILED in exercising more or doing more yoga (though I did sign up for a few yoga classes) but I managed to do all my financial resolutions.  Therefore, to make myself feel better about resolutions in general, I will share some financial resolutions for 2011.  This blog was meant for me as an outlet to track my personal finance and keep accountable to myself, so I will go ahead and continue sharing 🙂

As with 2010, I will continue to track my net worth (which I believe everyone should do regularly- doesn’t have to be monthly, can be quarterly) and pay myself automatically.  Paying yourself automatically is the most important (and easiest) way to save, in my opinion.

2010 came with a lot of changes to my personal finances- now I have mortgage debt to contend with, which completely changes your perspective on everything you spend your money on.  I find myself being very cognizant of whether I actually NEED something and I think my frugality has really gone to new heights!

Goals have to fit a certain criteria to ensure they are attainable and achievable.

The best way is to use the SMART acronym (I’m a big fan of acronyms):

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Timely

So in following the SMART acronym, I came up with my:

youngandthrifty’s 2011 Personal Finance Resolutions:

  • Max out TFSA to $15000– In January, I’ll have $15,000 of TFSA space because I took out all of my TFSA’s for my down payment.  I plan to sell some of my non-registered stocks in order to put money back into my Tax Free Trading Account and top it up with savings.
  • Max out RRSP allowed contributions- I set out $200 a month automatically to an RRSP TD e-series and top up the rest before the year ends.  I’ll need to make sure I have money for the extra contribution before the end of the year.
  • Replenish my Savings Account- Since my savings account was basically ameliorated from the down payment, I would like save at least 15% a month for this.
  • Save $2400 for Travel Fund- I plan to climb the highest peak in Africa in 2012 (before I turn the big 3-0… some people jump out of planes and sky dive…I hike) and will need some cashola for that (not to mention get in shape)…I will try and set aside $200 a month for this travel fund (automatically).  I have an ING savings account for that
  • Pay down the Mortgage extra $500/month ($1000 total)- BF and I are going to rent out the basement and plan to use that money to pay down the mortgage and attack the beast principle amount.
  • Slowly change most of my equities into dividend paying equities– Currently I have some “play” money in my portfolio with which I invest in growth stocks, but I think I’m going to try and convert most of my portfolio to blue-chip dividend paying equities
  • Write down what I spend my money on daily– I’ve been terrible at remembering to do this last year.  I think it’s because I have the Mint app now so I’ve been bad at recording my expenses.  I feel like a big hypocrite because I advocate for people to write down what they spend their money on.  So to fix this- because I am a visual person, I’m going to use one of those free calenders you get from banks etc. to write down what my expenses are day to day.  Then I can compare weekly to see how my spending is, like Krystal does with her spending recaps at GMBMFB.

There you have it.  These are hopefully achievable and realistic goals I have set for myself, so I hope I can stick to them for 2011!

Readers, what are your financial goals for 2011?  Do you find that financial goals are easier to stick to than personal behaviour change-type goals?

Article comments


Hey Young,

What kind of exercising do you do? If it’s running or cycling, nothing motivates more than choosing some kind of event to complete. Good luck!

young says:

@Andrew Hallam- Yeah, it’s all about motivation isn’t it? I’ve been doing yoga and running pretty much. I was thisclose to signing up for a half-marathon but then decided to take it slow this year! I think I’ll work on regularly running first before I start any huge endeavours.

Kay Lynn says:

Sounds like good goals for the year. How do you like being a homeowner?

young says:

@Kay Lynn- Liking it so far, so much decision-making what with the renovation and all 🙂

Make sure you don’t get a gimp in the basement! They are scary if you’ve seen Pulp Fiction!

young says:

@Financial Samurai- LOL, okay I’ll try and make sure of that. I actually haven’t seen pulp fiction! (isn’t that ridiculous?)

Kellen says:

I find that financial goals require a lot less effort to achieve (for me) than exercising, or even writing three blog posts a week (one of my 2011 goals). I can adjust my budget and track my spending from my desk chair. I don’t have to come up with anything creative, it doesn’t matter if I’m not feeling so good that day.
I guess the effort part comes in with the not spending, day after day. I fail at this a lot, but then I adjust my budget, until I have something I can really live with. I might go over my budget, but I’m still saving more than I would without one!

young says:

@Kellen- Good point… it’s all about not spending and making it automatic, no big behaviour changes really.. I guess that’s why they are somewhat easier than behavioural goals.

Jordan says:


I know Mint.com has it’s limitations — but it is a great tool for tracking your spending habits (once some of the mis-categorized items are sorted out).

I use credit/debit for everything, unless i absolutely need to use cash. ABM Cash withdrawals have a habit of disappearing without any trace 🙂

young says:

@Jordan- Oops, did I do some Mint.com bashing? Actually mint.com has grown on me! I have the Mint.com iPhone App and am checking it daily now. I do like how they have no-brainer type categorizing (except for the miscategorizing part). I too have the bad habit of having ABM cash withdrawals disappear into thin air 🙂 Glad it’s not only me, phew!

Great goals. 🙂
I agree that it looks like you can hit all of them just by sticking with what you’re doing though. Maybe add a stretch goal so you have something to shoot for. Yoga? Yes, pun intended. 🙂

young says:

@retirebyforty- LOL- you’ve read my mind, buddy! I have a post tomorrow detailing the exercise goals I have made up for 2011.

krantcents says:

Those are all good goals. I wish we could have a TFSA in the states. Happy New Year.

young says:

@krantcents- They are pretty good, I wish I was 18 and started up a TFSA. Imagine the possibilies when you are 28! That’s $50,000 of TAX FREE GOODNESS!!!! Awesome…

young says:

@krantcents- Though I must clarify that TFSA’s just started 2-3 years ago. So I wish I was 18 2-3 years ago. 😉

Alice says:

Your TFSA sounds like a American 401k and your RRSP is like an American IRA? Or the other way around?
Good luck on the goals! I love the big 3-0 trip… I’m planning a trip to Thailand then.

young says:

@Alice- I think the 401K is the RRSP right? What’s an IRA? Cool- Thailand! I haven’t been there in forever but want to- all those beaches, that beautiful weather… cheap food. I like the idea of big 3-0 trips. We need to be celebrating them more. They are huge milestones!

DoNotWait says:

Good ones, but not so easy on yourself! There are many and some are not easy to follow. But I wish you the best success!

young says:

@DoNotWait- Yeah, thanks! Yeah, some are easy, some aren’t. I’m definitely re-evaluating everything that I spend money on, that’s for sure. 🙂 That’s a good thing though.

Great luck with your goals! I like the hiking goal/ travel fund. I didnt post it on my site, but one of my goals for 2011 is to hike the maroon bells (near aspen, co). THey are both 14ers (14,000+ foot peaks), and It should be a blast!

young says:

@Jeff@Sustainable Life Blog- Ooh, Maroon Bells- that sounds beautiful. I actually just googled it and it IS beautiful! I’ve never been to Colorado but it seems gorgeous there (HELLOO Aspen!). Those peaks are really high, is it actual mountaineering then?

After a second thought, I think writing down your daily expense will be the most challenging part because these kind of tasks tend to bore us easily.

Good luck Y&T 🙂

young says:

@BeatingTheIndex- Yeah, writing things down is kind of annoying (and remembering to do it is even harder)! Thanks Mich, I’ll need the luck!!

Meg says:

Looks like great goals! Good luck and keep us posted on the status! 🙂

young says:

@Meg- Thanks! I will definitely keep you guys updated on the status 🙂

Solid goals! I have similar goals but we are still struggling to save for a down payment, so we are behind you 🙂 so is the TFSA similar to our 401k?

young says:

@Suba@Wealth Informatics- A TFSA is this new thing the Canadian government introduced 2-3 years ago that is a “tax free savings account”. An “RRSP” a Registered Retirement Savings Plan is like your 401K, I believe 🙂 Do you have something like the TFSA in the States?

It may seem really daunting now, but if you do it automatically (save up for down payment), it will come by easier than you think. I think it’s all the psychology of “feeling broke”. If you feel broke you won’t go and spend money. But if you see all this money in one savings account you might be more tempted to save money.. that’s what I believe anyway!

Doctor Stock says:

Writing down every penny I spent changed my perspective… I couldn’t believe how some little indulgences added up over time.

I wish you all the best in your goals for 2011.

young says:

@Doctor Stock- Yeah, agree! It’s a great way to start off in order to grow your personal finances. I spent $7 today only on my day off and am watching what I spend my money on like a hawk. No little indulgences for me anymore.

Fox says:

Happy New Year Young!
Wishing you all the best in 2011 and may you acomplish all your goals and than some.

young says:

@Fox- Awe thanks Fox! 🙂 Happy new Year to you! May we ALL accomplish all our goals and then some!

Samantha Dermot says:

I think I must agree with you. Almost all resolutions I have now must be supported financially. We must admit that we can really have a much better life if we are stress free when it comes to financial matter. Looking forward that I can totally fix all obligations by next year.

Liquid says:

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right” – Oprah Winfrey

There are so many REITs… The prices are back to before the market drop of early 2009 for the most part so it’s relatively in line. Mich @ BeatingTheIndex has a really good post on REITs. Check it out. You need to understand what their holdings are and the management goals. I don’t chase the yield for them. For example, I have REI.UN and CUF.UN each of them give a DRIP discount of 3.2% and 5% on the re-investment of dividends. 5% on a 20$ stock is 1$ discount – that’s a pretty good purchase price.

For my TFSA, I currently have BMO in mind if the price stay at the current level – not sure when I can add to it though. I always like the REIT with their monthly dividends and higher yields.

young says:

@The Passive Income Earner- Cool, I just bought some BMO recently (though not much) after I got the tip from BoomerandEcho on a tweet that it went down 7% in one day! I do like the REITS too, but you don’t find that they are overpriced at this current price?

I agree with Mich @ BeatingTheIndex 🙂 Looks like those might be non challenging targets … What’s your target for paying down the mortgage? Do you have a percentage above and beyond your payments? Did you figure out the rent you can get yet? (Not sure if you are moved in …)

For me, I will be done with the Reno LOC in March and then I tackle the car loan. Hopefully reducing it in half by the end of the year. Maximizing my TFSA is just routine now for me. I do that before RRSP as I find it much more beneficial.

young says:

@The Passive Income Earner- Thanks guys 🙂 I just updated my target for paying down the mortgage. We are estimating that we’ll be able to get $1200 per month for rent, more if we include utilities. Our goal is to replenish our emergency savings account first, as we will be landlords and although we will have done a complete renovation, we will probably need a large cash buffers for repairs if needed…though we haven’t moved in yet- target would be in 1-2 months. Sounds like you’re doing really well paying down your debt! I am enjoying the TFSA more and more now.. what are you planning to put in it this year? (e.g. dividend paying stocks or growth stocks that you don’t have to pay capital gains for..etc.)

Your goals look pretty solid. Congrats on purchasing the home this year. I think you should give yourself a measurable goal on the mortgage (i.e. pay an extra $300/mo on it), otherwise, it’s just not SMART. =)

young says:

@Will @ HackingTheBack- LOL you’re right! I was hoping I could get away without being SMART 😉 Okay I’ll edit it to say I will pay an extra $500 a month to my mortgage against the principle. Thank you for keeping me accountable!!

Your resolutions for 2011 are realistic, ie doable. You should’ve added more sensational stuff since it looks like you will hit them all by the end of 2011 🙂

young says:

@BeatingTheIndex- Really? It seems very sensational to me already. Perhaps I’m not one for too much excitement 😉

Kiki says:

I find them harder to stick to. I’m starting to realize that my problem is a problem of being to idealistic. I’m trying to set more realistic goals. My goals are:
1. Pay off half of my credit cards
2. Add an additional $1000 to savings
3. Pay off one of my loans.
Last year I was able to accomplish these so I’m going to try to do it again.

young says:

@Kiki- You find behavioural resolutions harder to stick to, too, right? Your goals for 2011 sound very SMART and are very measurable. Good luck with your resolutions!