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2014 Goals Update

2014 goals





Hey, friends!!  Being we’re heading into the fifth month of the year already, I thought we should do an update on our 2014 goals and how we’re doing with them.   This is mostly to gain accountability for us, and to encourage others working toward their own goals.  If you read our original 2014 goals post, you might remember that we had both financial goals and homesteading goals.    Here, I’ll go about listing them, and updating everyone on how we’re progressing with them so far.

Financial Goals:

1. Reduce our Food Expenses by 17%.  Pass – almost.  Last year we spent $5793.61 on groceries, along with another $267.73 on 1/8 of a side of beef.  This averaged out to $482 a month not including the cow.  So far this year we’ve spent an average of $422.38 a month on groceries; a reduction of 12%, so, we’re getting there.  Once the fruits and veggies start coming in, this should help reduce expenses a lot, thereby pushing us closer to our goal of a 17% reduction.

2. Reduce our Entertainment Costs from $74 a month to $60 a month.  Pass. We’ve been spending under $60 a month, mostly, but March was a (planned) spendy month for entertainment, so that brought our average up.  Due to a super frugal entertainment month in April, however, our average for the year now sits at $60.64.  Yay!

3.  Reduce my gasoline costs from last year’s $2206 and reduce our energy costs from last year’s $3793.  Pass/Fail My 2013 average on gas for my truck was $183.33.  Average so far this year: $163.20.  I plan on working to reduce this expense even further.

Energy costs are a different story.  The never-ending Polar Vortex hit us HARD during the first quarter of 2014.  So far on heating and energy costs we’ve spent $3122.  No, that’s not a typo.  Between propane fills (at jacked up prices) and higher electric heat costs to try and minimize inflated propane purchases, this is what we spent for the first four months of 2014 on energy costs.  The wood-burning stove install this coming summer should help lots with that issue going forward.

4.  Add at least $600 in additional monies toward our credit card debt, over and above the minimum payment.  Pass.  Last year we added only $262 over and above our minimum payments.  So far in 2014 we’ve put an additional $74 over and above our minimum payments toward our debt.  Given the horrendous heating bills we’ve had so far this year, we’re counting this as a victory, keeping in mind that we’ve still got an additional $526 to earn and put as additional monies toward debt in order to reach our 2014 goal.

Homesteading Goals:

1.  Grow and preserve much more food than last year.  Pass.  So far we’re well on our way, effectively tripling the size of last year’s garden, provided everything continues to go well.  Most of the plants are coming up nicely, and those that don’t we’ll pick up new ones at the greenhouse.

2.  Consume less energy than last year.  Fail.  See above.  So far this year, not so good.  But we are continuing to work on things such as getting the wood stove installed, etc., as we continue to work toward this goal.

3.  Work toward more off-the-grid living.  Pass/Fail. Aside from installing the wood-burning stove for heating purposes and working on chopping and stacking more wood, we haven’t gotten very far in terms of educating ourselves in this area.  We will continue to work on this goal.

To summarize, I’d say that we’re moving forward toward completing our goals, but not as quickly as we’d like to be.  However, side hustle income is increasing, and expenses are expected to decrease as we hit warmer weather and get into growing season.  We should be able to start canning some jellies and jams as early as June, so we’ll update you on those tasks as soon as they’re ready to be completed.

How are your 2014 goals coming along? 


  1. Kylie Ofiu says:

    You are doing great and congrats on increasing the side hustle!
    My goals have crashed and burned this year. Events outside my control, so I am reassessing and making some new ones.

  2. Brit says:

    I think you are all doing pretty good with your 2014 goals. Like you, our heating cost hit us hard and we are still paying for it. Thank you for sharing, Laurie.

  3. My goals are coming along pretty well, though I scrapped my second website idea (or I should say put it on hold). It’s not a pf-related website so it was a bit more of a challenge and I simply do not have enough outsourced on my current website to make it realistic. I did purchase a new pf domain name that I’m excited about! As far as finance goals we got hit really hard with taxes so my main goal this year is to make sure that we get a return this year instead of paying in a bunch of money!

    • Laurie says:

      That’s awesome about the new PF domain, DC!! OUCH on the taxes – I hear you on the refund: better to get a small refund than to have to write a big check, IMHO. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about the new site. 🙂

  4. That stupid Polar Vortex! It really messed with your budget! For the categories under your control, you’re doing great!
    As for me, one of my goals for the year was to read more. I finished “I am Malala” this weekend and just picked up “Pound Foolish.” I consider myself a bit of a newbie to the PF world, so it will be interesting to learn the history and alleged dark side behind the industry.

    • Laurie says:

      Kate, so cool that you are educating yourself on this stuff!! It really is interesting: you’ll have to blog about your thoughts after you’re done with Pound Foolish.

  5. Great minds think alike friend! 🙂 It looks like you’re doing well overall, especially with those nasty heating costs. I hate having things like that where you really have no control over it. We need to get started on our gardening now that it looks like we’re FINALLY done with winter…I hope. 😉

    • Laurie says:

      Hope is right!!! Still freezing cold, wind and rain here today – my little garden plants would NOT be happy if I put them outside right now. 🙂

  6. Great job Laurie!!! We are like you with the energy bills this winter and ended up switching to a flat rate plan for the next year, so hopefully we will have better results. My personal goals are going well this year, other than energy, and my business goals are evolving and taking me different places that I would not have imagined at the beginning of the year, but that is part of the fun of owning a business.

  7. Yea that polar vortex probably threw a wrench in a lot of people’s plans to save on energy. Other than that you guys are doing well with your goals. I’m hoping to buy a place this year, but not something we’ll rush into.

  8. Liz says:

    Energy costs can be rather difficult to manage when the weather acts out. Perhaps a mild summer would help round out the energy costs..then we won’t be blasting those AC’s all summer : )Then again, I’m ready for summer!

  9. Great review of your goals Laurie! I’m finding my progress to be slower than I wanted/expected as well. I’ve even had to change some goals to make them more attainable for the year. Oh well! Progress is still progress no matter how small. Keep up your hard work!

  10. Nice job on the goals Laurie! Those energy bills are extraordinary. I can’t imagine spending that much in just a four month period. I backed off making a lot of goals this year, as I’ve been focusing on one big thing related to my job that will be quite a change. I’ll be sharing about that in a couple of weeks.

  11. E.M. says:

    You are so focused and determined that I’m sure you’ll find a way to have all these listed as pass by the end of the year! The Polar Vortex was out of your control, you’re probably looking forward to that wood burning stove. Considering my goal for this year was to get out of NY, I’d say we succeeded, though we aren’t saving as much by moving as we had hoped. In any case, I’m just happy to be closer to my parents.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, yes, can’t wait for that stove to be in. E.M, you’ve done terrific at your goal of getting out of NY!! Just all of the work, etc., involved with a move, and how quickly it all happened, I’d say that was a HUGE success for you. 🙂

  12. Energy costs are so difficult because so much is out of your control. You don’t control the weather, so if you have a polar vortex and need more propane than a normal winter, there is nothing you can do. Freezing is not an option! Even with gas, there are some things we can control, but we can’t control the price of gas. Our prices are a lot of higher and it definitely hurts every time I fill up my vehicle. Overall though it looks like you’re doing very well against your good. I have no doubt your food costs will lower with that big garden you have in the works! And I think it’s incredibly important to recognize and give yourself a big pat on the back is even with those increase heating costs – you still payed above minimum payments on your CCs AND didn’t need to use your credit card to cover this expenses either. Those are big wins too!

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, we’re working SO hard, but it’s working, and that’s the important part, right? Thanks, Shannon. We appreciate your support SO much. 🙂

  13. Laurie, I love how accountable you are to yourself in addition to how you are well aware of your finances on a yearly basis. Budgeting for the year and knowing how much is going in and out this year compared to last is so helpful that everyone should really do it. Your goals regarding energy and gas make me think I should consider including such goals in my yearly budgets. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Natalie!! Glad it’s motivating you. Tracking our expenses has really helped us to see where we’re being wasteful and how we can cut back. I used to be so afraid of the restrictions I thought budgeting and spend-tracking would force upon us, when, in reality, its’ given us SO much more freedom!

  14. Hey Laurie, I love the goals. Looks like you’re doing pretty good! Congrats on kicking debt’s butt! I’m sure it feels good to continue sending more than you would have in the past. Also, I started a garden this year, I’m going to have to dig through past articles to learn how to preserve what I grow! See ya soon!

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting!!! Good that your freelance stuff is doing SO well, and it’s great to see your writing at so many places, but I get wanting to be able to have time to focus on other goals too. Best of luck to you as you reassess, Stefanie!

  15. I’m so happy you’re keeping yourself accountable with your goals. My quitter nature has reared its ugly head and I plain stopped tracking and working towards some of my five goals, and stopped writing about it entirely. Luckily, it’s one of those things that I’m way more aware of than other people, so no one’s asking about it!

    It sounds like nature was the driver for a lot of the financial setbacks, and I’m hoping things get better in that department. Maybe you’ll have mild weather for the rest of the year. Best of luck!

  16. Mackenzie says:

    Good job with the growing/preserving food goals! I wish I had a green thumb to grow things, but sadly I don’t 😉 Keep up the good work!

  17. anna says:

    Mmm,canned jams and jellies! Are they sellable? If so, you’ve got a customer on the west coast! 🙂 You’re doing awesome with your goals, Laurie, especially now that it’s going to be summer and your freelancing is picking up – that sounds like a winning combination!

  18. It’s a great idea to have specific goals in the various areas of your budget. Each one makes a small difference, but together, they will combine to bring your debt down significantly. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow this idea : )

  19. You’re doing really well with your 2014 goals, Laurie! It’s bad that the cold weather messed up with your plans a little bit, but it did so everywhere in the world… maybe next year we’ll have a short and hot winter :)) Keep up the great job!

  20. Great work Laurie!

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a list of goals that had that many green ticks against them! I would definitely be thrilled with those results. Good luck with your continued progress – keep that momentum going!



  21. Oh man I think a lot of people got hit pretty hard with their energy/heating bill this winter. But you’re kicking a lot of ass Laurie! I really admire all the effort you’re putting into becoming debt free!

  22. Kim says:

    I agree with Shannon about the flat rate plan. Do any companies in your area offer that option? You pay the same price every month, even in the summer, but it saves those big ouches if the winter is especially bad. Although, if you are adding wood burning, the cost should go down anyway. Can’t do much about the weather for sure!

    • Laurie says:

      I’m just not a big fan of the flat rate plan. I like knowing and paying for only what we use each month. I know: anal and controlling. Yes, the wood stove install should reduce things dramatically, so that should help. 🙂

  23. Oooof, so much sympathy on the energy bills. I don’t think I’m nearly as far north as you — but it was a COLD winter. Good for you for not only treading water but even making a little progress.

  24. Sounds like you’re doing great. This really was a terrible winter, so it was hard for everyone to keep heating costs low (I know it was for us and we’re in a small 2-bed condo, so I really feel for everyone with bigger homes). I’m excited to read more about the garden this year and the ways you’re preserving everything. My grandparents had a huge garden when I was young and I have such fond memories of watching my grandmother “can”.

  25. My in-laws had a bad winter, heat-wise too. They’re all electric heat and they spent $400 a month for a few months straight on heat. He’s looking at installing a pellet stove with a blower (that can also be hooked to a generator in power loss) to help heat the house. There aren’t enough trees in his area to justify a wood stove

    It’s crazy how propane fillers jack up prices in winter… such a racket! They do the same thing in Central PA as my cousin-in-law was hit with crazy expensive propane filling for his heat.

    I’m jealous of your living off the grid ways. If you can ever post pictures of your garden and your wood stove and other things you’re doing to get off the grid, I’d love to see!

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